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Ptarmigan
Well, as most of you may know, France and the Netherlands recently vetoed the European Constitution.

It seems that this is NOT an attack on the Constitution itself (for one thing, no one seems to know what it says tongue.gif ) but points to wider dissillusionment with the EU itself and disagreements on the way it is heading.

The UK press has (predictably) boiled the issue down to a simply choice.

"Is the EU to follow the British ideal
(pro-US, liberal economics, focused on competition and a loose-knit unit that has a very wide definition of Europe - to include Turkey (and maybe even Russia and Middle Eastern countries in the distant future))
or the French ideal
(not necessarily pro or anti US, but able to stand and act unilaterally as it wishes, social democratic economics, where the ideals of society, harmony and a comfortable standard of living are more important and a small group of countries tht work in very tight co-operation on all policy matters - and Turkey definitely not a member)"

Now, I think this question is probably too simplistic - and that there are a variety of ways the EU could develop and grow.

So my question is:

Where does the EU go from here?

How do you see the future of the EU? Will it prosper, will it die out? How might it change - economically, politically, socially? What do you WANT to see happen?
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bucket
I think there is much trouble ahead and we see it in the press and I even see it here..at AD when debating anything EU related.
What troubles me is the insistence now to define this as an issue that can be blamed or reduced to what most like to refer to as Anglo-Saxon. Huh? What is this the 5th century again? Are the Anglo-Saxons planning another invasion? I think many do view it this way.

Now in the British press they claim Blair is to face 6 mo. Gallic revenge. Sounds like some kind of superstition.

Good lord...things never change do they?
Horyok
The "eternal" Anglo-saxon / Gallic rivalry rhetoric is really getting old!!! mad.gif France and the UK have been at war and competing for world supremacy for more than a thousand years... I used to think it belonged to the past, and now we're back at it! This is not an European Union, this is a bad comedy. It's about time we bury the dead.

The only improvement caan come if a majority of Europeans feels that the EU is their future, not another problem in their existence. That means that everyone interested and concerned by the project has to make an effort to make it work.

To be more explicit (and maybe provocative) I want an EU that would bring Moif, Ptarmigan, Bucket, Sevac, Julian and myself more reasons to be satisfied than cause for dissent.

I am certainly one of the most adamant on the idea that the EU can only work if it is similar in its institutional design to the US. But this would rule out the existence of independent country-states in Europe. hmmm.gif Since I'm not in favor of a continental war, my only hope is to see how the democratic process serves my cause (if it ever does).

Maybe we are not ready for it at the moment. Maybe we never will be. I rest my case. laugh.gif
Ptarmigan
I do not think that the future of the EU is really about the UK and France - but that is how it is being portrayed in Britain (and in the French newspapers I have seen).

I believe that the EU could work - however I think that until recently, everyone has been assuming that it will work and has been ignoring the flaws in the system, on the assumption that it will all sort itself out.

1) The member states of the EU have very different ideas about where it should go and what it should be. (Okay, I'm going to make a generalisation here - I am going to assume that the way the government acts is broadly in line with what the electorate wish. I know there are flaws in this thinking!).

2) How far does the EU expand? Does Turkey belong? Would the Ukraine even belong? Personally, I would be perfectly happy to see the EU expand as a broad collection of democratic nation states right up to the doorsteps of China and Russia! But an expanded EU will by necessity be only loosely integrated.

3) Integration - how much is too much? If the EU were to truly become like the US, then each of our countries would lose a lot of power. But would it be worth it?

4) Pro-US or alternative super-power? Assuming that the EU could integrate enough to have a common foreign policy - what do we do with it? Do we sell weapons to China or not?

5) Economics - what sort of economic model do we follow? If we want to be like the US, then Europe could become very very rich following the US economic model- but should we? Are there other ways to do so. Europe is not America and what works for the Americans may not work for us. What labour laws do we have?

6) The budget (hiss). Why should Britain get a rebate? why should French farmers get subsidies to compete with African farmers? But then why SHOULDN'T the EU subsidise its farmers?

and even then, we have to work out a way of running the EU that is more democratic.

Anyway, those are the issues that are mainly raised in Britain. I am sure that other memebrs have different issues...

Julian
Things I would like to see happen:

1. The CAP has to go. The EU budget seems to me to be about the right size, but I find it vaguely laughable that we've just taken in another 10 new members, all of which are poorer than the poorest of the exitsing members (Greece I think), and yet three of the biggest net beneficiaries of EU largesse are still Italy, Spain and France. France is the world's fifth largest economy even in it's current parlous state - and it only lost it's position at number four to the UK when they switched from Francs to Euros. They need to go cold turkey on their CAP fix, and the sooner that happens the sooner they will get over it.
2. The British rebate has to go, for pretty much exactly the same internal reasons as the French CAP does. Accession members have to be supported by the richer countries of the North and West of Europe, which means that Britain and Germany and France and Belgium and the Netherlands and Sweden and probably Spain too will all be net contributors to the EU budget for the next 20 years at least.
3. The EU needs some new treaty or constitution for it to work with 25 members. I think a treaty is probably more sensible at this point, since recent events have shown that there is not the consensus as to what the EU is for that is necessary for a capital "C" consitution. So such a treaty should confine itself to operational issues such as how the rotating EU presidency should be reformed, which (to be fair to it) was the main thrust of the now defunkt Constitution. Just give the drafting to someone who is a writer, intellectual and idealist - say a panel that includes Bob Geldof, Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa - and not a politician and bureaucrat like Valery Giscard-D'Estang.
4. If membership is to be extended to Turkey, we need to change the name of the body they join. Turkey (and Israel, and most of Russia) is in Asia, not Europe. So we need to start calling it the Eurasian Union if they join (Arguably we already should depending on where you put Cyprus)
5. We should integrate as much as each country feels comfortable. With 25+ members, it should be possible for there to be different levels of integration.
6. We should stop with the constant comparisions to the USA, as if that particular model of federal republic is the only valid one that can be concieved of. We need to think of other ways to do it that might work for us. If there are none, and federation is still the goal, by all means adopt US ideas. But let's not behave as if the whole of Europe is so bereft of ideas that everything has to be the same as the USA if it's to work (or, in the case of the current Frnech administration, the diametric opposite). For one thing, we European posters on AD know very well that not everything in the US garden is rosy all the time. For another, in 25 years time, when China is le grand fromage and America is busy trying to pay off their debts to stay solvent, are we suddenly going to start embracing Confucianist Communo-Capitalism because that's what's working best abroad that week?
7. We should take in new members on our timetable, not theirs. If they can't survive economically unless we welcome them with tickertape and sackfuls of cash in the next two years, why do we want them in our club? Turkey, Ukraine, Russia and the rest can either wait or walk, IMO. Whatever happens, I think we should go back to taking in two or three countries at a time at most - this whole current political crisis has only arisen because we expanded in too big a jump last time around.
bucket
QUOTE(Ptarmigan)
I do not think that the future of the EU is really about the UK and France - but that is how it is being portrayed in Britain (and in the French newspapers I have seen). 


I completely agree this is true in principle..but in practice it seems to falter. This is not only evident in the UK/FR papers..it is in the EU itself. Take for example the recent EU budget meeting...
Chirac said of Blair position.."Pathetic". Well that is one approach to opening dialogue.
Schroder then added.."There is a special European social model to protect that has developed on the continent," said Mr Schroder.
"Those who want to destroy this model due to national egotism or populist motives do a terrible disservice to the desires and rights of the next generation" the chancellor added."
Who do you ever think he means by those ? Must be those not on the continent perhaps ? heh.
Luxembourg then added.. The current EU president, Luxembourg leader Jean-Claude Juncker, attributed the collapse of the talks on the budget to the clash of two opposing visions. Two opposing views? What two? and this was just the start of this man's attack..have you read his newest update...Mr Juncker then said "I am telling you this because no one else will and because you are likely to hear other explanations in the future". I do believe he is calling Mr. Blair a liar. Way to pass the baton there Mr. Juncker...what a team player!

Sweden chose to speak up.. According to Swedish papers, Mr Persson said "He is a world politician, no other European politician can speak to the people in the 25 countries like Blair can".

He also indicated that Stockholm is firmly on Londonís side when it comes to the divison between British ideas and the "old ideas" about Europe.

Oh man there is that dreaded old word again.

In practice it looks like these two nations are dominating the EU.
Ptarmigan
QUOTE
In practice it looks like these two nations are dominating the EU.
Bucket

You have a good point.

But really, there are 25 countries in the EU. The debate shouldn't be just between the UK and France / Germany! If the EU is going to work and be acceptable to everyone, then it is going to need a lot more input from the other countries.

I know that everyone has a voice in the EU, but I think most countries would like to find a middle ground between anglo-saxon liberal economics and franco-german social democracy models. I *think* Tony Blair knows this and is going to aim to try and achieve this, but if Britain pushes the EU too hard towards following a US style economic model, then there is going to be a huge amount of resistance and ultimately it won't work.

One interesting side-effect - Tony Blair is suddenly looking like a politician with a future again! Nothing like fighting the French to re-invigorate a UK politicians reputation!


----------------------------------------

Anyway, here's what I think...

1) No more subsidies. The EU should not exist to protect EU industries from external competition. I have no problem with an EU with a lot of social protections built in, but subsidies are nasty and addictive. The EU needs to spend its money on research and technological innovation and deal with competition that way.

2) Each country to set its own taxation levels and labour regulations. By allowing a variety of different approaches, members can learn from each other and take the route which best suits their individual circumstances. Having said that, I think that the EU needs to adopt liberal economics in order to compete with the rest of the world.

3) Be able to include Turkey, include Russia, include anyone who meets the criteria and wants to join. The greatest thing the EU has done has been to expand and promote democracy, free market policies and human rights in ex-Communsit countries. One of the nastiest things it has done is to treat Turkey as if it unworthy to join because 'it isn't Christian' enough. Having a large predominantly Muslim country in it would be one of the best things to happen to the EU.

4) Common foreign policy - With one voice, the EU could do a lot of good. What gets screwed up is that every country wants to protect its own national interests. We won't sanction Burma because of French oil interests, we want to sell arms to China because our arms companies can't easily compete with US ones etc etc. We should be promoting democracy and human rights throughout the world. Instead we bicker amongst ourselves.

5) Reduce the beaurocracy - The EU Parliament should be the elected body with the most power. The Commission should be an advisory body and the Council should be the executive, that requires EU parliamentary approval to operate. The EU should probably also elect one President who can over-rule individual member states on the particular areas where the EU is given predominant power.

6) A short meaningful constitution .....


bucket
QUOTE
I *think* Tony Blair knows this and is going to aim to try and achieve this, but if Britain pushes the EU too hard towards following a US style economic model, then there is going to be a huge amount of resistance and ultimately it won't work.

One interesting side-effect - Tony Blair is suddenly looking like a politician with a future again! Nothing like fighting the French to re-invigorate a UK politicians reputation!


I think he does too. Mr. Blair has always been extremely passionate about the EU and I think he feels the failure to pass the constitution recently was yes a failure..but not on his part. So I am sure he sees this as a great opportunity right now. I know I do...but I still think it's gonna get pretty ugly.


1) No more subsidies. I agree with you on this one 100%

2) Each country to set its own taxation levels and labour regulations. Well yes and no.
No because This is one area where the US does in fact enjoy a far superior advantage over the EU. For how long this will last I dunno tho. The EU really has little cohesiveness in the economic factors..currency almost, interest rates not quite and then what else? The US and the UK (since she hasn't opted for the EU plan yet) have far more available tor them..or as they like to say..are far more flexible.
Yes because one of the major faults or weaknesses we always hear about the EU was it's one size fits all policy is failing. But I think I disagree with this (haven't made my mind up yet) I think the EU's economic policy is not only too tight but also too loose ..or perhaps it would be better to say too tight and too allusive.
4) Common foreign policy
Well that hasn't been working out to well in practice either. And yes it is all America's fault. And that is what happens when you have a superpower in the world they have these powers that are pretty super and they will invade and corrupt other nation's policies..even if you have it all written down differently.
Hamburger
Hi Everyone... Shouldn't be the 'battle' for one or the other model be more what fits each place best.

Europe as a whole has a tough ongoing competition between countries, regions and cities for attractiveness for both various investments and the best people.
Within Britain, London could gain from its position as some sort of 'Europe's window to the English speaking world', which brought it a lot of European and oversea investments and brain transfers. The rest of Britain however is looking pretty sad in comparison/relation to the rest of the continent and this is partly because of the UK's centralistic national policy but also because of the UK's relationship to market and culture.

Continental cities offer a much higher standard of living: both in terms of infrastructure, cultural settings and work places. Those soft factors also include a certain society and a 'European way of life' / 'European lifestyle'. The economical structure is therefore very much depending on these grown structures, be it precise watch-making engineering in Switzerland and Southern Germany or delicate confectionery in Belgium and France. Also, the EU is running a policy similar to the federal German system, which intends to promote reginal equality within its regions, in order to preserve equal opportunities for people from different cultural settings and to preserve each place's economical competitiveness.

The free market is already making use of those grown structures and the consequences are either a symbiosis of the two models or a collapse under the crash of the two or under wrong placement of one or the other. Money rules the world and there might also be a good reason for it. But it will destroy grown structures which aren't as competitive as others. The question is what will be left when everything is sold?

Horyok
QUOTE
1) No more subsidies. The EU should not exist to protect EU industries from external competition. I have no problem with an EU with a lot of social protections built in, but subsidies are nasty and addictive. The EU needs to spend its money on research and technological innovation and deal with competition that way.


Sounds good.

QUOTE
2) Each country to set its own taxation levels and labour regulations. By allowing a variety of different approaches, members can learn from each other and take the route which best suits their individual circumstances. Having said that, I think that the EU needs to adopt liberal economics in order to compete with the rest of the world.


I believe federal taxes should be applied to normalize the game between the EU states. Then and after, countries would be free to add any other state tax they'd want.

QUOTE
3) Be able to include Turkey, include Russia, include anyone who meets the criteria and wants to join. The greatest thing the EU has done has been to expand and promote democracy, free market policies and human rights in ex-Communsit countries. One of the nastiest things it has done is to treat Turkey as if it unworthy to join because 'it isn't Christian' enough. Having a large predominantly Muslim country in it would be one of the best things to happen to the EU.


The Christian argument is a smoke screen. It's Turkey's population (80 million), and its effect on the Parliament (should she join) that's scaring off some of the country members.

QUOTE
4) Common foreign policy - With one voice, the EU could do a lot of good. What gets screwed up is that every country wants to protect its own national interests. We won't sanction Burma because of French oil interests, we want to sell arms to China because our arms companies can't easily compete with US ones etc etc. We should be promoting democracy and human rights throughout the world. Instead we bicker amongst ourselves.


Haha! When this one problem is solved, Ill be celebrating my 100th birthday.

QUOTE
5) Reduce the beaurocracy - The EU Parliament should be the elected body with the most power. The Commission should be an advisory body and the Council should be the executive, that requires EU parliamentary approval to operate. The EU should probably also elect one President who can over-rule individual member states on the particular areas where the EU is given predominant power.


Your idea sounds like a revisiation of the Roman Republic... In such a system, I wouldn't like to see the President turn into a new Julius Caesar.

QUOTE
6) A short meaningful constitution .....


Meaningful... hmmm.gif

Here is my addition:

7) Any male and female who is a citizen of one of the member states will have to spend his/her full 18th year living in an other one of them. Relocation, tuitions, healthcare and other fees will be covered by the Union's budget. The aim is to promote friendship and understansding between the member states, based on the citizens' experience.
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Sevac
Europe, which way shalt thou go?

I had the crazy idea that a unified Europe, a Europe of diverse member states under the roof of a federal Union, could be the shining beacon of light in an ever darkening world since the States turned towards religious fundamentalism.

Europe, that is in my opinion:
a federal Union, with two representative legislative bodies, the Parliament and the Council, the executive which is appointed by the Parliament and the Council and the Judicative. The Parliament is directly elected by the people of the EU, with an equal number of votes per member of parliament. The council is appointed by the governments of the member states, one representative per member state.

The bodies have restrictive legislative power, for they can only concern themselves with policy areas that have been transferred to them. Additionally, the legislative has only a guideline function, the extend and implementation of those guidelines can be modified by the member states unless both houses have ruled with 2/3 majority.

CFSP:
The executive has the representation monopoly in the foreign and security policy, unless 1/4th of the council objects to the position of the executive in a specific topics. A common military should follow.

Social Standards:
Minimal social standards need to be implemented in all member countries to avoid competition in exploitation of the working people. That includes a decent health care, unemployment insurance, old-age pension and free education.

Environmental Standards:
Minimal environmental standards are to be implemented in all member states. The member countries need to restrict the pollution of the environment for the effects are not bound to national laws.

Subsidy Policy:
All subsidy policy needs to be agreed to by parliament. That includes currently active policies.

Culture:
The common heritage demands an supra-national understanding of each nations culture. A broad cross-border program to confront students, workers, politicians with different cultures should be a top-priority to avoid the increase of extremism towards foreigners.

Religion:
Needless to point at total Secularism.

Constitution:
Why not? But every country already got one, so I fail to see the real benefit. Needless to say that if there should be a constitution, it needs to be one that deserves that name, not a "constitution treaty" which is just a symbolic paper.

Economics:
Apart from those minimum requirements to ensure a decent competition, each country may do as it sees fit. Adam Smith was wrong when he said that only non-interference of the state allows true competition. Men are not machines, and efficiency or profit is neither the meaning nor purpose in life.

New Member States:
I don't think I am racist when I argue against the inclusion of Turkey to the EU. Europe ends on the Bosporus and the Ural, so should the EU. Culture, Religion, Mentality, whatever, my gut feeling tells me it is wrong to include those who do not share a common heritage. [define that as you see fit]

Needless to say that each country may decide of how much it cooperates with the integration process. That may turn out to make things more difficult, but I think it's the best way to a unified Europe in our lifetime. Every step closer can't be thanked enough for.
I would wait to see how this proposal would perform in the long run before I comment on any further developments, e.g. the creation of a "European Nation".

Ptarmigan
Sevac

QUOTE
Social Standards:
Minimal social standards need to be implemented in all member countries to avoid competition in exploitation of the working people. That includes a decent health care, unemployment insurance, old-age pension and free education.


The problem is how to decide the minimum - acceptable minimum social standards in Germany (which is rich and so can afford them) are going to be a lot higher than acceptable minimum social standards in (say) Lithuania. Far better would be to let all the European countries compete and then adopt a model which offers the best mixture of growth and social standards for that particular culture.

At the end of the day, Europe is going to be competing with China, which , for all intents and purposes, has no social standards and no minimum wage! So if Europe is to have them, it needs to be able to produce goods which no one else can produce - so we're talking high tech, high level research here.

QUOTE
New Member States:
I don't think I am racist when I argue against the inclusion of Turkey to the EU. Europe ends on the Bosporus and the Ural, so should the EU. Culture, Religion, Mentality, whatever, my gut feeling tells me it is wrong to include those who do not share a common heritage. [define that as you see fit]


I think we have a moral obligation to include as many countries as we can into the EU, because in joining, countries adopt political, social and economic reform to become better places to live in. Look at Eastern Europe.....I am afraid I disagree on the culture view - Europe has no one culture (there are no particular cultural similarities between the Irish, Spaniards and Lithuanians for instance - and if there are, then Turkey has at least as many similarities)


QUOTE
I would wait to see how this proposal would perform in the long run before I comment on any further developments, e.g. the creation of a "European Nation".

I agree - exciting times!


QUOTE
7) Any male and female who is a citizen of one of the member states will have to spend his/her full 18th year living in an other one of them. Relocation, tuitions, healthcare and other fees will be covered by the Union's budget. The aim is to promote friendship and understansding between the member states, based on the citizens' experience

Horyok - nice idea! - although I never really felt intolerance was a problem within the EU! Everyone seems to get along well enough......




Hamburger - Certainly life in a continental European city is nicer than in the UK if you have a job - and certainly a lot of older British people move to Europe once they have made enough money to retire, however, for 20-30 somethings, their priority is to get a job and earn money - and the UK remains the best place in the EU to do this. I think this is a pretty terrible situation really - I have no desire to see Western Europe end up as a gentile, cultural, retirement village!

QUOTE
Well that hasn't been working out to well in practice either. And yes it is all America's fault. And that is what happens when you have a superpower in the world they have these powers that are pretty super and they will invade and corrupt other nation's policies..even if you have it all written down differently.

I don't really see it is Americas fault - America adopts a foreign policy to suit its best interests - as does everyone - Europe's problem is that it can't decide whether to have one cohesive foreign policy that works to the broader EU interest, or if the member states should adopt foreign policies that are in the individuals interest. I think that the US just wants allies - and if the EU could work together and be a US ally, then the US would be rather more helpful!
bucket
QUOTE
I don't really see it is Americas fault - America adopts a foreign policy to suit its best interests - as does everyone - Europe's problem is that it can't decide whether to have one cohesive foreign policy that works to the broader EU interest, or if the member states should adopt foreign policies that are in the individuals interest. I think that the US just wants allies - and if the EU could work together and be a US ally, then the US would be rather more helpful!


I disagree. I don't think all the US wants or is focused in on is having allies. I think Iraq is a perfect example of this. What America wants is to implement it's foreign policy without having to be dependent upon other nation's assistance. I think that is what the EU wants too but the EU is a dependence on other nations. So I believe the common foreign policy ideal will never succeed. I think this was proved with Iraq too. I can't imagine the US and the EU working collectively on many of the most troubling issues of our time. ..China, Taiwan, Iran, Kyoto,Sudan, North Korea,. Personally as an American I would rather have the opportunity for my nation to appeal to EU states independently for support or alignment on a foreign policy issue and as a Briton I would rather have my nation able to appeal to or align with America when she felt it was in her best interest or the best interests of the world.

I think if a cohesive foreign policy did take effect in Europe it would dramatically shift or change the world forum and policy discussions and diminish diplomatic channels, checks and balances. For example let's say the slaughtering in Sudan intensifies and the US wished to increase her military presence..is the EU going to have to take into consideration France's interests in that region and tow the diplomatic line France has held on the Sudanese gov? ....which is compliance. Would you as Briton be comfortable with that? Shouldn't there be a world discussion on such events and wouldn't the lack of European views as in plural be detrimental to this?

moif
QUOTE(ptarmigan)
Where does the EU go from here?

How do you see the future of the EU? Will it prosper, will it die out? How might it change - economically, politically, socially? What do you WANT to see happen


Okay, there are really two seperate questions here, what do I think will happen and what would I like to see happen?

Well, first of all, I think what will happen is simply, more of the same. We will continue to see the EU stumble along as the politicians continue to attempt their imposition of a federal state upon the old nations of Europe in order to compete with the big bad wolf that lives across the Atlantic. As a consequence we will continue to see the population of Europe expressing their frustration with the callous disregard for our nations so often expressed by the Europhiles.

What I would like to see happen is for the EU to be reformed into a Scandinavian style democracy with Scandinavian style laws and idea's. I would also like to see Europe's sciences being promoted and the ESA updated into a viable competitor to NASA.
I'd like to see Europe have a single, modest but technologically advanced military force and then we could scrap all the national armies and replace them with national guard/territorial army type organisations.

I'd like to see the EU adopt English as its primary language because without a single language then there is no 'unity'. English should be the language of choice because it is the most universal language and already the most widely spoken language in the EU.

Of course. none of that is going to happen, so I'm really not too bothered what happens just as long as its fully democratic and not the nepotistic corrupt gravy train we see today.


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