Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, February 19, 2009

European (dis)Union

This article could be the basis for an exercise asking students to identify impediments to making the EU work as envisioned by its founders.

Impairing the European Union, Gibe by Gibe

"The Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, jokes about Nicolas Sarkozy’s desire to be Europe’s 'permanent chairperson.' Mr. Sarkozy, the president of France, says rather patronizingly of the Czechs, 'They’re doing what they can.'

"It may seem like a round of adolescent insults more suited to high school, but the bitterness between the last holder of the European Union presidency, France, and the current one, the Czech Republic, is damaging the alliance’s ability to cope with the severe economic crisis.

"The spat, which is both personal and political, highlights the divisions in the 27-nation group between larger countries and smaller ones, between more liberal-minded economies and more statist ones, between nations that use the euro and those that do not, and between Western Europe and Central Europe — so-called old Europe and new.

"The divisions are worsened by the global economic meltdown..."

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At 7:55 AM, Blogger Ken Wedding said...

Protectionist forces bedevil EU

"'Protectionism' is like 'terrorism'. Now, before people get upset I should make myself clear. What I mean is the use of the two words is similar - one person's terrorism is another's freedom-fighting.

"In the same way, what one government calls "protectionism" another may see simply as a way of safeguarding jobs.

"On 1 March EU leaders will gather in Brussels for what is being billed as a 'protectionism summit'.

"The idea is to head off what many see as a shift towards measures that incentivise large firms to favour investing in one member state over another, not for sound business reasons but because of the subsidies on offer. This is an abhorrent sin in the eyes of the eurocrats who run the EU. They believe the European single market is the main source of Europe's prosperity and that subsidies distort it.

"The current distortionist-in-chief is supposed to be French President Nicolas Sarkozy..."

At 7:51 AM, Blogger Ken Wedding said...

Growing Economic Crisis Threatens the Idea of One Europe

"The leaders of the European Union gathered Sunday in Brussels in an emergency summit meeting that seemed to highlight the very worries it was designed to calm: that the world economic crisis has unleashed forces threatening to split Europe into rival camps.

"An urgent call from Hungary for a large bailout for newer, Eastern members was bluntly rejected by Europe’s strongest economy, Germany, and received little support from other countries. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, facing federal elections in September, said countries must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis...

"The traditional concept of “solidarity” is being undermined by protectionist pressures in some member countries and the rigors of maintaining a common currency, the euro, for a region that has diverse economic needs. Particularly acute economic problems in some newer members that once were part of the Soviet bloc have only made matters worse..."


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