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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Is States' Rights in the E.U. Racist?

Thousands of Romania’s Roma people (also known as Gypsies) headed for the wealthier Western E.U. states, setting off a clash within the European Union over just how open its “open borders” really are. Migration within the 27 states of the E.U. became a combustible issue during the economic downturn. The Union’s expansion that brought in the relatively poor states of Romania and Bulgaria in 2007 renewed concern that the poor, traveling far from home in search of work, would become a burden on the state governments of the wealthier states. The migration of the Roma also raised questions about the obligations of Romania and Bulgaria to fulfill promises their governments had made when they joined the Union. Romania, for instance, mapped out a strategy for helping the Roma, but financed little of it.

The full essay is at "States' Rights in the E.U."

The European Union: Dissolution or Consolidation?

In its 1993 Maastricht decision, the German Constitutional Court ruled that national authorities are not bound to respect and apply Community law to the extent that it exceeds the outer boundaries of Germany’s transfer of sovereignty to the E.U.  The Court also ruled that no transfer of sovereignty is valid to the extent that it results in a violation of the fundamental individual rights guaranteed in the German Constitution.  Nevertheless, a subsequent ruling on this subject indicated a willingness to rely on the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for the vindication of those fundamental rights.


The complete essay is at Essays on Two Federal Empires.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Professional Misnomer: Self-Proclaimed Professionals


By the turn of the twenty-first century, the term, "professional" had become such a cherished word in the American lexicon that every American had decided that he or she is one. Evincing the Lake Wobegon effect—the tendency of most people to describe themselves or their abilities as above average—nearly everyone is wont to say, “I am a professional.” On housing listings on Craigslist, for example, people routinely use the word to signify that they are not students. In fact, even some students characterize themselves as professionals (though not as professional students!). Such common usage belies the term's claim to having a specific meaning. Moreover, the tendency of non-professions to deem themselves as professions nonetheless may evince one of the downsides of democracy—namely, its proclivity to excess in terms of self-entitlement. This is particularly likely to ensue from a citizenry that is lacking in self-discipline, virtue and knowledge. 

The full essay is at "A Professional Misnomer."

The European Council: Head of State of the E.U.

Concerning the European Council and the Council of the E.U., it can reasonably be asked whether such similar nomenclature is really necessary. It can be quite confusing. For example, I didn't realize that the European Council does not legislate; I had assumed that the Council of Ministers (a.k.a. the Council of the E.U.) handled the technical aspects of E.U. legislation while the European Council votes on broad and highly significant legislation.  Instead, the European Council "sets the EU's goals and the course for achieving them. It provides the impetus for the EU's main policy initiatives and resolves issues that cannot be settled at the ministerial level. It does not legislate." In contrast, the Council of the EU (aka the Council of Ministers) "adopts EU laws, a responsibility it shares with the European Parliament in most policy areas."  The Council of the E.U. also "concludes international agreements between the EU and other countries . . . ; plays a key role in the development of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), based on guidelines set by the European Council." It is the Council of the E.U., rather than the European Council, that corresponds to the U.S. Senate. Beyond both bodies representing state governments, the unique foreign policy role is shared by both “upper chambers.” An implication is that cabinet secretaries in the American state governments could replace U.S. Senators (and, conversely, the people of the European states could elect delegates or senators to represent their states in the Council of the E.U.).  In my view, the use of state cabinet secretaries (and having the governor’s association set the U.S. agenda) would be an improvement on senators (and the U.S. President in setting the Union’s agenda).  Such a change would reinvigorate American federalism against continued consolidation.

The complete essay is in Essays on Two Federal Empires. available at Amazon. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

On the Belgium Stalemate: The E.U. to the Rescue?

On June 22, 2011, Philip Claeys, a representative in the E.U. Parliament, once again repeated his demand for Flemish independence, calling for the "orderly break-up" of Belgium. His call came as Belgium was entering its second year without a viable state government. It is no wonder, therefore, that a E.U. legislator would get involved. Repeated attempts had been made in Belgium during the previous year to resolve the political disagreements between Flanders and Wallonia—getting nowhere.


                              TheParliament.com


The full essay is at "Essays on the E.U. Political Economy," available at Amazon.