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July 10 2015

02mydafsoup-01
// mit bester Empfehlung - oAnth

Vortrag "Die Eurokrise - Warum versagt die Wissenschaft?" von Prof Heiner Flassbeck am 01.07.2015 an der FU Berlin im Rahmen des Kurses "Finanzkrisen und Geldsystem".
Im Vortrag wird insbesondere auf die Währungsunion, Handelsungleichgewichte und Lohnstückkosten eingegangen.
Der Kurs wird mitorganisiert von den Kritischen Wirtschaftswissenschaftlern Berlin unter Kursleitung von Prof. Klaus Peter Kisker. Weitere Infos zum Kurs hier:

http://www.kriwis-berlin.org/finanzkrisen-u-geldsystem/

June 23 2015

02mydafsoup-01
[Heiner Flassbeck, Wirtschaftsprofessor in Hamburg, öffentliche Vorlesung in Wien]

Ich halte [(...) heute, am Dienstag, den 23.06.2015] Nachmittag an der Universität Wien eine Vorlesung zum Thema Europäische Wirtschaftspolitik.

Die öffentliche Vorlesung findet im Hörsaal 8 am Oskar-Morgenstern-Platz 1 von 16.45-18.15  statt.

http://www.flassbeck-economics.de/veranstaltungshinweis-wien/
— flassbeck-economics.de - 2015-06-22

September 27 2014

September 09 2013

Israël-Kerry invite l'UE à ne pas limiter sa coopération,

Israël-Kerry invite l’UE à ne pas limiter sa coopération,

http://www.lesechos.fr/economie-politique/monde/actu/reuters-00547756-israel-kerry-invite-l-ue-a-ne-pas-limiter-sa-cooperation-6

Le secrétaire d’Etat américain, John Kerry, a appelé samedi l’Union européenne à repousser la suspension de son aide aux organisations israéliennes travaillant dans les territoires occupés, comme elle l’a décidé en juillet pour protester contre la poursuite de la colonisation.
(...)
L’UE a décidé mi-juillet d’exclure les territoires occupés en 1967 de sa coopération avec Israël à partir de début 2014.
(...)
Les nouvelles « lignes directrices » européennes pourraient placer Israël devant un dilemme : soit renoncer à certains projets de coopération importants, soit admettre par écrit que les colonies ne font pas partie du territoire israélien.
Un haut responsable du département d’Etat a déclaré à la presse que John Kerry avait appelé les Européens à repousser l’entrée en vigueur de cette mesure qui a irrité les dirigeants israéliens.
(...)
« Nous voulons bien sûr continuer à avoir une relation forte avec Israël », a dit Catherine Ashton.

#Israël #EU #colonies #Kerry

August 02 2013

Wie eng sind amerikanische und europäische Überwachungskonzepte aufeinander abgestimmt?

Vor einigen Wochen habe ich hier über Überwachungsstrategien der US-Geheimdienste berichtet, die man in offiziell verfügbaren Dokumenten nachlesen kann.

Das Polygon-Blog spekuliert jetzt darüber, wie stark die amerikanische Strategie “Vision 2015” mit ähnlichen Vorstellungen der EU vergleichbar ist und zitiert insoweit ein interessantes Papier der sog. Future Group aus dem Jahre 2007. Das Dokument enthält eine ganze Fülle von Textpassagen, die nichts Gutes andeuten. Eine der Prägnantesten ist diese hier:

Every object the individual uses, every transaction they make and almost everywhere they go will create a detailed digital record. This will generate a wealth of information for public security organisations, and create huge opportunities for more effective and productive public security efforts.

Polygon betont, dass der damalige deutsche Innenminister Wolfgang Schäuble die treibende Kraft hinter der Einsetzung dieser Future Group war. Dass Schäuble keine wirklichen Probleme selbst mit einer Totalüberwachung durch Geheimdienste hat, belegen seine öffentlichen Aussagen der letzten Zeit.

Der ausführliche Text im Polygon-Blog ist äußerst lesenswert, wenngleich in Teilen natürlich spekulativ. Die Parallelen und Übereinstimmungen sind aber nicht zu übersehen. Und schließlich ist vieles, was man bisher als Verschwörungstheorie eingestuft hatte, durch die Wirklichkeit nicht nur eingeholt, sondern überholt worden.

July 14 2013

*Legal aspects of free and open source software COMPILATION OF BRIEFING NOTES - 2013-07-09*

Legal aspects of free and open source software COMPILATION OF BRIEFING NOTES - 2013-07-09
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/document/activities/cont/201307/20130708ATT69346/20130708ATT69346EN.pdf

participants: Eben Moglen, Ian Sullivan, Patrice-Emmanuel Schmitz, Calro Piana, Rishab Ghosh, Philippe Laurent

Carlo Piana - 2013-07-09: “A primer on Free Software licensing I wrote, in the briefing papers of the Workshop at EU Parliament. Go an read it. [...] I hope it’s useful, especially for those who are not really conversant with the matter and need some solid, yet simple, explanation. There is too much rubbish around.”

from https://plus.google.com/115445134403759043734/posts/Y9NDpZarP17

[...]

Legal aspects of free and open source software COMPILATION OF BRIEFING NOTES - 2013-07-09 [Pdf]

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The public drafting and discussion of GPLv3 in 2006-07 was a landmark in nongovernmental transnational lawmaking. Free and open source software production communities are held together by copyright licensing, as are free cultural production communities like Wikipedia. Their efforts to improve those licenses—to increase their utility in multiple legal systems, to take account of technical and economic changes in the field, and to increase their efficiency of operation and enforcement—are among the most important examples of genuinely democratic, participatory law-making that we have experienced so far in the 21st century. In the interest of improving both the European Parliament’s access to the details of this particular process, and to assist it in self-scrutiny, with respect to its extraordinary consistency in missing its opportunities in this area, Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) submits the records of this process, which it assisted its client, the Free Software Foundation, to design and execute.

[...]

via https://joindiaspora.com/posts/2836415#

#FOSS #LAW #free_software #open_source #licence #Europe #EC
#droit #logiciel_libre #CE
#Recht #Europa #EU #Lizenz

July 08 2013

Asylum seeker Snowden and Latvia Snowden's case is very loud and there are discussions about this…

Asylum seeker Snowden and Latvia

Snowden's case is very loud and there are discussions about this issues all over the world - even in Latvia. While he is still trying to find a country which would protect him from trial in United States, in Latvia people are discussing should EU countries give him help. Some of the journalists are harsh towards Snowden and his runaway to non-democratic countries. But this exact journalist defends Snowden by saying that Latvia and all EU obeys to USA and not giving asylum to Snowden is showing how weak is EU.
http://www.tvnet.lv/zinas/viedokli/470286-latvija_piedava_politisko_patverumu_snoudenam
#Snowden #Latvia #politics #EU #USA

July 04 2013

*New PICUM report puts spotlight on poverty of migrant children in the EU* ❝BRUSSELS, 20 June,…

New PICUM report puts spotlight on poverty of migrant children in the EU

BRUSSELS, 20 June, 2013 - On the occasion of the meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) in Luxembourg today, PICUM launches a new report calling on the ministers to address the poverty and social exclusion faced by #children who have, or whose parents have, an irregular migration status.

PICUM's report “Child poverty and well-being: Spotlight on the situation of migrant children in Cyprus and the EU” outlines the specific vulnerabilities of migrant children and relevant good practices, in order to inform developments on both European and national levels. The report is the result of a roundtable held by PICUM in partnership with the Commissioner for Children's Rights in Cyprus, the Office of the European Parliament in Cyprus, Eurochild, and KISA, Action for Equality Support and Antiracism in Cyprus on 17 October 2012, prior to a high-level conference on child poverty and well-being, organised by the Cypriot Presidency of the European Union.

Taking the example of the situation in Cyprus, the report identifies major challenges that migrant children face across the EU such as the length of administrative procedures for asylum, lack of access to legal representation, restrictions on accessing services and the gap between rights and entitlements on paper and in practice.

“We know the crisis and austerity measures are having a devastating effect on children and families across Europe. Children with a migrant background are among the most vulnerable, especially when their parents are in precarious employment or they are undocumented. Children only have one childhood. And that experience will shape their chances throughout the life-course,” Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General of Eurochild, emphasized.

The situation of undocumented migrant children is a particular concern. Due to their irregular residence status, or the irregular status of their parents, many children face severe restrictions in accessing essential services, such as education and health care, and are at risk of poverty, social exclusion and exploitation. Changes need to be enacted to respect children's rights and to realize a Europe of equality and prosperity. Today, Ministers from the 27 EU Member States meet to discuss the European Commission's Social Investment Package for Growth and Cohesion (SIP) launched in February this year, and the European Commission's Recommendation “Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage”, as part of the package.

The European Commission recommendation is a welcome step, recognizing children as individual rights holders and the need to prioritise integrated social investment in children, particularly in times of crisis. With access to quality services as one of the central pillars of the Recommendation, member states are urged to ensure health care services are adapted to ensure undocumented children can enjoy their right to health. Limiting the human rights of undocumented children and denying access to essential services does not reduce the numbers of irregularly staying migrants but causes great individual harm and exacerbates social inequalities to the detriment of individuals, families and communities alike.

http://picum.org/picum.org/uploads/publication/FINAL_Roundtable%20on%20Child%20poverty%20and%20well-being%20of%20migrant%20c

#migration #enfants #pauvreté #EU #PICUM #sans-papiers

March 28 2013

EU-Netzpolitik und Lobbyismus

Dass Unternehmen und Wirtschaftsverbände viel Geld dafür ausgeben, um die Gesetzgebung zu beinflussen, ist keine neue Erkenntnis. Im Internetzeitalter lassen sich aber gewisse Zusammenhänge aufdecken und aufklären, die früher nie das Licht der Öffentlichkeit erblickt hätten. Projekte wie Lobbyplag machen deutlich, wie unmittelbar und drastisch die Einflussnahme großer Unternehmen auf die Gesetzgebung und Politik ist.

In diesen Kontext passt eine aktuelle Berichterstattung des Blogs Netzkinder über die Stiftung European Internet Foundation (EIF), der zahlreiche Europaabgeordnete als sog. politische Mitglieder angehören. Auch der Stiftungsvorstand besteht ausschließlich aus Mitgliedern des Europaparlaments. Die Stiftung bietet außerdem sog. Business-Mitgliedschaften an. Zu den Business-Mitgliedern gehören praktisch alle großen US-IT-Unternehmen, wie Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, IBM, Facebook, eBay, Oracle oder AT&T.  Diese Mitglieder finanzieren die Stiftung mit einem Jahresbeitrag von je EUR 10.000. Ob damit, wie Netzkinder behauptet, auch die Vermittlung exklusiver Kontakte zu EU-Abgeordneten verbunden ist, vermag ich nicht zu beurteilen.

Eine Stiftung, die vorwiegend von großen US-Technologiekonzernen finanziert wird, deren Zweck aber wie folgt definiert ist:

Our mission is to support Members of European Parliament in their efforts to shape policy and regulation responsive to the unique potential and character of the internet revolution.

erscheint mir merkwürdig. Denn das klingt für mich auf den ersten Blick ein bisschen wie die Geschichte vom Bock und vom Gärtner. Dass die aktuelle (europäische) Chef-Lobbyistin von Facebook, Erika Mann, zu den Gründern der Stiftung gehört, ist da ein vielleicht interessanter Nebenaspekt.

Ich lasse mich gerne eines besseren belehren und würde mir wünschen, dass beteiligte EU-Abgeordnete mal erklären, warum sie Mitglied dieser Stiftung geworden sind und wie die Kommunikation mit den sog. Business-Mitgliedern tatsächlich abläuft.

Denn, dass Unternehmen und Verbände ihre Interessen wahrnehmen, ist nicht unbedingt negativ zu bewerten. Aber Lobbyismus braucht dringend Transparenz. Dem Hinterzimmer-Lobbyismus, der das politische Geschehen über Jahrzehnte oder vermutlich eher Jahrhunderte hinweg beherrscht hat, muss in jedem Fall der Garaus gemacht werden.

February 11 2013

Die Europäische Bürgerinitiative Right2Water könnte Erfolg haben

Die Europäische Bürgerinitiative (European Citizens’ Initiative) ist ein Bürgerbeteiligungsinstrument auf EU-Ebene, das zum 01.04.2012 eingeführt wurde. Wenn es gelingt, für ein bestimmtes Vorhaben die Unterstützung von mindestens einer Million Unionsbürger zu erhalten, die allerdings in mindestens sieben Mitgliedsstaaten ein bestimmtes Quorum erreichen müssen, dann muss das EU-Parlament eine Anhörung durchführen, an der auch die Kommission zu beteiligen ist. Eine Pflicht zur Gesetzgebung entsteht daraus aber nicht.

Mit der Initiative Right2Water steht zum ersten mal eine solche Europäische Bürgerinitiative kurz vor dem Erfolg. Mehr als eine Million Bürger – davon freilich mehr als 800.000 aus Deutschland – haben bereits unterschrieben, das notwendige Quorum ist aber erst in drei Mitgliedsstaaten erreicht. Weil die Initiative aber noch bis November Zeit hat, ist ein erfolgreicher Abschluss wahrscheinlich.

Die Initiative möchte eine marktwirtschaftliche Privatisierung und Liberalisierung der Wasserversorgung verhindern und die EU verpflichten, das Recht auf Zugang zu Wasser zu gewährleisten. Hintergrund ist eine geplante Richtlinie die eine Marktöffnung für öffentliche Aufträge erreichen will. Diese Richtlinie privatisiert letztlich nicht die Wasserversorgung, denn dies steht den Kommunen bereits jetzt grundsätzlich frei. Wenn die Kommune öffentliche Aufträge an ein externes Unternehmen vergibt, soll dieses Vorhaben allerdings künftig europaweit ausgeschrieben werden müssen. Von diesen Vergaberegeln soll nach der Forderung von Right2Water die Wasserversorgung ausgeschlossen bleiben.

January 24 2013

02mydafsoup-01

David Cameron's EU speech - full text | Politics | guardian.co.uk 2013-01-23

   

This morning I want to talk about the future of Europe.

But first, let us remember the past.

Seventy years ago, Europe was being torn apart by its second catastrophic conflict in a generation. A war which saw the streets of European cities strewn with rubble. The skies of London lit by flames night after night. And millions dead across the world in the battle for peace and liberty.

As we remember their sacrifice, so we should also remember how the shift in Europe from war to sustained peace came about. It did not happen like a change in the weather. It happened because of determined work over generations. A commitment to friendship and a resolve never to revisit that dark past – a commitment epitomised by the Elysee treaty signed 50 years ago this week.

After the Berlin Wall came down I visited that city and I will never forget it.

The abandoned checkpoints. The sense of excitement about the future. The knowledge that a great continent was coming together. Healing those wounds of our history is the central story of the European Union.

What Churchill described as the twin marauders of war and tyranny have been almost entirely banished from our continent. Today, hundreds of millions dwell in freedom, from the Baltic to the Adriatic, from the Western Approaches to the Aegean.

And while we must never take this for granted, the first purpose of the European Union – to secure peace – has been achieved and we should pay tribute to all those in the EU, alongside Nato, who made that happen.

But today the main, overriding purpose of the European Union is different: not to win peace, but to secure prosperity.

The challenges come not from within this continent but outside it. From the surging economies in the east and south. Of course a growing world economy benefits us all, but we should be in no doubt that a new global race of nations is under way today.

A race for the wealth and jobs of the future.

The map of global influence is changing before our eyes. And these changes are already being felt by the entrepreneur in the Netherlands, the worker in Germany, the family in Britain.

So I want to speak to you today with urgency and frankness about the European Union and how it must change – both to deliver prosperity and to retain the support of its peoples.

But first, I want to set out the spirit in which I approach these issues.

I know that the United Kingdom is sometimes seen as an argumentative and rather strong-minded member of the family of European nations.

And it's true that our geography has shaped our psychology.

We have the character of an island nation: independent, forthright, passionate in defence of our sovereignty.

We can no more change this British sensibility than we can drain the English Channel.

And because of this sensibility, we come to the European Union with a frame of mind that is more practical than emotional.

For us, the European Union is a means to an end – prosperity, stability, the anchor of freedom and democracy both within Europe and beyond her shores – not an end in itself.

We insistently ask: how, why, to what end?

But all this doesn't make us somehow un-European.

The fact is that ours is not just an island story – it is also a continental story.

For all our connections to the rest of the world – of which we are rightly proud – we have always been a European power, and we always will be.

From Caesar's legions to the Napoleonic wars. From the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the industrial revolution to the defeat of nazism. We have helped to write European history, and Europe has helped write ours.

Over the years, Britain has made her own, unique contribution to Europe. We have provided a haven to those fleeing tyranny and persecution. And in Europe's darkest hour, we helped keep the flame of liberty alight. Across the continent, in silent cemeteries, lie the hundreds of thousands of British servicemen who gave their lives for Europe's freedom.

In more recent decades, we have played our part in tearing down the iron curtain and championing the entry into the EU of those countries that lost so many years to Communism. And contained in this history is the crucial point about Britain, our national character, our attitude to Europe.

Britain is characterised not just by its independence but, above all, by its openness.

We have always been a country that reaches out. That turns its face to the world. That leads the charge in the fight for global trade and against protectionism.

This is Britain today, as it's always been: independent, yes – but open, too.

I never want us to pull up the drawbridge and retreat from the world.

I am not a British isolationist.

I don't just want a better deal for Britain. I want a better deal for Europe too.

So I speak as British prime minister with a positive vision for the future of the European Union. A future in which Britain wants, and should want, to play a committed and active part.

Some might then ask: why raise fundamental questions about the future of Europe when Europe is already in the midst of a deep crisis?

Why raise questions about Britain's role when support in Britain is already so thin.

There are always voices saying: "Don't ask the difficult questions."

But it's essential for Europe – and for Britain – that we do because there are three major challenges confronting us today.

First, the problems in the eurozone are driving fundamental change in Europe.

Second, there is a crisis of European competitiveness, as other nations across the world soar ahead. And third, there is a gap between the EU and its citizens which has grown dramatically in recent years. And which represents a lack of democratic accountability and consent that is – yes – felt particularly acutely in Britain.

If we don't address these challenges, the danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift towards the exit.

I do not want that to happen. I want the European Union to be a success. And I want a relationship between Britain and the EU that keeps us in it.

That is why I am here today: to acknowledge the nature of the challenges we face. To set out how I believe the European Union should respond to them. And to explain what I want to achieve for Britain and its place within the European Union.

Let me start with the nature of the challenges we face.

First, the eurozone.

The future shape of Europe is being forged. There are some serious questions that will define the future of the European Union – and the future of every country within it.

The union is changing to help fix the currency – and that has profound implications for all of us, whether we are in the single currency or not.

Britain is not in the single currency, and we're not going to be. But we all need the eurozone to have the right governance and structures to secure a successful currency for the long term.

And those of us outside the eurozone also need certain safeguards to ensure, for example, that our access to the single market is not in any way compromised.

And it's right we begin to address these issues now.

Second, while there are some countries within the EU which are doing pretty well. Taken as a whole, Europe's share of world output is projected to fall by almost a third in the next two decades. This is the competitiveness challenge – and much of our weakness in meeting it is self-inflicted.

Complex rules restricting our labour markets are not some naturally occurring phenomenon. Just as excessive regulation is not some external plague that's been visited on our businesses.

These problems have been around too long. And the progress in dealing with them, far too slow.

As Chancellor Merkel has said, if Europe today accounts for just over 7% of the world's population, produces around 25% of global GDP and has to finance 50% of global social spending, then it's obvious that it will have to work very hard to maintain its prosperity and way of life.

Third, there is a growing frustration that the EU is seen as something that is done to people rather than acting on their behalf. And this is being intensified by the very solutions required to resolve the economic problems.

People are increasingly frustrated that decisions taken further and further away from them mean their living standards are slashed through enforced austerity or their taxes are used to bail out governments on the other side of the continent.

We are starting to see this in the demonstrations on the streets of Athens, Madrid and Rome. We are seeing it in the parliaments of Berlin, Helsinki and the Hague.

And yes, of course, we are seeing this frustration with the EU very dramatically in Britain.

Europe's leaders have a duty to hear these concerns. Indeed, we have a duty to act on them. And not just to fix the problems in the eurozone.

For just as in any emergency you should plan for the aftermath as well as dealing with the present crisis, so too in the midst of the present challenges we should plan for the future, and what the world will look like when the difficulties in the eurozone have been overcome.

The biggest danger to the European Union comes not from those who advocate change, but from those who denounce new thinking as heresy. In its long history Europe has experience of heretics who turned out to have a point.

And my point is this. More of the same will not secure a long-term future for the eurozone. More of the same will not see the European Union keeping pace with the new powerhouse economies. More of the same will not bring the European Union any closer to its citizens. More of the same will just produce more of the same: less competitiveness, less growth, fewer jobs.

And that will make our countries weaker not stronger.

That is why we need fundamental, far-reaching change.

So let me set out my vision for a new European Union, fit for the 21st century.

It is built on five principles.

The first: competitiveness. At the core of the European Union must be, as it is now, the single market. Britain is at the heart of that single market, and must remain so.

But when the single market remains incomplete in services, energy and digital – the very sectors that are the engines of a modern economy – it is only half the success it could be.

It is nonsense that people shopping online in some parts of Europe are unable to access the best deals because of where they live. I want completing the single market to be our driving mission.

I want us to be at the forefront of transformative trade deals with the US, Japan and India as part of the drive towards global free trade. And I want us to be pushing to exempt Europe's smallest entrepreneurial companies from more EU directives.

These should be the tasks that get European officials up in the morning – and keep them working late into the night. And so we urgently need to address the sclerotic, ineffective decision-making that is holding us back.

That means creating a leaner, less bureaucratic union, relentlessly focused on helping its member countries to compete.

In a global race, can we really justify the huge number of expensive peripheral European institutions?

Can we justify a commission that gets ever larger?

Can we carry on with an organisation that has a multibillion pound budget but not enough focus on controlling spending and shutting down programmes that haven't worked?

And I would ask: when the competitiveness of the single market is so important, why is there an environment council, a transport council, an education council but not a single market council?

The second principle should be flexibility.

We need a structure that can accommodate the diversity of its members – north, south, east, west, large, small, old and new. Some of whom are contemplating much closer economic and political integration. And many others, including Britain, who would never embrace that goal.

I accept, of course, that for the single market to function we need a common set of rules and a way of enforcing them. But we also need to be able to respond quickly to the latest developments and trends.

Competitiveness demands flexibility, choice and openness – or Europe will fetch up in a no-man's land between the rising economies of Asia and market-driven North America.

The EU must be able to act with the speed and flexibility of a network, not the cumbersome rigidity of a bloc.

We must not be weighed down by an insistence on a one size fits all approach which implies that all countries want the same level of integration. The fact is that they don't and we shouldn't assert that they do.

Some will claim that this offends a central tenet of the EU's founding philosophy. I say it merely reflects the reality of the European Union today. 17 members are part of the eurozone. 10 are not.

26 European countries are members of Schengen – including four outside the European Union – Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. Two EU countries – Britain and Ireland – have retained their border controls.

Some members, like Britain and France, are ready, willing and able to take action in Libya or Mali. Others are uncomfortable with the use of military force.

Let's welcome that diversity, instead of trying to snuff it out.

Let's stop all this talk of two-speed Europe, of fast lanes and slow lanes, of countries missing trains and buses, and consign the whole weary caravan of metaphors to a permanent siding.

Instead, let's start from this proposition: we are a family of democratic nations, all members of one European Union, whose essential foundation is the single market rather than the single currency. Those of us outside the euro recognise that those in it are likely to need to make some big institutional changes.

By the same token, the members of the eurozone should accept that we, and indeed all member states, will have changes that we need to safeguard our interests and strengthen democratic legitimacy. And we should be able to make these changes too.

Some say this will unravel the principle of the EU – and that you can't pick and choose on the basis of what your nation needs.

But far from unravelling the EU, this will in fact bind its members more closely because such flexible, willing co-operation is a much stronger glue than compulsion from the centre.

Let me make a further heretical proposition.

The European treaty commits the member states to "lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe".

This has been consistently interpreted as applying not to the peoples but rather to the states and institutions compounded by a European court of justice that has consistently supported greater centralisation.

We understand and respect the right of others to maintain their commitment to this goal. But for Britain – and perhaps for others – it is not the objective.

And we would be much more comfortable if the treaty specifically said so, freeing those who want to go further, faster, to do so, without being held back by the others.

So to those who say we have no vision for Europe, I say we have.

We believe in a flexible union of free member states who share treaties and institutions and pursue together the ideal of co-operation. To represent and promote the values of European civilisation in the world. To advance our shared interests by using our collective power to open markets. And to build a strong economic base across the whole of Europe.

And we believe in our nations working together to protect the security and diversity of our energy supplies. To tackle climate change and global poverty. To work together against terrorism and organised crime. And to continue to welcome new countries into the EU.

This vision of flexibility and co-operation is not the same as those who want to build an ever closer political union – but it is just as valid.

My third principle is that power must be able to flow back to member states, not just away from them. This was promised by European leaders at Laeken a decade ago.

It was put in the treaty. But the promise has never really been fulfilled. We need to implement this principle properly.

So let us use this moment, as the Dutch prime minister has recently suggested, to examine thoroughly what the EU as a whole should do and should stop doing.

In Britain we have already launched our balance of competences review – to give us an informed and objective analysis of where the EU helps and where it hampers.

Let us not be misled by the fallacy that a deep and workable single market requires everything to be harmonised, to hanker after some unattainable and infinitely level playing field.

Countries are different. They make different choices. We cannot harmonise everything. For example, it is neither right nor necessary to claim that the integrity of the single market, or full membership of the European Union requires the working hours of British hospital doctors to be set in Brussels irrespective of the views of British parliamentarians and practitioners.

In the same way we need to examine whether the balance is right in so many areas where the European Union has legislated including on the environment, social affairs and crime.

Nothing should be off the table.

My fourth principle is democratic accountability: we need to have a bigger and more significant role for national parliaments.

There is not, in my view, a single European demos.

It is national parliaments, which are, and will remain, the true source of real democratic legitimacy and accountability in the EU.

It is to the Bundestag that Angela Merkel has to answer. It is through the Greek parliament that Antonis Samaras has to pass his government's austerity measures.

It is to the British parliament that I must account on the EU budget negotiations, or on the safeguarding of our place in the single market.

Those are the parliaments which instil proper respect – even fear – into national leaders.

We need to recognise that in the way the EU does business.

My fifth principle is fairness: whatever new arrangements are enacted for the eurozone, they must work fairly for those inside it and out.

That will be of particular importance to Britain. As I have said, we will not join the single currency. But there is no overwhelming economic reason why the single currency and the single market should share the same boundary, any more than the single market and Schengen.

Our participation in the single market, and our ability to help set its rules is the principal reason for our membership of the EU.

So it is a vital interest for us to protect the integrity and fairness of the single market for all its members.

And that is why Britain has been so concerned to promote and defend the single market as the eurozone crisis rewrites the rules on fiscal co-ordination and banking union.

These five principles provide what, I believe, is the right approach for the European Union.

So now let me turn to what this means for Britain.

Today, public disillusionment with the EU is at an all-time high. There are several reasons for this.

People feel that the EU is heading in a direction that they never signed up to. They resent the interference in our national life by what they see as unnecessary rules and regulation. And they wonder what the point of it all is.

Put simply, many ask "why can't we just have what we voted to join – a common market?"

They are angered by some legal judgements made in Europe that impact on life in Britain. Some of this antipathy about Europe in general really relates of course to the European court of human rights, rather than the EU. And Britain is leading European efforts to address this.

There is, indeed, much more that needs to be done on this front. But people also feel that the EU is now heading for a level of political integration that is far outside Britain's comfort zone.

They see treaty after treaty changing the balance between member states and the EU. And note they were never given a say.

They've had referendums promised – but not delivered. They see what has happened to the euro. And they note that many of our political and business leaders urged Britain to join at the time.

And they haven't noticed many expressions of contrition.

And they look at the steps the eurozone is taking and wonder what deeper integration for the eurozone will mean for a country which is not going to join the euro.

The result is that democratic consent for the EU in Britain is now wafer-thin.

Some people say that to point this out is irresponsible, creates uncertainty for business and puts a question mark over Britain's place in the European Union.

But the question mark is already there and ignoring it won't make it go away.

In fact, quite the reverse. Those who refuse to contemplate consulting the British people, would in my view make more likely our eventual exit.

Simply asking the British people to carry on accepting a European settlement over which they have had little choice is a path to ensuring that when the question is finally put – and at some stage it will have to be – it is much more likely that the British people will reject the EU.

That is why I am in favour of a referendum. I believe in confronting this issue – shaping it, leading the debate. Not simply hoping a difficult situation will go away.

Some argue that the solution is therefore to hold a straight in-out referendum now.

I understand the impatience of wanting to make that choice immediately.

But I don't believe that to make a decision at this moment is the right way forward, either for Britain or for Europe as a whole.

A vote today between the status quo and leaving would be an entirely false choice.

Now – while the EU is in flux, and when we don't know what the future holds and what sort of EU will emerge from this crisis – is not the right time to make such a momentous decision about the future of our country.

It is wrong to ask people whether to stay or go before we have had a chance to put the relationship right.

How can we sensibly answer the question "in or out" without being able to answer the most basic question: "What is it exactly that we are choosing to be in or out of?"

The European Union that emerges from the eurozone crisis is going to be a very different body. It will be transformed perhaps beyond recognition by the measures needed to save the eurozone.

We need to allow some time for that to happen – and help to shape the future of the European Union, so that when the choice comes it will be a real one.

A real choice between leaving or being part of a new settlement in which Britain shapes and respects the rules of the single market but is protected by fair safeguards, and free of the spurious regulation which damages Europe's competitiveness.

A choice between leaving or being part of a new settlement in which Britain is at the forefront of collective action on issues like foreign policy and trade and where we leave the door firmly open to new members.

A new settlement subject to the democratic legitimacy and accountability of national parliaments where member states combine in flexible co-operation, respecting national differences not always trying to eliminate them and in which we have proved that some powers can in fact be returned to member states.

In other words, a settlement which would be entirely in keeping with the mission for an updated European Union I have described today. More flexible, more adaptable, more open – fit for the challenges of the modern age.

And to those who say a new settlement can't be negotiated, I would say listen to the views of other parties in other European countries arguing for powers to flow back to European states.

And look too at what we have achieved already. Ending Britain's obligation to bail out eurozone members. Keeping Britain out of the fiscal compact. Launching a process to return some existing justice and home affairs powers. Securing protections on banking union. And reforming fisheries policy.

So we are starting to shape the reforms we need now. Some will not require treaty change.

But I agree too with what President Barroso and others have said. At some stage in the next few years the EU will need to agree on treaty change to make the changes needed for the long-term future of the euro and to entrench the diverse, competitive, democratically accountable Europe that we seek.

I believe the best way to do this will be in a new treaty so I add my voice to those who are already calling for this.

My strong preference is to enact these changes for the entire EU, not just for Britain.

But if there is no appetite for a new treaty for us all then of course Britain should be ready to address the changes we need in a negotiation with our European partners.

The next Conservative manifesto in 2015 will ask for a mandate from the British people for a Conservative government to negotiate a new settlement with our European partners in the next parliament.

It will be a relationship with the single market at its heart.

And when we have negotiated that new settlement, we will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or out choice. To stay in the EU on these new terms, or come out altogether.

It will be an in-out referendum.

Legislation will be drafted before the next election. And if a Conservative government is elected we will introduce the enabling legislation immediately and pass it by the end of that year. And we will complete this negotiation and hold this referendum within the first half of the next parliament.

It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics.

I say to the British people: this will be your decision.

And when that choice comes, you will have an important choice to make about our country's destiny.

I understand the appeal of going it alone, of charting our own course. But it will be a decision we will have to take with cool heads. Proponents of both sides of the argument will need to avoid exaggerating their claims.

Of course Britain could make her own way in the world, outside the EU, if we chose to do so. So could any other member state.

But the question we will have to ask ourselves is this: is that the very best future for our country?

We will have to weigh carefully where our true national interest lies.

Alone, we would be free to take our own decisions, just as we would be freed of our solemn obligation to defend our allies if we left Nato. But we don't leave Nato because it is in our national interest to stay and benefit from its collective defence guarantee.

We have more power and influence – whether implementing sanctions against Iran or Syria, or promoting democracy in Burma – if we can act together.

If we leave the EU, we cannot of course leave Europe. It will remain for many years our biggest market, and forever our geographical neighbourhood. We are tied by a complex web of legal commitments.

Hundreds of thousands of British people now take for granted their right to work, live or retire in any other EU country.

Even if we pulled out completely, decisions made in the EU would continue to have a profound effect on our country. But we would have lost all our remaining vetoes and our voice in those decisions.

We would need to weigh up very carefully the consequences of no longer being inside the EU and its single market, as a full member.

Continued access to the single market is vital for British businesses and British jobs.

Since 2004, Britain has been the destination for one in five of all inward investments into Europe.

And being part of the single market has been key to that success.

There will be plenty of time to test all the arguments thoroughly, in favour and against the arrangement we negotiate. But let me just deal with one point we hear a lot about.

There are some who suggest we could turn ourselves into Norway or Switzerland – with access to the single market but outside the EU. But would that really be in our best interests?

I admire those countries and they are friends of ours – but they are very different from us. Norway sits on the biggest energy reserves in Europe, and has a sovereign wealth fund of over €500bn. And while Norway is part of the single market – and pays for the principle – it has no say at all in setting its rules. It just has to implement its directives.

The Swiss have to negotiate access to the single market sector by sector, accepting EU rules – over which they have no say – or else not getting full access to the single market, including in key sectors like financial services.

The fact is that if you join an organisation like the European Union, there are rules.

You will not always get what you want. But that does not mean we should leave – not if the benefits of staying and working together are greater.

We would have to think carefully too about the impact on our influence at the top table of international affairs.

There is no doubt that we are more powerful in Washington, in Beijing, in Delhi because we are a powerful player in the European Union.

That matters for British jobs and British security.

It matters to our ability to get things done in the world. It matters to the United States and other friends around the world, which is why many tell us very clearly that they want Britain to remain in the EU.

We should think very carefully before giving that position up.

If we left the European Union, it would be a one-way ticket, not a return.

So we will have time for a proper, reasoned debate.

At the end of that debate you, the British people, will decide.

And I say to our European partners, frustrated as some of them no doubt are by Britain's attitude: work with us on this.

Consider the extraordinary steps which the eurozone members are taking to keep the euro together, steps which a year ago would have seemed impossible.

It does not seem to me that the steps which would be needed to make Britain – and others – more comfortable in their relationship in the European Union are inherently so outlandish or unreasonable.

And just as I believe that Britain should want to remain in the EU so the EU should want us to stay.

For an EU without Britain, without one of Europe's strongest powers, a country which in many ways invented the single market, and which brings real heft to Europe's influence on the world stage, which plays by the rules and which is a force for liberal economic reform would be a very different kind of European Union.

And it is hard to argue that the EU would not be greatly diminished by Britain's departure.

Let me finish today by saying this.

I have no illusions about the scale of the task ahead.

I know there will be those who say the vision I have outlined will be impossible to achieve. That there is no way our partners will co-operate. That the British people have set themselves on a path to inevitable exit. And that if we aren't comfortable being in the EU after 40 years, we never will be.

But I refuse to take such a defeatist attitude – either for Britain or for Europe.

Because with courage and conviction I believe we can deliver a more flexible, adaptable and open European Union in which the interests and ambitions of all its members can be met.

With courage and conviction I believe we can achieve a new settlement in which Britain can be comfortable and all our countries can thrive.

And when the referendum comes let me say now that if we can negotiate such an arrangement, I will campaign for it with all my heart and soul.

Because I believe something very deeply. That Britain's national interest is best served in a flexible, adaptable and open European Union and that such a European Union is best with Britain in it.

Over the coming weeks, months and years, I will not rest until this debate is won. For the future of my country. For the success of the European Union. And for the prosperity of our peoples for generations to come.

December 14 2012

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November 09 2012

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September 18 2012

EU-Copyright-Reform – Neelie Kroes ist noch im Frage-Modus

“Unsere gesamte Wirtschaft verpasst neue Wachstumschancen”, kritisiert EU-Kommissarin Neelie Kroes (Digitale Agenda) mit Blick auf ausbleibende Urheberrechtsreformen in Europa. Konkrete Vorschläge macht sie noch nicht.

Als Wettbewerbskommissarin war Neelie Kroes eine Art Star in der Brüsseler Behörde. In ihrer Amtszeit erreichten beispielsweise die Wettbewerbsstrafen Rekordhöhen. Gegen den US-Chiphersteller Intel verhängte Brüssel schon mal das unglaubliche Bußgeld von 1,06 Milliarden Euro. Nicht umsonst trägt Kroes seit damals den Beinamen “Steely Neelie”.

Seit Februar 2010 ist die liberale Niederländerin nun Vize-Präsidentin der Kommission und zuständig für Europas Digitalwirtschaft. Und irgendwie konnte man bei ihrem Amtsantritt denken – ‘Steely Neely rockt jetzt das Internet’ – oder so was Ähnliches, in der Richtung.

Aber so richtig scheint Kroes nicht voranzukommen. Das Lamento bleibt Dauerzustand: die USA haben Europa mit ihren Internetkonzernen abgehängt.

Dass Kroes das durchaus wurmt, zeigt eine Rede, die sie Anfang September bei der Denkfabrik „The Lisbon Council“ in Brüssel hielt. Kroes beschwert sich – und nimmt eine „Wachstumsbremse“ ins Visier: das Urheberrecht.

Die bisherige EU-Copyright-Richtlinie (2004/48/EG) entwickelten die Europäer vor 14 Jahren. In Zeiten des Digitalen Wandels also vor einer Ewigkeit. Damals gab es noch kein Youtube und Facebook-Gründer Mark Zuckerberg war 14 Jahre alt, erinnert sich Kroes. Heute teilen etwa eine Milliarde Menschen auf Facebook Fotos, Videos und Ideen. Auf Youtube laden Nutzer pro Sekunde eine Stunde Videomaterial hoch.

„Die Veränderung ist schnell, tiefgreifend, und eine große Chance für den kreativen Sektor“, sagt Kroes – und beklagt, dass digitale Möglichkeiten nicht genutzt werden – auch weil das Urheberrecht in der EU uneinheitlich,  kompliziert und „veraltet“ sei. „Jeder Tag, an dem wir nicht reagieren, ist ein vertaner Tag. Die Verbraucher verpassen einen einfachen, legalen Zugriff auf ihre Lieblings-Produkte. Die Kreativwirtschaft verpasst den Zugang zu neuen Märkten, neuen Innovationen und neuen Chancen. Wir alle verpassen neue Wege, unser kulturelles Erbe zu teilen, zu erinnern und zu schätzen. Unsere gesamte Wirtschaft verpasst neue Wachstumschancen.“ Und Kroes‘ Beschwerde ist noch nicht zu Ende. Ganz Kommissarin appelliert sie an Europas „Wirtschaftspatriotismus“: „Den Ruhm und die Gewinne nehmen sich amerikanische Unternehmen, nicht europäische.“

Kroes fordert also in Punkto Copyright: „Wir brauchen eine gemeinsame europäische Lösung, um die Fragmentierung zu vermeiden und Vorteile für einen europäischen digitalen Binnenmarkt zu nutzen.“

So weit, so gut:  Reformen, am besten europäisch, nicht national. Als Innovationstreiber. Nur welche, verrät Kroes nicht. Stattdessen verweist Kroes –  die an anderer Stelle schon mal völlig undiplomatisch über einen Euro-Austritt Griechenlands fabuliert – auf ihren Kabinettskollegen Michel Barnier. Der Binnenmarktkommissar bereite eine Revision der bisherigen EU-Copyright-Richtlinie vor. Die Prüfung gehört zu einer ganzen Strategie namens:  “Ein Binnenmarkt für Rechte des geistigen Eigentums.” (Mai 2011). Wir müssen uns also auf die üblichen EU-Prozesse einstellen, die jahrelangen, mühsamen, und uns durch Papierberge kämpfen, um mehr über die große EU-Copyright-Reform zu erfahren, und vielliecht sogar daran teilzuhaben.

Und am Ende formuliert Kroes salomonisch und bürgernah: „Ich bin offen für Ideen aller Beteiligten: Von Künstlern, Verbrauchern, Unternehmen, Forschern. Nur gemeinsam können wir uns auf die Zukunft einstellen, und Innovation und Wachstum fördern.“ Das ist natürlich grundvernünftig, aber auch EU-Sprech + Urheberrechts-Debatten-Floskelei, und für Steely Neely-Fans ein wenig langweilig. Kroes fragt immer noch: „Ist unser System konsistent und relevant in der realen Welt?“. Sie ist noch lange nicht im Antwort-Modus.

September 07 2012

EuGH stärkt Verbraucherrechte im grenzüberschreitenden Verkehr

Der EuGH hat gestern (Urteil vom 06.09.2012, Az.: C?190/11) über die Frage entschieden, unter welchen Voraussetzungen ein Verbraucher den im Ausland ansässigen Verkäufer in seinem Heimatland verklagen kann.

Eine Österreicherin hatte über die Onlineplattform “mobil[e].de” nach einem Auto gesucht und wurde schließlich zu einem Angebot eines deutschen KFZ-Händlers mit Sitz in Hamburg weitergeleitet. Der Kaufvertrag wurde aber dann nicht über das Internet geschlossen, sondern in Hamburg, wo die Österreicherin das Fahrzeug auch abholte.

Die Österreicherin verklagte später den deutschen Autohändler auf Rückabwicklung des Fahrzeugs wegen des Vorliegens von Mängeln vor einem österreichischen Gericht. Die österreichischen Gerichte waren zunächst der Ansicht, dass sie für die Sache nicht zuständig sind, sondern die internationale Zuständigkeit deutscher Gerichte gegeben sei. Der OGH hat das Verfahren dann an den EuGH vorgelegt.

Der EuGH hat nun entschieden, dass die maßgebliche Vorschrift von Art. 15 Abs. 1 Buchst. c der Verordnung (EG) Nr. 44/2001 des Rates vom 22. Dezember 2000 (Brüssel?I?Verordnung) dahingehend auszulegen ist, dass der Vertrag nicht im Fernabsatz geschlossen sein muss. Vielmehr ist es ausreichend ist, wenn man sich als Unternehmer mit einem Internetauftritt auch auf das Publikum des Mitgliedsstaats des Verbrauchers ausrichtet. Diese letzte Voraussetzung hat der EuGH allerdings nicht mehr explizit geprüft, weil es bereits von den österreichischen Gerichten bejaht wurde.

Im Ergebnis bedeutet das, dass Verbraucher selbst dann in ihrem Heimatstaat klagen können, wenn der Vertrag im EU-Ausland geschlossen wurde, solange der Händler/Unternehmer seine Leistung zuvor im Netz auch für Verbraucher aus anderen EU-Staaten beworben hat.

July 17 2012

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[...]

The reason I point this out is because many in Germany and at the ECB are saying the crisis is because the stability and growth pact wasn’t strict enough. (See here for the ECB’s version of this). The ruling CDU-led coalition in Germany is actively marketing an anti-SPD storyline on these lines in the run up to the general election that goes something like this:

"We in the CDU/CSU/FDP union were fiscally responsible. But once the SPD and the Greens took over, Germany lost its way, resulting in the watering down of the stability and growth pact. These unfortunate events are what led to the crisis we now have because without the SPD-Green government’s actions, deficit hurdle breaches would be non-starters."

This is pure propaganda. To my ears it sounds much like the Partido Popular propaganda in 2011 that conned Spaniards into giving them the largest ruling majority since 1982. Rajoy told Spaniards it was the socialists’ profligacy which created the mess. Once PP was in place, things would be different, all without the need to raise taxes or anything painful like that. We now see this was complete rubbish.

Moreover, in the German context, We know already that it was the Union-FDP government of Kohl – in which both present Chancellor Merkel and Finance Minister Schaeuble were prominent members – that allowed the debt hurdle weakening allowing Italy, Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Ireland into the euro zone to begin with. If the debt hurdle had been set at 60% without the "diminish sufficiently and approach the reference value" clause in the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, none of these countries would be in the eurozone: Not Italy, not Ireland, not Portugal, not Spain, not Greece and not Belgium. If none of these countries were members of the euro zone, their currencies would have devalued long ago as an adjustment for their lack of competitiveness after the financial crisis. They could have their central banks backstop debt, run deficits or whatever they wanted to do, much as Britain and the US have done. (See Spain is the perfect example of a country that never should have joined the euro zone")

[...]

link

— Chart of the Day: Germany in breach of Maastricht Treaty in 8 of 10 years since 2002 | creditwritedowns.com 2012-07-15
Reposted bykrekkpaket

June 26 2012

June 19 2012

Verfassungsgericht muss erneut die Rechte des Parlaments stärken

Das Bundesverfassungsgericht hat erneut die Rechte des Bundestages gestärkt, wie es in der Presse heißt.

Nach dem heute verkündeten Urteil des BVerfG (Az.: 2 BvE 4/11) hätte die Bundesregierung das Parlament so früh wie möglich über die Verhandlungen zum Europäischen Rettungsschirm (ESM) und zum Euro-Plus-Pakt informieren müssen.

BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN hatten im Rahmen eines Organstreits beanstandet, dass die Bundesregierung insoweit ihre Unterrichtungspflichten nach Art. 23 Abs. 2 GG gegenüber dem Deutschen Bundestag verletzt habe.

Das Verfassungsgericht beanstandet in seiner Entscheidung u.a., dass die Bundesregierung vorhandene Dokumente und Entwürfe nicht frühestmöglich an den Bundestag weitergeleitet hat. Denn das Parlament darf nicht in eine bloß nachvollziehende Rolle geraten, so das Gericht, sondern muss die Möglichkeit haben, frühzeitig und effektiv Einfluss auf die Willensbildung der Bundesregierung zu nehmen.

So erfreulich diese Entscheidung auch sein mag, sie macht einmal mehr deutlich, dass sich die parlamentarische Demokratie in Deutschland und Europa in einer substantiellen Krise befindet und sich die Parlamentarier nicht mehr von selbst aus dem Würgegriff ihrer Regierungen befreien können, sondern darauf angewiesen sind, dass sich Parlamentsminderheiten, wie hier einmal mehr die Grünen, gegen die Beschneidung der parlamentarischen Rechte vor dem Verfassungsgericht zur Wehr setzen.

Wenn sich die Funktion des Korrektivs allerdings auf die Judikative verlagert, bedeutet dies gleichzeitig, dass die Parlamente ihre Kontrollfunktion und ihre Aufgabe als Volksvertreter nicht mehr wahrnehmen.

Quelle: PM Nr. 42/2012 des BVerfG vom 19.06.2012

April 20 2012

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Zagreb (Croatia) - The Subversive Forum : the Future of Europe - Le Courrier des Balkans

Kino Europa & ZKM Theatre
Publié dans la presse : 5 mai 2012
Mise en ligne : samedi 19 mai 2012

Under the umbrella of Subversive Forum a number of events will take place in May 2012 in the Croatian capital, including an international conference dedicated to the main theme The Future of Europe, numerous debates The Crisis of Europe (May 14 – 15), The Struggle for the Commons (May 16) and Towards the Balkan Social Forum (May 17 – 18), the Subversive book fair and, during the introductory week (May 5 – 12), the 5th Subversive Film Festival.


DEBATES :

With more than 100 participants from Greece, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, Serbia, BiH, Macedonia, Albania, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Austria, Italy, UK, India, Senegal, Hungary etc.

The Crisis of Europe
May 14 – 15, ZKM Theatre, 10h – 18h
The Struggle for the Commons
May 16, ZKM Theatre, 10h – 18h
The Balkan Forum
May 17 – 18, ZKM Theatre, 10h – 18h


It is no news that the European Union is facing its biggest crisis since it was created. It is at the same time an economic, financial, social and ideological crisis of this project. Across the continent, instead of solidarity we are witnessing a resurgence of national selfishness, the rise of extreme right, intolerance, and racism. The Mediterranean countries who have been hit the hardest by the crisis show us also a possible response to it : the appearance of strong social movements demanding social justice, a different economic model, and direct democracy. Almost everywhere we see the youth on the streets, in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Romania, but also in the future EU member Croatia.

Through a critical examination of Europe’s current crisis, the Subversive Forum will try to outline realistic possibilities for its transformation and the creation of another political, social and economic project across the Old Continent. The keynote speakers include Stéphane Hessel, Michael Hardt, Tariq Ali, Gayatri Spivak, Slavoj Žižek, Saskia Sassen, Christian Marazzi, Samir Amin, Bernard Cassen, Ignatio Ramonet, Eric Touissant, Costas Douzinas, Renata Salecl, and more than 100 participants from 20 different European, African and Asian countries. For one week in May, Zagreb, the town placed almost exactly on the EU’s shifting border, will become both a center of the world’s critical thought and a laboratory of possible political, social and economic alternatives.

Toutes les informations sur le site : http://www.subversiveforum.com 

The Subversive Forum is endorsed by the World Social Forum.

April 17 2012

"The Hans-Werner Sinn paradox" by Andrew Watt

I have just learned that Hans-Werner Sinn has taken on even weightier subjects than rescuing the euro area from its crisis. Back in 2007 Germany’s best-known economist wrote articles on saving not just Europeans but the whole of humanity, namely from climate change; these thoughts have now just appeared in book form in English under the title ‘The Green paradox‘, published by MIT press.

Sinn’s solution to the euro crisis, in a nutshell, was to kick out Greece, followed by other Club Med countries. The ‘euro area crisis’ would then be resolved, as it were by definition: the economic mess that would then face all the former euro area members would certainly have needed a new name. Judging by the publicity material for the new book on climate change, Prof. Sinn in no less forthright in his way of arguing when it comes to climate change. The problem is that he appears to be completely on the wrong track.

Again.

Hans-Werner Sinn on climate change: its the supply side, stupid

Western governments have failed to curb carbon emissions, we are told, because they have sought to limit the consumption of fossil fuels using all sorts of costly and distortionary measures. Instead we should

extract less of it [fossil carbon] from underground to start with. That would inevitably lead to less  fossil carbon being combusted.

No-one had grasped this crucial insight

… until Hans-Werner Sinn broached the idea in a series of scholarly papers in 2007…

and that is why climate-protection policies have been such a failure. Specifically,

By neglecting the supply side of the carbon markets, the policies against global warming simply disregard half of the market for fossil fuels and ignore the fact that the fossil resource owners are the real climate makers. By inserting fossil carbon into the carbon cycle by way of supplying it to the markets, enlarging thus the stock of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, they determine the speed of global warming and, consequently, hold the fate of humanity in their hands.

A moment’s reflection shows this to be entirely wrong. If it were the oil producers – think Saudi sheiks – that determined the level of emissions, then what is the explanation for the fall in emissions during the economic crisis? Did the oil producers coincidentally decide to turn off the taps just when the global economy plunged? In the real world, the amount of oil pumped is driven by the physical demand for it at the current market price. The physical demand is affected by things like incomes and economic growth, and the quantity and fuel efficiency of  energy-consuming devices. The price is determined by the marginal cost, i.e. the cost of producing the last barrel demanded, and that in turn is set by the level of demand combined with technical supply-side factors.

But Hans-Werner Sinn has a different explanation for why the producers, who in his view are running the show, are pumping so much oil. It’s all the fault of – you guessed it – those misguided western governments and their feed-in tariffs and rules on light-bulbs, what he calls ‘green policy measures’ aimed at reducing consumption. In Sinn’s worldview, that may seem paradoxical, but it is obvious:

The resource owners regard the tightening of green policy measures with increasing concern, because they perceive them as a destruction of their future markets. Quite understandably, they try to pre-empt the expected wealth losses by extracting and selling their fossil fuels before their markets disappear. That is the Green Paradox: announced future reductions to carbon consumption may have the effect of accelerating climate change now.

Ok, here I really struggle to follow the logic here. Unlike in the previous paragraph, here it seems that Sinn sees western demand as the driver, and not supply. But it is future demand, he claims, that is key: because future demand is expected to fall, then present supply is (artificially?) ramped up.

Wow. Well, isn’t it eminently more plausible simply to assume that that oil sheiks are relatively short sighted profit-maximisers like everyone else. They don’t maximise their expected returns over the next infinite number of generations, even if some economic schools of thought think that everybody does (or should do). They just see that – to take extremes – oil in the ground means riding from one dusty tent to the next by camel, whereas oil pumped out of the ground can be converted into Bentleys, advanced weapons systems, welfare-induced quiescent populations, numerous wives, and all the other things that your average Saudi Prince thinks are necessary for the good life. They  pump oil to meet these ends. Or to keep the Americans on-side. Or whatever. (And the same applies to less colourful figures in places like Norway, even if their ‘needs’ are more prosaic.) One thing that is surely NOT driving oil-pumping policy is that they are petrified of the German or anyone else’s feed-in tariff ten or twenty years hence.

But that is not all. Then it gets really strange. The obvious policy question posed by Sinn’s ‘analysis’ is

But how can you induce resource owners to leave more carbon underground?

And the answer:

a swiftly introduced Super-Kyoto system, combining all consuming countries into a seamless demand cartel using a world-wide cap-and-trade system

But this obviously raises at least two fundamental questions. First, if this is really thought to be a realistic policy proposal then wouldn’t it, on Sinnian logic, be the mother of all incentives to pump oil like there was no tomorrow? If Sinn’s green paradox is real, we would be in oil up to our knees if a super Kyoto were, ahem, in the pipeline. And “every atom of carbon we extract from the ground ends up eventually as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere”.

On the other hand, if this super Kyoto is a utopian solution then all the fiddly, specific, freedom-limiting and costly demand-reducing measures that Sinn so disapproves of have to be seen in a much more favourable light. They are, in economist-speak, second-best solutions. But they are likely to be preferable to a first-best solution that is never going to be implemented. (For the record, I agree entirely that price-based carbon-reduction mechanisms are the way to go, but an EU-carbon tax with some form of border adjustment would be much more realistic and effective (see here, pdf))

In short Hans-Werner Sinn’s whole approach appears riddled with contradictions and problematic assertions. I say “appears” only because I am basing myself on the publicity material, but an author has no right to complain that people don’t read his book if the publicity material – which was produced by his own institute’s press service and not some penny-fiction publisher – is so dubious.

The Hans-Werner Sinn paradox

Which makes me wonder. Hans-Werner Sinn continues to be hugely influential in Germany, where he has a huge media presence, and also in Europe via the European Economic Advisory Group (EEAG). Yet he rushes into debate after debate, causes a commotion, but gets a bloody nose each time.

In 2003 he asked rhetorically Ist Deutschland noch zu retten? (whether Germany can be saved: English 2007), the title of a book in which he analysed the ‘malaise of the world’s first welfare state’ – the very welfare state (in the broad sense) that performed extremely well during the crisis and which now has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe.

Then it was the bizarre thesis that Germany had become a “bazaar economy” and was fast becoming a basket case. The analysis underpinning the bazaar economy idea was wrong (here on the facts and here for a critique of Sinn, beide auf deutsch), and the prediction, well we have seen how that turned out. Related to all this, he tried to claim that the so-called capital exports resulting from trade surpluses were somehow a loss to the domestic economy (refuted here auf deutsch).

Then it was kick Greece out of the euro area, one of the main justifications for which was that he pounced on the Target imbalances between the central banks of the eurosystem, making a number of claims that the the subsequent debate showed to be erroneous (see innumerable entries on vox.eu, Herdentrieb, Kantoos, several in English).

What seems to unite all these episodes is a flamboyant style, a resolutely micro-based approach, successfully convincing (German) voters and readers that they are losing hard-earned cash thanks to an array of dark forces ranging from trade unionists, to Greek pensioners to the eurosystem of central banks. Oh, and rapidly being proven wrong.

Call it the Hans-Werner Sinn paradox.

Reposted from02myEcon-01 02myEcon-01
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