Archive for the ‘Euroskeptic’ Category

Actualités de Brexit

Now, I know where my news about Brexit will come from in the most part: Le Figaro.

Now I’m really surprised that I never made anything of my degree in European Legal Studies. Toss in my thesis for my JD dealt with fisheries. Maybe I should have asked the Greenpeace chief in Brussels for a job instead of hoping for big bucks in the world of business when I found out he was a neighbour (and all round nice guy).

The Euro

The two best things about the European Union are the right of free movement and the Euro. Which is good since they sort of go together as it’s nice to not have to change currencies when you go from country to country. Imagine living in the US and having to change your money if you went from State to State: especially if there were drastic differences in value. Toss in the insult of having the coins thrown back at you even if they were significantly valuable (e.g, dollar, pound or Euro valued coins).

Despite this, only 19 of the 27 member states of the European Union (EU) have adopted the Euro as their primary currency and sole legal tender. Denmark (and the United Kingdom) opted out of adopting the Euro. It is also currency in a few of the “postage stamp” non-EU member States. Also, it’s used in some of the French overseas territories and the British Bases at Akrotiri and Dhekelia. The latter may be the only part of the United Kingdom to use the Euro, but it would make sense since they are on Cyprus, which is an EU member and part of the Eurozone. Montenegro and Kosovo also use the Euro, but they originally used the Yugoslav Dinar and then the German Mark as their currencies.

I’m not going to get into the mechanics of how countries become part of the Eurozone, but most of the non-Euro nations are part of the former eastern block with the exception of Denmark and Sweden. And I actually spend a lot of them, even if I joke about never seeing them. But I never carried around much cash anyway. More so since Brexit.

Brexit

You might not think it from reading my posts at Penigma, but Brexit is far more of an issue for me than Trump. That’s because my right of free movement and residency are going away soon. Maybe it won’t be too much of a problem since the UK is not a party to the Schengen Area.

Citizens the only people who have a right to come and go into a country under international law. Let’s toss in that the right of asylum is covered under international law to make this an aside. So, I find the whinging by “liberals” about immigrants into the US to be amusing, but that is probably due to American Exceptionalism combined with the myth that the US has “always been welcoming to immigrants”.

Not really.

But as I said, that was a bit of an aside, but related to where I am going here. Brexit is going to screw up the residency of quite a few people of both the UK and the EU member states (with the exception of Ireland, but that’s a sort of). People who have been resident under the terms of the European Union membership are going to find they have to apply for formal residency.

Somewhat of a headache due to paperwork. Toss in that some places (E.g., Belgium) can be a tax headache if you are “self-employed”. Being retired is less of a problem since most places welcome retired people if you “aren’t going to steal jobs”. In fact most places welcome people who are willing to contribute to society.

That means going through some hoops to get in. Although residency usually isn’t hard. Citizenship is another issue: especially if you don’t want to get to the border and find they won’t let you in. Or hit you with penalties as is the case in the Schengen Area. Unlike the US, some countries actually have criminal penalties for violating the immigration laws.

So, what is the Schengen Area?

It was created by treaty and includes most of Europe. It’s basically a zone that once you don’t need a passport have entered it to move around. If you are a citizen of the Schengen nations.

OTOH, Nationals from some countries need to obtain a Schengen visa in order to enter one of its member countries or travel within the area. It is a short-stay visa valid for 90 days. It also allows international transit at airports in Schengen countries.  The US and UK aren’t one of those countries, but Citizens of non-Schengen countries which are not required to have visas still have to respect the infamous 90/180 day rule.

Another point where most multiple-entry Schengen visa holders get confused, as well as the nationals of the countries that are permitted to enter Schengen visa-free. Most people think that the 180-day period starts on the day you visa becomes valid, which is not true.

Actually, the 180-day period keeps rolling. Therefore, anytime you wish to enter the Schengen, you just have to count backwards the last 180 days, and see if you have been present in the Schengen for more than 90 days throughout that period.

And you are subject to a €1200 fine if you overstay your 90 days: even if only by one day! Loads of tourists complain that they were hit with a fine for leaving a day late! There are ways to avoid be in Schengen for more than 90 days in the last 180 days by jumping between Schengen and non-Schengen countries. Thus, stay in Belgium for 90 days, then go to the UK for the 180 days.

Of course, residency makes a whole lot more sense. Toss in the Schengen rules are a headache.

But that is going to be a major fuck over caused by Brexit. One of many fuck overs caused by Brexit.

Why I consider myself European

OK, the current map of Europe is incredibly recent (last 20 years or so) and is still changing.   Most of my “German Ancestors” weren’t from Germany since it didn’t exist as such until 1871 (and Current Germany has only existed since German reunification on 3 October 1990) Also, there were lots of little realms prior to unification of Germany and Italy..[1]

AsterixPerso

Gaul is a Celt (Breton)

As Alfred Jarry pointed out in Ubu Roi, Pere Ubu is King of Poland, which is an imaginary nation since it didn’t exist as such when the play was written.  Some of the places my ancestors came from have been contested for ages (e.g., Lorraine).  There is this French-German-Burgundian thing going on for me, which is probably why Belgium is the Second place I relate to after Britain. Although there is strong Celtic heritage as well with ancestors hailing from Galicia (it was fun seeing “Pays de Galles” and realising that could be a lot of places besides Wales).

Yes, this map obsesses me in how fluid Europe is:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LfdXoL3Xck

Anyway, one of the reasons for the European Union is the fact that European culture can be fluid, as the map demonstrates. Even being “French” or “British” isn’t all that straight forward, given I also have Welsh and Borders ancestry. There are three centres of gravity for me on this map: Britain, The Rhine Valley, and what would be Eastern Germany/Austria-Hungary.

There is  lot more to this, but the bottom line is that being “European” isn’t really a question of being from a place since the boundaries kept moving–as did the people.

[1] The same applies to Italy which didn’t unify until 1861.

EU ban on refillable olive oil bottles and dipping bowls

This has to be a joke–right?  Except it’s not April Fools.

From next year olive oil “presented at a restaurant table” must be in pre-packaged, factory bottles with a tamper-proof dispensing nozzle and labelling in line with EU industrial standards.

The use of classic, refillable glass jugs or glazed terracotta dipping bowls and the choice of a restaurateur to buy olive oil from a small artisan producer or family business will be outlawed.

Sam Clark, the food writer, chef and proprietor of the award winning Moro restaurant in London, told The Daily Telegraph that the ban would stop him serving his customers specially selected Spanish olive oil in dipping bowls with bread when they are seated at their table.

The reason for this is supposedly food fraud, but this seems a bit absurd after the horsemeat scandal.

Cheering on the PIIGS in Euro 2012

I know this was taken BEFORE the Italy-Germany match, but…

While the starting mood of Euro 2012 was marred by accusations of racism from the hosts Ukraine and Poland, I found my behaviour was guided more by wanting to cheer on the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain), the countries being hit hard by the Euro crisis.

When I heard it was Germany v. Greece–I just wanted to Greeks to kick Germany’s arse so badly for all the austerity measures being foisted on the PIIGS. In fact, contrary to normal nature, I was cheering on the PIIGS whenever they went up against Germany.

Ultimately, it was Spain who beat Italy to gain the title while I would have preferred to see Germany duking it out with a member of the PIIGS for the title, but at least it was a member of the PIIGS who won!

One of my friends, who is an economist made sense of all this since he realised that subconsciously I was cheering on the underdogs in the economic Euro crisis.  Although, BBC’s World Have Your Say delved into this issue as well and I have to admit that yes, it is far more than just football.  So, maybe any tinge of Euroskepticism is illusory as I know full well that the Economic Euro also has to succeed for the European Union and Economy to thrive.  Deep down, I want to see the Euro thrive.

The EuroMess

I’m not sure how to describe the Great Euro Mess, but I have to agree with Micheal Portillo’s comment that it will be a long time in sorting out. That said, I’ve finally watched The Great Euro Crash with Robert Peston and Michael Portillo’s Great Euro Crisis. Both of these have been uploaded to Youtube and are available on the “non-official” sources for BBC material (that is non-iPlayer downloads) if you are interested or outside the UK.

I won’t say too much about Robert Peston’s piece other than it was a well done overview of how the whole mess happened. There isn’t as much analysis as much as history. The main point that one should take from Robert’s piece is that the European Union was to bring peace and prospertity through the economic union of Europe. Which takes us to the Euroskeptic Michael Portillo looking into the topic.

I have to admit that having a Euroskeptic deal with the topic of the Euromess is truly intriguing. I was told that it was well done by others who are keener on the EU than Michael. Although, I wanted to say take a look in the mirror when Michael makes his statement about not knowing what a European is (or looks like). Michael, You and I are EuroBrits (as is the Queen with her German background) if ever there were ones.

That said, I have to admit that seeing a non-US “conservative” is always a breath of fresh air. Unlike US conservatives who want to shout down the opposition, Michael was very open minded—especially when no one was willing to take him up on his Euro-Drachma/Euro-Mark challenge. Unfortunately, the single currency is the future for Europe, which having lived in Europe makes me say “Thank god!”

My best story was that I was at an antique market in Brussels’ Place du Grand Sablon and trying to figure how how much 32,000 Francs was in “Real Money”. The vendor thought I didn’t understand his trente deux mille and repeated it in English. I was tempted to reply, I knew how much it was in Francs, but how much is that in Real Money such as Pounds or US Dollars?  I can add in the joke about the woman who hires an armoured car with security guards to bring in a load of notes which after being labouriously counted for most of the day turns out to be worth 62p.  The main point is that a good, solid single currency is good for European trade.  Which the Euro was for a while until other causes set in.

Michael sees the problem as being totally related to just the single currency, which Roberts programme pretty much had debunked.  Although Michael’s points about the EU are somewhat valid.  Unfortunately, Austerity is not totally due to the Euromess since non-Euro countries (and non-European countries) are also tightening their belts.  Michael’s comment about the Greeks selling government assets seems to pale when one realises that the US is also trying to privatise government functions, which is more a political decision than an economic one.  In fact, I find it odd that a Tory would be against the single currency given its benefits for trade, while this lefty is defending it–as do most people whatever their political stripes.

Of course, reasonable people can disagree and somewhat see the other person’s point of view.  I have to bring the United States back into this discussion since Michael remains very civil throughout his programme. which US politics is not.  Michael and other Euroskeptics worry about the problems of Union in the United States of Europe, which given the two civil wars and lack of civility in US politics is a point which needs to be taken seriously whether you agree with it or not.  Of course, one needs to see the benefit of a union to realise that there are some sacrifices which need to be made.  Europe with its history of war realises that Union is necessary for peace and that union requires some compromise.

Now, why didn’t he say this in his programme?