Tag: Brussels

Brussels Gets Brexit Wrong — Again

 

Theresa May, the British prime minister, recently sent a letter to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, announcing that the UK would withdraw from the EU under the procedures set out in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Her letter noted that, even though withdrawal was irrevocable, the UK seeks to forge the closest and most cooperative arrangement possible with the EU moving forward. Although Article 50 prevents the EU from blocking Brexit, it offers little by way of guidance on how the exit negotiations should proceed.

The treaty provides that if the parties fail to reach an agreement within two years, the EU treaties “shall cease to apply” to the UK unless both sides agree to an extension. If not, all relations under the EU are severed, even if other obligations, such as those under the World Trade Organization, remain in place. Still, Article 50 of the Treaty contemplates that withdrawal from the EU need not constitute a clean break, given that in working out the terms of withdrawal, the parties may take into account “the framework for [the UK’s] future relationship with the Union.” The treaty also provides that the EU will entrust its side of the negotiations to the head of its negotiating team, who in this instance is Michel Barnier, a French politician. At this point, everything is up for grabs.

The Brexit process has now been launched, and the different attitudes taken by the two sides to the negotiations are, indeed, striking. In her well-crafted letter, Prime Minister May sought to preserve good relations with the EU after the breakup. There was of course no denying that the UK left Brexit because of its unhappiness with the dominant position that the EU Commission in Brussels held over economic and social matters in Britain; the Commission has the ability in many important areas, such as employment law, to require each member state to harmonize its laws with the EU’s directives. That direct control from the center was in stark contrast to the earlier plan of a smaller European Economic Community, which stressed four freedoms involving the movement of goods, services, capital, and people across national boundary lines. In June 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU in large measure to avoid the Union’s control on matters of economic regulation and the movement of people, especially immigrants, across national boundaries.

Why Brexit Is Important to Americans

 

brexit-logoWith all that is going on in the US, perhaps the topic of “Brexit” has escaped most people. Until the last week or so, even as an American living in Switzerland, I have to admit I didn’t find it important. But Brexit is important even to Americans. It is about what happens when an “administrative state” is in the process of becoming your unwanted master.

Brexit is the June 23 referendum to decide if the UK remains in the European Union (EU). The peoples of the 28 members of the EU are governed to a growing extent by a complex organization in Brussels that can best be described as an “administrative state.” It has evolved from the original Treaty of Rome; this formed a trading bloc called the European Economic Community (EEC). When the key members formed this bloc in the 1950s, it amounted to a group of countries that sought free trade among themselves and common tariffs with countries outside the bloc. It was simple, effective, and democratic because each member’s participation was governed by the parliaments of each member state.

The European Union has evolved into a political-economic behemoth of enormous complexity and costs, headquartered in Brussels. Because of this complexity, many here in Europe believe it represents the worst of centralized government. It is seen as largely unaccountable to the average citizens of the 28 member states, and equally leaderless, incapable of speaking in a coherent voice about issues such as the tidal wave of refugees coming out of Africa and the Middle East.

Member Post

 

The bombing in Brussels has once again brought up the idea of assimilation and integration of immigrants and minority communities within western culture. The basic question is who is responsible for integrating new immigrants? It would seem that the new country and the immigrant groups have equal responsibilities; the host country should be welcoming and […]

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Member Post

 

Now, one of the Arab-Muslim neighborhoods is in the news because of terrorism. Brussels is as segregated as you might expect. I believe class is the bigger problem, but race is the more obvious one. I was a student, so I lived in a middle-class neighborhood, on the cheap side, renting a room in a […]

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A Pundit’s Prerogative

 

I noticed that this article by Mark Steyn has already received 2,000 likes on his Facebook page and hundreds of shares, whereas usually when Steyn links to his articles on Facebook, they only receive a couple hundred likes and dozens of shares, if that.

It’s interesting that readers seek out particular pundits during particular scenarios. After an Islamic attack in Europe, people apparently look to Steyn. If a city declares bankruptcy, perhaps they would look to Kevin Williamson.

Terrorism and Political Gamesmanship from Brussels to Havana

 

Obama-CheEvery once in a while we end up with what should be called a perfect storm in politics, which is precisely what has happened today. As authorities in Brussels race to assess the damage and catch terrorists, back here in the US, it is politics mostly as usual on the road to the November election. Because our President was in Cuba, the stage was already set for vitriol on foreign matters, so there was just a slight shift in gears.

However, it’s fair to guess that very few people are connecting dots between Brussels and Havana, via the campaign trail — including the candidates. Yes, there will be a fresh crop of comments about the evils of terrorism, and claims that the current administration is utterly incompetent. There might even be a random statement attacking the fact that the Obama Express is not changing course or agenda because of the bombings. I think we can set that aside on the basis of the logistical nightmare Obama’s presence in Belgium would cause, so let’s move on, shall we?

Havana is going to be an historical moment for Obama, and while it’s fine to say he’s simply attempting to build his legacy, the fact is that this administration decided to follow a very old adage on this one. Our country has been insane when it comes to Cuba, because we have stuck with the same policy for so long, while simultaneously expecting a different result. Hate what Obama is doing as much as you may like, but the facts on the ground include direct cash flow to at least some residents of Cuba, and a slow step into the present when it comes to technology as cellular service is slowly reaching the masses there. Of course, it is primarily for the benefit of tourists now, but Pandora’s box has been opened at least a crack. No matter what, the stage has been set for significant change in Cuba, thanks to Airbnb and mobile communications. While trade will be a primary topic of conversation in dealing with the regime, the big deal is the exportation of lifestyle to the citizens — something that they will probably decide to fight to keep if the regime attempts to yank it away from them.

Member Post

 

He understands that he’s Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack and he has turned the quiet staid country club into something else entirely. A fair search of Ricochet will show that not only have I been beating the Rodney Dangerfield, Donald Trump thing to death, but I’ve been doing it for far longer than Steyn. Therefore, I […]

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