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The EU thread

Started by Tamas, April 16, 2021, 08:10:41 AM

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Sheilbh

#45
Quote from: celedhring on May 20, 2021, 07:20:43 AM
And what shared political past are we supposed to draw upon, the Continental System?  :lol:

More seriously, all possible examples are rather horrible for different reasons. And again, I feel the whole thing's unnecessary. I'm pretty happy with building an "identity" around post-WWII ideas of liberal democracy.
[/quote]
Yeah so I don't think he's intending to limit it to shared political history but also cultural - Cicero, Socrates and Paul plus, obviously, a reference to the Enlightenment in the values/principles he talks about.

But you're right the reason the EU sort of has a post-war year zero is, ultimately, because it is easier to talk about the shared values while the past sits like a ghost at the feast; rather than European historical idenity which includes genocides and colonialism (though the EU does slightly overlap with colonialism).

He's a very interesting writer and thinker about Europe - I think he used to be an advisor to van Rompuy and Bolkestein - so he has a bit of inside and outside thinking about him. But in The Passage to Europe his final section is about the EU's quest for legitimacy and he basically says the German model (common identity/symbols) and Roman model (output legitimacy - roads or no roaming charges) have hit their limits and the future is now the Greek model (democracy). But obviously the old issue re-occurs of there being no European people - and whether the post-war escape from history is sufficient to build a more shared democratic (primarily through national parliaments) and robust union capable of dealing with the rise of more assertive powers.

I think he does also play into Kundnani's point a little in his mention of China, India and Russia - it's a little End of History v Clash of Civilisations.

QuoteAnd of course for EU purposes a post WWII context is a break from the past and is kind of a "new beginning", what the EU tries to achieve is overcoming all the situations that led to inter-European conflict, so it's only natural that their frame of reference is that, rather than the entire European history.
Yes - although I think inter-European conflict is interesting because I think Europe's internal violent past has been an impetus for the EU and thinking about it. To an extent I think that focus and commemoration has possibly covered a forgetfulness about Europe's external violent past - which is, in any event, more relevant to almost every member state of the EU15.

Even the mention in his article of the concert of states 1648 - 1914, would be profoundly incomplete if it didn't cover the Congress of Berlin. One of the previous ways that Europe did avoid conflict was by diverting that energy and those conflicts into the rest of the world.

Edit: And interesting takes on this article from Twitter by both Kundnani and van Middelaar - in part it seems like grappling with the return of history:
QuoteHans Kundnani
@hanskundnani
I don't think the problem is that the EU has cut itself off from European history, as @LuukvMiddelaar writes, but that it remembers it selectively. "Pro-Europeans" constantly bang on about the Enlightenment, but have nothing to say about colonialism.

QuoteLuuk van Middelaar
@LuukvMiddelaar
Thanks, Hans. I see 2 different issues. You talk about worldview of "pro-Europeans". I agree with that. I talk about  EU's self-image, built on caesura of 1945 and  dream of New Beginning - the end to power, to borders, identities. In sum: after Shoah, Habermas. That's over.
Let's bomb Russia!

Zanza

Looks like Switzerland is the next country to leave the Single Market after Britain. They are unwilling to ratify the negotiated framework agreement, so the EU will no longer do any deals with Switzerland on any topic. Due to lack of dynamic alignment, Switzerland will drop out of the Single Market sector by sector whenever the EU updates any directives or regulations. First will be medical devices, rail traffic and participation in ghe Horizon program. Switzerland will then face the usual third country non-tariff barriers, e.g. on documentation or necessity to have an EU distributor.

Jacob

Is that a deliberate action by Swiss political actors, or is it some sort of dysfunction that's preventing the ratification?

Zanza

Deliberate action by the Swiss Federal Council and the European Commission.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/rumours-abound-over-swiss-government-s-eu--framework-deal-/46642662

QuoteRumours abound over Swiss government's EU 'framework deal'

The Swiss government is apparently set to abandon negotiations with the European Union about an umbrella accord regulating bilateral relations.

Several Sunday newspapers quoted unnamed sources saying that none of the seven ministers saw any chance of winning over parliament or voters for the so-called framework agreement.


Negotiations on such a deal formally ended in 2018 but the Swiss government demanded 'clarifications' on three points, including the protection of salary levels, access to the Swiss social security system as well as state subsidies.

Following talks with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels last month, the Swiss president, Guy Parmelin, said fundamental differences remained with the 27-nation bloc about the future of bilateral relations.

Both sides insist on concessions to break an impasse and reach an acceptable solution after more seven years of talks.

The SonntagsBlick newspaper also reports that the EU is apparently willing to make some compromise offers.

It is widely expected that the Swiss government will decide next Wednesday about its position amid concerns about possible retaliatory measures by Brussels over access to the European electricity market and research projects.

Efforts to appease Brussels apparently include the payment of CHF1 billion ($1.1 billion) to an EU fund to ensure Switzerland's participation in the Erasmus student exchange and research programmes, says the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

Switzerland has concluded more than 120 bilateral agreements with its main trading partner, but the EU wants an overarching institutional agreement to simplify relations.

Switzerland is not a member of the EU and voters in 1992 rejected a proposal to join the European Economic Area Treaty.

Quote
No 'status quo' without Swiss-EU framework deal, EU envoy warns

Without a framework agreement there is no possible status quo in relations between Switzerland and the European Union, according to the bloc's envoy in Bern.

EU Ambassador Petros Mavromichalis warns there will be no new deals on access to the EU single market and that expiring agreements will not be renewed.


"It is the chronicle of a death foretold," he told French-language newspaper Le Temps in an interview published Saturday.

Switzerland can certainly reject the institutional agreement, the ambassador points out, "but we are also sovereign and can say 'no' to the continuation of the current bilateral path".

[...]

Josquius

So it's the ongoing saga started with that stupid referendum in 2015.
I thought they'd sorted that with making legal the already standard hiring practice of prioritising locals.
Really cant see it totally falling apart. As much as the UK is damaged by brexit chexit would crush Switzerland.
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Zanza

The UK chose a single hard cut with an unprecedented change in level of integration and trade barriers. Switzerland would be more piecemeal. There are currently 120 sectoral agreements, each of which could eventually be impacted by lack of future alignment.  The way the Swiss-EU relationship is structured is actually what some Brexiteers hoped for. The EU is not willing to continue that approach though.

When reading the Swiss press, there is both an expectation of EU compromise (without acknowledging EU interests) and a perception that the Swiss government completely fucked up the alignment of internal and external negotiations. 

garbon

This seems like good background summary of the situation. I was a bit lost on what this fight is regarding.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/04/22/the-eus-next-big-problem-is-switzerland/

QuoteThe EU's Next Big Problem Is Switzerland

One Sunday, not long after he moved to Bern, Switzerland, Michael Flügger, the German ambassador to Switzerland, walked from his residence to a bakery. On the street, he saw a far-right campaign poster showing a man wearing a European Union flag as a belt sitting on a tiny depiction of Switzerland, crushing it under his weight.

"I was shocked," Flügger recently told a Swiss newspaper. During a previous posting in Geneva, he had never encountered such animosity toward the EU, Switzerland's main trading—and often like-minded—partner. But now, "the atmosphere about the EU has become so negative," he said. "In some media and social networks, it is depicted as a monster."

This growing animosity serves as the backdrop for Swiss President Guy Parmelin's first official visit to Brussels on Friday for an important meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. With Switzerland unable to implement a new institutional agreement with the EU, relations between the two have reached a dead end.

This will be the ultimate stress test for the bilateral relationship between these two neighbors—and, after Brexit, an indication of how tough the EU wants to be with nearby countries. At least Parmelin assured his fellow countrymen he "was not going to do a Boris Johnson" and slam doors behind him.

The comparison with Brexit looms over the fraught relationship, but it isn't entirely apt: While the United Kingdom is distancing itself from the EU, Switzerland is getting closer to it. Switzerland, not a member of the EU, is eager to expand its extensive relations with the 27 member countries. The problem is, like the U.K., it wants to keep sovereignty at the same time. This circle is difficult to square. Brussels does not tolerate what it calls "cherry-picking" rights claims without the acceptance of obligations: It cannot give nonmembers privileges that even members do not have. With the world in turmoil, however, the EU does have a great interest in maintaining a good relationship with like-minded countries like Switzerland for a variety of reasons.

In a 1992 referendum, the Swiss rejected EU membership. They negotiated a trade agreement with Brussels soon afterward and built on this ever since, with gusto: They currently have at least 120 bilateral agreements that function well. These secure market access for Swiss pharmaceuticals, metals, and chemicals in exchange for Swiss adherence to internal market rules and a modest financial contribution to poor EU regions. Switzerland is a member of the Schengen Area in which there are no border controls. It participates in Erasmus student exchanges, in EU scientific research, and in police cooperation. Access to the EU health system and electricity market are high on the Swiss wish list.

Some say Switzerland has the best of two worlds: access to the largest single market in the world and freedom to play the sovereignty card whenever it wants.

According to a 2019 study, no country profits more from the EU single market than Switzerland: Although its added value to the average EU citizen is $1,008 extra per year, the average Swiss gets $3,499. In Swiss border regions close to Basel or Geneva, tens of thousands of citizens commute to work on the other side of the border. Hospitals, restaurants and other businesses rely on this. Switzerland, some argue, has a kind of "passive EU membership."

In Brussels, however, the Swiss are known as difficult customers. While Norway, another nonmember with extensive market access, never questions its financial contribution to the EU, Switzerland regularly withholds it to get its way on some issue. Swiss referendums are also a source of friction. The popular vote for an immigration quota in 2014, for example, violated bilateral agreements with the EU to safeguard the free movement of people.

The 2014 referendum was the last straw for the EU. It realized how difficult it was to manage the bilateral agreements. They constantly need to be renewed or updated like an iPhone that otherwise can't handle new apps. This means permanent negotiations between the two sides. Moreover, if one of the parties cancels or violates one bilateral agreement, others automatically collapse too. That is why, after the 2014 immigration quota referendum, Bern and Brussels began negotiating a new institutional framework to encapsulate and stabilize all existing agreements and reduce political tensions while providing room for future agreements. In 2018, they agreed on a text.

Today, the 27 EU member states still support this text—but on the Swiss side, there is trouble. In 2018, the Swiss government asked for some time to consult political parties, social partners, and its citizens. These groups started criticizing the draft and demanding changes. This went on for more than two years. Remarkably, the Swiss government never defended the text.

It formulated three additional demands instead, which the EU finds impossible to satisfy. Bern wants exceptions on EU state aid rules, exceptions on social benefits for EU citizens (which Swiss in the EU will also get), and special labor law restrictions that would make EU companies operating in Switzerland less competitive against Swiss companies. All three demands involve exceptions for Switzerland that EU countries themselves would never be granted.

This is where the Brexit parallel comes in. Last year, when London also tried to secure maximum EU market access against minimum adherence to the rules, the 27 member states refused. They wanted to preserve the single market. They also wanted to set an example for other nonmember countries who would otherwise demand the same thing. Because of Brexit, the EU has become less flexible. This now deprives Switzerland to get the tailor-made arrangement it feels entitled to.

As soon as the withdrawal agreement between the EU and the U.K. was concluded in December 2020, the Swiss combed the text. They found two things that made them jealous. The first is the European Court of Justice—or "foreign judges"—gets no direct role in disputes between London and Brussels. The second is the British don't have to "dynamically" follow European rules like Switzerland does. Within days, Swiss politicians and citizens were urging their government to go to Brussels, Brexit deal in hand, and get those two things too. Some even thanked the U.K. for "helping the dwarf beyond the seven mountains."

The EU has tried to explain that Switzerland can't have them because its relationship with the EU is much closer than the British one. Disputes with Switzerland, for instance, almost always involve market issues. The only court capable of dealing with EU market issues is the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. But many Swiss are not convinced. In this sense, Brexit has definitely made the EU-Swiss relationship more difficult to manage. The Swiss even have a word for it: "Brexit-envy."

For many months, Swiss talk shows have mostly been about two things: COVID-19 measures and its framework agreement with the EU. For many Swiss, the government's reticence about the agreement means it is probably not worth defending. The Swiss government is divided. According to media reports, ministers can't even agree on the message Parmelin should take to Brussels: whether Switzerland should ditch the new agreement or try renegotiation. There is no plan B. Former Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey recently said: "The Brexit deal shows politicians need to know what they want. Switzerland doesn't know it. In that respect, we could learn something from Boris Johnson."

Meanwhile, political entrepreneurs are having a field day. Billionaire Alfred Gantner started a movement against the framework agreement: Allianz Kompass/Europa, backed by companies, farmers, and even trade unions. He wants a "Brexit deal plus"—trade, and nothing else. The radical right Swiss People's Party, of which Parmelin is a member, and entrepreneurs platform Autonomiesuisse are also against the agreement. The social democrats and liberals are split. Pro-EU groups have also sprung up. Suddenly, there is new political momentum in Switzerland. Party discipline evaporates, and debates become more interesting.

But although the dispute may reinvigorate national politics, some captains of industry finally started to sound the alarm this week. In several newspapers, they reminded their fellow citizens that substantial portions of Swiss wealth are earned in the European single market—and that Switzerland, almost a semi-member state, is obliged to follow more European rules than the United Kingdom. Philip Mosimann, CEO of Bucher Industries, accused the government of being "orientierungslos" or disoriented.

Meanwhile, a leaked report of a meeting between the European Commission and member state representatives in Brussels accused the Swiss government of sitting idly by while the debate goes off the rails. "There is no commitment from Switzerland. The commission cannot negotiate on its own," Swiss television quoted from the report.

This is a deep crisis. Without the new framework agreement, existing bilateral agreements remain in force. But Brussels refuses to update them if Switzerland keeps stalling the new agreement. If the EU stands firm, Switzerland could already lose access for new medical devices to the EU in May. More sectors would get locked out progressively. Brussels has ruled out Swiss access to the EU's electricity and health market as well.

Benjamin Franklin once warned against throwing "stones at your neighbors if your own windows are glass." Both Parmelin and von der Leyen have nothing to gain from further escalation. But finding a way out will not be easy.
"I've never been quite sure what the point of a eunuch is, if truth be told. It seems to me they're only men with the useful bits cut off."

I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damned things have learned to swim.

Zanza

Most conflicts around the EU, both within and with its neighbours are about the balance of rights and obligations created by the treaties between the partially sovereign EU, sovereign members and sovereign third countries. The exact detail where a particular country values its sovereignty higher than the benefits from cooperation with its neighbours are always specific though.

Valmy

Quote from: Tyr on May 24, 2021, 01:52:58 AM
So it's the ongoing saga started with that stupid referendum in 2015.
I thought they'd sorted that with making legal the already standard hiring practice of prioritising locals.
Really cant see it totally falling apart. As much as the UK is damaged by brexit chexit would crush Switzerland.

It is part of general retreat and discrediting of liberalism. But this is not unusual. Every once in a while we revolt against international cooperation and then remember why we keep going back to it over and over again.
Quote"This is a Russian warship. I propose you lay down arms and surrender to avoid bloodshed & unnecessary victims. Otherwise, you'll be bombed."

Zmiinyi defenders: "Russian warship, go fuck yourself."

celedhring

Quote from: Valmy on May 24, 2021, 10:56:06 AM
Quote from: Tyr on May 24, 2021, 01:52:58 AM
So it's the ongoing saga started with that stupid referendum in 2015.
I thought they'd sorted that with making legal the already standard hiring practice of prioritising locals.
Really cant see it totally falling apart. As much as the UK is damaged by brexit chexit would crush Switzerland.

It is part of general retreat and discrediting of liberalism. But this is not unusual. Every once in a while we revolt against international cooperation and then remember why we keep going back to it over and over again.

Sadly there's usually some huge mess involved that motivates that u-turn.

Sheilbh

Don't have a French thread - maybe we should in the run-up to the election? :hmm:

But Macron as a liberal continues to disappoint. After proposing a law that would criminalise filming the police, the interior minister is now suing the head of the PS list in Ile de France for "defaming the police" after she made comments about her concerns that police unions were organising a protest that was backed by far-right groups.

It feels like Macron gets a bit of a free pass on this because he's a liberal/anti-populist/on the side of the angels - but this is judicial harassment of an opposition politician and part of a trend about protecting/limiting criticism of the police. It's clearly dodgy and hopefully the courts just dismiss it but I also hope their liberal allies in other countries or the European institutions notice.
Let's bomb Russia!

Tamas

Quote from: Sheilbh on May 25, 2021, 03:51:09 AM
Don't have a French thread - maybe we should in the run-up to the election? :hmm:

But Macron as a liberal continues to disappoint. After proposing a law that would criminalise filming the police, the interior minister is now suing the head of the PS list in Ile de France for "defaming the police" after she made comments about her concerns that police unions were organising a protest that was backed by far-right groups.

It feels like Macron gets a bit of a free pass on this because he's a liberal/anti-populist/on the side of the angels - but this is judicial harassment of an opposition politician and part of a trend about protecting/limiting criticism of the police. It's clearly dodgy and hopefully the courts just dismiss it but I also hope their liberal allies in other countries or the European institutions notice.

Yeah but ín a European context do liberals have a better realistic French option than Macron?

Valmy

#57
I don't know if we currently have good options anywhere :hmm:

The liberal parties seem increasingly to lean rightwards and pandering to authoritarian and reactionary elements so this development by Macron is sad but not unsurprising.
Quote"This is a Russian warship. I propose you lay down arms and surrender to avoid bloodshed & unnecessary victims. Otherwise, you'll be bombed."

Zmiinyi defenders: "Russian warship, go fuck yourself."

Sheilbh

#58
Quote from: Tamas on May 25, 2021, 05:09:40 AM
Yeah but ín a European context do liberals have a better realistic French option than Macron?
Agreed - but I don't think that's an excuse to not be consistent or to give Macron a pass on this. It would be an outrage if, say, Republicans in any state in the US were trying to criminalise filming police because we know what it means: they don't want abuse of power by the police exposed. Similarly I think suing an opposition politician for "defaming the police" (or any other state institution) is clearly about shutting down debate - and signalling solidarity with the police - again if that was being done by Orban or Johnson or Duda we would have a lot of legitimate anger and criticism of it.

I think we're too willing to accept really bad things (anti-semitism in the Labour Party, Danish social democrats wanting a cap on the number of "non-westerners" living in a neighbourhood, restricting free speech around the police in France) because they are the lesser of two evils. Obviously in round two if it's Macron v Le Pen whatever your views you should hold your nose and vote Macron, but until then I hope people are looking for an alternative.

Separately really interesting coverage of the European Council in the FT. It gets what I've been thinking that we've done the easy, low cost bit of climate politics and we're now getting into the really difficult and contentious bit (both internationally and domestically) of how to distribute the costs/impact of climate policies. So apparently Poland led CEE countries who feel they will disproportionately bear the costs given their industry and energy sectors, but also that they are poorer than the West; at the same time Greece and Cyprus especially are concerned about possibly including the carbon cost of shipping/maritime industries (especially I imagine if that affects flags of convenience); and France, Italy and Spain all pointed to the quite shallow base of support by middle class/average voters in Europe - most people support climate policies that don't impact them but we may see other gilets jaunes moments.

I think it's really interesting because I think this will happen at a global and regional level and, in democratic states, is going to become one of the most important political issues.

Edit: And my suspicion is it will accelerate the decline of the left as politics becomes more and more defined by climate and the associated costs. On the one hand I think you will have individuals living in densely populated cities with public transport networks, with increased teleworking and lower home ownership who I think will continue to trend left/green (and I think a big issue here will be between building owners/service companies and tenants/property owners over upgrades to blocks); on the other people living in less densely populated areas or declining cities with more private transport and home ownership who will often have to pay higher petrol taxes and their own property upgrade costs - I suspect they will trend right and I think this will be the next area where the populist/far-right can take advantage. As ever France taking a lead with the gilets jaunes.
Let's bomb Russia!

Syt

Just saw that Switzerland have now ended their negotiations with the EU.
If we want to prevent catastrophic economic and societal change we will have to radically change our climate system.

Proud owner of 42 Zoupa Points.