My, What a Large EU You Have

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So what are you doing to mark Saturday's European Union enlargement? I'm taking these goofy little BBC do-you-know-anything-about-these-countries quizzes, and pining for the day that Molvania takes its rightful seat at the table in Brussels.

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  1. Karl Kraus,

    How is much of what you wrote really different than anything an individual European government does?

    “the allowance of D and F to violate the Maastricht criteria basically penalty free”

    That would ring true if Italy, Portugal and Spain weren’t also violating it or about to. Maastrict was a stupid idea – as far as the 3% cap was concerned – and should be scrapped.

    “the pressure on Norway. This is similar to the sanctions against us.”

    What sanctions? When the EU invades or otherwise throws an embargo up against Norway we can discuss “pressure.” Hard politics is fair.

    “harmonisation for harmonisation sake”

    Examples?

    “the dedication to the Precautionary Principle in matters (TEC Nice Extract A 174 (3))”

    That would be the case EU or not; and EU countries have the right to veto anything about this as well.

    Your position is not so much that you dislike the EU, but you dislike government generally.

  2. Karl Kraus,

    How is much of what you wrote really different than anything an individual European government does?

    “the allowance of D and F to violate the Maastricht criteria basically penalty free”

    That would ring true if Italy, Portugal and Spain weren’t also violating it or about to. Maastrict was a stupid idea – as far as the 3% cap was concerned – and should be scrapped.

    “the pressure on Norway. This is similar to the sanctions against us.”

    What sanctions? When the EU invades or otherwise throws an embargo up against Norway we can discuss “pressure.” Hard politics is fair.

    “harmonisation for harmonisation sake”

    Examples?

    “the dedication to the Precautionary Principle in matters (TEC Nice Extract A 174 (3))”

    That would be the case EU or not; and EU countries have the right to veto anything about this as well.

    Your position is not so much that you dislike the EU, but you dislike government generally.

  3. M. Bart!

    Greetings again!

    There were sanctions against us in Austria with the election of the FPOe into the coalition. That is hardly hard politics. And That is wicked, I feel.

    Portugal was fined.

    Examples of Harmonisation:
    Bottles, Denmark has an exception
    the silly examples of “gurkens”
    the desire to have the UK on the same power grid or go to right-hand driving or a two tooth round plug (!).
    the notion to “level the playing field” in favour of western firms with high cost practices.
    Environmental issues (Konstanz or Neuseidler See) that do not take into account the local eco systems.

    Application of the Precautionary Principle was not in German or Austrian law. Your assertion is incorrect that the precautionary principle would be in place is incorrect. That may be so in France. Actually, I find it repulsive that France may descriminate on religion symbols and there are no sanctions to that. I know You have a different position on that, but the principles of rights as outlined in draft Constitution Article 2 is on contradiction with that ban. I cannot imagine how the world would react if we had those conditions you describe and from them justify such a ban.

    I find it that the right not to be unionised is not recognised.

    Yes, I do not like intrusive government. I am a Liberal. The superstate EU is worse than the Austrian. And there are some things where is the exchange of one evil to another.

    Since the EU is the biggest bureaucratic superstate with heaps and piles of regulations that make our old ones small, yes, I am against big government and the biggest target is the EU. I was against Austrian policies before.

    I do not like the PATRIOT Act in America, either. I disagree with her stehl tariffs, too.

    How do You feel about referring to “Europe = EU”? Is that convention in France as well? It is repugnant in the German Language.

    I do appreciate chatting with you. That is a positive trait of the EU 😉

    Oh, “hard politics is fair”. Yes, it is easy to pick on Norway. What about Iraq? I am completely against the War there, but why was Western Europe not willing to play hard politics there? THAT describes my antiEU attitude. Hard politics against countries that are peaceful, strong in the NATO and pro America. Where were the hard politics against Yugoslavia? Where were the hard politics against Iraq?

    I do not want a European continent to be “rivaled” with anybody. I want free trade and free exchange of ideas. Even with the Bush Predient team.

    Kind regards,
    KK

  4. jean bart says: “…Maastrict was a stupid idea – as far as the 3% cap was concerned – and should be scrapped.”

    there is a gem: we break the law (which we agreed to) because we now think it is a stupid idea!

    gotta hand it to Karl Kraus, for his patience to post such a detailed response to JB.

  5. JB:

    Tyler Cowen on Marginal Revolution today notes that the EU is starting to function like a tax cartel when Germany claims that low corporate tax rates to attract business are ‘not the way forward’. He links to this Cato article on the same subject: http://www.cato.org/dailys/01-10-02.html

  6. zorel,

    I thought it was a stupid idea from the start. If that makes me a hypocrite, well, so be it.

    Indeed, when it was created it was stated by many parties that countries could never in the long-term live up to it. The cap of 3% was created to satisfy the German government at the time, not the French (Chirac gave in because the German government insisted on it – it created some tensions for quite a time after that) or any other government. If anyone is “eating crow” it should be them.

    If anyone’s patience is being tried by someone its mine because of you.

    Karl,

    “There were sanctions against us in Austria with the election of the FPOe into the coalition. That is hardly hard politics. And That is wicked, I feel.”

    Stop electing fascists. 🙂

    “Portugal was fined.”

    Actually, it was fined, but the fine was never assessed. Which is of course why Germany, France, Italy, etc. all claim that they should not be fined.

    I still don’t see how that is harmonisation for harmoninsation sake.

    “Application of the Precautionary Principle was not in German or Austrian law.”

    It twas in German; hell, they banned American beef with hormones two years before France did under that principle.

    “Actually, I find it repulsive that France may descriminate on religion symbols and there are no sanctions to that.”

    How is France “discriminating against religious symbols?” They can’t be worn to school; that’s not discrimination, its a dress code.

    “Yes, I do not like intrusive government. I am a Liberal.”

    I don’t view the EU as any more intrusive than any other European nation; and I see its positive benefits like the privatization and reform it has spurred in France.

  7. KK- “Actually, I find it repulsive that France may descriminate on religion symbols and there are no sanctions to that.”

    JB- “How is France “discriminating against religious symbols?” They can’t be worn to school; that’s not discrimination, its a dress code.”

    Yes, a dress code in a public (read: state) school…

  8. willfellow,

    And?

  9. JB,

    your explanation of how you and Chirac were against it from the beginning does not grant you the right to break the law later on. It is like saying, I didn’t vote for speed limits, so I won’t follow them. Actually your position is worse (France voted for them, albeit reluctantly).

    if I am trying your patience, go take a walk – you were neither obligated nor expected to respond to “my appreciation of Kraus’s patience”

  10. …and so, it’s hard to say that France (the state) is not discriminating when said state’s institutions enact that descrimination by order of the state. It’s limited scope does nothing to alter the principle.

  11. wellfellow,

    for your argument to hold, France should have the US equivalent of “freedome of religion”. If France is a “secular” democracy, where all religion (or symbols) is not permitted in public places (Schools), then it is not discrimination.

  12. Zorel,

    It is not discrimination because they did not make the pretense of being free?

    Or because one cannot freely express religion in any public space, it is not discrimination at all? (discrimination can only exist with a dependant geographical limitation? ie. within a school)

    I’m not sure I’m understanding the argument you are making.

  13. Jason Ligon,

    “Do you perceive that the EU is leaning on the Easten European countries, at the behest of Germany and France, to raise tax rates, to make them more progressive, and to adopt higher regulatory standards so that the relatively high levels of regulation the primary governments hold aren’t threatened by competition?”

    Tax rates should probably drop. They continue to drop in France. As far as regulatory standards are concerned, whatever increase will occur will be offset by forcing eastern european countries to reform their woeful pension systems, selling off government owned corporations, etc.

    “Who has pressured France to deregulate?”

    The EU; in everything from telecommunications to energy production. I really couldn’t be happier about what the EU has wrought in France.

    Let me give you an example; until the early 1990s France had a telephone system much like the U.S. did under AT&T (but worse really) before the government killed their government created monopoly. You didn’t own your phone; you had to get a license for a phone; getting phone service took months; etc. With privitization, your choices have blossomed; all because EU privitization demands made the French government do this.

  14. zorel,

    “your explanation of how you and Chirac were against it from the beginning does not grant you the right to break the law later on.”

    Then please tell this to the half-dozen other countries also not holding to the 3% cap; the special carping about France gets stale after a time.

    “if I am trying your patience, go take a walk – you were neither obligated nor expected to respond to ‘my appreciation of Kraus’s patience'”

    Oh, you must be upset now.

  15. willfellow,

    Certaintly it does make such a difference that it is in a school; indeed, your own government recognizes this regarding 4th Amendment rights in schools for example. Next you will tell me that the lycees should not teach Darwinism because it offends the religious idiots; that hospitals must have women treat Muslim women even when the state is paying for their care; etc.

    For it to be discrimination, it would have to be against a particular religion; in 1905 all religious symbols were banned from schools, specifically crucifixes and the like, as well religious clothing; this is an extension of this ban to modern times.

  16. Tax rates should probably drop. They continue to drop in France. As far as regulatory standards are concerned, whatever increase will occur will be offset by forcing eastern european countries to reform their woeful pension systems, selling off government owned corporations, etc.

    Actually, Jean Bart, that depends. In a “Spiegel” interview this week, German finance minister Hans Eichel takes some of the soon-to-be new EU members to task for having what he terms recklessly low rates in both personal income tax and corporate tax.

    Maybe the tax rate is dropping in France, I know it will oh-so-slightly in Germany, but countries such as the Baltic States will be expected to raise their rates far higher than France or Germany will lower theirs. It sounds as though you’re whistling in the dark, Jean Bart, but I truly hope that you are right and that the western EU members see a significant drop in income and corporate taxes.

  17. wellfellow,

    the second – if all religious symbols were banned, then there is no discrimination (by definition).

    We can debate if they have freedom of religion or not … (what they do does not make any difference to me – frankly, I am kind of happy on pragmatic grounds that the French are doing something about that)

    Jean Bart,

    I am not saying France is more wrong than the other few countries – I am saying you are as wrong as they are. But since you are the one here on this board defending the French, it happened to be directed at you. By the way, when we say France is wrong (on an issue) should we have to demonstrate you are ‘more wrong’? Hope not!

    I might have been upset at that time, but now I am fine:-)

  18. Don’t worry, everything will be fine when Stankonia joins the E.U.

  19. St. Etienne,

    Corporate taxes have dropped ~6% in the past 5 years; personal taxes ~7%. I can remember when the personal tax rate reached nearly 65% under Mitterand; now it is approximately 47%. 18% drop since the mid-1980s. From my perspective the EU is great thing; it has led to lower taxes; less regulation; privatization of many industries (which is continuing – this summer will witnesses more dramatic sell offs); etc.

    What their taxes will be will also depend on whether they try to adopt the Euro or not. That has been one of France’s problems; lowering taxes while not also decreasing government entitlements and the like enough. It mirrors America’s problems exactly even.

  20. JB:

    I officialy have something to chew on. Interesting as always …

  21. I got an email the other day with the subject line “EU Enlargement.” I thought it was spam.

    The tranzis are rapidly joining the greens as impossible to parody.

  22. I am going to cry softly in my beer. And I will toast Norway for still staying strong, although her strength is waning.

    Listening to my collegues talk about the Lissbon Plan this, Social Justice that just makes me want to puke.

    The CATO Institution is holding today a seminar on Enlargement. “Historic Mistake” to be sure!

    And Enlargement is happening on “Mayday”. How prophetic.

    Regards,
    KK

    P.S. Matt, that is an excellent article on Albright and Interventionism you wrote in the current version of REASON. Well done!

  23. Karl Kraus,

    You still have explained why you are so paranoid about enlargement or the EU in general.

  24. When Freedonia and Sylvania are admitted I propose that Rufus T. Firefly be made President of the EU.

  25. Jason Ligon,

    BTW, I should also note the following:

    The EU has spent approximately $100 billion on the new entrants since 1990 (sometimes the funding to individual countries was as large as their yearly GDP); and will spend another $100 billion before the year 2006 – this money goes to everything from new border installations to modernization of power generation facilities and transmission lines to improving roads and rail links. And many of the new EU entrants have populations who have more trust in EU officials than their own government – as I recall a recent poll in Poland stated that the current Polish government has a 13% approval rating, while the EU has a rating of approximately 54%.

  26. Bon Matain M Bart!

    “Stop electing fascists. 🙂 ”

    🙂

    KK

  27. Karl Kraus,

    Whether the phrase exists in German law or not is beside the point; the principle was used specifically by the German government to end beef imports from the U.S. that contained hormones. De facto law is just as powerful as de jure in other words.

  28. Jean Bart!

    After looking, I was unable to find the phrase “precautionary principle” in German Law. That exact phrase is codified in the EU Treaty. A too literal reading of Frankenstein would justfify lots according to that principle. And it allows for court cases to be based on that principle.

    And are you saying that the EU was necessary for those types of structural changes in France? It would seem competition sans EU would be able to accomplish the same thing.

    Harmonisation of taxes to prevent tax competition is another aspect of harmonisation.

    And it was humorously intended, but punishing Austria for a democratic choice – read the FPOe programm. It is not a fascist party. Haider is an asshole politican, but I am still wondering what happens when a non-pro EU government gets ellected in the EU.

    TGIF
    KK

  29. JB,

    “Certaintly it does make such a difference that it is in a school; indeed, your own government recognizes this regarding 4th Amendment rights in schools for example. Next you will tell me that the lycees should not teach Darwinism because it offends the religious idiots; that hospitals must have women treat Muslim women even when the state is paying for their care; etc.”

    Point taken, also, I genuinely like what you add to the discussion, however, do not presume to tell me what I would be saying next. It serves to illuminate nothing beyond what you are merely guessing, which is of little interest to me. Also, what my government does is not an arguement for or against anything, as I did not preface my contention with reference to my government.

    Zorel,

    There is still, in fact, discrimination, due to the very nature of defining what is or is not a religious symbol. See, I’m merely wearing a scarf, or my shirt with a crucifix is merely a nice graphic element. Perhaps I’m unfamiliar with Judaism and my six pointed star means something different to me. All the inevitable problems with state run education which could so easily be solved with private institutions which would make no pretense of nondescrimination.

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