Mike Vickers' Blog

January 18, 2013

Britain, Germany and the future of Europe

Filed under: Europe, History in the making, Politics, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 8:08 pm

I attended the first in the series of Transatlantic seminars at the Crystal MacMillan building of the University of Edinburgh entitled Britain, Germany and the future of Europe.  Ironically the day when Cameron was unable to deliver his much vaunted statement of the UK’s proposed position in Europe.

The seminar was given by Hans Kundnani of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

These are the points I picked up:

The present status of European Integration particularly members of the Eurozone is:

  1. Integration at gunpoint
  2. Much stricter system controls and rules – Maastricht III
  3. Joyless union

In HK’s view these are diametrically opposed to the European Project at its outset.

As to Germany’s position

  1. Symmetry of an asymmetric position
  2. Export of the German Economic Model
  3. Emergence of the centre and the peripheries
  4. The EU as a vehicle for the soft elimination of the EU

Trust is Good, Control is better.

(This reminds me of Ogden Nash’s Candy is dandy, Liquor is quicker)

Something about Schuldenbremse – see

http://miscellaneous-economic-ramblings.blogspot.co.uk/2009/06/germanys-schuldenbremse.html

Greece and Italy have collective memories of Germany pre 1945

The EU is changing from a Network to a Hub and Spokes

States with Surplus and those with Deficits

Germany would like a European State (I paraphrase) but European states will never give up their individual sovereignties

The German Question opens again – see Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_question

The Euro breakup would kill the EU

Initially the EU was centred on German Economics and French Politics

But now French is subservient – happened in Sarkozy’s time – 10 years disparity

Now no single state can challenge German

Germany is the centre of Europe not only economically but geographically.

It was pride in the Deutschmark now its pride in its exports.  HK considers Germany  should be consuming more internally but from my experience Germans have been lavish in spending

Germany has been successful in Europe because of the euro

George Soros – Germany should leave the EU or lead the EU – but see above.

To the British / UK position

HK is a Europhile but

  1. Too much negative comments from the EU countries
  2. A common currency is essential but the UK will never agree
  3. Maastricht III would be an anathema
  4. A referendum is inevitable – the outcome is uncertain – you might like me feel that the UK will vote to leave.  Leaving from the EU is possible but leaving the Euro countries is not
  5. The Europhiles are having difficulty in making a case for staying in
  6. HK looks to the EU to become a force for good with a strong Foreign Policy but people are in general not interested in foreign affairs
  7. Europe will become a 3tier organisation with at best the UK in Tier Three
  8. Look at the position of Norway – losing on all counts.

What about Scotland

HK couldn’t comment really but

  1. It could be Scotland in the EU and England out
  2. Scotland would probably need to apply from scratch
  3. Most likely have to accept the euro.

January 17, 2013

Iceland – a Rebirth

Filed under: economics, Lesley Riddoch, Politics, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 1:20 pm

Really a couple of asides – I have read Lesley Riddoch’s article in the Scotsman

http://www.lesleyriddoch.com/2013/01/bumble-bee-economy-flies-again.html

and read a short transcript of a Newsnight programme  by Joe Lyman of the BBC on a visit to Reykjavik.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20936685

Roughly the same reports although Lyman provides a few downside stories of people struggling.  But one is never sure how many people need to be interviewed to get the downside ones.

But

To English – I spent five years in what was then West Germany and likewise everyone wanted to speak English to me – which certainly didn’t do my German any good.

While listening to the pod I looked up the History of Iceland because a comment that ?Lesley made implied that Iceland was a vassal of Norway – which was true before it was handed over to Denmark.  Only after WW2 did Iceland become independent.  What I hadn’t realised was the Brits occupied Iceland at the beginning of WW2 – then the Brits were overtaken by the US.

A recent Belle Caledonia queried what would happen to poor Northern Ireland when Scotland becomes independent – the writer said they would have no choice but to remain in the Union (Formally of course they are not part of the Union – it’s the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland) or join the Republic of Ireland (sorry I understand that Eire is no longer acceptable).  The Protestants have no wish to join Eire any more than a lot of Scots want to be part of the UK.  But it would seem to me that Northern Ireland could follow Iceland and become a nation on its own – that would at least avoid the number of days the Union Jack is flying over Stormount.

January 16, 2013

It’s Shetland’s Oil?

Filed under: Lesley Riddoch, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 2:23 pm

Brian Wilson has picked up his pen as an erstwhile editor of the West Highland Free Press and has provided a lovely article on, I paraphrase, ‘It’s Shetland’s Oil’ .

http://www.scotsman.com/news/brian-wilson-shetland-has-the-right-to-go-it-alone-1-2739336

Yes, why should Shetland, Orkney or for that matter the Western Isles wish to be part of an Independent Scotland which, I suspect Wilson knows better than i , the moves that the SNP are taking to centralise power in Edinburgh.

I don’t suspect that Lesley Riddoch will fully agree with Wilson’s motives behind the article but the outcome looks very similar.  Scotland, if it is to be workable country, must recognise the need to distribute power downwards.  I think I remember right; at one of the Nordic Sessions, an MSP within the Highlands and Islands acknowledged that the Highlands & Islands Region is far too big covering as it does all Wilson’s island and a lot more, to properly represent its very wide range of interests.

January 2, 2013

Good Walk with some thoughts on Scottish Independence

Filed under: Personal, Scotland, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 7:19 pm

Today, 2 January, is the last of the public holidays in Scotland – a good day for a walk even though the weather doesn’t look too promising.

Where shall we go – not too far to drive – Let’s go to Lewis Hill – a hill a few miles west of Stirling.

The hill runs North South and it’s an easy climb from the South through old trees up to a trig point at the top, 266 metres.  To the west the hill drops precipitously in crags to a man-made reservoir, North Third Reservoir, at the base; beyond the reservoir the land rises slowly to the Campsies considerably higher than the Lewis Hill but largely in the mist although we did have the odd touches of sunshine.

3_20_2l

The reservoir was constructed in 1935 for the chemical industry at Grangemouth on the Forth and today it was full to the brim.

The reservoir dams up the Bannock Burn.  For those familiar with Scottish History Bannockburn is further downstream the site of the famous battle between the Scots under Robert the Bruce and Edward 2 King of England ill-fated as the son of the all-conquering King Edward 1, Hammer of the Scots.  Bruce won and Edward retreated back to England – much of the English army was destroyed.  Bannockburn took place on 23nd and 24th of June 1314 and its 700th anniversary will be celebrated next year.  Next year is auspicious as it’s the year the Scottish Government under Alex Salmond has decided to hold a Referendum on whether Scotland should seek independence from the UK and England in particular: the choice of year has not escaped the public’s attention more is it intended to!

However before then we have to live through 13 September when 500 years ago the English routed the Scots at Flodden and all the Scottish Nobility was literally wiped out in one day.

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