Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby Tribble » 2017-01-28 04:24pm

All of this is true. But nevertheless, I think a few points should be added:

1.) During the German reunification, the German chancellor Helmut Kohl made a deal with Francois Mitterand and Margaret Thatcher. In a nutshell, the concept was to embed Germany into the NATO and and into Europe. This was meant to ensure that the unified Germany cannot dominate Europe despite its economic strength.

Part of this was getting rid of the Deutsche Mark and switch to a common European currency.

To understand this, one must look at the 80ies: Back then, the Bundesbank (the German federal bank) only controlled its own currency, the DM. The central banks of the neigbouring countries were completely independent - in theory.

But as a matter of fact the Bundesbank controlled the "biggest" currency in Europe with the biggest domestic market. This had an influence on the other European currencies due to the sheer size of the German economy. As a consequence, the other European central banks had limited power over their own currencies.

For example, when the Bundesbank raised their key interest rate during the 80ies, the French central bank could hardly lower their interest rates at the same time and vice versa. The French Franc would lose a fight against the DM anyways.

So from the point of view of the French government a common currency would ensure that they have a word to say in this matter: A European central bank would have to take French interests into account, which was a concept alien to the Bundesbank (it only cared about the stability of the German currency by definition).


If the Eurozone had included only a few members, included a fiscal transfer mechanism, was very careful in its expansion and stayed such until everyone was damn certain that it was going to operate as intended, then I agree it could have worked.

2.) The Euro was meant to be only a single step in the way to a closer European integration

Of course the European governments in the 90ies realized that a single currency without a single government is a doubtful concept. So the line of thought was that the Euro would automatically lead to a tighter integration of the EU's countries.

This failed, obviously.


Unfortunately the signs were there that the EU project would eventually fall short of the integration required. Although the UK was by far the most vocal country opposing further integration, it was definitely not the only one. But they went ahead with it anyways hoping that things would work out in the end. Obviously that gamble failed.

The sad part is that even idiots like Nigel Farage were able to predict almost in sequence which country's economies would fail and require a bailout, and yet nothing meaningful has been done. It looks like Italy is going to be next.


3.) It is not easy to leave the Euro once you have it

If a country would leave the Euro, it would have to face side effects of this decision. Let's say a southern European country leaves the Euro because it wants to have a "weaker" currency.

Then the ECB would even be a bigger behemoth than the Bundesbank was back then. This would put a restriction on the "independency" of the new central bank.

Of course the new currency could (and would) devaluate, though. While this would create new jobs from a macroeconomic perspective, it also would make imports more expensive.
And this in turn means that people who were previously employed would have to spend more money on imported products - things like fuel, medicine, consumer goods etc. This would drive inflation, with all its negative side effects.

So I'd say that it'S not a given that the Southern European countries would benefit from leaving the Euro, at least not initially. Of course after a few years things will settle down. But at the beginning, this is no cakewalk.

So while I agree that the Euro is in effect a failure, it is not easy to get rid of it. Also, the reasons for introducing the Euro weren't all idiotic. It just did not develop as planned - Germany is still dominating the EU from an economic standpoint and the tighter integration also failed.


Agreed, though IMO it would be better in the long run that the Euro has a formal and controlled breakup than something much messier happening down the road.

Oh and Tribble:

Currently, the EU is involved in free trade talks with around 60 countries, with CETA, the controversial deal with Canada, the furthest along. Then in March, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is coming to Brussels. The EU has been negotiating with Japan, the third largest economy in the world, since 2013 over a far-reaching market liberalization package. Now, Malmström hopes, the deal could soon be finalized.

Negotiations for a treaty with Vietnam have been completed; in South America, the EU is presenting itself as an alternative to the U.S.; and in February, a delegation from the European Parliament's International Trade Committee is heading for Mexico, Trump's favorite target. Europe has offered Mexico a new, comprehensive trade pact. "An entirely new dynamic in the negotiations can suddenly be felt," says Bernd Lange, head of the International Trade Committee in Brussels.


So....yeah.


... And? You do realise just how much of a disaster CETA could mean for the average Canadian and European, right?

Japan may be a good call depending on the treaty provisions (hope it doesn't include things like an ISDS!), but countries like Vietnam and Mexico? You'd better hope those trade-agreements don't include manufacturing as I'm not sure that even Germany would be able to avoid a mass exodus of manufacturing jobs to those areas.

Just because an agreement is signed, doesn't mean that agreement is good for average person.

I just had a look at this CETA, and while that involves getting off-topic, I wonder what it is about governments that they keep shoe-horning Investor-State dispute settlement mechanisms into trade agreements. Do they want to handcuff their own ability to enact policies that are in the best interest of their people? Or do they think that other countries won't be able to keep themselves from enacting policies whose primary purpose is to thwart the trade agreement itself?

On principle -- indeed, on practical considerations as well -- I oppose any agreement that puts limits on my government's ability to enact policies in good faith. And I suppose that means that I oppose CETA, no matter what else it has in it.


Large-corporations and the wealthy heavily lobby governments to include things like the ISDS as it effectively allows them to bypass a country's laws and court system. The ISDS is only part of the problem though, they are plenty of other things in CETA / TPP/ TTIP etc which would make your head spin. Agreements like these are for the rich by the rich, nothing more. Any potential benefit is purely by accident as the goal is to reduce the wages and rights of citizens as much as possible.

That's not to say I'm against the idea of free trade, it just that most of the treaties seem to have the habit of eventually turning into "how much can the rich and corporations get away with, and how much can the average person's wages and rights get screwed over?"
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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby Tribble » 2017-01-28 04:49pm

Back to Brexit, just for the record if I were a voter I probably would have voted to Remain. Apparently the difference between me and most Remainers is that I see good reasons for leaving the EU and going to an EEA-only relationship (even if the UK would have no formal voting powers in the EEA). However, that option never appeared to be likely and it's better to stay in the EU than "Hard-Brexit" IMO.

If the referendum had been a ranked ballot and I had the option for voting, for me it would have been:

1st choice - Leave the EU, remain in the EEA (aka "Soft Brexit")--> I'm pretty confident that had their been a ranked referendum this would have been the winner. I'm also fairly confident that the EU and EEA members would have eventually settled for this as it still preserves the "four principles" of the single market.

I would go so far as to say the entire EU should go back to this level of commitment, but I digress.

2nd choice - Remain part of the EU

3rd Choice. Leave EU and leave EEA (aka "Hard' Brexit") --> not a good option for obvious reasons.
Last edited by Tribble on 2017-01-28 04:56pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby Simon_Jester » 2017-01-28 04:50pm

On an unrelated note involving investor-state dispute resolution...

My theory is that even if the politicians aren't de facto taking bribes from industry, they still have this latent tendency to sell out to industry.

Why? Because a corporation has a single face it presents to politicians. Individual representatives of the company, the CEO, whatever. Someone you can sit down across a table with, and come to an arrangement with them.

You can't sit down cross a table with The People. You can't make an arrangement with The People.

This creates a natural predisposition to get talked into doing whatever stupid thing the company wants the government to do, while the collective interests of The People are not adequately represented by any single person or unified group.

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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby Tribble » 2017-01-28 04:55pm

Simon_Jester wrote:On an unrelated note involving investor-state dispute resolution...

My theory is that even if the politicians aren't de facto taking bribes from industry, they still have this latent tendency to sell out to industry.

Why? Because a corporation has a single face it presents to politicians. Individual representatives of the company, the CEO, whatever. Someone you can sit down across a table with, and come to an arrangement with them.

You can't sit down cross a table with The People. You can't make an arrangement with The People.

This creates a natural predisposition to get talked into doing whatever stupid thing the company wants the government to do, while the collective interests of The People are not adequately represented by any single person or unified group.


It doesn't help that the politicians also tend to be well off and well connected with wealthy and corporations even before they run for office, and chances are they had help from said groups in getting elected. The lobbying for favours starts well before that first day in office.
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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby Simon_Jester » 2017-01-28 05:06pm

Well, I was deliberately excluding bribes, including preemptive bribes given by corporations to prospective office-seekers.

It's like, even if that were not a problem, we might still see things like this, just not as often and maybe not as bad.

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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby Thanas » 2017-01-29 04:42am

Tribble wrote:I'll be breaking up my responses here...


If you do so then please have the courtesy of quoting the different people you argue with, it makes it rather hard to go back through and find who you are arguing with when you have to compare lines in your post to posts on previous pages.

IIRC, Non-EU countries contribute proportionately to be budget the same amount as EU members do when it comes to EEA matters. EEA members should be allowed to vote on EU legislation which covers EEA matters, though I agree that they do not have a place at the table for EU legislation outside of that scope.


Again, I see no reason for them having a vote. EU light is not supposed to be an attractive option just like the local golf club does not allow "light" memberships where people can pick the most attractive bargain. Bargain shopping is not a way to fully secure cooperation.

I'd love to see your arguments on why you feel the Euro has been a success, as apart from Germany and a couple of others "success" is not the word that comes to describe the Eurozone as a whole. Hell even Finland is starting to get screwed over by it apparently.


Finland is getting screwed for a host of reasons, the biggest one which has not much to do with the Eurozone but rather their tech giant being idiotic and missing an important market shift. Not sure how you can blame the Eurozone for that. As for the rest, the ability to travel freely without exchanging currency is a huge bonus, as is the easy movement of capital.

The problem of the EU is one of perception.

From Spiegel:

Why Does the EU Get Such a Bad Rap?

On the search for an alternative narrative of Europe, there are plenty of places to start: A giant, next-generation bio-product mill is being built deep in the forests of Äänekoski, Finland. A new, state-of-the-art trauma center is under construction on the outskirts of Birmingham. On the Greek island of Crete, resourceful entrepreneurs are replacing pig fat with olive oil to make better sausage for the world. Near Barcelona, pharmaceutical researchers are experimenting with plasma and proteins to develop drugs to treat genetic defects. Off the coast of Suffolk, England, German wind turbines are going up in the North Sea.

Thousands of small companies in the Netherlands receive low-interest loans, thousands of homes in France are being renovated to make them more environmentally friendly, thousands of jobs are created by such measures. Portugal is getting a 4G mobile network, a large printing company in Heidelberg is getting cheap R&D funding to expand its digital portfolio, Spanish ports are linking up with the railway network, contaminated wasteland in Belgium is being converted to clean building sites, and many Polish dairy farmers will have the opportunity to work with more modern machinery in the future.

Such are the outlines of the other European story. It is rich and colorful, but it is also so discordant and diverse that it is almost impossible to create a single, compelling narrative. The bits of good news go largely unnoticed.

Making things even more difficult is the fact that some of the worst storytellers happen to be located in Brussels and the European capitals. Year in and year out, they fill entire libraries with books full of laws, papers, projects, programs and reports, but the texts are usually so incomprehensible, so blighted by footnotes, cross-references and legalese that no one can understand what has happened thus far. And no one can say what is happening now, either. And when it comes to figuring out what the future will bring, we are especially clueless.

Such is the situation in Europe at the beginning of 2017. March will see the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which marked the beginning of the European adventure. But in many places, the prevailing mood is that there is nothing to celebrate. Project Europe has been running on fumes for years, and now it seems as if majorities in society and the media believe that the European Union belongs in the dustbin of history. That the entire anemic episode has come to an end, those eternal Brussels congresses where elitist Eurocrats engage in nothing but myopic navel-gazing. That, at least, is the well-practiced cliché.

But the examples mentioned at the beginning, the hospital in Birmingham, the sausage factory in Crete, the wind farm in Suffolk, the pharmaceutical research facility in Barcelona, the environmentally friendly houses in France - all that and more would not exist without Europe, without the European Commission, with the European Investment Bank (EIB), and without the "Juncker Plan," the unofficial title of the "Investment Offensive for Europe" launched two years ago by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. The Juncker Plan is an attempt to use smart lending to trigger additional investments worth many times the original sum, with an ultimate goal of 315 billion euros, distributed among thousands of projects throughout the EU. This article's aim was to take a closer look at the Juncker Plan.

Humming Along

The idea was simply that of examining whether the European Commission's strategy to provide a beneficial jolt of liquidity into the European economy is working. The plan was to find out whether the funds are truly being disbursed, whether the companies in the glossy brochures actually exist and whether the stories about them are true. The research involved traveling to the construction site in Birmingham, to the Cretan sausage factory, to Barcelona and the French region of Picardy, and to Munich and Luxembourg. And yes, it's true, the companies and the projects all exist, and while they may not amount to a huge jolt, they do inspire hope. Loans are being disbursed and the money is being transformed into machines, buildings, software and jobs. In other words, Europe is alive. Europe is humming along.

But during the course of the research, we discovered something else. It's more of a feeling really: that Europe's institutions are the last to profit from these success stories, if they profit at all; that hardly anyone makes the connection between the wind farm in Suffolk and the European Commission, between the sausage factory and the Juncker Plan, between the hospital and EIB loans, between Polish dairy farmers and European ideals.

It became apparent that although this Europe is working tirelessly everywhere to achieve its goals, its successes remain invisible, while in the 28 member states (soon to be 27, without the British), a bright spotlight is shone on every failure. The sad thought emerged that this EU, which has become part of our everyday lives, an indispensable player in even the most remote corners of the continent, has nevertheless remained a remote, unpopular entity.

Brexit supplied spectacular evidence to support this notion. Wales, for example, is one of the biggest beneficiaries of European support. A great deal of money has been sent to the British region so that museums could be operated and festival halls built. The EU helped rebuild roads and pedestrian zones, create educational and sports facilities, and build bicycle and hiking paths. But the majority of Welsh voter supported Brexit, more even than the nationwide average. Some 52.5 percent of the Welsh, 854,572 people, voted to withdraw from the ridiculed, despised and hated European Union.

These numbers alone made it seem pointless to simply dissect the Juncker Plan and write, for example, that within two years this bold program has helped 290,000 companies in 27 countries receive loans and provided 100,000 people with new jobs. It seemed pointless, because such information apparently goes in one European ear and promptly goes out the other. When Europe does something, the common response is: So what? How is that my concern? What do I have to do with Birmingham? Or sausage in Crete?

Europe is the forest that people are unable to see for all the trees. Spend half an hour on the European Commission's website searching for funding opportunities, and you'll end up feeling thoroughly confused. There is no branch of politics and no segment of society without a corresponding subsidy program.


Limited Effect

There are funds to promote civil society and others to address asylum issues. The European Commission promotes foreign trade and competitiveness. "Creative Europe" supports artists, filmmakers and other cultural workers. "Galileo" funds a navigation system supported by 30 European satellites; "Copernicus" provides money for the collection of geodata; "Erasmus" promotes the exchange of students and trainees. There are funding programs for honorary positions, for nuclear safety, for cultivating the rule of law, for urban areas, for villages and for underdeveloped regions. There is something for almost everything. And yet its effect seems to be nothing.

Supposedly so out of touch with its citizens, Europe is in fact on every market square and every street corner, and yet most passersby consistently overlook it. There are currently 1,175 small and large EU programs underway in Barcelona alone, a huge number, and the story isn't all that different in Lyon, Liverpool, Milan, Prague, Rotterdam, Lisbon, Seville, Cologne, Vienna and Warsaw.

In the German state of Saxony, where enthusiasm for Europe wanes by the year, there are 5,753 entries on the catalog of projects funded by the EU. The list includes hairdressers, small software companies, law firms, youth workshops, kindergartens, English tutors, naturopaths, employment agencies, clubs, associations, businesses and government agencies. The EU, it would seem, is doing its best not to forget even a single citizen of Saxony with its largesse.

The subsidies are for 110 euros (117 dollars) or 2,585 euros or even 253,000 euros, and there are loans galore. The money goes to cities and towns like Dresden and Leipzig, Werdau and Chemnitz, Radebeul, Zwickau, Pirna and Schkeuditz, Hoyerswerda, Grimma and Glauchau. But even as the money flows and Europe extends its helping hand, surveys show that only 33 percent of Saxony residents believe that Germany's membership in the EU is "generally advantageous," down from 52 percent only six years ago. How is this possible?

Are the bailout packages for Greece, Ireland and other countries to blame? Have these bailout packages had any effect on people in Germany? Is anyone in Germany worse off because of Europe? In fact, aren't many people better off? Could it be that people's heads are still full of old fairytales about standardized cucumbers? Or has Europe simply replaced the enemy that was missing in our highly polarized world?

There is apparently a collective emotional barrier against thinking money from Brussels is a good thing, against thinking that that Europe is a good thing, against recognizing the values of the EU as our own. Europe is held responsible for everything bad. There is hardly any place where Europe is able to gain a foothold.

Explaining this phenomenon is relatively simple in Birmingham. At the end of last year, Roger Stedman, medical director of the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, and Toby Lewis, the hospital's CEO, were sitting together in a mobile office unit with a view of the imposing construction site. Over instant coffee, the two Englishmen wondered why anyone would come to see them to talk about Europe.

The new facility will be one of Europe's biggest trauma centers, with 670 beds and 15 operating rooms -- at a total cost of £340 million (€392 million). Of that total, £107 million is a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB), the EU's bank. In Brussels, the hospital deal is seen as part of the Juncker Plan and the "Investment Offensive." But that's not how they see it in Birmingham. "It's a loan at market prices," says hospital director Stedman. "We could have financed it differently. It's a business deal, not a gift from the EU."

That's quite a harsh response. One might expect that the hospital officials in Birmingham would at least find a few friendly words for their biggest creditor, that they might show some gratitude to the EU for assuming such a large risk. It would be logical, and certainly polite, for them to praise the cooperation with Europe, and it would hardly be surprising if they were to repeat their praise at every press conference and in every local newspaper. They could say that Europe is making a large contribution to this hospital and that, in fact, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Czech and Belgian taxpayers are vouching for a loan so that a nice hospital can be built in England. But these English builders aren't doing that.

In fact, Europe's presence is virtually ignored in Birmingham when it comes to the construction of the Midland Metropolitan Hospital. The EU's role as a loan provider is kept silent, even by those who have good reason to say something nice. Even more surprising is the fact that, in the course of our conversation, Dr. Stedman and CEO Lewis reveal themselves to be pro-EU and anti-Brexit. They don't say so explicitly, but their words suggest that they would much rather have seen Britain remain in the EU, if only for fear of personnel shortages. Tens of thousands of EU citizens work in the British healthcare sector, says Lewis. Without them, he adds, the entire industry faces collapse. But praise for the EU? Forget it.

The EU story in Crete is different, even if the result is largely the same. High above the beautiful expansive beaches of Rethymno is the Creta Farms sausage factory, and the people who run it can hardly be beat when it comes to enthusiasm for Europe. The company has developed chemical and technical processes to extract fat from pork and replace it with olive oil. After the procedure, the sausage is easier to digest, and yet it still tastes good, at least better and stronger than many a competing product.


Last Chance Loan

For about a year, the Greeks have been supplying the Australian market with products under the brand name "Oliving," a play on the words olive and living, and they have already captured a 3 percent market share in the low-fat segment. They have to expand quickly to satisfy demand, which is where the EU came into play, in the form of the Juncker Plan.

Creta Farms became part of the European Investment Offensive when it was granted a 15 million euro loan. Without the money, says company president Manos Domazakis, a slim, melancholy man, the company would have run into difficulties and would not have been able to fill its orders -- and roughly 700 jobs would have been in jeopardy. And in Rethymno, Crete, 700 jobs is a huge number.

Experts from Brussels and Luxembourg flew to Crete, inspected all the books and had company officials explain the business down to the last detail, including the process of putting olive oil in the sausage, the marketing and the sales potential. They visited the pig production facility, the largest in Greece, with 45,000 animals processed annually, and they toured the sausage factory, passing commercial kitchens, fermenters and packing stations. They also looked to see whether the company had any other potential sources of financing. But there were none.

That's because Crete is still part of Greece, where banks are tip-toeing along the precipice of a financial and government crisis and have no interest whatsoever in granting new loans. The Greek stock market is also as good as dead and private investors prefer to look for projects in calmer waters outside of Greece. For Creta Farms, says President Domazakis, Europe was the one last chance to secure fresh funding.

The visitors from the north were sober, competent and professional, says Domazakis, who runs the family business together with his brother. They are truly grateful to the EU and its investment bank. In fact, the Domazakis brothers would be the perfect examples of the benefits offered by European Union membership, and not just in Crete. But during a drive along the coast, Domazakis lowers his voice and says that not everyone is pleased about the Juncker loan.

Envious competitors have badmouthed Creta Farms as "traitors" for allegedly receiving special treatment. Domestic banks were also upset over the foreign money from Brussels and Luxembourg, and about the symbolic message it sends when a Greek company is unable to secure financing in Greece. In other words, the fans of Europe from Rethymno, the employees of Creta Farms, all of them grateful beneficiaries who would certainly like to tell their story, now prefer to remain silent. Saying good things about the EU only creates bad blood. It's almost as if the EU were cursed.


Interference?


No matter where you look, the various agencies of the European Union can do what they want, but they won't get any recognition. Instead, people merely seek out and find the old prejudices, including the claim, disguised as economics, that the EU, with all its programs, ultimately only interferes with European markets.

The people at the European Investment Bank ought to have a response to that. A visit to the EIB in the cold European district of Luxembourg reveals sober, competent, professional men and women who could all have been part of the group to visit Creta Farms. And they explain, quite plausibly, that the EIB does everything it can to help as effectively as possible, but without interfering and getting in anyone's way.

No one wants an uber-state, one which, in addition to the nation-state apparatus, bursts into domestic markets as an unwanted actor. That is why Europe tries to identify investment gaps, determine "additionality," recognize structural problems and understand market failures -- prior to granting loans and providing assistance. And if a member state doesn't want any help, because it believes the help is misguided, no help is provided.

In contrast, the national governments like to take what they can get without asking permission and go back for seconds if they can -- before turning around to badmouth the European Union. Many national governments are not ashamed to actively block compromises at meetings in Brussels, only to return home and deride the EU for its inability to compromise. The same story has been going on for 10 or 15 years: The same governments that play a key role in shaping Europe's fate as members of the European Council in Brussels talk about the EU as a foreign power over which they have no influence when speaking to a domestic audience. It is an untenable situation.

This mendacity on the part of governments destroys all the minor successes, of which there are so many. The meetings where experts from 40 cities discuss ways to fight corruption in the awarding of public contracts. Or how best to handle difficult adolescents. Or how to bring the disabled into the working world. The European Union spends a lot of time exploring how to create jobs, how to train people properly, how not to leave the unemployed behind and how to give young people hope.

"Power_m" is a Munich-based project that successfully advises the unemployed. Also in Munich, "Amiga" helps highly qualified immigrants find jobs. "Guide" helps women start businesses and "BIWAQ" addresses the problems of disadvantaged neighborhoods. The programs cost as much as 10 million euros each and the EU pays 50, 60 or 70 percent of these costs, depending on the project. Europe is present, not just in Brussels but in Munich's Giesing district, in Berg am Laim, Ramersdorf, at the Innsbrucker Ring or on a country road near Tegernsee. Europe helps. Everywhere.


Attention When Something Goes Wrong


When 10 educators from Munich visit kindergartens in Scotland to learn how the Scots treat disabled children, Brussels pays some of the cost. When Munich and Vienna organize a trainee exchange program, Brussels pays some of the cost. The EU provides 31,255 euros for the "Save Earth Life for Youth" program, 72,634 euros for "Mobility of Trainees in the Baking, Confection and Butcher Professions," 34,524 euros for a program called "Fit for Work," and 2,600 euros for "Alpha+ Improving Reading and Writing."

Sometimes there is also a panel discussion on the topic "The EU and the Media." At one such discussion, Josef Schmid, the deputy mayor of Munich, once said that it was certainly the media's job to uncover abuses. But, he added, it is worth asking how a kind of European allegiance is supposed to develop if Europe only gets attention when something goes wrong.

The same questions are asked in the Europe division of the Munich Department of Labor and Economy. Its deputy manager, Anton Tropper, 34, is friendly and matter-of-fact -- and is indisputably a dedicated European. Tropper was born in Graz, Austria, worked in Brussels, and has now been living in Munich for the last four years. The city is so well-connected to Europe that it could fill thick annual reports on the topic of the EU alone.

In the course of a major project called "Smarter Together," Neuaubing-Westkreuz, a Munich neighborhood that has somehow remained stuck in the 1950s, has recently turned into an idea laboratory. Researchers and IT firms have descended on the neighborhood to introduce bike and car sharing to residents and to interconnect everything and everyone. Through all kinds of renovations and urbanistic tricks, carbon dioxide emissions are to be reduced by 20 percent while renewables are to become 20 percent of the energy mix. Energy efficiency is to rise by 20 percent. As a result, quality of life will improve across the board. And the EU is paying about €7 million to find out whether this approach can work, so that other cities and neighborhoods can learn from it. Two other "smart cities," Lyon and Vienna, are also part of the experiment.


'Days of Glossy Brochures Are Over'

What might sound like a classic top-down project is in fact more of a large-scale field experiment with constant citizen participation. The residents of Neuaubing and Westkreuz receive home visits and free consultation, and there are frequent meetings, which are supposedly even well-attended. At any rate, Europe feels very much alive out in the western section of Munich. "We need to go to the people," says Anton Tropper, and by "we" he ultimately means Europe. "The days of glossy brochures are over."

He's right. No one can hear the laudatory speeches about the EU anymore. After all the acrimony over bailout packages and central bank policy, after the total failure of the community in the refugee crisis, after the forays of Hungary and Poland into non-constitutionality, after the crooked deals with Turkey, and after all the years of ongoing inability to bring about reforms, it's finally time to put a stop the devotionals.

The good old appeals have never sounded more hollow than they do today. The big speeches have all been given. We no longer need a top-down but a bottom-up Europe. We need interaction, because enthusiasm can only spring from interaction. The German-French friendship, once the world's biggest "traditional enmity," is the European model for this type of interaction.

To gain new supporters, the EU probably needs to concentrate less on spreading money around Europe and more on sending people around the continent. Enthusiasm is generated when educators from Bavaria meet teachers from Scotland; when trainees from Munich go to Vienna for an internship; when bakers from Paris visit bakers in Budapest; when Swedes explain to Germans how they help refugees; and when envoys from 40 cities get together to discuss how best to help young people.

Europe is when Germans and British install wind turbines together, when Italians, Dutch and Poles get together and think about dairy cows, when people from Lyon argue with people from Munich-Westkreuz over clever ways to use bikes. That's Europe. And when that happens, the European narrative is a positive one.




IIRC, joining the Eurozone is an eventual requirement as part of joining the EU, isn't it?


No.


You are about that?


Yes, because Nations have been joining the EU and have not been forced to adopt the Euro. You do know that countries like Poland, Czech Rep., Hungary all refuse to adopt the Euro and are still part of the EU? As usual, the silent compromise is that they can keep their national currencies in exchange for a nebulous promise to adopt the Euro when the conditions are met for them to do so - and the state itself can determine when that is the case.


Where you and I disagree is that you seem to believe that the EU and Eurozone are stabile, while I believe it's not and eventually the balance will tip one way or another.


I see the amount of good the EU is doing, how it helped societies to grow, how it stopped people from being bitter rivals and put them to work together without the presence of a huge external threat to force them to do so. That is why I am a huge defender of the EU and why it is important it does not survive.


Revamping the Eurozone would be a good place to start as that's a cause of a lot of the economic instabilities. It's not going to happen until either there is closer integration or countries start leaving / get kicked out, but that's what should be done. The Eurozone should have only included a few countries at most instead of the 19 members it has now (and more as other EU members end up being required to join), especially without a formal fiscal transfer system in place.


Shoulda, coulda, woulda....does not amount to anything. People back in the beginning refused a transfer system (because back then Germany would have qualified for it due to the cost of integrating the east).


To use your river analogy, the EU decided to walk halfway across the river then stop. Standing in the middle of a river is not a good thing to do, it's been fortunate to maintain it's footing so far, but IMO eventually there comes a point in time where you msut either go forwards or backwards or risk being swept away.


Other state formations made far less sense and they are still standing to the point that nobody even questions them existing.



... And? You do realise just how much of a disaster CETA could mean for the average Canadian and European, right?


Merely disproving your notion of the EU as some malovolent influence that will never agree to free trade without concessions but boy that point did rather spectacularly fly over your head.
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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby BabelHuber » 2017-01-29 06:09am

Tribble wrote:If the Eurozone had included only a few members, included a fiscal transfer mechanism, was very careful in its expansion and stayed such until everyone was damn certain that it was going to operate as intended, then I agree it could have worked.


You have to get rid of this ivory tower view when analyzing politics: In the 90ies, the German parliament never would have signed a treaty which included a fiscal tranfer mechanism. Coming up with such a proposal would have been political suicide for the German chancellor.

Also, the countries which would have received money in such a fiscal unity (like Italy or Greece) never ever would have signed a treaty wich would have restricted their fiscal sovereignty.

So it was politically impossible back then, end of story.

Tribble wrote:Unfortunately the signs were there that the EU project would eventually fall short of the integration required. Although the UK was by far the most vocal country opposing further integration, it was definitely not the only one. But they went ahead with it anyways hoping that things would work out in the end. Obviously that gamble failed.

The sad part is that even idiots like Nigel Farage were able to predict almost in sequence which country's economies would fail and require a bailout, and yet nothing meaningful has been done. It looks like Italy is going to be next.


Did Farage say that in 1998? With hindsight, saying so is easy.

Tribble wrote:Agreed, though IMO it would be better in the long run that the Euro has a formal and controlled breakup than something much messier happening down the road.


A controlled breakup most likely wouldn't change much: In the second a country leaves the Euro it is on its own, without the backup of the ECB.

This country would have to get its shit in order before this point in time. When I look at some rather discfunctional southern European countries, I have doubts that they would be able to manage this...
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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby madd0ct0r » 2017-01-29 07:59am

Tribble wrote:I'll be breaking up my responses...

I think the natural state of the EU is lurching from crisis to crisis. It literally exists to improve upon the previous situaton, which was lurching from war to war. Europe is a wildly diverse area with enough complex feedback loops that the mid-term consequences of any plan are very unpredictable. Hence stop-start policy and lurching from crisis to crisis. A river is best crossed by feeling for one rock at a time...


To use your river analogy, the EU decided to walk halfway across the river then stop. Standing in the middle of a river is not a good thing to do, it's been fortunate to maintain it's footing so far, but IMO eventually there comes a point in time where you msut either go forwards or backwards or risk being swept away.


I'm glad thanas flagged it. I hadn't realised you had responded. Let me be very clear. There is no stable state. There is no other bank. There is only river. There is no position where the Eu will not be beset with crises. So far it has survived. Encouraged by the UK, the previous decade and a half has been about expansion not deeper integration. This has created difficulties that you correctly identify. Integration instead of expansion would result in a very different crisis, but believe me, what we see in Ukraine would be widespread and illegal immigration from the east would be creating huge pressures and large organised crime networks. The economyof several more states would have taken a few extra percentage points hit in the Great Recession as they would not have had the young mobile workforce before hand who mostly just went home. There would be more countries in north Europe looking like Spain right now. And you would probably be decrying the Eu as too small to function effectively and it should have expanded not integrated.

There will always be a crisis. There is no stable state. The eu has fobe reasonably well so far, and this is far from the worst thing it has faced. A response is needed, but that means selecting the next foot hold carefully, not panicking.
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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby Tribble » 2017-01-29 11:41pm

Thanas wrote: If you do so then please have the courtesy of quoting the different people you argue with, it makes it rather hard to go back through and find who you are arguing with when you have to compare lines in your post to posts on previous pages.


My apologies for that.


Thanas wrote: Again, I see no reason for them having a vote. EU light is not supposed to be an attractive option just like the local golf club does not allow "light" memberships where people can pick the most attractive bargain. Bargain shopping is not a way to fully secure cooperation.


The EEA is not "bargain shopping" by any stretch of the imagination - adapting the rules on free movement of goods, services capital and people (the ladder of which is why the current UK government is against a "soft" Brexit") is mandatory. That is a major commitment on the part of EEA members (far more than any mere trade agreement) and given the fact they also contribute comparatively in terms of finances as EU members regarding EEA matters I feel the right to vote has already been earned.

You and I are fundamentally opposed on this issue, so there really isn't a point in continuing it.


Thanas wrote:Finland is getting screwed for a host of reasons, the biggest one which has not much to do with the Eurozone but rather their tech giant being idiotic and missing an important market shift. Not sure how you can blame the Eurozone for that.


Actually this is yet another demonstration of how the Eurozone is hurting rather than helping an economy recover.

If there was a formal fiscal transfer mechanism in place, due the Nokia collapses' sheer size it likely would have automatically kicked in fiscals transfers to help mitigate the effects. On the other hand if Finland was outside of the Eurozone it would have been able to do things such as its interest rate and Finland's currency would have devalued (which while increasing the costs of imports would have attracted investment due to the currency becoming more competitive.)

As it stands the only thing Finland can do at the moment is hope for the EU's good graces in sending over some funding, go through an internal devaluation via gutting wages, benefits government services etc and hope that makes them competitive enough to attract some investment. Fortunately for Finland it doesn't appear to be anywhere near the point where a bailout is necessary, but due to the Eurozone not having a formal fiscal transfer system it is dragging out the economic recovery much more than it should (and for other Eurozone members for that matter).

Thanas wrote:As for the rest, the ability to travel freely without exchanging currency is a huge bonus, as is the easy movement of capital.


The former is more of a convenience than a necessity while the ladder is essentially a requirement to being a EU member state, not just the Eurozone. Note now much currency flowed through the UK over the years despite it not having the Euro. They don't outweigh the disadvantages for most Eurozone members, who cannot possibly hope to compete with Germany.

Thanas wrote:Yes, because Nations have been joining the EU and have not been forced to adopt the Euro. You do know that countries like Poland, Czech Rep., Hungary all refuse to adopt the Euro and are still part of the EU? As usual, the silent compromise is that they can keep their national currencies in exchange for a nebulous promise to adopt the Euro when the conditions are met for them to do so - and the state itself can determine when that is the case.


That is simply further proof that the Eurozone is not working out, otherwise they would have been ecstatic to join and reap all the rewards, right? When the EU essentially has to break it's own treaty obligations, you know there is a problem.

Incidentally that's not the first set of Eurozone treaty obligations to be broken as IIRC there were originally strict requirements to becoming and to remaining a Eurozone member.

Thanas wrote:I see the amount of good the EU is doing, how it helped societies to grow, how it stopped people from being bitter rivals and put them to work together without the presence of a huge external threat to force them to do so.


Well, the threat of the USSR and the USA was always a big motivator for closer cooperation; the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community did not form in a vacuum.

Note that most of my ire, such as it is, is directed towards the Eurozone in particular (and most of the rest is directed towards the current government setup which we both acknowledge has a democratic deficit which needs reform).

Fix the Eurozone by creating a proper currency union (including a full fiscal transfer system) and/or have some countries return to their regular currencies while giving the European Parliament more legislative powers and making the European Commission directly elected would go a long way in solving the EU's problems IMO.

It's probably not going to happen, but one can always hope.


Thanas wrote:That is why I am a huge defender of the EU and why it is important it does not survive.


I presume you meant you hope it is important that it does survive. :P

I hope the EU survives as well, I'm just not optimistic that will happen in its present state.

Thanas wrote:Shoulda, coulda, woulda....does not amount to anything. People back in the beginning refused a transfer system (because back then Germany would have qualified for it due to the cost of integrating the east).


It's important because if you do not have a full understanding as to why something isn't working right (like the Eurozone) it makes it very difficult to effectively fix it. Refusing to acknowledge that problems exist is even worse.

Studying the history leading the present is just as important as learning about the present itself. You of all people should know that better than most.

Thanas wrote:Other state formations made far less sense and they are still standing to the point that nobody even questions them existing.


I am curious as to what states you are referring to. Canada could fall under that definition as it makes absolutely no sense in a geographical and economical context (the reason why it holds together is mainly because no one wants to become part of the USA, and a breakup of Canada would likely lead to that).

Thanas wrote:Merely disproving your notion of the EU as some malovolent influence that will never agree to free trade without concessions but boy that point did rather spectacularly fly over your head.


Erm, the EU doesn't agree to free-trade without concessions, nor does any other country for that matter. CETA is no exception. So what's your point?

My main point, is that the EU in its present condition is unsustainable long-term --> IMO it will either come closer together or breakup, and I am concerned that the ladder seems more likely.

There is a big difference between that and "Rawr EU is evilz!"


BabelHuber wrote:You have to get rid of this ivory tower view when analyzing politics: In the 90ies, the German parliament never would have signed a treaty which included a fiscal tranfer mechanism. Coming up with such a proposal would have been political suicide for the German chancellor.

Also, the countries which would have received money in such a fiscal unity (like Italy or Greece) never ever would have signed a treaty wich would have restricted their fiscal sovereignty.

So it was politically impossible back then, end of story.


If Germany was unwilling / unable to signed onto a treaty which included a fiscal transfer system, and other countries like Italy and Greece were unwilling / unable to sign a treaty which restricted their fiscal sovereignty (actually they did in some ways IIRC but that was quickly ignored) then the Eurozone should never have been attempted in the first place, since it was inevitably going to run into massive difficulties without those mechanisms in place. That was obvious even in the 1990's, and shame on the Eurozone leaders for leading them into that mess despite the obvious risks.

BabelHuber wrote:Did Farage say that in 1998? With hindsight, saying so is easy.


Farage has always been a euro-skeptic and saying such things from as far back as the early 1990's IIRC, though he was hardly alone.

It was one of the main reasons why Margaret Thatcher opposed the Euro and kept the UK out of it. While she had many flaws, her judgement on the Eurozone was the right one IMO, particularly where it concerned Greece.


[quote=BabelHuber]A controlled breakup most likely wouldn't change much: In the second a country leaves the Euro it is on its own, without the backup of the ECB.

This country would have to get its shit in order before this point in time. When I look at some rather discfunctional southern European countries, I have doubts that they would be able to manage this...[/quote]

By "controlled", one assumes that includes taking the measures necessary to prepare for an exit. This could be made easier if a group of countries decide to leave all at once, such as a "Southern Euro" for example.

I agree that neither is option is likely, and if/when a country leaves the Euro is probably going to be an controlled mess of affairs.

madd0ct0r wrote:I'm glad thanas flagged it. I hadn't realised you had responded.


Yes, my apologies for that, I forgot.

madd0ct0r wrote:Let me be very clear. There is no stable state. There is no other bank. There is only river. There is no position where the Eu will not be beset with crises. So far it has survived. Encouraged by the UK, the previous decade and a half has been about expansion not deeper integration. This has created difficulties that you correctly identify. Integration instead of expansion would result in a very different crisis, but believe me, what we see in Ukraine would be widespread and illegal immigration from the east would be creating huge pressures and large organised crime networks. The economyof several more states would have taken a few extra percentage points hit in the Great Recession as they would not have had the young mobile workforce before hand who mostly just went home. There would be more countries in north Europe looking like Spain right now. And you would probably be decrying the Eu as too small to function effectively and it should have expanded not integrated.

There will always be a crisis. There is no stable state. The eu has fobe reasonably well so far, and this is far from the worst thing it has faced. A response is needed, but that means selecting the next foot hold carefully, not panicking.


Just to be clear, I believe that the Four Freedoms of the EU (Freedom of goods, services, capital and persons) was a good thing for Europe overall. Or another words, EEA levels of integration was a net positive. It was going beyond that, and particularly the creation of the Eurozone (which does not have the powers required nor a fiscal transfer system to work properly) which I feel has been a negative thing overall. The current democratic deficit is another problem which is undermining the EU's legitimacy, though that is a secondary concern when compared to the Eurozone.

Or as I said in an earlier post, I believe that once a country reaches a point where it desires closer integration than something like the EEA currently provides (which is a lot btw) it is better to make the leap to a full nation-state (even if means less members joining the full nation state initially) than to go half-way and risk having the process stall, since the negatives of its stalling half-way outweigh the benefits.

My second point is that in its present state IMO the EU is unstable (particularly the Eurozone) and it will either end up having closer integration, or it will end up giving powers back to the individual countries. IMO the status quo will not likely hold for much longer. And IMO if the ladder ends up happening it will likely be due to some kind of mess likely countries leaving.

You can disagree with me and you may be correct to do, it is just my opinion after all. However, at no point have I been advocating for "zero relationships between European countries whatsoever, and unifying Europe = evilz!"

And as I stated earlier I would have voted to Remain in the EU over risking a "hard" Brexit, though if there was a ranked ballot option between the EEA, EU or "Hard Brexit" I would have ranked them in that order.
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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby madd0ct0r » 2017-01-30 02:48am

My response to your first point is, if EEA levels of integration are the optimal than we will see a cautious return to that. As Thanas has pointed out, I am not sure EeA levels of integration was anymore stable due to the overwhelming weight of the German central bank. It was a response to that instability that led to the current Euro. Lurching from crisis to crisis. You suggest further integration as the panacea, imnot sure It is, given the current crisis includes brexit and resurgent nationalism.

guess my response to your second point is wary agreement. I agree that the status quo is unstable, but I disagree that there is a stable position available. The Eu has the choice of moving to the closest slightly better position (an example being bailing out Greece in the absence of formal fiscal controls) OR sucking it up hoping to strike a reasonably better position once past the local trough (an example is Germany accepting costs of integration and training of Syrians in return for a longer term demographic dividend). The former has risks of getting stuck at a local optimum, the latter has risks of too much instability and stress forcing a bad situation before the reasonably better one is achieved. The fact this is happening against global instability means that the stability of the Eurozone's posistion will fluctuate even if nothing happens internally - which is partially what I'm getting at with the "there is only river".
At the moment Russia resurgent desires the Eu As a threat to point at and vica versa. That's an external pressure as glue. At the moment the EU is positioning itself as the "heart of the world" now America is having a heart attack. America can go isolationist but the Eu is between Africa and Asia. They have much more intensely local pressures to manage,but slightly different stakes for each pressure. That's external pressure as wedges. Finally we have decoupled regional economies driving arbitrage and inequality inside the EU (internal wedges) and the inescapable but highly predictable industrial and demographic shifts shared across the Eurozone alone inter world (bar japan) .
It's complicated enough that I do not see a stable posistion.
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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby His Divine Shadow » 2017-01-30 03:56am

Personally I'm more optimistic about the future now that the religion of free trade seems to be developing ever more visible cracks in its facade. About time.

As for finlands euro problems just being a case of "nokia did it", this article disagrees:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tuomas-ma ... 60950.html
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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby Zinegata » 2017-01-30 04:09am

Honestly, the more people whine about the EU, the more it seems like a meme created by failed politicians trying to find a scapegoat for their own failed policies.

Because on an individual and even small business level, you pretty much have only yourself to blame if you're not doing terribly well in the EU. Even if you live in one of the worse-performing countries you can move and work elsewhere without any real issue. Filipinos would have killed for such kind of worldwide freedom of movement during the heights of the 90s diaspora.

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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby BabelHuber » 2017-01-30 10:42am

Tribble wrote:If Germany was unwilling / unable to signed onto a treaty which included a fiscal transfer system, and other countries like Italy and Greece were unwilling / unable to sign a treaty which restricted their fiscal sovereignty (actually they did in some ways IIRC but that was quickly ignored) then the Eurozone should never have been attempted in the first place, since it was inevitably going to run into massive difficulties without those mechanisms in place. That was obvious even in the 1990's, and shame on the Eurozone leaders for leading them into that mess despite the obvious risks.


Perhaps you have forgotten the little fact that Helmut Kohl agreed to the Euro when negotiating the German reunification with Margret Thatcher and Francois Mitterand in ca. 1990. So after this the German government only negotiated about how the Euro should look like, not if the Euro should be introduced at all.

There was no way back in the mid-90ies, at least not for the German government.

Also, you are ignoring the already-addressed fact that the people involved in the Euro contracts in 1998 did know that a tighter European integration is necessary. But they thought that this will happen at a later point in time. Their strategy was "one step after the other".

Of course this failed, but with hindsight things are always easy to analyze.

Tribble wrote:Farage has always been a euro-skeptic and saying such things from as far back as the early 1990's IIRC, though he was hardly alone.

It was one of the main reasons why Margaret Thatcher opposed the Euro and kept the UK out of it. While she had many flaws, her judgement on the Eurozone was the right one IMO, particularly where it concerned Greece.


Thatcher opposed the Euro because she wasn't interested in the EU at all - she wanted to only have a common market, not more. Also, Farage would have been Euro-skeptic no matter how the details of the Euro would have looked like - like Thatcher, he did not want a tighter European integration anyways, so he'd oppose anything which leads in this direction, no matter if it made sense or not.
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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby Starglider » 2017-01-30 04:21pm

Zinegata wrote:Even if you live in one of the worse-performing countries you can move and work elsewhere without any real issue.


If you are young and have no family or social commitments, sure. A lot of people did move and left many villages in southern and eastern regions completely hollowed out and depopulated.
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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby Zaune » 2017-01-30 05:32pm

Starglider wrote:If you are young and have no family or social commitments, sure. A lot of people did move and left many villages in southern and eastern regions completely hollowed out and depopulated.

Which is still a step up from having those people stuck in those villages on benefits with nothing to do except drink, shag and get into trouble. Maybe we could've taken advantage of that here in the UK if we didn't do such a half-arsed job of teaching foreign languages.
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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby Zinegata » 2017-01-31 01:18am

Starglider wrote:
Zinegata wrote:Even if you live in one of the worse-performing countries you can move and work elsewhere without any real issue.


If you are young and have no family or social commitments, sure. A lot of people did move and left many villages in southern and eastern regions completely hollowed out and depopulated.


Which, as bad as it sounds, happens when small villages can't figure out what to do with themselves anymore.

It's no different from American ghost towns that died because the local factory or mine closed shop. Either the town figures out something new, or it dies. You can't pretend that you could have kept the town going on forever even if the coal mine ran out. That's the essential conceit of many of the populists supporting Brexit and Trump. They don't want to admit that their life of way died a long time ago and nobody is obliged to let them keep living their fairy tale.

Also, the Filipino diaspora included plenty of people with existing families and social commitments. The idea it can only apply to young unattached individuals is really coming off as little more than First World entitlement nowadays.

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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby Simon_Jester » 2017-01-31 01:45am

It applies to young unattached individuals... and young very attached individuals who are willing to travel to the other end of the continent/planet to send money home.

It's the people in between (and everyone who isn't young) who are more likely to have problems. Not a lot of room out there for 45-year-old guest workers.

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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby Zinegata » 2017-01-31 02:12am

Simon_Jester wrote:It applies to young unattached individuals... and young very attached individuals who are willing to travel to the other end of the continent/planet to send money home.

It's the people in between (and everyone who isn't young) who are more likely to have problems. Not a lot of room out there for 45-year-old guest workers.


Bullshit.

https://psa.gov.ph/sites/default/files/ ... 202015.pdf

15% of Filipino OFWs are over 45 years of age. If you expand that a little bit to those over 40, then the total shoots to 28%.

By comparison, only 7% of OFWs are under 25, and even the 25-29 year old folks are only 26% of the total pie.

In short, being older doesn't mean you can't move around and get a better job elsewhere. Indeed, someone with plenty of good job experience may in fact have more options to choose from.

Indeed, I'm increasingly skeptical of the general Western ideas about retirement, and chalk it up to a general culture of First World entitlement and laziness. Japan for instance has very different societal expectations out of old people - who tend to get angry if you try to help them because it implies they're no longer contributing to society. In their mind it doesn't matter if you're 70 or 80 - you should still do your part.

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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby Zaune » 2017-01-31 06:07am

Relative youth and a lack of family commitments still helps, though. Especially if you don't have a trade.
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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby Thanas » 2017-01-31 07:51pm

Kenneth Clarke has given an awesome speech.
video here, scroll down.
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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby Tribble » 2017-01-31 10:00pm

madd0ct0r wrote:My response to your first point is, if EEA levels of integration are the optimal than we will see a cautious return to that. As Thanas has pointed out, I am not sure EeA levels of integration was anymore stable due to the overwhelming weight of the German central bank. It was a response to that instability that led to the current Euro. Lurching from crisis to crisis. You suggest further integration as the panacea, imnot sure It is, given the current crisis includes brexit and resurgent nationalism.

I guess my response to your second point is wary agreement. I agree that the status quo is unstable, but I disagree that there is a stable position available. The Eu has the choice of moving to the closest slightly better position (an example being bailing out Greece in the absence of formal fiscal controls) OR sucking it up hoping to strike a reasonably better position once past the local trough (an example is Germany accepting costs of integration and training of Syrians in return for a longer term demographic dividend). The former has risks of getting stuck at a local optimum, the latter has risks of too much instability and stress forcing a bad situation before the reasonably better one is achieved. The fact this is happening against global instability means that the stability of the Eurozone's posistion will fluctuate even if nothing happens internally - which is partially what I'm getting at with the "there is only river".
At the moment Russia resurgent desires the Eu As a threat to point at and vica versa. That's an external pressure as glue. At the moment the EU is positioning itself as the "heart of the world" now America is having a heart attack. America can go isolationist but the Eu is between Africa and Asia. They have much more intensely local pressures to manage,but slightly different stakes for each pressure. That's external pressure as wedges. Finally we have decoupled regional economies driving arbitrage and inequality inside the EU (internal wedges) and the inescapable but highly predictable industrial and demographic shifts shared across the Eurozone alone inter world (bar japan) .
It's complicated enough that I do not see a stable posistion.


Maybe I should rephrase my viewpoint: every country and organization has some forms of instability. The key is whether or not those instabilities can be effectively managed. If so, then the current structure can continue to function and evolve. If not, then the instabilities will gradually get worse over time and the current system will inevitably break down and a new one will emerge (this can be either negative or positive depending on the circumstances).

The EU (and especially the Eurozone) appears to be caught in a Catch-22 situation. The EU needs reforms to improve its democratic legitimacy, yet due to resurgent nationalism those reforms aren't taking place... which then fuels nationalism even more as calls to fix the "democratic deficit" don't produce results. The Eurozone has major problems and needs the powers and fiscal transfer systems necessary to make it work effectively... but because it isn't working it is fueling the resurgent nationalism which prevents those reforms from taking place.

I think where you and I disagree is whether or not these things are enough to cause a breakdown and change in the current setup. IMO they are (particularly the ladder), though that breakdown if it does occur may not be a negative thing in the long run. Of course I would prefer it if you and Thanas are correct in that external forces will help keep the EU and Eurozone together while they eventually right themselves as I'd rather not see the dice get rolled on that. Ideally the nationalism wave will subside while the economies start growing faster and this will be enough bring about reforms.

BabelHuber wrote: Perhaps you have forgotten the little fact that Helmut Kohl agreed to the Euro when negotiating the German reunification with Margret Thatcher and Francois Mitterand in ca. 1990. So after this the German government only negotiated about how the Euro should look like, not if the Euro should be introduced at all.

There was no way back in the mid-90ies, at least not for the German government.

Also, you are ignoring the already-addressed fact that the people involved in the Euro contracts in 1998 did know that a tighter European integration is necessary. But they thought that this will happen at a later point in time. Their strategy was "one step after the other".

Of course this failed, but with hindsight things are always easy to analyze.


Which just spreads the cause of the failure even further - Thatcher and Mitterland should not have forced Germany into making the Euro currency, especially if the reasons behind it were to hinder German economic dominance more than it was to create a stable currency union.

My point is that given the overall history everyone involved knew they were gambling when they created the Euro, and that gamble failed. No point in blaming anyone in particular, as everyone had a role in one way or another. Obviously nothing can be done to change what happened, but IMO it's important to look at why the gamble failed because that might help fix things (or at least prevent a repeat).

BabelHuber wrote: Thatcher opposed the Euro because she wasn't interested in the EU at all - she wanted to only have a common market, not more. Also, Farage would have been Euro-skeptic no matter how the details of the Euro would have looked like - like Thatcher, he did not want a tighter European integration anyways, so he'd oppose anything which leads in this direction, no matter if it made sense or not.


That doesn't change the validity of their points though.

Zinegata wrote: Honestly, the more people whine about the EU, the more it seems like a meme created by failed politicians trying to find a scapegoat for their own failed policies.

Because on an individual and even small business level, you pretty much have only yourself to blame if you're not doing terribly well in the EU. Even if you live in one of the worse-performing countries you can move and work elsewhere without any real issue. Filipinos would have killed for such kind of worldwide freedom of movement during the heights of the 90s diaspora.


[quote="Zinegata''] Which, as bad as it sounds, happens when small villages can't figure out what to do with themselves anymore.

It's no different from American ghost towns that died because the local factory or mine closed shop. Either the town figures out something new, or it dies. You can't pretend that you could have kept the town going on forever even if the coal mine ran out. That's the essential conceit of many of the populists supporting Brexit and Trump. They don't want to admit that their life of way died a long time ago and nobody is obliged to let them keep living their fairy tale.

Also, the Filipino diaspora included plenty of people with existing families and social commitments. The idea it can only apply to young unattached individuals is really coming off as little more than First World entitlement nowadays.[/quote]

There is a big difference between your scenario and what is happening in the Eurozone. As has been discussed, the Eurozone is largely the cause of why some nations are doing poorly in the first place. And unlike a situation where, say, the resources of a mine are depleted, the Eurozone's woes are still correctable problems at the moment. The weaker nations in the Eurozone can certainly recover from present circumstances - but only if their people believe they can and put forth the effort to do so. What you are suggesting would simply make matters worse by making it more difficult for those countries to recover, and in essence will cause a self-fulfilling prophecy.

IMO it would be better for individuals and businesses to pressure the governments to reform, rather than pack up and run away. That point has not been reached yet.
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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby Zinegata » 2017-02-01 12:53am

Tribble wrote:There is a big difference between your scenario and what is happening in the Eurozone. As has been discussed, the Eurozone is largely the cause of why some nations are doing poorly in the first place. And unlike a situation where, say, the resources of a mine are depleted, the Eurozone's woes are still correctable problems at the moment. The weaker nations in the Eurozone can certainly recover from present circumstances - but only if their people believe they can and put forth the effort to do so. What you are suggesting would simply make matters worse by making it more difficult for those countries to recover, and in essence will cause a self-fulfilling prophecy.

IMO it would be better for individuals and businesses to pressure the governments to reform, rather than pack up and run away. That point has not been reached yet.


No, a lot of failed governments are claiming that the Eurozone is to blame. I am not seeing very much actual evidence and the sane articles tend to show only minor percentage differences in growth (single digit) that somehow would have saved a country from decades of its own failures.

And in any case nobody forced countries to join the EU. Gee, why would they suddenly be surprised that their economy would start performing worse when they actually have to compete with other countries who have their shit together?

If the weaker places want to get better, then they need to stop finger-pointing and actually do something within the present framework. As it stands, Brexit has demonstrated exactly what sort of lying shitheads are chanting "Let's leave Europe to solve our problems!" - a bunch of opportunistic politicians who actually have no idea how to fix their own countries and economies once they actually win their anti-Euro referendums.

The world is no longer a bunch of isolated little towns and villages that can live forever pretending that nothing should ever change. That again is the essential conceit with the populist hogwash that's "sweeping" the First World. It's stuck in a perpetual loop of inaction and fail because no one wants to point the finger at themselves for their own problems.

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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby Tribble » 2017-02-01 01:32am

Zinegata wrote:
No, a lot of failed governments are claiming that the Eurozone is to blame. I am not seeing very much actual evidence and the sane articles tend to show only minor percentage differences in growth (single digit) that somehow would have saved a country from decades of its own failures.

And in any case nobody forced countries to join the EU. Gee, why would they suddenly be surprised that their economy would start performing worse when they actually have to compete with other countries who have their shit together?


If the economies of weaker countries are performing worse under the Euro than if they were separate, then the Euro is not a good thing for countries which adopted it. If the countries are unable / unwilling to adapt so that they can be competitive within the Eurozone, and/or there is no mechanisms such as fiscal transfer system in place to help balance out differences in the economy, then remaining in the Eurozone is not a net positive overall.

And note that while the Eurozone is a part of the EU, it is not the EU itself.

Zinegata wrote:If the weaker places want to get better, then they need to stop finger-pointing and actually do something within the present framework.


Agreed, though part of that is reforming the Eurozone to make it more stable in the long run. Creditor nations such as Germany need to recognize that things like a formal fiscal transfer system is better for the Eurozone in the long run than bailouts. Debtor countries like Greece need to get their act in gear and start making the internal reforms to their economies to make things like a fiscal transfer system worthwhile.

I don't think either is likely to happen for various reasons (political, economical, social, cultural etc). I also don't feel that the status quo is going to remain such long term - either the Eurozone countries will all get their act together, or they won't and it may eventually fall apart. Based on what I've seen so far the ladder seems more likely, though I hope this isn't the case.


Zinegata wrote:As it stands, Brexit has demonstrated exactly what sort of lying shitheads are chanting "Let's leave Europe to solve our problems!" - a bunch of opportunistic politicians who actually have no idea how to fix their own countries and economies once they actually win their anti-Euro referendums.


Agreed, and as I said in earlier posts I would have voted to Remain. Even though IMO there are good reasons for the UK to switch to and EEA- type agreement, that was nowhere near enough to justify the risk of a total break from Europe.

And as I have stated earlier there are various reasons why the EU and Eurozone aren't working as they should, and the current political climate and revival of anti-EU nationalism are certainly a part of that.

Zinegata wrote:The world is no longer a bunch of isolated little towns and villages that can live forever pretending that nothing should ever change. That again is the essential conceit with the populist hogwash that's "sweeping" the First World. It's stuck in a perpetual loop of inaction and fail because no one wants to point the finger at themselves for their own problems.


Again, agreed, and again, that's one of the main reasons why I feel the EU is in jeopardy atm. Everyone knows reforms are needed at the national / EU / Eurozone level... but no one is doing anything meaningful about it. And IMO pretending that those problems don't exist and castrating anyone who tries to point them help does not help matters, and plays right into the hand of the populist nationalist who are pushing to leave. The general lack of action and refusal to admit problems is what concerns me the most. Hopefully I am wrong and the EU will stay together in the long run.
Last edited by Tribble on 2017-02-01 01:39am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby K. A. Pital » 2017-02-01 01:36am

Zinegata wrote:No, a lot of failed governments are claiming that the Eurozone is to blame. I am not seeing very much actual evidence and the sane articles tend to show only minor percentage differences in growth (single digit) that somehow would have saved a country from decades of its own failures.

And in any case nobody forced countries to join the EU. Gee, why would they suddenly be surprised that their economy would start performing worse when they actually have to compete with other countries who have their shit together?

If the weaker places want to get better, then they need to stop finger-pointing and actually do something within the present framework. As it stands, Brexit has demonstrated exactly what sort of lying shitheads are chanting "Let's leave Europe to solve our problems!" - a bunch of opportunistic politicians who actually have no idea how to fix their own countries and economies once they actually win their anti-Euro referendums.

The world is no longer a bunch of isolated little towns and villages that can live forever pretending that nothing should ever change. That again is the essential conceit with the populist hogwash that's "sweeping" the First World. It's stuck in a perpetual loop of inaction and fail because no one wants to point the finger at themselves for their own problems.

That is a lot of poor-blaming here. "If the poor want to get rich, they have to bootstrap themselves". Uh... no.

Also, the monetary union precludes being competitive via currency devaluation, so the typical way a situation like that would resolve itself is already blocked for good.
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Re: Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

Postby Zinegata » 2017-02-01 02:08am

Tribble wrote:If the economies of weaker countries are performing worse under the Euro than if they were separate, then the Euro is not a good thing for countries which adopted it. If the countries are unable / unwilling to adapt so that they can be competitive within the Eurozone, and/or there is no mechanisms such as fiscal transfer system in place to help balance out differences in the economy, then remaining in the Eurozone is not a net positive overall.

And note that while the Eurozone is a part of the EU, it is not the EU itself.


Switching to the Euro involves a lot of things. Not just switching currencies - but also integrating to the single market, allowing free flow of people, and letting other European citizens work within your borders.

So why exactly is the Euro the only thing you blame?

The causalities have simply not been established. And indeed the only article that had shown a direct link between the Euro and economic downturn (the article on Finland) showed only single-digit percentage effects. It is not a terribly convincing argument that the Euro is automatically to blame if an economy performed worse, and indeed is indicative of the scapegoat approach that the Euro-skeptics keep attempting to sell.

The harsher reality is this: Being in the eurozone is a big change. Its more than just a shift in currency that will affect exports by a few percentage points. It's a shift from tiny isolated markets to one big free market. It's your people realizing they might be able to make more money if they cross a border.

Change is always going to involve some pain. The problem is that the Euro-skeptics seem to run around and panic at even the slightest indication of pain instead of actually sitting down and figuring out their place in the bigger world.

Again, agreed, and again, that's one of the main reasons why I feel the EU is in jeopardy atm. Everyone knows reforms are needed at the national / EU / Eurozone level... but no one is doing anything meaningful about it.


In the Philippines, back in 2004, everyone said that the Call Center industry in the Philippines was a joke. Dead end job, they all said. It only created a generation of zombies who wake up at 8pm and work until the early hours of the morning, they said.

Twelve years later and the words "call center agent" means you are a respectable member of society who has money to actually pay for rent. It means you are keeping the 24 hour convenience stores and fast food chains afloat, which in turn keeps employed a growing pool of food service workers that is turning Manila into a culinary center - attracting even the French to setup schools for cooks to send abroad. Manila, for good or ill, has accepted it is now the world's first 24 hour city - a city that literally never sleeps to service other countries in different time zones - because that's where the money is.

My criticism of what I see in the First World full of Euro-skeptics is this: Nobody wants to admit that change is hard. It will look bad right from the outset. It will not be certain that you succeed. Change requires the admission that there are no quick solutions.

Instead the knee jerk reaction is always to find something to blame at the slightest sign of pain. And the EU is simply becoming the favorite scapegoat.


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