Euro-horse Already Out of Barn

Monday, March 9th, 2015

The tweet reads “High time for a parliamentary investigation into the euro.” Could they be talking about Greece?

DDSEnquete
For indeed, doubt was thrown on Greece’s continued membership just yesterday, by Finance Minister Varoufakis, in the event that Eurogroup ministers refuse to accept Athens’ own ideas about how to deal with its tremendous burden of sovereign debt. This despite that fact that there is no mention in the treaties underpinning the Eurozone for any member leaving it, much less any prescribed procedure. Still, there is neither any authorization nor prescribed procedure for, say, giving birth during a transcontinental airline flight, yet that does happen from time to time; if/when the emergency arises and Greece just has to return to the drachma, they’ll surely find some way to do it, with or without formal EU treaty provisions.

In any event, this tweet (from the right-wing Dutch political blog Dagelijkse Standaard) does after all call for a parliamentary inquiry, and cuts closer to home. This is a petition directed to the Netherlands parliament, initiated by a group of political commentators led by a certain Thierry Baudet. Still only in his early 30s, Baudet already has a string of publications to his name, most of them in a Eurosceptic vein, decrying the threat to the nation-state posed by the super-national European institutions. More directly relevant, he also succeeded back in 2013 in having a referendum submitted to the Dutch Tweede Kamer – that is, he gained more than the 40,000 signatures required to put it to the attention of the parliament – which was to be “concerning the future of the Netherlands within the European Union.” The Tweede Kamer did duly consider the proposal, then rejected it.

Unsurprisingly, the group behind this latest proposed referendum has its own website, complete with a dedicated page to “Why a parliamentary inquiry over the euro?” Key to their argument is their assertion that it was assumed Northern European lands would allow themselves to become responsible for the fiscal failures of Southern European lands.

Despite what was claimed later, this perverse mechanism was amply foreseen by politicians. As Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission at the time when the Maastricht Treaty was concluded, said, “The difficult moments were predictable. When we created the euro, my complaint as an economist was (and I discussed this with Kohl and with other heads-of-state): how can we have a common currency without shared financial, economic and political pillars? The answer was: for now we have made this leap forward. The rest will follow.”

And:

It continues to surprise us how it could have been possible for such a radical decision to be paired with such little critical debate. What role did the government play here? How is it possible that politicians did not take more care over the financial stability of our country? What did those involved know precisely about the risks? And what did they not know? . . . Did people realize that this euro eventually would make necessary a very great transfer of power over to Brussels – such as the banking union, the stability pact and the upcoming budgetary union?

So they want the Dutch parliament to look into such questions, obviously with a view towards taking further concrete measures should unsatisfactory answers be revealed.

First of all, again, there is no explicit procedure available for any country now using the euro to ditch it for another currency – although, granted, that procedure can be made up on the fly, but surely not with great accompanying financial and economic chaos. More importantly, although this conservative group can probably once again get their 40,000 signatures to bring this measure before the Tweede Kamer as well, the question of the Netherlands in the euro is surely settled for now. There is no sign at all of any truly widespread political rejection by the Dutch populace of the common currency.

Indeed, economic analysis has tended to show that the euro has greatly benefited those Northern European lands heavily involved in trade and able to keep their labor costs in check – such as Germany, especially, but also the Netherlands, both of whom have seen their terms of trade steadily improve since the introduction of the euro in 1999 against Southern European lands with less ability to hold costs down. This widening gap between those advantaged and those disadvantaged by the euro contributed substantially towards getting everyone in the sovereign-debt mess we find ourselves in now – well, except for Germany and the Netherlands (again), plus a few other Eurozone countries (and Denmark) who find that they can actually ask borrowers to pay them to take their money on loan these days, rather than actually pay positive rates of interest.

This initiative must therefore be counted as merely a cry from out of the Dutch conservative wilderness. To the extent anyone takes it seriously, it is surely not constructive, in that doubts concerning any Eurozone member’s commitment to the euro are not useful just now as that grouping has to decide what to do about Greece’s new governing regime and its demands to cut down austerity. It’s rather the Greek people who need to examine the depth of their commitment to the euro, and thereby their level of support for future negotiating maneuvering by their Syriza government which we can surely expect more of in the near future

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Beware of Greeks

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Greece prime minister Papandreou announces a referendum over the anti-bankruptcy aid package for his country announced at last week’s EU summit – and all hell breaks loose on world markets!


Yes, every other newspaper is writing about this as well, but this particular Die Welt article, by D. Eckert and H. Zschäpitz, stands out for its headline: Papandreou risks a global financial meltdown, or rather the alarm such a headline evokes in contrast to the serious, mainstream sort of paper we all know Die Welt to be – i.e one that doesn’t usually resort to such headlines. Yes, there are no doubt similar-sounding titles in tabloid papers, and not just in Germany, but all that is mere dog-bites-man.

This piece also stands out for the handy list it provides – you have to scroll down a little, look for Die größten Wertverluste . . . – of the banks which have lost the most market-capitalization, so far, from the plummeting prices of their shares. FYI, BNP Paribas stands at the top, with nearly €4.7 billion lost, followed by Deutsche Bank. (It also stands out for author “H. Zschäpitz”: isn’t that just a howler of a name? But no doubt the fellow has a Google Alert on it and will be reading this blogpost sooner or later – my apologies!)

Otherwise, though, I stand vulnerable to the charge of European tokenism. Because the piece that has really clarified things for me is in English, and written by our old friend Dana Blankenhorn. Greek Latest is Solar Scam is its title, it does spend a few paragraphs dissecting the faulty economics behind a Greek solar-energy investment plan. But then it addresses what Papandreou and the Greek authorities are really trying to do with this referendum. Given that Blankenhorn assumes that the result will be “No,” it’s simple: they are threatening to take the rest of Europe to down with them, unless they get an even-better debt-relief deal than the 50% they got from the EU last week.

You should check it out, and the article from Seeking Alpha that Blankenhorn links to as well. Strangely, his link to it reads “Sink the euro” even though that other article itself argues that there is still a chance for a “Yes” vote!

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EU Nightmare Coming True

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

That nightmare is having Václav Klaus, noted euroskeptic, functioning as president of the EU. His country, the Czech Republic, does indeed hold the six-month rotating EU presidency until the end of June, and with the fall of the Czech government of prime minister Mirek Topolánek in the last week of March through the passage of a no-confidence motion in the lower house of the Czech parliament the props were kicked out from under the Czech politician who most people assumed was actually responsible for conducting that EU presidency. Now that Obama has left Prague so that inter-government discord need no longer be swept under the carpet, Klaus has announced a plan to do away entirely with Topolánek as head of the government by stating that he is in favor instead of having a caretaker government of non-political experts installed to run the country until early elections can be held next October. That is perfectly within his right – in fact, in these circumstances it is his very function – as Czech president, and the new prime minister he prefers is Jan Fischer, who currently is chairman of the Czech Statistical Agency. Tereza Nosálková and Petra Pospĕchová of Hospoářské noviny have an excellent analysis of what all this means, especially to the EU in their article Fear of Klaus transforms Europe’s timetable. (more…)

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Outside, Looking In, Amid a Financial Storm

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

It was heartening to read, from this European vantage-point, the article about Suddenly, Europe Looks Pretty Smart in the New York Times last Saturday, mainly describing the European “bailout plan that has now set the pace for Washington, not the other way around, as had been customary for decades.” At the same time, so far the poster-child victim of the financial crisis has been poor Iceland, a country that is rapidly running out of foreign exchange with which to pay for any imports and so is in contact with the International Monetary Fund for a rescue. But Iceland has gotten some company in the IMF petitioners’ ante-room recently from (among others, but just to name a European country) Hungary. The three Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – are likely soon to join them there, although of course the European Union is also offering its own assistance.

So Europe may look “pretty smart,” but still European countries can suddenly find themselves in a deep financial hole in the present dire international conditions – yes, even EU member-states like Hungary and the Baltics. The one common denominator that seems to remove a European state from vulnerability, though, is membership of the Euro-zone, i.e. those 15 states out of the 27 member-states of the EU who use the euro as their common currency. Hannes Gamillscheg of the Frankfurter Rundschau recently picked up on this phenomenon (The guardians of the crown – alone) but from the point-of-view of a couple of those countries now outside the Euro-zone who in the past have explicitly rejected opportunities to come inside, namely Denmark and Sweden. (So the “crown” in the article’s title refers to the two different “crowns” that are those countries’ currencies.) (more…)

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Simplified Democracy

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

The Lisbon Treaty – that’s the treaty on the reform of the European Union signed by all EU heads of government last December – is supposed to come into effect on January 1, 2009, providing that all EU member-states have ratified it by that time. Progress to that end so far has been pretty good, as Hungary, Malta, Slovenia, Romania, and France have already done so.

Writing in Le Monde Diplomatique, Serge Halimi turns up as the skunk at the EU’s garden party. As he reminds us in an article entitled Simplified Democracy, with all this push for ratification there is still the little matter that the Lisbon Treaty will institute significant changes in the way the EU is run about which most European peoples will not get the opportunity they deserve to decide – namely by referenda. Even worse: a couple of European peoples have already had the chance to decide about these changes – and have rejected them! (more…)

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The Klaus Anti-EU Constitution Pamphlet

Saturday, April 9th, 2005

As with most other weblogs, EuroSavant has had in the past certain topics to which it regularly returns. I’d like to keep that up, even though at least one of these, the “Poles In Iraq” series (last entry here, which deals appropriately enough with the prospect of withdrawal of Polish troops) has pretty much expired. But there remains the still-riveting tale of the EU Constitutional Treaty, now about to embark on the phase during which it is supposed to be ratified by all 25 EU member-states.

The key work to understanding what this “constitution” is all about, and so to make up my own mind whether I’m for it or not, is I think Peter Norman’s The Accidental Constitution: The Story of the European Convention, from EuroComment, which I previewed here. (Then I had long-running problems getting ahold of it, but those are finally solved.) I hope to report to you about this book shortly. In the meantime, though, the only EU head of state who has made it clear that he is against ratification – Václav Klaus of the Czech Republic, of course – recently turned up the volume on his anti-constitution agitation, as the French leading daily Le Monde reports (The Czech President, the Ultraliberal Václav Klaus, Campaigns for a “No”). (more…)

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A “Pim Fortuyn” for Britain?

Wednesday, June 9th, 2004

The every-five-years elections to the European Parliament will begin tomorrow (some countries vote on Thursday, others on the following Sunday), and polls in the UK are pointing toward a surprising result. The heretofore almost-unknown UK Independence Party (UKIP) stands to post impressive results, which could catapult it up into the company of that country’s main political parties (Labour and the Conservatives) and leave the Liberal Democrats back in a distant fourth place.

The reason why this is alarming to many is at the same time the reason why the UKIP seems to be gaining so much support, namely its call for a “friendly” but complete withdrawal of Britain from the European Union. Up until the UKIP, the most “extreme” position on this issue had been that of the Conservatives, who maintain a suspicious attitude about what goes on within EU institutions, and who don’t want any new European Constitution and certainly won’t give up the pound sterling for the euro, but who don’t go so far as to advocate withdrawal (upon which, in the UKIP’s imaginings, the UK would join the ranks of countries like Norway and Switzerland, who supposedly enjoy much of the trade benefits associated with the EU anyway without having to put up with all that quasi-governmental stuff).

Even if most or all of the new British Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) turn out to come from the UKIP, that would not mean Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. But the worrying thing about that party’s seeming rise in popularity is that the British people’s attitudes towards the EU were supposed to get steadily more warm and chummy with time, guided by constant persuasion (propaganda?) from the bully-pulpit manned by a Labour government that has been in power since 1997. After all, referenda are now in store, eventually, on both the questions of switching to the euro and adopting a new EU Constitution (when/if member-state governments finally succeed in adopting one), and the hope had been that attitudes would have softened enough by the time those happen to ensure “Yes” votes. The UK is not obliged ever to adopt the euro – unlike, say, all of the ten new member-states, whenever they meet certain economic and fiscal criteria – but it’s possible (although still unclear at this point) that a “No” vote on the Constitution could indeed mean insistence from the other EU members that the UK withdraw its membership.

A key factor in the UKIP’s new popularity is said to be its new leading spokesman and candidate, Robert Kilroy-Silk, who had an interview show on the BBC up until earlier this year, when he had to resign after saying nasty things on-air about Arabs. There’s an entertaining portrait from the Guardian available, but I’m more intrigued by this analysis as to whether he might be the “British Pim Fortuyn,” from a source best-placed to judge such things: the Dutch newspaper Trouw. (more…)

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Six of One, Half-A-Dozen of the Other

Wednesday, April 7th, 2004

Let’s continue today our “When Good Central European Electorates Go Bad” series in which, while defending to the death the right of voters there to choose the governments they want, we take out our spectacles, lean in for a closer look, and then blurt out “You want to choose that lot?!”

Today’s subject is one I mentioned in passing in this weblog’s last post, namely the seemingly unstoppable ascent of Vladimir Meciar to the presidency of the Slovak Republic. I took a closer look myself, and while the crisp, succinct, bottom-line summary of what’s going on that I’ve just given you is bad enough, in fact the situation viewed more broadly is even worse – not that there aren’t plenty of comic elements that can’t be extracted to put a little sugar on the bitter pill. Or at least that’s for those of you who are not Slovak and so will not have to live through the next few years with the results of what is about to happen. We’ll do our best to do this in the following, so get yourself in tune for some bittersweet humor. (more…)

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The European Constitution – French Counter-Point

Wednesday, February 18th, 2004

The issue of that proposed European Constitution – remember that thing? – simply will not go away, probably because it is said to be essential to ensure that the EU can continue to function after that 67% expansion (15 expanding by 10) that is due to happen on the upcoming May 1. Indeed, we’ve already passed the point at which it is inevitable that, even in the best-case scenario, that Constitution won’t be fully adopted and in-place until some time after the EU has expanded to 25. Fortunately, as The Economist recently reported (subscription required), some signs have arisen recently to give hope that that agreement over the Constitution and its adoption will happen sooner rather than later.

“Fortunately”? Actually, it’s useful to keep in mind the fact that the whole constitutional process is not just a matter of smoothing out the potholes and bumps along the way to a common goal everyone can agree is worth attaining. No, some folks out there just wish the whole thing would be canned, once and for all. Among these is in fact The Economist, which last June supplemented its article on Where to File Europe’s new constitution (subscription required) with a starkly eloquent cover-illustration (at least in its European edition): a filled-to-overflowing trash can. But The Economist is the English-language press, of course; and you rather look mainly to EuroSavant for the foreign-language press (although long-time readers will know that I dip into the British press on occasion).

No problem: There’s plenty of anti-EuroConstitution rhetoric there, too, especially if you want to be lazy (OK, I admit it) and head straight to the tried-and-true anti-Euro talking-shop as the housewife heads out for cuts of meat to her local butcher-shop. I refer here, of course, to Le Monde Diplomatique, the monthly sister publication to the leading French daily Le Monde. (more…)

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Giscard Sounds the Alarm over Constitution

Sunday, December 7th, 2003

The original delegates to the Convention which spent eighteen months drawing up the draft EU Constitution, delivering it last June, got together again last Friday in Brussels. Their meeting was of course in the shadow of the climactic European summit of heads-of-government coming up fast next weekend, which is supposed to round off the EU’s Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) and coming up with a final constitutional document on which all member-states (current and future) can agree. The theme of their meeting: “What have you done to our work?!” Or, to use some French: “What’s with all the détricotage?” or “unravelling,” the way you would maliciously pick apart someone else’s carefully-done knitting. That was the formulation of their leader at the Convention, France’s Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, who was there to address them and articulate where the Convention thinks that the IGC has gotten it wrong. This is covered in two articles out of the French on-line press, whose titles are eloquent in themselves: Giscard Tries to Save His Constitution, in Le Figaro, and “Better No Constitution Than a Mutilated Constitution” (that’s a quote, and not just Giscard’s), in Libération. (more…)

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An Interim IGC Evaluation: Buy Your Dollars Now!

Tuesday, October 21st, 2003

As varied as the individual details may have been, one theme clearly predominates the preceding accounts on this website, from the French, Dutch, and the Czech press, of the progress of the EU draft Constitution Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) so far. And that is, of course, that there has been virtually none – indeed, that there is even considerable dissatisfaction over the process currently being used to try to gain common agreement on an EU Constitution. (more…)

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Flood of Brussels Complaints in Dutch Press

Saturday, October 18th, 2003

If the Dutch on-line press is any indication, opinion in the Netherlands over the results of the just-completed European summit in Brussels (which was supposed to make progress towards a final European Constitution) is no higher than in France (covered in the following entry). Indeed, these articles offer some key updates to developments. (more…)

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The Implications of Sweden’s “No” – A Dutch View

Monday, September 15th, 2003

The votes are in, the Swedish people have spoken: 56% of the voters said “No,” and so they prevail, for a while at least.

I had hoped to find something interesting to tell you about the referendum’s result in the national press of Germany: the nation that, after all, was once the guiding power behind the idea of one single currency for all of the EU, yet which now, by its misbehavior in getting its own fiscal house in order and staying under the 3%-of-GDP limit for government budget deficits, is quite possibly driving away those EU members (such as Sweden) who do not use the euro but are/were contemplating that. But the on-line German newspapers that I’ve looked at for today aren’t very on-the-ball: they’ll tell you little else than what you already will have been able to find out from your own newspaper of choice (with one exception, noted below). OK, they quote Bundeskanzler Schröder lamenting the continued absence of Sweden from the ranks of EU countries using the euro. Well, he would lament, wouldn’t he? I’d definitely file that bit of news under “dog-bites-man.” (more…)

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Lindh and the Euro – The View from Denmark

Sunday, September 14th, 2003

Outside reality intruded for a while to hold up my planned survey of commentary in the Danish press over the murder of Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh and the effect of that incident on the upcoming Swedish referendum over whether to adopt the euro. But I did gather the relevant URLs on the subject from the main Danish on-line dailies, and am posting this early enough for there still to be suspense about the referendum’s outcome (for prompt EuroSavant readers, anyway.)

I start with Berlingske Tidende’s rather simplistic editorial leader, Svenskernes valg, or “The Swedes’ Choice.” (more…)

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“The Sinners are We”

Sunday, September 7th, 2003

That’s the title of an interesting commentary piece in the latest Die Zeit by Uwe Jean Heuser – a remarkable mea culpa for Germany from a German writer, which puts into stark relief the striking (if rather unfortunate) ironies attending the birth of the Euro and the current state of finances in Euroland (that is, in those twelve-out-of-fifteen EU countries that have adopted it as their common currency). (more…)

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EuroSavant on Extended Sojourn in Poland

Saturday, July 5th, 2003

Today I arrive in Wroclaw, the city where dedicated EuroSavant readers will remember I spent about a week at the beginning of June, just in time to observe and report on the Polish EU accession referendum. This time I plan to stay a bit longer – oh, a couple of weeks. Among other goals, the plan is to work further on my advanced Polish, together with a dynamite tutor whom I found there last time. In the long run, this can only benefit my weblog postings, especially to those among you looking for a window into current Polish affairs, as I’ll be able to understand the Polish on-line press better and faster.

In the short run, on the other hand, residence anywhere other than in front of my trusty Dell-with-Chello-broadband-connection in Amsterdam degrades to some degree my weblog posting ability. For one thing, now when I work in front of a Internet-connected computer, the meter will be running. Granted, it will only be running in zloty terms, but nonetheless I won’t be able to escape that feeling in the back of my mind: the meter is running. What’s more – ready for a confession? – on rare occasions I do encounter the need to consult a dictionary to get the precise meaning of some key word or phrase in a given article; my stable of available dictionaries in Poland will necessarily be rather smaller. (Don’t talk to me about on-line language dictionaries; I haven’t come close to finding any that come near the capabilities of traditional bound volumes.)

Anyway, you had a taste of my “blogging from the field” a month ago. Maybe it wasn’t THAT bad – admittedly, I had an interesting central theme, i.e. the referendum, which I’ll largely lack now. (I presume – but maybe Poland will flood again, like back in ’97, when in fact I was also in Poland.) But I’ll keep the observations and the links coming. No reason to remove that EuroSavant bookmark yet.

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Václav Sphinx

Monday, June 16th, 2003

Indulge me just a little, as I leave the Czech referendum story with a bit of tidying-up: you know, the results, the reaction. Once again, Mlada Fronta Dnes splashes an over-sized headline on its front page: “ANO EU: 77,33%.” (That’s 77,33% “Yes” on a turn-out of 55,21%, so once again anti-EU spoil-sports can point out that an actual majority of eligible voters did not approve EU accession.) To which the headline adds: “Spidla rejoices; Klaus stays silent.” (more…)

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It’s Czech Referendum Day!

Friday, June 13th, 2003

The Czech EU referendum is very, very near. Sure, we know that already, but even if we didn’t, we’d know something was up from today’s front page of the leading Czech daily, Mlada Fronta Dnes. Check it out for yourself (you can download the PDF here): the whole above-the-fold area is dominated by a huge “ANO” – which, it won’t surprise you to learn, means “Yes” in Czech. Directly underneath is the caption “Historical referendum: the accession of the Czech Republic into the EU is to be decided.” For those newspaper-buyers who, nonetheless, are not so much into reading text, up above there’s a whole gallery of famous Europeans. Take your pick (now, who wouldn’t want to join their company?): Günter Grass, Luis Figo (the football player for Real Madrid, but he’s Portuguese), Antonio Banderas, Margarethe II (present occupation: Queen of Denmark), and Ornella Mutti – from Italy; anybody ever heard of her? Wow: Guess who the MFDnes editors chose in the inside article (click on “15 tvárí Unii”) to represent Britain: Rowan Atkinson, a.k.a. Mr. Bean/Johnny English! Below, you can see for youself how serious premier Vladimir Spidla is about accession: he’s shown huffing and puffing (and wearing black business socks with his shorts and sneakers!) and racing EU ambassador Ramiro Cibrian in a “Eurorun.” (more…)

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Klaus Newspaper Interview

Wednesday, June 11th, 2003

Czech President Václav Klaus doesn’t want to reveal his voting preferences in the Czech EU accession referendum, to start on Friday – although he certainly promises to vote. (Indeed, he’ll be voting soon after polls open on Friday, as will premier Spidla and ex-president Havel and their wives.) Revealing his presidential preference is not his presidential function, he says; his pres. function is “rather to give arguments, to shake up citizens so that they think about these things.”

But you know this already, since you’ve read yesterday’s EuroSavant entry. Still, on Wednesday Klaus granted an in-depth interview to Lidové noviny, his favorite newspaper. (He used to write a regular column for it.) This interview deserves in-depth examination, since it lays out many of the Czech President’s shall-we-say unconventional and even abrasive views on the referendum and on Czech EU membership in general. Maybe we’ll finally get some “asking of the tough questions,” the absence of which I decried in my long entry about the Polish referendum of last weekend!

(Before we go to “More…”: Sick of Poland? Sick of Czech? Sorry about that. Remember, EuroSavant is also versatile enough to do France, Germany, the Benelux, who-knows-what-else. We’ll get back to other parts of Europe soon, but I did want to take a good look at these once-in-a-lifetime accession referenda. Anyway, if you don’t like this weblog’s direction – e-mail me! I might be so taken aback as to actually listen to what you say!) (more…)

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Václav Klaus: Which Way Will He Vote?

Tuesday, June 10th, 2003

The countdown is on for the referendum in the Czech Republic on EU accession, to take place over next Friday and Saturday (13 and 14 June). As most of the other candidate countries have done, Czech authorities are also making use of the tactic of opening the voting centers over two days to encourage as large a turn-out as possible (although referenda in the Czech Republic do not have any legally-mandated level of participation, below which they become invalid). And the Prague authorities enjoy a further advantage: their referendum is towards the end in the series of candidate country referenda (only a couple of the Baltic countries remain), and the script has gone according to plan – all of the other countries voting before have voted “Yes” (if in some cases with distressingly-low levels of voter turn-out), so that puts further pressure on Czech voters not to show themselves to be the odd man out. (more…)

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Why Referenda Usually Just Don’t Cut It

Sunday, June 8th, 2003

Now the second and final day of Poland’s EU accession referendum is underway. Radio reports indicate that participation through Saturday ran rather short of the 25% one would hope for, at least on an accountant’s straight-line basis, to assure that final participation reaches at least 50% and therefore validity for the whole exercise. But after all, this is not some financial exercise . . . (more…)

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The EU: Poland’s Fourth Partition?

Saturday, June 7th, 2003

Here in Wroclaw, it’s a bright and sunny first day of voting in the Polish EU accession referendum. More guerrilla anti-EU material has popped up, in a last-minute attempt to change people’s minds – this time, it was in the form of posters showing the famous EU twelve-yellow-stars-on-a-dark-blue-field emblem – with a swastika in the middle, and the caption up above “Rozbior Polski” – the partition of Poland. That should strike a chord with historically-oriented Polish voters: in the famous 18th-century partitions of Poland, Poland’s neighboring states (then Prussia, Russia, and the Austrian Empire) agreed among themselves to simply reach out and grab the pieces of Polish territory that they wanted, and Poland was too weak at the time to do anything to defend herself. There were three of these land-grabs, and by the end of the third there was no more Polish land to seize any more, as it all had been taken – and Poland was not to re-emerge as an independent nation for more than a century, namely in 1918 directly after the First World War. (more…)

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Poland: The EU Accession Referendum Nears. An On-the-Scene Report

Friday, June 6th, 2003

The referendum on Poland’s accession to the European Union is very close now – it starts tomorrow, Saturday, and carries on through Sunday. As in most of the candidate states which have already held the referendum – particularly in Hungary and Slovakia – and as will most likely be the case in the one remaining significant state to do so after Poland, namely the Czech Republic next weekend, the crucial issue is not so much the referendum’s result, but rather the rate of voter turn-out. (more…)

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Slovakia Votes “Yes” to EU Accession

Sunday, May 18th, 2003

One of EuroSavant’s reader services, as regular visitors to this site will have noticed from past entries, is tracking the series of referenda by which EU candidate countries will (presumably) approve their entry into EU membership on 1 May 2004. Earlier this month Lithuanians voted in favor. This weekend it was the turn of Slovakia, and according to most press reports the important question was not whether “Yes” votes would prevail, but whether there would be enough votes cast, whether “Yes” or “No,” to attain at least the level of 50% participation which would make the referendum valid. It seems that that did indeed come to pass: according to the president of the Slovak electoral commission, Julius Fodor, 52.15% of eligible votes were cast, of which 92.46% were in favor of EU accession. (more…)

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German views on the EU Enlargement Summit in Athens

Thursday, April 17th, 2003

Today I’m on enforced exile from my reporting and commentary upon parochial Netherlands concerns. Still, not all the important things that are happening have to do with Iraq. An important case in point is the EU Athens summit, at which the fifteen current EU member-states and all ten candidate states yesterday signed the Accession Treaty. (Recall that only three of those states – Malta, Slovenia, and Hungary, in that order – have yet held the national referenda authorizing actually joining the EU in a year’s time. And Cyprus, due to its special circumstances, will hold no referendum at all.) (more…)

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“Hungary Chooses Europe”

Monday, April 14th, 2003

Away from events around the Persian Gulf, for now, for just as coalition forces inexorably advance across Iraq, so too does the European Union’s expansion process proceed towards its anticipated destination of adding 10 new members sometime around May, 2004. After the populations of Malta and Slovenia had previously given their assent to EU membership for their countries (sorry, I don’t cover them), this past Saturday it was the turn of Hungary. (more…)

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