Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Cross community call for a YES vote.

Sat 26 September 2009, 6:09pm

A group of fifteen prominent business, academic and NGO figures from the North have united to call for a Yes vote in the Lisbon Referendum. In a letter published in today’s Irish Times the signatories which include Baroness May Blood, Nuala O’Loan, Sir Desmond Rea, Seamus McAleavey , Fearghal McCormack, Dr Gerard O’Hare, Colm Larkin and Jane Morris argue:

Our common membership of the European Union since 1973 has been crucial to the achievement of reconciliation and political stability in Northern Ireland, to the development of North-South relations, and to successful co-operation between the Republic and the United Kingdom……

……A second No would bring Ireland’s continued membership of the Union into unknown territory. It would further damage Ireland’s reputation and its economic prospects, with negative knock-on effects for the North’s economy.

It risks unsettling and destabilising our common membership of the European Union which has been so helpful to us in the past and so necessary to us in the future.

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Comments (47)

  1. steve says:

    We MUST vote Yes to ratify this Dictatorships Constitreaty because they give us lots and lots of money!.

    What a PATHETIC little Region.

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  2. Greenflag says:

    ‘ because they give us lots and lots of money!’

    Sounds like a good enough reason to me :)
    A very sensible and well timed letter and congrats to all who signed it .

    As to Steve whoever you are- I trust you enjoy eating sovereignty for breakfast, republicanism and/or unionism for lunch and please try not to choke on your choice of flag at dinner .

    The ‘world ‘ is not going your way . Maybe time to find another planet. Most of us are restricted to planet earth I’m afraid .

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  3. Nevin (profile) says:

    Greenflag, there may be strings attached :)

    You should always be suspicious when unlikely laddies and lassies act together with a Common Purpose ;)

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  4. Sounds like the elites to me.

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  5. Rory Carr says:

    I wonder if a group of fifteen people, all deeply respected within their communities, all regarded as conscientious and caring about the work they do (or once did), a group composed of, say, a bricklayer, a nurse, a carpenter, an unemployed factory worker, a hotel worker, a bus driver, a full-time mother, a primary school teacher, a school caretaker, a clerical worker, a hairdresser, a farm labourer, a retired postman and others such, a group indeed composed of the very people who devote their power of labour to producing the actual wealth of the country, people whose only agenda was the welfare of the country they lived in and of its inhabitants, I wonder if such a group were to write a letter to the Irish Times expressing their concerns over the economy, expressing their and their children’s fears for the future and the role of Ireland in Europe, I wonder would such a letter receive such prominence and such notice be taken of it as the letter from the great and the good above or, I wonder, whether indeed it would even be published.

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  6. brian says:

    Of course not Rory. They are not important enough people

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  7. Dave says:

    Read all about it: Well-fed pigs want to keep trough!

    Wherever there is a large budget to be spent, you will always have people who benefit from the spending.

    These folks should be assumed to be promoting anyone’s interests other than their own.

    The fact of the matter, however, is that the citizens of the EU do not benefit financially by membership. It costs British people £118 billion a year “once the harmful impacts of its numerous policies and regulations have been taken into account.”

    It has already cost Ireland more than 5 times the amount of EU grants (which are used to buy happy pigs) once the annual value of the unprocessed fishing stock from Irish territorial waters (6 billion euros a year) is taken into account, not taking into account the similar costs that apply to the Irish economy as apply to the British economy as outlined in the linked article.

    The Vice-president of the European Commission, Gunther Verheugen, said in an interview with the Financial Times in October 2006 that EU legislation now costs European business €600 billion a year. He also said that the benefits of the EU’s Single Market amount to €160 billion a year. In other words, the EU costs European business circa €440 billion a year. The disadvantages of the EU outweigh its advantages by a factor of 4 to 1.

    Gunther Verheugen says that that if EU red-tape was cut by 25% that European business would save €150 billion a year. That is true. However, cutting the EU would save European business €600 billion a year in costs.

    That is what should be done. Dismantle the EU, and then those states who wish to trade freely with each other may do so without the additional costs that the EU imposes on them of €600 billion a year. Lisbon makes a bad organisation worse – and it is the people who will pay the cost of that.

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  8. europass says:

    Well we know their unions are being ignored by our red/black NO Axis so there’s no reason to believe the NO brigade would pay attention to that letter either.

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  9. iluvni says:

    “Our common membership of the European Union since 1973 has been crucial to the achievement of reconciliation and political stability in Northern Ireland”

    What a load of balls!

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  10. Dave says:

    Rory, there is a deep truth in your post, and that drift to a ‘democracy’ where the will of supposed elites are weighed to give them precedence over the will of the people is fully consistent with the anti-democratic objectives of the EU.

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  11. The Raven says:

    “Our common membership of the European Union since 1973 has been crucial to the achievement of reconciliation and political stability in Northern Ireland”

    “What a load of balls!”

    Weeeeelll…the EU *has* spent more funding towards peace-building and inter-regional development than both the Irish and British governments put together…regardless of what you might think of how it’s been spent…

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  12. Garibaldy (profile) says:

    I’m slightly surprised at a few of the names, but I’m not at all surprised that the whole letter is predicated on a falsehood – namely the notion that a rejection would somehow threaten the south’s membership of the EU.

    This letter belongs in the bin along with the other rubbish. The recycling bin of course.

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  13. Mark McGreg says:

    The bit that interests me is the hypocracy that will see this lauded by the YES side who have been treating the UKIP intervention as a stick to beat the NO side with.

    As Gari notes it is also based on lies and not just the one he notes:

    Our common membership of the European Union since 1973 has been crucial to the achievement of reconciliation and political stability in Northern Ireland, to the development of North-South relations, and to successful co-operation between the Republic and the United Kingdom

    All that, to the level it exists, is due to negotiations and secret agreements between the PRM, the British and the Irish put in train in secret in the mid 80s. Europe had no part in any of it. The key and main factor of it was the Adams camp delivering a defeated republican movement into a partitionist settlement.

    Continued membership at the heart of the European Union will help us, North and South, to grow together and to face in partnership the huge economic, social and environmental challenges of the years ahead. This is enabled by our common membership of the European Union and enhanced by the new possibilities offered by the Lisbon Treaty.

    False. Lisbon does not in any way address problems and disparity in all-Ireland economics and does not address the differences including currency and banking systems. It has nothing that promotes more partnership, not a single thing.

    A second No would bring Ireland’s continued membership of the Union into unknown territory.

    That is just a pure lie based on scaremongering. Those advancing it should be ashamed.

    It risks unsettling and destabilising our common membership of the European Union which has been so helpful to us in the past and so necessary to us in the future.

    More utter ballix. Those involved are yet again lying.

    We are committed to a future of positively developing relations within Northern Ireland, between North and South and between Ireland and the United Kingdom. We are convinced that a Yes vote is the best way to underpin and secure that future

    Gibberish. This treaty has nothing to do with North South relationships.

    A bigger pile of steaming horse manure I have yet to read on Lisbon. It addresses not a single issue involved and makes up issues that have no bearing as reasons to support it.

    Those involved mainly benefit from EU funding – perhaps this is the reason they’d invent such a vacuous argument for endorsement.

    Shame on the lot of them. Bloody bullshitters.

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  14. Mark McGreg says:

    I should add if the relationship between the south and the north is a key factor – maybe they should mention the majority of parties in the north are against Lisbon and the next British government is against it.

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  15. Dave says:

    Mark, the SDLP vision of a united Ireland involves membership of the EU as a key part of it. It sees Irish nationalism as being emasculated by the transfer of the sovereignty of the Irish people to that supranational body. In that context, the less power that the Irish nation has to determine its own affairs, then the less objectionable that its state would be to the British nation. That’s the theory, anyway.

    As for the letter, I would have thought the fact that it is scaremongering and propaganda by a small self-imagined ‘elite’ was self-evident.

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  16. Garibaldy (profile) says:

    Mark,

    Any chance I can steal that comment and post it as a guest post on Cedar Lounge? If not it’s no problem.

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  17. Mark McGreg says:

    Gari,

    If my comment is worth lifting work away. All I ask is you title it Een gehuurd paard en eigen sporen maken korte mijlen ;0)

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  18. europass says:

    I’ve pasted in here wikipedia’s summary of the Lisbon Treaty. Could one of our NO team tell me which clause I’m supposed to be most outraged by, because I’m struggling to find the big deal in this.

    * A European Council President

    with a 2½ year term de facto
    replacing the rotating presidency.

    * A single foreign affairs post

    created by merging the External
    Relations Commissioner with the
    CFSP High Representative.

    * Charter of Fundamental Rights

    from 2000 made legally binding.

    * Pillars merged to 1 legal person

    increasing the EU’s competence
    to sign treaties.

    * European Council separated

    officially from the EU Council.
    Legislative meetings of the EU
    Council to be held in public.

    * More powerful Parliament

    by extending codecision with the
    Councils to more areas of policy.

    * Further enlargement facilitated

    since the Nice Treaty complicates decision-making
    if there are too many Member States.

    * More double majority voting

    to new areas of policy in the
    European Council and the
    EU Council, from 2014 on.

    * National parliaments engaged

    by expanding scrutiny-time of
    legislation and enabling them to
    jointly compel the Commission
    to review or withdraw legislation.

    * Mutual solidarity obliged

    if a member state is object of a
    terrorist attack or the victim of a
    natural or man-made disaster.

    * Citizens’ petitions

    to be considered by the
    Commission if signed by
    1 million citizens.

    * Combating climate change

    explicitly stated as an objective.

    * An EU Public Prosecutor
    * An External Action Service
    * Membership withdrawal clause

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  19. Garibaldy (profile) says:

    Cheers Mark. I’ll translate that title as best I can ;)

    Europass,

    Maybe you oughtn’t to take your politics from Wikipedia.

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  20. europass says:

    Spoken like a true elitist Garibaldy,

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  21. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    so how many of those worthy names are getting paid by europe, and are there any Unionists or Republicans in the group? most see to fit into the “others” caregory, do you think we could get Peter, Martin, Reg, etc. to send one saying vote no?

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  22. europass says:

    Probably DR as you’re picking people who’ve made a career out of saying no for the sake of it. Any idea what they’d be saying no to?

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  23. Garibaldy (profile) says:

    Not an elitist europass. Just someone who takes politics seriously.

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  24. Peter McGrath says:

    God you boys really do have your heads stuck in the 19th century. Irish Republicanism has a big future in your hands. I can see the 32 county soviet now. What a utopia.
    Only problem is I think the majority will side with the 15 signatories and stay in Europe!

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  25. europass says:

    So seriously that you’d cut and paste Mark’s attack from one blog to another but not seriously enough to take the time to tell us just what it is about the Lisbon Treaty that we’re actually supposed to be saying no to?

    We just say no because the Gari/Mark/Dave elite tell us to?

    At least Wikipedia is a democratically peer reviewed, openly sourced bit of group-think, Gari. If you have no arguments of your own at least link to something you think is more accurate, more complete or more illuminating.

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  26. Garibaldy (profile) says:

    Here’s one of about 7 pieces I’ve done on the Lisbon Treaty of late (never mind all the aruging I’ve done about in comments zones)

    http://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2009/09/13/dont-give-up-the-day-job-seamus/

    As you’ll see from that if you read it, my biggest concern is the democratic deficit in the EU, and the fact that only one state is holding a referendum. There is no referendum in the like of France or Denmark because the result would be a ‘No’. I am also concerned about militarisation, about the impact of the Laval and Viking judgments, about a common security and foreign policy, about moves to make the EU a more active military force liable to interfere in other areas (Chad being one obvious example). Another huge concern is the fact that this Treaty is designed to make privisation easier, and that it makes nationalisation of the commanding heights of industry more difficult. I have other concerns too. But those are the main ones.

    Better luck next time with the no arguments of your own line.

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  27. Danny O'Connor (profile) says:

    Vote NO,it is the self ratification bit that is worrying,the treaty can be amended-once passed- without any need for a further referendum.
    This is like saying F**k off you dont matter to the people.
    Sovereignty will be totally ceded to faceless bureaucrats,the Irish people have a chance to do their fellow Europeans a big favour by voting NO.I would not normally describe myself as a Eurosceptic,it is this clause that I find disturbing .
    Those who say that Ireland benefits from EU membership have to look beyond the money coming in,they need to look at the resources going out as well-not least to the Spanish fishing fleet.

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  28. Danny O'Connor (profile) says:

    Article 48 -Final provisions-sorry I dont know how to insert links from the internet site.

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  29. Garibaldy (profile) says:

    I don’t think UKIP have any relevance to this dunreavy. Nor have most of us been accusing these people of being elites. Just dishonest :)

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  30. europass says:

    If it isn’t too much trouble Gari, rather than referring to things which have already happened under existing legislation could you let us know what else might happen under the proposed legislation?

    Seriously – we have Mark telling us the letter writers are liars for claiming that something bad might happen if we don’t say yes (the assumption being that the status quo is OK) – and yet you’re telling us to vote no with arguments which are based on issues which have arisen under the current deal (including the Laval and Viking judgments and the EU military missions and (I assume) the Battlegroups)).

    So a NO vote will make no difference to the problems you’ve identified because they’ve already happened?

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  31. Garibaldy (profile) says:

    It is the intensification of these issues that concern me. I notice you’ve also ignored the points I made about privitisation, and the key one of the fact that voters have been denied a chance to have their say in a deliberate move to avoid the repercussions of the rejection of the EU constitution. I don’t think Mark implies that things are ok. Just that he does not want them to get worse.

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  32. Wilde Rover says:

    Aren’t SF and the DUP both on the No side of Lisbon?

    Isn’t that one of the few things they actually agree on?

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  33. tom says:

    I was down at the Ploughing championships in Athy, Co. Kildare during the week. It was very much a family event – lots of kids out for the day with mam and dad. There was a sprinkling of no protestors there handing out leaflets.

    When Cowan was on walk about there was plenty of jostling and shoving by a group of no protestors. Some little kids got caught up in it and became upset and one or two bystanders got knocked over.

    To be honest I thought most of the no people looked like a shower of gougers!

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  34. europass says:

    Thanks for staying Civil Gari. I haven’t ignored your points about privatisation. The British government just bought 70% of the ordinary shares in one of Britain’s biggest banks. I haven’t heard an objection from the EU yet? Any idea why not? Could it be that EU competition rules aren’t concerned with ownership and the NO campaign just made that up?

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  35. Garibaldy (profile) says:

    More like the crisis was so great that all the governments agreed to turn a blind eye to doing this. Which shows that the EU, though it has been responsible for some progressive moves, fundamentally is an institution aimed at furthering the interests of capital.

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  36. europass says:

    “fundamentally is an institution aimed at furthering the interests of capital.”

    I’d agree with that Gari but then I’d also suggest that when governments collect and reallocate 40% of GDP through nationalised services or credits, where the government employs 30% or more of the work-force directly and where the government has effectively written and enforced the basic employment contract (private or public) and where monopolies are actively exposed and broken up, the democratically managed interests of capital aren’t necessarily antithetical to the interests of labour.

    What I’m getting from you though is a fairly open and honest admission that you’re using this referendum as a re-examination of the whole EU rather than a judgment of the incremental changes in this Treaty.

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  37. Garibaldy (profile) says:

    Well we can agree to disagree about whether the interests of capital are being democratically managed or not.

    I would also dispute that the changes in this Treaty are mere increments. They are fairly fundamental, and are important for the future direction of the EU, which is what I’m raising. Especially in the area of foreign policy (an EU diplomatic corps, effectively an EU foreign minister etc) and in terms of the military capabilities of the EU. And none of which impacts on the anti-democratic way that this Treaty is being pushed through across the EU.

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  38. Dave says:

    “Could it be that EU competition rules aren’t concerned with ownership and the NO campaign just made that up?” – europass

    EU regulations promoting competition and market liberalisation, an end to state monopolies, state subsidies, et al, resulted in a change of state ownership of assets to privatisation of them. It is true that EU law does not explicitly declare that liberalisation of markets requires private ownership of assets but it is not true that the almost total privatisation of former state-owned services (such as telecoms) occurred independently of EU guidance and policy.

    The EU is more subtle than that. For example, the issue of privatisation of water services under the EU’s Water Framework Directive. Prior to the EU law mandating that water services are to be privatised, people had the view that water was a natural resource that every person had a right to access independently of wealth. Now EU law makes water into a commodity that is to be owned by private business and that is to be sold by them to consumers who can afford to buy it. The EU, of course, is careful not to impose water meters on private consumers. It simply imposes them on business users. That way it promotes that profound shift without alarming the public. However, it knows that business users will eventually object to carrying the full cost of water services and will argue that it should not be forced to subsidise private users of water. Business will demand (quite rightfully) that private user of water must also pay for it. The EU doesn’t specifically mention “domestic water charges” (it uses the comical euphemism of “economic instruments”) but that is the clear obligation under this EU law under the polluter-pays principle (Article 9 of the EU Water Framework Directive) – and that is the point that business user will argue. So the effect of this EU law will be that all homes will eventually be fitted with water meters.

    Don’t believe me? Given it 5 years at most and all homes will have water meters, as water is now a commodity that must be owned by private business and sold by them for profit.

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  39. europass says:

    So what looked like an environmentalist measure to encourage the efficient use of water is really a fiendish capitalist plot to privatise our public services? Crikey.

    Here’s a though Gari. Airbus. There’s a trans-national nationalised industry that probably wouldn’t exist but for the EU. Perhaps controlling the commanding heights of a globalised economy requires a supra-national economic organisation?

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  40. Dave says:

    Euro there is nothing “fiendish” about the plot. And as I said, you’ll be paying for water courtesy of the EU soon enough. ;)

    For a good example of how Member States are doing as they are directed by the EU in regard to imposing water charges, here is how the Irish government is spinning it:

    “Government policy requires local authorities to recover the cost of providing water services from the users of these services, with the exception of households using the services for domestic purposes. This is in accordance with the polluter pays principle and the requirements of Article 9 of the EU Water Framework Directive.”

    The “polluter pays principle” will be held by the ECJ to also cover domestic users in addition to business users since ALL users of water are covered by this principle. All EU ‘citizens’ are just one court judgement away from water meters.

    But why wait? Once you make water into a commodity and put the infrastructure in place to deliver it to consumers, you then have a business that you can privatise.

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  41. Garibaldy (profile) says:

    Airbus began life before the EU though. Now the EU may have been supporting it through subsidies, or may not, but the governments behind it would have supported it anyway. I’d agree that controlling the commanding heights of a globalised economy requires international cooperation, but in the interim I’ll settle for the ability for states within the EU to nationalise as they see fit without interference from the EU. This Treaty is a great impediment to that. As it is towards new state-owned companies being founded.

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  42. Dave says:

    Europass, being a europhile, does your little heart not worry at all that you are shackling your fate to a economically backward region of the world that is in terminal decline?

    Does it not concern you at all that, according to the European Commission itself, the the EU’s share of world GDP will have dropped from 27% in 2000 to a mere 15% by 2018? Does a fall of 45% in less than two decades not set little alarm bells ringing that maybe you are boarding a sinking ship?

    It should.

    Do you think that maybe one of the reasons that Europe is fast becoming an economically backward region of the world is related to the EU?

    Now let’s see…

    The Vice-president of the European Commission, Gunther Verheugen, says that EU red-tape now costs European business €600 billion a year.

    He also said that the benefits of the EU’s Single Market only amount to €160 billion a year.

    Now, this next part will require some simple subtraction so don’t lose interest…

    Costs of €600 billion a year minus benefits of €160 billion a year means that the EU imposes addition burden of European businesses of €460 billion a year.

    European business suffers to the tune of €460 billion a year, making it uncompetitive with the progressive regions of the world that are not rendered backward and uncompetitive by EU rule.

    That is why the EU’s share of world GDP will have dropped from 27% in 2000 to a mere 15% by 2018.

    What can be done to save European businesses?

    Easy.

    Scrap the EU and European businesses will save €600 billion a year in costs of EU red-tape.

    Then those states that wish to trade freely with each other may do so without suffering EU costs that make their goods and services wholly uncompetitive and that locks them into a market that is in terminal economic decline.

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  43. Dave,

    Does it not concern you at all that, according to the European Commission itself, the the EU’s share of world GDP will have dropped from 27% in 2000 to a mere 15% by 2018? Does a fall of 45% in less than two decades not set little alarm bells ringing that maybe you are boarding a sinking ship?

    The EU’s percentage share of GDP is falling because the share of developing countries (China, India) is rising. This is generally held to be a good thing, as it reduces world poverty.

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  44. europass says:

    “Europass, being a europhile, does your little heart not worry at all that you are shackling your fate to a economically backward region of the world that is in terminal decline?”

    I’ve a big heart Dave. “Terminal” implies death. I don’t see the European economy dying out (unless we don’t sort out the commodity dependence of all our industrial cycles).

    “Does it not concern you at all that, according to the European Commission itself, the the EU’s share of world GDP will have dropped from 27% in 2000 to a mere 15% by 2018? Does a fall of 45% in less than two decades not set little alarm bells ringing that maybe you are boarding a sinking ship?”

    The European economy has not shrunk over that period Dave. It’s grown, so decline is an inappropriate term. The growth of the developing economies is a good thing and nothing to upset yourself over.

    “It should.”

    No it shouldn’t.

    “Do you think that maybe one of the reasons that Europe is fast becoming an economically backward region of the world is related to the EU?”

    Nope. It’s to do with the end of the license Raj and the Communist system and the marvellously invigorating influence of European demand (and design and manufacturing technology) on developing economies.

    “Now let’s see…

    The Vice-president of the European Commission, Gunther Verheugen, says that EU red-tape now costs European business €600 billion a year.”

    I have one of those businesses Dave. It would probably be classed as “medium” rather than “small”. Which regulations should I be upset about? The requirement that I provide maternity leave? The restriction on my ability to demand more than a 48 hour working week? 28 days holidays minimum? Adherence to the policies in our company handbook? I hate to disappoint you Dave but these are things I want to do and I don’t want other people undercutting me by not providing these minimum standards to their workers. I’d like to see how much of you number is made up of administrative costs, how much payment to employees and how much “lost” productivity. Do you know? You know your figure is €1200 for every man woman and child in the EU – perhaps €7200 for every private sector worker. Do you really think that’s a credible number? It might be that I could extract that much in additional sales or reduced costs if I didn’t have to adhere to any employment contracts whatsoever, health and safety standards or whatever else it is that the horrible EU is supposed to have done to me but I find it a bit hard to believe. In fact I’m not sure how decent working conditions and a bit of management discipline depress productivity – they might depress my profits but that’s not the same thing.

    He also said that the benefits of the EU’s Single Market only amount to €160 billion a year.

    Now, this next part will require some simple subtraction so don’t lose interest…

    Costs of €600 billion a year minus benefits of €160 billion a year means that the EU imposes addition burden of European businesses of €460 billion a year.

    European business suffers to the tune of €460 billion a year, making it uncompetitive with the progressive regions of the world that are not rendered backward and uncompetitive by EU rule.

    That is why the EU’s share of world GDP will have dropped from 27% in 2000 to a mere 15% by 2018.

    What can be done to save European businesses?

    We have 8% of the world’s population Dave. I’ve no idea if your figures will turn out to be correct but so long as we maintain some growth, 95% employment (allowing for the odd periodic financial catastrophe), decreasing waste of resources and a respectable parity against the US I’ll be happy.

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  45. europass says:

    I was so busy waffling Andrew got in ahead of me.

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  46. Dave says:

    I forgive waffling.

    The economies of Pacific Rim countries are expanding, and the EU is declining into irrelevance as a world power. Indeed, the only reason its projected fall is ‘only’ 45% from 27% in 2000 to 15% in 2019 is because it has added 12 new states to bump up the figures in the interim. Take those 12 states out of the equation, and you’ll get the true level of the decline.

    Population size is no guarantee of economic excellence. The population of the US is almost half that of the EU, yet, according to the World Bank, the US had a GDP (PPP) of 14,204,322 million in 2009 compared to an EU GDP (PPP) 10,899,815 million.

    The reason the US will grow its share of global GDP to 2018 while the EU’s will decline by 45% is the same reason that the Pacific Rim countries are growing their GDP: they’re not tied up in red-tape that costs them 600 billion euro a year and makes them uncompetitive and unresponsive to global trends.

    Don’t forget to smuggle a life vest onto your sinking ship. ;)

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  47. Novus Ordo Seclorum says:

    Do these signatories represent Northern Ireland among the illimunati of the Bilderberg group.

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