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50 years of EU membership

by Frank Schnittger Tue Feb 14th, 2023 at 01:17:29 PM EST

I had the pleasure of attending the annual Irish Association of Contemporary European Studies (IACES) lecture given by Professor Brigid Laffan of the European University Institute recently. In the hour available to her she painted some broad strokes of how membership has helped change Ireland over the past 50 years. One striking statistic was that male life expectancy was 69 years when Ireland joined in 1973. If I had been my age then, I would be dead!

55% of our exports went to the UK at the time, and our average income then was 64% of the EEC average. Ireland was the first poor state to join the EU and has become an aspirational model for all the poorer states who have joined since. The EU is predominately made up of smaller, poorer member states and can no longer be accurately be described as an exclusively rich man's club.

Critical to the success of our membership was the quality of engagement by our politicians and civil servants with a member of the audience who was part of the initial cohort of Irish civil servants in Brussels noting the pioneering spirit and enthusiasm with which they took to the task. We were particularly successful in shaping EU policies when there was a good fit between our domestic agenda and EU agenda.

There were 400 meetings between Irish and EU civil servants and politicians between June 2016 and June 2017 to ensure that Ireland's interests were taken into account in the Brexit negotiations. A current concern is the dramatic fall-off in senior Irish civil servants in the Commission partly because a job in Brussels has lost some of its allure, (and perhaps also because some former British officials have used their right to Irish citizenship to re-designate as Irish?).

Part of Ireland's early success in maximising the benefits of the CAP was attributed to Mark Clinton's fabled ability to hold his whiskey and do without much sleep in the interminable overnight negotiations required to come to agreement. The regional and social funds were also critical in helping Ireland bridge the gap between a predominantly rural and agricultural economy employing 25% of the workforce and our much more urbanised and technologically advanced economy today (where agriculture makes up less than 1% of GDP).

The EU didn't cover itself in glory in either its response to the 2008 financial crisis, or the much more recent encroaches on the rule of law in Viktor Orbán's Hungary. However the infamous bank guarantee was entirely Ireland's doing and wasn't even communicated to the EU prior to being announced. The lack of an effective Irish banking regulator added to our culpability and helped to make the imposition of the Troika unavoidable. Nevertheless we recovered from that crisis far quicker than expected and EU membership remains the settled will of the Irish people with 88% support.

Ireland holds referenda far more frequently than any other member state which results in a more informed and engaged electorate. (In passing, one might note, that this is in stark contrast to the UK where the electorate have no direct way of changing their "unwritten" constitution, no Independent Referendum Commission to provide unbiased and authoritative interpretations of what a referendum proposal might entail, and little informed public debate of what the EU actually does or proposes to do in the future).

Today the EU is faced with multiple serious crises despite the relative stability of the Euro and the EU economy. The war in Ukraine, the migrant crisis, the energy crisis, and the climate change crisis have followed hot on the heels of the pandemic. These are forcing much greater cooperation on security, refugee provision, the transition to sustainable energy, and cross-border health care, procurement, and pandemic control. However, Professor Laffan saw little scope for the creation of a single market for services or much greater integration of national competencies like public health care, education, or social welfare without the enactment of a new EU wide Treaty.

Equally, she saw no scope for further enlargement without the reform of the EU's rules for unanimous and weighted majority decision making. A potential EU-36 would be simply unworkable if one or two countries could block all progress. She saw little scope for the UK re-joining the EU for a generation, although closer ties were possible because the "paper thin" Trade and Cooperation Agreement currently makes the UK a more distant trading partner than Turkey.

Despite our best efforts, Brexit has been damaging for Ireland, particularly in de-stabilising the Belfast Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. However, the Irish economy has not been as damaged as first feared and could even stand to gain from losing the UK as a direct competitor for FDI into the EU.

Ireland benefits from having a strong EU and does not have to choose "between Boston and Berlin." However, we must guard against complacency (and carve out a new role for ourselves as the centre of gravity within the EU moves eastwards). The debate over the USA's Inflation Reduction Act is the latest example of where our close ties to the USA could be of benefit to the EU as a whole.

(Text in brackets are my commentary).

Thanks for the coverage ...

I see many questions to be raised, no short term solutions, lack of vision, buckled down by problems of the day, need to set priorities towards sustainability and tackling climate change. The war in Ukraine is not some far-away region.

  • gravity eastward is not minor as their moral values aren't founded in the EEC principles Four Freedoms. I find some MEP majority decisions already troubling and trending rightwing.
  • Hungary is mentioned, not Poland and ...
  • multiple serious crises despite the relative stability of the Euro and the EU economy ... former Dutch minister of finance Hoogervorst raises red flag should we remain in the Euro zone. Damning North-South divide in sovereign debt of the Mediterranean states ... in particular Italy.
  • Irish close ties to the USA could be of benefit to the EU as a whole ... pls explain and expand⁉️Where does major part of Irish GDP come from?
  • The EP doctrine before the internal accusations of QatarGate ...

    Corruption and Human Rights | Feb. 17, 2022 |

    Related ...

    Corruption Index | Europe ... deep at the bottom, Ukraine nipt ahead of Russia 😡

    The EU accepting rogue states as member ...

    'Sapere aude'

    by Oui (Oui) on Tue Feb 14th, 2023 at 02:42:16 PM EST
    About tackling climate change, check Jankovici's latest video on Lescrises website.  The main problem is that it is not possible within a democratic system.
    by Oosterbeek on Thu Feb 16th, 2023 at 11:08:51 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The question should be :
    How can The Netherlands stay in the EU when it only wants to belong to the USA ?

    https:/www.irishtimes.com/culture/stage/2023/02/14/cancelled-beckett-play-to-be-staged-in-amsterdam -as-new-theatres-step-in

    (The same about Poland, btw)

    by Oosterbeek on Thu Feb 16th, 2023 at 11:07:19 AM EST
    Oddly enough, I witnessed a reading of Harold Pinter's play "The dumb waiter" this summer, by two friends who were to  perform it in Brussels this autumn.

    The role of Gus was held by a woman, which posed a problem for me, because it's written for a man, and our understanding of the text is shifted.

    But as far as I can recall, the characters in Godot are not particularly gendered. So slavishly following Beckett's written indication is a fairly thin excuse.

    Shakespeare's female roles were always played by men in his lifetime, following conventions of the time. But I don't think he would have objected on principle to them being played by women. Beckett, likewise.

    It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

    by eurogreen on Thu Feb 16th, 2023 at 02:17:53 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Maybe Beckett specified it was to be played by men because the meaning of the text is about men. Women would certainly have known how to employ their time better (as in multitasking, rather than waiting in vain).
    by Tom2 on Thu Feb 16th, 2023 at 03:17:52 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    As people realize with the reports of badly constructed buildings in Turkiye that there is indeed a big corruption problem, may we know why the EU is pouring millions in this country (and its revisionist universities) for almost 20 years?

    Maybe it would be time for some people to know that, unlike most African countries, Turkiye has a good number of billionaires.

    by Tom2 on Thu Feb 16th, 2023 at 03:53:48 PM EST
    The general idea is that they will get rid of Erdogan one day (or he will die of old age), and Turkey will go back to progressing on questions of rule of law, separation of religion and state, etc. It might even start quite soon (presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for May).

    And now that Giscard and his generation of cultural racists are dead, they can start getting back on track with adhesion to the UE.

    It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

    by eurogreen on Thu Feb 16th, 2023 at 04:16:03 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    wasn't he supposed to put his son in charge? it is not a few million dollars scandals that should make him out the race
    have you ever watched a turkish soap? they are masters at super long soaps with several "seasons"
    the mob is actually the main character and the unifying theme of all these soaps
    by Tom2 on Thu Feb 16th, 2023 at 06:32:11 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    With friends like these, who needs foes?
    "Hersh has since explained to the German newspaper Berliner Zeitung that Norway was particularly interested in successfully pulling off the plot against the Nord Stream pipelines.

    In his words, "Norway was interested in income growth, and hence in increasing the volume of its energy supplies to the EU, to the same Germany. And what do we see after the mission? Norway has made it. It's (energy) exports grew against the backdrop of significant hostility towards Russia."

    Norway was attracted to Biden's sabotage project like a fly to the honeypot, since it stood to gain fabulously in financial terms if it helped the US military to destroy Nord Stream pipelines near Danish waters, and replace Russia as Germany's principal source of piped natural gas.

    To be sure, Norway has made a kill. The loot is estimated to be worth over $100 billion so far! Norway supplied 33 percent of Germany's gas needs in 2022, making it the country's largest supplier."


    by Tom2 on Fri Feb 17th, 2023 at 06:33:49 PM EST
    I take a dim view of Bhadrakumar's last two posts. The basis of this commentary is topical, uniformed by long-term business needs and strategy, much less gov policies. For example, he does not once mention JCPOA once, although its integral to historical CN-RU-IR relations, and passes over IR admission to the SCO as if it was not finalized last year. He should pay more attention to S. Jaishankar than to G7 yella sheets, especially Hersh's "old newspaper".

    As for Norway: NO's sovereign fund lost money. Although taxed oil and gas revenue profits increased throughout 2022, marketable asset values  held by the fund tanked  Q1-Q2, weighted by inflation pressures (FX, PMI). NO accounts for ~80% EU-area production and has no "excess capacity" to replace RU gas and oil, much less US or MENA imports.

    Aug 2022 (USD:NOK value range runs -159B - 174B depending on when and who reports the loss)

    Recall that NO.gov as late as Oct 2022 refused to support EU price caps on Russian-origin fuels. Which implies, EU customers are locked into NO spot and future contract terms. Also, EU's eurozone leaders (notably Habeck) search for alt LNG and oil suppliers began immediately, 2022Q1. What happened? US cornered EU gas market and EC carved out ridiculous price-cap exemptions to permit import both types of "Russian-origin" fuels. Which has been fixed, incidentally, in G7 popular imagination of EU "energy indepence" at "9%" share.

    Dec 2022: Cui bono?

    Did NS1 destruction 27 Sep 2022 (end Q3) change NO oil and gas market position, or vol share? No. (Recall, NS2 never exported gas.) So, what about price/unit—Did entry of US and MENA LNG reduce NO prices? No.

    Norway expects to receive a record $89.5 billion (884 billion Norwegian crowns) in oil and gas tax revenue for 2022, triple the previous record in 2021, thanks to soaring gas prices last year, the Norwegian Tax Administration said in an estimate on Thursday [26 Jan 2023]....
    norskpetrolium | Macroeconomic indicators for the petroleum sector, 2023, 6 Oct 2022, illustrated
    Equinor| FYE 2022, 8 Feb 2023
    Equinor realised a European gas price of USD 29 per mmbtu and realised liquids prices where USD 80.4 per bbl in the fourth quarter. Although prices are comparatively higher than the corresponding quarter in 2021, European gas price weakened through the fourth quarter of 2022.
    For 2022 the adjusted earnings* were USD 74.9 billion, up from USD 33.5 billion last year. ... In 2022 Equinor paid USD 42.8 billion in tax related to operations on NCS.
    I'm sure that word does not mean what Bhadrakumar thinks it means. (1) NO fuel has always been exempt from EU price cap, so no EU transgression; (2) NO has been sending "aid" to Ukraine throughout 2022 (ex 1, ex 2, ex 3, ex 4), so no UA transgression; (3) (NOK 75B ($7.3B) over 5 YEARS is chump change, a revenue rounding error, not reparations for imaginary "theft" of EU27 "post-pandemic" Fit for 50 GDP.

    end note
    Feb 2023

    by Cat on Sat Feb 18th, 2023 at 04:05:12 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I haven't kept up with Hersh PR. Last word on the grapevine was, DE is too skeered of Blinken to investigate its own intell from NS1 landing site. What motives for DK, SE, PL, LT, EE, LV, and possibly IL, parts in the NS caper has Hersh since to EXPOSED?
    by Cat on Sat Feb 18th, 2023 at 04:21:05 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    npd.no | Production figures January 2023, 21 Feb illustrated
    Oil production in January is 3.0 percent lower than the NPD's forecast.
    npd.no | Drilling permit for 25/2-24 S, 21 Jan
    The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) has granted Aker BP ASA drilling permit for well 25/2-24 S
    by Cat on Fri Feb 24th, 2023 at 07:40:23 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    [Sámi youth] activists refuse to leave Norwegian oil and energy ministry, 24 Feb
    Protesters with NSR Nuorat and environmental organization called Nature and Youth have occupied the building since Thursday morning in a demonstration against 150 wind turbines still standing in the Fosen region of central Norway despite an October 2021 decision from the Norwegian Supreme Court deeming them illegal on the grounds of disturbing Sámi reindeer herders' cultural rights under international conventions.
    Norway's Supreme Court deemed the licenses to build and operate the wind farms illegal in October 2021, finding they violated a 1966 treaty known as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
    The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has not commented on how it will act on the protest currently occupying its building, according to SVT NYHETER.
    by Cat on Mon Feb 27th, 2023 at 02:54:55 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Norway's government apologizes to Sami reindeer herders, 2 Mar
    "I have apologized to the reindeer owners on behalf of the government," Oil and Energy Minister Terje Aasland said after meeting with the speaker of the 39-seat Sami Parliament, Silje Karine Mutoka. "They have been in a difficult and unclear situation for a long time. I'm sorry about that," he said.
    Although the talks did not yield an agreement to resolve the wind farm dispute, Aasland said "that we are not ruling out any solutions at this time."
    They once faced oppression of their culture, including bans on the use of their native tongue. Now they have their own parliaments, schools, newspapers and broadcasts in their own language on national radio and television. The nomadic people live mostly modern lifestyles, but still tend reindeer.
    by Cat on Thu Mar 2nd, 2023 at 10:06:25 PM EST
    [ Parent ]

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