Saturday, March 25, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 25.3.17

Yet another listicle from The Local. This time on Spain's most beautiful beaches. The one that is said to be La Toja . . isn't. It's the beach of La Lanzada, on the spit of land that leads to La Toja.

Stand by for a shock . . .  The Spanish government says that, although this year's GDP growth will be good, at 2.5%, the limit of 3% for the budget deficit won't be achieved. I think this will be the 12th year in a row that this critically important EU target will be missed. The Commission will then issue its normal note, declaring that Spain has been a naughty girl. Which says everything.

Spanish Language Corner: 
I saw the phrase puro y duro and assumed it meant 'pure and simple'. But I looked up the latter and found these:-
Puro y simple
Liso y llanamente
The suggestion was that puro y duro really meant 'downright', 'out-and-out', or 'straightforward. But I did finally see it cited as meaning 'pure and simple'. And felt vindicated. As so often in Spanish, context determines the nuance.

This might be only a Galician initiative but the latest tax wheeze is to impose an 'eco-levy' on growers of eucalyptus trees. Mind you, I'm in favour of this one. The trees are not only ugly but destructive because of their huge fire potential, puro y duro. We have a lot of forest fires here in Galicia.

Here in Pontevedra the beggars are a real curse. One day this week there were several new ones. I took to wondering whether they all come on the same bus.

“Who knew healthcare was so complex?”, asked President Trump a few weeks ago. Well, everyone except you, Donald. And now you know. Welcome to real politics. Hopefully you'll get fed up of them quite soon leave the field to someone sane.

By the way: These are the definitions of trump in British English:-
To play a card that beats somebody else’s card
To beat something that somebody says or does by saying or doing
To compulsively lie, use deception, or take fraudulent action.
To be obsessively obscene or compulsively repugnant.
Lacking self control.
A fake or a fraud
Of depreciating value.
A fart
Some of these might be new.

Today's cartoon:-

Finally . . .  For those with a deep, abiding interests in EU developments - the majority, I'm sure - here's an analysis of the latest communiqué from the national leaders:-

Revealed: The watered-down Rome treaty which shows the deep divisions within the EU - an annotated guide    Peter Foster, europe editor, Daily Telegraph.

Europe has attempted a show of unity with a watered-down Rome treaty as it tries to brush off the "elephant" of the looming Brexit process. 

"Europe is our common future," European Union leaders will declare in Rome on Saturday, in a grand statement of ambition they hope can hold the bloc together following the shock loss of major power Britain.

The declaration will be issued to mark the 60th anniversary of the EU founding treaty.

The latest draft seen by the Telegraph is 935 words long - far wordier than a 50th birthday text issued in Berlin a decade ago - and also less bold. 

Nearly 100 words have been added this week, notably to address concerns in ex-communist eastern members about a "multi-speed Europe" and to adjust a balance between calls for economic growth and social welfare guarantees.

Below are extracts from the text, with our annotations.

Greece has withheld formal approval of the draft, but diplomats do not expect changes in wording.

The Rome Declaration annotated

Strikethroughs (e.g. crossed out wording) indicate an earlier version of the text that has been amended in later drafts of the declaration

Paragraph 1
We, the representatives leaders of 27 Member States and the Institutions of the EU, take pride in the achievements of the European Union: the construction of European unity is a bold, far-sighted endeavour. Sixty years ago, recovering from the tragedy of two world wars, we decided to bond together and rebuild our continent from its ashes. We have built a unique Union with common institutions and strong values, a unique community of peace, freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law - a major economic power with unparalleled levels of social protection and welfare.

This is aimed to calm fears of Greece and other debtor EU states that Europe will give on its standards when it comes to enforcing austerity. The Greek prime minister has threatened not to sign the declaration if Brussels allows the IMF to demand more pension cuts and layoffs in order to support the next bailout. EU diplomats have complained of 'blackmail' from Athens.

Paragraph 4
We are determined to will make the EU stronger and more resilient, through even greater unity and solidarity amongst us and the respect of common rules. Unity is both a necessity and our free choice. Taken individually, we would be sidelined by global dynamics. Standing together is our best chance to influence them, and. to defend our common interests and values. We will act together whenever possible at different paces and intensity where necessary, while moving in the same direction, as we have done in the past, within - in line with the Treaties framework and leaving keeping the door open to those who join later. Our Union is undivided and indivisible.

This is watered down language after weeks in which some core EU states, including France, Belgium and Germany talked up the acceleration of a 'multi-speed' Europe. Poorer nations, particularly Poland, reacted furiously sensing that richer states were planning a process that would marginalise and weaken them.

Paragraph 5
In the ten years to come we want a Union that is safe and secure, prosperous, competitive and sustainable and socially responsible with an enhanced social dimension, and with the will and capacity of playing a key role in the global world and shaping globalisation. We want a Union where citizens have new opportunities for cultural, social development and economic growth. We want a Union which remains open to those European Countries that fully share respect our values and are committed to promoting them.

This could be read as a backhanded swipe at recalcitrant eastern EU states like Poland and Hungary who signed up to 'European values' at enlargement but now have increasingly authoritarian governments that have classed with Brussels over accepting migrant quotas and openly reject multi-culturalism.

Paragraphs 6-8
In these times of change, and aware of the concerns of our citizens, we commit to the Rome Agenda, and pledge to work towards:
1. A safe and secure Europe: a Union where all citizens feel safe and can move freely, where our external borders are secured and where with an efficient, responsible and sustainable migration policy, is managed effectively, humanely and [in respecting of international norms]; a Europe determined to fight terrorism and organised crime.
2. A prosperous and sustainable Europe: a Union which creates growth and jobs; a Union where a vast strong, connected and developing Single Market embracing technological transformation and where a stable and further strengthened single currency opens avenues for growth and cohesion, competitiveness, innovation and exchange, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises; a Union promoting sustained and sustainable growth, through investment, structural reforms and the completion of the working towards completing the Economic and Monetary Union; a Union where economies converge; a Union where energy is secure and affordable and the environment clean and safe.

The weakening of this language from "completion" of monetary Union to only "working towards" that goal reflects deep north-south divisions on the euro. Ideas like a European Monetary Fund and a common deposit insurance scheme for the eurozone are being blocked by Germany which does not want to be put on the hook for the debts of poorer southern states, at least not without serious structural reforms.

Paragraphs 9-10
3. A social Europe: a Union which, based on sustainable growth, promotes economic and social progress as well as cohesion and convergence, taking into account the diversity of national systems the variety of our social models and the key role of social partners while upholding the integrity of the internal market; a Union which promotes gender the equality between women and men and rights and equal opportunities for all; a Union which fights discrimination, social exclusion and poverty; a Union where young people receive the best education and training and can study and find jobs across the continent; a Union which preserves our cultural heritage and preserves promotes cultural diversity and promotes preserves our cultural heritage.
4. A stronger Europe on the global scene: a Union further developing existing building new partnerships, building new ones and promoting stability and prosperity in its immediate neighbourhood to the east and south, but also in the Middle east and across Africa and globally; a Union ready to take more responsibilities and to assist in creating a more competitive and integrated defence industry; a Union committed to strengthening its common security and defence, ensuring cooperation and complementarity and avoiding duplications with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, taking into account national circumstances and legal commitments; a Union engaged in the United Nations and protecting standing for a rates-based multilateral system, proud of its values and protective of its people, promoting free and fair trade and a positive global climate policy.

This represents a fractional strengthening of the language on Europe's ambitions for a common defence policy. Britain has been adamant that any EU defence plans must not duplicate Nato functions, but France, Germany and the European Commission would like to see more ambition from Europe. There are those who hope that Britain's departure will clear the way to moving close towards some form of functioning EU defence forces.

1 comment:

Perry said...


Two updates on Iran by Spengler. 50 years ago, there was an intriguing little ailment making the rounds by the name of Non Specific Urethritis; NSU for short & we hoped, not for long! Eventually, Chlamydia trachomatis was identified as the culprit & a course of Amoxicillin was found to be efficacious. Thus, it is disturbing to learn that a quarter of Iranian married couples cannot conceive, possibly because of untreated Chlamydia trachomatis infections. A form of Catch 22! Seek medical advice in an unforgiving theocracy or suffer the pains of outrageous fortune. Thanks be praised for The Enlightenment in the West then?



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