All posts filed under: EU

Three candidates for Sicily: A signal for Italy

by Giulietto Chiesa, October 9, 2017, via DefendDemocracyPress In Europe someone is trying to cheat voters by shrugging off Brexit and promoting a “new pact for Europe” which will include the UK (but will be led either by Germany or by a German-French alliance). In the meantime, Italian political life (or I would rather call it, “the Italian political class”) is focused on the upcoming regional elections in Sicily. There are three protagonists and they are all very worried. Matteo Renzi will be the first to downplay a probable bad result, by saying that after all the island is not so politically important. This is a sign of discomfort that, in any case, will probably make him lose more votes. But, of course, if he loses the election in Sicily there will be trouble in Rome. The celebrated Democratic Party leader has already been defeated several times in succession: he resigned as prime minister after being defeated in a referendum to change the constitution and then after that lost the local elections a few months …

The “Non-Citizens” of the Baltic States: Α European Scandal nobody speaks about!

by Tatjana Zdanoka, 4 October 2017, via DefendDemocracyPress The negotiations on Brexit are attracting a lot of attention. In particular, the possible erosion of the rights of around three million EU-27 citizens living in Britain is a major cause for concern. The European Parliament resolution adopted on 3 October states that “the withdrawal agreement must incorporate the full set of rights citizens currently enjoy, such that there is no material change in their position”. The main author of this text, Mr Guy Verhofstadt, the EP Brexit Coordinator, argues that such an approach – not to lower the level of citizens’ rights – is “the goal of democracy”. But why was the very same principle ignored when another “exit” took place in Europe? It was the exit of the Baltic states from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1990-1991 when a million and a half citizens who had moved to Latvia and Estonia from other republics were deprived of the essential rights they enjoyed. Theoretical substantiation for this legal action was found in the …

A Balanced View of the Economics of Independence in Catalonia

by Angel Ubide, PIIE, September 15, 2015 Editor’s Note: In the light of the recent independence referendum in Catalonia, in which some 43% of the population took part despite police attempts to prevent the vote from taking place by means of violence, we are posting this 2015 article on the economics of the proposed secession. Two years after voters in Scotland rejected independence from the United Kingdom, Spain faces the threat of breakup as Catalonia holds regional elections on September 27. The Catalan president, Artur Mas, leads a pro-independence coalition for these elections, Junts pel Si (Together for Yes), with a single aim: to start a process of independence culminating in secession in 18 months. Polls show the independence coalition achieving a narrow majority in Parliament, though with just 40 percent of the popular vote. With its capital in Barcelona, Catalonia, a region of about 8 million people on the Mediterranean coast just below the Pyrenees, is one of Spain’s more prosperous regions. The pro-independence coalition argues that an independent Catalonia would be economically better …

Greece has become the EU’s third protectorate

by Jan Zielonka, August 14, 2015, OpenDemocracy The EU looks increasingly like an empire, having just created its third protectorate in the Balkans. Greece will effectively be run by the EU the way Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina already are. The EU looks, walks and talks like an empire. After extending its borders into Central and Eastern Europe, the EU has just created its third protectorate in the Balkans. From now on Greece will effectively be run by the EU the way Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina already are. Empire is not a synonym of evil despite some bad historical connotations, especially from the colonial era. Power can be exercised in noble ways, and peripheries often prefer to be “conquered” than abandoned. However, the EU’s ambition to run dysfunctional countries by decree is doomed to fail and will represent yet another blow to the project of European integration. Formal involvement of the UN or the IMF in running the protectorates will not exonerate the EU. Enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe has been successful because it empowered local actors. …

The Single-party French State

by Diana Johnstone, June 21, 2107, via Counterpunch French legislative elections follow hard on the heels of the Presidential election.  The momentum virtually ensures a presidential majority.  So it was taken for granted that voters would give President Emmanuel Macron a docile parliament for his five-year mandate. But these elections were exceptional.  The victory of Macron’s personal party, la République En Marche (REM), is novel in several ways.  Not only has REM won an absolute majority of 350 out of 577 seats in the National Assembly.  REM’s victory has also bled the two traditional governing parties, the Republicans and the Socialists, perhaps fatally. With over 130 seats, the Republican Party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy and its allies came in second, and thus ranks as leading opposition party.  But since Macron successfully lured two Republican politicians into prominent positions in his government – Edouard Philippe as Prime Minister and Bruno LeMaire as Economics Minister – it is hard even for the Republicans’ current leader, François Baroin, to explain just what they will oppose.  How can …

Euro-visions

Lexit’s Digest No. 14, 19 September 2017 Juncker’s recent ‘State of the Union’ address was widely applauded by Europeanist media outlets. For example, Politico was very impressed by the Commission President’s ‘bold vision for Europe’: One speed. One currency. One president. No to a multi-speed Europe, all 27 Member States shall join the euro-zone and the Schengen agreement rather quickly after Brexit. EU enlargement shall continue, in particular with the Balkan states. How the governments of these entities ‘adapt’ to the Greek style ‘labour market reforms’ expected by the EU from such poor peripheral countries – see an interesting interview on LeftEast on this with Aleksandar Matković (a researcher at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory at the University of Belgrade)  here. In that general context it is interesting to see that Andrew Watt – formerly a senior researcher at the European Trade Union Institute in Brussels and now working at the Hans Böckler Foundation of the German trade unions – was very positive about Juncker’s proposals. Equally interesting, his colleague Daniel Seikel, also …

According to Emmanuel Macron, the days of popular sovereignty are over

by Thierry Meyssan, September 5, 2017, via VoltaireNet Delivering a keynote speech before the most senior of French diplomats, President Macron revealed his conception of the world and the way in which he intends to use the tools at his disposal. According to him, there will be no more popular sovereignty, neither in France, nor in Europe, and therefore no more national or supra-national democracies. Neither will there be any more collective interest, no more Republic, but an ill-defined catalogue of things and ideas which compose the common good. Describing their new programme of work to the ambassadors, he informed them that they should no longer defend the values of their country, but find opportunities to act in the name of the European Leviathan. Entering into the details of certain conflicts, he described a programme of economic colonisation of the Levant and Africa. Participating in the traditional Ambassadors’ Week, President Macron gave his first general speech on foreign policy since his arrival at the Elysée Palace [1]. In this article, all the quotations in inverted commas …

NO LEAVE to REMAIN

by W Stephen Gilbert Last Christmas, as you do, we received the usual batch of greetings cards from people we’re only in touch with at that time of year. Almost without exception, these cards included a message to the effect: “isn’t it terrible about Trump and Brexit?” As we are perceived as (ex-)metropolitan, enlightened, middle class professionals, we obviously must subscribe to all the views prescribed for that demographic. My partner can speak for himself. But I voted to leave. This is an outrage that many of my friends cannot understand and find difficult to forgive. They tolerate my intolerance of that ugly, specious, coined term that Theresa May likes to use twice in one mantra. But by my vote they think I’ve taken leave of my senses or become a class traitor or revealed myself as a closet fascist. Bracketing Trump and the 2016 referendum result is thought a legitimate summary of a year that was in many ways the most ghastly anyone can recall. It’s almost as though the leave campaign was implicated …

Number of European working poor doubles in a decade

by Elisabeth Zimmermann , 12 July 2017, WSWS More and more people in work in Europe are being forced into poverty. This is demonstrated by a new study by the Hans Böckler Foundation which was made public last Thursday.  The study, titled “Activation policies and poverty,” notes that a growing proportion of the population of Europe live in poverty, although they are working. The researchers from the Economic and Social Sciences Institute (WSI) of the Böckler Foundation examined the effects of labor market and social policy measures in 18 EU countries from 2004 to 2014. All of the measures were aimed at forcing unemployed people into low-wage labor. According to their research, an average of about 10 percent of the workforce aged between 18 and 64 in the countries studied were “working poor.” This means they earn less than 60 percent of the average income in their country. The proportion of working poor was highest in Romania at 18.6 percent, followed by Greece, 13.4 percent, and Spain, 13.2 percent. In Germany, the number of working …

Hungary: Paradise for liberals

by István Lovas Do you wonder what you are going to read in the mainstream press on Hungary tomorrow? I will tell you. The same as yesterday, and the same as in the past almost seven years since Hungary’s right-of-center Fidesz government, led by the Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, was elected. You will learn that Mr. Orbán is a populist, an autocratic ruler, a menace to Europe, and a politician not hesitating to use anti-Semitic language in order to win over voters of the far-right Jobbik, and cover up uncomfortable truths about whatever is on the agenda in Hungary on that day. He, of course, has muzzled the media, made the court system a handmaiden of the ruling elite, abolished checks and balances, while he is suffocating the voice of dissenters, creates inordinate fear, chases away half of the country beyond Hungary’s borders, and the rest of the stuff. Lately, Hungary has been called the safe haven of the European ultra-right. At the time when Hungary’s authorities have arrested and expelled two such figures, such …

All Power to the Banks: The Winners-take-all Regime of Emmanuel Macron

by Diana Johnstone, via Counterpunch A ghost of the past was the real winner of the French presidential election.  Emmanuel Macron won only because a majority felt they had to vote against the ghost of “fascism” allegedly embodied by his opponent, Marine Le Pen.  Whether out of panic or out of the need to feel respectable, the French voted two to one in favor of a man whose program most of them either ignored or disliked.  Now they are stuck with him for five years. If people had voted on the issues, the majority would never have elected a man representing the trans-Atlantic elite totally committed to “globalization”, using whatever is left of the power of national governments to weaken them still further, turning over decision-making to “the markets” – that is, to international capital, managed by the major banks and financial institutions, notably those located in the United States, such as Goldman-Sachs. The significance of this election is so widely misrepresented that clarification requires a fairly thorough explanation, not only of the Macron project, …

What is Needed is a Progressive Vision of National Sovereignty

by Thomas Fazi, via Green European Journal The last year has seen the Right and extreme Right capitalise on the dissatisfaction and despair fostered by neoliberalism – and usher in a ‘post-neoliberal order’. Their success is based on championing and monopolising the idea of national sovereignty, but only of a certain kind. The Left has accepted their discourse that national sovereignty goes hand in hand with exclusivist and right-wing ideas, rather than attempting to reclaim it as vehicle for change. Over the past 12 months, an anti-establishment backlash has taken the West by storm. The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, the election of Donald Trump in the United States, the rejection of Matteo Renzi’s neoliberal constitutional reform in Italy, rising support for the National Front in France and for other (mostly right-wing) ‘anti-systemic’ parties across Europe, the EU’s unprecedented crisis of legitimation. Although these interrelated phenomena differ in ideology and goals, they are all rejections of the (neo)liberal order that has dominated the world – and in particular the West – for the past …

France’s election at gunpoint

from Defend Democracy Press The first round of the elections in France is being held against the backdrop of an attempt by the state and the media to use the violent incident on the Champs Elysées, involving a gunman who is alleged to have been acting on behalf of ISIS, to create an atmosphere of political hysteria. With over 50,000 soldiers and policemen set to deploy to polling stations tomorrow, the elections are to be held at gunpoint. As facts emerge about the background of the alleged gunman, it is virtually impossible not to conclude that this shooting was a provocation involving elements of the security forces, over half of whom plan to vote for Marine Le Pen’s neo-fascist National Front (FN). Karim Cheurfi, a French citizen and career criminal, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2003 for shooting and nearly killing two policemen, but later released on appeal, was last arrested in February after demanding weapons and stating he wanted to kill policemen. He was released supposedly because the “level of …

EU imports 15 times more from illegal Israeli settlements than from Palestinians

by Defend Democracy Press, Dec. 31, 2016 “The gap between Europe’s rhetoric on illegal settlement growth and our actions is widening. We have reached a nonsensical situation where we are economically and financially sustaining the very obstacles to peace we so often condemn. This new report brings together powerful and pragmatic suggestions for a change in policy to truly advance peace,” said Chris Doyle, Director of Caabu. A broad coalition calls on Europe to move decisively beyond rhetoric on settlements. The European Union imports fifteen times more from Israel’s illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory than from Palestinians themselves, a new report [1] from a coalition of 22 non-governmental organisations including Caabu, Christian Aid UK and Ireland, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Diakonia revealed today. The report, entitled “Trading Away Peace: How Europe helps sustain illegal Israeli settlements”, is the first to compare available export data from Israeli settlements and Palestinians, highlighting the inconsistency at the heart of EU policy. The EU states, “settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle …

If they don’t want more austerity, racists & non-racists should vote Le Pen

by Ramin Mazaheri The fundamental problem in France today is that racists aren’t polling for Jean-Luc Melenchon. Who? He ran 4th in France’s presidential election in 2012. Same as Jill Stein and you’ve heard of her. He has created the superbly-named Disobedient France Party. You don’t hear about him for the same reason that what you likely read about the recent Austrian election were exhales over the “far-right loss”, when you should have heard “a Green Party wins for 2nd time ever in Europe” (after Latvia). The reason for this is that Western mainstream media is fundamentally capitalist when private and fundamentally status quo when public – that they have no interest in promoting leftist victories, ever. Not even a left-center one like in Austria. For them, history is over – there is no alternative to right-wing economics like austerity as well as the continental domination of Brussels. This rightward fundamentalism is why most of the world knows who ran third in France’s 2012 election – Marine Le Pen of the National Front. Le Pen …

Report on the Referendum in Italy

by Massimo D´Antoni, via Defend Democracy Press December 4th was a great day in Italy.  We hoped for such an outcome, but did not expect it.  When we saw so much turnout by voters we were not sure how to interpret it, because the media and the government had claimed that more voters would result in a higher percentage of “yes” to the constitutional reform.  Well, it was the other way round.  An unprecedented (for a referendum) participation rate brought to a clear rejection of the reform proposal, and of the government. Let me remind you of the line-ups: against the reform were the populist Five Stars movement, the xenophobic North League, Berlusconi’s right and the Left, plus the minority of the Democratic Party lead by former leaders Bersani and D’Alema. In favour of the reform was the government, i.e. Renzi’s Democratic Party (except the former leaders Bersani and D’Alema, who campaigned for the No) with its center-right allied party NCD. However, the actual support for the reform was expected to be a bit larger than …

Obama’s Musings on False Narratives and Fake Stories

by Glen Ford, The Black Agenda Report People no longer believe the fake “news” and bogus narratives issued by the ruling class and its corporate and military misinformation specialists. President Obama traveled to Berlin last [month] to browbeat Europeans on why they should continue to play junior partners in Washington’s quest for full spectrum global domination, but kept returning to his post-election obsession: the existential threat posed by “fake news” on social media. It was as if the realization had just dawned on the lame duck president, that his own powers to create “facts” and manufacture “news” out of thin air would soon be gone.  Without the Clintons in the White House to continue the neoliberal project, history might conclude that the First Black President’s only enduring legacy was…that he was the first Black president. It’s a question of who gets to decide what’s “fake” or not. Obama fears that what he calls “fake” news begets fake history, which begets the fall of western civilization as the rulers would like people to imagine it. Fake …

Statement for a Standing Plan B in Europe

by Internationalist Summit for a Plan B in Europe! Here is the final declaration of the Plan B Summit, which took place on 19-20 November 2016 in Copenhagen. We, the undersigned, elected representatives, academics, trade unionists, social movements, party organisations, commit ourselves to a standing Plan B for Europe as a force of opposition and alternative to the European institutions. We refuse a Europe of permanent austerity, attack on social and labour rights and devaluation of labour. We deplore the erosion of financial stability on our continent. We contest the shift from public to private which redirects common resources and public finances to service debt owned by banks. The steamrolling of the Greek left wing experiment in 2015 has shown the need for a platform that specifically addresses the blackmail and the attempt to impose neoliberal policies via the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). An alternative is needed urgently, as the EMU is set to become even more dangerous in the coming years. By imposing austerity, the political and financial oligarchy has created insecurity and …

Croatian President photographed holding Nazi puppet-state flag

by InSerbia with agencies A photograph of Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic holding Independent State of Croatia (NDH) flag appeared on social networks, reported Croatian portal “Indeks”. The Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was a World War II puppet state of Germany and Italy, which was established in parts of Axis-occupied Yugoslavia. The NDH was founded on 10 April 1941, after the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Axis powers. The NDH consisted of modern-day Croatia and most of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as some parts of modern-day Serbia and Slovenia. The regime targeted Serbs, Jews, Roma people and anti-fascist or dissident Croatians and Muslims, as part of a large-scale genocide campaign in places such as the Jasenovac concentration camp. Professor from Toronto Tihomir Janjicek published, with her permission, a photograph with Croatian President behind a Croatian flag as it was during the Nazi Independent State of Croatia in the World War Two. As stated, Janjicek wrote that he placed the flag with personal permission of Croatian President. “The President saw the flag and as …