Tag Archives: Europe

Why the Armed Forces of Europe isn’t possible

By Timothy Ogden – In many ways, it sounds like a wonderful idea – one army, one continent, one unified command structure. But like most things which are advertised as all-encompassing solutions to a many-faceted beast, implementing the creation of a European Army would be complicated, expensive, time-consuming, and ultimately pointless.

To begin with, there is the fact that collective defence in Europe already exists, since the majority of countries on the continent are NATO members. Interoperability between the armies of different member states is achieved through frequent joint exercises and cross-training; in recent years these activities have mostly taken place in the Baltic countries and Poland, to the continued ire of Moscow.

Should Russian aggression take on a tangible military form against any of NATO’s eastern members, it is, of course, debatable whether Western European countries would be willing to go to war on their behalf – obligated to defend Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia though they are, if the choice was between quietly letting the Kremlin occupy its former Soviet satellites or risk a potentially nuclear conflict, it is by no means certain that the West would stand firm on its NATO commitments and gamble on Paris, Rome, and Berlin not going the way of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The creation of a European Army would do nothing to alleviate any possible hesitancy over protecting all European territory against outside aggression. Whether or not a collective defense is (on paper) guaranteed by NATO or a hypothetical European Army, a reluctance to defend territory that only ceased to be controlled by Moscow in 1991 would remain. As long as there are national interests and divergent political objectives, there can be no European Army. In other words, before there can be a European Army, there would have to be a supranational European state.

This, of course, looks to be unlikely – nationalist sentiment has risen in recent years rather than fallen, particularly in the wake of the UK’s Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election in the US. Then there is the fact that Europe’s differing political objectives come with different military commitments and differing levels of willingness to fight. The aforementioned scenario of Western European countries being reluctant to defend former Soviet states is equally applicable to ongoing post-colonial deployments. For instance, it is questionable whether the governments of other European countries would be glad to send their soldiers to help France fight its running conflicts in Africa. more>

A European pivot from space to time

By Kalypso Nicolaïdis – Although Europe has never ceased to reinvent itself, we the peoples of Europe love to announce to the world that peace, like diamonds, is forever. That is a nice thought. But peace is never a done deal. Its foundations need to be reinvented by every generation, every polity, every era. Deep peace is not an inheritance but a way of life. It is not about harmony but struggle. It needs armies of defenders, with all sorts of clever strategies, all sorts of ingenious weapons, all sorts of parochial accents.

Journeys of reckoning often have to do with re-knowing something anew that we had almost forgotten. Can we know peace anew?

We can do so through many different paths. One such path is this: a European pivot from space to time. The EU and its critics have focused on the politics of space, a space made single by markets, regulators and judges, a space where free movement reigns supreme and from which we can choose who and how to exclude. What if the EU were to refocus on the politics of time, time when we reflect back and look ahead, time that can be slowed down better to engage with the needs of the next generation, time to allow for a hundred indecisions, and for a hundred visions and revisions …

Would it not be okay to renationalize space a little if we could radically Europeanize time? Inspired by the journey of Er, who at the end of The Republic comes back from the dead, can we shape our present life to serve future lives through the virtues we abide by? more>

Europeanization from below: still time for another Europe?

By Donatella Della Porta – Progressive social movement organizations have long been critical of the European Union—and progressively more so. Yet at the same time they have sought to promote ‘another Europe’.

They Europeanized their organizational networks and action strategies, developing cosmopolitan identities.

Research on social movements and Europeanization had indicated a move away from protest towards advocacy, understood as an adaptation of movements to EU structures. But there was also evidence of a repoliticization of EU issues, which saw the selective use of unconventional, protest-oriented strategies among groups forming part of the GJM (global justice movement).

The increasing criticism of existing EU institutions has targeted their democratic deficit, perceived as worsening during the financial crisis and counterposed to national sovereignty, but also their policies, perceived as less and less driven by considerations of social justice and solidarity. There has been criticism too of the definition of Europe as an exclusive polity, with proposals to go instead ‘beyond Europe’. more>

From Europe-as-project to a real political community

By Marija Bartl – Seeing the EU as a ‘project’ echoes a longstanding preoccupation with Europe’s supposed destination—with its directionality. This is omnipresent in its constitutional documents (‘ever closer union’), its legislation (relentlessly oriented towards building the internal market) and the case law of its courts (a teleological interpretation of EU law), as well as in underlying political processes (‘more or less Europe’ as the central framing category of political discussion).

It is this preoccupation with directionality that so strikingly sets the EU apart from its member states. We do not query the ‘destination’ of Italy, or Poland—unless we have some cataclysmic event in mind. These political communities just are. Whatever direction they take, and whatever we think of that, is fundamentally a matter of politics.

Presenting the EU as a project frames it as something unfinished that needs further construction. It becomes an entity that is about policies rather than politics—which always needs to move forward and grow, to avoid Macron’s dread ‘status quo and resignation’.

The fact that we are as preoccupied with the EU’s directionality today as we were at its establishment six decades ago is something that should worry us—shouldn’t we know what we are by now?—but it should not come as a surprise. more>

Democratising Europe: by taxation or by debt?

Europe desperately needs to resolve its collective-action problem to emerge from the crisis. Democratizing Europe, with a fiscal capacity, is better than monetary easing.
By Manon Boujou, Lucas Chancel, Anne-Laure Delatte, Thomas Piketty, Guillaume Sacriste, Stéphanie Hennette and Antoine Vauchez – On December 10th 2018 we launched a Manifesto for the Democratization of Europe, along with 120 European politicians and academics. Since it was launched, the manifesto has accrued over 110,000 signatures and it is still open for more. It includes a project for a treaty and a budget enabling the countries which so wish to set up a European Assembly and a genuine policy for fiscal, social and environmental justice in Europe—all available multilingually on the website.

In the Guardian, on December 13th, Yanis Varoufakis presented his ‘Green New Deal’ as an alternative to the manifesto, which he considers to be irrelevant.

The Varoufakis plan builds on the European Investment Bank (EIB) which is responsible for issuing bonds to the value of €500 billion per annum, including these securities in the program of purchase of securities by the European Central Bank (ECB).

The main criticism by Varoufakis seems to be the following: why do you want to create yet more new taxes when one can create money? Our budget is indeed financed by taxation, whereas his plan is financed by public debt.

In his proposals, private firms involved in the ecological transition borrow money from the ECB, after having been selected by the EIB.

In fact, part of this arrangement already exists in the form of the Juncker plan. What Varoufakis adds is the purchase of securities by the ECB rather than by private investors. more>

A New Political Narrative For Europe

By Massimiliano Santini – In August, Bono, lead singer of U2, wrote an editorial on Europe in which he pointed out that it may not be romantic or sexy but Europe is “much more than just a geography… [its values and aspirations] go to the core of who we are as human beings, and who we want to be. That idea of Europe deserves songs written about it, and big bright blue flags to be waved about.”

Today, many Europeans do not share that visionary idea of Europe. Instead, they feel more represented by a narrative that has portrayed the European project as a bureaucratic monolith, ruled by an élite of technocrats who are focused on their self-preservation rather than people’s real interests. People view Europe as the villain: an antagonistic force imposing harsh rules that must be respected for their own sake. But where does this narrative come from?

A new type of clear, succinct, and engaging political narrative ought to mix and match existing policy solutions and offer a vision of the world that helps people interpret the present and envision the future with hope, as opposed to nostalgia. more>

How Europe became so rich


A Culture of Growth: Origins of the Modern Economy, Author: Joel Mokyr.
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Author: Edward Gibbon.

In a time of great powers and empires, just one region of the world experienced extraordinary economic growth. How?
By Joel Mokyr – How and why did the modern world and its unprecedented prosperity begin?

One of the oldest and most persuasive explanations is the long political fragmentation of Europe. For centuries, no ruler had ever been able to unite Europe the way the Mongols and the Mings had united China.

It should be emphasized that Europe’s success was not the result of any inherent superiority of European (much less Christian) culture.

It was rather what is known as a classical emergent property, a complex and unintended outcome of simpler interactions on the whole. The modern European economic miracle was the result of contingent institutional outcomes. It was neither designed nor planned. But it happened, and once it began, it generated a self-reinforcing dynamic of economic progress that made knowledge-driven growth both possible and sustainable.

How did this work? In brief, Europe’s political fragmentation spurred productive competition. It meant that European rulers found themselves competing for the best and most productive intellectuals and artisans. The economic historian Eric L Jones called this ‘the States system’.

The costs of European political division into multiple competing states were substantial: they included almost incessant warfare, protectionism, and other coordination failures. Many scholars now believe, however, that in the long run the benefits of competing states might have been larger than the costs. In particular, the existence of multiple competing states encouraged scientific and technological innovation. more>

Fixing Europe


And the weak suffer what they must? Author: Yanis Varoufakis.

By Noel Grima – It has not been an easy summer for Europe. First the many terrorist attacks in France and in Germany. Now this earthquake in Italy. And, above anything, Brexit.

Each successive meeting of European leaders (and also those of finance ministers) ends with an announcement that a fix has been found, a new structure has been added on, and yet the deep fundamental issues that undermine the euro have not yet been tackled.

The real villain of the book is Richard Nixon and his Treasury Secretary John Connally and Under-Secretary Paul Volcker.

On 15 August 1971 they told an unsuspecting Europe that the US would be dismantling the global monetary system it had created and maintained for many years. In effect, it was pulling out the rug from under Europe’s feet.

Europe was in a way to blame for this, for the preceding years had shown many times that Europe was coming to chafe under the US hegemony. So the US pulled the plug from the Bretton Woods agreement which had fixed the US dollar against a fixed amount of gold.

Since then, since this American rejection, the European leaders have been engaged in a series of knee-jerk reactions that – 40 years later – have led the euro to the brink of collapse. We can read about everything that came later – the European Monetary System, the snake, the euro – as so many knee-jerk reactions to the US 1971 decision. more> http://goo.gl/47OC8b

A small problem in Germany

By Theodoros Benakis – The view in many parts of Brussels is that the future of Europe, at least for the next few years, will not be decided by the ever more unpopular elections for the European parliament in 2014, but by the German electorate on 22 September.

According to the leaders of The Alternative, the euro has failed as a currency. As an alternative to the Mark, they could accept a two class euro.

A first class ‘saints euro’, the currency of the rich and budgetary ordered countries. A second class ‘sinners euro’ of the poor, good for the South and any budgetary ‘weak’ country. more> http://tinyurl.com/pwjtcr8