Germany: The next sick man of Europe?

From the brink of incredible success, the new German coalition is on the verge of driving Germany back towards an almost inevitable economic abyss…

Eurocrats love to opine about European competitiveness from their lofty tax free towers. Yet the most competitive aspect of Europe remains the race to be the genuine sick man of Europe. Britain held the mantle unchallenged during the 1970’s until Margaret Thatcher revitalised the nation’s fortunes in an unprecedented reversal. Now the sick man of Europe mantle is hypercompetitive. Greece, Spain, Italy and Cyprus are amongst a series of basket case economies while France is on the cusp of a triple dip recession thanks to a dizzying spiral of dismal government.

However, the idea that Germany, the all-powerful hegemon of Europe, might itself biodegrade economically sounds preposterous as we can easily bear witness to roads awash with an ocean of Audis, BMWs, Mercedes and VWs. Nevertheless, the cycle is turning and Germany is once again in danger of decline. Ironically Germany was written off a decade ago, after a lavish but bruising reunification process proved the folly of top down economics: Eastern Germany remains economically patchy whereas Poland without a western ‘sugar daddy’ is a remarkable economic success story. Germany’s rise was thanks to the Social Democrats (SPD) who, ironically, are proving pivotal in dragging Berlin back down again. Hartz IV was a key development by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, at once making Germany more dynamic and igniting the incredible decade of growth that saw“Mutti” Merkel hectoring the rest of the EU on the virtues of fiscal prudence.

Alas the German electorate just didn’t quite love Mrs Merkel enough, voting her a poisoned chalice in the recent general election. Her third term is a coalition moving Germany left. One key SPD demand? Watering down the Hartz employment laws which they introduced! Swingeing rises in minimum wages won’t help competitiveness, nor will higher taxes.

This economic paragon has obtained a complacent coalition just when it must plan for the future. Mrs Merkel hectors abroad yet appears aloof to the problems facing her homeland.

Demography is a big issue. Despite a lavish $265 billion annual spend on family subsidies to encourage population growth, Germany is aging (already the oldest in Europe with median age of 45). Demographic studies are frightening: the German population could plunge by 21% or 17 million people to 65 million by 2060. The workforce is shrinking by 200,000 a year. Germany has fewer people in work today than it had 20 years ago. Germans tend to be guarded about immigrants – just when they need an influx.

The German state has a massive series of top down legacy projects which allied with even a much more modest than predicted population decline, can cause economic problems. German power prices are 30% above the EU average and twice that of US rivals (no wonder Daimler Benz are considering a new Mercedes factory stateside).

Scaremongering about fracking is closing the shale spigot while Mrs Merkel’s knee-jerk cowardice post Fukushima in closing down all nuclear power plants will go down in history as concerted energy suicide. Germany lavishes 700 billion – 1 trillion euro subsidising erratic renewables which is, itself, er, unsustainable. This green dream is every taxpayer’s worst nightmare. Mrs Merkel is invariably the woman banging her stiletto on the EU summit table demanding prudence, reciting her triptych of welfare madness (Europe is 7% world population, 25% of the global economy and 50% of Earth’s social spending). Yet, Mrs Merkel herself is perilously close to ignoring her own golden rules at home.

Despite a massive government bribe for births, Germany’s demographics look shaky. An aging nation is discouraging investment and employment while demanding fiscal rectitude from eurozone neighbours. Ultimately Germany is slowing long-term. Productivity growth has been barely 0.6 percent for a decade, half the OECD rate. Right now Germany may appear the class of the field in its own backyard but then again the ‘Eurotrash’ economies are no match for their emerging competitors. Meanwhile Germany cannot afford to bulk up its government sector when holding together the euro vanity currency. It will soon require hard cash on top of national bills for crazy green subsidies, birth bonuses and a massive unfunded pension liability.

The German boom is close to its peak. It may soon be a sick man although probably not the sick man amongst Europe’s fantasy economies. However how can the EU itself survive a bout of German influenza?

The Lisbon Treaty: A constitutional revolution by stealth by Anthony Coughlan

When the Lisbon Treaty came into force at the end of last year, members of the European Parliament, who previously had been “representatives of the peoples of the States brought together in the Community”, became “representatives of the Union’s citizens”. This change in the legal status of MEPs is but one illustration of the constitutional revolution being brought about by the Lisbon Treaty.

For Lisbon, like the EU Constitution before it, establishes for the first time a European Union which is constitutionally separate from and superior to its Member States, just as the USA is separate from and superior to its 50 constituent states, or as Federal Germany is in relation to its Länder.

The 27 EU members thereby lose their character as true sovereign states. Constitutionally, they become more like regional states in a multinational federation, although they still retain some of the trappings of their former sovereignty.

Most people are unaware of these astonishing changes, for two reasons. One is that, with the exception of the Irish, the people of the EU member states have been denied any chance of learning about and debating them in national referendums. The other is that the terms “European Union”, “EU citizen” and “EU citizenship” were already in use before Lisbon, but Lisbon changes their constitutional content fundamentally.

The Lisbon Treaty therefore is a constitutional revolution by stealth.

Three steps to a federal-style Constitution

This revolution takes place in three interconnected steps:

Firstly, the Treaty establishes a European Union with legal personality and a fully independent corporate existence for the first time. This enables the post-Lisbon Union to function as a State vis-a-vis other States externally, and in relation to its own citizens internally.

Secondly, Lisbon abolishes the European Community which goes back to the Treaty of Rome and which makes European laws at present, and transfers the Community’s powers and institutions to the new Union, so that it is the post-Lisbon Union, not the Community, which will make supranational European laws henceforth. Lisbon also transfers to the EU the “intergovernmental” powers over crime, justice and home affairs, as well as foreign policy and security, leaving only aspects of the Common Foreign, Security and Defence Policy outside the scope of its supranational powers. The Treaty thereby gives a unified constitutional structure to the post-Lisbon EU.

Thirdly, Lisbon then makes 500 million Europeans into real citizens of the new Federal-style Union which the Treaty establishes. Instead of EU citizenship “complementing” national citizenship, as under the Maastricht Treaty, Lisbon provides that EU citizenship shall be “additional to” national citizenship.

This is a real dual citizenship – not of two different States, but of two different levels of one State. One can only be a citizen of a State, and all States must have citizens. Dual citizenship like that provided for in Lisbon is normal in classical Federations which have been established from the bottom up by constituent states surrendering their sovereignty to a superior federal entity, in contrast to federations that have come into being “top-down”, as it were, as a result of unitary states adopting federal form. Examples of the former are the USA, 19th Century Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and Australia. Lisbon would confer a threefold citizenship on citizens of Federal Germany’s Länder.

Being a citizen means that one must obey the law and give loyalty to the authority of the State of which one is a citizen – in the case of classical Federations, of the two state levels, the federal and the regional or provincial. In the post-Lisbon EU the rights and duties attaching to citizenship of the European Union will be superior to those attaching to one’s national citizenship in any case of conflict between the two, because of the superiority of EU law over national law and Constitutions.

An alternative source of democratic legitimacy to the Nation State

Under Lisbon population size will in turn become the primary basis for EU law- making, as in any State with a common citizenry. This will happen after 2014, when the Treaty provision comes into force that EU laws will be made by 55% of the Member States – currently 15 out of 25 – as long as they represent between them 65% of the total population of the Union. Germany and France together have one third of the EU’s population.

Lisbon provides an alternative source of democratic legitimacy which challenges the right of national governments to be the representatives of their electorates in the EU. The amended Treaty provides: “The functioning of the Union shall be founded on representative democracy. Citizens are directly represented at Union level in the European Parliament. Member States are represented in the European Council by their Heads of State or Government and in the Council by their governments.”

The constitutional structure of the post-Lisbon EU is completed by the provision which turns the European Council of Prime Ministers and Presidents into an “institution” of the new European Union, so that its acts, or its failing to act would, like those of the other EU institutions, be subject to legal review by the EU Court of Justice.

Constitutionally speaking, the summit meetings of the European Council will henceforth no longer be “intergovernmental” gatherings outside supranational European structures, as they have been up to now. The European Council will in effect be the Cabinet Government of the post-Lisbon EU. Its individual members will be constitutionally obliged to represent the Union to their Member States as well as their Member States to the Union, with the former function imposing primacy of legal obligation in any case of conflict or tension between the two.

As regards the State authority of the post-Lisbon European Union, this will be embodied in the EU’s own legislative, executive and judicial institutions: the European Council, Council of Ministers, Parliament, Commission and Court of Justice. It will be embodied also in the Member States and their authorities as they implement and apply EU law and interpret and apply national law in conformity with European law. Member States will be constitutionally required to do this under the Lisbon Treaty.

Although the Lisbon Treaty has given the EU a Federal-style Constitution without most people noticing, they are bound to find out in time and react against what is being done. There is no democratic legitimacy to the institutions the Lisbon Treaty establishes and there is nothing that will make people identify with these as they do with the institutions of their home countries. This is the core problem of the EU integration project. Lisbon has, in effect, made the EU’s democratic deficit much worse.

Anthony Coughlan is President of the Foundation for EU Democracy, Brussels, Belgium, and Director of the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, Dublin, Ireland. (See www.nationalplatform.org.) He is Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin.

The EU’s Second Ring

It is often forgotten that Ukrainian industry would be disastrously undercut as a result of the proposed EU association agreement. With much of its market in Russia and no hope of competing with more modern industries in EU countries, Ukraine would be in a similar disastrous state to East German industry after reunification but with no 
massive social support such as East Germany received from West Germany.

The deal offered by Russia looked by far the most sensible option economically - a continuation of its existing trade with Russia, a large injection of cash and a heavily discounted price for Russian gas.

The German puppet organisations and fascists who organised the demonstrations which destabilised the country will face the wrath of their countrymen and more instability once the economic effects of their policy become apparent.

Edward Spalton

The EU’s Second Ring

Taken from German-Foreign-Policy Blog

BERLIN/KIEV/BERN 
In the aftermath of the Western-oriented putsch in Kiev, German politicians are preparing German public opinion for the disastrous deterioration of the Ukraine economic situation. Even though it was most recently suggested that the country could only expect a thriving development by linking up to the EU, it is now – truthfully – being announced that Ukraine is practically bankrupt. The CDU European parliamentarian, Elmar Brok, predicts “difficult times” ahead: “It has never rained gold coins, except in fairy tales.” In fact back in the fall, experts had already indicated that, because of its out-dated industry, the Ukraine would have to expect dramatic economic slumps if it signs the EU Association Agreements – unemployment and poverty would dramatically rise. In a position paper, the Berlin-based German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) is now proposing the introduction of a special status in EU ties for the Ukraine as well as other countries, such as Turkey. This sort of EU “second ring” would also permit the economic integration of such countries as Switzerland, which politically resists joining the EU. The SWP contends that these plans could also be used for Catalonia, should it secede from Spain and Scotland, from Britain.
Automatic Adaption
The authors of the SWP position paper initially part from the EU’s relationship with Switzerland, as the basis for their contemplations of the EU forming a “second ring.” Brussels and Bern, according to the paper, have currently signed more than 100 bilateral accords, forming the foundation of close cooperation. Brussels is now insisting on changes, because the intransigence of the accords reached with Bern are no longer in step with the continually evolving EU rules. Rather than always having to “manually” update these accords, Brussels would like to have an agreement on mechanisms, which would make it possible to practically have Switzerland automatically “accept the Union’s legal standards.” This would be “a new institutional umbrella” for bilateral relations. Negotiations were to have begun this spring. However, following the Swiss Free Movement of Persons Referendum, this is no longer immediately possible, because the results of the referendum have placed in question current accords with the EU.
Integrate into the Interior Market
After the results of the referendum, as the authors see it, there should first be a “discussion of principles” on the relations between Switzerland and the EU. This would simultaneously provide “the opportunity” to work out a “model for institutional ties” to the EU for all those countries that one wants “to have participating in the interior market,” while “the political full membership is not wanted either by the country in question or by the EU.” This concerns, first of all, members of the European Economic Area (EEA) (Norway, Island, Liechtenstein), but also Turkey – whose EU membership Berlin has been blocking – as well as the “EU-fatigued … EU members … such as Great Britain,” for the case that the United Kingdom “really decides to abandon union membership.” The Euro crisis has long since “imposed integration at two different speeds,” according to the position paper on closer cooperation within the Euro zone. There are also “many indications that the members of the Euro zone will close ranks even more tightly.”The concept of a “second ring” around a core Europe with a common currency would also make it possible to standardize the economic penetration of European peripheral countries, even those lacking the political will for complete integration.
Possibility of Secession
The SWP position paper explicitly makes reference to the question of “the status that eventually newly-founded countries, such as Catalonia or Scotland, should have.” Catalonia and Scotland are pro-secessionist regions of sovereign countries, whose governments are adamantly opposed to their secession. Last year. in late summer, the EU Commission explicitly reiterated that EU member nations’ territorial integrity is indispensable. Shortly thereafter, the SWP published a paper characterizing Catalonia’s secession as difficult, however feasible. The EU could “reach a situation, where it must be considered” whether a “negotiated separation is not more preferable to a situation of permanent instability,” according to the paper. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) This statement could have been understood by pro-secessionists to be an indication that Madrid’s and London’s resistance could be broken. The current SWP position paper picks up where the previous paper left off, by proposing, at least, the prospect of admission of the areas of secession to the EU’s “second ring,” in case Spain and Great Britain oppose their full EU membership.
Accession Undesired
This plea for an EU “second circle” is of considerable interest, particularly in view of the Ukraine. The oligarch, Yulia Tymoshenko, who was released from prison last weekend and, for whose release, Berlin had launched a massive PR campaign in 2012 (german-foreign-policy.com reported), has already declared on Saturday that she is convinced that the Ukraine will join the EU in the near future. This can only be seen as an open affront to Berlin and Brussels: As is known, Germany and the EU are not willing to pay for the expensive EU accession of the overwhelmingly impoverished country. This is why they are only seeking Ukraine’s “association,” providing the advantage of exclusive economic links, without the requirement of costly transfer payments. German politicians were quite annoyed with Tymoshenko’s advance. “EU foreign policy has recently experienced … that initiating accession negotiations too early with a large and heterogeneous country at the European periphery is a mistake,” the German CDU European parliamentarian, Herbert Reul, is quoted – a clear rebuff to the country’s EU accession
Socially Extremely Painful
Simultaneously, Berlin is preparing public opinion for the foreseeable disastrous development of the Ukrainian economy. Already last autumn, the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) exposed in a paper that Ukraine’s EU association would require “serious and extremely painful social adjustments.” In early January, an expert of the DGAP journal “Internationale Politik” pointed out that in the EU “very few Ukrainian products” are “competitive.” “Open markets” would therefore incur “enormous adjustment costs” and “the unemployment rate would skyrocket.” If the EU Association Agreements would have been concluded last fall, within a year, the Ukrainians’ “approval rate” of their country’s “EU integration” would probably plunge, according to the author. This is the scenario that looms, if Berlin and Brussels can now put through the country’s association.
Europe, No Fairy Tale
MEP Elmar Brok (CDU), who, for weeks, has repeatedly been negotiating in Kiev and is known as the one “secretly pulling the strings” for the EU in the Ukraine, expressed himself accordingly. “It has never rained gold coins except in fairy tales,” Brok declared following the putsch in the Ukrainian capital: Even though the country has the “best opportunities … on its route to Europe,” it still “will be difficult in the beginning.” Substantial economic problems are already looming. This year, Kiev has to pay approximately ten billion Euros in debts, which it cannot muster without dramatic budget cuts. Moscow had offered its help, but broke off transfer payments after the coup in Kiev. It can be practically excluded that Berlin and Brussels will jump in with billions in payments. After all, Berlin and Brussels are not as interested in the welfare of this country, as in its accession to the German European hegemonic sphere

The UK is not the only country considering leaving the EU

A major study has shown that if the Netherlands were outside the EU there would be more jobs, more growth and more income. That is the result of a study on the exit of the Netherlands from the EU. The study was conducted by research firm Capital Economics, winner of the Wolfson Prize, the most important award for economic research after the Nobel Prize.

Every Dutch household in the next two decades would be an average of almost $ 10,000 a year better off after NEXIT. If we leave the EU, our economy will be 10 % bigger in 2024 than if we stayed in.

We would save billions and our country would no longer have to retrench to meet the Brussels 3% standard. We put an end to the fees and allowances for Romanians and Bulgarians. We stop shipping money to Greece.

Geert Wilders : “The report clearly shows that our departure from the EU offers a way out of the crisis.  We can then invest Dutch money in our own country. We can cut taxes, VAT and excise duty reduction, giving our economy some oxygen again… “

Don’t take the Swiss vote on immigration quotas as a done deal

By Robert Henderson

The Swiss have  voted to end the free movement of labour between Switzerland and the EU  (http://tinyurl.com/SwissEUvote).. The result was very close:  50.3% Yes  49.7% No

This is potentially very significant because even though the Swiss are only European Economic Area (EEA) members, if they can get rid of the free movement of labour (one of the four so called EU freedoms – freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and labour) it provides a lever for the UK (and other EU states) to obtain  a similar arrangement and an example which countermands the EU propaganda that any breach of EU rules will be disastrous for any nation which tries to radically change matters. Once a breach in the EU dyke is made inundation could easily follow.

But before rejoicing amongst those who wish Britain to leave the EU becomes unconfined it must  be pointed out that it is far from clear what the restrictions on EU migrants will be (and Swiss politicians have three years before they need to bring forward any legislation)  and there is the possibility that the referendum result could be overturned by another referendum.

The Swiss political elite are, like our political elite, Quislings in  the service of internationalism. They will do everything possible to circumvent this result. There are two possible tactics they could pursue. The first is to put forward restriction which are no more than tokenistic. A more likely scenario is for another referendum to be held . This would not have to be citizen initiated referendum. It could be a compulsory one based on a claim that the change in the immigration law had constitutional implications (Article 140 of the Swiss Constitution).  But even if it was not a mandatory referendum, bearing in mind the closeness of the result just obtained,  it would probably be easy to get enough voters to petition for a citizen initiated referendum ( Article 139).  Article 141 also provides a basis for a referendum.  The relevant Swiss Constitution Articles run as follows:

Article 139  Formulated Popular Initiative for Partial Revision of the Constitution

(1) 100 000 citizens entitled to vote may within 18 months of the official publication of their formulated initiative demand a partial revision of the Constitution.

(2) A popular initiative for the partial revision of the Constitution may take the form of a general proposal or of a specific draft of the provisions proposed.

(3) If the initiative violates the principle of unity of form, the principle of unity of subject matter, or mandatory rules of international law, the Federal Parliament declares it invalid, in whole or in part.

(4) If the Federal Assembly is in agreement with an initiative in the form of a general proposal, it drafts the partial revision on the basis of the initiative and submits it to the vote of the People and the Cantons. If the Federal Assembly rejects the initiative, it submits it to a vote of the People; the People decide whether the initiative is adopted. If they vote in favour, the Federal Assembly drafts the corresponding bill.

(5) The initiative in the form of a specific draft is submitted to the vote of the people and the Cantons. The Federal Parliament recommends the initiative for adoption or rejection. It may contrast the initiative with a counterproposal.

Article 139b  Procedure for Initiative With Counterproposal

(1) The voters cast their ballot at the same time for initiative and counterproposal.

(2) They may vote in favor of both proposals. Regarding the priority question, they may select which proposal they prefer if both are accepted.

(3) If the priority question results in one proposal to receive more votes of the people and the other more votes of the Cantons, that proposal is set into force that has the highest sum of voter’s percentage points in popular vote plus cantonal vote.

Article 140  Mandatory Referendum

(1) The People and the Cantons are voting on the following:

a. the revisions of the Constitution;

b. the entry into organizations for collective security or into supranational communities;

c. the federal statutes declared urgent without constitutional basis and with validity exceeding one year; such federal statutes have to be submitted to the vote within one year after their adoption by the Federal Parliament.

(2) The People are voting on the following:

a. the popular initiatives for total revision of the Constitution;

b. the popular initiatives for partial revision of the Constitution in the form of a general suggestion which were rejected by the Federal Parliament;

c. the question if a total revision of the Constitution is to be carried out with disagreement of both chambers.

Article 141  Optional Referendum

(1) On the demand by 50’000 citizens entitled to vote or 8 Cantons, within 100 days of the official publication, the following instruments are submitted to the vote of the People:

a. Federal Statutes;

b. Federal Statutes declared urgent with a validity exceeding one year;

c. Federal decrees to the extent the Constitution or the law provides for it;

d. International treaties which:

1. are of unlimited duration and may not be terminated;

2. provide for the entry into an international organization;

3. include important legislative provisions or require the adoption of federal Statutes.

(2) { abolished }

http://www.servat.unibe.ch/icl/sz00000_.html

It is all too easy to imagine a Swiss electorate browbeaten with dire warnings of what will happen if the Swiss do not fall into line with EU policy voting to reverse the decision.

Britain Not To Recognise Our Anzacs

This is letter recently received by our Honorary Secretary and as he says “it is a thundering disgrace and is clearly part of a determination to weaken ties with the Commonwealth Realms.”

Dear Mr Spalton

Britain Not To Recognise Our Anzacs

The British government gave a press briefing recently in which they stated, in essence, that the UK First World War celebrations would give emphasis to coloured communities within Britain and not to what may be generally termed as ‘the white skinned’ volunteers from countries like Australia and New Zealand even though a significant proportion of our troops were of differing ethnicities.

The following media release has been sent to British media. Although not a constitutional matter, our ANZACS fought for king and country and their bravery should undoubtedly be recognised by the increasingly ‘politically correct’ administration in the United Kingdom.

Republicans will, of course, say that this is a reason why “we should be free of England”, but we have actually been independent of the British government since our Constitution was enacted in 1901. The fact that we chose to remain under the Crown and maintain strong links with Britain does not mean that the United Kingdom has any authority whatsoever over us.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Benwell

MEDIA RELEASE – THE ANZACS PLAYED MORE THAN THEIR PART TO SAVE BRITAIN

Australians have a right to be outraged at the insensitivity of the British government in announcing, in a briefing to journalists, that their proposals to commemorate the commencement of the First World War would omit mention of the sacrifice made by the Anzacs (Australia and New Zealand servicemen) but instead would focus on the role played by the ‘new Commonwealth’ countries as part of an internal ‘community cohesion’ process.

Politics should never play a part in recognising the bravery of those that are gone. Many nations within the British Empire and Commonwealth fought to save the homeland of Britain in both the First and Second World Wars. Their losses should all be mourned collectively.

In 1914, Australia and New Zealand were both independent nations with their own independent constitutions under the Crown. Our Anzacs lost some 80,000 men in a war they didn’t have to get involved in, but readily volunteered to fight for in foreign battlefields on the other side of the world in loyalty and in gratitude to the country that developed their lands into modern ‘law and order’ nations.

Doubtless there will be a lot of backtracking and political hyperbole by British officials and the sacrifice of our young men will in the end be recognised. But that there was any hesitation on the part of what appears to be an ungrateful Britain not to do this in the first place is not only reprehensible but shows the disgraceful contempt of these people for the history of their own country.

What will be next on the agenda by these ‘politically correct’- the whitewashing of Winston Churchill from British history books?

Philip Benwell
National Chair