Characteristics of a state


by Rumbold
12th February, 2008 at 11:37 am    

What defines a state? There are plenty of things that a state can do, but it seems to me that a state only needs certain functions in order to be classed as such. Namely, the ability to raise revenue, control over law and order, and defence. I bring this up because I don’t see how anyone can avoid calling the EU a state anymore. It has the ability to raise revenue (through payments by member states), it makes laws which supersede all others, it is beginning to mould an ‘EU army’, and it now has the rudiments of a police force. It has, as historians say, a monopoly of violence (in that it ultimately controls the forces of law and order):

“What is envisaged here is a powerful new EU interior department, called the Standing Committee on Internal Security (COSI).

When MPs recently debated the treaty’s justice and home affairs provisions, Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, did not even mention COSI. She sought to define this aspect of the treaty solely in terms of enhanced cross-border cooperation against crime and terrorism, as though that cannot be achieved without setting up an EU Interior Ministry that will rival, or exceed, her own department in importance.

Internal EU documents uncovered by our Brussels correspondent indicate how COSI might develop. One discussion paper states: “Internal security should at least include… the prevention and combating of crime, the prevention of the terrorist threat, intelligence exchange, public order management, the prevention and combating of criminal offences such as illegal immigration and trafficking in persons, the provision of an integrated management system for external borders and crisis management with cross-border effects within the EU.”

The EU already has an embryonic police force (Europol), a courts arm (Eurojust), a paramilitary riot squad (European Gendarmerie Force), a European Arrest Warrant, and will now, under Lisbon, have a European public prosecutor and what could become an interior ministry (COSI) to pull it all together.

For many years, these matters were regarded as off limits for the EU. Yet with the barest of debate in our supposedly sovereign parliament, and with ministers clinging to the fraying life-line of their negotiated opt-outs, we are about to hand control of our criminal justice system to the European Commission and the European Court of Justice.”

As the EU is now a state in all but name, is this what people want? Do you think that the EU should concentrate on bringing in more countries, or consolidating its hold over the existing ones? Has the EU gone too far, and should it just be a trading block, with freedom of movement for goods, services and people? What role should the EU play in the world?

As we don’t debate the EU much on Pickled Politics, I think that such wide-ranging questions are okay (personally I would like to see the EU reduced to a trading block).


              Post to del.icio.us


Filed in: Current affairs






72 Comments below   |  

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. famous french women

    famous french women…

    The current Triomphant class is currently under deployment to replace the former Redoutable class. In 1953 France received a request from…




  1. The Heresiarch — on 12th February, 2008 at 12:42 pm  

    “We don’t debate the EU much on Pickled Politics”.

    And yet it is extremely important, is it not? More and more laws emanate from the EU. When two major member states, France and the Netherlands, vote in referendums against the constitution, what happens? Essentially the same package is re-created and, this time, not voted on. The EU is run by elites that have open contempt for the processes of democracy, and have just given themselves unaccountable powers to police us.

    Yet “We don’t debate the EU much on Pickled Politics”.

    I wonder why? Perhaps it has something to do with the way PP presents itself as the voice of “progressive” politics. And the EU is “progressive”,is it not? Not like those reactionary old nation states. Anyone who doesn’t sign up to the EU gravy train must ipso facto be a BNP supporter, or, at best, a Conservative. Best not say anything.

    The heroic Labour MPs Kate Hoey and Frank Field, now facing suspension from the party for seeking to hold it to its manifesto commitment for a referendum, know that this issue is not one of party, nor of “progressiveness” versus reaction.

    The saddest thing about the European “debate” is that it is ghettoised in public discourse as the obsession of cranks and geeks, whereas it intimately concerns us all.

  2. sonia — on 12th February, 2008 at 1:03 pm  

    Let’s be very specific here. We’re not just talking about some random historians, we’re talking about the German sociologist Max Weber, who defined in 1918 the modern state as maintaining the monopoly on violence – the exercise of force was authorized or permitted by the state which means by law : “monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within a given

  3. bananabrain — on 12th February, 2008 at 1:22 pm  

    frankly, a european superstate (or federation) is still, essentially, a state with its own “national interests”, like the united states or russian federation. either way geopolitics are still an issue and i don’t see much difference either way. it’s the same difference – the only difference is the size of the state as opposed to its tendencies. and frankly, i await the day when states go out of fashion as they are out of date and people organise themselves around more timeless, people-focused issues, values and identities.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  4. Sunny — on 12th February, 2008 at 1:32 pm  

    I haven’t got much against the EU to be honest. I’m quite pro-EU. I think the European Convention on Human Rights was the best thing we ever signed and some of our own laws are far stupider than the ones coming out of the EU.

    If EU member countries coordinate to catch terrorists or stop the trafficking of women, what’s wrong with that?

  5. Leon — on 12th February, 2008 at 1:33 pm  

    The EU is run by elites that have open contempt for the processes of democracy

    The UK is run by elites that have open contempt for the processes of democracy.

    The US is run by elites that have open contempt for the processes of democracy.

    The UN is run by elites that have open contempt for the processes of democracy.

  6. cjcjc — on 12th February, 2008 at 1:53 pm  

    “If EU member countries coordinate to catch terrorists or stop the trafficking of women, what’s wrong with that?”

    Fortunately or unfortunately the EU is moving away (and in very many areas has already moved away) from “co-ordination” to central direction.

    That may be good; it may be bad.

    But it won’t do for “progressives” to deny that something significant is happening to the balance of power between Westminster and Brussels, and it especially will not do to deny the people of Europe *some* say as to whether they approve or not.

  7. sonia — on 12th February, 2008 at 2:44 pm  

    the problem is anyway that we need to build in accountability and transparency, and push for democratic process, in EU institutions.

    not that we disengage from the process.

    We need to move to more collaboration between States, and ensure we don’t discard the State-level requirements for democratic process ( which i don’t feel States do currently very well either, so)

  8. sonia — on 12th February, 2008 at 2:46 pm  

    leon – no. 5 – yep

    sunny, exactly, the “European Convention on Human Rights was the best thing we ever signed”

    we need to apply the same rules and logic to whatever ‘level’ we organise on – State or meta-State, or whatever. NO one has got it right at any level, and we must keep trying, and we must keep the collaboration mindset, seeing as we are stuck with the State, i’d rather they collaborate with each other than fight each other.

  9. Parvinder — on 12th February, 2008 at 2:54 pm  

    Mr Brown: ‘British jobs for British people’

    why hasn’t the EU sued him for this statement?

  10. Parvinder — on 12th February, 2008 at 3:06 pm  

    having got that off my chest

    I think the EU as it is a good thing and should try and consolidate its gains. How about Russia? There’s a smell of cold war about and it’s high time we let them in. They do have an awful lot of energy we rely on.

  11. Leon — on 12th February, 2008 at 3:34 pm  

    Russia, sure why not I mean if we’re going to let Turkey in why not Russia?

    I think we should also push for Israel’s membership, by default we’d get Palestine too so two for the price of one; bargain! :D

  12. The Heresiarch — on 12th February, 2008 at 3:42 pm  

    Leon: “The UK is run by elites that have open contempt for the processes of democracy.”

    I can’t disagree. But at least it’s theoretically possible to vote the bastards out.

  13. bananabrain — on 12th February, 2008 at 3:58 pm  

    leon,

    i agree. if you’ve got the israelis/palestinians by their wallets, their hearts, minds and military tactics will follow….

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  14. Leon — on 12th February, 2008 at 4:19 pm  

    Yep, I was only half joking too (I’m not convinced about Russia though); Israel’s dependence on the US and thus US’ influence could be neatly re-configured by Israel and Palestine becoming European states…

  15. soru — on 12th February, 2008 at 5:26 pm  

    ‘The US is run by elites that have open contempt for the processes of democracy.’

    If this is true, presumably you can you find a speech by McCain, Obama or Clinton where they expressed their open comtempt for voters and voting?

    You probably should let someone know of that speech – it sounds like big news.

  16. MaidMarian — on 12th February, 2008 at 7:16 pm  

    ‘I don’t see how anyone can avoid calling the EU a state anymore.’

    Because states are based on constitutions, the EU is based on a treaty. Member states can leave it, treaties are not binding membership documents as constitutions are.

    States are constitutional entities, the EU is created by and draws power and legitimacy from a treaty.

    Before anyone jumps on me, Britain has a de facto written constitution, just not a de jure one.

    More broadly, this has very little to do with democracy. No entity in the world is a true democracy. We live in constitutional systems with more or less democratic trappings. The US constitutions effectively says, ‘yes, we will have democracy, but with these fetters.’

    Easy-peasy.

  17. douglas clark — on 12th February, 2008 at 11:13 pm  

    Rumbold,

    As a project the EU has two major things going for it, firstly, you don’t get in unless you meet entry criteria, like having a functioning democracy and so far, so good, you do not attack another member state.

    If it manages to stop Europeans, and that includes us, from fighting each other, it is certainly worth the entry money. I think it should be open to expansion, so, if I/P both wanted to join we should consider letting them in on the same basis as any other candidate. As they would not be allowed to fight each other, else they’d get chucked out, I somehow doubt they’d be lining up to join. Generally the accession process takes around five to ten years though, so this is no quick fix for the worlds ills.

  18. Katherine — on 13th February, 2008 at 12:13 pm  

    Not that I wish to step on Sunny’s point – which I generally agree with – i.e. I quite like the EU (for long and complicated reasons I won’t go into here) – but the European Convention on Human Rights actually has nothing to do with the EU. It is an entirely different Treaty set up. It is the case that the parties to the ECHR include the EU members, but it stretches beyond that, including, for example, Russia (weird but true).

    The Council of Europe (not the same as the European Council) is the overarching body of the ECHR and is generally considered to be the human rights watchdog for Europe (in its widest definition).

    The European Council, on the other hand, is the body at the apogee of the EU (not the European Commission, as some people seem to think) – ie it is a body made up of ministers from each EU member state. It is this body which, whilst indirectly democratic (because it consists of presumably elected ministers from EU member states), needs reform.

    Power should be passed to the EU Parliament, the only directly elected body in the EU. Generally, over the years, this has been happening – the Parliament used to be only a talking shop, and now it does have some clout – but more should be headed in its direction.

  19. Leon — on 13th February, 2008 at 12:23 pm  

    Katherine,

    I think you’ve touched on a key problem with Europe generally; a big issue is that a lot of people (myself included) don’t fully understand how it works, the various tiers of power and how it objectively affects our lives.

    Ignorance in the face of power always breeds suspicion and contempt [in the ordinary person]. Of course loony right and their media friends don’t help things either…

  20. sonia — on 13th February, 2008 at 12:39 pm  

    yes, very good comment Katherine, and you’re right Leon, most of us know very little.

  21. bananabrain — on 13th February, 2008 at 3:16 pm  

    *claps for katherine* – beat me to it there. i usually call it the “council of ministers”, which avoids the confusion, unless you’re not supposed to do that any more. incidentally, all those people who go on about how awful a “federal europe” would be, they tend to be the same people who hold up the US as a model. which is, of course, a federal state.

    As a project the EU has two major things going for it, firstly, you don’t get in unless you meet entry criteria, like having a functioning democracy and so far, so good, you do not attack another member state.

    except, of course, that this somehow seems to have been translated into the widespread idea that any attack on any state or even non-state enemy, regardless of whether they are a member of the EU or not, is therefore tantamount to a betrayal of the european ideal. there have to be some things worth fighting over.

    I think it should be open to expansion, so, if I/P both wanted to join we should consider letting them in on the same basis as any other candidate. As they would not be allowed to fight each other, else they’d get chucked out, I somehow doubt they’d be lining up to join.

    look, if turkey is being considered for membership of an organisation that greece belongs to, i can’t see why i/p wouldn’t be able to get there eventually. even floating the idea might actually get us somewhere. look how the turks relaxed their grip on the kurds when the carrot was waved.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  22. Leon — on 13th February, 2008 at 4:41 pm  

    look, if turkey is being considered for membership of an organisation that greece belongs to, i can’t see why i/p wouldn’t be able to get there eventually.

    I don’t think they’re as comparable as you’re making out but I see your point…

  23. Refresh — on 13th February, 2008 at 4:54 pm  

    ‘look, if turkey is being considered for membership of an organisation that greece belongs to, i can’t see why i/p wouldn’t be able to get there eventually.’

    I thought about this too. I can see that the I (of I/P) would get in first; and then the I would veto the P (of I/P).

    I think we saw something of that with Cyprus (N/S).

  24. Piggy — on 13th February, 2008 at 6:19 pm  

    Well, if the EU did have a monopoly of legitimate violence over territory it encompasses it would be a state, but it evidently doesn’t have a monopoly of legitimate violence, does it? A simple thought experiment demonstrates this: If the British government decided to leave the EU tomorrow, is it in anyway conceivable that the EU would have the ability or the will to use military force to coerce us into staying in the Union? If your answer is ‘no’ then the EU isn’t a state. If your answer is ‘yes’ then you’re probably just about mad enough to get a job writing about Europe for the Telegraph.

  25. Edsa — on 13th February, 2008 at 7:12 pm  

    1. The origin of the state was explained in Frederick Engels’ “The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State”.

    When a surplus of wealth (including property) came to be amassed by a minority, this privileged or elite class needed both a legal system to ensure succession and a mechanism to protect that wealth from the majority whose labour produced much of it.
    The state was born.

    2. The state system was formalised by the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 (some years before the Ottoman advance was halted at Vienna in 1683) and reached its final stage in the early 1940s.

    3. Surely the EU is no state, it is a collection of states and each of these states is also a nation (defined by a bit of history, values & identity). In addition, there is the government which Chomsky says is the state executive – made up of “whatever groups control the political system at the time.”

    4. As for Turkey’s membership, EU is regarded as a Christian club. In 2002, the former French President, Valery Giscard d’Estaing sneered: “It’s capital is not in Europe; 95% of its population live outside Europe. It is not a European country… If Turkey gets into the EU, it would be the end of Europe.. it would be the biggest bloc in the European Parliament.”

  26. Rumbold — on 13th February, 2008 at 8:24 pm  

    Sonia:

    “Let’s be very specific here. We’re not just talking about some random historians, we’re talking about the German sociologist Max Weber.”

    He coined the term, but it has no entered general usage.

    MaidMarion:

    “Because states are based on constitutions, the EU is based on a treaty. Member states can leave it, treaties are not binding membership documents as constitutions are.”

    But a permanent treaty is effectively a constitution, at least in this case.

    Douglas:

    “If it manages to stop Europeans, and that includes us, from fighting each other, it is certainly worth the entry money. I think it should be open to expansion, so, if I/P both wanted to join we should consider letting them in on the same basis as any other candidate. As they would not be allowed to fight each other, else they’d get chucked out, I somehow doubt they’d be lining up to join. Generally the accession process takes around five to ten years though, so this is no quick fix for the worlds ills.”

    Please don’t tell me you believe the old fallacy that Western Europe is at peace because of the EU. Western Europe is at peace because of a combination of democracy, no severe economic depression, and the Soviet threat. The EU merely claims to have brought peace to EU-occupied Europe, but it has been about as influental as you or I. I agree with you though that we should let in more countries, who seem to have to meet standards higher than ones the EU holds itself to.

    Piggy:

    “Well, if the EU did have a monopoly of legitimate violence over territory it encompasses it would be a state, but it evidently doesn’t have a monopoly of legitimate violence, does it? A simple thought experiment demonstrates this: If the British government decided to leave the EU tomorrow, is it in anyway conceivable that the EU would have the ability or the will to use military force to coerce us into staying in the Union? If your answer is ‘no’ then the EU isn’t a state. If your answer is ‘yes’ then you’re probably just about mad enough to get a job writing about Europe for the Telegraph.”

    Writing about Europe for the Telegraph- that would be fun. You make a good point about military force. However, England is considered a state, yet would force be used if a county decided to become independent? I suppose the difference is in the ability to fight, rather than the desire, but I suspect that the EU will soon have a bonified army at its command.

  27. Don — on 13th February, 2008 at 8:51 pm  

    Rumbold,

    How very hip of you. I do hope you mean definition #1.

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bonified

  28. douglas clark — on 14th February, 2008 at 2:14 am  

    Rumbold at 26,

    Oh, and bananabrain at 21.

    Who caused the last two World Wars?

    It was frigging Europeans mainly, wasn’t it?

    Who – were mainly countries that then went on to form the EU.

    I thought you two were probably kids of the sixties and might have thought that ‘giving peace a chance’ was probably quite a good idea. No such luck. The umbrella organisation that contained the Eastern Block was called NATO, not the EU. The Soviet threat could, arguably, have been refuted without the EU’s creation at all.

    And Rumbold, the standards of admission and the standards for continuing membership are more or less the same.

    I had always assumed you were a lead writer for the Telegraph, :-)

  29. Desi Italiana — on 14th February, 2008 at 8:03 am  

    #21 Bananabrain:

    “if turkey is being considered for membership of an organisation that greece belongs to, i can’t see why i/p wouldn’t be able to get there eventually.”

    Yes, that would be nice… except right now, Greece and Turkey are actual countries, whereas the Palestinians don’t have a country/nation-state etc. Unless there is some leeway for folks who have no self governance and state, how would they be a part of the EU? As a people with no country?

  30. Desi Italiana — on 14th February, 2008 at 8:16 am  

    “As the EU is now a state in all but name”

    Hmmm… not sure about this. The EU has to contend with the national sovereignty of nation-states. I see it at best as a federation. It’s not a supra-state, but with overlapping circles from different countries.

    Personally, I think that if the EU overreaches in its desire for singular/standardized cohesion- especially in matters that are the most significant for governments such as the military/defense, it will fail and/or dissolve over time.

    “it now has the rudiments of a police force.”

    Yeah, but based on the snippets you quoted, it’s for cross border stuff (illegal trafficking, terrorism, etc) which doesn’t necessarily indicate that the EU is a “state.” That doesn’t mean that the EU would replace and/or be the police for internally contained matters, like homicide. Individual states will have to have those, and won’t do away with them.

    Making the regions of all of those member states into one single state would be extremely difficult, and it wouldn’t be smooth either because while many people might not mind being part of a federation-like structure, they might get a little pissed off if they lose things like autonomy and national sovereignty.

    But as a federation, the EU is good, I think. There have been some good agreements established in terms of human rights; it’s easier to check up on things about European airspace with the whatchaymacallit airport traffic control central, etc. There has been some movement of people and goods across the borders (though it is not as easy and fluid as it seems; this movement is roomier for professionals rather than poor folks).

  31. Desi Italiana — on 14th February, 2008 at 8:18 am  

    People were really irritated when they had to do away with their own currency. Not too many people were happy about the Euro.

  32. Desi Italiana — on 14th February, 2008 at 8:24 am  

    Jurgen Habermas has written on the EU and constitutional democracy. There was one paper that I read which was well argued, but can’t find it online. In its place,

    http://www.signandsight.com/features/1265.html

    Also, for those of you who have access to university libraries,

    http://www.cambridge.org/us/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521811408&ss=fro

    which “engages” with Habermas’s arguments.

  33. Katherine — on 14th February, 2008 at 8:48 am  

    Please don’t tell me you believe the old fallacy that Western Europe is at peace because of the EU.

    Well, if it’s a fallacy, it was one taught to me by experts in the field at University. I won’t name drop, but it was a top University, so I tend to work on the basis that they weren’t talking shit.

  34. Rumbold — on 14th February, 2008 at 12:20 pm  

    Don:

    “How very hip of you.”

    Shame on me.

    Douglas:

    “I thought you two were probably kids of the sixties and might have thought that ‘giving peace a chance’ was probably quite a good idea. No such luck. The umbrella organisation that contained the Eastern Block was called NATO, not the EU. The Soviet threat could, arguably, have been refuted without the EU’s creation at all.”

    Child of the sixties? Thankfully not. The creation of the EU was not necessary to combat the Soviet block, but it was in part a reaction to it, as well as a desire for closer co-operation between France and Germany.

    “I had always assumed you were a lead writer for the Telegraph.”

    Heh.

    Desi:

    “Personally, I think that if the EU overreaches in its desire for singular/standardized cohesion- especially in matters that are the most significant for governments such as the military/defense, it will fail and/or dissolve over time.”

    But the EU is consistantly extending its powers, with the support of national governments, so I doubt that it will ever overreach itself in their eyes.

    “Yeah, but based on the snippets you quoted, it’s for cross border stuff (illegal trafficking, terrorism, etc) which doesn’t necessarily indicate that the EU is a “state.” That doesn’t mean that the EU would replace and/or be the police for internally contained matters, like homicide. Individual states will have to have those, and won’t do away with them.”

    But so many things can be defined as cross-border, which will allow the EU to keep growing in this area.

    “Making the regions of all of those member states into one single state would be extremely difficult, and it wouldn’t be smooth either because while many people might not mind being part of a federation-like structure, they might get a little pissed off if they lose things like autonomy and national sovereignty.”

    Do you really think that the EU cares what people think? The French people rejected the constitution/treaty, so the French elite had to put it through parliament without a popular vote the second time. Labour was elected with a manifesto promising a referendum, and will not now hold one, because it knows it will lose. To the EU eilte, the people are at best an irritant and at worst a threat.

    Katherine:

    “Well, if it’s a fallacy, it was one taught to me by experts in the field at University. I won’t name drop, but it was a top University, so I tend to work on the basis that they weren’t talking shit.”

    Just because somebody with a degree told you something does not make it true, especially in these sort of areas. The are plenty of plausible reasons why there has been no war in western Europe after 1945, but there is no way to prove which is the right one. Too often EUnthusiasts say that the EU was created, since then there has been no war, therefore it was the EU that stopped the wars. It is a logical fallacy.

  35. bananabrain — on 14th February, 2008 at 2:03 pm  

    douglas,

    i think you’ve understood me slightly. firstly, in no way, shape or form am i a “child of the sixties” except in my tendency to ask “and why is that exactly?” a lot.

    secondly, the no-war point is precisely what i mean – the EU was in part created to stop european nations starting wars with each other, particularly the french and the germans. to follow the reasoning of sir humphrey appleby, the prospect of permanent peace between these two was the impetus that required us to become part of it in order to prevent them combining against us. after all, we have been at war with france for the better part of a thousand years, but have regarded germany as an enemy for only about fifty years of that. and i agree with you about nato, as well.

    Unless there is some leeway for folks who have no self governance and state, how would they be a part of the EU? As a people with no country?

    actually, the cheeky answer to that is to have them directly administered from brussels… but the anti-europeans won’t like that much. it would be an interesting experiment in ditching the nation-state as the answer, though, without any suggestion that they are less than entitled.

    i’d agree with desi at #30, too.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  36. douglas clark — on 14th February, 2008 at 2:43 pm  

    bananabrain,

    I much prefer your expression ‘I think you’ve understood me slightly’, to the more normal ‘I think you’ve misunderstood me slightly’, you are such a polite debater ;-)

  37. douglas clark — on 14th February, 2008 at 3:05 pm  

    Rumbold,

    The bottom line of the case for the EU, and allowing more nations into the club, is that it now has a fifty year track record of peace between the parties. That is evidence, not logic. ‘Course it might be a mere coincidence and that EU membership simply has a direct correlation to a love of certain sixties pop songs.

    Your arguement seems to me to have worrying similarities to some aspects of America, where fundamentalists back their State, oh, say Texas for instance, against the evil Feds.

    The default position of any human being, when told that the state proposes to do something, should be a quizzical scepticism. But scepticism shouldn’t be allowed to over-ride our common sense.

    In the longer term France and England have fought more wars, and caused more chaos than probably anyone else in Europe. (Phew – watch that get torn apart!)

    Constraining that sort of thing in the modern era has to be worthwhile. And they are both nuclear powers.

    Pooled sovereignty is not weakened sovereignty, imho. Though I do not like the democratic deficit one little bit, it is perhaps a tad overblown.

  38. Rumbold — on 14th February, 2008 at 4:00 pm  

    Douglas:

    “The bottom line of the case for the EU, and allowing more nations into the club, is that it now has a fifty year track record of peace between the parties. That is evidence, not logic. ‘Course it might be a mere coincidence and that EU membership simply has a direct correlation to a love of certain sixties pop songs.”

    It is not evidence. Consider the fact that commentators on Pickled Politics do not go around trying to kill one another. It could be argued that the reason this happens is because we are Pickled Politics’ commentators, and thus are bound together. That is similar to the EU=peace argument. The real reason we have not gone to war since WWII is because democracy,horrors of WWII, the Soviets, and a lack of economic collapses have made people far more resistant to war.

    “Your arguement seems to me to have worrying similarities to some aspects of America, where fundamentalists back their State, oh, say Texas for instance, against the evil Feds.”

    I believe that in general the more local the government the better (with defence being the obvious exception). Therefore, I do not see the benefits in handing over more powers to unelected people who live in remote locations and might never have even been to Britain. Since it is not me handing the powers over, but rather the government in defiance of their promises, can you tell me what the difference is between this and old-style colonialism (where local elites often agreed to work with the colonial powers, despite what the people wanted)?

    “In the longer term France and England have fought more wars, and caused more chaos than probably anyone else in Europe. (Phew – watch that get torn apart!).”

    It depends on whether you count the Hundred Years’ War as one or multiple ones. I suspect that the German states have caused more wars than anyone else.

    “Constraining that sort of thing in the modern era has to be worthwhile. And they are both nuclear powers.”

    Douglas, I think that you have understood me slightly (with apologies to Bananabrain). I don’t want to be in a nuclear war with France, I just don’t accept that it is EU membership which prevents this. Is Britain on the brink of war with New Zealand or Iceland? No, and neither of these two countries are EU members. In fact, we have not had a proper war with France since 1815.

  39. Desi Italiana — on 14th February, 2008 at 7:09 pm  

    Rumbold:

    “Do you really think that the EU cares what people think? ….To the EU eilte, the people are at best an irritant and at worst a threat.”

    I mostly agree with you, but it has to to a certain extent. People in the member states get to vote, and there are parties that to varying degrees that agree/disagree with the EU and its policies.

    But let’s think about this– for the EU to govern a single unit as massive as the bloc it is right now would be extremely difficult.

  40. Desi Italiana — on 14th February, 2008 at 7:18 pm  

    Rumbold:

    “But so many things can be defined as cross-border, which will allow the EU to keep growing in this area.”

    Yes, but as I mentioned, there are lots of internal things that in some ways outweigh the cross border stuff. There is no reason to do away with, say, the judicial systems that deal with internal matters, such as lawsuits or homicides committed by one French guy against another French dude. Domestic matters are still the primary concern and I think that most of a state’s resources go to that, not the EU.

    Also, even if dealing with cross-border stuff, such as a national of another country committing murder and/or trafficking in another country, member-states have treaties for that (Does anyone know if the EU has fleshed out extraditions?)

  41. douglas clark — on 14th February, 2008 at 7:24 pm  

    Rumbold,

    Loved your analogy. Try this on for size.

    An alternative scenario. Imagine that all the families of all the commentators on Pickled Politics had lived in the one place. Italy, perhaps, Verona, maybe? And that these families all hated each other and fought and raged and killed one another. It’s oemerta, in’tit?

    And then along comes some young chap with a beard, who publishes a new, like amazing message like ‘stop killing each other!’

    And folk, quite surprisingly really, do stop killing each other. And they all lived happily ever after.

    Even to the extent of stopping making up little wax dolls of alleged Telegraph leader writers and sticking pins in it.

    And thinking, instead, that, given that he is just a young chap, I probably would let my daughter marry him.

    OK, I was getting carried away with the last sentence.

    It would be foolish to say, would it not, that the agent for change – in this case the bearded one – had not caused the change?

    I take your point that it is not, in fact, anywhere near as clear cut as my little morality tale was making it out to be, but anything that reduces European tensions has to be a good thing. And, I think the EU has actually made nation states a little bit boring. Which, I am arguing is a good thing if we don’t end up with world wars over stupid Archdukes or daft wee guys with moustaches. The Two World Wars cost this country it’s entire status, and frankly bankrupted it to boot. Both Wars started in Europe.

    Call the EU an insurance policy, call it what you will, but it is currently very unlikely that Spain is gong to declare war on the UK over Gibraltar, say, or that France and Germany are going to settle their old grievances, the old fashioned way. I quite like that. It is kind of, peaceable.

    Oh, sorry, but I really do not agree with what you are saying about not knitting folk together. It is, frankly verging on unbelievable that the relative stability of the EU, (and *cough* the USA and China) compared to most of the rest of the world, is not something worth celebrating. And it is worth recalling that the EU was built on the back of a completely wrecked Europe.

    BTW, don’t you remember the ‘Cod War’ with Iceland? Not so much a shooting war right enough, more a bumping war.

    Rumbold, I hear you, on this I think we will have to agree to disagree.

  42. douglas clark — on 14th February, 2008 at 7:27 pm  

    Oh, I do miss Preview.

  43. Desi Italiana — on 14th February, 2008 at 7:36 pm  

    I don’t miss Preview at all :)

  44. Katherine — on 14th February, 2008 at 7:52 pm  

    Just because somebody with a degree told you something does not make it true, especially in these sort of areas.

    Well, no. But when several people with PhDs who are acknowledged experts in the field tell you something, I tend towards taking that one on board.

  45. douglas clark — on 14th February, 2008 at 8:04 pm  

    Desi,

    Interesting posts, I do not completely agree with either you or Rumbold about the nature of overarching government.

    Whilst it is pretty obvious that the US Constitution was written in it’s early days, it has stood the test of time. What was said for a relatively few settlers applies to this day. It, if you like, overarches, but in a good way.

    And neither am I convinced that the European project is quite as bankrupt as some say. You do have to subscribe to the ECHR as a precondition of membership, of the EU. That is Human Rights Law, and it outranks National Law. So, you have to do what it tells you.

    If I was anyone, even vaguely famous, I’d have the gutter press attacking me right now.

  46. douglas clark — on 14th February, 2008 at 8:08 pm  

    Desi,

    That’s just because you like to see me fail. Goes and cry’s in corner, has tantrum.

    I still blooming need it though. Folk like Desi will know I’m an idiot, rather than just suspecting it…

  47. Desi Italiana — on 14th February, 2008 at 8:13 pm  

    Douglas:

    “And neither am I convinced that the European project is quite as bankrupt as some say”

    I don’t think it’s a bankrupt project. But just to reiterate, it shouldn’t overreach itself; not only for pragmatic reasons, but also for populations’ opinion (though the way Rumbold describes the EU makes me want to hate them :) )

  48. douglas clark — on 14th February, 2008 at 8:21 pm  

    Katherine,

    Pretty obviously I’ve been fighting a thin red line against the forces of darkness – who may, or may not be, leader writers for the Telegraph – could you tell us what these folk said? Those folk that taught you?

    I happen to think they were right – all these Academics – that the EU stopped Europeans killing one another, but I am struggling here.

    What was their killer point? Boyond my knitting arguement? (See

    They did have a point, didn’t they?

    Incidentally, I know the France has the steel, Germany has the coal arguement. It has got to be lot sharper than that.

  49. Rumbold — on 14th February, 2008 at 9:01 pm  

    Desi:

    “Domestic matters are still the primary concern and I think that most of a state’s resources go to that, not the EU.”

    Good point- you are right to point out that the majority of a EU member’s revenue does not go to the EU. But it is the centralisation trend that worries me.

    “though the way Rumbold describes the EU makes me want to hate them ).”

    Yay- my post got through to at least one person.

    Katherine and Douglas:

    Just answer me one thing: were the countries who formed the original EU on the brink of war post-1945? If none of them were, then I think that you have your answer.

    Douglas:

    “An alternative scenario. Imagine that all the families of all the commentators on Pickled Politics had lived in the one place. Italy, perhaps, Verona, maybe? And that these families all hated each other and fought and raged and killed one another. It’s oemerta, in’tit?

    And then along comes some young chap with a beard, who publishes a new, like amazing message like ’stop killing each other!’”

    Are you referring to the man with the marble dome? If that happened, I would attribute it to the man. However, Western Europe stopped fighting before the EU came into being. It stopped fighting thanks to exhaustion and a de-fanged Germany.

    “Even to the extent of stopping making up little wax dolls of alleged Telegraph leader writers and sticking pins in it.

    And thinking, instead, that, given that he is just a young chap, I probably would let my daughter marry him.”

    Heh. I do not write for the Telegraph (I am a bit left-wing for them anyway). Is your daughter in need of a husband? Put her on Shaadi.com (and describe her complexion as ‘wheatish’).

    “I take your point that it is not, in fact, anywhere near as clear cut as my little morality tale was making it out to be, but anything that reduces European tensions has to be a good thing. And, I think the EU has actually made nation states a little bit boring. Which, I am arguing is a good thing if we don’t end up with world wars over stupid Archdukes or daft wee guys with moustaches. The Two World Wars cost this country it’s entire status, and frankly bankrupted it to boot. Both Wars started in Europe.”

    The continuing arrogance of the EU elite, combined with an increase in their powers, could well lead to an ultra-populist reaction, as people become more disconnected from the centre. Then it won’t be countries fighting one another, but civil war. I know that it sounds farfetched, but the popularity of far-right parties derives partly from this very feeling.

  50. Piggy — on 14th February, 2008 at 9:23 pm  

    Rumbold:

    “England is considered a state, yet would force be used if a county decided to become independent?”

    Well… whereas its entirely conceivable that the UK might leave the EU, its less probable that, say, Dorset might declare itself an independent state. Nonetheless, if an English county decided to reject the rule of central government in its territory then I would expect the government in the last instance to use military force to establish control, or it would have to accept that the county in question was not a part of the state.

    “I suspect that the EU will soon have a bonified army at its command.”

    I’m always a bit amazed at the extent to which people think national politicians are prepared to cede their power to the EU. Politicians are not especially well known for their habit of giving away power. If you look at what is actually done at the federal level in the EU, it tends to be the pissy little things that launch a thousand rabid Daily Mail editorials (e.g. the definition of biscuit, straight bananas and so on and on and on and on) or thing which individual European nation states couldn’t really do on their own (e.g. Trade negotiations). Important stuff which can still be done by nation states is still done by nation states. Real power in the EU still largely rests with the intergovernmental bodies rather than the supranational ones. There is no real reason to suppose this might change, particularly in relation to security policy.

    Whatever the aspirations of Commission bureaucrats, the chances of national governments allowing the creation of an entirely federal EU army under the control of either the commission or the parliament and beyond the influence of national governments are exceptionally slim. Should an EU armed force ever come into being, it will almost certainly be tightly controlled by an national governments, which means the EU won’t have a monopoly of legitimate violence over Europe any more than NATO has a monopoly of legitimate violence in the North Atlantic

  51. douglas clark — on 14th February, 2008 at 9:25 pm  

    Rumbold,

    Calm down there, take it easy, have a drink of Cocoa or something.

    You are the repesentative of the West Mercian Rural District Council’s Allotment Committee’s ‘Let’s split the Tea Committeee in two’ brigade.

    I’ve told you already, it is no frigging answer!

  52. douglas clark — on 14th February, 2008 at 9:33 pm  

    Piggy,

    I am amazed you have become so sensible. When did this happen?

  53. Piggy — on 14th February, 2008 at 10:17 pm  

    Nah, I’ve always been this sensible but you’d be amazed at how few people realise it.

    Actually I was going to throw a crazy one at Rumbold’s “ultra-populist reaction against the EU” nonsense, but after a few deep breaths and a cup of tea I am instead going to post this link:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/jan/26/uk.polls

    and calmly walk away.

  54. Kulvinder — on 14th February, 2008 at 10:26 pm  

    I think you’ve touched on a key problem with Europe generally; a big issue is that a lot of people (myself included) don’t fully understand how it works, the various tiers of power and how it objectively affects our lives.

    Essentially its about WWI and WWII.

    At the end of the second world war virtually every political philosopher in Europe and many many others in the rest of the world were trying to theorise why Europe was continually at conflict (it was the problem continent long before Africa). In the space of 30 years they’d seen two major wars that had sucked in the entire planet. Imagine a period between 1977 and 2008 that had seen the deaths of tens upon tens of millions of people of all nationalities and ethnicities the world over without anyone really knowing why.

    Everyone understood that this time it simply couldn’t be allowed to happen again so the ‘plan’ was to get some debates going that would sift out the root causes of all the fighting; institutions could then be built along some core philosophy (which is what the American founding fathers did) and we’d have integration and peace.

    Unfortunately they couldn’t come to any conclusions that everyone agreed upon and broadly split into two different philosophical groups each with their own theory of integration (yes they saw the irony):

    a)The cause of conflict was essentially linked to tyranny, a lack of accountable democracy and ignoring the rule of law.

    b)The cause of conflict was essentially linked to competing economic factors that in certain instances (steel and coal initially) led to mounting friction.

    Its important to realise these differences were across nations and not between them (ie every country had people who favoured both points of view).

    Basically the first lot (who Churchill agreed with) went on to form the institution they felt addressed the most important issues. This became the Council of Europe. It is there to protect democracy and the rule of law. It is there to prevent the tyranny of Hitler or Mussolini. It doesn’t depend on outside elections rather its organs are made up of the ministers of government or parliamentarians that have already been elected by its member states. The European Court of Human Rights its main judicial organ and is there to explicitly protect every individual in every member state in the Council of Europe.

    Meanwhile the second lot of people wanted to avoid the ‘commercial tension’ they thought contributed to Europe’s problems (mainly between Germany and France) so they separately set up the European Coal and Steel Community. They particularly saw those two areas as being friction points and wanted to create a common market, stability of employment, stable economic growth that avoided social tensions etc. It formed around a treaty (this will be important later on). Eventually as is the case with all economic endeavours other treaties were needed to either update or expand on this initial ‘coal and steel’ focus. So they formed a European Atomic Energy Community and a European Economic Community. Then they thought ‘hang on this is confusing’ so they made another treaty that merged the three into the European Community. When the Iron Curtain fell they decided to celebrate by making another treaty, called the Maastricht Treaty which added other bits and streamlined the bits that already existed, and THIS is when the European Union was formed.

    The EU was only formed in 1993.

    The important thing to remember is the rationale for the original ECSC still fundamentally underpins the EU. It is there to stabilise and encourage the economies of all its member states, and it feels that doing so prevents war. Every nation pays into a pot and the poorer nations in Europe are helped out.

    Britain didn’t join the ECSC it believed in the Council Of Europe and was a founding member of that but not the ECSC. Eventually though money talks and we saw the benefit of open markets and free trade so we barged our way in in 1973, the French were nervous about this, and they had every reason to be. We’ve been bastards since the day we joined. See we’re not there because we believe this philosophy of integration is the method to solve Europe’s problems; we’re there because of the open markets. We ignore virtually every important development and thump anyone that threatens the open market. We don’t believe economic integration (remember its the core) is to our benefit so we don’t join the Euro. We don’t believe that open borders are our thing so we didn’t sign up to Schengen.

    All we want are the open markets.

    Understandably this pisses more than a few people off. After all the underlying premise of this school of integration was inclusive of all aspects of economic growth. Yet we ignore things like a common currency. For what its worth though I think its hilarious.

    The European Parliament is the widely known directly elected parliamentary body of the EU but you can almost completely ignore it. It has no legislative initiative – that’s why it does nothing. The European Commission which does have legislative initiative is made up of people nominated by their member states (this is what Peter Mandelson does in Europe – he’s a commissioner). The EU parliament is full of crackpot lunatics from every corner of the continent. Failed politicians and rabid morons are all it attracts. There’s no point in listening to anyone from UKIP because they aren’t going to be ABLE to do anything as an MEP even if you vote for them. All MEPs do is talk but nobody listens because they don’t matter. They can’t make laws.

    Anyway after spending 50 years forming treaty after treaty after treaty the EU decided to write everything up in a constitution. And this is the main focus of the very controversial European Constitution – to tidy everything up. Whether that makes it more difficult to leave certain treaties or not is another debate.

    The confusion between the Council of Europe and the European Union arises mainly because the artards keep using the following words for everything;

    Europe
    Council
    Commission

    So you have the Council of Europe, the Council of the European Union, European Council, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, European parliament, European Commision, Congress of the Council of Europe etc. They then compound the problem by using the same symbolism for everything – the blue flag with yellow stars was originally associated with the Council of Europe, but the the European Union (when it was the Community) also adopted it.

    So you have a wide range of things that look the same, and sound the same but act very differently.

    Contrast and compare this approach to integration (in the widest use of the word) with what the Americans did. As much as I criticise them I cannot deny some of the greatest statesmen that ever lived formed a coherent argument as to why independence was needed and how all the problems they were encountering could be dealt with via institutions whose functions were thought out before hand. They formed a stable union.

    What Europe has is a Confederation where the judicial aspects of its integration are essentially separate to the entity that’s creating what amounts to its Civil laws. Not only that its directly elected parliament is utterly pointless and the entire thing is run on a day to day basis by 27 people in a commission most of whom we’ve never heard of.

    At the moment the EU takes note of what the CoE does – especially what the ECHR does but they’re still separate entities (even though being a member of the latter is a requirement of joining the former). That’s best illustrated by the fact that there are many members of the Council of Europe that are not members of the EU. If you take the example of Turkey theres a lot of controversy about them joining the EU even though they’re already members of the CoE. Turkish judges have been adjudicating on matters that concern us for years without any problem but we’re reluctant to let them join an entity which concerns trade.

    On the other hand Russia fights with the EU all the time but its part of the CoE – in fact a significant rationale for them not using the death penalty is because of the CoE.

    My point is to highlight the issue of ‘who is European’ isn’t as clear cut as people think.

    Personally what I want is open trade and the ECHR but all other aspects of sovereignty kept to the UK. So heres the plan we form a new third way. The Commission for the Counselling of Europe. Essentially everyone will sit around a big table and talk about our problems. The flag will be blue stars on a yellow background.

  55. Kulvinder — on 14th February, 2008 at 10:28 pm  

    Just answer me one thing: were the countries who formed the original EU on the brink of war post-1945? If none of them were, then I think that you have your answer.

    None of the countries that fought at the end of the first world war were on the brink of war post 1918 either.

  56. Desi Italiana — on 15th February, 2008 at 5:12 am  

    Rumbold:

    “you are right to point out that the majority of a EU member’s revenue does not go to the EU.”

    Yes, so maybe we should take a step back– we are overreacting a bit, no?

    “Yay- my post got through to at least one person.”

    Well, the EU can be seen as another empire, esp. with the EU elites. Or, it can be seen as NAFTA, SAFTA, etc, which are kind of like economic empires too.

    B’shalom.

  57. Desi Italiana — on 15th February, 2008 at 5:14 am  

    “Yes, so maybe we should take a step back– we are overreacting a bit, no?”

    Meaning, we are overreacting about the EU taking over all of Western and Eastern Europe, and quite possibly the Middle East (with the Palestinians as stateless people, but somehow a “part” of the EU).

  58. Desi Italiana — on 15th February, 2008 at 7:05 am  

    Douglas:

    “That’s just because you like to see me fail…I still blooming need it though. Folk like Desi will know I’m an idiot, rather than just suspecting it…”

    You’re not an idiot, just emotional. We are all emotional, though– just look at my comments over at the Punjabi thread. Having more than a few drinks helps get the emotions going where things are generally rough, and PP is hardcore :)

  59. douglas clark — on 15th February, 2008 at 10:15 am  

    Rumbold,

    Not quite sure who ‘the man with the marble dome’ is. The Pope perhaps? Or this?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhode_Island_State_House

    No, that don’t work.

    My comment was just a cheap reference to Romeo and Juliet. Or West Side Story or something.

    I am going to get killed for this.

    Heh. I do not write for the Telegraph (I am a bit left-wing for them anyway). Is your daughter in need of a husband? Put her on Shaadi.com (and describe her complexion as ‘wheatish’).

    No, she’s sorted for the moment, so I was just jesting with you. But, as she’s actually ginger, would that be a good thing or a bad thing on Shaadi.com? Better or worse than ‘wheatish’?

    The continuing arrogance of the EU elite, combined with an increase in their powers, could well lead to an ultra-populist reaction, as people become more disconnected from the centre. Then it won’t be countries fighting one another, but civil war. I know that it sounds farfetched, but the popularity of far-right parties derives partly from this very feeling.

    How about substituting the words ‘Westminster elite’ in place of ‘EU elite’? Exactly the same arguement would stand. As it would indeed for those bastards who oppose us on the tea committee.

    Again, pooled sovereignty is not weakened sovereignty.

  60. douglas clark — on 15th February, 2008 at 10:16 am  

    Preview was good, so it was.

  61. soru — on 15th February, 2008 at 11:25 am  

    Kulvinder: excellent post.

    My guess as to why there hasn’t been a major war in Europe for 60 years is that it’s due to neither solely the EU, or solely NATO, but the separation of concerns between them.

    You get a war when the military, economic and popular reasons all line up:

    1. economic: some theory says ‘kill them and take their stuff’ might just work this time.

    2. military: there is a plausible worry ‘they’ might attack first, or otherwise change the balance of power.

    3. popular: people believe that, want it to happen, and/or fear it being done to them, so support a leader with a plan…

    I don’t think you ever get a mass-participation war without all three.

    In Europe:

    NATO is the unit of major war-fighting, deterrence, military balance.

    EU is the unit of economics, trade,

    nations are the units of popular nationalism, democracy, politics

    As long as it stays that way, there won’t be a major war. Turn the EU into the US, line up the three factors so they can all point in the same direction at the same time, all bets are off.

  62. douglas clark — on 15th February, 2008 at 11:41 am  

    Kulvinder,

    Agree with Soru, an excellent post indeed.

    Soru, I think you are very very good at expressing complex ideas succinctly.

  63. Rumbold — on 15th February, 2008 at 8:27 pm  

    Piggy:

    “I’m always a bit amazed at the extent to which people think national politicians are prepared to cede their power to the EU. Politicians are not especially well known for their habit of giving away power.”

    The fac that politicians are normally reluctant to give up their power makes it all the stranger that they happily force EU treaties/constitutions through Parliament.

    “If you look at what is actually done at the federal level in the EU, it tends to be the pissy little things that launch a thousand rabid Daily Mail editorials (e.g. the definition of biscuit, straight bananas and so on and on and on and on) or thing which individual European nation states couldn’t really do on their own (e.g. Trade negotiations).”

    The sort of powers the EU has is not confined to small things. It is the small things that tend to make the headlines, because they are good stories, but EU powers like the ability to pursue criminals across borders can hardly be described as inconsequental. As for trade negotiations, why can’t they be handled by individual countries?

    “Actually I was going to throw a crazy one at Rumbold’s “ultra-populist reaction against the EU” nonsense, but after a few deep breaths and a cup of tea I am instead going to post this link.”

    I wasn’t so worried about Britain, as I was about continental Europe. Look at the popularity of the far-right there. Britons aren’t the sort who like revolting. We just tend to throw a few stones at the prime minister’s house (the Duke of Wellington, who had to install iron shutters in his house, hence his nickname, ‘The Iron Duke’).

  64. Rumbold — on 15th February, 2008 at 8:46 pm  

    Kulvinder:

    Your post is spot on in its history, apart from the absence of populism in your arguments. What we see today, when the EU disregards the people if they get the ‘wrong’ answer, is a legacy of WWII, and the (largely mistaken) belief that it was democracy, i.e. the mob, that brought the likes of Hitler to power. This being their viewpoint, the EU elites were bound to govern with the mindset that they knew better than the people, for look what the people had done in the 1930s.

    As for the forming of the EU, I knew that it had gone through various names, but kept using the EU for the sake of consistency. Apologies for not mentioning it.

    “Anyway after spending 50 years forming treaty after treaty after treaty the EU decided to write everything up in a constitution. And this is the main focus of the very controversial European Constitution – to tidy everything up. Whether that makes it more difficult to leave certain treaties or not is another debate.”

    It is more than a tidying up exercise though. There is a consolidation and strengthening of powers, are well as new roles like that of EU president.

    “None of the countries that fought at the end of the first world war were on the brink of war post 1918 either.”

    The situation was different though. Post-WWI, it was clear to many that the Treay of Versailles was a terrible idea, and was only that way because France was sore that Germany had beaten them once again. There was massive potential for conflict. Post-WWII, there was not the same tensions (the focus now having shifted to the USSR).

    Desi:

    “Yes, so maybe we should take a step back– we are overreacting a bit, no?”

    Perhaps my argument should have been that the EU was increasingly beginning to look like a state, rather than it having become a fully-fledged one.

    Douglas:

    The marble dome was an obscure reference to Stargate SG-1 (I was thinking that you meant Sunny original). Does ye wee lass have a ginger complexion, or is that just her hair? She probably would still be described as ‘wheatish’.

    “How about substituting the words ‘Westminster elite’ in place of ‘EU elite’? Exactly the same arguement would stand. As it would indeed for those bastards who oppose us on the tea committee.

    Again, pooled sovereignty is not weakened sovereignty.”

    Pooled sovereignty is weakened sovereignty, by definition. It may be that pooled sovereignty is best for some countries some time, but it still weakens their own sovereignty (as opposed to their power, which may actually increase).

    Soru:

    I don’t agree that your three points are needed to start wars (as they can be started over almost anything), but I do think that you are right to say that it has been a number of factors which have kept peace in check in Western Europe post-WWII.

  65. Piggy — on 15th February, 2008 at 11:59 pm  

    “The sort of powers the EU has is not confined to small things. It is the small things that tend to make the headlines, because they are good stories, but EU powers like the ability to pursue criminals across borders can hardly be described as inconsequential.”

    No, that would probably come under the ‘things nation states can’t do by themselves’ in that when crime is international, the response to crime needs to be international. And while we’re on the subject, lets be a bit clearer what’s on the table here, as far as I can tell the COSI proposals (and they are still only proposals) involve greater co-operation between national police forces, including sharing of data and , on occasions, allowing foreign police to pursue suspects on our soil. Whether or not this constitutes a good idea, it is evidently not the same as the creation of a federal European police force with powers to operate throughout the EU. It should also be noted that neither Europol or the EGF represent anything along the lines of a federal EU police force. I’m not sure that the EGF is really anything to do with the EU at all.

    In fact if you strip away the Telegraph’s rather silly ‘OMGZ THE EU IZ FASHIST DICTATERSHIP!!!!!’ spin and look at what has actually happened in terms of security policy and what is actually being proposed,

    “As for trade negotiations, why can’t they be handled by individual countries?”

    Well rather obviously because individual European nation states have bugger all leverage on their own and would have even less if they went into negotiations in direct competition with one another. When it comes to global trade negotiations (and perhaps international politics more generally) the UK has three options 1) Be part of a European bloc 2) Buddy up with a proper big power (probably the US) 3) Become a total irrelevance. I’m not sure anyone disputes this (well… maybe UKIP), as I recall a few years ago a senior tory nutcase suggested the UK should join NAFTA and form a bloc with the US. I’m not really certain a drastically unequal relationship with the US would give much more a say than as part of the EU and I doubt whether the US post-Bush would be especially up for it either.

    “I wasn’t so worried about Britain, as I was about continental Europe. Look at the popularity of the far-right there.”

    While I appreciate your englishman’s eye view of Europe being basically all the same, could you be a bit more specific? I suppose you could be talking about Le Pen getting to the second round 5 years ago, but to claim that that represents a surge in right-wing support would be to ignore the fact that he eventually got thumped by the not particularly popular Chirac and that the NF’s showing in 2007 was dismal. Furthermore such support that they do have appears to me to be largely anti-immigrant rather than anti-EU. I’d have said this is also probably true of nationalist parties in other ‘old’ Europe states, particularly Holland and Germany. As for ‘new’ Europe, the Romanian nationalists that I’m aware of are considerably more worked up about Hungarians and Russians than the EU. Indeed, as far as I can tell the general mainstream feeling is that when you have Putin’s Russia sitting just to your east, the EU looks like a rather good idea. Then there’s Serbia, where the promise of EU membership is a major reason why they just elected a moderate rather than a violently nationalist president. So, seriously, where is this anti-EU popular uprising taking place?

  66. Piggy — on 16th February, 2008 at 12:04 am  

    It would obviously help my argument if I finished my sentences. The paragraph in the middle should have read a bit more like:

    “In fact if you strip away the Telegraph’s rather silly ‘OMGZ THE EU IZ FASHIST DICTATERSHIP!!!!!’ spin and look at what has actually happened in terms of security policy and what is actually being proposed, you’ll see that to claim the EU has (or is even close to having) a monopoly on legitimate violence in Europe really is rather absurd.”

  67. douglas clark — on 16th February, 2008 at 12:18 am  

    Rumbold,

    You are an ace writer on here. I quite liked you when all you did was comment, but frankly, you have moved up a gear or two.

    So, expect the worst, for that is what you are about to get.

    I said: (and I’m giving up on all that HTML stuff until you tell the ruling classes that it is a complete disgrace that Preview has disappeared)

    Whew!

    Anyway.

    What I actually said, and what you quoted in full, was this:

    “How about substituting the words ‘Westminster elite’ in place of ‘EU elite’? Exactly the same arguement would stand. As it would indeed for those bastards who oppose us on the tea committee.

    Again, pooled sovereignty is not weakened sovereignty.”

    To which you responded:

    “Pooled sovereignty is weakened sovereignty, by definition. It may be that pooled sovereignty is best for some countries some time, but it still weakens their own sovereignty (as opposed to their power, which may actually increase).”

    In what way is pooled sovereignty weakened sovereignty? What evidence do you have to suggest that that is the case? I’d have thought that the exact opposite was probably the case. Viz a viz the fact that the country you live in operates on the basis of pooled sovereignty. He might have been your James the First, he was oor Jamie the sixth!

  68. Kulvinder — on 16th February, 2008 at 3:33 am  

    and the (largely mistaken) belief that it was democracy, i.e. the mob, that brought the likes of Hitler to power

    Democracy did bring Hitler to power?!

    It is more than a tidying up exercise though. There is a consolidation and strengthening of powers, are well as new roles like that of EU president.

    This depends on what you mean by ‘consolidation and strengthening’ whilst new positions would have been created their practical usefulness was almost non existant. Maastricht was far more revolutionary in what it actually created than the constitution, but the EU parliment is a neutered asylum that doesn’t do much.

    It also has to be pointed out principles like conferral and subsidiarity would have been explicitly written into the constitution. It was hardly a declaration of a new super state.

    I would not support the idea of becoming part of a European state where Westminster is abolished, but neither do i see any merit in raging against shadows. I am a sceptic of the grandiose European dreams, but i very much hold myself apart from ‘eurosceptics’ – whom i feel have become little more than conspiracy theorists.

    I’m not disagreeing with your fears about what Europe could become; rather im disagreeing whether things like the consitution are bringing those fears to reality.

  69. halima — on 16th February, 2008 at 11:08 am  

    EU isn’t a state. (At risk of repitition) I’ve yet to come across a better definition of statehood than Weber’s monolopoly of the legitimate use of violence. The EU doesn’t satisfy this criteria. We have the British army, police etc. No government will hand those institutions over to the EU.

  70. soru — on 16th February, 2008 at 1:09 pm  

    On the other hand, there is that word ‘legitimate’.

    Quite a lot of people use the phrase ‘illegal war’ with respect to Iraq, but not Kosovo or Afghanistan. China and Russia say no: whatever. France and Germany say the same, that’s not right.

    Presumably, those people are reserving the right to use _legitimate_ force to some kind of Europe-wide consensus. They just haven’t established the institutions that could write that intuition down as a rule.

  71. halima — on 17th February, 2008 at 9:44 am  

    True, they might in principle be reserving the right to use legitimate force one day – but then would the EU have monopoly on violence? I cannot see any nation-state, anywhere in the world, let alone, Europe, relinquishing that right. Legitimacy and monopoly need to go hand in hand for the EU to be considered a ‘state’.

    Interesting, though that Weber used ‘legitimate’ and not ‘legal’ and here lies the rub maybe – it’s not just about what is legally possible or not, but where there is moral case/force behind action, and that’s why the emphasis in on ‘legitimate’.

    With regards to which war is illegal or not, is subject to which international laws we break , but in addition to that we could ask whether a war illegal but legitimate, and that takes us into the dark and murky field of morals. Good jobs we know what’s legal or isn’t, because morals and ethnics, are relative.

    Interesting, also that say, Banda Ache’s case for seperation is not treated as a legitimate case, and perhaps won’t be supported by the international community, but Kosovo’s might be seen as legitimate – both might have just claims for autotomy but depends on internatinal backing whether we deem it legitimate.

    So even a case for state autonomy, and seperate isn’t just about legality – but legitimacy – and legitimacy ultimately boils down to who morally upholds those claims. Hence Kosovo might be successful in declaring independence as state, but say, Banda Ache, and Taiwan might not be.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2010. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
With the help of PHP and Wordpress.