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How should the EU be governed? Eur Council vs Eur Commission

 
 
Thomas
 
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Reply Tue 17 Feb, 2004 11:27 am
georgeob1 wrote:
However do you believe that the limited union you advocate is really possible as an acknowledged long term arrangement?

I hope it is, but I honestly have no idea. Then again, I have no idea whether a more integrated EU is sustainable either. I think the limiting factor for long-term sustainability is the presence or absence of a unified European public opinion, of a European society. When such a society is forged, the design of the political system will take care of itself; if it isn't, it will take care of itself too.
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georgeob1
 
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Reply Tue 17 Feb, 2004 05:35 pm
Another question. Will the unusual accumulation of issues before the EU at this moment - voting weights in the new Commission; dealing with Franco German Violations of the Stability Pact; dealing with the larger question of modifying or diluting the terms of the Stability Pact; accomodating the expectations of 10 or 11 new members all at lower levels of economic development - together overload what has been so far a very successful evolution. Some of the posturing I have seen; statements from Spain and Poland concerning voting rights in the Commission; references by Chirac/Schroeder to "pioneer" or advance groups in the EU and to no changes to their proposed voting formula,; etc. suggest that collision of some sort may occur. Is that likely?
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Walter Hinteler
 
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Reply Wed 18 Feb, 2004 01:29 am
As you stated frequently yourself before, all this will take a long time.
We will see this, that and other focusses, with changing 'coalitions', everyone trying to get his feathers in the nest.

You'll certainly will have noticed that the "Big Three's" summit in Berlin is not only by France and Germany, but Tony Blair is a member as well. (Britain has had 'summits' with France and Germany before.)

Blair obviously wants to take part in the role(s) of a pioneer.

What astonishes me a bit, is Poland is is always noted as leading part of the opposition: Poland isn't a member before May.
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Setanta
 
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Reply Wed 18 Feb, 2004 05:45 am
Thomas wrote:
When such a society is forged, the design of the political system will take care of itself; if it isn't, it will take care of itself too.


I think that either a naive or a lazy thought. Given the vested interest which politicians and their cronies and patrons always consider above all other things, i would not consider it a given that "the political system will take care of itself." I also find the use of the verb "to forge" interesting. Who presently concerns themselves with forging such a society--who could be expected to do so?
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Thomas
 
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Reply Wed 18 Feb, 2004 06:48 am
Good point about "forge", Setanta. I agree I should have used "emerge" instead. My point is that politicians, with their vested interests and all, have an incentive to cater to public opinon. If public opinion holds that a European society is worth caring about, and worth giving up some national advantages for, even a loosely integrated political system will work. If public opinion in each country sees the European institutions mostly as a device for beggaring their neighbors, even a tightly integrated European Union will fall apart at some point.

As an aside, I consider laziness a virtue, so thanks for the compliment about lazy thinking! Smile
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Setanta
 
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Reply Wed 18 Feb, 2004 07:00 am
I am as lazy as the day is long and hard to get through. I consider Weber and his Protestant work ethic to be the very incarnation of Satan.

I would suggest that ultimate self-interest will determine the degree to which nations are willing to be subsumed into a greater European polity. I also believe that Europeans will "get the government they deserve." So long as they leave it to a lot of over-fed, pampered individuals preening themselves in Strasbourg, or wherever they currently stage their alleged parliament, they will get what best suits the venality of those who make politics a profession. I would suggest that the majority of Europeans could decide that "a more perfect union" were desirable, but that they will get what the pols want to give them, unless they are vigilant and careful.
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georgeob1
 
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Reply Wed 18 Feb, 2004 04:04 pm
I'm inclined to agree with Setanta on this point. Government institutions, particularly their administrative and bureaucratic components tend to be dedicated to self-preservation above all other values. Such organizations are quite capable of, covertly if necessary, resisting even well defined public opinion. They can flourish long after any real need or function for them has disappeared, and they can exploit even the appearance of dispute to obstruct and confound the public will. As the EU gradually accumulates such organs the transfer function between the public consensus, to which Thomas referred, and the actions & response of the European government become more and more complex and susceptible to manipulation.

This potential may also be increased in the interplay between national governments and the corresponding organs of the EU. The overlap and ambiguity that has so far aided and enabled the gradual convergence of policies among European nations could begin to have some contrary effects. It is all a great experiment and I find the unfolding of these events most interesting.
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