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It was Vladimir Bukovsky, a well-known Soviet dissident, who, having lived several years in the West, said these words about the European Union.Did he exaggerate or did he hit the nail on the head? Well, let us see1)Vladimir Bukovsky: EU = USSR, YouTube 2011-12-20..
An analogy is what it is: it is an analogy, not a mirror reflection. If history repeats itself, it repeats itself as a farce. Napoleon III had all the imperial trappings of Napoleon I and was but an echo of his predecessor. And: for those who are observant enough no proof is necessary; for those who cling to their dream-world no proof is possible. With this in mind let us draw a comparison between the European and the Soviet Union.
An amiable mood has held sway over years in the European family. The Western countries went to great lengths to teach their eastern counterparts what capitalism and democracy were all about, and the East European nations obediently let themselves be dictated to. Western Europe would provide the finances for the development of Eastern Europe, and the latter would comply with the imposed precepts. The European unity flourished and no one expected the children to ever voice their political opinion. Recently, however, this idyll has been somewhat marred.
At first it turned out that one relative (Greece) could not stand on its own, next another relative (Great Britain) filed for divorce. Such news has an impact on each family. A comfortable and supportive home threatens to disintegrate and the children are getting the impression that their parents are by no means infallible and that they do not seem to have everything under control, and, to top it all, that the parents are losing their head.
It was 77 years ago today that the Second World War began. Early in the morning on September 1st German troops violated the country’s territorial integrity along all of the shared borderline and later that same day Chancellor Adolf Hitler delivered a speech in the Reichstag some of whose words went down in history: Polen hat heute Nacht zum ersten Mal auf unserem eigenen Territorium auch mit bereits regulären Soldaten geschossen. Seit 5:45 Uhr wird jetzt zurückgeschossen!
Apple’s $14 billion EU tax fine, and the suspension of the TTIP negotiations cannot come as a surprise; they are a clear retaliation for the totally unjustified penalties the US authorities imposed on European banks during the period between 2009 and 2014.
These fines were based on a change in U.S. regulations made in the second half of the 2010’s, i.e. that all operations done in dollars need to conform to American regulations. As the Dollar happens to be the world’s reserve currency, the US unilaterally expanded its jurisdiction on all other nations. The U.S. has the power to subjugate their partners to their authority and hand over some of their sovereignty to the ruling elites in Washington. BNP Paribas was forced to pay $8.9 billion to Washington regulators. The extraordinary high penalty on the French bank was for all intents and purposes a humiliation of France.
Since Turkey has become a hostile country to Europe, Turkish citizens in Germany, Belgium and in the Netherlands as well as Germans, Belgians and the Dutch of Turkish descent may be used by the relentless President Recep Tayyip Erdoğanagainst European governments and states. The Turkish diaspora in Germany alone makes up three million people and most of them support the presidential AKP party. The political clout of Turks living in Europe could be seen in Cologne, where 40 or even 50 thousand Erdoğan’s supporters gathered, waving Turkish flags. It was the Turkish President’s test or show of force, whose message to Angela Merkel was: “Watch out what you are doing, because refugees are not my only weapon”.
The scenario seems to be like this: President Erdoğan lets loose immigrants wave after wave; the European Union negotiates with him in a bid to have him stop the immigrants flood and contain them on Turkish soil; President Erdoğan demands that Turks be allowed to enter the EU without a visa and that Turkey be admitted to the Union as soon as possible; Brussels-slash-Berlin apparently agrees though the idea of having Turkey as a member state without it conforming its laws to European standards is not palatable; so the German Bundestag comes up with the idea of slapping Ankara in the face by passing a resolution that recognizes and thus brings to the world’s attention the annihilation of Armenians that took place a hundred years back as an act of genocide. In response to or in retaliation for which Ankara recalls its ambassador from Berlin1)Scharfer Protest der Türkei gegen Völkermord-Resolution des Bundestags, Die Welt 2016-06-02., blocks a visit of German politicians to 250 German soldiers stationed at İncirlik Air Base2)Turkey says visit by German politicians to İncirlik base ‘not appropriate’, HurriyetDaily 2016-06-23., and threatens with the worsening of the bilateral relationship.3)Bundestag verurteilt Völkermord der Türkei an den Armeniern, Berlin Journal 2016-06-02. And to top it all, a Turkish party is to be formed in Germany.4)Entfremdung: Türken in Deutschland wollen eigene Partei gründen, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten 2016-06-17.
As we predicted, Cameron resigns after the British have cast “a leave vote” but Germany’s Chancellor Merkel is to blame for the disastrous result of the referendum.
Last year she mishandled three problems:
In 2015, under Angela Merkel’s leadership, the problems in Greece span out of control and Yanis Varoufakis, the finance minister of Greece, was able to jeopardize the whole euro project1)Greece talks of compromise as Merkel warns time is short Source Reuters 2015-06-08;
When in 2015 millions of refugees were heading for Europe, it was Angela Merkel that single-handedly, without consulting her political counterparts in Warsaw, London or Rome, decided how Europe had to deal with it 2)Refugee quotas ‘unacceptable’ for Visegrad states Source EUobserver 2015-09-04;
Chancellor Merkel held talks with Erdoğan: Turkey was being considered as a member-state of the European Union, which lacked any support in Europe whatsoever 3)Turkey joining the EU is ‘unthinkable’, Nicolas Sarkozy tells Angela Merkel Source Source Independent 2016-06-21.
No wonder the British voters came to doubt the democratic legitimacy of Brussels as they saw Berlin mishandle the European project.
Two weeks before the UEFA EURO 2016 starts in Saint-Denis near Paris the situation in France is deteriorating rapidly now that the country is also running out of petrol due to labor unrest. The French police are overwhelmed due to the state of emergency after the two terrorist attacks in Paris last year. Since then there have been large-scale civil upheavals and riots due to labor law reforms and chaos as a result of immigration problems near Calais.
France is known for its radical labor protests and it is not the first time the country experienced a petrol shortage due to blockades. But this time it is different because there is now discontent at all levels of French society. Francois Hollande has an approving rating of 17 %, which is the lowest ever for a president of the Fifth Republic1)Francois Hollande scores lowest poll for a French president Source EuroNews.
The European Union does Germany a lot of good. To say that the country would develop better or worse without the common currency would be risky.However, the fact is that Germany is doing much better than other EU-members and the Eurozone has never been so dominated by one country. Germany has been growing faster at the regional as well as at the national level and has been gaining its relevance at others’ expense. Accusations of German supremacy may well be grounded, but then the question is who is to blame? Those who are able to improve or those who are lagging behind?
Currently, less than half of the EU’s gas demand is met by domestic production. The rest is imported, mainly from Norway (36%), Russia (41%) and Algeria (10%). In recent years, LNG, or liquefied natural gas, has accounted for around 10% of the imports, with most of them coming from Qatar, Algeria, and Nigeria.
The 1992 Treaty of Maastricht came two years after the unification of Germany and laid the groundwork for the 2002 introduction of the euro. The French elite was afraid for the resurgence of a new German powerhouse. To eliminate the dominant Deutschmark, they wanted to extend the use of the German currency to the whole European Common market and have it renamed to the euro. In 1992, Le Figaro wrote that the “Maastricht is the Treaty of Versailles without war”.1)France, Germany and the European Union: Maastricht and After 2003 Author:Aparajita Endow A French observer noticed, “Maastricht is only a calculated move against the predominance of the Bundesbank and against an independent German currency.”2)France, Germany and the European Union: Maastricht and After 2003 Author:Aparajita Endow
Demographic trends that are taking place are having an adverse effect on pension systems. Some experts are painting a black picture: pension systems will collapse. Others, especially those in the pay of the governments, assure us of their stability. We had better ask whether the economies of the countries concerned will support their pension systems because the ageing societies certainly will not.
Pension systems are not only about elderly people. They are constructed on the basis of a contract between generations or, to put it otherwise, on the concept of social solidarity: people who are currently economically active provide in the form of pensions for those who are not. That’s the first, the main pillar of the pension system, often referred to as the pay-as-you-go pension plan.