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Mar 242008

Dagens Nyheter reports from the Emigration Fair (Emigratiebeurs) in Utrecht, the Netherlands, that 38 % of the Dutch population wants to move away from  ”urban congestion” and “racism” and, not the least, “traffic jams”. The Northern countries appear to be at the top of the wish list of the prospective emigrants. The interest and participation in the fair increases from year to year and a large number of Swedish towns and municipalities are present, mainly from rural and peripheral areas with decreasing population. Obviously, the immigration of well behaved and highly educated people with good knowledge of languages is a highly attractive perspective in contrast to…well, let’s leave that for the moment. Several municipalities also report very succesfull results, with the Dutch immigrants setting up enterprises (very often camping sites!), thus creating employment and the possibility to keep otherwise threatened schools and small shops alive.

Statistics show that 58 % of people interested in leaving  Holland would prefer to move to another EU country. Out of  15 countries, the four Scandinavian ones are at the top whereas Austria takes the 10th place. Sweden appears prominently, Continue reading »

Mar 102008

So the PSOE won the Spanish elections, probably a good thing for Spain and certainly for Europe. Next important election as far as European cooperation is concerned, will obviouly be the one in Italy.

It is moderately amusing to think that for a very long time there has always been one notorius troublemaker within the EU. With time the country in question has joined ranks on most issues and left its place as Störenfried to someone else.  First there was France, then Greece, then Spain and now Poland. (The UK, of course is in a league of its own). “E la nave va“,  as the motto for the commeration of the Treaty of Rome said

There will now be a pause of about 7 – 10 days on this blog. Meanwhile, please think about protectionism (a good thing after all?) and about euroblogging.

Mar 052008

A wave of new protectionism is sweeping through the Western World and through the EU. The failure of  globalization and unbridled competition to provide new jobs and increased welfare everywhere has slowly but certainly created a backlash. And the climate change debate will provide a perfect alibi and may even lead to an Ehrenrettung for the generally detested Common Agricultural Policy.

Economists question time-honored truths

There has been no lack of theoretical backing also from the most liberal of quarters. Already in 2004 Paul Samuelsson published a paper, in true academic style  called “Where Ricardo and Mill Rebut and Confirm Arguments of Mainstream Economists Against Globalization.” His paper (not on-line) was summarized the same year by Robert Kuttner in the Boston Globe under the heading Rethinking Free Trade.

“Free trade is not always a win-win situation,” Samuelson concludes. It is particularly a problem, he says, in a world where large countries with far lower wages, such as India and China, are increasingly able to make almost any product or offer almost any service performed in the United States.

If we trade freely with them, then the powerful drag of their far lower wages will begin dragging down our average wages. Our economy may still grow, he calculates, but at a lower rate than it otherwise would have.

In 2006 Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz and the Director of Studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Jacques Sapir,  joined in. Stiglitz argued the case of the developing Continue reading »

Mar 022008

Swedish MEP,  Åsa Westlund, PSE, makes an interesting reflection in a blog posting under the heading “Förlamande vetorätt.” Her starting point is a meeting with the Deputy Chairman of the Swedish delegation to the Council of Europe. The Chairman tells her about the paralyzing impact that the right of veto of each of the 47 member states has on the work of the Council.  The main task of the Council is to safeguard human rights but even countries which are severely lacking in this respect can block the work of the Council on specific issues.

Ms. Westlund or her colleague from the COE do not mention any names. But it may not be coincidental that Le Monde simultaneously carries an article called Malaise au Conseil de l’Europe where the problematic position of Russia is highlighted. Among other things Russia has blocked a change of statutes for the European Court of Human Rights that would have simplified its handling of around 40000 complaints annually, the majority of which concerns Russia. Continue reading »