laupäev, juuni 14, 2008

luck of the irish

What is it about Europeans that makes them blind to the fact that they live on one continent, or at least one sub-continent with common cultural furniture?

To an American, if you fly east across the Atlantic, you inevitably reach one of two landmasses, Europe, with its medieval architecture and fondness for electronic music, or Africa, with its post-colonial blood feuds and civil wars.

But in the eyes of some Europeans, Europe is anywhere else but here. Here's a quote from an Irishman who voted no on the Lisbon Treaty last week:

"You know, I love traveling through Europe, but I don't really want to live there all the time. I'd like to stay as close to America as Europe."

Except it's 3,000 miles from Ireland to the US, my dear euroskeptic Irishman, and less than 300 miles from Ireland to France. That means that you really are closer to Europe than the US. You can't be as close to America as to Europe because it is actually farther away.

Here's another gem from one of our Western European friends, this time a Spaniard:

"Spaniards feel Spanish, the French feel French, and the Dutch feel Dutch. We will never all be in the same boat."

Except Spaniards don't feel Spanish anymore, do they? They feel Galician and Catalan. They feel Basque, just like the Basques in France. And do the Belgians really feel Belgian? Or do some feel more Flemish than Belgian? Remind the EU not to include the word "feel" in the next version of the constitutional treaty they cook up.

There are a few other reasons why I am mad at Ireland this weekend. One is that they have proven that humans are indeed a cynical species. Humans just take take take, and they don't reciprocate. Common currency? Oh, I'll have that. Structural funds? Yes, please. Publishing EU documents in Irish to make you feel good? Naturally. Treaty that civil servants slaved over and nearly all political parties endorse? No to you, EU! We are suffering from Eurofatigue, I mean ... look at all the immigrants. That's another rich one from the Emerald Isle. Immigration fatigue. This from the country that sent its people around the world by the boatload to colonize other countries, one pub at a time.

But, I digress. Estonia is guilty of this way of thinking, too. I once told a woman that I was headed to Poland (the trip was canceled in the end, but never mind). "Oh," she said. "You're going to Europe." "But I am in Europe," I insisted. "Not really," she replied.

On another occasion, a gentleman came back from skiing in the French Alps. "I just got back from Europe," he said. "Dude," I pulled him aside. "We are in Europe. Estonia is part of Europe." "Sort of," he agreed, "but we are more on the edge of it." Right. Roman alphabet. Lutheran churches. Blond people named Katrin and Karl. EU Member State. Not exactly Europe.

In instances like these, I'd like to know exactly where this mysterious Europe is. Some represent it as the mountain villas of France. Others see it as the murky canals of Amsterdam. And still others think of it as a leaning tower somewhere in northern Italy.

Wherever Europe is, people sure like its valuable money and its passport-free travel. But, for whatever reason, they don't take kindly to its treaties. Maybe the treaties would finally pass if Brussels let the Europeans vote on them, rather than those pesky Irish, French, and Dutch instead.

57 kommentaari:

martintg ütles ...

I'm glad the Irish voted no.

Hirnu-Hrnx! ütles ...

Nice piece of writing. Have you published it somewhere else? It deserves to.

Kristopher ütles ...

Good piece to read waiting for a flight to Rome. The northern Italians say it's provincial and not even "Italy". I wonder if I will find Europe there.

Just a thought that occurred to me, but maybe the lack of a feeling of unity is geography. The fact that there are so many seas and peninsulas. There is no "sea to shining sea". Or maybe it's the fact that the main mountain range runs roughly east-west, not north-south. Just throwing something out there, I don't don't if there's any basis to it.

Colm ütles ...

Well I voted 'yes' and I am mad about the reasons people gave for voting 'no'. The reasons were stupid: politicans are greedy, taxes, we are losing or commissioner, treaty is too complicated and long, abortion, European conscription...

I often tell people the same when they travel to the continent. "I like Europe, I'm travelling to Europe, I was in Europe this summer" WHAT?! "We ARE in Europe."

The sad truth is people are greedy. All the want is money in their pockets now. They don't think abou giving something back or about the longterm. If this vote had been put to the people at the height of the Celtic tiger people would have said 'yes'. But now in the economic downturn...

'No' to Lison will hurt Ireland very badly. Ironic that workers said 'no' to Lisbon because of the economy when Lisbon would have strenghtened the EU both globally and internally and improved the economy and job prospects.

No,blah...

stockholm slender ütles ...

Oh well, this is how Europe works, not very smoothly, but gradual progress happens all the time. It's not actually very common to try to build such an organization peacefully and democratically. There is a price to pay for such slow methods, but on the other hand speedier ones have not been able to produce very durable results... It is frustrating, and yes, immigration fatigue, of all things, is very rich coming from the Irish, but this is democracy in action. A lovely sight, fundamentally, considering some other alternatives.

Baltic ütles ...

Well written piece!!

The never ending game of the European federalists vs inter-governmentalists could be finished ONLY with two viable outcomes. Either there will be The United States of Europe created, OR European peninsula will be in shambles and wondering why Chinese and Indian owners own everything, and hordes of African and Middle Eastern food seekers would revive Europeans memories about "trekking nations in Eurasian landmass" 1100 years ago:)

I am European federalist, but I also DO understand the "stubborn inter-governmentalists":) After all, even an old anecdote vividly describes possible outcome of the ongoing inter-governmental European scenario....

"The Chinaman was attacked by a mobster in Soho. In his response Chinaman used his martial arts techinques and called police later on. When asked by constable, why did not he simply kill his attacker, the Chinaman answered that he could not simply kill the grandfather of his future countrymen...

WAKE UP Old Europe:)

Andres ütles ...

The United States of Europe will not work. I am pretty certain of it. You don't have the kind of cultural unity (or well.. lack of it) as there was in the US. Also, giving up so much of your individual freedom is probably strongly against the constitutions of most nations. I'd like to see Marko Mihkelson say "The Estonian constitution does not exactly interfere with the abolishment of the Estonian state. It's just a legal nuance."

While I'm not exactly what you'd call an eurosceptic, these treaties kind of intimidate me too. Majority voting? The EU president? What if Germany and France decide to fuck us over? What if you elect a Bush to be president? What if...

The explanation work concerning the treaties has obviously been not deep enough and most people don't understand what it brings along at all.

Baltic ütles ...

Andres:

Those of us advocating the USE speak about OUR CHALLENGES. I am always responding to my students and e-sceptics that even though I do not like texts a'la legalistic juggernaut of Reform Treaty, the EU present COMPLICATED governace system is an alternative to the WAR GAMES that plagued and decimated European peninsula until WW2.

You asked:

Majority voting? The EU president? What if Germany and France decide to fuck us over? What if you elect a Bush to be president?

And what about majority voting in Riigikogu, Saeima, Bundestag, Riksdag, Eduskunta, House of Commons, etc??

The EU president you ask...but try to imagine Chinese, Indian or Indonesian OFFICIAL and think what they think about president of 1,3mlj vs 500mlj country?? Have you you read Travels of Marco Polo, the same problem for EUROPA circa 800 years ago:)

What is FRA & GER f**** us over? My answer is that DEMOCRACIES r predictable! And an alternative is to be in NO MANS land in between and f**** until DOOM:)

What if you elect Bush to be president???

First I am still of better opinion about the public education on this side of Atlantic, although we could always argue about the property tax funding public education in the US etc...

BUT regardless of Bush being a prezident the U S and A is still world's hegemon, because not individuals, but pluralistic groups reciprocally with civil servants run modern countries:)

Yrita aru saada et nāiteks Tonga elanikkonna jaoks MEIE ASUME Euraasia saarel:)

Andres ütles ...

And what about majority voting in Riigikogu, Saeima, Bundestag, Riksdag, Eduskunta, House of Commons, etc??

Well, I expect them to be at least vaguely in the benefit of the nation. Majority voting in Europe on the other hand is likely to trample over some nations' interests. I guess this is a nation-state vs citizen-of-the-world debate. Just for the record, I tend to lean towards the nation-state stuff.

I am always responding to my students and e-sceptics that even though I do not like texts a'la legalistic juggernaut of Reform Treaty, the EU present COMPLICATED governace system is an alternative to the WAR GAMES that plagued and decimated European peninsula until WW2.

I completely agree with you. But "eesmärk pühendab abinõu" has its boundaries in my opinion. The "give up your freedoms so Germany, France and England could still feel like big players next to China and India" doesn't quite work for the smaller nations. Are we trying to get synergy out of Europe or we trying be a new America? We should make up our minds because I'm not sure how many people would support the New America route.

Giustino ütles ...

I don't understand the argument that the constituent countries of the EU are voluntarily ceding away their sovereignty.

If that were the case, then why would every government in Europe support this? Why would the governments of traditionally euroskeptic countries like Britan be so willing to cede away their powers to a faceless bureaucracy in Brussels?

The argument really makes no sense.

I think Gordon Brown should just push that sucker through parliament. Everyone knows he's going down; he might as well go out in a blaze of glory.

Andres ütles ...

Signing up to any international treaties means giving up at least some of your sovereignity.

Priit ütles ...

A well written post, couldn't agree more.

Jonas ütles ...

I think the Irish no vote is actually a good thing for the EU. It might finally get the message through to the elite, the commission and the bureaucracy that there is a real democratic deficit within the organisation. This needs to be solved before we go further. Although, I don't hold out too much hope for that; already the French and some EU officials have showed the degree to which they respect democracy by suggesting Ireland hold a re-vote. (Particularly ironic with the French having previously rejecting Nice being one of the reasons we have the Lisbon Treaty!)

It may well be that only 1% of the EU's population got to vote and technically it may well only be that 1% who reject it if all the parliaments of the other member states ratify it. But, you can be sure, if the people had decided in other member states, there would have been very many more no votes. Plus, we were told as a member state when we entered EU that we have the right to veto reforms like this. Ireland must also have that right. Such things have to be adopted with support from all members. Nation states are sacred entities, 26 can't be allowed to override even 1. The EU's power must come from the countries, rather than the other way around.

I should clarify, I am pro-EU. But it needs to be far more democratic in its structure (the commission is virtually unaccountable) before we give it more competencies. It also needs to be a popular project supported by the people. At the moment, it's far too top-down. It may well be that it is trying to go too fast.

Giustino ütles ...

Signing up to any international treaties means giving up at least some of your sovereignity.

I think Europeans are willingly ceding their sovereignty to the United States. They'll whine about US foreign policy, but they still use US military resources as a security blanket.

And so you wind up with things like the argument between the Russians and Americans about missile defense in Europe. Because Europe has no single voice, its future is decided by people from Moscow and Alabama.

It seems some Europeans prefer that.

Kristopher ütles ...

I say "tubli, iirlased!". Jonas has pretty well outlined the reasons already.

And if Moscow believes the US is about to develop missile defence, that's just fine with me, thank you very much. I'll take that security blanket. That helped win the first Cold War, too.

Now maybe we can get together on the global warming problem.
And -- as long as we're on the subject of devolving power to member states and the people, it's time to expand the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution, too, and have more referenda -- though single-issue ones, preferably.

Baltic ütles ...

>>>>Well, I expect them to be at least vaguely in the benefit of the nation.

Andres, what does nation mean to you? Is it the state OR the kin group (natio - birth in latin lang.)?

>>>Majority voting in Europe on the other hand is likely to trample over some nations' interests.

Aye, but it also happens in domestic affairs of nation states today! + tell me how TRULY independently EST, LAT, FIN or any other state can act when we abide to the UN and WTO rules?

But "eesmärk pühendab abinõu" has its boundaries in my opinion.

think about your children and think how truly independent we are if EST (and the rest of CEE states) MUST follow the monopsonyst world prices in world markets. We must abide to standards set by our participation in the UN, Council of Europe and finally in the EU, thus how truly INDEPENDENT r we?

>>>>>>The "give up your freedoms so Germany, France and England could still feel like big players next to China and India" doesn't quite work for the smaller nations.

BUT that is the reason why Reform (Lisbon) Treaty was signed!!!!!! To enable majority of EU member states to move on if it comprises at least 65% of its population. Reasonable enough, because also today 2/3 of social and regional development funds we use in CEE come from FRA and GER taxpayers!!

And, finally, if GER, FRA, GBR will not feel like big powers vis-a-vis PRC, IND how do you expect to stand up in case of turmoil??????

>>>>> Are we trying to get synergy out of Europe or we trying be a new America?

synergy means that whilst using our strengths and weaknesses we must understand that the European peninsula with 500mlj inhabitants are minority on the Eurasian landmass! There are rather several contenders/non-democrcies to our place under the sun!

>>>>>We should make up our minds because I'm not sure how many people would support the New America

What do you understand as new America??

tommy ütles ...

The orthodox russians are glad. Grist to Putins mill from Ireland!

Kristopher ütles ...

Blackmailing Europeans with the "Russian threat" is no solution; it's a complex issue with many pros and cons (which probably should not have been presented to the voters as one yes-no decision).

I thought the Irish vote was a referendum, not a pre-ferendum. I get the feeling that some people are not only "regretting" the Irish decision, they are not taking note or respecting it. And that is unfortunate.

Baltic ütles ...

Kristopher:

>>>I thought the Irish vote was a referendum, not a pre-ferendum.

40% of eligible voters participating and barely 51% saying AYE. Thus 20+1% of eligible voters in Emerald Ireland representing majority opinion????:)

I get the feeling that some people are not only "regretting" the Irish decision, they are not taking note or respecting it. And that is unfortunate.

Please explain what do you by not respecting Eire decison, if even EU Commissioner J.M. Barroso, A. Merkel and N. Sarkozy openly said that they respect Irish voters decision??

I personally ALSO respect opinion of 20+1% of Eire electorate, but to opine that it is majority OPINION is simply GROSS MISSTATEMENT:)

plasma-jack ütles ...

if the Irish had only one [b]right[/b] option, why give them a chance to vote? I probably would have voted for 'yes', but lamenting about the result sounds silly. Unless the vote was rigged, which does not seem to be the case.

tommy ütles ...

Baltic has right. I think the greater part voting NO didn't know, what's the essence of LT at all.
But the joint EU seems to be the most real guarantee against the economcal muddle in the world, at first the Russian seizure of power with oil/gas weapon.

Andres ütles ...

Andres, what does nation mean to you? Is it the state OR the kin group (natio - birth in latin lang.)?

A group of people who feel as a nation. For example, if the Americans feel as one nation although there are people of many nationalities there, they are a nation. The state is not the nation. Also, people with Russian citizenship in Estonia who know nothing about Estonian history are probably not a part of the nation. All the more because they dont identify as such. These are some examples of my perception.

As for the "how independent are we really?" question. The final frontier of independence in my opinion is the constitution. The irreversible chance to say "EI!" if something seems completely wrong. Do we still have that right after extensive reforms of the EU? Or will our power structures take orders from the higher powers in Brussels and quell the resistance? It probably won't go that far but then again. If it does go that far then who is to blame for it? Us of course for being so ignorant in the first place. Remember 1939 etc.

Pruned Samurai ütles ...

Don't have time to read through all comments atm, but "giving the power to the bigger nations, smaller ones don't have a say in it"... Same could be said about the Riigikogu passing a law that pleases most of the country but not for Ida-Virumaa.

Giustino ütles ...

Well, what this all means is that Berlin will continue to dominate European policy towards Russia, not Brussels.

martintg ütles ...

Giustino ütles...
Well, what this all means is that Berlin will continue to dominate European policy towards Russia, not Brussels.


How so? If Berlin is currently dominating EU policy towards Russia now, why would they not continue to dominate via a strenghtened Brussels?

Giustino ütles ...

How so? If Berlin is currently dominating EU policy towards Russia now, why would they not continue to dominate via a strenghtened Brussels?

Right now, Brussels is dominated by a Spaniard, an Italian, and an Austrian. But, because Brussels doesn't count, EU policy is actually determined by the split between CDU and SDP in Germany. The whole continent runs along the fault lines in the grand coalition.

Estonia has it relatively easy because Merkel is in power, but should Steinmeier take the helm, who knows what his posturing will be towards those inconvenient countries between Germany and Russia.

And so, everyone worries about scary Brussels, but the status quo, scary Berlin, isn't actually better.

martintg ütles ...

Giustino ütles...
Right now, Brussels is dominated by a Spaniard, an Italian, and an Austrian.


However Brussels would be effectively controlled by a russophilic Franco-German alliance via a strengthened EU parliament, add fellow russophilic Italy and qualified majority voting in to the mix, and Estonia could be getting more trouble than it bargained for.

Heli ütles ...

Anyone read the Päevaleht today? Danish Uffe Ellemann Jensen sugests that Ireland should secede from EU because of this.

Andres ütles ...

This is pretty amusing. When France and Holland voted "no" everybody took it as a fact and a new treaty was worked up. After all, France is a big player and both them and Holland are straight in the middle of Europe. Pretty hard to tell them to piss off, right. Ooohh.. but now, convenient little Ireland screwed it up. Now it's safe to beat the diplomatic crap out of them because who would defend a small country on the outskirts of Europe?

Giustino ütles ...

However Brussels would be effectively controlled by a russophilic Franco-German alliance via a strengthened EU parliament, add fellow russophilic Italy and qualified majority voting in to the mix, and Estonia could be getting more trouble than it bargained for.

It already has trouble. That's the point. Whether Berlin or Brussels, there will be trouble. The question is over whom does it have more leverage. I am not taking a side; just asking a question.

This is pretty amusing. When France and Holland voted "no" everybody took it as a fact and a new treaty was worked up.

What is the problem with the treaty. I am looking at it, but I don't understand how it is so controversial.

An extended EU presidency -- that's controversial, I guess. But combining Solana and Ferrero-Waldner's positions? How is that controversial? How is what we have now better than what would be after?

In the US, these questions have never been put to the people. Nobody asked America to go to referendum when they created the National Security Council. There was no referendum on the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (nor, I might add, on the US Constitution -- that was done by the shiftless "political elite").

But combining Solana and Ferrero-Waldner's positions is impossible because you have to have huge domestic political battles about immigration and the facelessness of the European bureaucracy -- things that actually have nothing to do with that change. It's really crazy. In some ways, the EU is almost too democratic. You can't even change language about how many member states there can be in the EU without putting it to referendum.

So, right now, the Treaty of Nice includes language about the expansion to 27 member states relative to the number of commissioners. But what happens if Croatia joins the EU, say in 2010? The EU is left in legal limbo.

Giustino ütles ...

Anyone read the Päevaleht today? Danish Uffe Ellemann Jensen sugests that Ireland should secede from EU because of this.

I read the comments too. It is clear that this issue is snowballing, the same way the Bronze Soldier crisis did. It's no longer about the actual treaty, it's about "feeling European" and "the faceless bureaucracy" and the "political elite" and saying no the "United States of Europe." Who knows where this sucker is headed.

Doris ütles ...

I'm also upset that the Irish voted no, but there's nothing anyone can do about it now, I guess. Except draw up another treaty and try again in 3 years or so.

This is not good for the EU as a whole at all though and I agree that the reasons why the Irish voted the way they did were completely irrelevant. What does immigration fatigue have to do with the Lisbon Treaty? Voting no won't change any of the things that are already bad but voting yes would have improved some of them. Bah!

Fine, whatever. I just hope that the EU won't sit on it's backside for long and will go ahead with at least a foregn-policy reform. True, all the small countries would probably be ignored but they are now anyways and at least they would be at the back end of the bandwagon than under it. Plus, it would force a stronger need for blocs within the EU to ensure that at least some of the things important to, say the Western bit of the Mediterranean, would get attention. Right now, it seems to me, everyone is just gallopping around trying to get the best deal out of the overall chaos.

david h jones ütles ...

people like their nation states. The Irish do sound ungrateful, but why should the EU decide on virtually the whole policies of a country?

Despite all the smug words of the intellectual left and the business right of the last few decades, most people like the idea of a nation state. Be that existing nation states like Ireland, Estonia or the Czech Republic or soon to be nation states like the Basques, Scots or Catalans.

The EU is a good thing, but it does have a tendency to micromanage every part of people's lives and people would rather that not happen or for it to be done by a government closer to them culturally, physically and of their own chosing.

Doris ütles ...

"people would rather that not happen or for it to be done by a government closer to them culturally, physically and of their own chosing."

But the Irish have just made choosing any kind of government on a EU-level impossible for themselves and the rest of Europe! So they would rather continue with the current "faceless bureaucracy"? I highly doubt it.

puolimieli ütles ...

40% of eligible voters participating and barely 51% saying AYE. Thus 20+1% of eligible voters in Emerald Ireland representing majority opinion????:)

What are you babbling about? The turnout was 53% and 53.4% said NO.

Please explain what do you by not respecting Eire decison, if even EU Commissioner J.M. Barroso, A. Merkel and N. Sarkozy openly said that they respect Irish voters decision?

The said politicians have explicitly stated that the EU should push on with the treaty despite Ireland's NO vote. This despite the fact that the deal was originally that the treaty can only come in force if all the member states ratify it. In my opinion the EU leaders are clearly disrespecting Ireland's decision and flaunting previously agreed-upon rules.

The never ending game of the European federalists vs inter-governmentalists could be finished ONLY with two viable outcomes. Either there will be The United States of Europe created, OR European peninsula will be in shambles and wondering why Chinese and Indian owners own everything, and hordes of African and Middle Eastern food seekers would revive Europeans memories about "trekking nations in Eurasian landmass" 1100 years ago:)

What a bizarre view of the world! Slowly, I'm beginning understand the motivation of some of the EUtopians. Baltic at least seems to suffer from some sort of Napoleon complex: s/he feels it's necessary that Europe is developed into a huge, monolithic state à la the Soviet Union, so that it can measure up to some other powers. If we must give up democracy to achieve this goal, so be it!

Personally, I don't see the point in building this huge super-state. I'm not interested in Europe playing great power politics. I'm interested in the well-being of normal, average people, which is best guaranteed by smaller political units where people can have their say.

Moreover, I do not for a moment believe that people of different nationalities cease to promote the interests of their own nations when they're working for the EU. In fact I prefer it that way--a person who identifies only with the system scares me.

Nation state is the most successful political idea in history. Democracy, human rights, and widespread prosperity have only been realised in nation states. Why is it that many people want to replace these local democracies with an empire ruled by an unaccountable Eurocratic aristocracy?

Jonas ütles ...

In the US, these questions have never been put to the people.
There's a massive difference here. The USA is one country. Americans can vote to influence the make up of their congress and president, which is how they are governed.

If the Finnish government decides to create a new ministerial post or a new government agency, I can vote in the next election to try and influence that decision and vote for an alternative party. I have direct opportunities to influence the Finnish political process. Same goes for Estonians in their system.

I don't feel that level of ability to influence the EU. I don't feel its accountable in the same way.

That's the problem the EU needs to sort out before we go giving it further powers. It needs to be more democratic and connected to the people. It is not at the moment. At the moment it feels like a project of the elite - not the people.

Giustino ütles ...

Why is it that many people want to replace these local democracies with an empire ruled by an unaccountable Eurocratic aristocracy?

But there were some real housekeeping changes in that treaty that should be adopted. Should the EU really put every little change in language to referendum? If you have to change the Treaty of Nice to account for the enlargement of the union, do you really have to roll that issue into this big issue of accountability? Seems counterproductive. And how do you make those slight changes? You just operate with an out of date treaty?

identiteedivargus ütles ...

The treaty would expand the number of topics that require majority voting, which is directly harmful to smaller countries. Why should I support the system where an proposal harmful to Estonia can be passed?

The difference with Riigikogu is that when Riigikogu uses majority voting, at least some part of Estonia benefits from it. On the EU level we are talking about other countries benefiting.

david h jones ütles ...

Doris: "
But the Irish have just made choosing any kind of government on a EU-level impossible for themselves and the rest of Europe! So they would rather continue with the current "faceless bureaucracy"? I highly doubt it."

Doris - maybe the message from Ireland is that they don't want Europe to go any deeper, period. Be it a Europe with a EU Parliament or EUcrats.

I don't want Europe to be Great. When Europe was Great it colonised and subjected people from America to Africa to Asia; my language, Welsh, was marginalised and humilated in its own land, children caned for speaking Welsh, other small nations were told to know their place in the world and keep quiet for the sake of the Great nations - 'Britain', France, Russia, Austria. Sorry, but I'm not interested in Greatness or power.

I believe in Europ, I believe in cooperation but I believe that most decisions should be made by nations, including my own, Wales, on not 'Euopre'.

If European MPs want to be big players, then Merkel and Solana can be honest and do what Schwarzenegger did, and emigrate to the US if they think Europe is too small for them.

The message is, we like Europe, we are European by definition, we don't want to be patrionised by people who undermine and belittle national identity whilst they use the very same classic nation-building steps (anthem, flag, constitution, army) to create a new nationality.

Giustino ütles ...

But, David, the EU already has a flag, an anthem, and a presidency, not to mention battle groups. Sarkozy will be your EU president in a few weeks, treaty or no treaty.

identiteedivargus ütles ...

"...treaty or no treaty."

Exactly. Bureaucrats say that they'll pass the legislation one way or another. So why is everybody so angry with Ireland?

Jonas ütles ...

The thing is, Sarkozy will only be President of the Council of the European Union. The title president gives an impression that that role is more powerful than it in fact is. In Finnish and Swedish we don't even use the word president for that role - just "chairman". Which rather more accurately reflects the position.

The fact that the eurocrats and elites in Brussels are saying they will find a way to enact the Lisbon treaty's provisions regardless of the vote of a member state in the EU (which is meant to have the right to veto the project), shows the problem with the EU; lack of democratic credentials. How can the people of small countries respect the EU if it gives the impression it will ignore their opinions?

Giustino ütles ...

Exactly. Bureaucrats say that they'll pass the legislation one way or another. So why is everybody so angry with Ireland?

Because they are acting like the French.

How can the people of small countries respect the EU if it gives the impression it will ignore their opinions?

Jonas, do you consider your foreign minister, Mr. Stubb, who supports this treaty, to be a "eurocrat" and a member of the "elite"?

I have a hard time seeing Mr. Paet, Estonia's own eurocrat, as being a part of the elite.

Let's put faces on these faceless eurocrats, shall we? I mean, I know who Estonia's MPs are. These are people like any other Estonian, who grew up either in the countryside or the city. Maybe they have adopted the trimmings of eurocracy, but an elite they are not.

Man, where is Bono in all of this? If he can end hunger and poverty and relieve countries of their debt AND make decent rock albums, surely he can heal the fissures of Europe.

Baltic ütles ...

To Puolimieli:

>>>>>>What are you babbling about? The turnout was 53% and 53.4% said NO.

babble or not, BUT I still do not see how you would consider 28% (53,4% of 53% eligible voters) of the nation being MAJORITY???

>>>>>>the EU should push on with the treaty despite Ireland's NO vote. This despite the fact that the deal was originally that the treaty can only come in force if all the member states ratify it.

IRL majority can say their WORD after 26 ratify it for example, as it already happened with Danish Maastricht & Irish Nice:)

>>>>>Baltic at least seems to suffer from some sort of Napoleon complex: s/he feels it's necessary that Europe is developed into a huge, monolithic state à la the Soviet Union, so that it can measure up to some other powers.

Its you who said that, but please read carefully and understand that I spoke about FUTURE CHALLENGES (low demographics, low R&D spending, lck of resources in the EU vs quite the opposit in the Eurasian landmass)

I>>>>>>f we must give up democracy to achieve this goal, so be it!

what are you babbling here, who said that someone is giving up democracy????

>>>>>Personally, I don't see the point in building this huge super-state. I'm not interested in Europe playing great power politics. I'm interested in the well-being of normal, average people, which is best guaranteed by smaller political units where people can have their say.

So do I, and that is EXACTLY why Lisbon Treaty subsidiarity principle is there!

Moreover, I do not for a moment believe that people of different nationalities cease to promote the interests of their own nations when they're working for the EU.

FACTS PLEASE!

Nation state is the most successful political idea in history.

OOLLLLAAAALLAAA, barely 200 y. old PROJECT:) And democracy being flawed until its second wave in the early 20th century you opine, that it is the MOST SUCESSFUL. To follow your train of thought I would argue that the nation state is the MOST SUCCESSFULL UNIT TO KILL YOUR AVERAGE people on MASS SCALE:) (Nazi Germany, Rwanda, PRC, Cambodia, Sudan NOW)

Democracy, human rights, and widespread prosperity have only been realised in nation states.

But what about Greek city states? And what about multicultural Canada, USA, Australia??

Why is it that many people want to replace these local democracies with an empire ruled by an unaccountable Eurocratic aristocracy?

It is your definition, and to argue about it I want to unerstand what do you mean by it:)?

Jonas ütles ...

Actually, Stubb's initial response was shameful. He's another to add to the list of people who basically suggested Ireland should vote again. Yes, he's very much a EU federalist, so it's not that surprising.

He seems to be still acting more as a European Union official (even though he wasn't even one in his last job as MEP) than our foreign minister.

I have been very disappointed by the way he has approached his job. He needs to look beyond his own personal academic interests and towards those of the country of which he is foreign minister of. Not at all lived up to the expectations.

identiteedivargus ütles ...

"I have a hard time seeing Mr. Paet, Estonia's own eurocrat, as being a part of the elite."

He's a wannabe and that's why he is especially eager. He wants to be one of the elite so badly that he's ready to ignore the interests of his country and nation.

Let's not forget that Johannes Vares was Estonian. So were Lauristin and Karotamm. Vares had the courage to kill himself after he understood the impact of the mistake he had made.

identiteedivargus ütles ...

"Because they are acting like the French."

???

Please explain. Seems like a slogan.

Giustino ütles ...

Please explain. Seems like a slogan.

People are infuriated by the Irish, because they are getting a little dose of Irish nationalism. And Irish nationalism is brusque, stubborn, and in your face.

People are used to French nationalism. They have come to accept them as rude and unaccommodating. Now they will come to accept the Irish the same way.

I am personally also mad at Ireland, because I have not seen one anti-Lisbon Treaty sign in Irish; even Coir's website is all in English. What would De Valera say about that?

Doris ütles ...

"my language, Welsh, was marginalised and humilated in its own land, children caned for speaking Welsh, other small nations were told to know their place in the world and keep quiet for the sake of the Great nations - 'Britain', France, Russia, Austria. Sorry, but I'm not interested in Greatness or power."

yeah, whose wasn't at one point in history or another? There's a very good saying that goes something like this: "Ideals are well and good but at the end of the day you need to feed your children". How do you, being of any given minority go about feeding yourself? By sacrificing certain things: time for work that you don't particularly like but that (hopefully) doesn't disgust you, "luxury" items, such as fancy wide-flat-screen tv's, and sometimes some of your ideals.

It all comes down to stuff and staying alive. How do you think is easier to stay alive - as part of a larger entity whith whose ideals you can live with even though you might not agree to all of them or as a loner? Human beings are pack animals, they do not survive alone, and the same can be said for nations/countries. Especially in the more and more globalizing world.

Being small doesn't mean being uninfluential, if you're smart. Look at the NATO cyber defence center in Estonia, one of the smallest NATO member states, with one of the smallest armies to offer. But we CAN matter where quality matters over quantity. Just have to find those areas and make others see them as such frst :)

identiteedivargus ütles ...

"People are infuriated by the Irish, because they are getting a little dose of Irish nationalism. And Irish nationalism is brusque, stubborn, and in your face."

And where's the argument? Why do you care about how they're acting if the bureaucrats will find a way around them? You're not being rational.

identiteedivargus ütles ...

"Being small doesn't mean being uninfluential"

Under majority voting... it does.

Giustino ütles ...

And where's the argument? Why do you care about how they're acting if the bureaucrats will find a way around them?

I don't care. Personally, I have a lot of Irish friends, and I get to hear them roast other countries all the time, especially the UK, so I think that they too deserve a good roasting.

You're not being rational.

Ok, step back a second. We are not having an argument, where I say one thing and you counter it. I am, instead, using you and other posters as a forum for ideas. Or we are using each other. Whatever.

I put out some ideas and we react and interact and hopefully gain some new insight from it. In this environment, I or anyone else may play various sides of an argument.
Absurd humor is also welcome.

puolimieli ütles ...

babble or not, BUT I still do not see how you would consider 28% (53,4% of 53% eligible voters) of the nation being MAJORITY???

So what? It's a normal feature of democracy that not everybody wants to vote. There's no reason to assume that the NO side would not have won if the turnout had been higher. 53% is actually a very high turnout in an EU-related vote, as people generally do not know much about the machinations of the Union, and thus feel alienated from it.

Its you who said that, but please read carefully and understand that I spoke about FUTURE CHALLENGES (low demographics, low R&D spending, lck of resources in the EU vs quite the opposit in the Eurasian landmass)

You base your support for EU centralization on a fanciful scenario of future, where Europe for some strange reason needs to be a Soviet-style megastate in order confront the challenge of China and India. Many of the most successful societies in the world such as the Nordic countries are small, and I see no reason why they would benefit from relinquishing more and more of their sovereignty to Brussels.

what are you babbling here, who said that someone is giving up democracy????

It's clear that many pro-EU people think that giving even one EU country a chance to vote on the (de facto) EU constitution is too much democracy. They'd prefer that all the important decisions concerning the Union are made by a small elite, often in secret. The Lisbon treaty gives more power to the EU, undermining national sovereignty, and taking political decision-making even further away from EU citizens.

So do I, and that is EXACTLY why Lisbon Treaty subsidiarity principle is there!

The subsidiarity principle as described in the Lisbon treaty is identical to that of the Maastrict Treaty (1992). Since Maastricht, the power of the centre has increased in relation to the member states all the time, so subsidiarity is an empty promise.

"Moreover, I do not for a moment believe that people of different nationalities cease to promote the interests of their own nations when they're working for the EU."

FACTS PLEASE!


There is no such thing as a European citizen. It can only exist as a legal construct. Europeans are Germans, Frenchmen, Danes, Estonians, Poles etc. People identify with their nations of origin, and in politics promote the interests of their own countries. In addition, there's a relatively small Eurocratic aristocracy, who identify with the system and with other eurocrats, not with the common people.

OOLLLLAAAALLAAA, barely 200 y. old PROJECT:) And democracy being flawed until its second wave in the early 20th century you opine, that it is the MOST SUCESSFUL. To follow your train of thought I would argue that the nation state is the MOST SUCCESSFULL UNIT TO KILL YOUR AVERAGE people on MASS SCALE:) (Nazi Germany, Rwanda, PRC, Cambodia, Sudan NOW)

Mass killing has always been common in world history, and it happened everywhere long before the nation state. The vast majority of nation states have never been involved in mass killing.

But what about Greek city states? And what about multicultural Canada, USA, Australia??

The Greek city states were dirt-poor slave societies. Multiculturalism is a very recent development in Canada, USA and Australia. All of them were founded by English people, and their language and cultural and political tradition are English. Similarly, their population consists mostly of descendants of Western Europeans who have been assimilated into the Anglo-Saxon mainstream. The biggest internal problems in these countries concern unassimilable minorities, such as African-Americans in the US and the Quebecois in Canada.

FraVernero ütles ...

Oh, hello there!. 53 comments... what a flood! Just putting in my 2 cents, if you don't mind. BTW, congratulations for the blog (I am very fond of Estonia myself, in spite of the distance, and struggling with the basics of Eesti keel..).

I' tend to find the insatisfaction about the irish vote a bit thick, and readings tend to follow a manichean stance of the kind, rejecting a EU treaty/constitution means you reject being European or that you are ungrateful for what the EU has done for you (as individual, state, etc...). I personally consider myself a proud member of our continental culture and civilization, and share most of its values, but I would have voted againt the Lisbon Treaty too. Rejecting it isn't rejecting Europe as such (even though some of the critical voters might feel that way). For many others, it is rejecting one way of building Europe, characterized by:

-Obscurantism and bureacratic manipulations kept as much as possible outside of electoral control (only Ireland will hold a referendum on this treaty).

-Cuts in people's rights and in Europe's keynesian Welfare State as sponsored by the EU more and more each day (65 hour week now as freedom? freedom for whom? exploiter-employers??).

I hope we keep building (it wil be a slow and complicated project) a common Europe for all of us. But I hope it will turn out a social one, and a better place to live. Not an exportation of Neo-Liberalism and bureaucratic tyranny...

Doris ütles ...

"(65 hour week now as freedom? freedom for whom? exploiter-employers??)"

have you read the thing? Obviously not. At the moment the absolute maximum is 78 hours a week. The standard maximum including overtime has not changed - it's still 48 hours. The 65 - or was it 60? don't remeber - per week would only be valid with written consent from the employee and has to be renewed annually, plus all overtime must be compensated with corresponding rest time and cannot be compensated by payment alone. Plus, on call time even if you are not actually elbow deep in the emergency you're on call for, is still considered work. This is wonderful news for doctors, as you can imagine.

The text is available for the public, just google it. Although I suggest reading the original directive first (about 20 pages, only 3 or so with actual rules) because the amendment just specifies and elaborates on the original document.

see- typical case of "stupid EU" reaction when they've actually done something good.

Jonas ütles ...

I was watching Swedish tv last night. Interestingly it seems that it's not 100% certain that Sweden will be able to ratify Lisbon. Although, the right wing government is in favour, it can not pass it alone. Such a vote on constitutional matters requires a two thirds majority in the Swedish parliament. The Social Democrats are coming under significant pressure (not least from LO - the all powerful Swedish central organisation of trade unions) to reject it because of the EU's critical stance on collective agreements. (A result of the EU court decision in the Vaxholm conflict last year). Basically the Swedish social democrats are under intense pressure now from its grass routes to at least to demand some form of concessions from EU before ratification. (With EU parliament elections coming up, they won't want to alienate their working class voters).

I also find it hard to believe that the Czechs will pass it given the noises they seem to be making.

FraVernero ütles ...

Doris, I beg to differ, and I have read the 30-page document with the information.

The maximum was has been up til now, indeed, 48 hours. That didn't exclude that some countries, among them the UK (I ignore if the Netherlands too) have been making use of opting-out since 1993 and formalizing loopholes and tricks to lenthen workhours to as much as 78 a week. A thing that some governments (including the Spanish one) totally rejected to accept in their states (and wisely: I have a certain skepticism about the 'freedom' of workers negotiating the hours with their bosses).

The new legislation will make it possible in all countries to take the working week till 60 hours now (65 in case of doctors). There's European progress! I thought those ideas about the free pact between worker and capitalist belonged to 19th century bourgeois Political Economy. We shall see the real results of the 'free choice' in the following years, which will include obligatory acceptance of the new hours 'or else' and (just as it happens massively now in Spain) no pay whatsoever for extra hours.

Best greetings

M.