A new European Treaty

reform-treaty In the night from 19th to 20th October, the leaders of the 27 European countries agreed the proposed draft of the ‘Reform Treaty’ which was being finalised in the preceding months after the heated July conference.

This agreement is a victory for all pro-Europeans, not because of the content itself, but mainly because it will allow it to proceed towards possible more radical changes in its structure. If the treaty would not have been accepted, the EU might had been plunged into another ‘depression’ even deeper than that which followed the French and Netherlands ‘NO’ to the European Constitution. As I have mentioned in my previous article, the treaty strengthens the power of Brussels as against national governments, which is in areas outside tremendously important common foreign and defense policy something I cannot agree with, yet it is better than to stand still or even to question the very necessity of the European integration.

The more integrated Union will mean that the politicians will have to engage even more with the European affairs and we will have more opportunities to restructure the Union to our bidding.

(the draft document approved in October is available to download from here)

 

The new European treaty in short:

  • the current fundamental treatises establishing the EU will not be supplanted by the new Treaty (as was planned with the rejected European Constitution)
  • the EU will receive the full legal personality and will thus be able to sign international treatises
  • the current post of ‘President-in-Office‘ of the European Council (held by the head of government of the country that actually has the presidency of the EU for half a year) will be exchanged by a post of the ‘President of the European Council’ elected by the new qualified majority voting system for two and half years.
  • there will be a common representative on foreign affairs for European Union, although he will not be called the ‘Union Foreign Minister‘ but ‘High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy’ and the current post of ‘European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy’, also the High Representative will become the European Commission’s vice-president and have his or hers own diplomatic corps
  • the number of Euro-commissioners will be decreased from the current 27 to two thirds of the number of the member states as of 2014
  • the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (formerly a part of the rejected European Constitution) is moved to the appendix and will be legally binding for all members except Britain (one of her ‘red lines’ – opted out) and Poland
  • the current Nice Treaty voting system will be replaced by the qualified majority voting system as of 2017 (from 2014 to 2017 there will be a so-called ‘transitory phase’, where officially the new qualified majority system will be put into effect, but the states will be able to use the old Nice Treaty system whenever they wish)
  • the Treaty does not have a ‘constitutional’ character – i.e. there is no notice of common anthem or flag
  • the rights of the members’ national governments will be enlarged, so they can appeal the European Commission to reassess their decisions
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Beauty of European languages

By the title I do not want to express any ‘ethnophilic’ sentiment towards the languages of the old continent, I merely want to point out to the document  recently published by Brussels Studies and reported *here* by an excellent weblog A Fistful of Euros. The Brussels Studies’ document considers an interesting trend that recently appeared in Brussels, and by extension, in Belgium as such; English is becoming the city’s lingua franca and Dutch and French are only the second and the third most spoken language, respectively.

This trend might not be unexpected, as the similar development might be seen in Europe at large, yet the question whether this is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ still remains. First, ‘good or bad’ from which perspective? The whole continent being able to communicate in one language seems to be something we all desire – the idea is that people and statesmen would be able to better understand each other and many issues of our social life would be much faster to solve as the necessity to translate from one language to another would almost diminish. Thus, our beloved politicians would be able to better cooperate (and a sceptic might add, deceive), people themselves might become more benevolent and englishunderstanding to their other European neighbours, pro-European socialists would be happy that this would promote a sense of belonging to the ‘society Europe’ as such and they would have free hands to fully employ their welfare-policies at large.

‘Utility’ of having European lingua franca (or lingua britannica as suggests A Fistful of Euros) evidently seems to never end. I fully accept this and I also fully embrace the necessity to have a language, or languages, which are understood by all people in Europe, especially when taking the further integration of the Union in mind. Yet, one has to ask a question whether people are only simple automatons choosing their actions and considering ‘the best choice’ only in terms of efficiency and utility, as many liberals thinkers and economists suggest. To consider the embrace of a language which would be spoken by all European peoples as ‘a good thing’ only because its undeniable utility – that is, that it would make the operation of the Union more efficient – is, I believe, a mistake. Even more, it is an abstract kind of thinking that reduces individuals to automatons as mentioned above.

To understand this, one has to ask: ‘what is this language?’ First of all, a language is not only a means of communication, it is not only some ‘utility’ to use to get other goods. A language also contains a part of its people’s thinking – its history, its myths, its way of life (consider for instance various colloquial terms which are used in one language and compare them to another – you might even encounter such that would be completely incomprehensible without knowing the content – without living in that particular country!) and it has a substantial socializing effect on every child, which through learning a language also forms an understanding what he or she is – what is the child’s place in this large world, what happened in his or hers country before and what had an impact on his or hers surroundings and family the most. One’s mother tongue is simply not ‘a tool of communication’ – it is a part of the identity ‘me.’ My language is a part of what I am, and to start to speak in a second, or a third language, does not simply mean to find an equivalent for a word in my mother tongue to that in a foreign language, but to also find in what context this word is being used, what history the word has behind it. A seemingly innocent world ‘leader’ is, as everyone knows, directly translated to German as ‘führer,’ which has obviously much more livid images associated to it than its English counterpart.

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Site updates and the vote for ‘the European of the Year’

Today, the section ‘About’ has been updated and I have also added there some general information about the intended purpose of this blog, so some of the readers who are wondering whether there is any ‘purpose’ behind at all might want to check it out. Besides that, the link section ‘EU blogging community’ was expanded by some new additions and there is also a completely new link collection for blogs dealing with politics outside the affairs concerning EU, which I hope to expand in the nearest future. Any link suggestions are obviously more than welcome. merkel

Besides that, you might find interesting that European Voice holds the vote on 50 individuals who have most influenced the European political agenda during the last year. There are exactly 9  categories, each having 5 candidates to choose from and one final category where you might select ‘the European of the Year.’ The most interesting category might well be the ‘statesmen of the year’ where are present probably the most renowned names. For me, the statesmen of the year is obviously the German Chancellor Angela Merkel who managed to successfully conclude the June meeting of the EU leaders by pushing the ‘Reform Treaty’ on the European Union’s political agenda.

Tories urge against materialism

David Cameron

//Update 12 Sept.: Probably the most interesting and commendable proposition of the policy paper that yesterday escaped my attention is that it suggests to add to the existing indicator of the national economic prosperity – GDP – set of new indicators which would better map the real social welfare. The criticism of GDP comes largely from the simple fact that it treats all possible national disasters as ‘positive boosts’ and healthy for the economy. GDP rises when a country is ridden by floods, tornadoes, or even war because of the consequent economic investments.

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The report from the Quality of Life policy group created for the Conservative Party argues and documents by the empirical research that the sole pursuit of material wealth ‘won’t make the British people happy’ (reported by the Independent here, in Czech here). Interestingly, this paper denounces the Conservative Party’s own policy from the years of the Thatcher and Major government as appealing solely to the selfish human nature.

On the other, however, the Conservatives seem to have nothing against globalization and ‘free’ market as such and vehemently stand against any further European integration, that is, the first steps which one should take if he genuinely opposes the current materialism of the West. What is needed is an European framework which would be able to support local businesses as against the domination of trans-national companies who today universalize the whole West and are subject to no other interest than their own – which is obviously to make people buy as much as their products as possible. The resources available to these transnational business players is tremendous – for instance ‘the budget of General Motors ($132 billion) is greater than the GNP of Indonesia; Ford’s ($100.3 billion), greater than the GNP of Turkey; Toyota’s greater than the GNP of Portugal; Unilever’s greater than the GNP of Pakistan; Nestlé’s greater than the GNP of Egypt’ [1]. It is no wonder than that these companies are able to ‘convince’ some politicians that to support their cause is really in theirbest’ interest.

The Conservatives, however, are and will probably remain silenced with regard to this prime cause of the spread of the materialist propaganda. Their advice to stand against materialism thus sounds nice, but the sincerity of such statement is doubtful since it is not accompanied by any applicable remedy…

 

[1] http://www.alaindebenoist.com/pdf/confronting_globalization.pdf, p. 122.

A psychopath? Let’s try to reeducate him..?

It seems there is no limit to stupidity in verdicts of the contemporary British courts. For instance, Daily Mail today reported that a 19-years old teenager who zapped a teacher with a million-volt stun gun and fractured the skull of the teaching assistant who came to the teacher’s aid, received six years in a young offenders’ institution.

I believe there exist today many widely available academic studies that there exist a certain sort of ‘people’ who are born without any ability to feel empathy towards others. These are called psychopaths, sociopaths or newly persons ‘anti-social personality disorder.’ What is important is that they are born such – they cannot be ‘re-educated’ to become law-abiding citizens or cannot be ‘learned’ to feel emotions again.

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Czechs do not want the American radar

The Czech daily IHNED.cz reported today (some information in English can be found from BBC here and here) what has been by no means unexpected – two thirds of the Czechs do not want the US radar on their soil. In addition, majority (75%) of the Czech people would invite the referendum to be held on the question whether to allow the Americans to build their radar – or rather not.american_radar

The radar tracking system in the Czech  Republic should be one of the parts of the American missile defense system in Europe. Neighbouring Poland should host the interceptor rockets.

The problem for us Czechs lies in the troubled past of our country – which had been for 51 years a part of the Soviet bloc and had to endure every whim of the Soviet government. What is now being (rightly) perceived is that we had only changed sides – and instead of the Czechs going their ‘own way’ – they had gone ‘the American way’ – and stepped from one political dominion into another.

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