Tag Archives: EU

Colliding Worlds: Donald Trump And The European Union

By Michael Cottakis – US President Donald Trump is not naturally inclined towards the EU. The EU represents the antithesis of what Trump aspires for in himself, or of the value he sees in others. For the President, the EU is an essentially effete project – a civilian power that likes to see itself as human rights based and collegiate, but with no hard power of its own. It is not a real force in the world because it cannot project military power, or speak with a single, unified voice, putting its interests first.

A defensive Brussels, reeling from recent crises and keen to assert itself as an important international actor may, with provocation, respond.

The European Commission tends to respond to Trump’s provocations with smugness and belittlement. Other European leaders are cannier and understand better the risks of such an approach. Emmanuel Macron has adopted the guise of the EU’s chief diplomat to the US, speaking regularly with Trump. Climate change, Iran, trade policy and Syria have all been on the French President’s agenda. While discussions remain relatively cordial, little impact is being made in policy terms.

The international system is greatly changed. A battle of new world views, political and socio-economic models is at play in which new authoritarian values gain ground at the expense of traditional ‘western’ values. The international influence of the US is determined not only by the number of its weapons, or the power of its commerce. Traditionally, it is a consequence also of its power of attraction, the emancipatory quality of its core values – democracy, human rights, economic openness. These values, and their adoption by third countries, have helped drive the world to levels of prosperity never before experienced.

These achievements ought not to be squandered. more>

The Troubling Transformation Of The EU

By Hans Kundnani – There are two quite different ways of thinking about the Commission’s proposals. For Macron, they were part of a vision for a “Europe qui protege” in which there would be greater “solidarity” between citizens and member states.

In the context of this vision, the new European Monetary Fund would be a kind of embryonic treasury for the eurozone. But many in Germany, including Wolfgang Schäuble, seem to support the same idea for entirely different reasons. They see it as a way to increase control over EU member states’ budgets and more strictly enforce the eurozone’s fiscal rules and thus increase European “competitiveness”. If that vision were to prevail, “more Europe” would mean “more Germany” – as many of the steps that have been taken in the last seven years since the euro crisis began have.

These different visions illustrate the way that deepening European integration is not automatically or inherently a good thing. In fact, steps such as turning the ESM (European Stability Mechanism) into a European Monetary Fund may form part of a troubling transformation of the EU that goes back to the beginning of the euro crisis.

It is as if the EU is in the process of being remade in the image of the IMF. It increasingly seems to be a vehicle for imposing market discipline on member states – something quite different from the project that the founding fathers had in mind and also quite different from how most “pro-Europeans” continue to imagine the EU.

Indeed, it is striking that, in discussions about debt relief for crisis countries, the European Commission has often been even more unyielding than the IMF. As Luigi Zingales put it in July 2015: “If Europe is nothing but a bad version of the IMF, what is left of the European integration project?” more>

Who should lead internet policy?

By Tom Wheeler – The tremor in Silicon Valley emerged from Brussels, not the San Andreas Fault. The European Union’s decision on Google’s search practices makes clear the absence of domestic regulation has opened the door for policies to be decided by foreign governments.

It should be a worry – and a wake-up – for all the companies whose platforms drive internet services.

Thanks to the interconnectedness of the internet, imposing rules in one major market necessarily impacts operations in other markets. While the internet platform companies may celebrate how they have avoided regulation at home, it does not mean they have avoided government oversight – just that such policies come from other governments. And because the effects of a keystroke can circle the world in seconds, policy imposed by the EU, for instance, can be felt far beyond the European continent.

While protecting consumers and competition is their goal, it would be an unnatural act for foreign regulators not to take into consideration the effect the internet giants have on companies in the countries of those regulators.

Thus, the question occurs whether the success of the U.S. internet giants in keeping their own government at arms’ length is not actually counter-productive.

Rather than the U.S. setting the international standard for appropriate oversight of the platforms of the internet – and in doing so advancing and protecting American economic influence, consumer interests and innovation – the U.S. internet companies’ actions have defaulted the leadership to other countries with perhaps other goals. more> https://goo.gl/XFu73j

Europe’s long cycle of crisis, and why German economics is different

BOOK REVIEW

Globalization and its Discontents, Author: Joseph Stiglitz.
The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe, Author: Joseph Stiglitz.

By Matt Phillips – Going back to the founding of the euro zone, it was premised on two ideas.

One is that it would bring greater prosperity, and the success of the euro zone would reinforce European solidarity. And then that would lead to the next stages of European political integration.

It was the moment of the time. It was just after the defeat of communism, the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was a moment to be seized.

The world could now move closer together. And there were a whole set of initiatives that came together. The WTO was founded in 1995, for example.

So it was a moment of global triumphalism and a wrong interpretation of what the fall of the Berlin Wall meant. It wasn’t the victory of capitalism, it was the defeat of a flawed system.

When they thought about how are we going to make this disparate group of countries share a currency, they said, “We’ll limit deficits to 3% of GDP, debts to 6% of GDP.”

There was no economic theory behind this. But this was the conservative, neoliberal agenda to constrain the hand of government. And the idea was that governments were the source of instability. If we constrain government, all will be well.

Basically, it’s the nature of who gets drawn into political life. I (Joseph Stiglitz) would say if anything, matters are worse because of the distortions to our society brought about by the financial sector. more> http://goo.gl/VUXpGd

Brexit vote is about the supremacy of Parliament and nothing else: Why I am voting to leave the EU

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard – Stripped of distractions, it comes down to an elemental choice: whether to restore the full self-government of this nation, or to continue living under a higher supranational regime, ruled by a European Council that we do not elect in any meaningful sense, and that the British people can never remove, even when it persists in error.

We are deciding whether to be guided by a Commission with quasi-executive powers that operates more like the priesthood of the 13th Century papacy than a modern civil service; and whether to submit to a European Court of Justice (ECJ) that claims sweeping supremacy, with no right of appeal.

We do not know who exactly was responsible for anything because power was exercised through a shadowy interplay of elites in Berlin, Frankfurt, Brussels, and Paris, and still is. Everything is deniable. All slips through the crack of oversight. more> http://goo.gl/74dQd3

Related>

Reports of the Death of Europe Are Greatly Exaggerated

By James G Neuger – The problem with predictions of atomization is that they require not one, but all 28 EU countries to secede, and all 19 users of the euro to go back to their national currencies.

Even the EU’s most die-hard detractors don’t expect that. Once unbound, the newly disconnected nation states would have to find a way of organizing the affairs of a continent that generates gross domestic product of about $17 trillion, just shy of the U.S.

It stands to reason that they would hit upon something like the present-day EU, which for all its gridlock, beats the alternatives Europe has lived through in its fragmented, warlike past.

Popular backing for the euro, single market and inner-EU labor mobility is solid; while 55 percent of Europeans polled in November said they don’t trust the EU, 66 percent said they don’t trust their national governments. more> http://goo.gl/16QW2D

Why the EU needs major political reform

By Balázs Kiss – Why can Europe`s leaders not agree on how to address the acute crises of the euro, migration and terrorism?

Why can they not even discuss the future of the European Union?

Why is the EU in an existential crisis?

The reason is the structural flaw of European integration, stemming from its democratic deficit.

Until the 1980s, the depth of European integration at the level of a single market was compatible with the elitist, technocratic method of integration, called ‘Monnet-method’. EU actions did not yet affect hard national sovereignty issues.

In the 1990s, Europe`s leaders decided to deepen integration by creating the euro and the Schengen system [2], but still in the Monnet method, without due involvement of EU citizens. This was the moment when European integration entered a dead end street.

This launched a ‘representation spiral’: since national leaders are politically accountable to their domestic electorates, the higher the stakes of joint EU decisions, the more their voters view their attempt to represent common European interests as irrelevant or disloyal.

Consequently, national leaders have become bound to focus on the national aspects of joint EU action, and to abandon the representation of common EU goals. more> http://goo.gl/z7nz2U

Europe’s Many Economic Disasters

By Paul Krugman – Why are there so many economic disasters in Europe?

Actually, what’s striking at this point is how much the origin stories of European crises differ. Yes, the Greek government borrowed too much.

But the Spanish government didn’t — Spain’s story is all about private lending and a housing bubble.

And Finland’s story doesn’t involve debt at all. It is, instead, about weak demand for forest products, still a major national export, and the stumbles of Finnish manufacturing, in particular of its erstwhile national champion Nokia.

What all of these economies have in common, however, is that by joining the eurozone they put themselves into an economic straitjacket. more> http://tinyurl.com/ov3lgu4

Related>

Beyond the Greek Impasse

By George Friedman – The Greek situation — having perhaps outlived the term “crisis,” now that it has taken so long to unfold — appears to have finally reached its terminal point.

This is, of course, an illusion: It has been at its terminal point for a long time.

The problem is simple.

The core institutions of the European Union have functioned not as adjudicators but as collection agents, and the Greeks have learned how ruthless those agents can be when aided by collaborative governments like Cyprus.

The rest of the Europeans have also realized as much, which is why Euroskeptic parties are on the rise across the union. Germany, the country most threatened by growing anti-EU sentiment, wants to make clear that debtors face a high price for defiance.

And if resistance is confined to Greece, the Germans will have succeeded. But if, as I think it will, resistance spreads to other countries, the revolt of the debtor states against the union will cause major problems for Germany, threatening the economic powerhouse’s relationship with the rest of Europe. more> http://tinyurl.com/o87erop

Related>

EU plans to destroy net neutrality by allowing Internet fast lanes

By Glyn Moody – A two-tier Internet will be created in Europe as the result of a late-night “compromise” between the European Commission, European Parliament and the EU Council.

The so-called “trilogue” meeting to reconcile the different positions of the three main EU institutions saw telecom companies gaining the right to offer “specialized services” on the Internet.

These premium services will create a fast lane on the Internet and thus destroy net neutrality, which requires that equivalent traffic is treated in the same way. more> http://tinyurl.com/ob8qy6z

Related>