Monday, February 28, 2005
The most famous History of the English-Speaking Peoples was of course a four-volume treatise written by Sir Winston Churchill, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953.
See A History of the English-Speaking Peoples
Volume 1: The Birth of Britain (begins with Julius Caesar and the Romans)
Volume 2: The New World
Volume 3: The Age of Revolution
Volume 4: The Great Democracies
For our taste, the most wonderfully readable books about British history are the books of Sir Arthur Bryant, especially his three-volume "A History of Britain and the British People", which consists of:
Set in a Silver Sea (Volume One)
Freedom's Own Island (Volume Two), and
Search for Justice (Volume Three).
Bryant begins with the ancient history of the British Isles 10,000 years ago and proceeds from there to the present, covering all of British history. As Bryant writes in Set in a Silver Sea (page xv):
"For it is not intended solely for the educated minority who read scholarly history and for whom I have been writing it for more than half a century, but for the younger generation of a new classless society which has grown up in almost total ignorance of their country's history...."
The Story of England by William McElwee covers the history of England "From the Time of King Alfred to the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II".
A good study of British institutions in the aftermath of the dissolution of the British Empire is found in the books of Anthony Sampson: The Anatomy of Britain (1962), twenty years later The Changing Anatomy of Britain, and recently Who Runs This Place?: The Anatomy of Britain in the 21st Century.
A popular book about the English is Jeremy Paxman's The English: A Portrait of a People.
A mythological-archaeological approach to the pagan history of England is found in Brian Branston's, The Lost Gods of England.
The myths and legends are explored in Richard Barber's Myths and Legends of the British Isles.
A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany is found in the correspondingly titled book by Aubrey Burl.
The megaliths of the British Isles (and elsewhere) are examined and explained in the work of this author at Stars Stones and Scholars.
The Abstract of the article (subscription required) raises the following point:
"Although Norway has rejected referenda that propose EU entry several times, Norwegians are becoming increasingly aware of the limitations of their influence in European affairs. In 1994, Norway signed the European Economic Agreement with the European Union. This agreement, which gives Norway the ability to freely conduct trade with the European Union, has had the de facto result of forcing Norway to adopt all policies passed by the EU parliament. The result of this, moreover, is that Norway is forced to implement laws that it has no voice in and undermines its very sovereignty as a state."
It is then no wonder that the EU Observer's Lisbeth Kirk reports in Norway hints at EU membership talks after 2007 that "Norway might resume discussions on EU membership after 2007, according to Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik."
Kirk writes further that a new Sentio-Norstat poll published in Norwegian newspapers finds that:
"In February 46.4 percent were in favour of EU membership with 41.6 percent opposed. A further 12.1 percent of voters have not made up their minds.
Norway has twice rejected EU membership in referendums, and as one of the world's leading exporters of oil, Norway has few economic problems, but its major market is Europe, and by not being an EU member, Norway still has to abide by EU dictates in economic areas, without having a thing to say about the content of these laws or regulations. If they want to remain competitive, they have to do what the EU tells them.
This is an important point to be pondered by naysayers in Europe opposing their country's EU membership or rejecting ratification of the EU Constitution. It is also one of major arguments of pro-EU proponents, especially in the UK, who argue that they would rather be a strong leading member of the EU, guiding its policies, rather than finding themselves at the mercy of policies made by others.
Sunday, February 27, 2005
"Without Joschka Fischer the Greens are like Queen without Freddie Mercury."
["Ohne Joschka Fischer sind die Grünen wie Queen ohne Freddie Mercury."]
See also (all in English)
Deutsche Welle World
Our question is, what would the hapless Schroeder administration do without a competent, if politically damaged, Fischer?
We recalled a passage relating to the EU Pundit's previous post on the recent catastrophic election in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, an opinion shared in Germany by the CDU/FDP coalition.
A small volume in the EU Pundit's humble private library entitled Queen Victoria, by Roger Fulford (Brief Lives: Collins, St. James's Place, London, 1951) writes as follows on the troubling Schleswig-Holstein issue (pp. 82-83):
"On political matters the Queen really had no fixed opinions: she was an empiricist in the sense that she decided each question, as she was confronted by it, on its merits....In foreign politics she was strongly pro-German...
Unluckily, the first considerable crisis in European affairs, which occurred after her widowhood, concerned Germany and it greatly distressed her. It was the question of Schleswig Holstein--one of horrible complexity with its roots going back to the Middle Ages. Fortunately it is not necessary for the average mortal to disentangle them. Even Lord Palmerston, in his jaunty style, said that he did not being to understand it and that only two people had ever mastered it, adding that of them one was dead and the other was mad."
Well, I am sure you know the rest of what happened after that. Let us just say that the importance of Schleswig-Holstein (as it relates to the Danes) in German affairs is currently greatly underestimated outside of Germany, and that we have not yet heard the last of this issue by a longshot.
The EU Pundit read a scathing critique of the incumbent loser (longing to be winner) Heide Simonis today in the German newspaper Die Welt. To the suggestion on the Talkshow "Beckmann" that a coalition of the major German parties in Schleswig-Holstein could be a solution to the current problem, her immediate spontaneous reaction had been: "Yes, and what will become of me then?" ["Ja, und wo bleibe ich dann?"] (Quoted today in a Die Welt editorial "Ich, ich, ich" by Romanus Otte, p. 2, which is not available online).
This is part of Germany's problem today. People like Simonis, whose only interest in politics is their own welfare, are in charge of running Germany... straight downhill.
Otte quotes Simonis further as follows from the Talkshow on the fact that the election had visibly drained her energies:
"First, I am going to have to see now, that I get through until Easter. Then a little bit of vacation. And in summer vacation. And then everything will be fine again."
["Ich muß jetzt erst mal sehen, daß ich bis Ostern durchkomme. Und dann ein bißchen Urlaub machen. Und dann im Sommer Urlaub. Und dann geht das schon wieder alles."]
An abbreviated summary of the Beckkman interview online has another telling quotation from Simonis about her negotiations with the Danish SSW party's head delegate (a female):
"If we agree among ourselves, then we will stick to it. Then it will be a girls' camp."
"[Wenn wir uns einigen, werden wir es durchhalten. Dann wird es ein Girlscamp.]"
These are the kinds of people currently running Germany. And the world wonders why the world economy is advancing, but not the economy in Germany. The answer is clear. Much of the country is in the hands of nice little old ladies like Simonis who are absolute incompetents. Schleswig-Holstein has an unemployment rate of nearly 13% and rising. This same lady who wants to head the government again after 10 years of disastrous non-leadership, by her own admission plans to struggle through until Easter, then take a vacation, then take another vacation, and its a "girls' camp" for all after that.
If that is the way it remains, we are not too optimistic about the future of Schleswig-Holstein.
Friday, February 25, 2005
24 Feb 2005 (250224-51)
(As written at LLRX, "The debates of Parliament are published in Hansard. There are separate series for the House of Commons and the House of Lords and for Standing Committee debates. Hansard is also available on the web on the Parliament website, and there are archives of the Commons Hansard back to 1988/89. The House of Lords Hansard database is from 1996.")
Here is the Written Statement on ROYAL MARRIAGE which is a current topic of general interest about the UK:
24 Feb 2005 : Column WS87
The Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): In the light of recent interest in the law surrounding Royal marriages, I am making this Statement to set out in more detail the view that has been taken by the Government on the lawfulness of the proposed marriage between the Prince of Wales and Mrs Parker Bowles.
The Government are satisfied that it is lawful for the Prince of Wales and Mrs Parker Bowles, like anyone else, to marry by a civil ceremony in accordance with Part III of the Marriage Act 1949.
Civil marriages were introduced in England, by the Marriage Act 1836. Section 45 said that the Act . . . shall not extend to the marriage of any of the Royal Family'.
But the provisions on civil marriage in the 1836 Act were repealed by the Marriage Act 1949. All remaining parts of the 1836 Act, including Section 45, were repealed by the Registration Service Act 1953. No part of the 1836 Act therefore remains on the statute book.
The Marriage Act 1949 re-enacted and re-stated the law on marriage in England and Wales. The Act covered both marriage by Church of England rite, and civil marriage. It did not repeat the language of Section 45 of the 1836 Act. Instead, Section 79(5) of the 1949 Act says that 'Nothing in this Act shall affect any law or custom relating to the marriage of members of the Royal Family'.
The change of wording is important, and the significance is not undermined by the fact that the 1949 Act is described as a consolidation Act. The interpretation of any Act of Parliament, even when it consolidates previous legislation, must be based on the words used in the Act itself, not different words used in the previous legislation.
In our view, Section 79(5) of the 1949 Act preserves ancient procedures applying to Royal marriages; for example, the availability of customary forms of marriage and registration. It also preserves the effect of the Royal Marriages Act 1772, which requires the Sovereign's consent for certain marriages. But it does not have the effect of excluding Royal marriages from the scope of Part III, which provides for civil ceremonies. As the heading to Section 79 indicates ("Repeals and Savings") it is a saving, not an exclusion.
We are aware that different views have been taken in the past; but we consider that these were overcautious, and we are clear that the interpretation
24 Feb 2005 : Column WS88
I have set out in this Statement is correct. We also note that the Human Rights Act has since 2000 required legislation to be interpreted wherever possible in a way that is compatible with the right to marry (Article 12) and with the right to enjoy that right without discrimination (Article 14). This, in our view, puts the modern meaning of the 1949 Act beyond doubt."
Interesting is the reference to the Human Rights Act, which can be summarized as follows:
"The British government [brought] the Human Rights Act into legislation on 2nd October 2000. The HRA incorporates the European Convention of Human Rights into British domestic law. The ECHR is a treaty of the Council of Europe, which was adopted in 1950 and ratified by the British government in 1951. The ECHR was designed to give binding effect to the guarantee of various rights and freedoms in the [United Nations] Declaration on Human Rights adopted in 1948. The Convention rights are a broad interpretation rather than a strict legalistic one to ensure that they are practical and can be effective within a changing society. The incorporation of the ECHR [into] the Human Rights Act means that individuals will be able to seek redress for human rights abuses through the British court system before having to take a case to Strasbourg. The Human Rights Act is drafted in such a way that all primary and subordinate legislation must be compatible with the European Convention Rights."
See also the BBC on the Human Rights Act.
Please note that the ECHR is not a Convention of the European Union, but rather of the Council of Europe (CoE), which is NOT a body of the EU, but consists of 46 European states, representing 800 million Europeans.
Crossposted to LawPundit.
An excellent page which discusses the Euro and the UK from all sides from a neutral non-partisan standpoint is kept at Richard Kimber's Political Science Resources page by Richard Kimber and Brian W. Jarvis at the UK-euro FAQ (.pdf version here). They even have double columns for the major Euro-related issues showing the arguments for or against any subissue.
The entire award-winning website goes far beyond the Euro and is one of the best sources of organized political links on the net. Take a look at it. It is definitely worth a bookmark and we are adding it to our list of website links.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
In our opinion, the British Empire, which not that far ago spanned 25% of the globe, was certainly a product of the fact that the peoples of the United Kingdom are a very smart group.
In view of recent discussions in the United Kingdom (UK) about the place of the UK in the European Union (EU), where many in the UK think that the UK is getting a bad deal in the EU, we must ask: "Have the people of the British Isles lost their magic touch as far as the EU is concerned? or who is actually getting the better of whom?"
HOW IS THE UK DOING ECONOMICALLY IN THE EU?
We were puzzled by The United Kingdom Agri-Food Country Profile 2003 which tells us that:
"Over the last ten years the UK economy has averaged year on year growth of almost 3% (compared to an EU average of 2.3%), and inflation has remained consistently below 4% since 1992. This is the first period of extended low inflation in over 50 years."
IS THE UK ACTUALLY PROSPERING FROM EU MEMBERSHIP?
Those figures surely looked prosperous to us.
Hence, we thought we would turn the entire EU-UK issue around and examine it from an opposite perspective. Could it be, contrary to the opinion of many in the UK, that the UK is the one profiting from the EU relationship? Those clever Brits?
Certainly Germany, which has a 10% unemployment rate, and rising, should ponder why the UK's rate of unemployment is still at less than 5%, even though there have been "133,000 applicants [in the UK] for work permits under the Worker Registration Scheme (WRS) for workers from the ten new accession countries, 123,000 of which have been issued. See "Poles lead the way as rush from new EU states dwarfs predictions", by John Steele, Home Affairs Correspondent, February 23, 2005, where he writes: "[T]he Home Office said workers were coming "to fill gaps in industries such as hospitality and catering, administration, business, management, agriculture, health and construction". It added: "Accession workers contributed an estimated £240 million to the economy between May and December.""
SOME SIMPLE INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS
International economics - at its simplest understandable level - is trade. What does one country produce that another needs, and vice versa? To understand the position of the UK in the EU one has to ask, what does the UK produce that the other countries of the EU need, and, conversely, what do the other countries of the EU produce that the UK needs. Without such complementary needs, trade would be impossible, since there would be nothing to exchange.
THE UK IS AN IMPORTER OF FOOD AND MANUFACTURED GOODS AND AN EXPORTER OF SERVICES
According to Patrick Minford of the The Julian Hodge Institute of Applied Macroeconomics, the UK is both a large NET IMPORTER of food from the EU as well as a large NET IMPORTER of manufactured goods from the EU.
At the same time, the UK is a large NET EXPORTER of service industries to the EU, for which Minford lists the examples of insurance, banking, airlines, ground transportation, communication and electricity.
THE UK SERVICE AND INDUSTRIAL SECTORS AND THE LABOUR FORCE
The UK service sector accounts for 73% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Breaking the data down differently:
"Industry accounts for 25.3% of total GDP, and employs 30% of the workforce. Manufacturing and construction employ 17.5% of the labour force, and the energy sector employs 1.2%. The agricultural sector comprises 1.7% of total GDP, and employs 1.2% of the workforce."
By our reckoning, that means that 50% of the labor force works in service industries which account for 73% of GDP - and the question is, service to whom?
A large part of the market for UK services is in the EU. An example would be Vodafone, which describes itself as the world's largest mobile community, and the world's 2nd largest wireless phone services provider, after China Mobile. (We are not sure who is really the biggest.)
THE UK BALANCE OF TRADE
The United Kingdom Agri-Food Country Profile 2003 informs us that:
"The UK exported US$287 billion worth of goods in 2001. Exports consisted primarily of manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals, food, beverages and tobacco. The UK's exports were dominated by shipments to countries in the EU. The EU as a whole received 54% of the UK's total exports. The US received 15% of the UK's exports and was the country's largest single export market followed by Germany 11%, France 9%, Netherlands 7% and Ireland 7%.
The UK imported US$337 billion worth of goods in 2001. A majority of imports were manufactured goods, machinery, fuels and foodstuffs. Collectively the EU dominates the UK import market, controlling 48% of total imports. The US is the UK's single largest source of imports controlling 13% of the import market, followed by Germany 11%, France 7% and the Netherlands 6%."
Indeed, the trade balance deficit in 2001 for the UK was US$50 billion. The UK imported far more than it exported. We do not have more updated statistics, but these will likely not diverge much in subsequent years.
FINANCIAL SYSTEMS OF THE UK AND OTHER EU COUNTRIES ARE SIMILAR
Joseph P. Byrne and E. Philip Davis in the NIESR "A Comparison of Balance Sheet Structures in Major EU Countries" point out that there is a myth concerning EU and UK financial systems:
"The UK is commonly viewed as having a ‘market oriented’ financial system, in contrast to other European countries which are seen as ‘bank dominated’. In the light of this supposition, we investigate sectoral balance sheet data for evidence of differences in financial structure between the UK and other major EU countries. It is found that the UK has much in common with Continental countries, in particular France, and they are themselves markedly heterogeneous. There is also some evidence of convergence towards a more market-oriented financial system, even in the most bank-dominated economy, Germany."
THE NET RESULT FOR THE UK
We repeat again this unexpected economic revelation:
"Over the last ten years the UK economy has averaged year on year growth of almost 3% (compared to an EU average of 2.3%), and inflation has remained consistently below 4% since 1992. This is the first period of extended low inflation in over 50 years." [emphasis supplied]
Is that thanks to the EU?
That same source writes:
"One of the key economic issues involving the government is the proposed referendum on the UK joining the euro. While initially planned for this term, ending in 2006, most believe that the referendum is unlikely to come. The delay can be largely blamed on the good performance of the UK economy in comparison to its EU partners. This has made it very difficult for the government to sell the population on the benefits of joining the European Monetary Union (EMU) it consistently outperforms."
But that logic may be completely faulty. Indeed, the UK may be outperforming the rest of the EU precisely BECAUSE it IS a member of the EU, where its non-tariffed service industries are reaping large profits in the EU market. Should the EU rather than UK be the ones complaining?
WHAT WOULD THINGS BE LIKE IF THE UK WERE NOT IN THE EU?
What would happen economically to the UK if it were not a member of the EU?
As Minford notes, "The EU is ... a customs union."
The UK Agri-Food Country Profile writes:
"The EU now forms a single market. It levies a common tariff on imported products coming from non-EU countries. The EU also has among other things, a Common Agricultural Policy, joint transportation policy, and free movement of goods and capital within member states."
Indeed, the history of the EU is rooted in the concept of an "Economic Community". Countries that are "in the club" have benefits AND responsibilities and those outside have no responsibilities BUT no benefits. And each pays its dues to be in the club.
If UK were not a member of the EU, then of course it would have to pay higher prices for food products imported from the EU than the UK does presently, because the rest of the EU would still be subsidizing the French farmers, who get EU subsidies to produce food for all us. The Member States would then not foot the subsidy bill and give the UK a free ride. Of course, the UK could then subsidize their own farmers, also costly, or import more food from elsewhere overseas, and rely on those markets, which might ultimately also turn out to be costly.
At the same time, since the UK would then be "out" of the club, the UK would have to pay a premium - through tariffs - to provide the services of its service industries to the EU Member States. There would also no longer be free movement of manufactured goods OR capital from the UK to the EU and vice versa, and that would be very expensive for the UK.
IS THE UK MEMERSHIP IN THE CLUB OF EUROPE A GOOD DEAL?
To this observer, UK membership in the "Club of Europe", i.e. the EU, looks like a pretty good thing for the UK and less a good deal for the EU. Over the last ten years, according to HM Treasury (European Community Finances, Statement on the 2004 EC Budget and measures to counter fraud and mismanagement, April 2004), Britain’s net contribution to the EU was £2.6 billion a year, equivalent to 0.25% of GDP. [emphasis added]
WHAT DOES EACH EU MEMBER STATE ACTUALLY PAY INTO THE EU?
Looking at all the EU Member Countries, the budget of the EU according to the UK National Statistics is less than 1% of GNI (Gross National Income) of the Member States, running at 0.98% of EU Gross National Income in 2004.
Compare that general 1% figure, however, to the ENORMOUS comparable sums spent by the national governments of the various EU Member States in their own government spending.
AN ANALYSIS (NOT OURS) WHICH IS CONTRA TO OUR THINKING
The 'cost' of leaving the EU will actually be a net gain of at least £15 billion a year, more likely £40 billion.
The author provides a range of estimates from 'rock bottom', through 'most likely', to 'high'. His rock-bottom figure draws largely on official sources and deploys the most cautious of assumptions. The net costs of EU membership are appraised in five areas: EU regulation, the common agricultural policy (CAP), net payments to EU institutions, the single market, and inward investment. Overall, the net cost of remaining in the EU ranges from the rock-bottom estimate of £15 billion to the 'most likely' of £40 billion.
EU Regulation: The rock-bottom estimate is £5 billion (rounded down from £6 billion) and the most likely, £20 billion. Based on the Government's own regulatory impact assessments (RIAs), the total cost of regulation between 1999 and 2004, according to the British Chambers of Commerce, was £7.91 billion per year. Based on information supplied by the House of Commons Library in May 2004, 83 per cent of the cost of regulations originated in EU directives. If rounded down to 80 per cent, then about £6.33 billion of the £7.91 billion total cost is due to the EU.
CAP: The rock-bottom figure is £5 billion (after rounding down from £6 billion) and the most likely, £15 billion. An OECD study put the total cost to the EU in 2002 at 1.4 per cent of GDP (the UK figure today would be £14 billion). Allowing for costs and subsidies not included in the OECD study, and for subsidies received by UK farmers, the most likely figure is £15 billion.
Payments to EU Institutions: The latest Pink Book shows net payments of £4.3 billion (rounded up to £5 billion).
Single Market: A study by the European Commission in 1996 is often quoted in support of the claim that the single market raised total EU output by between one and 1.5 per cent. However, a number of independent studies have found no hard evidence of net benefits. For example, the Bundesbank could find no evidence that it has helped German trade. The UK economy is unlikely to be any different. The Institute of Directors reviewed studies from the Commission, the OECD and others and noted the absence of persuasive evidence of the benefits of the single market. In 2003 an Institute of Directors' survey of members found that trading in the EU 14 was on balance unattractive and more costly than before the single market.
Inward Investment: Some studies, including one by the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, claim that inward investment would fall if the UK left the EU. The author questions this contention by looking at the earnings on all inward investment made by the main economic sectors. The two biggest are oil and gas (39 per cent of earnings) and financial services (18 per cent). He argues that oil and gas would continue to attract investment because they are high value products in a stable part of the world. Investments in financial services, another global industry, are mainly denominated in US dollars, and will go wherever the best return is to be found. The City has not suffered from the introduction of the euro and would be unlikely to suffer if the UK left the EU. The author accepts that investment in manufacturing of 'chemicals, plastics and fuel products' (10 per cent by earnings) and 'other industries' (11 per cent) might be influenced by our EU membership.
The EU will be of declining economic importance in the world
The author questions whether it is wise to link our fortunes to a region of the world with a poor record of economic growth and whose share of world markets is destined to fall. Even the European Commission takes a gloomy view of the EU's prospects. In its December 2002 review it forecast a 44 per cent decline in the EU-15 share of global GDP from 18 per cent in 2000 to ten per cent in 2050. In 2050, as in 1950 and 2000, the three most populous countries in the world are likely to be India, China, and the USA. The working-age population of the EU, even after its current enlargement to 25 members, is projected to decline by between 20 and 30 per cent by 2050.
Lord Weatherill calls for a full and open debate
According to Lord Weatherill, the most respected Speaker of the House of Commons in recent years, 'All our main political parties have denied the British people a full and open debate... Parliamentarians now have a sacred duty honestly to explain the pros and cons of our developing relationship with the European Union.'
AN ANALYSIS (NOT OURS) WHICH SUPPORTS OUR THINKING
Britain in Europe has this analysis posted online:
“A Cost Too Far?” by Ian Milne (Civitas) purports to be a rigorous and independent “analysis of the net economic costs and benefits for the UK of EU membership”. But in fact, it is a piece of anti-European propaganda riddled
with errors and exaggerations.
The author, Ian Milne, is the director of Global Britain, an anti-EU research institute and think tank that advocates complete British withdrawal from the EU. Global Britain was initially based from 1998-99 at the UK Independence Party (UKIP)’s London campaign office. Mr Milne was previously director of Bill Cash MP’s European Foundation in 1993-95, but they parted company because Mr Milne was too extremely anti-European for even Bill Cash!
The study’s main conclusion is that: “If the UK were to leave the EU, there would be no net loss of jobs or trade. In addition, we would be between £17 billion and £40 billion per year better off, possibly more.”
This highly dubious result is based on a series of scarcely credible
assumptions, namely that:
1. EU regulation costs £20 billion a year, without bringing any
corresponding benefits, and that these regulations would simply be
abolished if Britain left the EU, rather than replaced with equivalent
2. the Common Agricultural Policy costs £15 billion a year, and that
Britain would stop supporting its farmers if we left the EU;
3. Britain’s net financial contribution to the EU budget (including the CAP)
is £5 billion a year, rather than the £2.6 billion it has averaged over the
past ten years – a figure which includes the net cost of the CAP, and
that unlike Norway or Switzerland – Britain would not have to contribute
anything to the EU budget in order to enjoy access to the single market
if we left the EU;
4. the UK economy would not suffer outside the single market, although
economic theory and evidence suggests that eliminating trade barriers
within the EU has boosted the UK economy by 1.8% a year, or £20
billion a year;
5. leaving the EU would have no impact on inward investment in the UK,
although Britain’s share of inward investment in Europe doubled after
we joined the Common Market in 1973 and has collapsed since the
As the more detailed discussion of these assumptions below shows, they do
not stand up. There is no reason to believe that Britain would benefit
economically from leaving the EU. On the contrary, the most authoritative
independent study on the costs and benefits of EU membership, conducted by
the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) in February
2000, estimates that withdrawal from the EU would lower Britain’s GDP by
2.25% permanently. Since GDP was around £1,100 billion in 2003, the cost to
the UK would be around £25 billion a year. [Footnote 1: Section 4.3 (page 32) of the NIESR study explains what they assume. On withdrawal, the UK government would stop paying to EU institutions, but would take over financial responsibility for the commitments (eg, agricultural support) undertaken by those institutions. The study assumes that some of the saving would be spent in other ways by the government and the rest used to reduce taxes (see the report for details). The upshot is that there would be a difference in the effect of withdrawal on GDP (a fall of 2.25%) and on real gross national income (a fall of 1.5-1.75%). GDP is calculated before net payments to EU institutions and real gross national income after taking account of these and other payments.]
Even allowing for financial savings from withdrawal, the UK would be 1.5% to 1.75% worse off if we left the EU: some £19 billion a year.
The five dodgy assumptions
1. EU regulation
The study claims that a “rock-bottom estimate” of the cost of EU regulation is £5 billion a year – and that the “most likely” figure is £20 billion. In fact, the “rock-bottom estimate” comes from an analysis by the British Chambers of Commerce based on the British government’s own regulatory impact assessments that the cost of regulation is £7.91 billion a year, of which
83% is said to derive from EU-inspired legislation. This comes to £6.3 billion a year.
The “most likely” figure is plucked from the assertion that the cost of EU regulation probably amounts to 2% of UK GDP, because the Dutch finance minister stated in a speech that the cost of EU regulation in his country amounted to around 2% of GDP.
In any case, it is nonsense to claim that Britain would be £20 billion – or even £5 billion – better off if we left the EU.
For a start, regulations – EU or otherwise – have benefits as well as costs. The benefits of sound regulations – the stipulation that cars must be fitted with seat-belts, for instance – far outweigh their costs. It is far-fetched to assume, as the study does, that EU regulations bring no benefits at all to offset their costs.
Moreover, insofar as regulations exist because stakeholders – consumers, trade unions, companies themselves – demand them, then it is more than likely that if Britain left the EU and abolished EU regulations, it would enact similar regulations with similar costs.
Indeed, there would be powerful reasons for enacting identical regulations – or simply not abolishing EU-inspired ones – so that business could export freely to the EU single market without the added burden of having to comply with a separate set of domestic UK regulations.
The vast majority of regulation that comes from Brussels replaces existing national regulations. This is necessary in order to complete the single market, so a company serving the whole of the EU only has to comply with one set of regulations and not fifteen. This means that, if repealed, the majority of EU regulation would have to be replaced by equivalent UK regulation. Moreover, the idea that the EU is constantly generating ever-increasing levels of regulation is a myth. Over the last decade more EU regulation has been repealed than put on the statute book.
In conclusion, although the net cost (or benefit) of EU regulation is very hard to assess, it is arguable that it is around zero.
2. The Common Agricultural Policy
The study claims that a “rock-bottom estimate” of the cost of the Common Agricultural Policy is £5 billion a year – and that the “most likely” figure is £15 billion. The “most likely” figure comes from an OECD study that estimates the cost of the CAP to be 1.4% of EU GDP.
This estimate involves double-counting. The CAP is part of the EU budget; and Britain’s net contribution to EU finances is the next item on the list. In any case, Britain would not “save” £15 billion if we withdrew from the EU. British farmers received government support before we joined the Common Market in 1973 and would doubtless continue to receive support if we left the EU – if only to create a “level playing field” with their generously subsidised counterparts in the rest of the EU. At best, then, Britain would save a fraction of the £15 billion annual cost of the CAP if we left the EU.
3. Payments to EU Institutions
The study, citing the Office for National Statistics, claims our net financial contribution to the EU is £4.3 billion “rounded up to £5 billion”.
In fact, according to HM Treasury (European Community Finances, Statement on the 2004 EC Budget and measures to counter fraud and mismanagement, April 2004), Britain’s net contribution in 2003 was £3.7 billion, and the estimated figure for 2004 is £4.2 billion. In the last ten years, Britain’s average net contribution to the EU budget was £2.6 billion a year, or a 0.25% of GDP. [emphasis added]
Again, Britain would not save all of this if we left the EU. Both Norway and Switzerland, which are not members of the EU, make contributions to the EU budget in order to gain free access to the EU’s single market. Norway pays around 220 million euros a year to the EU, while the Swiss have agreed to pay 1 billion Swiss francs over 5 years, which works out at around 130 million
euros a year.
4. Single Market
The study’s “overall conclusion is that the balance of costs and benefits for the UK economy is zero, that it could be negative, and that the UK would not suffer economically by being outside the single market.”
The source for this scarcely credible claim is a study by the notoriously anti-European Institute of Directors. Yet economic theory suggests that eliminating trade barriers lowers prices, increases economic welfare, boosts competition, enables economies to benefit from greater specialisation and economies of scale and spreads new productivity-enhancing technologies, all of which boost economic growth. A free-market think-tank like Civitas could surely not
disagree with this.
Through the EU, British business has tariff-free access to 450 million consumers – the largest and richest single market in the world. Europe is our biggest market: 52% of our trade is with the EU. 750,000 British-based companies now trade with Europe.
3.5 million British jobs are linked to our exports to the EU, of which 2 million are in manufacturing.
The single market makes it easier for British businesses to export to their biggest market. The creation of the single market has cut company overheads by removing many of the costs and much of the red tape associated with exporting to EU countries. The abolition of customs forms saves British businesses an estimated £135 million a year. The single market ensures that EU countries recognise each others’ product standards. British manufacturers are therefore able to save the considerable costs of re-testing in each country and modifying products to comply with a multitude of different standards. British consumers benefit from cheaper imports because manufacturers from other EU countries save too. EU agreements give all firms the right to compete for contracts with local councils and public bodies across the EU. It puts strict limits on the use of state aid to support ailing industries, ensuring that European firms compete on a fair playing field. This increases competition and efficiency to the benefit of all. And self-employed people can set up a business anywhere in the EU.
The European Commission estimates (The Internal Market, Ten Years Without Frontiers) that EU GDP was 1.8% higher in 2002 thanks to the single market. This is equivalent to a benefit to the British economy of £20 billion a year. Intra-EU trade has risen from around 26% of the EU
economy in 1993 to 35% in 2001; intra-EU foreign investment has grown even faster; and foreign investment into the EU has also soared.
5. Inward Investment
The study claims that access to the single market is only one of the reasons why foreign companies invest in Britain and that if the UK left the EU “the impact on inward investment is likely to be neutral”.
This is fanciful. Britain’s share of inward investment in Europe leapt from around 15% in the 15 years before we joined to 30% in the subsequent 30 years. But since 1998, the year before the euro’s launch, our share has collapsed to 6.7% in 2002, according to the United Nations’ World Investment Report, the most comprehensive and reliable source on global foreign direct
investment. Britain has already suffered a big loss of inward investment by remaining outside the euro; we would doubtless suffer a further fall if we left the EU altogether, since foreign firms would find it easier to serve the EU single market by locating within it."
THE EXAMPLE OF NORWAY
Although Norway has twice rejected joining the EU by Referendum, most modern polls indicate that a majority of the population now regrets this decision.
There may be political and other reasons for a certain percentage of the UK population to not desire to be a part of the EU, but economic considerations do not seem to qualify as a grounds for complaint. Since we regard the people of the UK to be quite smart, based on the historical record, we think they will ultimately choose the road which is best for them in the long term, also as far as the question of the ratification of the EU Constitution is concerned, and we fully expect ratification, but only time will tell....
"Chalk it up as a second VE Day (Victory in Europe), and credit President George W. Bush for following Sir Winston Churchill's wise counsel: "In Victory: Magnanimity."
Bush's low-key shellacking of France's crook in chief, Jacques Chirac, signals the political defeat of "Old Europe" on the issue of Iraq....
Chirac's Old Europe faced European opponents, beginning with Tony Blair's Great Britain. Poland and Italy sent significant troop contingents in Iraq and provided crucial political support. The Poles understood the stakes. When I attended an August 2004 planning session at the Polish headquarters in Babylon, one senior Polish officer told me: "Poland appreciates freedom. That's why we are here." ...
The Dutch and Danes added battalion-sized contingents. In a late evening chat session in Baghdad, a Danish officer told me, "We have few military forces (to start with), but we're here." Why? America is addressing the central strategic issue: the need for a democratic political reformation in the Middle East. Extending democracy ultimately protects Denmark....
On Tuesday, all NATO members agreed to "assist in training Iraqi security forces, to hasten the day when they can take full responsibility for the stability of the country and the security of its citizens."
While training assistance certainly serves as a political fig-leaf, it's an absolutely vital task, as is economic development.
That's where France and Germany can still contribute. With Churchillian grace, Bush acknowledged that: "Today, America and Europe face a moment of consequence and opportunity. ... We can once again set history on a hopeful course -- away from poverty and despair, and toward development and the dignity of self-rule; away from resentment and violence, and toward justice and the peaceful settlement of differences. Seizing this moment requires idealism: We must see in every person the right and the capacity to live in freedom."
For democracies that shirked the showdown in Iraq, Bush's remarks are gentle acid, but it's medicine Old Europe knows it has to swallow."
At his blog, Austin Bay in "Mark Steyn’s Funny But He’s Wrong: Chirac’s Western Front Folds" writes in criticism of Mark Steyn's pessimistic assessment of American and European relations:
I love Mark Steyn’s work.
His latest column compares American-European relations to a pair of old and finished lovers warily chatting over latte.
Great writing –absolutely brilliant writing– BUT, wrong conclusion, unless you’re like the French and you think “Europe” is another word for “France.”
I know, “Mark Steyn, he ain’t no French.“
The Iraqi election smacked Monsiuer Chirac and Herr Schroeder. The Chirac-Schroeder axis smells defeat and their “western front against America” is folding. The Iraqi people’s Jan 30 electoral show of force sealed Chirac’s defeat. Even in the benighted Bastilles of Paris and Berlin, those ink-stained indicators of democracy in the line of fire – purple fingers – point the way to the future.Besides, Chirac and Schroeder’s “Greater Europe” is simply too divided, as I point out in my column this week. (Thanks to StrategyPage.)"
"Walid Jumblatt, the patriarch of the Druze Muslim community [in Lebanon] and, until recently, a man who accommodated Syria's occupation. But something snapped for Jumblatt last year, when the Syrians overruled the Lebanese constitution and forced the reelection of their front man in Lebanon, President Emile Lahoud. The old slogans about Arab nationalism turned to ashes in Jumblatt's mouth, and he and Hariri openly began to defy Damascus."
It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."
The USA is not only winning its conflicts due to its politics of strength against terrorism, but it is also gaining supporters among moderates in the Arabic world, and it is time for once in their history that Europe finally learn to get on the WINNING side in their politics.
But as Glenn Reynolds writes: "Sigh. I would hope for more maturity from Europe, but there's not a lot of history in support of such hopes."
Prospect Magazine in the UK is definitely one of the best political magazines out there in our book and has tremendous articles on numerous subjects, including the EU.
Donald Graham, Chairman of the Washington Post is quoted as saying: "An absolutely remarkable magazine. One of the best of its kind in the world."
Prospect also won the Political Studies Association award as political publication of the year in 2004.
Although the magazine of course can be subscribed to, they also feature "free" articles, such as this one from their "Brussels Diary" by Manneken Pis on the Spanish EU Referendum.
Or you can pay to view such articles as this one:
"A short guide to who hates whom in the new commission; here come the Portuguese; and what is wrong with the BBC's coverage of the EU?
The BBC and the EU
It was inevitable that the panel investigating the BBC's coverage of the EU would fail to give the corporation a clean bill of health. But since the investigating team was evenly divided between Europhiles and sceptics, they were also never going to agree about exactly what the BBC is doing wrong. So instead they accused the BBC of unspecified "unintentional bias" and complained that its coverage is too thin and failed to reflect the importance of the EU..."
That is all that is availabe on that article without a subscription.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Bush is cited as saying that "Europe is America's closest ally".
Barkin and Blenkinsop write:
"Putting their nasty row over Iraq behind them, U.S. President George W. Bush and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder have vowed to foster a partnership they said was vital to the transatlantic alliance.
Side by side at a press conference on Wednesday in Mainz, where Bush's father once called on West Germany to play a bigger role in the world and become a 'partner in leadership', the tone was warm although the talk of past division was frank.
'Europe is America's closest ally,' Bush said on the second stop of a European tour. 'In order for us to have good relations with Europe we have to have good relations with Germany.'"
Read the rest here.
As everyone knows, the UK has no fixed written constitution and never has had one.
Yet, scholars have gone to the fiction of calling the government system in the UK a "constitutional monarchy" in spite of this lack of a fixed written document, assigning a "constitutional status" to various historical documents, judicial precedents and customs. There is even a classic book by Walter Bagehot entitled "The constitution of England". In reality, of course, the English system is "a parliamentary democracy within a monarchy", and it in fact lacks a fixed written constitution, such as that now being introduced into the EU.
The public domain 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica writes as follows:
"In one important respect England differs conspicuously from most other countries. Her constitution is to a large extent unwritten, using the word in much the same sense as when we speak of unwritten law. Its rules can be found in no written document, but depend, as so much of English law does, on precedent modified by a constant process of interpretation. Many rules of the constitution have in fact a purely legal history, that is to say, they have been developed by the law courts, as part of the general body of the common law. Others have in a similar way been developed by the practice of parliament. Both Houses, in fact, have exhibited the same spirit of adherence to precedent, coupled with a power of modifying precedent to suit circumstances, which distinguishes the judicial tribunals. In a constitutional crisis the House of Commons appoints a committee to search its journals for precedents, just as the court of kings bench would examine the records of its own decisions. And just as the law, while professing to remain the same, is in process of constant change, so, too, the unwritten constitution is, without any acknowledgment of the fact, constantly taking up new ground.
In contrast with the mobility of an unwritten constitution is the fixity of a constitution written out, like that of the United States or Switzerland, in one authoritative code. The constitution of the United States, drawn up at Philadelphia in 1787, is contained in a code of articles. It was ratified separately by each state, and thenceforward became the positive and exclusive statement of the constitution. "
To our great surprise, the discussion of this topic in an objective manner has led to a flurry of heated postings by persons who take offense to our posting of these facts, which by no means are inimical to England or the UK in any manner. We are merely stating objectively the way that things are.
The EU Pundit has taught this subject at a university level for many years and we can assure the reader that "identifying" a constitution of England or the UK is no easy task. Indeed, if 20 members of the House of Lords and 20 members of the House of Commons and 20 of the highest ranking legal scholars in the UK would sit down separately and write down what they think the content of their unwritten constitution is, you would get 60 different versions. Indeed, if the UK unwritten constitution were clear, it could be easily codified, but that is not the case, and that is why it has never been done.
If other scholars want to call the UK system a "constitutional monarchy", fine. It is a matter of definition and there is nothing wrong per se in calling it that. However, the label is misleading. If no fixed written constitution is required to be a "constitutional state", then every other country without a written constitution is also potentially "constitutional" in nature, since we can derive their non-existing constitution (i.e. their system of state) from their unwritten law. Frankly, we see problems with this approach, because it leads to subjective judgments about what kinds of documents, precedents and customs have "constitutional status" and which do not.
In any case, our main point in past posting was that this lack of a fixed written constitution is a tradition which in fact makes many of the people in the UK distrustful of such a fixed written constitution in the EU. And we are certain that we are quite right in this analysis, based on the heated opposition that we find in the UK to the EU Constitution, which is in great degree simply a codification of already existing EU law.
Please note that this analysis says nothing about our feelings about the UK, as some commentators have imputed. We are Anglophiles and appreciate greatly the tremendous impact that the English system of government has had on democratic systems of government throughout the world.
Please note also that although we are very much pro-EU, we definitely assign a special position to the UK in the EU, and, contrary to the heated postings by some commentators, to put it frankly we are not even sure we would support EU participation in the European Union if we ourselves were from the British Isles. It would be a tough decision, simply because the British Isles are removed from the Continent, have always been more insular in their traditions, and still are - which is part of their charm. However, one also has to pay heed to economic realities, and that is the core of the reason for UK participation in the EU. The EU is the world's largest market and a lack of membership in that market is something which perhaps even the UK would not suffer well in coming decades.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Here is our reply:
John, we do not want to be accused of "lecturing", but this may be a professional habit. We never underestimate the intelligence of other people, otherwise, what would be the point of writing for others to read. But what we do sometimes doubt is the state of men's FACTUAL knowledge about the topics on which they nevertheless often have strong opinions. For example, not to be picking just on the UK, our law students in Germany were always amazed - and sometimes not too pleased - to discover the FACTUAL origins of their legal system. The German Civil Code (as most continental European law) is based on "Roman Law", on the Code of Justinian. But this is not Rome, Italy. Rather, this is the "Roman Law" of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) headquartered in the then Christian Constantinople, today's Istanbul (see http://www.fsmitha.com/h3/h01const.htm). Justinian himself was born in what we today call Serbia and Montenegro (former Yugoslavia), which back then was Latin-speaking (see http://www.edunetconnect.com/categories/byzantium/emperors.php). Essentially, much of the common law of the UK is rooted in Germanic and Scandinavian tribal law. Paradoxically, Germany itself now has a legal system rooted in the Byzantine Empire. Knowing such facts about the ancient history of Europe and understanding the many historical ties that exist between all of the nations of Europe makes the issue of EU integration look somewhat different than it is portrayed by its modern opponents.
To Andis Kaulins.
So you don't think the House of Commons is a good model of 'reasoned discourse'? So you look down on the House of Commons? Perhaps you sneer at the English political tradition, too. Funny though. The English political tradition is what gave the world Magna Carta, constitutional monarchy, Habeas Corpus, the jury system, the abolition of slavery, parliamentary democracy, and the final defeat of Hitler. All this while the 'reasoned discourse' of the continent produced Fascism, communism, the Holocaust, the witch trials, Napoleon, Stalin, Franco, Mussolini and Scandinavian sterilisation of retarded children. Oh yes, and you also gave us the unelected European Commission.
Thanks for that. Posted by kissingengland on February 22, 2005 at 03:51 PM CET #
Here is my reply:
"Actually, to reply to the comments of the poster "kissingengland", we are great fans of the UK - definitely Anglophiles - and have visited there numerous times. As a holder of US and EU passports, and having studied law at Stanford Univeristy, we are well aware of the legacy of Anglo-American Law, which specific subject we taught for five years at the University of Trier Law School in Germany. We do not look down on the House of Commons at all, but we certainly do not accept the idea that the heated debate sometimes presented there is worthy of emulation, as the poster Worstall suggested.
Here are some factual corrections. The Magna Carta was a great document in its time, but the freedoms that it granted were freedoms granted by the king ONLY to the landed gentry, not to everyman. The Magna Carta was the first document of its kind that limited the sovereignty of the king so that the nobility would have more power, which they have retained down to modern times. Furthermore, it is not accurate to write that the UK has a constitutional monarchy, since the UK does not have a written constitution and never has had one (see http://www.wilsonhs.org/sonnabend/UK%20lectures.htm), and this may indeed be a factor creating opposition to the EU Constitution, since there is no tradition in the UK for a written constitution. Habeas corpus is an ancient Anglo-Saxon common law practice. The Anglo-Saxons (Angles and the Saxons) were Germanic tribes who invaded England in 450 A.D. (see http://www.habeascorpus.net/hcwrit.html and http://campus.northpark.edu/history/WebChron/WestEurope/AngloSaxon.html). The jury system did not originate in England but can be traced back as far as the Scandinavians, who called the jurors "thanes"(see http://www.constitution.org/cmt/wf/htj.htm). It is true that the English abolished slavery before the US, but the English were also among the first countries to engage in the lucrative slave trade in the first place, so I am not sure that the issue slavery can be used to applaud the UK. The origin of parliaments much precedes England (see http://www.rbc.com/community/letter/december1964.html) and is already found in Anglo-Saxon assemblies. Lastly, without the USA, Hitler would not have been defeated. We do not want to belittle the great achievements of the English-speaking peoples in modern history in any way, but we think it behooves everyone to know the true facts and not to presume that all of these modern advances were originally "made in England", which they were not. This popular misconception is in part at the root of "the English problem" in the EU, because the rank-and-file in the UK do not know the debt they owe to continental Europe for their democratic institutions."
The blog Bubba-Gump writes:
"Britain has one of the largest proportions of anti-Europeans in the EU (here they're called 'little-Englanders')...
The little-Englanders have no actual arguments, nothing that they can back up, nothing justifiable. They think that the only reason we no longer have an empire is because Tony Blair signed it away in 1999, they think that British Supremacy is the wave of the future and that it's 1789 not 2005. Quite a few things happened in those 216 years.
With a capitalist, extreme right wing superpower across the Atlantic (the US), a communist extreme left wing superpower emerging on the other side of the continent (China) as well as India and a Russia that's slowly eeking back to totalitarianism, it would strike most people as common sense that the 25 nations that share our values (a balance between state safety-nets, optional private alternatives and a commitment to social justice) and just happen to constitute the world's largest economy should band together. Problem is, a lot people in Britain don't see the EU for what it is; an opportunity to use that clout to enforce slightly fairer values than those proposed by the other superpowers.
We have in the course of the years developed an effective weapon to deter these kinds of postings, by returning a few salvos in kind, which we view more as humour than anything else, but which generally tends to bring people back to Earth under the motto that anyone can play this kind of game and it leads to nothing.
We simply quote from the Worstall blog (no commentary necessary):
February 22, 2005
Help!!! I appear to be infected or infested with a paticularly vicious little bug. It’s driving me up the wall....
Does anyone know what’s going on here?...
I know that I make fun of ...
It is very difficult to think of the UK as being a free country any more....
Yes, I know appeals to authority are an error of logic....
I really do believe that our Lords and Masters only do what is best for us plebs....
Let’s have a nice scare to remind everyone what the caring sharing bureaucrats are saving us from?....
to think so would be to betray one’s paranoia....
... it might be only 6 months before I unchain her from the stove again?
Yes, yes, I know, sexist pig, me....
February 21, 2005
I guess there are some differences between men and women then, perhaps in the fields of reading comprehension and logic....
Now, I have no idea who is correct here, being as I am, just a guy with a connection....
As I say, I have no idea who is correct here, but I’m pretty sure that someone must be wrong....
Sure, this is all just trivial, someone’s made a booboo and it will be corrected....
I agree that I’m not 100% up on legal requirements....
Just a terribly minor thought on the referendum in Spain yesterday. No, not the fact that a terribly under informed electorate got bamboozled and stampeded into voting for whatever it is that the statist elite desired, this is not uncommon in Latin or other lands....
That’s what makes us different from the Continentals and other lesser races...."
And those quotes are from only two days of postings. Is this reasoned discourse? We think not.
We see that Worstall has posted to the Wallström blog in response to our comment at that blog. We post our comment first and then that of Worstall:
Here is the EU Pundit commment to the Wallström blog:
Dear Ms. Wallström,
Please excuse the poor manners of many of the other posters to your comments section. They confuse the fact that strongly felt opinions do not grant anyone a blanket license to act rudely in situations where the recipient of such rudeness is hardly in a position to defend herself personally against it. Shame on you all.
Where have all the gentlemen gone? Besides, if Ms. Wallström judges the cogency of your arguments in part by the manner in which they are presented, as I do, then I am afraid that most of the comments thus far are not worth reading.
Let me say that I think that it is great and quite courageous that you are blogging and I wish you could get more of your colleagues in the EU to do the same. The EU needs to learn to establish much better contact to the citizens, and I think your blog is on the right way to doing that. Sorry that your commenters generally do not acknowledge your pioneership in that.
Andis Kaulins, EU Pundit
Posted by Andis Kaulins on February 21, 2005 at 04:00 PM CET
Here is the Worstall commment to the EU Pundit comment to the Wallström blog:
"Andis, If you look back to comments section of the post on the 25th Jan on this blog you will see that I, along with Richard North and others, are indeed entirely gentlemanly. We make, clearly, the point that none of our criticism or hatred is directed at Ms. Wallstrom herself, her persona, her character, physique or anything else so personal, indeed, I call those who do so contemptible.
It is not "her" that we object to, it is "her views" and those of the people who run our glorious New Europa that inspire the snarling, snapping and insults.
If you think we are a little rough may I suggest that you listen to a radio broadcast (available via the BBC website) of what happens in the House of Commons? We are being entirely polite by the standards of the oldest continuous democracy in the EU.
Posted by Tim Worstall on February 22, 2005 at 09:45 AM CET
Website: http://www.timworstall.com #"
And here is the response we posted to that:
Here is our reply to Mr. Worstall. It would definitely be wise to learn to remove words like "hatred" from comments to blog postings, as we see nothing gentlemanly about them. Worstall writes that he "objects" to "her views". Well, we as democrats do not "object" to your views, but we "differ" from your views. There is a subtle democratic difference there, and it surely should not lead to using the word "hatred". In any case, differences of opinion are a part of democracy, which, as Winston Churchill stated, is a terrible political system, but as he then added, it is better than anything else we have found. Reasoned discourse is possible if people want it. Most do not, because it is substantially more work - and often less fun - than just to rant and rave. We might add that we have seen House of Commons debates and certainly do not regard that grand institution to be a model for reasoned discourse. "Ears" in our opinion developed genetically for warning and "Sight" developed for understanding, so that there are different standards applicable to speech and writing. When people communicate verbally, illogical rhetoric is inevitable, because the ears have an emotional component, which is why people like music, and can be easily moved to do stupid thinigs by a gifted speaker. When people write, they have time to reflect and to put their thoughts into a more rational form. In addition, Sight is the better judge of reason. Accordingly, there is no excuse for needless rhetoric or logical lapses in writing. I can say this with some certainty, having tought legal writing at a university for a number of years. Or, as Stephen King writes in his book "On Writing" - we paraphrase - always edit your written work, and when you do, take out everything which is not part of the story, and that means all the garble and insults. We must admit that we are not without fault here ourselves. In any case, ranting and raving will not help the people of the European Union. In your shoes, we would suggest that a case can in fact be made that the UK is in a different situation regarding the EU than most of the continental countries, and always has been, as an island realm. The issue is, however, how the UK would fare alone outside the EU, in an age where the UK no longer has its rich colonies and must import vast amounts of natural resources from abroad, for good money. We doubt sincerely that the UK would prosper as an isolate of Europe in the modern age and you will find, we think, that many people in the business world agree.
Showing the way of the future for Europe - the only direction which a modern Europe can possibly take - the Spanish voters approved the new EU Constitution with 77% YES and 17% NO votes. Spain thus became the first EU Member State to back the new EU Constitution by referendum.
A UNITED Europe will increasingly represent one of the world's great political and economic powers. A divided Europe, on the other hand, would be weak and divisive, and would ultimatley be crushed by the larger nations.
to Eric Pfeiffer's Beltway Buzz on National Review Online
we read that "EU Agrees To Train Iraqi Forces".
"[O]n the eve of President Bush's summit with European leaders, the EU has agreed to train high-level Iraqi police officers and judges....
Little doubt, most if not all of our European friends are getting on the Iraq bandwagon because it is now convenient to due so. No free country wants to be aligned on the wrong side of history. However, I believe the leaders of these countries do deserve a modicum of respect. After all, it may be historically expedient for them to compromise with the coalition, but they still must do so in the face of their voting populations who to this day would act otherwise."
Pfeifer refers to a Reuters article, "EU Offers Training for Iraqi Police, Judges", by Mark John from Brussels, which states that:
"EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels approved a plan to train 770 senior Iraqi police officers and judges in the EU and in countries near Iraq. The mission, due to start mid-2005, could be extended to Iraq if security allowed....
The EU communique hailed the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq as a step forward for democracy in the country and noted the EU had already agreed aid totaling over half a billion euros ($650 million) to Iraq....
'The (EU) Council reaffirms its goal of an Iraq which is secure, stable, unified, prosperous, democratic, respecting of human rights and ready to cooperate constructively with its neighbors and the international community,' it said.
The EU also declared itself ready to support the political process in Iraq, notably by helping in the drafting of a new constitution if invited, and to explore broadening commercial ties with the country."
Not only have the democratic elections in Iraq been successful, but so also those in Palestine. Similarly, after the recent terrorist bombing in Lebanon, surely sponsored by Syria, Syria has apparently been given the "or else signal", and has agreed to pull its forces from Lebanon. Iran and North Korea will be next in line as countries to be pressured to return to the civilized family of nations. The USA is winning on all fronts. President Bush and his administration have been right all along, and a good share of the European Union has been wrong, across the board. Especially Germany has failed miserably, and seems to have the knack over the last hundred years for invariably aligning itself on the losing side of international conflicts, although this is currently a direct fault of the hapless Schroeder administration.
It is an old time tested rule which many people and politicians in Europe still resist accepting, but there is only one policy which all the world understands, and that is the policy of strength. Without that policy, civilization would be lost.
Monday, February 21, 2005
Our comment is: and where has Europe been the last 20 years? When one views EU politics and economics on the interenational scene, we can often not escape the feeling that many Europeans, especially those in positions of authority, have learned nothing in the past decades, and that is why America dominates the digital world.
Margot Wallström is the Vice-President of the European Commission, the executive body of the EU. She is thus the highest-ranking member of the EU who blogs.
"I was appointed Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication in August 2004. President Barroso created this post in order to improve the way we communicate 'Europe' to citizens. For the last five years I served as Environment Commissioner in the Prodi Commission.
'We politicians are accountable to 450 million Europeans and you expect us to work together, to be effective, to communicate with you and to give you a voice. We can never be allowed to forget that. That is what gives me my political motivation.' "
We are particularly enamored of her blog posting "Kyoto Protocol, climate change and air passenger rights" which covers the very same issues which we also have found to be the most important ones for EU posting in recent days.
Martin has a great posting on February 21, 2005 which we quote here in entirety:
"An American view on Euroscepticism
Essential reading from Mark A.R. Kleiman on Europe:
'I have no trouble understanding the feelings of British Euroskeptics; the British political sytem works pretty well, and the EU still hasn't figured out a way of making its institutions responsive to voters. I seem to recall reading that it took people in this country a long time to identify as Americans, rather than, say, Virginians, and of course national identities in Europe are far older and stronger than those of the individual colonies ever were. So the opponents of the new European Constitution at least have a plausible case to make. (The Americans who hate the EU, who are mostly the same people as hate the UN, are a different matter: they seem to be terrified at the thought of there being any powerful institution in the world that Karl Rove and Rupert Murdoch can’t dominate or intimidate.)
But it never helps the credibility of one’s case to ignore the obviously powerful arguments on the other side. The EU makes intra-European war unthinkable; it makes the establishment of tyranny in any European country impossible; and (despite its current economic troubles) it has spread prosperity to its poorer members.
Creating a zone of peace, freedom, and prosperity embracing 450 million people won't be a small accomplishment, and there seems little reason to doubt that the EU can pull it off. So if you want to argue that giving up sovereignty is too big a price to pay, be my guest; but don't pretend that price would be paid for nothing.'
Yup. That pretty much sums it up."
Martin, we agree. Well done Mark A. Kleiman, who we are adding to our blogroll for this "reality" posting.
See also Martin's British Blogs a Waste of Time?
A recent posting refers to a poll on the EU Referendum in the UK.
Try this one, London vs Paris. It is a bit crude for my tastes, which means most people will probably like it.
Prince Henry and the Vikings? See here for more.
near near future
A Belgian from Italy with a future of technology and design blog.
Non Tibi Spiro
Here's one on Dutch citizenship courses.
North Sea Diaries
A wonderful piece of politically satirical fictional writing is this blog posting entitled "When Brussels discovered blogging".
A Slovenian blog with links to other Slovenian blogs. Recall, Slovenia is now a Member State of the EU.
These are the linked Slovenian blogs in English (excluding those we found not to be active):
Glory of Carniola
2 Much Beauty
Matevz Gacnik's Weblog
My So-Called Blog
Peter's Blog - A little bit of ...
My little [disturbed] world
Posted that there had been 25 million Firefox downloads in 99 days and linked to a Firefox link - but this was not working (?). We like IE and we have tried the Firefox browser but are sceptical. See Blogs for Firefox which seems to think that the coming of IE7 is the end of Firefox citing to CNet's Molly Wood and "IE7 : so much for Firefox", who writes: "What he didn't say, but you know he was thinking it, is that IE 7 will easily put a stop to this upstart browser rebellion.Don't believe me? You should. Firefox is great, I use it. But it's a chore sometimes, what with most sites using that pesky nonstandard IE code. Not everything renders properly, and some sites just plain don't work--I have to load up IE to use them. Plus, let's be honest--Firefox has its flaws. Why is there no way to check for updates from within the browser, for one thing? Why does it take so doggone long to launch? Why, why must it crash every single time I open a PDF? I mean, every single time. Opera, fine, whatever, I'm not paying for a browser, and for some reason, although I've tried it several times, it's just never captured me. It's too clunky, and I was raised on IE. I don't want to learn something completely new. IE, on the other hand, is like the sweeping tide--it's just easier not to fight it."
napsy's web log
A little blog for a restless mind
Andrej Tozon's blog
The Realms of Katsumi
Take a look at this photograph. Phenomenal. There is a link to 5 interactive body games at BBC and something on puberty. Looks like a good info page for young EUropeans.
Off the wall
Test your intelligence - the smarter you are, the more problem you may have with this puzzle. Figure out how many Petals are Around the Rose. It's easy, once you figure it out. The hint is to "think like a child". There is a lesson here for the intellectuals.
"My blog won first prize in the “personal websites” category of the first slovenian web awards. Check out their page [Izidor]."
this could be blog ... by IBMer
Rumko and his thought
vidmar.net/weblog (your are here)
Very humorous motto: "the blog where few have gone before"
Oliver Thylmann's Blog
Good material on blogging and technology in Germany.
Ostracised from Österreich
"a voice from Vienna on life, politics, the universe"
A French language blog with an interesting radio.blog feed which we are going to take a closer look at for our own websites.
"Everything that bored you to death in high school"
"Companion weblog to Euro-correspondent.com journalist network. "
Monica, an American in London
"...Views from mid-Atlantic"
"actualités, commentaires et analyses sur la constitution européenne"
The results in Spain are: Oui : 76,73% des voix (10 804 464 voix) Non : 17,24% (2 428 409 voix). Massive.
A Brit in Portugal.
"A blog for people with a critically rational individualist perspective. "
This is a very popular blog in German language.
Try this one, which is of great interest to us because of our work on the history of civilization: "There is evidence, somewhere out there, that speakers of Scots Gaelic and Irish understood speakers of Berber as late as the mid-19th century. This astounding assertion supports a thesis proposed by a Connemara fellow named Bob Quinn that the Irish people contain as much North African stock as European. "
Bjoern Ognibeni's weblog in English.
"revolutionary agitprop from a running-dog lackey of the bourgeoisie"
"Notes on Northern Ireland politics and culture"
A UK-based blog, "Watching Them, Watching Us"
A Belgian in Sweden.
Why Believe in Europe? See here.
The EU Referendum in the UK a question of wording??
A blog from Vasco Sommer-Nunes. Blog motto: "Mostly sunny new media with occasional strong athletic upwinds and heavy trivialism from the heart of old Europe. No clouds."
Tales from the Geekside
A popular blog in German language.
10000 Year Blog
"Webjots by David Mattison that tickled my fancy from June 02003 (and maybe deeper into the past) until today, whenever that is …. this blog’s title is inspired by Gregory Benford’s book Deep Time (01999) and the work of the Long Now Foundation."
thinking with my fingers
is the journal of Torill Mortensen, Volda, Norway, an associate professor at Volda College.
"Blog of American and European lawyers and academics on legal issues and current affairs in the realm of international law, transnational law, EU law, and our respective worlds of domestic law. "
"The focus of the Transatlantic Intelligencer is European politics and the, increasingly "conflicted", relationship of Europe - or, more precisely, the leading continental European powers, France and Germany - with the United States. A principal purpose of Trans-Int will be to "overcome the language gap" - or at least some of the language gaps - preventing Americans and other English-speakers from forming an accurate assessment of European political realities. Since, however, there are also multiple "language gaps" within Europe, I hope too that Trans-Int will be of interest to European readers."
This is a very readable blog by a translator of legal texts in German and English and bound to be of interest to all persons interested in languages.
A group blog by James Andrew Malcolm, John Richardson and Jon Edwards. Very young bloggers who represent, as their title says, "the future". See their posting on "The power of the blog", referring to a discussion of blogs in a U.S. court, about which LawPundit has posted here.
UK Polling Report
includes a poll on the EU referendum in the UK leading to a result of 36% aye, 29% nay, and 30% who will not vote. We presume the other 5% are undecided.
This is a beautifully designed community EUROBLOG started by members of MetaFilter.
What You Can Get Away With
Nick Barlow links to a recent A Fistful of Euros posting about the May upcoming UK elections embellished with the titled tenor "Sometimes it’s who you don’t vote for that counts"
"A GLOBAL WINDOW FOR MALTESE CULTURE, SOCIETY, PEOPLE, HISTORY, BLOGS, NEWS..." by Robert Micallef, Malta, Economist; Editor/Analyst; University lecturer.
Yes to the European Constitution by the European Movement International (EMI) and JEF-Europe.
Late additions to the blog lists:
Great link to Kalenderberechnungen (only in German).
Here is a map of the world's atomic powers.
The blog contains a list of some German blogs (in German unless otherwise noted):
Artikel 20 Blog
Bittner on Terrorism
Daniel van Moll
Dialog International (en)
Herr Braun online
Try this link from that blog about the benefits of the European Union.
Has a link to Law-Blog, which also has links to German law blogs, e.g. Simon's Blawg (in part in English)
Unqualified Offerings (en)
A blog by Eric Gordy, a Balkanophile and Associate Professor of Sociology, Clark University
Felix Brauns Weblog
Felix writes: "Ever wondered what information would be like in 2014 and how we get there? No? Anyway, this is worth viewing."
Heart of Europe
Nicholas Whyte has already visited 37 of the world's countries. He apparently blogs from Northern Ireland.
A blog from Greece, which has e.g. a link to the world press photo awards.
Blogging and Technology.
Map of EU Blogs
A map of Europe with news sources and blogs integrated. A very interesting idea.
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