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The Super Power no one heard of
June 19, 2004 12:48 PM   Subscribe

So this is the new European world. OK basically there is a new superpower in the world and damned if I can find anyone in my county seems to know or care..... but we're all about one mans untimely grisly death. Compare the world to the US I think this may be a good indicator of the rifts that exist between us and the rest of humanity...
posted by Elim (54 comments total)

 
Huh?
posted by gwint at 12:51 PM on June 19, 2004


but we're all about one mans untimely grisly death.

Well, we're very sorry that this man's murder bores you, your majesty.
posted by jonmc at 12:53 PM on June 19, 2004


Only about the 50th time, Then you get to notice a grisly trend... I mean the whole EU thing aint even in the news, not even on page two and this EU thing is BIG!
posted by Elim at 1:02 PM on June 19, 2004


Don't be so harsh Elim, no-one in Europe cares about this constitution either.
posted by Celery at 1:02 PM on June 19, 2004


Anyway the EU is quite a superpower yet. We don't even have an army yet.
But rest assured that when we do, yes, we WILL be annexing the warmest, richest parts of the U.S.
posted by Celery at 1:08 PM on June 19, 2004


What? Somebody died at the football match?
posted by Rob1855 at 1:11 PM on June 19, 2004


I hate to break it to you, but it wasn't on the front page of the presumptively Brazilian papers you posted either.

Nor the Australian.

Nor does it seem to have been a first- or second-page story in at least one of the German ones.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:17 PM on June 19, 2004


Old Chinese proverb: No army no power no care what say.
posted by Postroad at 1:18 PM on June 19, 2004


I mean the whole EU thing aint even in the news, not even on page two and this EU thing is BIG!

Sorry, it's not BIG, and no one cares.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:48 PM on June 19, 2004


Yeah I don't think Europe cares too much either. Voter turnout was less than %40, %20 in some countries recently.

Postroad it's not projection of external force to the rest of the world that is important, rather it is the end of European Civil Wars that has been going on since Treaty of Westphalia. First the Princes and Monarchs of Europe gobbled up territory in a series of wars, then Nations were formed, then Nations fought each other, then the ideologues came along and the ideologues fought each other and now finally every agrees on both common territory and common ideas and finally bring peace to Europe. That is the theory anyway.
posted by stbalbach at 1:50 PM on June 19, 2004


Moral: Don't overhype your posts. (Of course, without the hype it would have been "European Union has attractions and drawbacks for British," and no one would have read it. Made us look!)
posted by languagehat at 2:09 PM on June 19, 2004


The Rio de Janeiro paper (the one in the lower left hand corner of the newseum page to which this FPP is linked) gives over most of its front page to a huge picture of a beautiful woman in a skimpy bathing suit, with a rear view in the left hand column. This is the proper reaction to the formation of the European Union. It is also the most suitable way of observing the death of Ronald Reagan, the coming nominations of John Kerry and George Bush, and, it must be said, my own obit, when the day comes. Think about it! A pretty girl in a skimpy bathing suit is coals to Newcastle in Rio -- yet it is STILL exciting enough to go on the front page. Some news never gets old.
posted by Faze at 2:15 PM on June 19, 2004


Just to spite S_at_L I've decided to care and ahve actually read the article.

Nyah.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:21 PM on June 19, 2004


we're very sorry that this man's murder bores you

Murder? Or due process?

(I've presumed we are talking about Jesus here, but actually it wouldn't be hard to come up with arguments that Elim's statement could refer to others so I'll stand correction.)
posted by biffa at 2:41 PM on June 19, 2004


S_@_L: Population of the EU is bigger than the US & Canada put together (With a population of 455m, the EU now is the world's biggest trading bloc.). GDP = €9600 billion (approaching but not yet overtaking the world's biggest economy, the USA - GDP of €11000 billion)

And you don't care? OK. Who else do you presume to speak for?

nb: Elim - tasteless reference to a murder, it does nothing but rile readers. Poor form.
posted by dash_slot- at 2:44 PM on June 19, 2004


biffa: I think Elim is making a cryptic reference to the murder of Paul Johnson yesterday. Nothing to do with the EU.
posted by dash_slot- at 2:47 PM on June 19, 2004


What a horrible way to frame a post on what is quite an interesting subject (i.e. the fact that nobody -- not even the Europeans -- care much about the EU, except for the EU bureaucrats themselves)
posted by dagny at 3:04 PM on June 19, 2004


> Postroad it's not projection of external force to the rest of the world that is
> important, rather it is the end of European Civil Wars that has been going
> on since Treaty of Westphalia.

Looks as if the EU is going to have to have a civil war to settle the issue of central government vs. states' rights. I know France has the bomb but don't forget, so does the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.
posted by jfuller at 3:07 PM on June 19, 2004


Cheers dash, perhaps I need to read a few more of those newsfilter posts after all.
I can just about see how that fits with Elim's FPP.
posted by biffa at 3:18 PM on June 19, 2004


The EU is an interesting phenomenon. Traditionally, superpowers have been born trough violent acquisition, usually under a pretext of ideology.
The EU is a superpower created by a group of smaller nation states peacefully joining forces to make money. Everyone is clear about the making money part, which is why so many are keen to join. There is no centralized ideology apart from economics. No -ism forced upon people from the barrel of a gun.

This is the first time in history something like this has happened on this scale.

It's too early to tell yet, but I think Hari Seldon would be proud.
posted by spazzm at 4:24 PM on June 19, 2004


i have to say, tho, "toilettage" is just classic. hysterical.

I think people in the new member countries care, but i guess it's all old news for people in the founding countries?
posted by amberglow at 4:29 PM on June 19, 2004


amberglow - we just worry about how EU laws insist we have straight bananas (according to Murdoch and the Mail), or losing our so-called 'sovereignty'.

Except, if we really were worried about that, we'd be voting in EU elections. Which we hardly do. So yeah - we hardly care about it, which I guess is a good sign, in a kack handed way. (I have been nominated to speak for the UK in this post)
posted by dash_slot- at 5:01 PM on June 19, 2004


amberglow - I think that the new citizens are even less interested. Voter turnout was very low (just over 20% in Poland) in almost all of the 10 new member states.

The problem is that the EU promised many things that it will no longer deliver: The voting system devised at Nice, funding, and the rash decision by almost every old EU state to keep closed their borders to workers from the new member states (Ireland, the UK to some extent, and I believe Sweden being exceptions.)
posted by romanb at 5:16 PM on June 19, 2004


I still can't believe the closed-border thing...that would definitely make me vote if i was a citizen of one of the new member countries.

the new constitution has to be ratified by majorities in each country, or no?
posted by amberglow at 5:28 PM on June 19, 2004


And don't you wonder
Why in Estonia they say
"Hey you, Big fat pig."

posted by Quartermass at 5:41 PM on June 19, 2004


The ratification process varies. In the UK we are likely to get our own referendum now - but thats a recent concession. Some countries are simply having the Parliament ratify it.

And lemme tell ya: I'm a news and poli junkie, but I am quite ignorant of the issues here. Beyond the euro - with it's currency simplifying benefits which we Brits will get, one day.... - I'm ignorant of current european developments. I feel the govt. & media have done a poor job of informing the electorate of the issues in depth. Lord knows how to find out more - have you tried to locate information on the EU website?
posted by dash_slot- at 6:47 PM on June 19, 2004


Actually I was quite suprized first by the negative responses (save the few I did expect) and then the actual getting the point of the EU change. Bravo to all here.

Napoleon would be proud of the Europe and quite shocked on how it peacefully came about, I think.
posted by Elim at 6:59 PM on June 19, 2004


I think it has real potential (and God knows we need real competition, superpower-wise, i think) but it'll probably take a while--maybe it'll need a new generation that'll have grown up as "European citizens" along with their specific nationalities?
posted by amberglow at 7:03 PM on June 19, 2004


the EU doesn't seem to help individual people to me as much as help companies. i dunno, it just seems like a big trade agreement.
posted by rhyax at 7:13 PM on June 19, 2004


Rhyax, true but, remember, revolutions tend to fail giving what was promised, so limit the promises early and it always was about freetrade in Europe anyway..
But with their Charter of Human Rights, i think its a damn good start, in-fact, our Bill of Rights looks pale in some ways..
posted by Elim at 7:30 PM on June 19, 2004


Charter of Fundamental Rights [PDF] is here. I agree there are some really good things there, but sections like this make me think the whole thing is really meaningless:
Any limitation on the exercise of the rights and freedoms recognised by this Charter must be provided for by law and respect the essence of those rights and freedoms. Subject to the principle of proportionality, limitations may be made only if they are necessary and genuinely meet objectives of general interest recognised by the Union or the need to protect the rights and freedoms of others.
I disagree that you need to make provisions in your declaration about removal of rights from people.
posted by rhyax at 7:56 PM on June 19, 2004


OK basically there is a new superpower in the world and damned if I can find anyone in my county seems to know or care.....

Wow, that is a shame.

What county do you live in? Bergen?
posted by anser at 8:02 PM on June 19, 2004


The EU is a replacement for a series of Pacts and Treaties that already exist. It does not create a Federal government like in the USA and it does not take away the sovereignty of nations. It is basically a set of guidelines that hopefully everyone will follow.

For example if the original 13 colonies had the EU constitution, there would be no Federal government. The 13 colonies would remain as separate nations tied together by some common agreements about trade, human rights, cross border travel in effect creating a common American Cultural/Economic zone.
posted by stbalbach at 8:12 PM on June 19, 2004


but won't it become something like our federal government eventually? why duplicate things nationally that are covered/determined by EU agreements?
posted by amberglow at 8:15 PM on June 19, 2004



I disagree that you need to make provisions in your declaration about removal of rights from people.


Actually that sounds a lot like the Notwithstanding Clause in the Canadian constitution affecting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Seems like a fairly standard provision so that legislators' hands aren't completely tied.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:44 PM on June 19, 2004


AFAIK at the very beginning we had a loose confederation not a federal system till 1787, each state or Commonwealth was 'mostly' sovereign... Like the EU
posted by Elim at 9:11 PM on June 19, 2004


Please, please, please.

Don't take this last vote we had - for the EU parliament - as evidence that "Europeans don't care" OR the opposite.

The reason people didn't vote is that the EU parliament has NO fucking power. None.
posted by mr.marx at 11:18 PM on June 19, 2004


Big up the Irish massive! First we clinched the GATT->WTO talks, now the EU. We are the facilitators of satrapy everywhere!

The EU's main influence is how it draws countries near to it, either in proximity or candidate status, into its regulatory and social policy orbit. Countries are either forced or bribed into compliance. People mock the EU's approach to social economy as mired in bureaucracy, but it's a wordy honeypot that's worked to enhance living standards, worker's rights, and environmental standards throughout both western and now eastern member countries.
posted by meehawl at 11:35 PM on June 19, 2004


till 1787, each state or Commonwealth was 'mostly' sovereign

Honestly, I wish the American federation were looser now. I'd happily let people in other states own assault rifles if they'd let me grow a plant or two. And just imagine how much less bitching we'd have to listen to if it simply weren't necessary to decide every damn social issue for the entire country at once. Different strokes.
posted by scarabic at 12:09 AM on June 20, 2004


Then again Texas would probably seceed, Hmmm that might be an idea
posted by Elim at 12:33 AM on June 20, 2004


It is basically a set of guidelines that hopefully everyone will follow.

No, it isn't. There are different levels of agreement passed by the EU, the highest, directives are legally binding on Member States (MS). Stiff fines can be applied against states which fail to adopt policy to bring them into line with directives.

It may be of general interest to know that when we talk about things being passed by the EU, we are actually talking about an agreement by the Council of Ministers. That is Ministers responsible in particular areas from each MS meet to agree new directives, regulations, etc, up to the level of Prime Minister. (I.e., energy ministers would form the council in matters relating to energy, agriculture ministers for agri issues, etc. ) The European Parliament usually has some oversight into the process of creating new legislation and can make recommendations but their recommendations do not have to be accepted into the final draft of any new European legislation (Hence mr.marx's comments).
posted by biffa at 2:36 AM on June 20, 2004


The European Parliament also plays a part in approving the budget and confirms the naming of the Commission. But in reality it does not do much, especially compared to member state Parliaments. The important elections,states, regarding the EU, are those that decide who will run the individual state governments, because that goverment names the PM and other ministers and, as Biffa points out, that is where the real power lies.

I believe that in the future the powers of the Parliament and the Commission will grow beyond that of the Council of Ministers, but that may be in 50 years or something, just as the Federal Government in the US gradually took on much more importance than the State legislatures. Granted the process will be much slower in the EU's case because it is a MUCH more complicated situation than the founding of the US.
posted by sic at 5:12 AM on June 20, 2004


I enjoyed the BBC World Service discussion a few nights ago, with the woman who insisted that compulsory voting was the mark of a dictatorship (!).
posted by emf at 6:44 AM on June 20, 2004


Saudi decapitates American: that's not news.

American decapitates Saudi: now that's news.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:56 AM on June 20, 2004


that compulsory voting was the mark of a dictatorship (!).

Compulsory voting may not be the mark of a dictatorship, but it's certainly a steppingstone along the path. What, I don't have the right to be an anarchist? What's next: compulsory voting for an approved party? Compulsory voting for the One Big Party? Compulsory membership in the party? Thanks, but I'll stick with such freedom as we have left in the US of A.
posted by languagehat at 8:17 AM on June 20, 2004


Compulsory voting may not be the mark of a dictatorship, but it's certainly a steppingstone along the path.

How is compulsory voting any more coercive than jury service? Not having a go, just asking. :)

Of course, one has the right to spoil the ballot. Or, under certain systems, to register a 'None of the Above' vote. There are ways of operating it so that the 'None of the Above' vote, if strong enough, can force a re-election (using preferences and so on). The rationale behind compulsory is to be more inclusive towards the poorer and younger parts of the population who may otherwise be intimidated out of voting (Florida?).
posted by plep at 8:53 AM on June 20, 2004


I'll stick with such freedom as we have left in the US of A.

Such as the "freedom" of generally plurality voting throughout the US? Where the minority party or candidate, frequently with a majority of voters explicitly opposed to their election, still gets elected?
posted by meehawl at 9:17 AM on June 20, 2004


The vote is one of those things that you don't respect if it's free. Put a value, a penalty if you will, on the vote and people pay attention. Especially if they're poor, as plep pointed out.

Sorry, didn't mean to threadjack. My point was this EU person was so full of herself that she couldn't or wouldn't entertain another point of view. She sounded like someone who'd blithely walk into your living room and tell you you'd lost your laundry rights for a week because you'd missed the block meeting, that is, the chance to listen to her uninterrupted for an hour or three.
posted by emf at 9:46 AM on June 20, 2004


Thanks, but I'll stick with such freedom as we have left in the US of A.

That'd be the freedom to have a fraction over 25% of the population elect the man that will be affecting the lives of 100% of the population?

Sorry, but that doesn't sound like a functional democracy to me.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:44 AM on June 20, 2004


and God knows we need real competition, superpower-wise, i think


This just sums up so much.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:18 PM on June 20, 2004


Sorry, but that doesn't sound like a functional democracy to me.

Nothing involving hundreds of millions of people sounds like a functional democracy to me. Once you get above the number of people who can get together in one place to discuss issues all of them are familiar with (ancient Athens, New England town meetings), you're dealing with mass manias and the triumph of advertising. "It's morning in America!" Yeah, that makes for an informed vote.
posted by languagehat at 4:42 PM on June 20, 2004


Steve, you really don't see something the matter with a superpower that doesn't have competition?

Which is to say, do you believe a superpower can retain a healthy attitude toward democracy, toward its own citizens rights, and to the citizens of other countries, without some level of checks and balances aka competition?
posted by five fresh fish at 5:04 PM on June 20, 2004


"toilettage" is *so* moving into my vocabulary...

I wish the US had been formed under similar rules of the EU. We're just too big a land mass for a federal government to be anything but massive, intrusive and insanely bureaucratic.

I think we should all secede. Create functional state governments that actually address the population. Hell, we already have to have identity papers with us at all times, why not just make it a passport? Besides, a few heavily armed kingdoms/republics/'stans could make things *way* more interesting.
posted by dejah420 at 11:50 PM on June 21, 2004


Besides, a few heavily armed kingdoms/republics/'stans could make things *way* more interesting.

In an awful and horrifying Handmaid's Tale way, i'm thinking.
posted by amberglow at 4:45 AM on June 22, 2004


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