New report calls for ‘multi-speed’ Europe on defence

July 29, 2008
The Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty has cast doubt over institutional reform within the European Union, but EU governments cannot afford to move at the speed of the slowest on defence, and should push for a ‘multi-speed’ Europe – according to a new report by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).

Nick Witney, former Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency, issues a stark warning about the state of European defence, arguing that “inertia and resistance in the defence machinery” are thwarting the European Union’s declared aim to make a real contribution to global security. 

The report argues that Europeans will punch their weight – and be worthwhile partners for the US – only if they pool their resources and cooperate more closely. Reviewing the widely differing performances of the Member States (on defence spending, investment per soldier, participation record in operations), the report urges the formation of “pioneer groups” of the most willing and able. 

The idea could be operationalised within the European Defence Agency through the creation of a number of overlapping pioneer groups, which each specialize in areas such as research and technology, armaments cooperation, defence industry cooperation, and the pooling of civilian and military capabilities.  

The countries most active in various pioneer groups would constitute a European “core group” on defence – similarly to the “permanent structured cooperation” mechanism, envisaged by the Lisbon Treaty. Countries that do not meet some basic qualifying criteria (such as a minimum 1% of GDP spending on defence, and a 1% minimum level of personnel deployments in operations) should either commit to catch up, or leave the Agency altogether.  

Read full report.

Ireland reacts to Nicolas Sarkozy Ultimatum

July 16, 2008

The Irish Times reports the country’s leaders have attempted to play down comments by French President Nicolas Sarkozy that Ireland should hold another referendum vote on the Lisbon Treaty to reform the EU constitution.

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Europe and the United States after the Irish No to Lisbon Treaty

July 13, 2008

Former US Ambassador to the UN and Senior Vice President for Public Policy Research at the American Enterprise Institute John R. Bolton wrote in the Italian newspaper Liberal on June 25, 2008, on the future of transatlantic relations after the Treaty of Lisbon.

“Although the future shape of the EU is an obsession in Europe, very few in the United States pay any attention to it. Europe is consumed with Ireland’s recent referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon, but European integration is a nonissue in the American presidential campaign. These two attitudes are unfortunate for both sides of the Atlantic: pro-EU leaders in Europe are pushing headlong into nondemocratic – perhaps even antidemocratic – territory, and Americans are missing a very real threat to the transatlantic alliance.

I was in Dublin just a few days before the Irish referendum. To a U.S. observer, it seemed hard to believe that the result could have been anything other than a resounding ‘yes’ to the Treaty of Lisbon. Ireland’s entire political establishment supported it, including all but one of the major political parties; advertising in favor of a ‘yes’ vote far exceeded expenditures for the ‘no’ side; and media coverage stressed the shame and embarrassment that would come Ireland’s way if it rejected Lisbon.”

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Der Weg nach Europa führt nicht über Brüssel

July 2, 2008

Nach dem mutigen Nein Irlands zum undemokratischen EU-Lissabon-Vertrag empfiehlt die Galionsfigur des europäischen Liberalismus Ralf Dahrendorf in einem Essay erschienen in der Neuen Zürcher Zeitung, Europa völlig neu zu denken.

“Wir müssen Abschied nehmen von der Sachlogik a la Monnet und Hallstein. Vielleicht müssen wir weiter zurückgehen – zu Winston Churchill und auch zu den Europäern der ersten Stunde, zu Adenauer und Schuman und De Gasperi. Jedenfalls sollten wir noch einmal zu den Grundfragen zurückkehren: Wie kann Europa Frieden und Freiheit für seine Bürger im Lichte alter wie neuer Bedrohungen sichern? Das ist die irische Frage, die Frage also, die die Bürger Europas stellen. Die Antwort wird nicht leicht zu finden sein, doch ist sie des Schweißes der Edlen wert. Nachzudenken ist nicht über krampfhafte Versuche, aus Brüssel doch noch Europa zu machen, sondern über einen neuen Ansatz. Man könnte vielleicht von einem Bund europäischer Demokratien sprechen, wenn das Wort ‘Bund’ sich übersetzen ließe in die anderen Sprachen. Dabei geht es um die Haltung zu den großen Fragen von Frieden und Freiheit.”

Zum Artikel.

United States presidential election, 2008: The State of Patriotism

June 27, 2008

What is the American idea? It’s the fractious, maddening approach to the conduct of human affairs that values equality despite its elusiveness, that values democracy despite its debasement, that values pluralism despite its messiness, that values institutions of civic culture despite their flaws, and that values public life as something higher and greater than the sum of all our private lifes. (The Editors of The Atlantic Monthly)

This was the secret of America: a nation of people with the fresh memory of old traditions who dared to explore new frontiers, people eager to build lives for themselves in a spacious society that did not restrict their freedom of choice and action. (John Fitzgerald Kennedy)

In a new cover story in Time Magazine, Peter Beinart looks at what patriotism means in the United States of America.

“How to Be a Patriot. On inspection, the liberal and conservative brands of patriotism both have defects. In a country where today’s nativists are yesterday’s immigrants and where change is practically a national religion, conservative patriotism can seem anachronistic. To be Spanish or Russian or Japanese is to imagine that you share a common ancestry and common traditions that trace back into the mists of time. But in America, where most people hail from somewhere else, that kind of blood-and-soil patriotism makes no sense. There is something vaguely farcical about conservative panic over Mexican flags in Los Angeles when Irish flags have long festooned Boston’s streets on St. Patrick’s Day. Linking patriotism too closely to a reverence for inherited tradition contradicts one of America’s most powerful traditions: that our future shouldn’t be dictated by our past.”

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Thank You, Ireland!

June 16, 2008

“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience and rebellion that progress has been made.” (Oscar Wilde, Irish genius born in Dublin, died in Paris)

The intelligent people from Ireland (the summer residence of the French statesman Charles de Gaulle, who loved this rebellious country) have saved the European idea of freedom and democracy on June 12, 2008, by rejecting the undemocratic Lisbon Treaty.

We have all so much to thank. for example with the unofficial anthem of old Ireland, Danny Boy.

                    Jimmie Rodgers & Johnnie Cash performing Danny Boy
The fantastic performance of Eva Cassidy
Just for fun: the incredible Muppet Show version
Lyrics written by the English lawyer, song-writer, and Oxford alumni, Frederick Edward Weatherly

Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen and down the mountain side
The summer’s gone and all the roses dying
‘Tis you, ’tis you must go and I must bide
But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow
Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow
And I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy I love you so

But if you come and all the roses dying
And I am dead, as dead I well may be
You’ll come and find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an “Ave” there for me

And I shall feel, tho’ soft you tread above me
And then my grave will richer, sweeter be
For you will bend and tell me that you love me
And I shall rest in peace until you come to me.

Oh Danny boy, I love you so…

France warns Ireland

June 10, 2008

French leaders spoke out in advance of an Irish referendum on the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty, saying that European leaders will look at Ireland with “gigantic incomprehension” if its voters do not pass the measure.

The Irish Times reports on last-minute politicking ahead of the vote, which is tomorrow.

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