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Oct 102009
 

GLENDOWER: I can call spirits from the vastly deep
HOTSPUR: Why, so can I, so can any man. But will they come when you do call for them?
(Henry IV, Act III)

The content of the “footnote” that President Klaus wants to introduce in the Lisbon Treaty has now become somewhat clearer. Apparently he wants an assurance that the Human Rights Charter would not be used as a basis for restoration claims from the Sudeten Germans whose property was confiscated when they were driven out of Czechoslovakia after the World War when the so called Benes Decrees were issued in 1946. It should be noted in this context that people -also foreigners- that were disowned by the communist regime have been very successful with restoration claims in Czechoslovakia.

This is extremely dangerous territory. The issue was, however, thoroughly discussed during the access negotiations with the Czech Republic (and with Slovenia which was in a similar situation.) At one period both Germany and Austria insisted that the Benes Decrees must be revoked before the Czech Republic could become a member.  The Czechs, under President Havel, protested vigorously. Finally the German government (Messrs Schröder and Fischer) accepted a compromise in Continue reading »

Oct 082009
 

A stubborn old man, of course. Czech president Vaclav Klaus shows his contempt for the EU presidency by refusing to talk  (SW) to Mr Reinfeldt, presently the President of the European Council. According to Mr. Reinfeldt, however, President Klaus insists on adding a”footnote” to the Treaty as a condition for signing (even if the Czech Constitutional Court would reject the objections made by a number of Klaus supporters). Exactly what this footnote would contain is anybody’s guess but Mr. Reinfeldt says “As far as I understand it, he’s linking this to the (EU’s) Charter of Fundamental Rights and then he wants the European Council to take a decision on this footnote”. This could probably be done only in December and there is of course no guarantee that all 26 member states would agree on Mr. Klaus’ footnote.

This last ditch effort by Klaus is of course intended to  delay the ratification until the British general election. Statements today by Mr. Cameron and his shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs leave no doubt that the UK is interested in the common market and free trade and nothing else. In other words in transforming the European Union into a super-EFTA, the ill-fated free trade area where the British cynically abandoned their partners when they could get a better deal with the  EEC.

The democratic deficit of the EU institutions is a burning and important issue. But how “democratic” is it to have the whole Continue reading »

Oct 052009
 

So the Irish have voted and agreed to ratify the Lisbon Treaty. In addition President Kaczyñski of Poland has promised to sign, maybe even this week. The reality is that the future of the Union then lies in the hand of one single man and not a very nice one at that. The tactics of President Klaus of the Czech Republic clearly are to delay his signature until after a conservative election victory in England, perhaps in April next year. A resounding “no” in a British referendum is of course a foregone conclusion.

This is of course an absurd situation. The new Treaty will, albeit to a limited extent, prevent some abuses of the veto power. That would at last be a step in the right direction.

Remains, however the problem of England. England has already opted out of central  parts of the new Treaty. Conservative sources have indicated that a new government will do everything in its power to “repatriate powers” from Brussels to London, particularly in the fields of social and employment legislation, home affairs and justice.

This will, however, not be achieved without difficulty since every change must be approved by all member states which the British may counter by hijacking other cooperation measures through a veto. England would practically withdraw from Continue reading »