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By Cid
#1262400
The EU Moves Ahead At Last
By Joschka Fischer


With much noise and commotion, the European Union has sidestepped catastrophe – but only just. It was damned close. In a united effort, a major crisis that would have openly divided the Union for years to come and which would have made Europe a global laughingstock was averted.

The EU ran aground two years ago when France and the Netherlands said no to the European constitution. With the new agreement, the Union has once again started to move.

While the mandate for an intergovernmental conference to develop a new treaty will create something less than a constitution, the coming treaty will go well beyond the present Treaty of Nice – provided things go according to what has been agreed. But two steep hurdles still need to be overcome: the intergovernmental conference and ratification through the national parliaments or by means of a referendum in all member states.

Still, German Chancellor Angela Merkel can be proud of what was achieved. It is her first real success in international diplomacy. That Friday night in Brussels involved very real and tough decisions. The German chancellor played for high stakes and won. She deserves respect and recognition.

If the new treaty comes into being, the institutional reforms that the union needs will become a reality, and a new double majority voting procedure will take effect, even if with some delay. The EU has worked for 20 years on these reforms. The enlarged Union, inevitable when Europe’s Cold War division ended in 1989, needed new institutions to act efficiently and with transparency.

The new treaty is supposed to become effective in 2009. Twenty years seems to be what it takes Europe to change, and that is anything but reassuring.

The treaty calls for a new EU foreign minister – although he is formally denied that title, this is what everyone will call him – with a strong administrative infrastructure in the European Commission and the Council. The rotating presidency will be replaced by an elected President of the Council. A new balance will be struck between the EU and member states, and a stronger role will be given to the European Parliament and the national parliaments. EU citizens will be endowed with legally binding fundamental rights, and majority decisions will become the general norm.

A high price had to be paid for this agreement. The new treaty is not simpler or more transparent than the rejected Constitution, quite the contrary. And the wrangling in the run-up to and in Brussels itself surely did not contribute to the EU’s popularity among its citizens. Indeed, the damage sustained in the process will linger. The following consequences are already foreseeable:

First, that night of hard negotiations in Brussels reinforced the two-tier Europe for the next two decades. The recalcitrant states achieved a Pyrrhic victory because it will quickly become clear to them that, even if the EU is getting a new institutional framework, the avantgarde countries will decide among themselves what the concrete arrangements will look like. Enhanced cooperation among these countries and the Euro zone will be the instrument for this.

Second, Franco-German cooperation has shown itself all the more indispensable in the enlarged Union. Despite all the differences that might exist between the two countries – differences that are likely to grow – there is no alternative to their alliance.

Third, the UK has once again weakened its own position within Europe. Its policy of “opting out” keeps Britain on the sidelines of the EU. This will further reduce the importance of Britain, both in Europe and in the world.

The political and economic significance of all the mid-sized European powers is waning, and they are shrinking relative to the US and the rising giants of Asia. Only a strong Europe can provide the necessary counterweight. A UK that plays a marginal role within the EU will thus lose its influence even faster, including its special voice in the US.

Fourth, Poland has to ask itself what kind of role it wants to play within the EU. Poland is an important country within the Union. Properly considered, Poland’s existential interests, its geopolitical location, and its history, demand that it do everything to contribute as much as possible to a strong EU. Instead, the nationalistic government in Warsaw is bent on isolating itself within Europe.

The Poles should ask themselves the following question: Would, Poland’s traditional security concern, Russia, be happy or sad if the Polish government had really carried out its threat and used its veto to block the Brussels agreement? The answer is clear: of course, the Russians would have rubbed their hands in jubilation and secretly celebrated the twin brothers at the head of the Polish state.

Ukraine, on the other hand, whose cause in Europe the Poles ostensibly champion, would have been in serious difficulties in the wake of a Polish veto. It is not for nothing that Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko tried, or so it is said, to make this clear to the Polish leadership in several telephone calls.

The damage to German-Polish relations also goes beyond the spat between the two governments, and reaches deep into both German and Polish societies. It will not be easily repaired. This is important because a consistent European policy toward Russia – one of the key urgent challenges facing Europe – depends on close cooperation between Poland and Germany.

As I said, it is too early to celebrate. The time for celebrations will come only after the new treaty is ratified. Indeed, the circumstances under which the Brussels compromise has been reached leave a bitter aftertaste. But still, last Friday the EU took a decisive step in the right direction.

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By Torwan
#1262779
Poland will try to re-negotiate in Lissabon this month.

Russia may still be celebrating...

Anyway, Fischer is right: Bi-lateral and multi-lateral agreements within the Union are very likely to become increasingly important. There will be a "Core Union" and an "Extended Union".

The "Core Union" will most likely be centered around Germany and France, countries that are willing to commit themselves to a stronger political and economic union. They'll be most likely the Euro-Zone members.

The "Extended Union" will most likely be centered around Great Britain and Poland, countries unwilling to commit themselves to a stronger political and economic union. They'll share a very limited level of cooperation compared to the "Core"-members, but it will be their own choice.

In Germany this has been feared for many years. It was called "Europe of two velocities". Seems like becoming reality now.
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By dannymu
#1262860
The "Core Union" will most likely be centered around Germany and France

Will this Union be dominated by the Franco-German axis?

The "Extended Union" will most likely be centered around Great Britain and Poland

Don't forget Denmark and Sweden. I also think the Cezh Republic is included in this list.

In Germany this has been feared for many years. It was called "Europe of two velocities". Seems like becoming reality now.

True. It's probably the best way of ensuring the EU doesn't collapse altogether in the face of divisions over its political and economic future.
By Torwan
#1262884
Will this Union be dominated by the Franco-German axis?


I hope not. My hope is that the "Core Union" won't be dominated by anyone, but be a group of nations sharing a common goal: Creating a strong political and economic union. Domination isn't something that works very well in Europe and by now we should have learned that it doesn't last. I'm more interested in voluntary cooperation, as are the governments of France and Germany.

For me, it doesn't matter if the good ideas come from Germany, France, Belgium or Italy. My guess is that it will be a little like the very first EU, consisting of many Euro-(currency)-states.

Don't forget Denmark and Sweden. I also think the Cezh Republic is included in this list.


Possible. I wasn't going for a complete list, but UK has been a traditional EU sceptic and Poland is a very recent, very loud EU sceptic.

True. It's probably the best way of ensuring the EU doesn't collapse altogether in the face of divisions over its political and economic future.


If the EU continues like this, it will be disabled in a few years and totally incapable of doing anything.

Maybe the EU with just be some kind of "framework" in a few years on which you can go for closer bonds with other EU members or opt-out of that.
By kami321
#1262956
The treaty calls for a new EU foreign minister – although he is formally denied that title, this is what everyone will call him – with a strong administrative infrastructure in the European Commission and the Council. The rotating presidency will be replaced by an elected President of the Council. A new balance will be struck between the EU and member states, and a stronger role will be given to the European Parliament and the national parliaments. EU citizens will be endowed with legally binding fundamental rights, and majority decisions will become the general norm.

Nothing much of real importance here. Still waiting for a union constitution.

The political and economic significance of all the mid-sized European powers is waning, and they are shrinking relative to the US and the rising giants of Asia. Only a strong Europe can provide the necessary counterweight. A UK that plays a marginal role within the EU will thus lose its influence even faster, including its special voice in the US.

Pan European nationalism my ass?
People can live perfectly happy in Singapore without a need to challenge "the US and the rising giants of Asia".
But no, we must keep a pipe dream of being a superpower!
Just like Putin's, but better!

Instead, the nationalistic government in Warsaw is bent on isolating itself within Europe.

Oh my! A country wants to have independence and sovereignty. That's heresy.

The answer is clear: of course, the Russians would have rubbed their hands in jubilation and secretly celebrated the twin brothers at the head of the Polish state.

But the real answer is: the Russians would not give a fuck.
Even the Russian government will barely bother thinking about the Polish-EU relations.





Will this Union be dominated by the Franco-German axis?

Internally, yes, basically. Actually they should just rename EU to Germania for fucks sake, you have to admit the name sounds cooler. But still the combined economies of other euro-currency states outweight Germany by far so there really is no excuse for Germanophobes, particularly in Poland, to whine about that.

Domination isn't something that works very well in Europe.

Lolz Western Civilization.
Hail Empire!
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By soron
#1263090
Oh my! A country wants to have independence and sovereignty. That's heresy.


Some Mr. Lincoln started a war over a similar question :)

But no, we must keep a pipe dream of being a superpower!


I prefer to dream about not being pushed around by any recent or future superpower. With America acting as unilateral as they have lately, who can we rely on ? After this administration cancelled or simply broke a whole host of treaties, who can we really trust ?

ut the real answer is: the Russians would not give a fuck.
Even the Russian government will barely bother thinking about the Polish-EU relations.


You misunderstood the OP's intention here. What he tried to say is that Russia wouldn't shed tears seing the EU's members fighting each over over egoistic motives. Divide and conquer.
By Torwan
#1263757
@kami:

Having a very "Russian"-day, do we?

Oh my! A country wants to have independence and sovereignty. That's heresy.


Joining the European Union, a political union, means that you give up parts of your souvereignty and transfer it to a european confederation.

Long before Poland joined the EU, that concept was perfectly clear. With the introduction of the euro, for example, a lot of countries gave up a lot of souvereignty (their currency).

If you do not want that kind of confederation - fine. But don't join and then complain about it.

Even the Russian government will barely bother thinking about the Polish-EU relations.


No, but the Russians (and the Americans and Chinese for that instance) might be interested in a weak EU. A lot of european states are easier to "divide and conquer" than one european confederation. Same thing happened with the many german states before unification in 1871 - old concept, new target.
By Shade2
#1263770
Poland will try to re-negotiate in Lissabon this month.

No, not really. Some details are missing in conference papers and need to be defined during conference in Lisbon clearly.

Joining the European Union, a political union, means that you give up parts of your souvereignty and transfer it to a european confederation.

Wait, wait. Eurpean Confederation ? Where did that came from ? Confederation is a state-like entity, it certainly isn't what European Union is, unless there is a secret clause you didn't show to Poles, Czechs, British. Are Germans in possesion of different EU treaties then others ? Because I can't find anything about Confederation in mine. Or are those just your imperialist day-dreams ?

If you do not want that kind of confederation - fine. But don't join and then complain about it.

There is no such thing as "European Confederation". We never joined any "European Confedederation" but European Union-where we ave the same right to decide over its future and shape as for some reason Germany that started two world wars and attempted to exterminate several nations.



No, but the Russians (and the Americans and Chinese for that instance) might be interested in a weak EU.

And the Germans might be interested in sharing Europe with Russia while keeping Poland weak in EU. Which means Poland is better off with being a country allied with US within a loose organisation of states, rather then a province in Eugermania.


Same thing happened with the many german states before unification in 1871 - old concept, new target.

New concept, old target ? Well well, I don't even have to prove anything-you do it for me-after all Germany united was a concept of Germans which imposed it on other nations like Poles or Danes that were racially discriminated in German Empire and threatened with virtual apartheid in the name of German imperialism. And now you freely use that abberation to prove your point about EU. For me as Pole-case closed. I
Using German Empire as example for Europe is like giving Warsaw Ghetto as example for self-government for Jews.

Some Mr. Lincoln started a war over a similar question

So you already treat EU as your German state rather then organisation of states ?


With America acting as unilateral as they have lately, who can we rely on ? After this administration cancelled or simply broke a whole host of treaties, who can we really trust ?

USA never invaded Poland nor tried to exterminate Poles. It gave several times freedom to us and milions of Poles are valued members of its society.
I think we should rely on USA rather then on countries helping Russia to blackmail us.


.
I hope not. My hope is that the "Core Union" won't be dominated by anyone, but be a group of nations sharing a common goal: Creating a strong political and economic union. Domination isn't something that works very well in Europe and by now we should have learned that it doesn't last.

EU is already dominated and bullied by Germans as recent events show. Any attempt of indepedence is treated with agression and anger.It's obvious that any Core Union will be a tool for German nationalism.



If the EU continues like this, it will be disabled in a few years and totally incapable of doing anything

EU does many things. Just because it doesn't satisfy German fantasies about creating a world empire doesn't mean it doesn't do anything.
Perhaps its time for Germany to leave ?
In Germany this has been feared for many years.

If you whine about Poland and Great Britain all the time, why do you worry they will leave your little German Paradise on Earth :D It will only help you in creating more happiness after all... So why worry ? :D
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By dannymu
#1263777
A lot of european states are easier to "divide and conquer" than one european confederation. Same thing happened with the many german states before unification in 1871 - old concept, new target.

But you seem to ignore the fact the US wants the UK to remain a member of the EU. This contradicts what you said. Also you seem to want a European super-state. And this is something the UK and possibly every other EU member does not want.

Long before Poland joined the EU, that concept was perfectly clear. With the introduction of the euro, for example, a lot of countries gave up a lot of souvereignty (their currency).

I haven't seen Poland complaining about the Euro. In fact I don't see Polish opposition to joining the Euro. This means Poland is prepared to give up certain bits of economic sovereignty.
By Shade2
#1263783
I haven't seen Poland complaining about the Euro. In fact I don't see Polish opposition to joining the Euro. This means Poland is prepared to give up certain bits of economic sovereignty.

Poland agreed to accepting Euro at unspecified date in future. Right now the likely date is 2012, of course as Poland is democratic country, our citizens will ask in referendum if they want it at the date, or postpone it into more distant future. I understand that countries that had less democratic experience in history then Poland like Germany for example, didn't ask their citizens.
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By dannymu
#1263794
Right now the likely date is 2012, of course as Poland is democratic country, our citizens will ask in referendum if they want it at the date, or postpone it into more distant future.

That's the right decision. Any sovereignty changes at European level should be subjected to a referendum. And it would be even better if the EU said a referendum was needed in order to implement further losses of sovereignty. But the Eu won't do so for obvious reasons. A pity my parents were not asked to vote on the Euro.

I understand that countries that had less democratic experience in history then Poland like Germany for example, didn't ask their citizens.

I don;t know why but I guess none was needed because I think most Germans are pro-EU and pro-Euro.
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By soron
#1263797
No they didn't ask us because we would have voted NO.

In Germany the Euro is also known as Teuro (derivation of the German word "teuer" = "expensive")

The felt inflation was the worst since the foundation of Germany in 1949 and we gave up one of the world's benchmark currencies.

In retrospect I think the Euro will turn out to bring more advantages than disadvantages. But short-term, you can expect at backlash.
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By dannymu
#1263798
No they didn't ask us because we would have voted NO.

Well this reason does not surprise me at all.

WOuld Germany have rejected the old Constitution?
By Torwan
#1263800
No, not really. Some details are missing in conference papers and need to be defined during conference in Lisbon clearly.


Just another way of saying "we want to re-negotiate".

Eurpean Confederation


OK, this term doesn't show up in any treaty, granted.
But the EU has similarities with a confederation. It has a government, a parliament and several souvereign rights. EU laws have to be implemented in national laws, there's a EU-currency (partially implemented)... it does have confederacy-like traits. And this is only possible, because member states have given up parts of their souvereignity.

And the Germans might be interested in sharing Europe with Russia while keeping Poland weak in EU.


This is just plain wrong. I don't know where you get your ideas from. Just because we have one ex-chancellor how licks Putin's boots (Schroeder, I hate that guy) doesn't mean that we're all like him.

Which means Poland is better off with being a country allied with US within a loose organisation of states, rather then a province in Eugermania.


Then why are you still a EU-member state if it feels like joining the "German Reich"?

Using German Empire as example for Europe is like giving Warsaw Ghetto as example for self-government for Jews.


There are similarities. Before the german states merged to one German Empire, the surrounding european states were able to instrumentalize them, keep them at each others throats.

Now it's similar. The US and Russia don't really have an interest in a strong, unified Europe. Would be one more global player to deal with. It is much easier to divide and conquer many smaller states.

Just look at it: The US was able to divide Europe over the Iraq-crisis and Russia's dealings with Germany has made you made at us.

EU is already dominated and bullied by Germans as recent events show. Any attempt of indepedence is treated with agression and anger.It's obvious that any Core Union will be a tool for German nationalism.


Again - why are you still a member if it's so bad?

EU does many things. Just because it doesn't satisfy German fantasies about creating a world empire doesn't mean it doesn't do anything.
Perhaps its time for Germany to leave ?


Sorry, founding member. We have learned to compromise and have patience. And if the EU is disabled, we'll just go back to smaller treaties with countries that are really interested in cooperation - like the original founding members.

If you whine about Poland and Great Britain all the time, why do you worry they will leave your little German Paradise on Earth. It will only help you in creating more happiness after all... So why worry ?


If you whine about Germany all the time, why did you join in the first place? It would only have helped you to stay out of it...so why did you worry so much about joining that quickly?
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By soron
#1263811
A public vote on the issue was not in the German constitution so a qualified majority in both chambers would be sufficient.

I think the European constitution would have been accepted with a slim majority.
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By dannymu
#1263815
A public vote on the issue was not in the German constitution so a qualified majority in both chambers would be sufficient.

Oh I see. very interesting.
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By Zel
#1263854
The German "Grundgesetz" was based on experiences of the interwar republic and the rise of the Nazi party that at key points used referenda to bend the constitution and gradually transform the state into what it later became. Both German federalism and the aversion against referenda are direct effects of this experience. It seems antiquated in a matured democracy today especially if evaluating the experience of other European countries with this form of will finding.

IMHO having national referenda on European level are suboptimal. As governments are within the international framework the representatives of the state having a popular vote on a certain policy or a treaty should be supranational with all voting. Its the governments that forge the compromise it should be all Europeans that have a vote together.
By kami321
#1264154
Some Mr. Lincoln started a war over a similar question

Kudos to him. By the way I've never been a big fan of his.

I find it just silly how EU-fans lash out criticism to any "nationalists" who just don't feel like surrendering their countries sovereignty to some greater Empire.

I prefer to dream about not being pushed around by any recent or future superpower.

Well it's either you being pushed around, or it's you pushing others around. I don't really like either option, at least definately not enough to care about seriously challenging other empires.

What he tried to say is that Russia wouldn't shed tears

You have to admit that "Russia wouldn't shed tears" sounds VERY different from "the Russians would have rubbed their hands in jubilation and secretly celebrated".

In any case the author is being retarded by implying to Poles that "if you want to piss off Russia (and I know that you do), then join the EU."

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