Fainting in Coyles An occasional letter from the
Heart of Euroville
Monday, November 17, 2003
It's that man Macshame again And he is wafflin again. Falling between two stools and never being convincing. I have thoughrally gone through this his latest outpourinhg (made on Saturday at the same BMW gathering where the boss of BMW told Britain to join the Euro - or else. Dr Panke's comment “In its role as a member of the European Union, the UK should seriously consider joining the euro" was accompanied by comments about the 9,000 British employees ofthe German car maker.
This will take some time so here is a brief precis.
Europe needs to change, Europe need to take Universities and Science seriously, Europe needs to get on with America, anti Americanism and Anti Europeanism are much the same thiong(?) and we will build a brave new world that will last a thousand years.
Yes some of his targets are right (though that alignment of anti Americanism and anti-Europeanism is a bit of a new one on me), however as always he seems unable to take the next step which is to recognise that his promised uplands are not on offer from the current EU and only remedial surgery will give the patient any chance of life.
Well here is the speech and some commentry - Yes I gave up in the end...
BUILDING A NEW EUROPE (15/11/03) Event: BMW European Forum
Location: Berlin, Germany
Speech Date: 15/11/03
Speaker: Denis MacShane
The time has come to build a new Europe. The enlargement of the European Union imposes an answer to the question – do we want a Europe that is more of the same? Or do we want a new Europe, built on the foundations laid down by Monnet and Schumann, but based on response to the challenge of globalisation and the crisis of democratic politics?
Agreed, so why is it that all you and yours seem to do is to continue with the same tired recipes of stagnation? The foundations laid down by Monet and Schumann, are foundations on which the current Europe was built. The Europe that you seem to suggest is a different one from that they envisaged. Any builder could tell you that if the foundations don’t fit the building, then dig up the foundations and start again or risk catastrophic collapse later.
Monnet noted that in building Europe 'il faut coaliser les hommes, pas reunir les états' and today again we have to forget about the dream of fitting all the nation states of Europe into a Procrustean bed decided by an elite in Brussels and begin again the process of creating a coalition of pro-Europeans irrespective of nationality who will make the European Union live in the 21st century.
Err, so why is it that Chriac talks with contempt to the New Europe of Enlargement “A good time to keep quiet” etc. The Procrustean bed is comfortable and the Franco-German alliance is happy sleeping in its comfortable folds) Qv. The Common Agricultural Policy)
The remarks made earlier this year by an American about an old and a new Europe missed the point. It is not a question of geography or positions taken on Iraq. The new and the old Europe exists in every nation. The challenge is to allow the new Europe to grow out of the old.
Get a dig in at Rummy eh, well how is it that every chancery in Europe recognised the truth in the comment, why did it hurt so much? Though he may have a point, there are unreconstructed corporatists and state sclerosis merchants in every nation.
The real division between old and new Europe is one of visions and values, between the old 20th century vision of a European Union – statist, regalien, elitist, self-satisfied and centralised – and the new 21st century values of a European Union based on networks and nation, cities and citizens, open and willing to learn.
At this point Mr McShane seems to start losing the plot. Has he ever read a single document that emits from Brussels, has he ever seen a company go down in the sea of red tape, has the little man ever opened his eyes. The vision he seems to believe is of the ast is the one on offer. The one he seems to support, at least rhetorically is the one that is suggested by the Tories. This cannot be true, hold on where is the catch?
But the old Europe is not yet dead and the new Europe is struggling to be born and in the intervening period there are many morbid symptoms and crises of confidence.
The new Europe will be defined by its ability to answer the issue of the growing economic gap between the EU and the US. Between 1993 and 2002, EU growth managed on average 2.4 per cent a year compared to 3.3 per cent for the United States. To anyone familiar with compound interest that means an ever widening gap between EU wealth creation and US wealth creation.
The wealth gap between the EU and US today is already 2 trillion Euros. If current trends continue, by 2010 that gap will have extended to 4 trillion Euros – the US GDP 40 per cent higher than the EU GDP. If current trends continue and the EU fails to grasp the mettle of economic reform to create jobs and generate higher future growth then this gap will only widen further. According to France's Institute of International Relations, if European growth potters along at its current low levels then by 2050, Europe will have 'exited the world stage as a serious economic and political actor.' The IMF chief economist said last month that if Europe wanted to see growth in the near future it would have to watch television.
Now that’s quite a bizarre non sequitor “The IMF chief economist said last month that if Europe wanted to see growth in the near future it would have to watch television”, but I think I take his point.
The United States has higher total employment rates and higher productivity per employee. The total employment rate in the United States is almost 10 per cent higher than the EU. Total productivity rates in the US are 20 per cent higher than EU productivity per worker. The disincentives to women, older workers and workers with disabilities being able to take paid employment if they so wish to in Europe need to be removed
Not sure how these two aspects are linked other than in his febrile imagination. Th eproblem is of course that rather than liberalise laws to mean that all employment would be easier and cheaper, what he will do is impose further red tape to demand “equitable employment practices” which of course will result in more people and especially those who are women, disabled or otherwise Victim status will be worst affected.
Returning work to the working class should be a priority for the trade union movement in Europe and all who care for social justice. One can list all the nominal social rights one would like in an EU constitution or in national law but if workers are not at work their social power is undermined and their trade union strength is reduced to union leaders giving press conferences.
Ok yup agreed, but give me an idea of what you mean, demand that France or Germany stands up to the Union barons, nah didn’t think so,
That is why I hope we can end the ICG quickly on the basis of the amendments to the draft Giscard text upholding unamimity in areas like tax, treaty change, own resources, as well as foreign policy and defence where Britain and nations wanting to build a new Europe are standing firm and return European energies to helping the citizens of Europe to have jobs, incomes and thus allow government fiscal receipts to spend on the good things Europe wants to do.
Again, what on earth has all this to do with the IGC or the so called European Constitution – what has this got to do with Giscard at all. I don’t understand – I must be one of Prodi’s simple people.
BRINGING EUROPE UP TO DATE
To build the new Europe we have to make Europe home to the world's knowledge revolution. We are living with the strains of massive changes in our economies, which are no longer based on land and industry. The race to be the locus of the world's knowledge revolution is now on. Europe needs to play to its strengths.
Which is why it is destroying the university structure by shovelling increasing numbers of under qualified ingrates through University at enormous public expense rather than allowing universities to be the elite institutions they were and could be, beacons of intellectual endeavour. And those strengths are…?
The idea of a university was invented in Europe but today Europe's universities are losing their clout. According to the OECD the United States invests 2.3 per cent of its GDP in universities. In France the figure is 1.1 per cent, in Britain and Germany it is 1 per cent. We need to reform university finance by inviting personal and private money to make a contribution so that we match or exceed the best of America and make Europe a world centre for the new knowledge economy.
Oh and that spending – no I refuse to have truck with the weasel word investment, it is spending he is on about – other peoples money. But would there be personal or private control of the colleges, or would private funds be controlled by public bodies – answers on one side of the paper only please Mr MacShame.
We also need a step change in Europe in terms of our approach to science. Between 1900 and 1921, France obtained 18.3 per cent of the Nobel prizes in science and the United States obtained 3.3 per cent. Between 1980 and 2003, the United States won 57.9 per cent of all Nobel prizes in science and France won 2.6 per cent. The number of Nobel prizes in science for Germany went down by two-third and in Britain by half for the same years. In short, Europe which once revered scientists like Louis Pasteur and Marie Curie now cowers before the anti-science peasant poujadisme of a José Bové or superstitions of those are happy to see the frontiers of science and research shrink in Europe while they expand in other continents.
Methinks that both Mr Poujard and Msr Bove would have an issue with mixing each up with each other, clever references don’t make clever politics Denis. (Though I agree with the sentiment)
Too many of our best brains go across the Atlantic because they have access to funding. Too many of tomorrow's Nobel prize winners from China, India and Korea do their PhDs in North America and stay there to contribute to that region's growing wealth disparity in relation to Europe. Too many of our companies are moving some or all of their research including the vital business of patent registration to the United States. Europe is debating itself to death on its constitution when what we should be doing is smashing through the barriers to create great and properly funded universities in Europe and effective mechanisms to win economic benefits from the knowledge revolution.
These are all tasks for the new Europe. Another challenge to face after the IGC is over is the need to reform the EU's budget. It is absurd that nearly 80 per cent of the EU budget is spent in just two areas – agricultural support and regional aid. Nearly 80 billion of the EU's total spend of 100 billion euros goes in just these two areas of expenditure.
THE EU AND THE US
Another big question is what relationship the new Europe should have with the United States? Of course, the question can be posed the other way around. Some of the language used in this debate seems designed more to irritate then provide analysis of clear lines on policy.
Britain's view is clear. We see Europe as a partner for the core values that animate the people of America irrespective of the administration in office. Chancellor Schröder has said he is against the concept of a 'Gegenpol' arguing that there can be only one pole – the pole of freedom and democracy. He is right. It was the Chinese communists in the 1950s who invented the concept of 'multipolarity' and the references to a multipolar world seem to hark back to 19th century concepts of sphere of influence or the disasters of the 20th century block mentality in foreign policy. We must oppose anti-European unilateralism and anti-American multilateralism.
The best way Europe can become an effective partner to the United States is for us to develop our economic strength and to work to be a stronger global partner in the areas where we have clear, common interest.
Europe needs to develop the capabilities to allow ESDP to make an effective contribution to global security. I welcome the commitment of France to increase defence spending. But equally important is the general agreement in the EU to create a defence capability development agency. This will provide member states with a forum to increase our co-operation on capability issues to reap benefits from working more closely together. This means that even if we are not increasing budgets, we are getting more value for the money we spend. More broadly the challenge for the IGC is to send out a message about our commitment to making ESDP effective and capable. We need more soldiers getting dirt on their boots, not new headquarters in Brussels for staff officers seeking to rival NATO. East, North and South of where I am speaking – and indeed West if we were to jump to London I find no support for any EU defence initiative that would duplicate or rival NATO.
The day the US brings all its troops home from Europe, the Balkans, Korea and elsewhere, will Europeans feel any safer? The greater danger is surely a reversion to US isolationism in a modern form. That is why Tony Blair is right to argue for Europe to remain engaged with America. The failure of Europe to stand united against Saddam was just that – a failure.
Europe as a whole sent the wrong message at the wrong time in the wrong way to the wrong people. Saddam thought a divided Europe would protect him. Americans wondered if the half century of supporting European unity from Truman to both Bushes was a good investment. Thankfully, we are moving forward. European soldiers from eleven EU member states are now playing their part in Iraq.
The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany travelled jointly to Iran to deliver a united message from Europe that we will not accept nuclear proliferation on our doorstep.
Europe needs to sharpen up its Balkans policy. Chancellor Schröder has made an important visit to the region underlining the need for the Western Balkans to look to Europe.
We need to move forward on Kosovo so that standards and status are discussed and the people of the region accept their responsibilities rather than assuming the UN will be forever present.
But in all of these issues the two great regions of the democracy and rule of law in the world must act as partners. As Tony Blair argues again and again, the best answer to unilateralism is partnership, the best response to 9/11 is solidarity, the best answer to the difficulties in Iraq is to get stuck in to help the Iraqi people. In the process of constructing Europe I have long argued that this cannot be done without without Germany or against Germany, without France or against France, without Britain or against Britain. Similarly, a safer, fairer world will not be built without or against the United States.
THE FUTURE OF EUROPE
For nine years as an MP, now a minister, I have had to do political battle in Britain against anti-Europeanism. Europe needs to combat anti-Americanism as both anti-Europeanism and anti-Americanism are twin faces of the politics of negativity that will take us nowhere.
First as an Eurosceptic I am described as a fascist, now I am anti American as well, anything else, the anti-christ, child eater, gibralterian what is the worst you can fo Denis? Jean Monnet was once asked if he was optimistic or pessimistic about the future of Europe. He replied: 'Neither. I am determined.' It is that determination to strengthen our common interests by making a safe, and secure and prosperous Europe that should lie at the heart of any national policy towards our common continent.
The EU will never be under the domination of one or two or even three countries. The Europe of 25 – and shortly to be 27 - will be based on networks. It will divide into two biggish groups. Not old and new but rather those within EU member states that embrace reform, create the new economy, are open to the world in contrast to those who think Europe should be based on the acquis of the status quo and protect out-of-date arrangements such as the Common Agricultural Policy.
The Europe of movida to use a Spanish expression, not a Europe pantoufflarde or a Europe of Stillstand. We will shape a new Europe in which membership of the European Union adds value to what nations do and nations willingly and freely share sovereignty to allow Europe to do best what is best done at the European level. And it will be a new Europe because the old Europe has run out of steam.
It will be a new Europe that extends to new nations like Turkey and develop a positive relationship with Ukraine provided there is evidence of commitment to take the European road, to abide by our common European values. Europe's doors must remain open. But in the common European house there are common rules which all must respect.
The new Europe of new nations will allow today's generation of people leaving universities to have a chance without precedent in the 2,500 years of European history. It is to build a continent of peace and prosperity, of rule of law and social justice, of cooperating internationally under enforceable rules.
It is to show by example and self-discipline and tolerance that different nations, religions, culture, ethnicities and beliefs can co-exist rather than hope for national or religious or ideological supremacy.
A big challenge to be sure but a world I want to live in. Welcome to the new Europe. It is ours to build.
Sorry I could keep going I has visions of messy visog swarming my mind