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Monday, June 30, 2008

Fear Is Overdone

Fear, doom, gloom are all the rage. Every commentator wants to outdo the last with ever worsening predictions of financial meltdown, spreading out around the world. Certainly in the UK where the government has no funds available to support the consumer market, or in Europe where inflation is running well out of control, the pain level is rising. The UK is also beset by a government which has no comprehension as to what to do to help the banking system to cope. Yet again see John Redwood's Diary for the best explanation.

In the USA housing market, however signs are that the end of the tunnel is at least visible. Real Estate prices are falling. But conversely the numbers of sales are starting to rise, (LINK) stimulated by the lower prices, and the government's ensuring that loans are still available - although minimum deposits now have to be taken unlike before the crisis when deposit free mortgages were too easily available. The trend of buyers returning to the market can only get better as prices continue heading south, and that means that prices will in time find a floor.

As long as borrowers have made a deposit, they don't walk away from their mortgages, this crisis has shown, while with no deposit to lose, many are finding that walking away is the best way out of their financial predicaments, leaving the losses for the lender, or the people who underwrote the risk. We are half way through the second year of the US mortgage crisis. The numbers defaulting are still rising, and the pain spreading - see HERE , but so too are the signs of an eventual end to the crisis starting to appear.

The US economy is also being helped by a falling dollar making employing Americans again more attractive. The rising oil price has quadrupled the cost of shipping goods over from China, and rising wages and costs in China are also making goods that were seen as dirt cheap five years ago, come up in price to the point where many find it is worth manufacturing in the USA once more. Quality control is easier, and fast response to customer requests again become possible. Service quality can maintain better prices in many cases.

The troubles of adjusting to the high oil price, and the credit crunch are far from over in the US, but the end of the crisis appears to be at least taking shape. Elsewhere the troubles are only just starting.

European banks are carrying huge writedowns on their books from underwriting the American housing market. And now the European property markets are starting to hit the same kind of troubles that first hit the USA last year.

Europe is now descending into a crisis which has yet to be dealt with, and from which the political fall-out could be considerable. While the dollar is falling with interest rates on the floor and easing the stresses in the system, in the EU, the Euro is rising and interest rates are being set to counter the inflation which is threatening. America is taking a risk on inflation with low interest rates, but these can be adjusted upwards later once the credit crunch is under control. In Europe the panic is just starting to set in, and the same kind of adjustments will be needed as are happening in the USA.

The problem in Europe is the Euro, which just keeps on rising, and the ECB which sees its primary role as a guardian against inflation. It has no mandate to ensure the economy keeps rolling, and cannot coordinate low interest rates with boosts in government spending to see off recessions, as there is no Central government in the euro zone.

It would be easier for each European country (including Ireland) to fight the recession separately with their own currency. They could allow the level of their currency to fall, set interest rates to boost economic activity and boost government spending until growth returned, as the US is doing. Inside the euro zone they are simply stuck, unable to manoeuvre to meet the growing crisis.

Italy for example cannot compete internationally, and is heading for the rocks. Germany is strong but is unlikely to continue indefinitely to hold up all the other countries inside the euro zone floundering with high inflation and high indebtedness. It is likely that the financial crisis that started in America will end up as a political crisis in Europe. In the long term that too can only be good for Europe's economy, as the imbalances within the Euro will have to be unwound at some point.

It would be better for the Euro to be unwound now, before the imbalances get any worse, and so that Europe too can refind the floor as the coming economic storm hits. The governments of the weaker countries like Italy, Spain and Greece will no doubt cling on to the Euro hoping that Germany will carry on securing their debts for them. It must be in Germany that the Euro will finally crack.

Downturns are healthy for economies in the end of the day. People make the adjustments they should have been making beforehand, but did not do, as they were busy and flush. When the pain bites, then people move and make the improvements and adjustments that create the next phase of economic growth. The end of the Euro and the EU of 27 countries locked together in semi-paralysis will be just one of those necessary adjustments. A hard economic blow that knocks some sense into Europe would be the best possible thing that could happen. Morgan Stanley Link.

For a lighter look at the financial crisis see The Subprime Primer. It explains in an amusing way, how America persuaded trusting/gullible Europeans to carry its risks.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Governments Fear Green Energy



One reason that new technology is so slow to break through is the fact that it's organised by big business and government. Once people realise that they can take control of their own energy planning, the technology already exists to get rid of the oil companies, the power companies and the mass-produced car companies.

If Greens really want to be Green, they can just do it, like this guy is doing. He's is generating his own power from the sun, and running his own car on the electricity he produces. No gasoline (petrol UK). No power bills. Just the cost of the capital investment.

Less talk, please and more action...just like this fellow. No wonder the government and big companies doesn't really want green energy to get going. It would be the end of the era of the State and big companies controlling us. Toot toot to that!

See a report on a powerful new 1000 to 1 solar concentrator HERE. What's so complicated about that is my thought? And why is it falling to individuals and students, in this case at MIT, to make these breakthroughs?

The device to convert the beam into steam must be the clever part of the invention, as the rest of it is merely a frame made of aluminium and mirrors, which is not very high tech. However if this can generate electricity, it could drive the electric car around - as the car owner says, all made from sunlight.

It will be down to private people to push these technologies as no government or big oil or car company will want a technology which renders them all superfluous.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

EU Lawyer Gets Angry


EU lawyer Ralf Grahn is getting angry.

The thing that's upsetting him is the existence of 'eurosceptics', people like me and many others, in fact a majority of the people in Britain and now, it appears, also Ireland. As he comes to grips with the realisation that not everyone around the continent of Europe is happy to be subjected into a state of eu serfdom, he finds himself becoming a little emotional. That's a good thing, Ralf. It shows that you are at last getting to grips with the reality of the situation as regards the EU, and not hiding away in an ivory tower as do most europhiliacs on the make.

This is the post from his blog Grahnlaw today, which shows you what I mean - 'Let's call a spade a spade' he says.

I agree with him.

Let's do exactly that, Ralf.

Anti-EU by any other name

By the way, I have wondered at the widespread acceptance of the ‘Euroscepticism’ as the label people use, whose attitude reveals nothing sceptic. No doubts, no uncertainty, no open minds. After reading a lot of these outpourings, I am beginning to think that the ‘Eurosceptic’ in search of truths has yet to be born.

Thus, the label is woolly and misleading. Let’s call a spade a spade.

The early constitutional history of the United States saw the debate between Federalists and anti-Federalists. Let people who identify with Europe be called Europeans, pro-Europeans or pro-EU, and let the people who want to wreck the European Union be called by the most objective term available: anti-EU.

(Some of them, for reasons yet to be verified, deny that they are anti-Europeans. They are only vehemently against Europe’s common institutions and manifestations)

***

Another healthy distinction would be to see EU detractors clearly define what they are against (if a viable programme for anything proves too demanding).

Do they want to dismember the European Union completely, or would they be content to see their own country secede from the EU?

If they have nothing against the vast majority of Europeans deepening European integration, these campaigners could redirect their energies towards secession. With a sharper focus they could perhaps improve their chances of success.

Actually, if their ideals are the ‘free nations of Europe’, why not let the other free nations decide for themselves on cooperation and common action, without insult or injury?

Traders (and nations of shopkeepers) want to keep their customers happy and engage in profitable relations with their providers, don’t they?

Why cause a lot of aggravation, if they only want to live happily ever after behind their moat?



This is my reply to Ralf.

No Ralf. You are not pro-European. You are pro-EU or as we say, europhiliac.

We are (as you say) not eurosceptics at all, but EU-opponents, but as the media uses the term eurosceptic, we get stuck with it.

The idea from our opponents is that we have doubts, are not sure etc., but that's not the case.

We are totally sure we don't want the EU. As you say, the term eurosceptic is wrong.

But don't play the Europe trick. We are pro-Europe - as a continent of democracies free trading. It is you who are anti-Europe and wish to destroy its current democratic way of life.

If you are so sure that Europeans desire the EU, why do you not permit them to vote on that?

You are deluding yourself that your programme of EU integration is popular.

Please understand. In Britain only 29% of voters want the EU as it is. The rest either want total withdrawal as I do, or they want a free trading relationship with no political relationship.

I am pro-Europe, as Europe could be - fast-growing, informed, free, confident - not the corrupt and naive structure that hangs around and destroys the way of life of millions of free people.

I was born free. I intend to die free. That's why I and millions like me are leaving. I will only return if the UK gets out of the EU. Otherwise my children will grow up in another part of the world as free people, not European serfs.


That's calling a spade a spade, I think you would agree.

The Coming Battle For Ireland's Soul


The rejection of the Lisbon Treaty by the Irish has been taken personally by the French President. He had great plans for France's upcoming Presidency of the EU, and hoped to use the situation to secure his power base in France and Europe.

His normal effusiveness and charm have been replaced with a surlyness and bitterness that is frankly scary. He is not shrewd enough to hide how he feels and act the statesman, and he had these words for the Irish.

"They [the Irish] are bloody fools. They have been stuffing their faces at Europe's expense for years and now they dump us in the shit." - Nicolas Sarkozy, French President (Times, 20 June)

Sarkozy can give it, but he can't take it, it appears.

A TV interviewer on one of his friend's TV Channels asked him "whether he ever felt like a small boy in a big boy's playhround." She lost her job. She was replaced, it was rumoured, by a news reader approved by Sarkozy. (See Guardian article below).

Not content with mere tinkering at the edges of French media, however Sarkozy is now changing tne rules, and is making it the role of the French government to appoint the head of French State TV, saying that this is more democratic than the previous system where the Head was appointed by a committee. The story is told in this article in The Guardian - LINK HERE.

The Irish should take note. It doesn't pay to cross Sarkozy, the little guy who wants to be big.

The last time the French found an ambitious leader of small stature desirous of power over the continent, the Irish sensibly allied with him. But this time it's the Brits who are aligning with the continental powers, and Ireland that is standing alone.

In the Second World War, the Battle Of Britain was Hitler's first defeat. In the War For European Democracy, now taking place, the Battle Of Ireland might yet be the first defeat for Europe's new slightly deranged but equally dangerous Napoleon.

The situation on the ground in Ireland finds the people in thoughtful mood. The referendum has chrystallised the thought in many Irish people's minds that something is wrong with the political goings-on. You can read things like THIS in the Irish blogosphere now -

As the dust settles on the Lisbon verdict I think a lot of observers on the No side are beginning to feel that there is something radically wrong with the body politic in Ireland. Virtually all Irish political parties, and the representatives of the 'social partners', allied to nearly all the media organs, were in favour of a Yes vote while the majority of the Irish people were in favour of the No side.

It just seems that these political parties etc no longer make much of an effort to represent us anymore, instead it seems that all these groups operate as PR agents for the EU as that body seeks to control us. Anyway a lot of people are clearly thinking this way now, the question is what are we going to do about it?


Will the spirit of Irish freedom be strong enough to withstand the coming 'charm' offensive from the EU, in which everything will be offered to Ireland as a trade-off to persuade the Irish to hand power over their country to Brussels? Of course, once power resides in Brussels, all the promises over time will turn to dust.

The Irish Taoiseach Cowen has been given til October by Brussels to come up with proposals as to how Ireland will approach her next attempt at the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

Sarkozy meanwhile is trying to build position with Conservative leader David Cameron, now that Gordon Brown's disappearing into electoral oblivion in Britain. I wonder if they mentioned Ireland in their recent meeting. You bet they did.

Friday, June 27, 2008

How Britain Can Leave The EU


Mark Mardell in his BBC Euro-Clog has asked the question - what will happen when Cameron has to deal with the issue of Europe, once in power? In his post Tough Tory Choices he runs through various complex and difficult scenarios that he imagines might occur.

I prefer to keep things very simple.

My suggestion is as follows -

The first step must surely be to invite the EU to consider Conservative proposals for a changed relationship with the EU.

The EU's response to these proposals should be put to the British people in a referendum, with its first question as follows -

Do you accept this offer, or not? Yes or No.

If the response is 'NO', there would be a second question.

'As you do not accept these terms, what action woould you like the government to take?

1. attempt a further renegotiation

or

2. would you prefer Britain to withdraw from the EU?

If a majority votes YES to the first question, then the withdrawal/renegotiate question would not apply.

If a majority votes NO to the first question, then the withdrawal/renegotiate question would become the significant one.

This process could be repeated until the voters voted either to accept - or withdraw.


Imagine the reaction in various quarters!



Top picture shows Mark Mardell interviewing Griff Rhys Jones. Maybe Griff could help Sarkozy and other Euro-wonders overcome collective sense of humour failure, were Cameron to raise the issue of renegotiation.

Northern League Drops Lisbon Objections


Berlusconi has been quoted recently making many comments critical of the current EU. In particular he says that he doesn't get any replies to his concerns about the Euro being too high for Italy to cope, and he mentions that the current bunch of leaders are less impressive than were Blair, Chirac, Aznar.

Referring to a EU summit beginning in Brussels later Thursday Berlusconi said: 'I return to Europe ... and I find it different compared to two years ago when it had people like (former British prime minister) Tony Blair, (former Spanish premier Jose Maria) Aznar, (former French president Jacques) Chirac and myself.'

'With the change of names Europe has lost character, the ability to be a protagonist and has taken backward steps,' Berlusconi said.

'Also, thanks to its enlargement process, the European Union seems to be an institution which intervenes by imposing obligations and restrictions,' he told the Confcommercio assembly.

Berlusconi also expressed dismay with the workings of the European Commission, which has probed the Italian government's plans to financially assist state-controlled airline, Alitalia, while some of its members have criticized Rome's immigration policies

'One of the first things I'll ask is for the European Commission to express itself in a different and reserved manner,' towards the governments of members states, Berlusconi said.


He went on to elaborate that he wasn't getting any reply to his concerns that Italy was suffering from the high level of the Euro, making her businesses uncompetitive.



MILAN (Thomson Financial) - Italy's prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said the EU has not given a clear reply to his concerns about the strong euro and industry's loss of competitiveness in the face of Asia imports.

Speaking at a conference for small- and medium-size business, he said: 'Europe has not known how to give a reply, (there has been) no reply, and I believe that it ought to work in this direction.

'I will make myself heard ... to make a concrete defence of the interests of business operators and citizens,' he said
.

And yet Berlusconi, despite this expression of faux euroscepticism, has just committed himself to pushing the Lisbon Treaty through Italy's Parliament by August. He seems to have persuaded Bossi the head of the Northern League to drop its objections to ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, although other members of the Northern League are not sounding as cooperative.

The importance Berlusconi and Frattini gave to approving the Lisbon Treaty was not shared by everyone in the Italian government and the minister for simplification, Roberto Calderoli of the devolutionist Northern League, even welcomed the Irish rejection.

''It is obvious that if the EU presents treaties like this one to the people, the people are going to reject them,'' he observed.

After the Irish vote, Calderoli said he had sent his ''thanks to the people of Ireland'' for their rejection of a treaty ''which would have entrusted our country's affairs to the hands of bureaucrats and not representatives elected by the people''. ''The people, once again, have shown they have greater wisdom than governments and parliamentarians,'' he added.

However, Calderoli was later contradicted by Northern League leader Umberto Bossi, the minister for reform, who said on Thursday that their party would vote in favor of the Treaty.

''If Britain hadn't voted fore it the treaty would be dead, but they did and so it's still in the cards,'' Bossi said.


If Italian nationalists can be bought off so easily, then so too may Irish farmers.

UPDATE - No sooner does one Lisbon refusal prospect disappear and another one appears. See the news from Austria from Iain Dale HERE.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

David Davis Needs To Tackle This



The government is moving in on relationships between parents and children, logging information about adults' drinking habits, and their criminal tendencies, and using this to decide if the State will permit them to carry on acting as parents.LINK HERE.

Also a quarter of all adults will be subjected to an anti-paedophile test as part of the State's intrusion into peoples' private lives. See this Telegraph report LINK HERE.

The fact that children taken away from their parents frequently become victims of abuse at the hands of the very state agencies that claim to be saving the children, seems to be ignored completely by these State programmes.

David Davis would find these issues far more evocative and likely to stir up public disquiet about civil liberties than the time the government intends to arrest alleged terrorists and hold them without charges being brought.

Davis should find cases where children have been taken away from their parents and champion their suffering for all to see.

The World Needs Europe's Nations, Not The EU.



The interplay between this blog and europhile Grahnlaw rolls on, with a suitable combination of mutual insult and admiration. Today Grahn mentions Security as a key requirement for a future Europe.

The problem with Europe's current defence profile is that it is being generated by the bureaucracy with no input or support from the 'demos'. The lack of democratic accountablility suits many European 'citizens' as they can shrug their shoulders and say that whatever military decisions are taken, are nothing to do with them. Troops can be sent to fight wars, but the countries are not invited to partake in the wars, only their armies.

It is one way to organise things.

The problem is that without popular support, the countries are not deploying enough troops to win the wars they are engaging in, and are not providing them with sufficient equipment, or moral support.

This weakness is no doubt visible to 'competitors' who are surging their military expenditure, at the same time building formidable military cultures, notably Russia and Iran.

The problem with Europe's lack of dialogue between its governments and its peoples about military and strategic affairs, is that an imbalance of military power between Europe and potential competitors is growing. This is very dangerous.

Dependence on the USA is not going to be effective as a longterm strategy, when America is already facing overstretch in the Middle East, and could soon also be facing challenges to her power in the Far East. Europe is going to have to pull her weight.

War and strategic interplay is a game of resources. By allowing Putin to build formidable military power, and Iran to arm herself and her proxies,while Europe sits locked in an EU-minded time warp, enjoying the supposed end of the cold war, new dangers are being created.

A new culture based on information about the strategic imbalance in the world, with respect and investment being made in military potential is the only way for Europe to ensure there is a secure future for her civilisation to survive and prosper.

The trouble with locking up the nations in the Lisbon process, where traditional national loyalties might otherwise have enabled a sense of survival to generate and face down military threats, is that decision-making becomes too remote. Leaders don't talk to their electorates about what is going on, and so people are left increasingly ignorant and uninvolved.

The EU is all about looking at Europe, when really Europe is fine anyway. It is democratic without the EU, economically successful without the EU, and it could be militarily successful without the EU. All the time and efforts of the national leaders are going into this black hole called the Lisbon Treaty, as, if it is successfully ratified, power will be gone from the nations.

That enables the current set of national leaders to call themselves leaders without the need to provide any leadership, or engage with their own peoples. They are detested as a result - notably Gordon Brown and Nicholas Sarkozy, both recording record lows in popularity since polling began - or they are entirely impotent as is Angela Merkel, now confined to a role as the national football coach. For the political and strategic health of the nations, this is a disaster. (not to mention that Sarkozy and Merkel are barely on speaking terms)

Only through managing the nations, can anything be done. The armies are loyal to their nations, and the peoples function as nations, giving support or otherwise to the views and decisions of their leaders. By removing power to Brussels, the nations will erode, and a Soviet winter will descend. To compete in the world, peoples' minds need to be alive, informed and ready to act to meet whatever threats and opportunities the world generates.

Lisbon is going in exactly the wrong direction. Only the nations can save Europe, but unlike in the past, the nations of Europe need not be fighting each other. After bitter past experience they should now be ready not to lock themselves up in a political game of fearful centralisation, but to confidently project democracy and freedom outwards to the world.

The EU is not the route to the future. It stands right in the way. For the world to prosper, Europe needs to let go of her past fears, and move to a new freer confidence. Germany is ready, and the other peoples of Europe are ready, as polling shows. The EU is not what the world needs, an undemocratic fearful power bloc, anxious about its whole existence, but confident independent nations cooperating to make the world a better place. This is what must come from the collapsing structure that is the EU today. And the subject of Security should be first on the list for the new faster-growing more confident Europe of Nations.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What If Germany Rejects Lisbon?



News reporting on the ratification troubles of the Lisbon Treaty mention small countries as being the only location of the Treaty's troubles. This is not the case. Italy and Germany both are having problems, as well as the ones they admit to - Poland, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, and Ireland of course.

Italy's problems with ratification are simple to explain. The Northern League, key government coalition partners, will not support Berlusconi's attempts at ratification. They are demanding a referendum.

Germany's 'troubles' are more technical in nature, but nonetheless equally potentially fatal to the prospects for the ratification of the Treaty.

This report from the European Foundation explains the situation well -

The veteran Eurosceptic Bavarian politician, Peter Gauweiler, has lodged an appeal with the German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe against ratification. The move followed the decision by the German Bundesrat or Federal Council – the Upper House of the German Parliament – to ratify the Treaty, a decision which completed the parliamentary process. All that remains now is for the President of the Federal Republic of Germany to sign the instrument of ratification – and this is what Gauweiler wants to prevent.

Gauweiler is assisted (and indeed formally represented) in his court action by Karl-Albrecht Schachtschneider, Professor of law at the University of Nuremberg-Erlangen. Schachtschneider has helped organise several previous appeals to the court, notably against the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 and of course against the Constitution in 2005. The previous appeals have had considerable success; the Maastricht appeal led to a significant restriction on transfers of power from Germany to the EU.

This new appeal is based on a long legal opinion delivered by a professor of law at the University of Freiburg, Dr Dietrich Murswiek. The basis of the claim is that the Lisbon Treaty is substantially the same as the defunct European Constitution and that it deprives German citizens of their fundamental political rights by fatally weakening their representation by the German Bundestag. Gauweiler’s and Schachtschneider’s appeal against the Constitution was successful, in the sense that the Constitutional Court succeeded in preventing the German President from signing the text, on the basis that it had in any case by then been rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands.

The appeal argues that the Treaty creates a de facto federal state with its own source of authority. Such a step, the claimants argue, can occur only on the basis of a referendum by the various peoples of Europe. The claimants argue especially that the Treaty contains a mechanism (Article 48, paragraph 6) by which the EU can change its own procedures without referring back to national parliaments, still less electorates. [See http://www.peter-gauweiler.de]

Gauweiler is a member of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian branch of Germany’s Christian Democrats. The CSU is usually considered more right wing than the CDU. But the Left Party in Germany, Die Linke – led by the former Finance Minister, Oskar Lafontaine, and a former member of the East German Communist Party (Socialist Unity Party), Lothar Bisky – is also hostile to Lisbon, which it describes as “neo-liberal and militaristic”. As a result, the Land of Berlin, where it is part of the regional government, was the only Land in Germany not to vote for Lisbon in the Bundesrat. It may launch its own legal appeal against the Treaty.


The economic troubles facing the Eurozone are increasing political opposition to the Euro in Germany, where a growing majority want the return of the D-Mark. If the political movement in Germany away from the EU matched up with Constitutional impossibility for Lisbon, the EU would be shaken to its very foundations.

With an EU founder member, the largest EU nation and most important donor nation getting cold feet, the show would indeed be over.

Is it any wonder that Lisbon-supporters only mention the small nations, leaving people to assume all is well in the large nations? The EU is an empire in denial, with potentially fatal cracks widening to the point of destruction.

What Will Replace The EU?



The cheers are dying down after the Irish Referendum, and the thinking is moving on as to what to do next. The problem for the eurosceptics is that the initiative rests with the europhile fraternity. Like sharks circling a shoal of mackerel, they are working out their possible lines of attack, while the shoal frantically circles itself into a tighter and tighter ball.

The mackerel are spending a lot of time reading their own side's written output, when right now the way to get ready to defend the eurosceptic cause must be to read the minds of the sharks, and prepare some counter-thrusts.

That can be done by seeing the terms in which the sharks see the coming political and legal battles. Reading Grahnlaw Blog is often a good way to do that, the blog of Ralf Grahn the Finnish lecturer in EU Law, and noted europhile.

From reading his blog, it is clear that the europhile cause has been struck a mighty blow in Ireland. It is reeling and looking around for a way to reorientate.

Revealingly, however, Grahn sees that the ratification process is likely to hit more troubles in more countries that he mentions, Cyprus and Poland as well as the Czech Republic. To these smaller fry, could be added troubles with some bigger fish that are not yet resolved - Italy with the Northern League, and Germany where the Lisbon Treaty could be ruled as unconstitutional.

Read Grahn's most recent blog entries below. The last one shows that eurosceptic leadership needs to do more than merely block the thrusts of the europhile elites. There is the need to articulate the relationship of a new post-EU Europe, which trades free but is based on democratic legitimacy.

Richard North has been blogging that the next phase of the eurosceptic campaign will be different, but he has yet to state how. By reading the writings of his opponents, maybe he could more easily see which way to go.

The good news for eurosceptics is reading how even Grahn sees the EU project as it is being applied, as destined for self-destruction. But as he says, the opponents of Europe have not started to state a better alternative. That must now surely be the primary eurosceptic challenge. Not just to say NO to the EU, but YES to what alternative?

This is Think Tank time, and the moment for eurosceptics to start to enunciate their ideas.

Here are the clues on offer from Grahn as to what kind of Europe eurosceptics should aspire to in the future. Seeing where the sharks are weak, tells the mackerel where to attack.


Lisbon Treaty rescue operation
Daniel Gros
(Pictured - wart and all) and Sebastian Kurpas of the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) have looked at the options for Europe after the Irish No vote. CEPS Policy brief No. 163 (June 2008) is available at:

http://shop.ceps.eu/BookDetail.php?item_id=1675

‘What next? How to save the Treaty of Lisbon’ starts with an assessment of different options under debate. These are:

1. Abandon the Treaty of Lisbon and continue with the Treaty of Nice

2. Reopening negotiations on a new Treaty

3. Increased efforts on flexible integration

4. Implementation of those elements in the Treaty of Lisbon that do not require ratification

5. Temporary withdrawal of Ireland from the EU

6. Continuing the ratification process followed by a second Irish referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon

Gros and Kurpas then present what they call a feasible, legal and fair way ahead. Their Plan B proposes ratifying the consolidated treaties as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon. This would entail a speedy re-ratification by the member states that already have ratified the original Lisbon Treaty.

The second Irish referendum would be about a different question: Does Ireland wish to join the EU with the Lisbon Treaty in force?

***

The essentials of the CEPS proposal are the same as put forward by this blog, namely to save the substance of the Treaty of Lisbon within a new European Union among the ratifying states.

Given the potential unravelling of the Lisbon Treaty in a number of countries (the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Poland) and the possibility that some might balk at the abandonment of the ‘liberum veto’, the authors are perhaps unduly optimistic in proposing mandatory ratification by 26 states.

In my view, the basic criteria should be that the ratifying states continue, but the treaty is open for later accessions, a customary procedure regarding international treaties.

Another difference is that Gros and Kurpas, focusing on the rescue of the Lisbon Treaty, do not enter into a discussion of the growing popular resistance against the European Union and the profound disillusionment spreading among pro-Europeans.

Without a solemn pledge to institute EU level democratic legitimacy and accountability, the European project is headed for failure. This blog argues that the European Council has to set a new course towards fundamental democratic reform if it wishes to avert a worse catastrophe than the ship-wreck of the Lisbon Treaty.

The missing link between governing and governed must be established in a manner suited to the 21st century.






European demos
For the anti-EU crowd it is standard fare to deny the existence of a European demos or people, and even the prospect of one. Some even deny the existence of EU citizenship. Hasn’t the allegation that the Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty would ‘enforce’ an EU citizenship been one of the popular myths surrounding treaty reform?

Their concept is more akin to ‘Blut und Boden’ myths than to reasoning based on citizenship and political rights.

Since the Maastricht Treaty entered into force, 1 November 1993, every citizen of an EU member state is a citizen of the European Union.

But the political rights are underdeveloped.

Granting the citizens of the union the main political rights – to vote the officeholders into and out of office and to set the course for the EU – would create the European demos.

It is as simple as that, but until now the governments of the member states have preferred to cashier the meaningful ballot.

Crudely put, the current European demos consists of 27 persons at a time.


Reforming EU institutions and democracy
What to do if the size and the rules of the European Union prevent reform? The Italian president Giorgio Napolitano has called for a more firm and coherent engagement between integrationist states. The European Union needs a new democratic surge.

Napolitano’s speech can be found on the web pages of Notre Europe in Italian and French:

http://www.notre-europe.eu

Here is an extract from the French language version:

La Communauté, et puis l’Union, se sont au fur et à mesure élargies jusqu’à atteindre 27 Etats
membres. Mais le moment de la preuve est venu : si, dans cette dimension et avec les règles
actuelles, l’Union montre qu’elle ne peut pas fonctionner et qu’elle ne peut pas non plus
changer ses règles, il faut alors trouver les formes d’un engagement plus ferme et plus
cohérent entre ces pays qui se sont reconnus dans les choix d’intégration et de cohésion plus
avancés, comme celui de la monnaie unique, celui de l’Euro et de la zone Euro.
Et il faut comprendre que le vote en Irlande a plus que jamais radicalement posé un problème.
Le problème des rapports entre gouvernants et gouvernés dans l’Europe unie, le problème de
la participation et du consensus des citoyens.
L’Union européenne – si souvent accusée de manquer de « capacity to deliver » - ne pourra
pas augmenter son efficacité sans réformes et moyens adéquats, et sans un nouvel élan
démocratique.

***

The maturity test of the European Council is going to be if it succeeds in achieving both institutional and democratic reform.


Monday, 23 June 2008
EU’s Irish future
At the European Council meeting, the defeated Irish government understandably asked for more time to come to a conclusion after Ireland’s rejection of the Lisbon Treaty.

The victorious No campaigner Libertas seems to be as clueless at the moment. The latest on the Libertas web page, dated 17 June 2008, is a ‘thank you’ to those who voted no.

Then comes a truism or admission, however it should be understood: In politics, it is easy to simply oppose.

This is followed by the post-referendum programme: We in Libertas will now reflect on the message from the Irish people, and begin the process of looking to build a positive alternative to the direction Europe is taking.

***

Begin the process of looking to build.

Ten days on, not much to go on, is there?

It almost defies imagination as results and political campaigns go.


Ralf Grahn




He's right. The eurosceptics must articulate their alternatives. What do Policy Exchange have to say? What will Tomorrow's Europe look like, once the EU in its current form crashes and makes a new beginning possible? Will the europhiles get a second attempt at forming an EU after a 'democratic surge' as some of the above writing suggests?

Or will eurosceptics come up with something better - nations that trade freely, have better, faster growing and more stable economies, strong indentities and high democratic participation? Is it time to stop acting like the mackerel?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lisbon Collapse Lets Serbia Off Hook


The EU is pressing on with its EULEX regime backing Kosovan independence on the one hand, but is, at the same time, permitting Serbia to press ahead with application for EU membership without having to recognise Kosovo. The position is totally illogical, and will not be workable, although it allows the EU to save its face for now.

The problem for the EU is that the Kosovo programme was only workable under Qualified Majority Voting. Seven EU countries are unwilling to recognise Kosovo, but if Lisbon had been ratified, or looked like being ratified, their objections could have been ignored by the other 20 EU countries, who have recognised Kosovo and were assuming that they could override the other 7.

After the Irish vote, though, the wheels are now falling off as regards the Lisbon Treaty with Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic all looking problematic, not to mention Ireland. In these circumstances, the EU finds itself unable to insist on Serbian acquiescence in Kosovan independence.

The British Ambassador, Stephen Wordsworth (Pictured), who is seen as a key EU spokesperson in Serbia, tells the story.

From B92 News Service In Belgrade -

UK Ambassador Stephen Wordsworth says recognition of Kosovo independence isn't a condition for Serbian EU accession, because the EU isn't united on the issue.


“Twenty EU members recognize Kosovo, seven do not and have no plans of doing so, at least not soon, so we cannot ask Serbia to do more than any other members are prepared to do,” Wordsworth told Tanjug in an interview.

“Serbia will be expected, however, to find a practical way to cooperate with the EU and its mission to Kosovo,” the ambassador said, adding that Serbia's stand on Kosovo had to be taken into account.

He said that despite disagreements over Kosovo's status it was necessary to find a way to establish cooperation on the resolution of practical issues to improve people's lives....

The ambassador said that the dilemma between Russia and the EU that was sometimes presented in the Serbian media, was false, as Belgrade did not have to choose between the two.

“All EU states want good relations with Russia, and it’s natural for Serbia to have good relations both with Russia and the EU,” he pointed out, stating that his Russian colleagues frequently said that they supported Serbia’s EU integration process, as well as that of other countries in the region.

“NATO’s a different matter, and the decision to join NATO is something the next Belgrade government will have to consider. Russia is concerned by NATO expansion,” Wordsworth said, while dismissing the need for any such concern, as NATO membership created possibilities for security structures to modernize and be restructured in a financially acceptable manner, and be brought under civil control.

“If Serbia wants it, the offer is on the table, and it’s up to her to decide,” said the ambassador. ENDS.


The end of Lisbon is signalling the end of the EU as the dominant power broker of the Balkans. NATO is reaching the limits of its influence with Germany and France unwilling to commit troops in Afghanistan. Into the vacuum, Russian influence can only grow.

Serbia meanwhile looks like being able to run with the hare and ride with the hounds, and thanks to Ireland, has been able to throw off the EU 'you must recognise Kosovo' hook.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Typhoon 'Frank' Kills A Thousand People



Manila has been blasted by a typhoon for two days. It kocked out electric supplies at various points across the city, and also knocked out my internet access.

That's as nothing when you think of the 1000 people dead or missing from the ferry that sank near Romblon yesterday. These tragedies are all too common in the Philippines and Indonesia, being archipelagos with thousands of islands apiece. I saw the ferry that sank at Romblon, in April last year. How such a huge ship can be destroyed gives you some idea of how strong the winds must have been.

As for the internet and blogging, I'm quitting my condo today and flying to the UK tomorrow. I'll be leaving my 8 month old son and his mum behind, which will be quite a wrench. Mum's busy studying, and will be going to Hong Kong to see the fashion business there next month.

But business requires a trip back, not to mention seeing my parents.

I also hope to see Richard North of Eureferendum while over there.

Meanwhile I post a video of me and baby Charlie. It's all 'dadadadadadada'.

Sorry about the lack of politics. I will resume normal service on arrival in UK. Right now it's travelling time.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

EU Leaders - Before And After


Remember the pictures of EU get-togethers before the Irish Referendum. The happy smiling optimistic faces.


Well look at the same lot now - all bloody miserable, and bitching away at each other.




It reminds you of a bunch of spoiled kids who've always had their own way, and then, when for once they don't, put up a massive sulk.



Full story on whose fur is flying and why - HERE.

Money Troubles Add To EU Political Crisis


Sarkozy, miffed at the collapse of Lisbon ratification in Ireland, stated in Brussels last week that there could be no further expansion of the EU. This was opposed by other leaders who thought the EU should continue its relentless drive eastwards.

A factor that might have brought a little extra sobriety to the normally heady atmosphere at EU summits would have been the opinion expressed by Morgan Stanley, that the EU and the eurozone are about to be struck by a financial typhoon. European monetary union has appeared a picture of financial stability for ten years since it began, with no serious hiccups noticeable in its progress.

However beneath the surface, huge imbalances have been created, as here described, and they are getting worse -

Morgan Stanley says the current account deficits of Spain (10.5pc of GDP), Portugal (10.5pc), and Greece (14pc) would never have been able to reach such extreme levels before the launch of the euro.

EMU has shielded them from punishment by the markets, but this has allowed them to store up serious trouble. By contrast, Germany now has a huge surplus of 7.7pc of GDP.

The imbalances appear to be getting worse.

The latest food and oil spike has pushed eurozone inflation to a record 3.7pc, with big variations by country. Spanish inflation is rising at 4.7pc even though the country is now in the grip of a full-blown property crash. It is still falling further behind Germany. The squeeze required to claw back lost competitiveness will be "politically unpalatable".


It is always possible that these figures seriously underestimate the problem of inflation, as 'essentials' inflation indices, which track the things people have to buy and taxes they have to pay, are giving inflation rates of more than double official rates.

Morgan Stanley said the biggest risk lies in the arc of countries from the Baltics to the Black Sea where credit growth has been roaring at 40pc to 50pc a year. Current account deficits have reached 23pc of GDP in Latvia, and 22pc in Bulgaria. In Hungary and Romania, over 55pc of household debt is in euros or Swiss francs.

Swedish, Austrian, Greek and Italian banks have provided much of the funding for the credit booms. A crunch is looming in 2009 when a wave of maturities fall due. "Could the funding dry up? We think it could," said the bank.


Serbians who want to take a ride on the EU-backed lending boom, might take note. It could all be about to stop, and go into reverse. The US credit crunch was a property-based crunch, where bankers had overlent to house-buyers. The European crunch will be a double-whammy. Property prices and lending will fall rapidly, but so too will parts of the eurozone find that their country's creditworthiness disappears.

The Huntsman recently pointed out that Germans will only carry German-identified euros, and refuse to hold euros from other EU countries. LINK HERE.

The split between the creditworthy Euro countries like Germany, and the less-creditworthy ones such as Italy, when it comes, will be sudden and devastating. Without the political progress of the Lisbon Treaty reassuring lenders, a change in the climate of economic confidence in the Euro could well happen all the faster.

Morgan Stanley warns of a coming 'catastrophic event', as the ECB insists on maintaining a higher interest rate level than it believes is wise in these circumstances. See the full article by The Telegraph's Ambrose Pritchard-Evans HERE.

Could we see the rebirth of the D Mark and the Italian Lira, as the natural next step to the collapse of the Lisbon Treaty. The EU has missed its moment in history. By trying to be overly authoritarian and undemocratic, it became a political failure. The continent of Europe now faces the economic consequences of that political failure, with EU dreams sent crashing down in the ruins.

Friday, June 20, 2008

God Laughs At The Hapless Lisbon Treaty


Hard to believe after all the ballyhoo, but common sense prevailed at the EU summit in Brussels yesterday. Sarkozy and Brown were all for pushing on with the ratification of the Treaty in the remaining eight countries, at the same time ramping up pressure on the Irish to hold a second referendum but with a YES result this time. It was completely barmy as an idea, of course.

It was none other than the Germans who insisted that no further ratifications be demanded until the Irish one is sorted out, and that no time limit be placed on the Irish to achieve that.

The British, seemingly disconnected from reality, had insisted on pushing through their ratification last week of what is in effect a dead or dying Treaty, to give moral support to the Lisbon patient. Brown and Foreign Secretary Miliband were taking no account of the gaping wound to the body of the Treaty inflicted by the Irish, making Britain look like she was acting out of panic and fear rather than consideration. This is, of course typical of Gordon Brown who dithers and panics in equal measure, and makes himself look ludicrous, as he bottles and bullies without tangible result.

The Germans are in a quandary as the Constitution has been passed by both houses of the German Parliament, but the German President has not yet signed it. He has to decide if it is conflict with the German Constitution. But as it has been rendered otiose by the Irish vote, the President will not sign what is now regarded as a void Treaty. Germans are not able to do a Gordon Brown and pointlessly ratify a dead Treaty as part of some misconceived buddy contract.

The Czechs are also looking very unlikely to sign the Treaty, while the Northern League in Italy are demanding a referendum, and will not agree to sign Lisbon through the Italian Parliament. All in all, the process is well and truly bogged down, and it's time the world's media and the EU fantasy machine stopped playing 'let's pretend'..

This report from the BBC gives some of the picture -

Germany rejected the idea of moving ahead on Lisbon without Ireland, which won strong Czech backing at the summit.
Our correspondent says concern is swirling around the intentions of the Czech government.
Pressed on whether he intended to ratify the treaty, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said that he was not going to put the brakes on to halt ratification.
But he added he would not bet 100 crowns (£3; $6) on a "Yes" from parliament.


The folly of the British position was emphasised by comments coming from Labour MP for Edgbaston, Gisela Stuart, who attends meetings of the European Council, in yesterday's European debate in the House of Commons. She spoke as follows -

Whenever we prepare for European Council meetings, I am reminded of an old Jewish proverb—"If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." We think about what is going to happen. That is then overtaken by events that completely dominate the discussions.

This time, the unexpected event was the Irish 'no' vote.

The result of that vote was declared not only on Friday 13 but also on the saint's day of St. Anthony of Lisbon, the patron saint of lost causes.

I am tempted to think that God was laughing on that day.




What she might have added that the British Prime Minister was still making plans for the Lisbon Treaty even after he knew of the events which made it an impossibility, not to mention that the Treaty's ratification was and is still sub judice. Why Britain needs a Prime Minister who cannot see what is blindingly obvious to nearly all the rest of the world is another thing that takes some explaining. Maybe it's time that that joke too was brought to an end.

UPDATE - See Bronwen Maddox of The Times LINK HERE

And the BBC at last is starting to realise the hopelessness of the situation, saying that Britain's ratification through Parliament cannot take effect until the judicial review initiated by Stuart Wheeler has been completed - in which he alleges that Labour promised a referendum and were accordingly elected in 2005, and now have to abide by their promise. LINK HERE.

UPDATE - Telegraph 'Sarkozy blames Mandelson' and Courts force Brown to delay British ratification - HERE

EU Helicopter 'Crashes' In Bosnia



19.06.08 21:00
From Trend News -

Bosnia air crash kills four EU peacekeepers

A Spanish helicopter on a European Union peacekeeping flight crashed Thursday in the hills of central Bosnia, killing all four soldiers aboard, military officials said, reported dpa.

The dead were two Spanish pilots and two German military officers, the Spanish Defence Ministry said in Madrid. They were on a transport flight in the Banja Luka region around noon when the craft went down for unknown reasons, the statement said.

The BO-105 chopper took off from Sarajevo and crashed in a heavily wooded, hard-to-reach area after sending a mayday call, European Union Force (EUFOR) headquarters said in Sarajevo. The crew of a second helicopter saw smoke rising from the crash site.

The cause of the crash was under investigation, officials said.

Spain has the largest EUFOR contingent, some 350 of the nearly 2,200 troops serving in the 31-nation force.

Germany has about 120 soldiers in EUFOR, launched by the European Union in 2004 to take over from NATO peacekeepers.

The BO-105 is a light helicopter developed by Germany's Messerschmitt-Boelkow-Blohm, now part of Eurocopter, a unit of Europe's EADS defence and space company.


LINK.

If a helicopter crashes and it is reported on the news, normally the story doesn't make anyone bat an eyelid. But two days after the UN has decided to pass control of Kosovo over to the EU, without consulting with Russia or any other countries that oppose such a move, and an EU helicopter crashes in unexplained circumstances, it does tend to draw the attention.

I am not saying that this crash is necessarily suspicious, but we have learned by hearing reports of 'crashes' of aircraft in other trouble spots around the globe, to become cautious. This is the Balkans, and tensions are running high. The crash happened quickly if there was only time for a Mayday.

The BBC report on the same incident (HERE) includes -

Bosnia-Hercegovina was divided into Bosnian-Muslim-Croat and Bosnian Serb autonomous regions under the accords which ended the Bosnian war in 1995 - yet the BBC fails to say which sector of the divided country the helicopter crashed in, or give any details as to the location of the crash.

The crash can only exacerbate the EU's helicopter crisis. This May 2008 Press Release from Brussels gives the picture.

EU Defence Ministers Pledge to Address Helicopter Shortages for Crisis Operations
Brussels, 26 May 2008, Press Release

European defence ministers today issued a declaration of their determination to improve the operational availability of helicopters, noting that shortfalls in helicopter availability constrained EU and other international crisis management operations.

A ministerial meeting of the Steering Board of the European Defence Agency noted that important work was underway in the Agency to mitigate the problem of helicopter availability through initiatives such as enhanced crew training, fleet technical upgrades and logistic improvements, but more needed to be done.

“We all know that helicopters are a key military enabler, which can often make the difference in the success or failure of crisis management missions,” said Head of the Agency Javier Solana, who chaired the meeting.

“Despite large numbers in European inventories, there remains a shortage of helicopters that can actually be deployed on operations. This is true in all operations theatres.” he added.


Picture - Head of The EU's Defence Agency Javier Solana, biting his tongue on a different occasion. And below a BO - 105.



UPDATE - www.balkaninsight.com report -

EUFOR said the accident happened in a remote area of central Bosnia.

Local media report the chopper went down in the Kotor Varos area of Bosnia’s smaller entity of Republika Srpska.

“A strong EUFOR presence is visible around the place where the accident happened and they are not letting anybody come close,” said Nedzib Smajlovic of the police in Zenica, Central Bosnia told local media.


LINK.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Will Moscow Stun The World Over Kosovo?

The EU has been showing its true colours of late. At one time it used to make quite a show of being interested in democratic ideals, of seeming to care if a referendum was won or lost, and of being willing to renegotiate its position if required. But in 2008, with total power over the continent of Europe a tantalising footstep away, any pretence of common sense or even good manners is being slung out of the window.

With the taste already in their mouths of unimaginable power exercisable without the inconvenience of democratic accountability , the idea that any other human being might actually have to be listened to, is too much for these boneheads to cope with.

As Sarkozy, Merkel, Brown and Barroso prepare to preen themselves as the supreme rulers of an empire ruling over 500 million subjects, there are powerful players around the globe who, unlike the Irish, won't find being completely ignored by the EU an acceptable option. (Come to that, will the Irish electorate that just rejected the Lisbon Treaty, find being ignored acceptable?)

Take Russia for example, and its concerns with recent developments over Kosovo. Russia has spent a lot of time attending NATO and UN conferences and meetings explaining that it will not lie still forever, if Kosovo is wrenched away from Serbia in contravention of UN Resolution 1244, under which the UNMIK was launched, and which states that Kosovo has at all times to remain part of Serbia. The EU, however hatched a new scheme for Kosovo, which they have proceeded to implement it as best they can.

Until last week, Russia had vetoed every attempt by the UN to comply with the EULEX programme in Kosovo, whereby the EU would take over control of Kosovo and supervise and support Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia. Then, out of the blue, at the last minute, without even discussing the situation with Russia, the General Secretary of the UN Ban Ki Moon has decided to compromise with the EU and permit the EULEX to take over control of Kosovo from the UN.

One can only imagine the fury felt in Moscow by this manoevre. Russia has stated on more than one occasion, both Lavrov the Foreign Minister and President Medvedev that Russia would not shrink from using military force if the Serbs in Kosovo were not adequately protected. It is therefore a brave or foolish decision to press ahead with the EU plan, in direct contravention of what has been discussed within the UN, with Russia declaring that she will take the lead to defend Serb interests there.

One Russian journalist, Andrei Fedyashin, might have caught wind of something in Moscow and he has written a piece (LINK) in RIA Novosti, a newspaper for which he is a political commentator. He gives no details of any specific threat, but he is prepared to headline his latest piece as follows - 'Will Moscow Stun The World Over Kosovo?'

He writes -

MOSCOW. Kosovo received its new Constitution as scheduled - on June 15. By June 17 its president, Fatmir Sejdiu, had already signed about 50 laws, sealing his position as the head of state and Kosovo's status as an independent formation.

Several days before, it was announced that the UN mission in Kosovo would be closed and that most of its functions (and hence, premises, infrastructure, communications and local personnel) would be transferred to the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX Kosovo) and to the Kosovo government. It seems that the UN mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, will soon leave Kosovo altogether, largely owing to the efforts of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The UN may keep a small office in Kosovo's Serbian-controlled northern regions. But the local Serbs have already said that they do not care about the new Constitution or Kosovo's independence. They have formed a firm minority group after Kosovo proclaimed independence on February 17. Protected by their own unity and the proximity of the Serbian border, they have already said that they will have their own, parallel authorities, and will not obey the Pristina government or parliament. Their compatriots in Kosovo's Albanian-dominated central and southern regions will have a harder life.



Picture - The Kosovan Parliament voting itself powers, supported by the EU, but not recognised by many countries - only 40 out of 200 at the UN.

Almost at the same time, the NATO defense ministers declared at their meeting in Brussels that they have finally agreed on helping the Kosovo government set up its own, some 3,000-strong security forces. They will replace the Kosovo Protection Corps and will be equipped with NATO weapons.

NATO made this decision on the day Pristina and Belgrade received notifications on the downgrading of the UN mission in Kosovo. Ban Ki-moon diplomatically described it as the "reconfiguration of the international civilian presence in Kosovo." The direction of this reconfiguration was specified rather clearly - as further steps toward reaching practical agreements which would allow the European Union (EU) "to prepare a future civilian role in the broader Rule of Law area (police, justice, and customs)." In other words, this was a statement on the transfer of UN functions to the EU.

Incidentally, the UN secretary general has the right to disband or change the format of the UN mission after consulting with Security Council members. He has not done this so far. Meanwhile, the UN has not cancelled its Resolution 1244 on UNMIK and NATO's KFOR military mission. The same resolution does not say a word about the EU.

By and large, there is nothing bad about the transfer of functions. It could only be welcomed. If the EU wants to assume the burden of maintaining peace in Kosovo, let it do so. After all, every side will gain when the UN stops funding the mission. The lion's share of its budget is wasted on such peacemaking and stabilization operations. Moreover, UNMIK was engaged in markedly pro-Albanian peacemaking, and it would even be a disgrace to continue paying for this mission.

The problem for Russia is bigger and much more unpleasant. It seems that it has again been excluded from major decision-making in the UN. What's worse, this was done by the UN secretary general, who did not even bother to conceal in his letter what it was all about. It is clear that Brussels' instructions to its mission will have nothing to do with Resolution 1244.

The developments around Kosovo suggest many questions, each worse than the last. All of them are addressed to Russia. It is obvious that in the Kosovo confrontation our interests have again clashed with those of the West, but it is not clear whether such adamant defense of Serbia's integrity gained anything for Russia. It continued even when it became clear that the new Serbian government would not cling to Kosovo at all costs, and that this part of its territory had been cut off once and for all. Emotion in protecting international legal standards and national justice is justified, but it has to be buttressed by something more important than statements in the UN and NATO.

All Russians, starting from the president and foreign minister and ending with the man-in-the-street, have said more than once that we have our own response to the West's obvious neglect of the basics of international law and the role of the UN, and that we "won't weep in the corner like schoolboys." But so far this response has been extremely vague.

Withdrawal from the CIS sanctions against Abkhazia or the recent sending of a railroad battalion to the republic are hardly cases in point. We will still help Abkhazia with food. This is our duty, because the majority of its citizens have Russian passports. Maybe, though, Moscow has something up its sleeve that will stun the whole world.


To my way of thinking, a journalist writing something like that knows something, and he's trying to warn people.

The warning will not be heard by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who has bought the EU/UN line that the EU occupation of Kosovo is being carried out under UN Resolution 1244, which is a surprising thing for Miliband to be saying, as it expressly forbids Kosovan independence.

The following exchange took place in the House Of Commons today between Bill Cash and David Miliband.

William Cash MP (Stone, Conservative).

What is the legal basis for the recognition of Kosovo and for the commitment of European resources for the purposes that the right hon. Gentleman described?

David Miliband (Secretary of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office; South Shields, Labour)

The legal basis is United Nations Security Council resolution 1244, which was passed in 1999 and which provides an enduring basis for a political settlement in Kosovo.

Milliband's double-talk might soon be facing down a severe Russian threat, if Fedyashin's prognostications turn out to be correct.

Courts - 'We Can't Stop Parliament Ratifying Dead Treaties'



Bill Cash rightly states that the Irish referendum result stops the Lisbon Treaty from having legality, as it had to be ratified by all its signatories to have force of law. He is also right that when the 2005 Constitutional Treaty was rejected in the French and Dutch referendums, Blair immediately abandoned attempts to ratify the Treaty in Britain as it could not acquire legal effect after its failure to be ratified in France and Holland. The Irish rejection is no different.

The High Court, however, held that if Parliament wishes to waste its time ratifying Treaties that cannot have final effect due to the non-ratification by others, it is no business of the court to stop them. In essence that is a political decision, which Parliament is entitled to take. Cash's action was therefore rejected.

Here is the communication from The European Foundation telling the story -

Bill Cash’s application for judicial review on Lisbon Treaty at High Court is refused

On 17th June, Conservative MP, Bill Cash, sought a judicial review in the High Court to ensure that the Lisbon Treaty should not be ratified, given David Miliband’s decision to continue the ratification of the Treaty in the UK (statement on 16th June) after the 'No' outcome of the Irish referendum vote (on 13th June). Bill Cash has now heard from Mr Justice Collins that permission has been refused. Shown below is the original detailed statement of grounds, the Order by the Honourable Mr Justice Collins, the next step of the Bill in Royal Assent, and Mr. Cash’s view.

Original detailed statement of grounds
Decisions under the prerogative are in principle subject to judicial review (CCSU v The Minister for Civil Service [1985] AC 374) and although many prerogative powers, including the making of Treaties would not be justiciable, the Courts may rule on the legality of action taken in the course of foreign policy R v. Foreign Secretary EXP Rees-Mogg [1994] QB 552 – decision to ratify Treaty on European Union reject on the merits of that case because Government was exercising prerogative power not relinquishing it.

The Treaty of Lisbon was signed on 13th December 2007 by the Prime Minister on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government and the 26 other Member States also signed the Treaty, including the Republic of Ireland. The Treaty is not ratified in the United Kingdom.

The claimant contends that the legal consequence for the United Kingdom of the ‘No’ vote on the Lisbon Treaty in the referendum held in the Republic of Ireland notified on Friday 13th June under Article 29 of the Constitution of Ireland 1937 (which is direct binding legislation) against the coming into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in the Republic of Ireland is that as from 13th June, the performance of the Treaty in relation to the UK (because of supervening impossibility and change of circumstances preventing the accomplishment of the original object or purpose and transforming the original consent of the parties to the terms of that Treaty) is now otiose, terminated and therefore no longer an available lawful use of the Prerogative in the UK.

Furthermore, under the principles of customary international law the Treaty of Lisbon should be stayed (Clausula Rebus Sic Stantibus).

As admitted by the Foreign Secretary in his statement to the House of Commons at 5pm on 16th June “All 27 Member States must ratify the Treaty for it to come into force.” The Republic of Ireland can no longer do so in respect of this Treaty under their Constitution, thereby vitiating the object or purpose of the Treaty as between all 27 Member States including the United Kingdom and in these circumstances and for want of proper and lawful justification the continuing assertion by Her Majesty’s Government that the Treaty is effective in the UK is an abuse of prerogative power and is therefore justiciable by the Courts of the United Kingdom.

In accordance with Article IX of the Bill of Rights, this claim is directed at the decision to continue to ratify the Lisbon Treaty in the exercise of prerogative power and does not question the proceedings in Parliament.


Mr Justice Collins made the following order:
Permission refused

Since I am refusing permission to seek judicial review, it follows that I decline to make any interim order.
The claim is misconceived. There is no reason why the government should not ask Parliament to continue to deal with the European Union (Amendment) Bill despite the refusal of Ireland to ratify the Lisbon Treaty. It will be for Parliament, not the court, to decide whether the Bill should be passed having regard to the Irish decision. The assertion that the decision to continue the ratification process is an exercise of the prerogative power and so justiciable is not correct. In reality, this claim seeks to prevent the parliamentary process from reaching its conclusion and as such is not justiciable. In any event, there may well be a value in the government knowing that they Treaty in its present form has been ratified by Parliament or by a referendum is a matter of political not judicial decision.
It follows that this claim is not arguable. It is indeed totally without merit since it is an attempt to pursue a political agenda through the court.

Royal Assent
Royal Assent will take place today and it is not known when instruments of ratification will be delivered.


Bill Cash’s view
As Bill Cash said in the House of Commons yesterday, and on Monday, he regards the Government’s behaviour in continuing with this Treaty disreputable because this Treaty cannot be ratified by Ireland by virtue of the direct binding legal nature of the ‘No’ vote which cannot be changed by the Government or the Dail under the Irish Constitution itself.

Even Tony Blair as Prime Minister abandoned the original European Constitutional Treaty Bill when the French and the Dutch voted ‘No’ because he knew that that Treaty could not be ratified. The same principle clearly should have been applied to this Treaty and this Bill, as Bill Cash pointed out in yesterday’s European affairs debate.

Bill Cash is considering grounds for an oral hearing which he is entitled to do.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

EU In Denial



In the light of the Irish NO vote, the EU is desperately trying to press all other countries into ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, despite the fact that, under its own quite specific terms, legally it is dead.

The EU have had two 'successes' in the last two days in persuading two countries to ignore the legal death of the Treaty. First, Britain saw the Treaty ratified in its third reading in the House Of Lords last night, with four protesters being removed from the gallery, shouting 'This is meant to be a democracy'. There was no direct news forthcoming about Bill Cash's judicial review requested in the High Court, although presumably it must have failed for the Lords to proceed.

The EU also had the pleasure of hearing that Sweden's Constitutional review body completed on June 13th, and it decided that the Lisbon Treaty was not in breach of the Swedish Constitution, and that the Treaty ratification Bill can proceed to be debated in the Swedish Parliament.

Here is the report on the Swedish situation from the expert Europhile lawyer Ralf Grahn.

The Swedish Council on Legislation (Lagrådet) has given its expert opinion on the government’s draft ratification bill concerning the EU Treaty of Lisbon. The legal opinion, dated 13 June 2008, draws on the earlier statement on the Constitutional Treaty to conclude that the proposed ratification does not require amendments to the Swedish Constitution.

The legal opinion can be accessed at:

http://www.lagradet.se/yttranden/Lissabonfordraget.pdf

This means that the government of Sweden can send the bill to parliament without constitutional complications.

***

On the political side, foreign minister Carl Bildt has reiterated his mantra that Irelend decides for Ireland, and Sweden decides for Sweden.


All of these things are happening despite the fact that the Treaty has to be decided unanimously for it to take effect. At what point will the lawyers speak, and the politicians admit that the current Treaty is dead? It will require a new term to be agreed by all its signatories, whereby the requirement for unanimity will be dropped. But then that will be a new Treaty which will need signing all over again.

Gordon Brown will be back in his little side room, and the process of ratification will need to be gone through a second time....unless the law no longer applies across the EU.

EU law might possibly be capable of avoiding the above, as it is 'teleological'. Judges are allowed to decide cases based on what the legislator intended, or would have intended in the changed circumstances that have come about - but with a Treaty, there is no law until it is ratified.

It would be interesting to hear some information about any legal opinions expressed by Bill Cash's application. Maybe they will be forthcoming later today. Maybe they just ran out of time.

OTHER COUNTRIES NOT YET RATIFIED

Then there are Italy and Germany. The ratification process is also stuck in these two countries. In Germany the President Horst Koehler who refused to sign German ratification of the EU Constitutional Treaty in 2005 after the French and the Dutch referendums, has yet to sign the Lisbon Treaty, and possibly will not do so.

In Italy the Northern League, who are a key part of Berlusconi's governing coalition are being asked to give their support to the ratification of the Treaty through the Italian Parliament, but they are refusing, and demanding that a referendum takes place.

And of course there is still the Czech Republic where many President Vaclav Klaus and the Senate are saying that the Treaty is dead. Opinion is divided as to whether the Treaty can be rammed through against their express wishes.

But in truth, we need to hear from the lawyers. What is the situation now as regards the Lisbon Treaty? Is it dead? If so, what will be done to bring it back to life? The politicians will have to go quiet soon and listen to expert opinion on these matters. Or will they keep dragging their corpse of a Treaty around for months, as it gradually decomposes and stinks out the atmosphere? It looks like there's going to be a slow long drawn-out burial, when a quick one would have been more appropriate, so the mourning could begin.



Grief is a process. First comes shock. Then denial. Then anger. Then sadness. Then coming to terms. We are definitely in stage 2 at the moment.

See two Telegraph articles - Lords Leave Treaty With A Ghost Of A Chance,

and Our European Masters Have No Sense Of Shame.

The debate in the UK seems to take no account of possible suport for our euroscepticism, in Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic. That to my mind is a mistake. The figures polled by Open Europe showing that two thirds of Britons want either withdrawal or trade only, with the EU is an important statistic, but it means a lot more when placed alongside the fact that a majority of Germans want to get rid of the Euro.

Europe-wide denial by the EU's supporters needs to be met with Europe-wide reality, not only British and Irish. There could be more shocks in store for the EU coming from many angles. Ireland might be just the first.

Bill Cash Puts Lisbon Treaty In The High Court



The terms of the Lisbon Treaty are quite clear. It will only come into force if all 26 countries that signed it, proceed to successfully ratify it. If the ratification procedure of any country were to reject the Treaty, and thereby prevent its ratification, that in turn renders the Treaty unenforceable, or void.

The europhile Helsinki lawyer Ralf Grahn, being well aware of this fact, has stated that the only way for the Lisbon Treaty to be rescued after the Irish referendum NO vote, which is a failure to ratify the Treaty on the part of Ireland, is for its terms to be changed. It will have to be made enforceable and have legal effect, even if not all the 26 countries that sign it, go on to ratify it, and then it only would have effect for those countries that do ratify it. The original Treaty cannot be amended. There would have to be a new Lisbon Treaty.

Faced with the intention of David Milliband to press on and attempt to ratify the first Lisbon Treaty through the House Of Lords today, Wednesday June 18th, Bill Cash made an application to the High Court yesterday that the royal prerogative is being used illegally. The Lisbon Treaty, as it was written is now dead, and attempting to ratify the Treaty now is not only illogical, but also illegal. His application to the court is made in the following terms -

Source - The European Foundation.


The claimant contends that the legal consequence for the United Kingdom of the ‘No’ vote on the Lisbon Treaty in the referendum held in the Republic of Ireland notified on Friday 13th June under Article 29 of the Constitution of Ireland 1937 (which is direct binding legislation) against the coming into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in the Republic of Ireland is that as from 13th June, the Treaty in relation to the UK (because of supervening impossibility and change of circumstances preventing the accomplishment of the original object or purpose and transforming the original consent of the parties to the terms of that Treaty). The performance of the Treaty in the UK is now otiose, terminated and therefore no longer an available lawful use of the Prerogative in the UK.



Furthermore, under the principles of customary international law the Treaty of Lisbon should be stayed (Clausula Rebus Sic Stantibus).



As admitted by the Foreign Secretary in his statement to the House of Commons at 5pm on 16th June “All 27 Member States must ratify the Treaty for it to come into force.” The Republic of Ireland can no longer do so in respect of this Treaty under their Constitution, thereby vitiating the object or purpose of the Treaty as between all 27 Member States including the United Kingdom and in these circumstances and for want of proper and lawful justification the continuing assertion by Her Majesty’s Government that the Treaty is effective in the UK is an abuse of prerogative power and is therefore justiciable by the Courts of the United Kingdom.



In accordance with Article IX of the Bill of Rights, this claim is directed at the decision to continue to ratify the Lisbon Treaty in the exercise of prerogative power and does not question the proceedings in Parliament.


The European Foundation expresses Bill Cash's action in these terms -

Yesterday, Conservative MP, Bill Cash, sought a judicial review in the High Court to ensure that the Lisbon Treaty should not be ratified, given David Miliband’s decision to continue the ratification of the Treaty in the UK (statement on 16th June) after the 'No' outcome of the Irish referendum vote (on 13th June). He expects to hear today whether his application for judicial review of the Treaty will be allowed to proceed.

He must have a very good case.

XXXXXXAS OF 3.15 PM 18th June, no result known, but it must come through any time as it has to be given prior to the House of Lords vote, according to European Foundation.XXXXXX

This is what Bill Cash said in the Commons debate on June 16th, angling his question to Foreign Secretary David Miliband to link the Irish NO vote to the situation in the UK.

Will the Foreign Secretary accept that his statement is really quite disreputable given that this is quite clearly a democratic vote taken by people with full knowledge of what was going on? Will he not accept that it does affect the United Kingdom? We salute the Irish people, but the vote affects the United Kingdom because the treaty is no longer valid as far as the United Kingdom is concerned precisely because it has been overtaken by the no vote, which cannot now be changed.

UPDATE - 5.21 PM BBC Report on the Lords debate which is still continuing with many interruptions from protesters - LINK


EARLIER - See 'Daily Mirror - David Miliband Backs Off Over The Lisbon Treaty' HERE. If true, well done , Bill Cash. Although it sounds like a bit of window-dressing by Miliband to be honest. We await the result of Cash's court action with interest.

EARLIER - June 16th's PMQs discussion of Lisbon was reported thus in The Spectator's Coffehouse -

Lisbon is today’s hot topic and Cameron had a few good lines cooked up. Lisbon was “a treaty he was so ashamed of, he had to sign it in a room all of his own,” he said to Brown. “If he wants a British view, why doesn’t he ask the British people.” At this point, David Miliband did one of his gestures where he screws up his face and rolls his eyes heavenwards. He really must learn not to do that, it enforces the [misguided] criticism of him as arrogant and aloof.

As so often, Brown dusted down out a script written in the mid-1990s. He referred to Maastricht (which he mispronounced, so it rhymes with “ostrich”) and said the Tories didn’t have a referendum then and wouldn’t do so in office. Cameron was ready for that. “The Prime Minister asks us if we want a post-ratification referendum. Ratifying what, exactly, after this Irish ‘no’ vote?” Precisely. Brown was later asked how he thinks a referendum would go, and his reply was simply extraordinary. “The last time there was a referendum it was won by two votes to one”. That was the 1975 referendum to join a Common Market – a fundamentally different proposition to the kind of political union outlined in the Lisbon Treaty.