The EU is an unfair, exclusive political system and Brexit is worth considering: Outsider thoughts
I ran out of RAM researching this topic about the moment that I found the EU has *four* presidents. President of the European Council (since 1 December 2014, Donald Tusk), President of the European Commission (since 1 November 2014, Jean-Claude Juncker), President of the European Parliament (since 1 July 2014, Martin Schulz), Presidency of the Council of the European Union (since 1 January 2016, The Netherlands). I don't have time to plug in the links but I want to share this incomplete piece anyway.
The vibes around the Brexit situation are pretty toxic. But they are not in isolation. How many months ago was Scotland was basically polling to leave and fell a ways short, then the Scottish National Party swept out Labor, against Tory austerity, across the whole area. They've avoided total disaster but young people are fed up, and in London spend most of their money on rent. The National Health Service and other public services get gobbled up by SERCO, G4S and other all-encompassing contractor giants.
Beyond Pax Britannia, Italy has a major proposal that would reorganize its strange national system, and the Five Star comedian / right populist movement just got Rome. Its banking system is also said to be weak - who knew? Catalonia has been locked in a long conflict with its central government. France has been in a labor-driven social insurrection for what, a month now? France is like ~60% negative on the EU compared to Britain's ~50% according to one poll I saw.
10+% employment across the EU (which surely includes all precariat and bit work as a Job as the US does) with much higher youth unemployment is perpetual and structural and is a direct consequence of the EU's rigidity and sluggish, isolated decision cycle structure.
How many "remain" proponents have chosen to focus on how the EU makes legislation and budgets, the central functions of government? This next bit is kind of amazing - brace yourselves:
There are four legislative procedures through which Community acts can be adopted. Each begins with a proposal from the Commission, which the Commission may withdraw at any point before the legislation is finally adopted. Although the Commission has a monopoly in initiating legislation, the Council, European Parliament and Member States can suggest to the Commission that it table a proposal. This procedure is referred to in French as "l'initiative de l'initiative", which can be described as initiating the initiation of legislation. The Commission is not obliged to act on this request and remains the sole institution capable of proposing Community acts.
The four procedures ensure that the European Parliament is involved in the Community decision-making process to a greater or lesser extent.
Yes this is how it actually works, via http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=URISERV%3Al10119
And of course it is only available in a few languages. Great customer service here.
If this was how the US worked -- admittedly it's close, but it's like if ALEC and party apparatchiks had all the power of the US House, staffed entirely by the friends of Beltway regulars -- you can see how whole regions might switch over to seething, reactionary parochialism, with a far bigger violent fringe than we have in America today.
The European Commission, not the European Parliament, is the body that originates legislation. This is hugely important. It is designed to work like a ratchet. This has caused British conspiracy wags to claim that the EU was designed as the Soviet Politburo's German-powered counterpart, with an untouchable core deep state set to control everything for its nefarious purposes. The conspirators then of course trolled everyone by parking the rump parliament in a building obviously modeled on the Tower of Babel.
In the US, only the House of Representatives can originate budget legislation. The finance committees are controlled by legislators directly elected every 2 years. That is a pretty short line and a close circle. It isn't totally lost behind vague, appointed extra parties.
In the US, any time at a state legislature will illustrate that legislators' churning proposals are part of something like the opposite of this ratcheting, technocratic system. A lot of conservatives, and progressives, go after different kinds of entrenched things. Federal and state governments keep thickening but there are a lot of cross currents the EU doesn't have. There is no oxygen in the EU system for the spirit of criticism and willingness to knock down really bad rent seeking behavior.
In the US the usual suspects may usually win, but at least they can be confronted and big things can hit the next election, with more legislative turnover. This affects the tone from one session to the next, and through this muddled process, a somewhat larger group of people in the whole polity actually get some kind of representation.
The EU poses as if it provides huge representation to all these member peoples, but if their direct representatives are stripped of major traditional powers–originating legislation and budgeting–how can there be outcomes that reflect a wide range of different peoples' interests?
Making matters worse, a lot of European affairs are still controlled by bloodline aristocrats. Does the EU help social mobility or entrench top classes? Juncker is kind of a standard sort, and has ticked off a lot of people lately, he is one of the four presidents of the EU.
For Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg, the threat of immediate market turbulence means the usual norms of transparency don’t apply.
“When it becomes serious, you have to lie,” Juncker, who as the chairman of the regular meetings of eurozone finance ministers is one of the currency union’s key spokesmen, said in recent remarks. (source)
In January 2015, the radical left party Syriza was elected, with its leader Alexis Tsipras declaring “Greece is leaving behind destructive austerity.” Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, baldly responded that “To suggest that everything is going to change because there's a new government in Athens is to mistake dreams for reality… There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.”
The economic warfare unleashed on Greece by the Troika has seen living standards slashed, services privatised and workers' rights dismantled as part of what the Jubilee Debt Campaign has called “The Never-Ending Austerity Story”.
Wait who is in charge?
Gonna go wiki on this one.
The Commission was set up from the start to act as an independent supranational authority separate from governments; it has been described as "the only body paid to think European". The members are proposed by their member state governments, one from each. However, they are bound to act independently – neutral from other influences such as those governments which appointed them. This is in contrast to the Council, which represents governments, the Parliament, which represents citizens, the Economic and Social Committee, which represents organised civil society, and the Committee of the Regions, which represents local and regional authorities.
Through Article 17 of the Treaty on European Union the Commission has several responsibilities: to develop medium-term strategies; to draft legislation and arbitrate in the legislative process; to represent the EU in trade negotiations; to make rules and regulations, for example in competition policy; to draw up the budget of the European Union; and to scrutinise the implementation of the treaties and legislation. The rules of procedure of the European Commission set out the Commission's operation and organisation.
.......The Commission differs from the other institutions in that it alone has legislative initiative in the EU. Only the Commission can make formal proposals for legislation: they cannot originate in the legislative branches. Under the Treaty of Lisbon, no legislative act is allowed in the field of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. In the other fields the Council and Parliament are able to request legislation; in most cases the Commission initiates the basis of these proposals. This monopoly is designed to ensure coordinated and coherent drafting of EU law. This monopoly has been challenged by some who claim the Parliament should also have the right, with most national parliaments holding the right in some respects. However, the Council and Parliament may request the Commission to draft legislation, though the Commission does have the power to refuse to do so as it did in 2008 over transnational collective conventions. Under the Lisbon Treaty, EU citizens are also able to request the Commission to legislate in an area via a petition carrying one million signatures, but this is not binding.
The European Parliament, the thing with members people actually regularly vote on, can't write its own legislation.
What? Its finance committees, policy committees etc are a kind of perfunctory window dressing. They get issued stuff to go up/down from the European Commission. It is like Fast Track as an entire system of government, and not surprisingly the overall thing resembles these terrible secretive TTP and TTIP deals.
They are as far outside the flow of power as the US Senate is when the president is making his appointee picks. Senators can assent to the appointees but they don't directly control who the President sends them. MEPs can assent to the policies and the budgets sent by the Commission but they can't set their own.
What a terrible this setup really is, because it dramatically limits wide range of class & networks to have any real access to actual EU policymaking. On the one hand it allows a kind of perpetual deep state of technocrats to keep cranking their plans - and indeed their wealthy friends' plans as well. This is similar enough to the US, but happens through a system that is like a nuclear reactor for resentment.
Go to a museum sometime and look at all the different currencies of history. Have you ever seen the ancient rough gold blobs of the Lydians, probably the first minters of coin? Why did all these currencies emerge? Why do countries typically have currencies? How do currencies work, anyway? What computers does the money supply come from? Would there be harmful effects from pooling the same primary currency across deeply different regions of the world?
Is it really possible to manage the bulk of the EU's economic affairs inside one currency? In some ways monetary policy in the US is divided into Federal Reserve Districts. Although the dollar buys much less than it did in 1920, the district system was able to cope with a lot of regional disparities. The US, which is in many ways more politically and economically homogenous than Europe, had a district based system.
The European Central Bank system generating the eurozone has not proved capable of setting the stage for good monetary policies for the member nations of the EU. I honestly felt this way getting into France and seeing a Euro for the first time many years ago. Greece can never weaken its currency, which would attract tourism and make its exports more competitive.
Sturm Clouds over the EU
The Brexit Movie here is perfect for UKIP people, it is all from that certain class perch and doesn't have virtually any viewpoints representing any of the diversity in the UK. There is one thing they focused on, an extended sequence about the far-right parties increasing all over Europe, with Britons arguing they want out because of these movements. For the most part the EU is not effectively advancing the standard of living of its residents and they have no direct representation into the technocratic government's workings. Hence, European nations (with the important exception of Ireland) are steadily moving towards far-right parties that are xenophobic, nationalist and intolerant of immigrants.
This is a pretty major threat. If say 20% of the MEPs are far-right parties, now imposing their views on your country through various committees, isn't that eventually going to summon more nationalist-driven resentment from your side? And/or embolden your own extreme right??
While many people can accept that the US and EU are broadly class-based societies, where upper classes have more power over the economy and decisionmaking, there is also an international network of far right parties that are rallying more to their cause and coordinating, even if they disagree on issues. As Nafeez Ahmed and other concerned observers have noticed, both Russia and US Republicans links of friendship and support into this network. Russians have loaned money to National Front, to cite a key example. Obviously Russia, a major geopolitical power in Europe, has a strategic interest in fostering far right-wing "euroskepticism". And as Ahmed notes helps makes sense of the Putin-Trump mutual admiration society. Far-right ideologue Alexander Dugin is a key bridge figure in this network.
In Germany the AfD (Alternatives for Germany)... well 10 hours ago it was reported they declined to expel Wolfgang Gedeon in southern Germany's Baden-Wuerttemberg over antisemitic writing. Reuters says they have 15% public support now. Their vice chair Alexander Gauland recently said that Germans would not want soccer star Jerome Boateng with African heritage to be their neighbor.
So in Germany the main party that is against the EU and euro is of course the one that is obviously a home for those angry about the Jews. The British have noticed this, and have asked their table if it's time to pay the check and head for the door. Where is there any euroskeptic left, that rejects a dodgy superstate for an open, tolerant and egalitarian German society? This is the vacuum quickly being filled by these forces.
Ireland has managed to find a way to prevent any huge far-right Catholic-driven cluster from forming, apparently through a ton of social organizing. If Americans want to avoid having a Trump-esque National Front type political force take hold over, say, 20% of the population by 2020, it's key to study what Ireland has done right, and quickly.
I have to leave it there for now... it is really quite ominous on several levels and I can understand why anyone would want to get out. I hope that tolerant people can prevail against xenophobes and the world doesn't get embroiled in something terrible again.
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