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In Europe, tea-parties of a euroskeptic stripe threaten EU
May 12, 2011 9:47 AM   Subscribe

In Europe, bail-out and immigration fears have led to the rise of nationalism and xenophobia, a crisis that now threatens the EU itself. Right-wing euroskeptic parties and politicians have gained in power, such as the True Finns, they can roughly be seen as "Europe's Tea Parties". Greece is talking about dropping the Euro currency (due to Finnish demands), other PIGS could be next. Denmark has introduced custom checks at its borders again, seeking to stop the flow of intra euro traffic, while France and Italy have raised the possibility of reintroducing their own border controls.
posted by stbalbach (49 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I prefer to think of the Tea Party as "America's UKIP".
posted by Artw at 9:49 AM on May 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wonder how many Brits are saying to themselves, "Whew! We sure dodged a bullet when we decided to keep our own currency!"
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:54 AM on May 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's nice that I can travel Europe without dealing with multiple currencies, but what has the E.U. done for the average European? It hasn't improved the life of anyone I know in Spain.
posted by davel at 10:11 AM on May 12, 2011


"while France and Italy have raised the possibility of reintroducing their own border controls."

Christ, why don't they re-erect the Berlin Wall while they're at it. This is going to be a wildly unpopular move.

When living in Salzburg, Austria, there were a whole lot of people who worked in Salzburg but lived across the border in lower-rent Freilassing, Germany. I can imagine there's a whole lot of people all across Europe who work and live in seperate countries.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:16 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Excuse me but it's not just Denmark that's dropping the customs checks. The entire Shengen agreement was dropped last week.
posted by spicynuts at 10:17 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Artw: "I prefer to think of the Tea Party as "America's UKIP"."

Description in Google search results: "Libertarian, non-racist party seeking Britain's withdrawal from the European Union."
Reminds me of the auto mechanic I know whose sign say "HONEST AND DEPENDABLE". Suuuure.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:19 AM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, these are bad times. For what it's worth, my gut feeling is that this is the peak of a movement that began in the mid- 90's as a reaction against the liberalism of that decade, and that from now on, they will gradually (if far too gradually) disappear.
The tea-party comparison isn't completely off the mark, it's just that the type of people who are tea-partiers in the US and nationalists in the EU have very different circumstances and histories.

EU is a very, very good thing. But one of the many failures of the liberal elites during the 90's was to engage citizens in the integration process and to explain the immense the immense benefits for ordinary citizens.
Instead, populist movements set the agenda, often with blatant untruths. For relatively mainstream politicians, the benefit is exactly the same as for US republicans: Let the far right rant about foreigners and terrorists, gather their votes, do whatever you please.
posted by mumimor at 10:19 AM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


The tea-party comparison isn't completely off the mark, it's just that the type of people who are tea-partiers in the US and nationalists in the EU have very different circumstances and histories.

It can't happen here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:22 AM on May 12, 2011


What does PIGS mean in this context?
posted by desjardins at 10:24 AM on May 12, 2011


Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain
posted by dng at 10:25 AM on May 12, 2011


The thing that bothered me most about the EU process was the way the elites were shoving it down the throat of voters, against voter will.

Various treaties would go out for plebescite and get voted down, and then the elites would implement the treaty provisions anyway. Or they'd keep submitting the exact same treaty to the voters until the voters got it right and approved.

The entire process betrayed utter contempt for the opinions of the everyday Fritz and Clive.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:26 AM on May 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


Right-wing euroskeptic parties and politicians have gained in power, such as the True Finns, they can roughly be seen as "Europe's Tea Parties". Greece is talking about dropping the Euro currency (due to Finnish demands), other PIGS could be next.

Finnish demands? I don't know who said what, but I should think that the number of governments regretting letting Greece sidle into the Euro is greater than one. The way you've structured these sentences make it sound like a result of the True Finns (Perussuomalaiset) gaining power, yet they're not in power but rather in opposition. Very misleading.
posted by Jehan at 10:26 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The interesting thing about the "True Finn" party is that they are actually fairly left-wing economically. However, they are apparently not happy about left-wing economics for other countries.

That's the interesting thing about socialism. It works well in a homogeneous society where everyone identifies with everyone else. But when you have other cultures in the mix people, I guess, are unhappy. What we need to do is move to a world where people identify with everyone else.
posted by delmoi at 10:42 AM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jehan, I didn't want to get into all the details in the FPP, but what happened is the the Finns were demanding Greece put up hard collateral for the bailout money and Greece didn't want too which led to discussions of Greece dropping the Euro so it could reinstate its own currency which could be more easily devalued (printed).
posted by stbalbach at 10:46 AM on May 12, 2011


That's cool, if they're the details.
posted by Jehan at 10:48 AM on May 12, 2011


I don't know that anybody identifies "give feckless governments crates of cash" as a socialist policy.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:50 AM on May 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


You know, I thought the EU had come about for just this set of circumstances. No single country knew if it was going to get screwed economically by something so as a sort of Nation Insurance Plan they all banded together with promises of lending a hand when it was needed, etc.

PIGS weren't being all that great from a finance management point of view but what if the reverse crisis had occured? How loudly would France, Germany, Sweden, and Italy be moaning and kvetching that they needed help in order to survive against a threat that really was out of their hands for the most part?
posted by Slackermagee at 10:55 AM on May 12, 2011


It's nice that I can travel Europe without dealing with multiple currencies, but what has the E.U. done for the average European? It hasn't improved the life of anyone I know in Spain.

For the 2007-13 period, Spain is to receive more than €35bn ($44bn) the EU. Do you know anyone who travels by road or rail, for example? Do you know anyone who lives in another EU country and works there, or has for some time? Maybe someone who studied in another EU country? Or maybe someone who works in the Spanish tourism industry, which has also profited greatly from the EU.
posted by romanb at 10:58 AM on May 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


At some point you get fed up and want to stop giving your irresponsible uncle bob another hundy to pay his overdue bills when he comes around whining and you really know he's just going to buy booze anyway so what do you do? 1) Bail his sorry ass out again knowing he'll never get better? 2) Refuse to pay him and know that he'll get kicked out of his trailer? 3) Or sit his ass down and try to teach him how to manage his life right, and watch his ass constantly so he sobers up and finds some decent work, the only option that has a chance of making a difference?

How exactly do you do #3 with a country?
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:01 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Right-wing euroskeptic parties and politicians have gained in power, such as the True Finns

But across the North Sea, there's no True Scotsman party.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:09 AM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am not so sure that a sudden spike in nationalism is necessarily a bad thing in this situation. In the case of Greece, you have a country whose financial mismanagement is on par with a third world country. Their EU ordered audits have revealed unimaginable incompetence by Greek politicians and their civil service. So what should the response to this debacle be in other countries? Clearly Greece's problems show that the EU has failed on this point, which would lead people to perhaps look to their own country for reassurance and for ideas on how to fix the EU's problem. It is perfectly sensible for a Fin to see the mess within the EU and fall back to their own nation and say, "Hey, here is how you properly run a country. We balance the books and maintain some fiscal responsibility. Why the hell can't Greece do this?"
posted by boubelium at 11:20 AM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


My understanding of the France/Italy thing: Tunisia has some problems. Refugees leave, land in Italy. Italy lets them in, says "we don't care, you're Tunisians, you're all going to keep going to France anyway". France says "oh really? We'll put up border checks."

Do I have that right?
posted by gimonca at 11:36 AM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Greece is talking about dropping the Euro currency (due to Finnish demands), other PIGS could be next.

Could we get a cite for this? Especially for the "other PIGS could be next"? This whole FPP seems to be put together as a string of right-wing editorials. Also, it is PIIGS (Italy and Ireland), and its an obnoxious acronym in any case.
posted by vacapinta at 11:51 AM on May 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


It hasn't improved the life of anyone I know in Spain.

Perhaps they could give the tens of billions in subsidies back. Or the money gained from easy tourism from colder climes to Spain. Or all the money Spanish citizens earned when they used free movement during the doldrum years to work in France, Britain, Germany and so on. Perhaps your Spanish friends could compete selling stuff to other EU countries on an even footing with the rest of the world, instead of behind the walls of subsidies and tarrif protections they currently enjoy.

Still, this is hardly a unique view; one of the problems the EU has is that those that are loudest about dismissing it are doing so from a position of profound cluelessness about their reliance on it.
posted by rodgerd at 11:59 AM on May 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


Thank Dawkins the UK didn't enter the Euro. It was so so SO OBVIOUS that this would happen.

Not necessarily the exact cause (the 2007 financial crash) but it was always going to be the case that the first time a shock hit the financial system the feckless countries would have severe problems. And the only way out was always going to be for the fiscally conservative countries to pay for the solution.

Shocks hit the financial system from time to time. Maybe it's the oil shocks of the 70's, the consequences of the computerisation of the trading markets in the 80's, whatever. It was going to happen.

You simply cannot have a single currency in an area of multiple taxation concepts, where fiscal and monetary policies are so wildly apart. A single currency works in a single union of states or nations where things are reasonably close. It can't work where one lot are being responsible and the rest are taking the piss.

In Athens 324 pools have been declared for tax purposes, actually there are 16,974 of them. See here: boingboing.net

Can you imagine that being allowed in ordnung Germany?

So, what now? The Greek bailout hasn't worked. They are still spending like it's the end of the world, the cuts aren't deep enough to reduce the deficit to manageable levels. In fact they're in such a mess that the cuts they have made are already too much and that's actually reducing the growth they need to climb out of the mess. They ARE going to go bust and force the banks and nations to take a "haircut". That's the good prognosis.

The bad prognosis? They go down messily, take the rest of the PIIGS with them (the second I is Iceland) and then that forces the whole EU into a real problem. Financial crisis round two might start with a bunch of corrupt third-worlders who've been living off German largess and tourist money for the last thirty years (the Greeks joined in 1981 and are poorer now than they were when they joined).

There is no easy solution. Fingers crossed that enough smart people are now paying attention to steer things to the good prognosis. I'm not feeling that sanguine. In the medium term there either has to be one of two things

Either, a loosening of monetary union somehow. There is no mechanism to get out of the Euro and even if there was, how to you move things along when all your debts are in foreign owned banks in a (now) foreign currency? I really have no idea how you can continue a single currency with separate fiscal and monetary policies.

So here's the alternative. The PIIGS go down. Germany (plus the minor central bankers in the other non-PIIGS countries) offer to fix things - but in return the rest of the Euro-zone gives up sovereignty over their policies. They can set taxes, within limits, but that's about it. Who knows, maybe it'll get that bad that the rest of Europe will stay yes. Do you think Silvio Berlusconi will allow his country to become the Euro-equivalent of Scotland inside the UK? Or Texas in the USA?

What does that mean to the Euro-sceptic parties? (Forget about racism for a second). Can you imagine the field day they'll have at the polls when their cosy collegiate political masters have to hand over control of everything to some sort of pan-European council of policy setters? After all, these are the politician class who've run all these treaties through their parliaments and ignored the inconvenient referendums where the people have said "no more integration".

I genuinely believe that if this isn't handled well, we could see the end of the EU as we know it.
posted by Hugh Routley at 12:01 PM on May 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


I genuinely believe that if this isn't handled well, we could see the end of the EU as we know it.

I wonder if this is our Articles of Confederation moment, and we're about the learn the same thing.
posted by Jehan at 12:41 PM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


but what has the E.U. done for the average European?

Ask the "average" Bulgarian, Romanian, Estonian, Latvian, Slovene, Lithuanian, Pole, Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, Cypriot, or Maltese.
posted by mdonley at 12:53 PM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jehan, exactly.

The problem with a union of sovereign states is that some states will perennially face financial problems while others do not. There is no reason to be fiscally responsible when others are on the hook for your financial misadventures and political unwillingness to deal with them. The US states, under the Constitution, cannot run deficits for exactly this reason.

Somehow I doubt the EU states will want to yield more of their sovereignty in order to form a stronger EU.
posted by Xoebe at 1:00 PM on May 12, 2011


My understanding of the France/Italy thing: Tunisia has some problems. Refugees leave, land in Italy. Italy lets them in, says "we don't care, you're Tunisians, you're all going to keep going to France anyway". France says "oh really? We'll put up border checks."

Do I have that right?


Add Libya especially, and replace "Italy" with "Berlusconi" and "France" with "Sarkozy", and yes, that's about right. Please note that neither Berlusconi nor Sarkozy have much popular support. A good number of Italians and French are itching to vote them out.

Also... border checks never actually stopped, at least certainly not on the Menton (France) - Ventimiglia (Italy) autoroute border here.
posted by fraula at 1:14 PM on May 12, 2011


it is PIIGS (Italy and Ireland)

Your correct, I noticed that after I made the post, thanks for the correction: PIIGS. Easy way to remember the problem children.
posted by stbalbach at 1:51 PM on May 12, 2011


This whole FPP seems to be put together as a string of right-wing editorials

Well said vacapinta. This is a terribly misleading post with no authoritative sources, real evidence, or deep analysis behind it.

Seriously stbalbach what made it seem reasonable to build your post without a single European source? Are those pieces in the Tucson Sentinel, The Australian, a Russian news agency, etc really the best expert analysis available?
posted by Philosopher's Beard at 1:56 PM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


The tea-party comparison isn't completely off the mark, it's just that the type of people who are tea-partiers in the US and nationalists in the EU have very different circumstances and histories.

It can't happen here.


I think you misunderstood me. My point was that even though the rhetoric of some of these parties is somewhat socialist, they are still similar to the tea-partiers - and sinister.

Still, I believe this is as strong as they will get. Young Europeans are like young Americans. They have to invent everything again and this will take some time. They have grown up with Blair, Berlusconi, Sarkozy, Merkel etc., and the whole vocabulary of politics has been distorted. But most people I have met understand that basically, it makes no sense to cut out people because they have a different color or religion.
Explaining the good of the EU is far more complicated, because even mainstream parties have been using the EU as a cover each time unpopular decisions have been made. Still, many younger Europeans of all classes have real experiences with the good effects of EU - like working or studying abroad, meeting new friends, or even getting married.
posted by mumimor at 2:18 PM on May 12, 2011


It's nice that I can travel Europe without dealing with multiple currencies, but what has the E.U. done for the average European?

I haven't had to endure poison gas in a trench in France, I haven't seen my friends killed in an Italian shell-hole, I haven't come home to a bombed-out crater where my house and family was in England. That's worth a few hundred quid a year of funding the corrupt and inefficient EU, thank you.
posted by alasdair at 2:32 PM on May 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's nice that I can travel Europe without dealing with multiple currencies, but what has the E.U. done for the average European?

Well, I suppose there's the aqueducts.
posted by reynir at 2:35 PM on May 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


The real problem with the Euro was there already from the beginning. The vast disparities between the EU countries. This was papered over with a bunch of criteria to meet for the Maastricht Treaty membership. Only nobody seemed to check if countries really did meet the criteria, at best there was an acceptance of self-reporting, while people in the know tacitly acknowledged that this was a bunch of lying and fictitious bullshit. Really? If you got right down to it, not a single country met all the criteria. Of course, Greece was among the worst.

When you have fraud happening on such a scale, it's no wonder problems occur down the line. Greece should never have been made part of the monetary Eurozone, until they stopped lying and met the criteria. This is regulatory failure all over again. Where have we heard that before? Only pretty much every time things go seriously wrong anywhere. And Italy was another joke.

And it's super expensive to fix. For a small glimpse into it, it's instructive to see what happened when West Germany absorbed East Germany, and did a 1:1 monetary exchange. The economic costs are in the trillions and it takes decades, and the East still looks like a poor relative. Note too, that East Germany was the economic jewel of the former communist countries. Imagine what the integration of the rest would look like.

The problem is in a lack of graduation of integration and lack of controls. Access to market and membership in the common market is one thing. But monetary union is something else again.

But when you build a financial house of cards, don't be surprised when it collapses one day. There's no question that Greece will default or have to restructure their debt (haircut). Only I don't think this is the worst - wait until the day of reckoning arrives for Italy.

And speaking of the Euro adoption, voters and governments, it's instructive to look at Sweden:

"Sweden does not currently use the Euro as its currency and has no plans to replace the krona in the near future. Sweden is obliged under the Treaty of Maastricht to adopt the Euro at some point in the future.[1] Under the 1994 Treaty of Accession Sweden has to join the Eurozone once it meets the necessary conditions.[2] Sweden maintains being part of ERM II is a required criterion and joining ERM II is voluntary,[3] [4] giving Sweden a de facto opt out."

"A referendum held in September 2003 saw 56.1 percent vote against membership in the Eurozone. As a consequence, Sweden decided in 2003 not to adopt the euro for the time being. Had they voted in favour, Sweden would have adopted euro on 1 January 2006.[7]"

posted by VikingSword at 2:53 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Greece is talking about dropping the Euro currency

I don't know how the Finns were supposed to be in it, but the story of the alleged Greek threat to drop the euro was last week's story.

It was denied, and it didn't happen. Or, rather, hasn't happened yet.

Young Europeans are like young Americans.


Indeed. At the risk of being the crank, I will point out that there is truth to the old bemoan, "I'm turning into my parents." Opinions change over time and the young Europeans and Americans of today will not necessarily remain the creatures they currently are. Weep or exult according to taste, but it is something to bear in mind. Things could still get ugly. Or uglier.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:57 PM on May 12, 2011


Opinions change over time and the young Europeans and Americans of today will not necessarily remain the creatures they currently are. Weep or exult according to taste, but it is something to bear in mind. Things could still get ugly. Or uglier.

yes. And no - when it comes to everyday life like love and jobs, most people will go by their interests rather than by ideology. Also, few people have an ideology.
posted by mumimor at 3:27 PM on May 12, 2011


the best expert analysis available?

I posted some related current events as reported in the news. A feature and a bug.

what made it seem reasonable to build your post without a single European source?

Well, you could cruise through this list of articles if you want, I just picked the ones that looked interesting, plenty of European and left-leaning sources on this subject.

string of right-wing editorials

That makes it sound like a sinister political agenda. Well, damn you meddling kids.. no, seriously, current events may be favoring the euroskeptics (right), but it's still possible to write about what's currently happening. If you have a preferred source let's take a look at it.
posted by stbalbach at 3:29 PM on May 12, 2011


Nigel Farage slamming EU bosses over European crisis: "It's even more serious than economics because if you rob people of their identity, if you rob them of their democracy, then all they are left with is nationalism and violence. I can only hope and pray that the Euro project is destroyed by the markets before that"
It's an old video - dated Nov 26, 2010
posted by dabitch at 3:43 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Davel, are you f***ing s***ing me/us?
what has the E.U. done for the average European? It hasn't improved the life of anyone I know in Spain.
Oh, really?
And I suppose you also think that Spain joined the EU because of a mistake/the usual liberal elite conspiracy/Bilderberg Group hidden influence/whatever other sh*te you've just read...
Look, EVERYONE who lives in the EU knows the pros and cons of the EU, including the people trying to get elected in the UKIP, BNP, Lega Nord, True Finns, etc etc. The real biggie has already been mentioned (this continent had not before experienced 65 years of peace) but the real point is that all the "out of the eu" bullsh*t is just that, bullsh*t. let me give you an example.
If you were a Brit I could say, mimicking the goons at UKIP "control at the borders, compulsory language tests for residents"? - BRING THEM ON, I say. I suppose they would apply to the approximately 1 Million Brits who live in France and Spain....Boy, that would be fun...Like a new Monthy Python sketch....
Anyway, maybe I'll give you my infallible recipe to address Frisco local problems...waddayasay? I cannot, as I have never been in San Francisco? well, that did not seem to stop you talking off your a**e about something you know nothing about...
posted by MessageInABottle at 4:05 PM on May 12, 2011


Also, few people have an ideology.

Indeed. But given the right circs, they can be happy to adopt one. And if you are currently in your twenties, I guarantee you that a whole bunch of people you know now will not be the same in anther twenty or thirty years.

Part of my problem with the post in general is the conflation problem. "You don't have to be Hitler to hate the EU, but it helps" kind of thing. Or, "Everyone who hates racism and like the EU raise your hand."

The economic perils of the EU, as noted above, were obvious from the beginning. It's absurd to brand all euro-skeptics as racists just as it is absurd but brand all US fiscal conservatives as racists. It is also an unfortunate distraction from a serious problem.

As a by the way, what always struck me as interesting was that at the time the EU was finally coming together, the combination countries (Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, USSR, etc) were beginning to break apart, or talk about it seriously. Independent Scotland, anyone?
posted by IndigoJones at 4:07 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The equation of Euro-sceptic and nationalist is often a pretty handy piece of doublespeak, suggesting that if someone doesn't support the EU, and the idea of an ever growing superstate, they're probably some sort of Front National / BNP racist. It is worth noting that, although many Eurosceptic political parties are right of centre, there is also a strong leftist eurosceptic movement too.

I would have to disagree, rather strongly, with alasdair, for peddling the nonsense that the EU has somehow prevented war in Europe since WWII. I don't remember the UK being at war with anyone in Europe prior to accession in 1973, nor any pressing hurry to invade non-member Switzerland?

Two articles that might be of interest in this discussion. Firstly a very compelling piece from the chairman of the True Finns, originally in the Wall St Journal, where he sets out his opposition to bailouts and secondly, a piece from the Irish Times written by an Irish economist about how the EU bailout and intervention has effectively destroyed the Irish economy.
posted by prentiz at 4:10 PM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, it is PIIGS (Italy and Ireland), and its an obnoxious acronym in any case.

I agree, it's offensive. Why not GIPSIs?!

/ducks

p.s. though the porcine version has a noble history. The original 12 members of euro zone were the BAFFLING PIGS: Belgium, Austria, France, Finland, Luxembourg, Ireland, Netherlands, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Spain.

The DUKS, meawhile, stayed out: Denmark, UK, Sweden
posted by chavenet at 4:21 PM on May 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


In short, because my original comment died in a crash. Greece didn't talk about dropping the euro unless by that one means deny any similar thoughts (as the ECB did). Bad framing. This is mainly because depreciation of a new currency would increase both exports and debts. Exports are a small part of Greek GDP whereas the debt is close to 1.5x, so the idea is a non-starter.

They are still spending like it's the end of the world, the cuts aren't deep enough to reduce the deficit to manageable levels. In fact they're in such a mess that the cuts they have made are already too much and that's actually reducing the growth they need to climb out of the mess.

The main issue is increasing revenue, as the cuts have always surpassed the target so far. OTOH this is wrecking growth and has caused a 30% increase in unemployment in a year. Instituted measures so far are valued at 39 bn euro and another 29 bn will be put forward until 2015. To make a comparison, this is 75% of the UK cuts in an economy about 1/7 the size of the British one.

Looking past your derision for the "corrupt third-worlders", do you mind commenting on Siemens Hellas' bribing Greek parties (including securing the purchase of the C4I security system that was bought under pressure for the Olympic Games even though the company didn't deliver it fully in time), the non-extradition of the m.d. of Siemens Hellas, the use of Greek "intermediaries" to secure arm contracts, the 8 bn euros of bailout money earmarked for German arms or the skewed submarine that HDW insisted should be delivered as is? Or is that first-world corruption like BAE or the 2008 financial crisis?

Somehow I doubt the EU states will want to yield more of their sovereignty in order to form a stronger EU.

There has been increased European financial integration, however, through the institution of EFSF. Wish I knew what will happen next though.
posted by ersatz at 6:04 PM on May 12, 2011


MessageInABottle: "EVERYONE who lives in the EU knows the pros and cons of the EU"

Well, this European doesn't, really. I am a political junkie who follows the news quite closely, and the EU (both its inner workings and the bigger picture of its evolution) remains frustratingly opaque to me. Major EU-related events are reasonably well-reported in the news here, and I get the gist of it and often seek out additional information online, but often I find myself clueless to what is really going on and what that means to me as a citizen.

Easy targets for culpability on this are the hodgepodge of treaties and the multitude of language barriers, of course.

I generally support international cooperation; I believe that the Netherlands will prosper most when understanding and working within the context of its neighbours on this busy peninsula of ours. But then again, the Dutch government bravely put the "European Constitution" to a referendum, in which it was thoroughly rejected (and by the French as well), upon which they just repackaged the whole deal as the Treaty of Lisbon and jammed it through. So forgive me if I do have some concerns about the level of democracy that steers the core of the Union's operations.

But then again, some of my favourite MEPs work very hard on issues I care about, like Sophie in 't Veld of D66 — Holland's "Liberal Democrats", a party I have some ambivalence toward domestically because of its economic liberalism (luckily, we have relatively many parties); she does great work on privacy and civil liberties.

And then there's Neelie Kroes, representing a party I most definitely do not support, but who deserves recognition for her anti-trust action against large corporations such as Microsoft, among others.

I often wonder what it would be like if the Union or the Eurozone were to fall apart, as is hinted on in this thread. But mostly I just don't know. I really wish I did, but I don't.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:03 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


From today's Financial Times:

Finland’s Eurosceptic True Finns party has ruled out joining the government after refusing to tone down its opposition to European Union bail-outs.

The True Finns won almost a fifth of the vote in last month’s general election, helped by public resentment over the taxpayer-funded rescues for Portugal, Greece and Ireland.

Timo Soini, leader of the True Finns, said the party could not make the compromises required to join the cabinet after Finland’s two biggest parties struck a deal this week to approve the €78bn Portuguese bail-out.

“It would have been nice to be part of the government but you cannot betray yourself,” he told YLE, the broadcaster.

posted by chavenet at 1:00 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


As several people have observed, you can have a welfare state or open borders, but not both.
posted by joannemullen at 4:32 AM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


As several people have observed, you can have a welfare state or open borders, but not both.
Bullshit of the highest order. "Open border" in this context means that there is no physical check when entering the country, but just being in Denmark will not bring you any welfare benefits. In order to register, you have to have an EU passport or a permanent residence permit, and since Denmark does not have the "anchor baby" concept, simply going there and having a kid won't work either. If you just reside in Denmark illegally there is zero chance of receiving state welfare. If you go to Denmark and apply for asylum, you will either be shipped back to whichever EU country you came from or incarcerated in a refugee camp. The latest statistics showed that there were families with kids up to the age of 14 who had lived their entire lives in a single 4-bed room in a Danish refugee camp.
posted by brokkr at 5:03 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The latest statistics showed that there were families with kids up to the age of 14 who had lived their entire lives in a single 4-bed room in a Danish refugee camp.

That's a bug, not a feature.
posted by chavenet at 5:24 AM on May 13, 2011


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