"As everyone is well aware, in a few days our State will cease to exist as an independent sovereign entity."
~Czech Pesident Vaclav Klaus on his country's accession to the EU, Mlada Fronta Dnes, 22 April 2004 ~

Putting the Con in Constitution

The governmental leaders of Europe will gather this weekend, along with aides, mistresses and varied leeches upon the tax payers (assuming that those classes are mutually exclusive), to attempt agreement upon the new European Union Constitution. I am not sure which to pray for: a failure to agree and subsequent collapse of the idea, or an agreement so that we can then get on with voting the thing down in referenda across the continent. For the basic document itself is hopeless, a mish mash of every semi-thought that evanesced across the synapses of its octogenarian progenitor, Giscard d’Estaing, and his merry committee of statist political pygmies. More »
29-08-04 | 15:43 | 1 comment

Selling the EU at any price – unfair accession referendums

All the accession referendums can be considered significantly “unfair” in terms of the resources used. In most of the countries the No-side was not allowed any state funding in order to counter the Yes-side, backed by the government, big business and most of the media. This is shown in the TEAM Referendum Monitoring Report (http://www.teameurope.info/…), presented by The European Alliance of EU-critical Movements, TEAM. More »
28-08-04 | 16:32 |

'No' vote would not scupper EU constitution

Britain’s incoming commissioner Peter Mandelson has said that a vote against the European Constitution would not mean that the whole project would fail. In an interview with the BBC, Mr Mandelson said that if UK or French voters rejected the Constitution it would spark a “major crisis”. More »
27-08-04 | 10:47 |

A Pyrrhic Victory for Statism?

European pro-federalist politicians are patting themselves on the back after agreeing on a new constitution, but their self-congratulation may be premature. In part, this is because voters in several countries might decide that they do not want to be governed by hundreds of pages of dense bureaucratic prose. But even if the politicians manage to dupe people into approving the constitution (probably by forcing them to vote over and over again until they “get it right”), the document contains a landmine that will cause headaches for political elite in Brussels. More »
26-08-04 | 15:40 |

Myth of the Week: The EU is a free trade area

With typical disdain for accuracy – or perhaps reflecting the usual level of Europhile Ignorance, the Independent newspaper yesterday announced the accession of the ten new states to the European Union with the claim that the EU had become “the world’s biggest free trade area”. This myth is one of the most prevalent in relation to the European Union, especially so with “soft” Europhiles who believe that the “Single Market” – the outward manifestation of what is believed to be a trading agreement – is essentially a benign creation. However, the EU is most emphatically not a free trade area, and its structure is far from benign. Technically, the EU as – as was the EEC before it – a Customs Union. More »
24-08-04 | 12:26 |

No EU solution in sight to Northern European alcohol rally

However, in July, the European Commission decided to bring the Swedish system ‘Systembolaget’ to the EU’s top court, claiming it is violating the free market and prevent citizens from importing their liquor from sources other than the state monopoly. This alcohol policy was agreed to reduce consumption and protect public health; in addition the state coffers benefit hugely. The average price of the locally most consumed bottle of spirits (0.7 litres) vary from 5.57 euro in Estonia to 20.09 euro in neighbouring Finland, according to the alcohol control database of the World Health Organisation, (WHO). In Germany, the price is just 5 euro on average, while the Danes on the other side of the border have to pay 10.75 euro. More »
22-08-04 | 11:14 | 1 comment

EU membership causes cruise liners to shun Malta

Malta has discovered to her cost yet another benefit of joining the EU. In the first summer since she joined, the number of cruise liners calling in to the Grand Harbour has plummeted. Passenger numbers are down to 24,342, compared with 45,809 in the same month last year- a 47 percent drop. More »
20-08-04 | 16:15 |

Wishful Thinking and the Europeans

Most Europeans who are fiercely critical of George W. Bush would feel at home in Massachusetts. Liberal Massachusetts seems a world apart from Texas, the home state of President Bush. Its dominantly liberal politics and “Europeanness” offer a stark contrast to the cowboy conservatism of Texas. Not to mention that the convention week in Boston offered a multitude of opportunities to witness or participate in anti-Bush rallies and events critical of the current administration’s policies. However, it is alarming to see how the mere facts that presidential contender John Kerry is from Massachusetts, is a Democrat and is not George W. Bush have lifted expectations among European policymakers and opinion leaders. More »
18-08-04 | 11:02 |

Myth of the Week: Constitution for Enlargement

Tony Blair: “The new constitutional treaty is designed… to answer the challenge of enlargement”. Commons statement, 20 April 2004. There is no more pernicious a myth than the constant refrain, trotted out from Blair downwards, and faithfully retailed even by the Eurosceptic press, that the constitution is necessary to deal with enlargement. And the most obvious and easy response is simply: “what was Nice for?”. We were told that the Nice Treaty was necessary for enlargement and now, with another treaty in the offing, we are again being told that it is necessary for enlargement. Therein, in fact, lies the clue to unravelling the myth. The constitution is not necessary for enlargement: enlargement is the excuse for the constitution. More »
17-08-04 | 12:24 |

Sweetness sours for Estonia

If you were able to buy a commodity product with a long shelf-life, for a very low price, and you know that in the near future the price is going to rise to record levels and stay there, what would you do? That was the question confronting pre-accession Estonians last winter, when the cost of sugar was then 0.4 euros a Kg – as a result of it being able to buy subsidised EU surpluses at knock-down prices – and was expected to triple when the country joined the EU. The result, as one might expect, was entirely predictable. In a buying-spree reminiscent of the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, when food shortages forced people to stock up on everything, Estonians ended up buying three times more sugar in November 2003 than the same month a year before, a record amount of 12,000 tons. More »
16-08-04 | 16:14 |