A common policy without capabilities and will to implement it: a fair a characterization of ESDP?

This article argues that the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) fails to provide the EU necessary capabilities that would allow it to stand up to the challenges of the 21st century. In doing so, it suggests that this failure can be explained when considered on a two-level scale. First, the EU member states lack the will to build a truly common security and defence policy, which translates into their inability to create a coherent institutional structure with a (qualified) majority vote as the decision-making principle. Second, it is primarily this ‘first level failure’ that leads to a series of second level failures: the lack of necessary military capabilities, which are here especially conceptualised as a limited amount of rationalisation of the EU military forces with the accompanying factor of high, but ultimately duplicate military spending.

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Is European Economic Prosperity Dependent on Mass Immigration?

The purpose of this article is to overview the issues and arguments surrounding the question of mass immigration to Europe. Its analysis is conceptually and in the use of available data focused on the last decade of immigration to what is now the European Union of 27 member states. In doing so, it takes a critical stand on those arguments suggesting that Europe, for various reasons related to the economic growth, needs large-scale immigration in order to preserve its wealth and way of life to the future. Our analysis shows that when taken in the overall perspective, that is, when the immigration of low- and high-skilled workers is calculated together with public expenses with which the issue of immigration is connected and with tax gains that immigrants bring, the net economic gain is very low or none. However, although not being the focus of our present text, the underlying theme of this work is also to suggest that immigration needs to be consider also from other then economic terms and the results of our analysis cannot be taken as sole factor for providing political decisions on immigration to European countries.

In approaching our topic, we first make an overview of immigration trends to Europe. This overview provides both empirical and theoretical background information required for our subsequent evaluation of the arguments of official EU bodies and commentators, who claim that mass immigration is economically beneficial, and indeed necessary, for Europe.

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Althusius’s Societal Federalism: A model for the EU?

Johannes Althusius

Many supporters of the European integration strongly believe in a kind of federalism that would be closer to European citizens, more transparent, and more representative of Europe’s plurality of communities than is the case under the current form of the European Union. The problem obviously arises in the moment when it is necessary to pin down these abstract proposals to a more concrete federal model that would embody them. This article will try to show that when approaching this task, we can gain much if we explore the very roots of the federalist thought as they are found in the work of an early modern political thinker Johannes Althusius. As we will discover below, Althusius’s federalism presents a ‘bottom-up’, dynamic, participatory, consensual, and solidarist alternative to that static federal model, which is popular in our modern times.

Let us first briefly start with the life of Johannes Althusius (1557-1638) himself. Besides being a jurist and prolific Calvinist political thinker, Althusius was engaged in active politics of the city of Emden. As a syndic of that city, he had become the main instigator of the arrest of the city’s provincial lord, count of Eastern Frisia, by Emden’s city councillors that transpired on 7 December 1618. Althusius vigorously defended the councillors’ decision as a ‘legitimate act of self-defence and resistance’ against the provincial lord’s infringements on the city’s rights, considering it an ultimate resolve ‘warranted under every natural and secular law’.[1] As will become apparent with the discussion of his work, the right of resistance to tyranny of a government that does not respect the rule of law is a key part of his federal thought.[2] His most famous work Politica Methodice Digesta (Politics Methodically Digested, first published in 1603), which will be taken here as the main source of Althusius’s federal thought, in a similar vein justifies the right of the Dutch provinces to secede from the crown lands of the Spanish ruler.

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The Idea of Europe in the work of Denis de Rougemont and the French non-conformists

Denis de Rougemont was a main thinker of the so-called non-conformistes des années trente, a movement of young intellectuals that appeared in France at the beginning of the turbulentcover 1930s, in opposition to both the individualism of liberalism and the collectivism of the Soviet Russia. [1] The main bulk of their work was published between 1930-34 and was concentrated around three separate currents:

  • The founders and members of L’Ordre nouveau. An intellectual movement established by the Russian migrant Alexandre Marc (born in 1904 in Odessa as Aleksander Markovitch Lipiansky), its goal was to prepare the conditions for a ‘spiritual rebirth’ of the European culture. Its effort was concentrated on going beyond such dualistic divisions as nationalism-internationalism and capitalism-communism. Its inspirations came, among other sources, from the Christian existentialism of Kierkegaard, the federalism of Proudhon, the great critique of Modernity Nietzsche, or from the historicism of Péguy. The thinkers who were a part of L’Ordre nouveau also included Robert Aron, Arnaud Dandieu, Daniel-Rops, Jean Jardin and finally Denis de Rougemont.
  • The Catholic revue L’Esprit of Emmanuel Mounier, founded in 1932. From the beginning it evolved in tight collaboration with L’Ordre nouveau. In reaction to the events of the Second World War it radically shifted to the political left , in order to slowly move back to more moderate positions of the ‘New Left’, under which it still publishes to this date.
  • Young thinkers of Jeune Droite, who were mostly dissidents of the French reactionary and monarchistic right Açtion française. These thinkers included Jean de Fabrègues, Jean-Pierre Maxence and Thierry Maulnier.

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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

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.