[Discussion] European Politics Discussion

European Politics discussion

Wait until the Summer, Pred. Budget negotiations will be fraught for both Poland and Hungary. Expect the governments involved to use it as more proof that the EU is a dictatorial monster but it's not as if they won't cast any action as a grand conspiracy. Perhaps

As Reding said in the article, it was simply unthinkable that countries would choose this path. In the end, the Commission, Parliament and Council patience has run it's course with countries who want to damage themselves and have the remaining Member States pay for it. Now that Germany is back in action and Macron is leading the group, most expect some more decisive actions.

Axon wrote:

Now that Germany is back in action and Macron is leading the group, most expect some more decisive actions.

Is Germany really back in action though.

Well, as long as Macron and his willing allies, like our governments, of similar outlook can prop Germany up like something out of Weekend at Bernie's, the show is back on the road

The Italian election is getting off to a good start. From the Guardian:

The 2018 elections are taking place under a new and untested electoral law that has created a mixed system in which just over a third of parliamentarians in the upper and lower house are elected by first-past-the-post (FPTP), and two-thirds by proportional representation (PR) via party lists.

Voters get two slips, one for each house, and can put one cross on each that will count for both the FPTP and PR elements. Candidates can stand in an FPTP ballot in one constituency, but also be on a party PR list in up to five constituencies.

And Merkel is officially back in the saddle just in time to see Trump announce a tariff on European car manufacturers. Guess who thinks that's about them?

Italy election: Projections point to hung parliament

Italy is on course for a hung parliament after voters backed right-wing and populist parties, vote projections based on partial results suggest.

Ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing coalition looks set to win the most seats in the lower house of parliament.

It is tipped to get 248-268 seats - below the 316 needed for a majority.

Forming a government may now take weeks of negotiation and coalition-building.

Alternatively, fresh elections could be held in a bid to produce a more decisive result - though there is no guarantee that would happen.

What does the result mean?
Italian daily newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano is running a front-page headline saying simply: "Everything will change."

Though no party will be able to rule alone based on the early poll figures, the surge of support for populist outfits has been compared with Brexit and the election of Donald Trump in the US.

Vote projection figures put the Eurosceptic, anti-establishment Five Star Movement in second place, after the centre-right coalition.

It made significant gains and could emerge as the largest single party in Italy's lower house, with 216-236 seats.

Public anger over unemployment and immigration appears to have battered the ruling Democratic Party. Its centre-left coalition is projected to come a distant third, with an estimated 107-127 seats.

"It is clear to us that this is a blatant and clear defeat" said Agriculture Minister Maurizio Martina.

Final confirmed results are not expected for several hours.

It's amazing how the EU grew into the monstrocity it has become.
From pure economical one market concept, to the United States of Europe.
Trying to dictate whatever in your own country. And if you are against it, then you must be nuts,
a racist, right wing or populist.
Being in the navy, I'm quite disgusted with this attitude towards people that what things to be better
again within our own country. Not sure what purpose I have within the forces as far as protecting my country is concerned. My own government is throwing it away as it is. I see my own country go to hell. But hey, I must be nuts etc.....

I cant say if you are nuts. But at least then the people who want more EU, and consider it to be (mostly) good that EU interferes a lot in the member states aren't necessarily nuts either.
People aren't automatically racist, right wing or populist for being against EU. But those who are racist, right wing and populists are most often also against EU, hence the connection often being made.
Plenty of left wing non-racist parties against EU too however.

I'm somewhat against the EU as it is currently constituted. I think there are things that need such profound reform that some of it needs to be swept away and started again. But I'm also pro European federation, I just don't think it can or should happen as an extension or evolution of the EU as it stands. A United State of Europe I feel is a fundamentally good idea.

So saying, the current benefits of the EU are overwhelmingly positive and most criticisms of the EU on sovereignty or economic grounds largely come from a place of ignorance. So I'm largely happy for the EU to tick along as it is as there's no point in getting rid of it until someone comes up with something actually better.

I would however get rid of the ECB and the Euro if given a free choice. They've mostly just turned in to a stick for Germany to beat Itally and Greece with.

Sparhawk wrote:

It's amazing how the EU grew into the monstrocity it has become.
From pure economical one market concept, to the United States of Europe.
Trying to dictate whatever in your own country. And if you are against it, then you must be nuts,
a racist, right wing or populist.
Being in the navy, I'm quite disgusted with this attitude towards people that what things to be better
again within our own country. Not sure what purpose I have within the forces as far as protecting my country is concerned. My own government is throwing it away as it is. I see my own country go to hell. But hey, I must be nuts etc.....

The counterpoint, of course, is taking a quick look at the clusterpoop that is Brexit, watching the UK economy get flushed right down the toilet, with the inescapable conclusion that being in is much better than being out of the EU.

None of which is to say the EU is perfect, without problems, or doesn't require reform.

Count me in the camp that would like to see the EU get more competencies rather than fewer.

The sheer powerlessness with which it has handled Poland and, especially Hungary, go down an increasingly authoritarian and corrupt path makes me downright angry.

I'm getting a bit tired of seeing so many people the world over jump on the "let's burn it all down because obviously the results of when we rebuild will be better than this!" bandwagon.

Kehama wrote:

I'm getting a bit tired of seeing so many people the world over jump on the "let's burn it all down because obviously the results of when we rebuild will be better than this!" bandwagon.

But this time we rewrite our product from scratch there won't be any bugs in it!

As Putin’s Opponents Flocked to London, His Spies Followed

LONDON — In 2014, the Russian opposition figure Vladimir L. Ashurkov fled Moscow for London, and breathed a sigh of relief. After months of being followed by the Kremlin’s intelligence agents to every meeting, culminating in a televised raid of his apartment, he finally let his guard down, disappearing into the elegant, polyglot streets of Kensington.

Six months passed before he realized that he was still being followed.

An old friend returned from a trip to Russia with unnerving news: In Moscow, security officials had asked detailed questions about a private conversation he had with Mr. Ashurkov in a London cafe. After that, Mr. Ashurkov learned to look for Russian agents reflexively — men in dark suits sitting alone at émigré gatherings, dinner-party acquaintances rumored to be informants.

“You can’t do much about it,” he said. “Even after you escape from Moscow to London, you know they have long hands.”

Russia now has more intelligence agents deployed in London than at the height of the Cold War, former British intelligence officials have said. They serve a variety of functions, including building contacts among British politicians. But the most important task is to keep an eye on the hundreds of heavyweight Russians — those aligned with President Vladimir V. Putin, and those arrayed against him — who have built lives in Britain, attracted by its property market and banking system.

The poisoning last week of Sergei V. Skripal, a retired Russian double agent, and his daughter has put pressure on the British government to rein them in.

Has the Skripal poisoning reached "International Crisis" status yet?

The leaders of France, Germany, the US and UK say there is "no plausible alternative explanation" to Russia having been behind the nerve agent attack in the UK.

They condemned the "first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War", calling it an assault on UK sovereignty.

In Washington, US President Donald Trump said "it certainly looks like the Russians were behind it".

The UK has expelled Russian diplomats.

"We do hold Russia culpable for this brazen, brazen act and despicable act," Prime Minister Theresa May said during a visit to the site of the attack in Wiltshire.

Mr Trump said it was a "very sad situation" that the US was taking "very seriously".

Russia has denied any involvement and vowed a swift response to the expulsion of 23 of its diplomats, whom the UK said were operating as spies.

So if I start looking at the world as Civilization empires then Russia has researched the heck out of the espionage tree and is churning out spies every other turn while the US has been focused more on building entertainment centers and researching the tech for walls. I know how this faceoff ends.

Kehama wrote:

So if I start looking at the world as Civilization empires then Russia has researched the heck out of the espionage tree and is churning out spies every other turn while the US has been focused more on building entertainment centers and researching the tech for walls. I know how this faceoff ends.

Both Russia and the US get nuked by India without warning?

Jonman wrote:
Kehama wrote:

So if I start looking at the world as Civilization empires then Russia has researched the heck out of the espionage tree and is churning out spies every other turn while the US has been focused more on building entertainment centers and researching the tech for walls. I know how this faceoff ends.

Both Russia and the US get nuked by India without warning?

all Hail supreme ruler ghandi!

Not impressed with Corbyn. This desire to avoid criticising the EU enemies for reasons I can only speculate really irks me about the some European politicians. I cannot take them seriously when the do this. Sorry, DanB, but it is a feature of that element of the Labour party that I take issue with.

While I have you, Dan:

I would however get rid of the ECB and the Euro if given a free choice. They've mostly just turned in to a stick for Germany to beat Italy and Greece with.

Given a free choice, all eurozone countries would retain the currency. Even Five Star in Italy has dropped that policy. You might want to update your view on it Perhaps another thread if you want to discuss it.

Gotta commend Russia for trying to push the blame to the Czechs, the Slovaks, Sweden and the UK itself for the Skripal nerve agent attack.

Two years ago, I would've described it as "probably bald-faced lying" but now it's more "an ongoing attempt to create a separate reality".

Why China is swooping on Georgia’s airline industry

I always have to remind myself that this Georgia isn't our Georgia.

Speaking of which, does Georgia count as Europe? It does, but it's kinda borderline, right? Like, not Azerbaijan borderline, but still.

N ANCIENT times, traders on the Silk Road connecting China with Europe rarely ventured into the northern Caucasus region that is now home to Georgia. Diverting from established routes through Armenia and Anatolia to the south served little purpose unless conflict made the trackways impassable. Today, advances in transport and logistics mean that geography is less of a hurdle for traders. But friendly relations are just as important. Having signed free trade agreements with China and the European Union, Georgia is keen to pitch itself as a trade-and-transport hub for President Xi Jinping of China’s One Belt One Road initiative. A new rail line passing through its capital city, Tbilisi, adds to its appeal, halving the time it takes to carry freight from China to Turkey. Foreign direct investment by Chinese companies has also ballooned.

Hualing Group, the largest such investor, has spent hundreds of millions of dollars developing real estate, logistics infrastructure, and sea and ground transport facilities in the country. Its attention is now turning skyward. Hualing owns a majority stake in MyWay Airlines, a Georgian startup that was certified by regulators in January and expects to start flying with two Boeing 737 jets later this month.

I gotta admit, every time I read about it, this soft power push by China seems more and more impressive.

Prederick wrote:

I gotta admit, every time I read about it, this soft power push by China seems more and more impressive.

But soft power never accomplishes anything, that's why we're dismantling our State Department.

Prederick wrote:

Why China is swooping on Georgia’s airline industry

I always have to remind myself that this Georgia isn't our Georgia.

Speaking of which, does Georgia count as Europe? It does, but it's kinda borderline, right? Like, not Azerbaijan borderline, but still.

If you go by the Eurovision song contest measure then Azerbaijan is in Europe. Although depending on who you ask, bits of Azerbaijan are not in Azerbaijan.

Concave wrote:
Prederick wrote:

Why China is swooping on Georgia’s airline industry

I always have to remind myself that this Georgia isn't our Georgia.

Speaking of which, does Georgia count as Europe? It does, but it's kinda borderline, right? Like, not Azerbaijan borderline, but still.

If you go by the Eurovision song contest measure then Azerbaijan is in Europe. Although depending on who you ask, bits of Azerbaijan are not in Azerbaijan.

If you go by that then so is Australia.

It's open to interpretation. The part of Russia that it borders is in Europe so it's not exactly miles off and there is not distinct geographical feature to define it unlike various bodies of water and the Urals for the rest of Europe.

They're in Europe when we want westerners to be sympathetic to them.

Who wants westerners to be sympathetic to Australians?

Gangster’s paradise: how organised crime took over Russia

I was in Moscow in 1988, during the final years of the Soviet Union. The system was sliding towards shabby oblivion, even if no one knew at the time how soon the end would come. While carrying out research for my doctorate on the impact of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, I was interviewing Russian veterans of that brutal conflict. When I could, I would meet these afgantsy shortly after they got home, and then again a year into civilian life, to see how they were adjusting. Most came back raw, shocked and angry, either bursting with tales of horror and blunder, or spikily or numbly withdrawn. A year later, though, most had done what people usually do in such circumstances: they had adapted, they had coped. The nightmares were less frequent, the memories less vivid. But then there were those who could not or would not move on. Some of these young men collaterally damaged by the war had become adrenaline junkies, or just intolerant of the conventions of everyday life.

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One of the men I got to know during this time was named Volodya. Wiry, intense and morose, he had a brittle and dangerous quality that, on the whole, I would have crossed the road to avoid. He had been a marksman in the war. The other afgantsy I knew tolerated Volodya, but never seemed comfortable with him, nor with talking about him. He always had money to burn, at a time when most were eking out the most marginal of lives, often living with their parents and juggling multiple jobs. It all made sense, though, when I later learned that he had become what was known in Russian crime circles as a “torpedo” – a hitman.

As the values and structures of Soviet life crumbled and fell, organised crime was emerging from the ruins, no longer subservient to the corrupt Communist party bosses and the black-market millionaires. As it rose, it was gathering a new generation of recruits, including damaged and disillusioned veterans of the USSR’s last war. Some were bodyguards, some were runners, some were leg-breakers and some – such as Volodya – were killers.

I never found out what happened to Volodya. He probably ended up as a casualty of the gang wars of the 1990s, fought out with car bombs, drive-by shootings and knives in the night. That decade saw the emergence of a tradition of monumental memorialisation, as fallen gangsters were buried with full Godfather-style pomp, with black limousines threading through paths lined with white carnations and tombs marked with huge headstones. Vastly expensive (the largest cost upwards of $250,000, at a time when the average wage was close to a dollar a day) and stupendously tacky, these monuments showed the dead with the spoils of their criminal lives: the Mercedes, the designer suit, the heavy gold chain. I still wonder if some day I’ll be walking through one of the cemeteries favoured by Moscow’s gangsters and will come across Volodya’s grave.

Nonetheless, it was thanks to Volodya and those like him that I became one of the first western scholars to raise the alarm about the rise and consequences of Russian organised crime, the presence of which had, with a few honourable exceptions, been previously ignored. The 1990s were the glory days of the Russian gangsters, though, and since then, under Putin, gangsterism on the streets has given way to kleptocracy in the state. The mob wars ended, the economy settled, and despite the current sanctions regime in the post-Crimea cool war, Moscow is now as festooned as any European capital with Starbucks and other such icons of globalisation.

In the years since meeting Volodya, I have studied the Russian underworld as a scholar, a government adviser (including a stint with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office), a business consultant and sometimes as a police resource. I have watched it rise and, if not fall, then certainly change; I have seen it become increasingly tamed by a political elite that is far more ruthless, in its own way, than the old criminal bosses. All the same, I am still left with the image of that particular war-scarred gunman, at once victim and perpetrator of the new wave of Russian gangsterism, a metaphor for a society that would be plunged into a maelstrom of almost unrestrained corruption, violence and criminality.

Coming back to this:

Axon wrote:

Given a free choice, all eurozone countries would retain the currency. Even Five Star in Italy has dropped that policy.

So?

The structural problems of the Euro, as evident in 1992, remain in place. Odds are we'll see cyclical rounds of the exact same financial crises that Greece, Italy, Ireland, and Portugal just went through over and over until those structural problems are fixed. A joint currency only really makes sense with federation and the associated, tax driven wealth transfer. And that only makes sense with full federation. As long as there is no appetite for that the Euro should probably be shelved. The alternative, of course, is that the EU puts its money where its mouth is and pushes for federation.

I don't really have any other thoughts on the matter, and neither do I care to discuss it much more (except in so far as saying 'I told you so' in 10yrs time when the next Greece-like collapse occurs) as I'm not really going to change my mind. Feel free to spin off another thread but I doubt I'll take part.

No bother, Dan. Just thought it's an interesting point that rarely gets mentioned or parsed out in the British press. Happy to leave it there