Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The failure of EU´s supranationalism could trigger the rebirth of a succesful Europe!

Dr. Oliver Hartwich has again written a very readable analysis of the European malaise:

It is plain to see how Europe’s ’union’ is falling apart in front of our eyes. And the EU only has itself to blame for this development.
Why is it that European countries are increasingly returning to nation-state thinking? It is obviously because they no longer trust the EU to make a positive contribution to their problems.
Over the past decades, Brussels has become synonymous with a distant bureaucracy that, despite its far-reaching competencies, is failing to find answers to Europe’s most pressing challenges. The EU has not made convincing progress on fighting the economic and monetary crisis. It is not showing a pathway out of the refugee and migration crisis. It has no attractive vision of where it wants to take the continent.
Out of this frustration comes the widespread desire to seek refuge in national solutions. In doing so, Europe may not be returning to a situation where war between neighbouring countries become a possibility. That, at least, seems something that Europe has fortunately left behind. But the peaceful spirit of co-operation certainly does not exist anymore either.
For the EU to survive this crisis of trust, there is only one option. It needs to respect the growing dissatisfaction with its institutions and stop its integration agenda. It may even be forced to turn back the clock and return some powers to its member states, such as the right to discriminate against other EU citizens when it comes to eligibility for benefits.
But such a strategic withdrawal might be a price worth paying for protecting some other features of European integration that are worth keeping.
Instead, what the EU is doing seems the complete opposite. Instead of a strategic withdrawal, European elites still want to push integration even further. They are unwilling to concede that such increased integration is responsible for precisely the backlash the EU is experiencing at the moment.
As ironic as it seems, it is the EU’s overreach that could turn out to be its own undoing.
And it could be the failure of the EU’s supranationalism that will trigger a widespread return of the nation-state.
My commentary:
Dr. Hartwich is right in his analysis about the failure of the EU, but he does not quite seem to realize that a return of the nation-state is not a bad thing - on the contrary! Unification, supranationalism and "empire" are the root causes of the problem, and the less of these there are, the better! And if the present nation-states are divided into even smaller units (an independent Scotland, Catalonia, Bavaria etc.) we will have a better Europe!

Monday, 28 December 2015

The European Union has a serious corruption problem

The European Union is not the kind of clean and uncorrupted place that many people in Europe think:

The EU likes to portray itself as a good and modern place to do business, despite the hiccups of the euro crisis and other distractions. Between this self-image and reality nevertheless lies a gap, and nowhere is this more evident than in spread of corruption around the continent. ---

If almost three quarters of businesses report widespread corruption, then surely this must be a serious issue, even though it is not one that receives much coverage. What is even more striking are the large differences in perceptions of corruption across Europe.
In Italy, 98 per cent of respondents reported widespread corruption, but only 11 per cent of Danish companies did. Italy and Denmark are the two extreme points in this survey around which other countries cluster.

The most corrupt places are in Italy’s loose geographic proximity. Spain (93 per cent), Greece (96 per cent), Romania (95 per cent) and Bulgaria (91 per cent) are all Southern European countries. Meanwhile, the least corrupt places such as Sweden (43 per cent), Finland (31 per cent), Britain (41 per cent) and maybe even Germany (though at 51 per cent perceived corruption) are all in central and northern Europe. ---

It is worth pointing out that corruption does not always mean bribes and kickbacks. In fact, these were ranked relatively low as the most common occurrences of corruption. Far more prevalent are favouring friends and family members in business, tax fraud and funding political parties in exchange for influence of public contracts.
Perhaps least surprising in the Eurobarometer results is the sector-by-sector analysis. By far the sector most affected by corruption is construction and building, in which 49 per cent of respondents across the EU said corruption was a problem for doing business. This was followed by engineering, electronics and motor vehicles (39 per cent) and financial services, banking and investment (35 per cent).
Another result of the survey which should be embarrassing for the EU is the anticipation of criminal sanctions. Almost two thirds of companies (62 per cent) stated that they would find it unlikely that corrupt people or businesses would be imprisoned or heavily fined. In fact, only 41 per cent believe that such people or businesses would even get caught.
The picture that emerges from this latest Eurobarometer survey is an unsettling one. It shows how the rule of law and clean business practices are not nearly as strong in Europe as one might have expected. After all, most EU member states are mature, developed economies with reasonably functional legal systems. We would instinctively expect them to score much better in corruption surveys.
Yet only in a handful of these countries does corruption seem to be under control (and practically all of them are Scandinavian).

Here you can read the entire article.