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The European Project: the future of the EU.

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Hrothbern, Jan 14, 2019.

  1. mitsho

    mitsho Chieftain

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    Ok, looking back, choosing neo as a prefix before liberal was a mistake. But liberal on its own carries other connotations with our American friends here.

    I do not have any data to back up that lowering of standards since I wasn't prepared for that. I do stand by this reading of history though, that first there was the market and its unintended consequences brought about by court rulings: the Cassis de Dijon most prominently. The other benefits, f.e. not constantly having to change your money on holidays to take a seasonal example all followed these ideas.

    I don't necessarily mean that these market forces were the only element behind the creation of the EU, or that they were necessarily intended like that, but they do seem to me very central. And it's necessary that the other elements now catch up in scope!

    (and of course I chose some populistic terms on a forum like this, a little bit of hyperbole)
     
  2. uppi

    uppi Warlord

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    I agree that liberalism is quite central to the EU, but it was always much closer to some kind of heavily regulated liberalism or ordoliberalism than neoliberalism. The common market has always been a heavily regulated market (cf. the infamous regulations on cucumber curvature), despite the neoliberal influence. The distinction is important, because very few seriously challenge liberalism itself since the collapse of the Soviet-style planned economies. The discussion revolves around how liberal we want to be, not whether we want to be liberal at all. It would indeed be next to impossible to completely change the economic system within the EU, but few people actually want to do that right now, with one of the reasons being that credible alternatives are rare.

    Coming back to what (I think) your actual point was: Yes, the economic integration in the EU went ahead much faster than everything else - maybe too fast. Part of the reason was that it was easier than integrating everything else and the economic integration could be used to boost interactions between the people of Europe. The question is, what do we do now? Do we try to promote political integration? To we sit back in fire-fighting mode until other elements have caught up? Do we go back to nationalism at the danger of everybody being at each others throats again?
     
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  3. innonimatu

    innonimatu Warlord

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    If you count the number of demandd for "flexible labour laws" done by the commission or the ECB, versus the number of demands for stricter labour laws defending employees, what do you get?

    Economic problems are always described as "structural", always to be solved through lower wages in order to compete with the countries the EU struck commercial agreements with. Germany was happy with exporting machinery to China, and its rulers were happy with squeezing german wages alleging international competition. Even while running decades of trade surpluses! The rest of the EU was to be compelled to follow. So the Eurozone is now the largest exporter on Earth. And what do individual europeans gain from that, exactly? The owners of corporations gain, certainly: they are the ones pocketing the profits from this increased business, because the wage share of production kept being pushed lower. The wage laborers, don't!. They spend their time and effort producing things that people outside the EU will consume, and don't even get financial assets to show for it.

    Unsatisfied with having screwed the germans, these people (hegemonic among the EU "decision makers") took the financial crisis of 2008 as an opportunity to do the same to the rest of the EU. Wages share of the economy kept falling, first in Germany and then in all the countries successfully targeted by the self-righteous wrath of the masters of the EU. Any hopes of a "social europe" should be dead and buried considering the ideas of who rules the other country capable of being a counterweight to Germany, France, inside the EU.
    This could not have been done by the separate countries, local resistance was too high. You must have noticed how things like CETA or this Mercosul deal were rammed through? Trade as a weapon against labour would not have been so successfully wielded without an EU because countries would have simply refused trade treaties, refused "foreign investment" due to internal opposition. Talk of liberalization of labour rules would not have passed. The EU is neoliberal, it was the tool to achieve what we have to live with today.

    Frankly, it must be either willful blindness (because one is among the minority of winners) or foolish lack of experience to still believe the EU is going to do something good for the common citizen.
     
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  4. EnglishEdward

    EnglishEdward Chieftain

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    Well I have finally found an article, in the Guardian, of all places; that provides some background,

    https://www.theguardian.com/comment...an-council-fuel-euroscepticism-governments-eu

    leading me to postulate a wacky theory explaining some of the more recent EU appointments.

    It would seem that national governments are using the EU as a dumping ground,
    like the UK used to use Australia, to send their more dubious colleagues to.
     
  5. Lillefix

    Lillefix I'm serious. You can.

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    It's not untrue. I remember they said the same thing about Rachida Dati, the former minister of Justice under Sarkozy. She was also forced out of the government and cast off to the European parliament.
     
  6. innonimatu

    innonimatu Warlord

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    I just stumbled upon a very good summary of how neoliberalism finally triumphed in the EU: when it finally took over Germany entirely. It was what I was ranting about a few days ago, here nicely put. Worth reading.
     
  7. Yeekim

    Yeekim Warlord

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    TLDR is that Greece. Does. Not. Currently. Pay. Any. Interest. On. EFSF. Loans.
    https://www.esm.europa.eu/press-rel...ent-and-reduction-step-interest-margin-greece

    But I am sure we'll see emperor Phocas rising from his grave and restoring Byzantium to unprecedented greatness before Kyriakos will change his EU-hating rhetoric because of such inconvenient fact.
     
  8. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    Sure, Yeekim, 1 year is hugely important next to 10 years. Hroth had no problem identifying what you gloriously failed to.
     
  9. innonimatu

    innonimatu Warlord

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    False statements were made here about the EU loans to Greece. Again!

    "We bled the patient until we killed him. But now we'll stop the bleeding. We're really nice, see?" Now being when even the italian goverment has 2-year debt on the market with negative rates. What a big favor the EU is doing to Greece now!

    As for how the EFSF works, want to read something funny? I'll quote from its web site:

    Remember what the usual attack dogs of the EU here like to accuse Greece of doing in order to "cheat on accounting" to enter the Euro? Wasn't it something about swaps? Well then, the EFSF is doing exactly the same Greece was accused of being "bad" for doing, so that it could claim "the transactions would not have any direct cost for other programme countries". More hypocrisy from our "european institutions". And you are lying about Greece not paying any interest on ESFS loans. Quoting from here::

    You are deceiving other people about what was done, and is still being done, to Greece. Because these oh-so-very-kind interest rate reductions are conditional on the greek government slavishly obeying their EU financial overlords, to be reviewed by them every 6 months. And because the real lending rates of the EFSF are published and freely accessible here, showing that the "step-up interest margin" was a margin on top of the base interest rate (one, btw, which very obviously was introduced to be used as political leverage in the future) to kick in in 2017. Greece has been paying interest, and still pays. Different loans have different interest rates, some indexed to Euribor.


    I do not know what are the effective rates Greece has been paying, but if you trust the EU it should be the ones in the above image. The EFSF has issued many from 0% to at least 2,75% (see here), and they're not disclosing what kind of swap, exactly, was done with Greece. More information can be found on its financial statement, which, by the way, shows that the cost of rolling over new loans for backing the EFSF (they're being sold to private creditors) is about zero now. The whole enterprise should be making a tidy profit...

    On the deferred interest payments, those only apply to part of the loans. Greece has paid and is paying interest on the other. And those it has not been paying now were deferred, not canceled: they're still accruing to the principal. On the fantasy that Greece will some day be able to pay them.
     
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  10. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    Inno, just pay no interest to Yeekim. He clearly posts just to antagonize, without knowing anything at all, thus deserves just to be ignored forever.
     
  11. FriendlyFire

    FriendlyFire Codex WMDicanious

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    LOL Technically Greece has paid some interest ....... using the bailout money that Germany provided
    Greece was selling 30 year bonds with what 1% return that only the ECB was buying because you know, NO ONE WOULD TOUCH GREECE worthless bonds and the EU was busy bailing out greece banks to stop the country from imploding

    Just leave the EZ and the EU already, go back to drachmas, and run the economy as you choose. stop blaming the EU and Germany
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
  12. Takhisis

    Takhisis excuse me

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    up yours!
    I don't know what the EU's current (as of early August 2019) position is, but until recently they've been saying -rather stupidly- that the euro is forever.
     
  13. Yeekim

    Yeekim Warlord

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    If you had fully read the material you yourself so kindly quoted, you would have noticed that deferring interest for totality of EFSF loans was decided in 2012 already.
    The future extension you referred to was decided in 2018. It will kick in in 2022 and indeed only applies to part (~ half) of the loans. I stand by what I said: Greece currently does not pay any interest on EFSF loans.

    While interest is added to the principal (deferred) instead, you'll kindly notice that the interest rates you quoted remain below inflation rate in euro area.
    Yeah, Greece is clearly being bled to death.:rolleyes:

    EDIT: as for those deferred rates:
    http://www.ekathimerini.com/240280/...rly-repayment-of-imf-loans-is-credit-positive
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
  14. Akka

    Akka Moody old mage.

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    The irony is thick :lol:
     
  15. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    Going for the Akka group act, rising onto more piling up irony with the last being the worst.
     
  16. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    I'm not sure how meaningful this distinction really is. The whole anti-state posture of neoliberalism was always a lie: neoliberalism is in many ways about using the state as a wrecking-ball to destroy policies, customs, etc. that are thought of as impeding the natural functioning of the market. Either way the use of the state to ensure "natural" functioning of the market is a common thread.

    And I would argue that this is because people do not really understand the essence of liberalism, whether ordo- or neo-. It is all about creating a constitutional order that protects private property and contractual freedom, with the explicit goal of making that order impossible to challenge or change by democratic politics. It is about insulating more and more policy behind a pose of technocratic neutrality rather than subjecting policy to democracy.

    As I think we all know the EU has been an absolutely fantastic device for insulating unpopular policies from popular challenge. It is difficult to imagine that the concerted assault on labor standards, social rights, economic protections and so on could have been nearly as successful as it was without the EU.
     
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  17. Hrothbern

    Hrothbern Warlord

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    Most senior politicians in my country in the late 80ies early 90ies had the opinion that it would be ill-adviced for Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece to join the Eurozone.
    Most of the financial discipline effects this would need and loss of national central bank freedom were crystal clear at that moment.
    But the hype of the moment for the leading politicians in those countries was to join.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
  18. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    @Lexicus:

    Any amount of additional bureaucracy makes it harder to unseat actual corruption, poorly-promoted staff, and challenge badly thought-out ideas. I disagree the framing of this as something that the EU has made a particular goal, it's just a natural progress of having a centralised government which other governments report to.

    I agree with your criticism of liberalism (as policy), but I also agree with @uppi in that credible alternatives haven't really manifested yet either. Like, there is valid criticism of the EU, and even if there aren't solutions to it it's important to recognise (and keep recognising) that criticism. But to lay specifically at the EU's feet that entire concerted assault you've mentioned, when in fact member states actually did a lot worse individually in some cases before EU legislation was adopted. The EU drove forwards a lot of labour laws that benefit the working class (relating to overtime, hours worked per week, holiday allotment, and so on) that for example the UK basically didn't have.

    I mean, I could be getting your post backwards, but I don't think I am.
     
  19. uppi

    uppi Warlord

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    Policies, customs, etc. often set up on liberal principles. As such, these schools of thought are add odds with each other.

    If you think the distinction is meaningless and you want to argue against liberalism itself, then do so, but please drop the neo- prefix. Arguing against the worst excesses of neoliberalism is right, but it is somewhat of a strawman if you want to argue against liberalism itself.

    If an economy is supposed to be a market economy, then of course it is the obligation of the state to ensure the proper function of the market. If you don't want a market economy, what is your alternative? As I said, if you want to convince people, you need credible alternatives.

    I don't think the goal of liberalism is to make it impossible to change by democratic politics. The goal is rather to make people not want to change it. If you organized a democratic referendum whether to implement a Soviet-style planned economy, you would get a resounding no in almost all countries. In liberal countries, there tend to exist little actual protections against a change of the economic system by democratic means. But people keep electing liberal politicians of any color.

    I am not convinced. I would say the assault on all the things you mention has been far more successful in the USA than in EU members.
     
  20. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    I'm not talking about bureaucratic complexity, I'm talking about a constitutional order immune to democratic challenge. One historical example of this dynamic that has nothing whatever to do with the EU or bureaucracy is the US Supreme Court declaring that many of the laws passed during the New Deal were unconstitutional.

    You're not getting it backwards, but you're slightly mistaken in your interpretation. For example, there is a reason I spoke of the "concerted assault" as something the EU made easier, not something perpetrated by the EU. The driving force behind the concerted assault is not the EU but the usual suspects in the various member states: conservatives of various stripes, market fundamentalists, etc. The EU is a political tool these people find very useful to impose their agendas on the domestic politics of their various countries. In a rather perverse way I think that's even true of the Brexiteers, who find in Brussels a convenient repository of blame for things that are really mostly the Tories' (and New Labour's) fault.

    In effect I have dropped the prefixes and am just arguing against liberalism itself, or rather the aspects of liberalism that I think are bad.

    The second bit of your post here is based on a false premise. There is no objective or self-evident "proper function of the market." For the state to ensure the proper function of the market, the state first needs to decide what the proper function of the market is, and that is an inherently political question, to which there are infinite potential answers, all of which entail political winners and losers.

    The entire notion that there is a self-evidently "correct" way for markets to function, is a smokescreen behind which is hidden particular political interests. But of course, if the state or political parties openly declared they were going to manage the economy for the benefit of a tiny handful of investors and business executives at the expense of everyone else, the likely result would be outrage and the electoral death of any party foolish enough to be so honest.

    ...so far, mostly. but the electoral collapse of the traditional center (ie, center-right to social-democratic) parties across much of Europe suggests precisely that people may be getting fed up with the process of putting political issues outside the acceptable bounds of political contention.

    And yes, you are sort of right that the goal is to make people not want to change it. The real goal is to convince people that changing it is in fact impossible regardless of the merits. Or better yet, condition people so that the idea of changing things doesn't even occur to them in the first place.

    Even if this were true it would not actually refute the claim I made. The US has its own problems with a constitutional order explicitly designed to insulate the privileges of an aristocracy from the poor majority. Unfortunately, probably the biggest constitutional problem facing the US today is the perversion of one of the greatest democratic advances of US history, the 14th Amendment to our constitution, into a tool for protecting power and privilege from the depredations of voting majorities.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019

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