This little video shows Italian police removing their helmets in solidarity with what appears to be an Anonymous protest, but is wider than that. One of the posters on the YouTube page explains:
The demonstrators are an eclectic amalgamation of Italians, from truckers to students. The origin of the protests stems from the Pitchfork Movement, which began as a group of Sicilian farmers pushing for government reforms but grew into a nationwide revolt against banks, the Italian tax collection agency Equitalia, the European Union, and the Socialist-backed minority government, which is moving to privatize higher education.
From 1 January 2014 the transitional controls on free movement included in the accession treaties and adopted by the UK and seven other Member States when Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in 2007, will end. From that date Bulgarians and Romanians will have the freedom to live and work in those eight Member States (and in Spain, which has only had transitional controls on Romanian nationals).
… There has been a lively debate in the UK about how many Bulgarians and Romanians will come to the UK after 1 January 2014 and the British Government has announced it is looking at the rules governing social security claims as a consequence of this and future EU enlargements.
Spain and Italy have not had restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians. So let’s see what has happened there. Currently there are about 920,000 Romanians and 170,000 Bulgarians in Spain. In Italy there are about 997,000 Romanians and over 70,000 Bulgarians. Britain has much more generous benefits and more jobs than Spain or Italy, So the absolute minimum number that will be moving here will be well over one million. Probably it will be closer to two million.
Now, let’s look at some other figures. Unemployment amongst Romanians and Bulgarians in Spain is 36.4% – that’s about 396,760 immigrants who are unemployed. So we can expect somewhere in the region of 400,000 Romanians and Bulgarians to be claiming benefits for housing, council tax and unemployment here in Britain.
It was recently noted that Europeans will be
increasingly experiencing what the Third World has to experience when
bankers start enforcing austerity measures because Europeans governments borrow
money from bankers, at interest, money that the bankers create out of thin air.
Here are recent mass protests against austerity measures (more taxes, less
benefits, increase in retirement age, etc.) in Belgium that shut down large
parts of her.
Well, I didn’t expect it. Like most people, I think, I had David Cameron down as electable Mr Bland, a wax-work dummy from Madame Tussauds carefully placed in the leadership of the Conservative Party to follow the internationalist, neoliberal script. And perhaps he would have done so, turning his back on national interest as every other British Prime Minister has, finally, over the last thirty-five years. But, it seems, Sarko and his mandarins, possessed as they are of a vision for Europe on a Napoleonic scale and a horrible suspicion that Anglo-Saxon skulduggery is undermining it, made it impossible for him, wearing the colours of Arch-Defender of Financial Services, to sign on fiscal Europe’s bottom line.
Now we have a situation where seventeen eurozone states and nine EU member but non-eurozone states are going to make lovebird sounds to another, while totally ignoring the will of their respective peoples. One other state is, as they say, “isolated”, though it is a rather smug and relieved isolation at the moment. If Cameron calls a snap election now, or if the LibDems collapse the coalition (which they can’t, of course), he would scoot home. Even with all the austerity.
But ... what does it all mean from a nationalist perspective? Has anything changed for us? Well, two things for starters.
First, the definition of a Eurosceptic has been expanded. Cameron’s veto has made the beast mainstream. Meanwhile, the ante has been vertiginously upped for supporters of joining the Euro. The old argument about being at “the heart of Europe” to protect our interests is defunct – we are not going to be at the heart of Europe ever again. Now Europhiles have to argue that agreeing to German oversight of UK taxation and spending policy and practise would be in the national interest.
Cameron’s veto will have an immediate effect on UKIP and on British nationalism, forcing a focus on the perfect nonsense of belonging to a club of 27 which 26 have left, and the half-life Britain will now increasingly inherit as the 26 develop their union. The argument for independence therefore becomes one of re-definition and regularisation. It has lost much of its power.
Second, notwithstanding our signature to the existing EU treaties (including Lisbon which effectively abolishes the nation state) the intergovernmental process of de-sovereignisation has come to a screeching halt for Britain. The sole remaining interests for the British government in the EU are the preservation of (i) the Single Market and (ii) the unregulated status of the City of London. The project has now become a neoliberal one, not an internationalist one, and that will require a more nuanced critique from nationalists.
In this respect globalisation presents a particular challenge. It continues to exercise its baleful influence upon us and to be fully supported by the political mainstream. But it is nebulous, and the power of corporations does not pack the same punch as a political target as the power of Brussels.
A lot has changed today. We do not yet know how all the pieces will fall finally. But nationalism didn’t make much impact when the ideological times were good. They just got tougher, and I am none too confident that we can rise to the challenge.
The last, volatile twenty-four hours on the trading floors and in the political councils have confirmed for anyone interested in knowing the fact (and many are determined not to know it) that political internationalism is in deep trouble. The European political class appears to be unable to do any more than kick the can down the road. We are probably still two months away from knowing for sure whether any kind of definitive package can be put in place to prevent the Greek government defaulting on debt repayment, or whether such a default would necessarily drag in Portugal, and Portugal Spain.
The Euro could not survive such an eventuality, and the European process could not survive the loss of the Euro. It’s something Eurosceptics knew about from the outset, of course, and have been telling the world ever since. But notwithstanding its predictive power and support among the voters, Euroscepticism remains a minority interest at the top of the main parties, in governments and government departments and, inevitably, in the European nomenclature. It is a political conviction fatally divorced from office.
There ought to be an opportunity here for political nationalism. This is the time to talk about economics. So what would a nationalist economic policy look like in these times? I’ve been posting the following list, or parts thereof, on various UK national daily threads, just to introduce a few people to the kind of revolutionary ideas that nationalists ought to be exploring. I’m not sure that any nationalist party could seriously propose very much of it at this stage. It’s more than a wish-list, though. The components hang together, and a successful overthrow of the Money Power is the only basis on which our racial goals can be achieved.
1. Ring-fence retail banking and protect private savings and company assets. Consign the rest to its fate.
2. End the fractional reserve system. Encourage savings in the private sector and investment in the business sector.
3. All capital elements of credit extended under the fractional reserve system to be repaid by digitally-created transfers, the outstanding interest to be repaid as a short-term loan.
4. Repay the bond and guilt markets on the same basis, ending the national debt crisis, and freeing the economy from the fixation on GDP and endless growth.
5. Repatriate the legal right of government to issue currency, and invest it in the economy free of interest, using capital projects, the welfare system and general government expenditure to do so, not the banks.
6. End race-replacement immigration, repatriate/relocate the Third World in England and all its seed.
The nett effect would be to give the nation, the land, and the politics back to the true people, and that is the ultimate good.
A post I put up earlier today on the BNP Section of British Democracy Forum.
Peter Oborne redeemed his reputation somewhat in his piece in the Telegraph today on yesterday’s fateful step towards fiscal union in the eurozone. (By redeemed, I mean one might perhaps now look past what he thinks about the soon-to-be-fired Baroness Warsi and Islamophobia.)
The faith of leading European politicians and bankers in monetary union, a system of financial government whose origins can be traced back to the set of temporary political circumstances in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, and which was brought to bear without serious economic analysis, is essentially irrational. Indeed, in many ways, the euro bears comparison to the gold standard. ... European politicians have developed the same superstitious attachment to the single currency. They are determined to persist with it, no matter what suffering it causes, or however brutal its economic and social consequences.
... it is almost impossible to overestimate the importance of the decision which European leaders seemed last night to be reaching. By authorising a huge expansion in the bail-out fund that is propping up the EU’s peripheral members (largely in order to stop the contagion spreading to Italy and Spain), the eurozone has taken the decisive step to becoming a fiscal union. So long as the settlement is accepted by national parliaments, yesterday will come to be seen as the witching hour after which Europe will cease to be, except vestigially, a collection of nation states. It will have one economic government, one currency, one foreign policy. This integration will be so complete that taxpayers in the more prosperous countries will be expected to pay for the welfare systems and pension plans of failing EU states.
This is the final realisation of the dream that animated the founders of the Common Market more than half a century ago – which is one reason why so many prominent Europeans have privately welcomed the eurozone catastrophe, labelling it a “beneficial crisis”. David Cameron and George Osborne have both indicated that they, too, welcome this fundamental change in the nature and purpose of the European project. The markets have rallied strongly, hailing what is being seen as the best chance of a resolution to the gruelling and drawn-out crisis.
It is conceivable that yesterday’s negotiations may indeed save the eurozone – but it is worth pausing to consider the consequences of European fiscal union. First, it will mean the economic destruction of most of the southern European countries. Indeed, this process is already far advanced. Thanks to their membership of the eurozone, peripheral countries such as Greece and Portugal – and to an increasing extent Spain and Italy – are undergoing a process of forcible deindustrialisation. Their economic sovereignty has been obliterated; they face a future as vassal states, their role reduced to the one enjoyed by the European colonies of the 19th and early 20th centuries. They will provide cheap labour, raw materials, agricultural produce and a ready market for the manufactured goods and services provided by the far more productive and efficient northern Europeans. Their political leaders will, like the hapless George Papandreou of Greece, lose all political legitimacy, becoming local representatives of distant powers who are forced to implement economic programmes from elsewhere in return for massive financial subventions.
The following article, which appeared at the end of September at Robert Steuckers’ Euro-synergies, was written by Jean-Gilles Malliarakis, a well-known commentator in radical-right circles in France.
THERE’S NO LACK OF RATIONAL ARGUMENTS FOR DRAWING CONCLUSIONS ABOUT ANKARA’S CANDIDACY
Today I close the dossier on the Turkish question, my small book, a little heavier than anticipated.
As I write this, intending to get it finished, seemingly unbeknown to the Europeans important changes are shaking up debate in Turkey itself. Involved are probably real developments, in part. The current majority party, AKP, and the alliance of forces which it represents, are making their moves for essentially national reasons. But the program for reform was developed at the end of June with the candidacy for membership in the European Union explicitly in mind, with a view to making it presentable. This was repeated by Prime Minister Erdogan and Abdullah Gül, President of Turkey.
Thus did we see a diplomatic offensive aimed at the Armenians, promising them the future reopening of a border whose shutting has completely closed off their country. There’s been vague talk of normalizing the status of religious minorities (the latter are so small in number, one wonders how they could possibly be a threat to touchy Turkish Jacobinism) — thus are their representatives taken hostage to use as agents of Turkish diplomacy, in the tradition of totalitarian countries.
The most important advance is said to have been proposed to the Kurds. After the head of government had received certain Kurdish leaders, from August 25 to September 22 there is said to have been considerable antagonism between the political leaders and the Chief of Staff of the Turkish Army, General Basbug. In August Gen. Basbug had stated that the Army could not accept, and would therefore oppose, any plan that was in violation of Article 3 of the Constitution which declared that Turkey was a single and indivisible state and its language was Turkish. The Kemalist and nationalist opposition joined in chorus to decry government betrayal. There could be no clearer threat of a coup d’état as has been a recurrent event in this country’s political life since the 1946 adoption of democratic pluralism.
The media are part of the ideological caste and, unless they are brave or honourable, keep “sensitive” issues from the public or present them in a way favourable to the elites. The highest sensitivity is reserved for race, then gender and sexual orientation. The EU promotes this ideology. The news reporting is managed, and EU and UN schemes to discriminate against whites are kept from the public. People cannot revolt against something if they do not know it is happening. So what is really happening?
Throughout Europe there is a developing war on the streets for possession of the continent. This is mainly aimed at us European people but anti-Semitism is coming back too.
British Muslims are not only burrowing into our institutions and undermining them from within, they are beginning a warin the UK AND they are fighting against our troops in Afghanistan. EU rulers know this but still encourage immigration to build up their numbers.
How realistic is the New World Order: or is Globalisation beneficial? In an outstanding article of 30 Jan 2009, Patrick J.Buchanan talked of the Globalist fantasy and what is really happening:-
In a question and answer session with a group European journalists, and published in November 2008 by French magazine Café Babel, European Commissioner Jaques Barrot (mail him here) lifted the veil on the secret machinations of the EU rulers and their real views on Islam and mass immigration, and how they are trying to destroy Europe.
Does Europe need immigration?
Yes. The demographic situation of Europe requires a migration which must be concerted. The mission of Europe is also a will to facilitate exchanges between countries. Immigration is at the same time an economic and moral requirement.
At the beginning of October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told new immigrants at their reception ceremony, “Germany thanks you“. Do you conceive such an event on a European scale?
There are many symbolic acts of this kind which can be imagined for showing the immigrants that they have really a place. We will probably consider this type of demonstration when we write the new directive on the conditions of reception for refugees.
The European immigration policy, however, does not fit with the logic of gratitude. Critical voices reproach you for building “Fortress Europe”.
We left one very sedentary period where the borders had become an obsession. Today, the immigration pact which the French presidency has adopted is balanced. There is a legitimate desire to refuse illegal immigration and, at the same time, a desire for Europe to be more dynamic in taking in immigrants.
You are known to be favourable to “open Europe but with very clear rules of the game”. How does the current immigration policy accord with this spirit of openness?
First of all, in the legal regulation of migration with the Blue Card for skilled workers will be an entitlement to family reunion. At the same time by circular migration it will perhaps make it possible for people to profit their compatriots from the knowledge that have acquired in Europe.
Isn’t it, however, about selective immigration if one uses immigrants in the markets in Europe like substitutes?
Therefore we wish to reinforce our knowledge of the needs of Member States for skilled workers and, at the same time, to monitor immigration in Africa to know what is possible or not in each African country - which, obviously, must retain the benefits of its own skilled workers. This is why we regularise migration of skilled workers in particular, to prevent the plundering of African and Asian brains and human resources.
Islam is perceived by certain people as incompatible with the European values of democracy, peace and equality of the sexes. How does the EU see these problems?
This manner of seeing Islam as antagonistic to European values is completely partial and erroneous. Islam is a monotheist religion which, to me, appears compatible with our secular principles. What is not, in fact, compatible is fundamentalisms - not only Islamic - which want to segregate and exclude other religions. From the moment that pluralism is accepted by Islam, in any case in Europe, Islam is welcome. What is true is that we will always fight against the fact that in the Islamic world Christian communities are not always given the respect they are due. But that is specific to certain Islamic states, and is not a characteristic of Europe. Europe is in favour of religious pluralism and, obviously, any Islam which wants to be present in Europe must accept this pluralism.
2. THE OBLIGATION TO INTER-BREED WITH BLACKS AND BROWNS
Every few days I pay a call to EU Commissioner Margot Wallstrom’s blog, mostly to enjoy whatever shouting match between the ‘philes and ‘sceptics has broken out. Margot, a Swedish lefty, is Vice President in charge of Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy, and one of only two Commissioners brave enough to operate a comment blog (the other is Environment Commissioner, Stavros Dimas).
Margot’s latest post is headed Irish referendum result, and dated yesterday. In it she blithely informs us that the outcome of last week’s referendum:-
... was not a vote against the EU. It seems that even Sinn Féin and many other No campaigners in Ireland argued that a better deal could be secured for Ireland, not that Ireland should leave the EU.
This is pretty telling. She burbles away for a bit, and then delivers herself of this observation:-
Surveys in the coming days, including one by the Commission, will examine the Irish result, looking at the reasons why people voted Yes and No. This will give us more information and a basis on which to analyse the implications in a more considered manner.
Strip away the EU politician’s reluctance to speak plainly, apply a cold douche of cynicism, and what we have here is a plainly stated intention to buy the Irish public off and make them vote again.
As the story develops, a lot of people are going to get very angry. Bruno Waterfield, in the Telegraph gets their first:-
Exclusive to readers of this blog is some leaked Brussels polling that will add weight to the argument, gaining ground in the corridors at the moment, that Ireland should hold a second referendum on the Lisbon European Union Treaty.
A key political finding of an internal and preliminary European Commission analysis of weekend telephone polling has focused on the finding that 75 per cent of No voters “believe the Irish Government can renegotiate exceptions”.
... The polling found that most, 40 per cent, of those who rejected the EU Treaty did so because they did not understand or were not “familiar” with it. The No campaign successfully fought on the slogan “would you sign a contract you had not read” after senior Irish politicians admitted they had not read an “unreadable” EU Treaty.
One fifth of No voters sought to “protect Irish identity” and another 17 per cent rejected the Treaty because they mistrusted “politicians/gov’t policies”. Ten per cent of the No-side were concerned about neutrality. Another 10 per cent wanted to keep their Commissioner - an issue which became deeply controversial during the Irish referendum. Eight per cent wanted to protect Ireland’s low corporate tax system.
... The issue of a second Irish referendum is on the EU agenda. There is talk of a menu of guarantees (tax, abortion, etc) that do not substantially change the Treaty text or require reopening full negotiations between the EU’s 27 member states. Plans to cut the number of commissioners can also be shelved.
Maggie Thatcher said it of the Poles back in the late 80s: “When people are free to choose, they choose freedom.”
Alone in the EU, the Irish people had the constitutional right to choose whether to acquiesce in the drive to a European superstate or to make a stand against it. Just as they did seven years ago in the first of their two votes on the Nice Treaty, they have made their stand. Declan Ganley and his rag-tag assortment of no-sayers, including Sinn Fein, have won. The political, business and media elites of Ireland have been humiliated.
The European elites, meanwhile, have received a resounding slap in the face. The very manipulations they made to render the Treaty impossible to read for anyone other than a constitutional lawyer have backfired on them. Many sturdy voters said they would not endorse a Treaty the meaning of which they did not understand.
Now the elites have a thorny problem. Despite the speculation that they would simply forge ahead and ratify the Treaty without Ireland, they cannot legally do so. No member state can ratify the Treaty unless all 27 do.
Will we see a repeat of the Nice “solution” when the Irish electorate was bought off, and an initial vote of 54% to 46% in favour of the No Campaign was turned into a 63% to 37% triumph for the Yes men? The voting split yesterday was about the same 54% to 46%, so opt-outs on sensitive issues such as business tax harmonisation and abortion rights may well be in the offing. It pays to be cynical about anything to do with EU integration. But it will take an awfully shameless Irish politician to force the electorate back into the voting booths this time?
In any case, the elites’ response is for tomorrow. Today we raise a glass to the health and good sense of the Irish.
Today I came across a video slice of a Henry Kissinger interview about the troubled and troubling process of European integration. The interview was conducted by Peter Robinson for National Review Online, and it’s dated 22nd April 2008.
Kissinger was an academic connected to the Council on Foreign Relations in the late 1950s while the Treaty of Rome was being planned. His specialism was security, with reference to nuclear weapons. Obviously, one of the major strands in the European project was the prevention of a third 20th Century war, so he may well have contributed to the CFR’s adumbrations on the subject, and the somewhat royal “We” he employs in the interview is more than likely justified.
In any event, at one minute in, the old thaumaturge relieves himself of the following remark:-
Did we make a mistake? Probably not, because Europe was strained by two world wars, and the European nation state was no longer in a position to carry out the global responsibilities which used to be characteristic of Europe. We over-estimated, however, what could be achievable. We thought you could transfer the loyalties of the nation state to the greater organisation that was being created, and that has turned out to be wrong or not feasible. So Europe, in a way, is now suspended between its past, which it has partially given up, and it’s future which it hasn’t yet reached - and maybe never reach.
Next Thursday 12th June, the Irish electorate will go to the polls as the only member nation of the EU to vote on the Lisbon Treaty. Last week the Irish Times published an opinion poll which showed the swashbuckling “No” Campaign ahead for the first time:-
The Eurosceptic UK national dailies have been banging on today about Gordon Brown signing away our control of immigration. “Buried in the Treaty’s small print is a ruling that gives new rights to EU leaders to overturn decisions made by Britain’s Immigration and Asylum Tribunal,” claims the Daily Mail.
Here, drawn from the Draft Treaty dated 3rd December 2007 (pdf) are the significant references to immigration:-
1. The Union shall develop a common policy on asylum, subsidiary protection and temporary protection with a view to offering appropriate status to any third-country national requiring international protection and ensuring compliance with the principle of non-refoulement. This policy must be in accordance with the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol of 31 January 1967 relating to the status of refugees, and other relevant treaties.
2. For the purposes of paragraph 1, the European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall adopt measures for a common European asylum system comprising:
(a) a uniform status of asylum for nationals of third countries, valid throughout the Union;
(b) a uniform status of subsidiary protection for nationals of third countries who, without obtaining European asylum, are in need of international protection;
(c) a common system of temporary protection for displaced persons in the event of a massive inflow;
(d) common procedures for the granting and withdrawing of uniform asylum or subsidiary protection status;
1. The Union shall develop a common immigration policy aimed at ensuring, at all stages, the efficient management of migration flows, fair treatment of third-country nationals residing legally in Member States, and the prevention of, and enhanced measures to combat, illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings.
2. For the purposes of paragraph 1, the European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall adopt measures in the following areas:
... (c) illegal immigration and unauthorised residence, including removal and repatriation of persons residing without authorisation;
And from the Protocols section:
PROTOCOL ON ASYLUM FOR NATIONALS OF THE UNION
22) The Protocol on asylum for nationals of Member States of the European Union shall be amended as follows:
(a) the preamble shall be amended as follows:
(i) the first recital shall be replaced by the following:
“WHEREAS, in accordance with Article 6(1) of the Treaty on European Union, the Union recognises the rights, freedoms and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights”;
(ii) the following new second recital shall be inserted:
“WHEREAS pursuant to Article 6(3) of the Treaty on European Union, fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, constitute part of the Union’s law as general principles;”;
There follow some abstruse substitutions in former treaties, the meaning of which is totally open-ended from our lay perspective.
It is, I think, clear both that the competence of the European Court of Human Rights has been extended to immigration and asylum, and the common policies which will flow from the Treaty will supercede member countries’ immigration and asylum laws. The usual rain of Brussels directives will fall upon this new ground.
One should not be surprised. The elite cult of internationalism abhors nation - and nationalism, of course. Europe’s nations are not intended to survive. It is not too dramatic to say the same for Europe’s peoples.
... we aim to avoid new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and our neighbours to the east and on the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean. We invite these neighbours, on the basis of a mutual commitment to common values, to move beyond existing cooperation to deeper economic and political, cultural and security cooperation - strengthening stability, security and well-being for all concerned. The new feature is that we go beyond cooperation to include economic integration, for those ready and able.
Economic integration, no less.
The “neighbours” committed to common values with, of course, no dividing lines include Algeria, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine Authority, Syria and Tunisia, as well as a clutch of eastern European or at least Christian countries. Each is allotted an ENP Action Plan that sets out how “cooperation” - meaning mutual manipulation - can be pursued. To be honest, I cannot see what priceless gifts are to be mined from the Islamically-inclined on the list - nothing yet from some of them because they are still to be inducted into the cooperation process. But Israel is past all that, of course, and is already making good use of the bureaucratic channels open to it. And guess what:-
Experts from the European Union and Israel met Thursday in Brussels to exchange experiences on combating racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism.
The one-day seminar, which took place at the European Commission headquarters, was organized in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).
Under the ENP EU-Israel Action Plan endorsed in 2005, the European Union and Israel agreed to work together to combat anti-Semitism as well as racism and xenophobia.
The seminar examined policies and best practice on combating racism in the European Union and in Israel.
It looked at how statistics are collected, how anti-discrimination policies are put in place and how mutual understanding can be fostered.
Sessions were also devoted to fighting racism through education, how penal legislation can be used to treat racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism as a crime and how to combat hate speech in the media.
The European experts came both from the European Commission and from the Member States of the European Union.
The European Defence Agency employs a number of analysts whose function is “long vision” - looking into the future of Europe from a defence perspective. The IHR circularised this summary by EU Business of one of these guys’ reports.
There’s nothing in the demographic aspects of it that aren’t familiar fare to MR readers. But, of course, the EDA reports directly to the highest echelons of European political life. EU Business, meanwhile, is well-read by corporate and financial Europe.
These two sectors - fundamentally, the European political Establishment and European finance and capital - don’t get their opinion from VDare or Amren. But they are getting the raw facts. What they make of them, however, is another matter.
Here’s the first half of the text from the EU Business article:-
The European Union will become older, poorer and increasingly vulnerable to wide-scale immigration from its neighbours, according to a new European Defence Agency report.
The agency also highlights the problems of increasing unemployment and desertification in its 32-page “long-term vision” for European defence needs which will be presented to EU defence ministers meeting in Finland on Tuesday.
The document, described by one diplomat as “pretty bleak”, is the result of a year’s work identifying the main trends for EU member nations and their defence needs.
The overall picture is of an aging, less prosperous Europe surrounded by regions—Africa, Middle East, Russia—“which may be struggling to cope with the consequences of globalisation”.
I am posting Martin Hutchinson’s latest Bear’s Lair piece, which addresses what, currently, is the hottest European potato: the conflict between the grand ambition of EU enlargement and the practical difficulties it poses. It is dated today, 2nd October, and is published on the Prudent Bear website.
The EU Tuesday finally agreed to admit Bulgaria and Romania on January 1, 2007, but expressed deep concern about the level of corruption in both countries. Is this a problem that affects only the countries concerned, or might it affect the EU economy as a whole, bringing it new diseconomies from EU enlargement?
The political arguments for and against EU expansion are clear. On the one hand, the EU wants to take in its poorer neighbors, to include them in a greater European federation that can pull its weight in world affairs and produce prosperity for its people. On the other hand, as the EU goes further East and South, it comes to countries which are either exceedingly poor (hence possibly a burden on EU social funds and other programs) or culturally sufficiently different from the European majority (for example, primarily Moslem) that their assimilation might prove difficult. There is no hard dividing line – Bosnia is a Moslem country that is historically well within the European heartland, while Armenia is a Christian country whose history has little connection with Western Europe. Nevertheless it’s clear that politically, while the absorption of culturally close entities such as East Germany and Hungary was supported by the great majority of EU citizens, expansion beyond the European heartland poses progressively more difficult problems.
Spring seems to exercise a quite remarkable effect on European politicos and bureaucrats. Perhaps it’s a rare form of hay fever, perhaps some kind of atonement for our disgraceful victory at Trafalgar, but every time round about now we get the latest example of EU brazenness and the British government’s craven cowardice.
The European Union agreed Monday to start talks on Ankara’s eventual membership in the organization — a historic first step that would transform the bloc by taking in a predominantly Muslim nation and expanding its borders to Asia and the Middle East.
Gordon Brown called on the European Union last night to end its integrationist ambitions and make the radical economic reforms needed to turn it from a trade bloc into a force able to compete in the world. The Chancellor urged a “pro-European realism” whereby the Union rose to international challenges while accepting that identities remained rooted in the nation-state. Mr Brown outlined in his annual Mansion House speech how he and the Prime Minister would make economic reform the centrepiece of Britain’s six-month presidency of the EU.
Mr Brown went on the offensive over the European budget and called for sheltered markets to be opened up, “starting with agriculture”. Tony Blair will repeat that message when he addresses the European Parliament today, seeking to dispel the “caricature” advanced at the recent EU summit of Britain being a Dickensian economy.
France opened a third front with Britain on the eve of today’s European Union summit by publicly voicing grave reservations about Turkey’s impending membership. The statement yesterday by Dominique de Villepin, the new French Prime Minister, increased the tension surrounding a summit that is already engulfed in bitter disputes over the EU budget and constitution. Britain has insisted enlargement will be a priority during its EU presidency, which begins next month, and will proceed on schedule ... Earlier, M de Villepin told the French parliament that the results of its referendum on the EU constitution had shown the speed of enlargement had shaken EU citizens. “We must take it into account,” he said. Bulgaria and Romania should be admitted in 2007, but “beyond that we must certainly open a discussion with our partners on the mode of future enlargements”. He did not mention Turkey by name but was clearly refering to the poor, predominantly Muslim country which is due to start membership talks with the EU on October 3.
In Holland the issues of sovereignty, identity, and immigration were openly raised in the referendum debate, and the genie is now out of the bottle. In what is arguably Europe’s most “tolerant” country, the notion that a nation has the right to its land and customs has become a legitimate mainstream argument. Perhaps Theo van Gogh did not die in vain.
On the economic front the outcome in France and Holland will have beneficial effects too. The dirigiste Franco-German consensus, the spirit of which was strongly felt in the Constitution and whose adherents still dominate in Brussels, will now retreat before a more vigorous competitive spirit favored by Finland, Ireland and a few new members in Eastern Europe. If CDU’s Angela Merkel unseats Scroeder in September, as seems likely, Germany will join them by introducing much needed tax and labor law reforms. More important still, it will cease to underpin the eastern end of the old Paris-Berlin axis. That would pave the way for the center-right reformer Nicolas Sarkozy, Chirac’s arch-rival, to bring a breath of fresh air into the Elysee Palace in 2007.