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Populism in Europe.. Always a setback to progress?
by Christos Mouzeviris
2011-08-12 07:57:05
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Recent events that I think they are worth mentioning and commenting on:

Holland blocks Romania's and Bulgaria's Schengen area entry! Why? Because they are not ready and there are concerns that they will be unable to implement the agreement! Because they think that those two countries will be unable to control their borders, so that the rest of Europe will have to suffer with uncontrolled immigration and high criminal rates. Well as far as I know the issue is only technical because Romanian and Bulgarian citizens can already travel through Europe like the rest of us. And if they are not ready, are the Baltic states better prepared? Some of them have disputable borders with Russia, and it is well known that their borders "leak!" Wouldn't be better instead of demonizing and stereotyping those two countries, to take a united European approach to deal with the problem of illegal immigration?

Yes, Bulgaria and Romania are the poorest member states and yes they have huge problems with corruption. But who hasn't? The Baltic states are no better, nor Greece, Spain or Italy; in fact not even the Dutch themselves! I hate that snub and stereotypical attitude of some rich European countries towards their poorer partners. They only are interested in them in order to make a profit out of the single market, while the problems that they may face implementing the different laws and regulations is entirely up to them. Of course I doubt that if Holland, Britain, Germany or France would dare to interfere with their poorer partner's internal affairs, would allow anyone interfere with theirs. So there is where the problem lies.

Reluctance in taking a united front and showing some solidarity with the least fortunate EU member states, because that would mean that you would have to give up some of your national interests. So the easiest option to calm the nation's voters down is to smear and portray a country as unable to implement EU laws, instead of tackling the problem of illegal immigration in Europe united, providing funds, knowledge, staff and equipment to your partners. The Dutch never had to guard the outer borders of EU, and they were not threatened by another nation, illegal immigrants, smugglers or other criminals since the WW2 that they were invaded by the Nazis. Some other countries are less fortunate and they need our help.

Perhaps it would be better to tell the real reasons for such decision. That the citizens of Holland and many other countries of Europe are turning against the multicultural mantra that we were brought up with, they are becoming more xenophobic and take even EU's expansion with discomfort. Again, a common immigration policy, a united stand against illegal immigration, a more efficient FRONTEX and EU army would be far more efficient than populist attitudes like this. Of course Holland is not the only one to blame, how about Denmark, France and many other countries who agree with them, in suspending the Schengen Agreement? Why do we must keep this divisive culture of the core and the peripheral countries or economies in Europe? How can we progress if the rich struggle to remain rich while keeping the poor as such. We had enough divisions in Europe so far, East and West, now we nearly made it to North and South! What is the point of treating poorer countries of Europe differently and instead of assisting them, we slander them. When will we achieve equality in Europe, both in national and international level?

Another incident that made my skin itch the past few months was US President's Mr Obama visit to Ireland! No, I do not have any problems with that, it was the whole attitude of the Irish media, portraying Obama's visit like a homecoming. Definitely the Irish public need some bust during those difficult years that they are facing in front of them, because of the country's economic woes. And I realize and understand the long traditional relations of Ireland and the USA. But if ever Jennifer Aniston runs for President and gets elected, will I be celebrating because of her Greek ancestry? Well I think not! And she has more Greek blood in her than Obama has Irish!

Obama is far more Kenyan, more British and equally German as is Irish, according to his ancestry. Yet the Irish media are fixated with him, branding him as one of their own. The portrayal of him during his election and his campaign was over the top all over the World, but the Irish elite and media found another reason to remind the Irish people yet once more their links with the other side of the Atlantic and of course the so called "Anglosphere!" I too was a supporter of Obama during his presidential campaign, but the PR go so much out of control with slogans attached to his picture like "HOPE", giving him an almost messianic status, that it reminded me an old Greek saying; "whenever you hear of a large number of cherries, take a small basket with you!"  I soon realized that the Americans needed a new type of President to win over the World again, something to make them look "cool" after their falling popularity since their involvement in so many wars.

What better than a black President, someone new and fresh, and not the typical President candidate we knew so far. Besides if you want to appeal to all of the World and not just Europe, you need to embrace other cultures as well. His links with Africa, Islam and Asia make him a perfect candidate. Now where does this post fits its title? Well let me explain.

Ireland is relying hugely on America economically. Many American companies are being located here and to do that Ireland is keeping a lower tax rate that annoys many in Europe. Its tourism is also relying a lot on Americans and of course the British. What I am very curious to know is what Ireland giving back in return (the obvious being Shannon Airport, as a stop for American troops going to Afghanistan or Iraq). Because I doubt that the strong links between the two countries are solely based on blood ties and culture. And that of course goes not just for Ireland but many, perhaps most EU or other European states. Remember the Marshall plan? Yes with American investor's money Europe was rebuilt and we should be grateful for that. But what are we giving in return? When one country is relying on another to support its economy, it allows that richer country to influence its internal and of course its foreign affairs. And that's ok to me if the nation is happy with that.

But how can we build  European integration, when we have threads of third parties entwined not only in our economies, but our politics as well. The Irish may have the reputation of being pro-European, they are really involved in EU and its politics and have many good politicians and diplomats in it; but they did reject the Lisbon and the Nice treaties in both referendums after all! And since then, I notice an increasing rise in euroscepticism especially now with the current crisis in the eurozone. Will the Irish public turn  their support more and more towards the Anglosphere? Speaking with the ordinary folk here on this island, I would not be surprised!

What their media and elite are forgetting to mention to the people is that the crisis that forced their country to receive a bail our from the IMF, originated from America and their irresponsible finances. It is the Markets and their speculators that are all based (and controlled by ??) in America that keep downgrading their country and other euro-zone countries in order to weaken the euro, that bring so much misery to this small nation lately! Yet it is the EU who take the bad press! Yes the euro has so many faults, but this comes down again to the lack of vision, unity and willingness to go all the way to see a project through. Europe prefers rather to patch things up, and is still stuck in post colonial and post WW2 complexes that do not allow real commitment. Countries are still seeing the euro-zone and EU as a matter of national interest and importance, rather a continental one.

If we had created European owned companies that would be spread in most European states and giving all of them an opportunity to employ their people, invest in, participate and reap the benefits. Or as Mr Romano Prodi mentioned on the Euronews, European rating agencies, we would be in control of our continent. No country would rely on third parties for development, and our countries would not be rated by American companies, according their standards and interests.

The city of London of course is another example. They seem to want to be totally independent from not just EU, but from the rest of the British citizens and reality as well. They hate so much any EU regulation that they will prefer to be under a total control of the Markets and the global Corporations, than give their citizens a better deal and a stronger voice and influence in EU and Europe! It is no wonder that London has also lower tax rates that the rest of Europe and the UK itself, in order to allow all foreign corporations to be established there. The result? Brainwashing of the population with rubbish that are partly or not at all true, in order to keep the anti-EU sentiment among them and avoid all EU regulations that in fact, some are beneficial for the ordinary workers of the country (the 50 hour work week debate for example). The British media who are owned by people like Murdoch are playing and important part in this; and we have seen the results! But the British public still do not get it!

As if we do not have enough hard time with the current EU members and their squabbles, alliances and national complexes, have a look of what is to come; Albania! A country that is almost an American protectorate after their involvement in the ex-Yugoslavia wars. I wonder if Albania and especially Kosovo which is a virtual state relying on European and American money to keep existing, will be another Britain once they join EU. Having been "Americanized" ever since the end of the war, will they be committed to Europe or to America? Because we might be allies,but out interests differ a bit especially when it comes to power and wealth.

America wants a Europe united as a huge market so they can sell their goods but not necessarily a 100% fully politically and economically united continent, because simply it might challenge their hegemony. That was the deal besides of the Marshall plan, that was what we had to give back. Our interests of course should lie with ourselves. We need to stop being told what to do by either the Markets, the global Capitalists, the Americans, the Russians, the Chinese, or whoever else may come in the future. That is why a political union is necessary to us.


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