I imagine a cosy dining room somewhere in eastern Europe, in Bucharest or perhaps Zagreb. But it could be Timișoara or Bratislava as well. It is Sunday, and a family has gathered for lunch around a big table, as they often do in my part of the world. Usually, first comes a beef or chicken soup with home-made dumplings, then a hearty meat dish and potatoes from the oven, garnished with vegetables, followed by cake and coffee. There are three generations around the table. Mother and father are about my age, born some time in the early 1950s. Their children were born in the 1980s – just in time to remember a little bit of life under communism, that is. And their grandchildren are too young to care.
Tag Archives: EU
Some of us are beginning to think it is the end of the project.” That was how a senior European social democrat spoke to me of the future of mainstream socialism last week. The German SPD’s abject failure in Sunday’s election will have done little to lift the gloom. After 12 years of mostly playing sidekick to Angela Merkel, it will go into opposition again, bereft of a strategy and rightly worried about the breakthrough of the far right Alternative for Germany (AfD).
If the leaders of German social democracy are feeling responsible for their own collapse and the far-right’s gain, they can at least take comfort that they are not alone. The French socialist party evaporated in the run-up to this year’s presidential election; the Dutch Labour party saw its vote slump to 5.7%; and the Austrian socialist party is facing defeat in next month’s election – which will likely bring to power the first coalition of mainstream conservatives and neo-fascists in the EU.
ATHENS – To revive the ailing European project, the ugly conflict between Catalonia’s regional government and the Spanish state may be just what the doctor ordered. A constitutional crisis in a major European Union member state creates a golden opportunity to reconfigure the democratic governance of regional, national, and European institutions, thereby delivering a defensible, and thus sustainable, EU.
One of the reliable signs of political opportunism is what, in parallel with particle physics, one may call political correlationism.
Let’s say me and my enemy both hold in our hands a ball, which can be either white or black, and neither of us knows its colour. I am also not allowed to look into my own folded palm, so we have here four possibilities: white-white, black-black, black-white, and white-black. Now let’s suppose that for some reason, we both know that the two balls (the one in my hand and in the one in my enemy’s hand) are opposite in colour – in this case, there are only two possibilities (black-white and white-black). And, if by some luck, I get to know the colour of the ball in the hand of my enemy’s hands, I automatically know the colour of mine – as the two balls are correlated. (This happen when particles are split and heir spins remain correlated – if I measure the spin of one particle, I know automatically the spin of the other.)
As the Brexit shadow-boxing goes on between London and Brussels, our Government has aligned itself firmly with the EU. For the moment,this is an entirely sensible strategy. No point cosying up to Theresa May’s government when it cannot decide what it wants itself.But just how far will our European partners go to fight against any return of Border controls on the island of Ireland? The Government welcomed the commitment in the EU document this week that everything possible must be done to avoid the creation of a “ hard Border” on the island. Politically this is important, but practically no one has defined what is meant by a “ hard” Border. By using this ambiguous phrase, Europe has given itself wriggle room.The European Commission added that solutions to the Border issue “must respect the proper functioning of the internal market and of the customs union as well as the integrity and effectiveness of the union legal order”.
Which living person has done most to destroy the natural world and the future wellbeing of humanity? Donald Trump will soon be the correct answer, when the full force of his havoc has been felt. But for now I would place another name in the frame: Angela Merkel.
Der Anfang scheint gemacht. Am Wochenende stellten die Organisationen Ärzte ohne Grenzen und Sea-Eye ihre Rettungsaktionen für schiffbrüchige Flüchtlinge im Mittelmeer bis auf Weiteres ein. Andere werden wohl folgen. Denn Libyen hat eine nationale SAR-Zone (abgeleitet von “Search and Rescue”, deutsch: “Suchen und Retten”) ausgerufen, die weit über die libyschen Hoheitsgewässer hinausreicht. Und die Regierung in Tripolis, die im Land selbst kaum etwas regiert, hat die privaten Helfer ausdrücklich gewarnt, diese Zone zu befahren.
Die Drohung ist ernst zu nehmen, denn zu Wasser ist Libyen gut bestückt. Man hat aus Europa moderne Schiffe für die Küsten- und Seekontrolle bekommen, dazu viel Geld und Ausbildungskurse und was man sonst noch so braucht für den kleinen Seekrieg vor der Haustür.
The Russia sanctions bill that passed the US Senate by 98:2 on June 15 is a bombshell; it directly demonizes the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, under the Baltic Sea, which is bound to double Gazprom’s energy capacity to supply gas to Europe.The 9.5 billion euro pipeline is being financed by five companies; Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall; Austria’s OMV; France’s Engie; and Anglo-Dutch Shell. All these majors operate in Russia, and have, or will establish, pipeline contracts with Gazprom.In a joint statement, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern stressed that, “Europe’s energy supply is a matter for Europe, not the United States of America”; “instruments for political sanctions should not be tied to economic interests”; and the whole thing heralds a “new and very negative quality in European-American relations”.
LIKE vinyl records and popped collars, rows between the United States and Europe over Russian energy are making a comeback. In the early 1980s Ronald Reagan’s attempts to thwart a Soviet pipeline that would bring Siberian gas to Europe irritated the West Germans and drove the French to proclaim the end of the transatlantic alliance. The cast of characters has shifted a little today, but many of the arguments are the same. In Nord Stream 2 (NS2), a proposed Russian gas pipeline, Germany sees a respectable project that will cut energy costs and lock in secure supplies. American politicians (and the ex-communist countries of eastern Europe) detect a Kremlin plot to deepen Europe’s addiction to cheap Russian gas. They decry German spinelessness.
There is a moment in Adam Curtis’s documentary Bitter Lake in which the narrator (Curtis) talks about the ideals that brought both the Soviets and Americans to Afghanistan: to create a state based on their respective principles and ideologies, to create an ally in the region, to change the country in their likeness.But, Curtis concludes ironically, little did they know that Afghanistan would change them instead. Neither the Soviets nor the Americans could fathom that they would bring back to their home countries the very habits that they tried to eradicate in Afghanistan: corruption, nepotism, and the like.*For seven years now I have lived in Albania. I have seen ambassadors and foreign representatives come and go. And they all, so they say, share this same ideal: to make Albania a better place. Or rather, to make Albania more like wherever they came from: the West. Their presence would change Albania, would stabilize Albania.