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I'm from Polish descent. CAN YOU GUYS EXPLAIN THE EU TO ME?


rychlik 41 | 373
3 Mar 2010  #1
I'm from Polish descent and try my best to follow Polish politics online. Once in a while I read about Poland standing up to the EU because the country feels like it is being short changed by the bigger powers (I hear Polish farmers are not too happy). I also hear EU skeptics predicting the collapse of the EU in the future because countries lose sovereignty. So what's the real deal with the EU? Is it more beneficial to be in it or not? Why the need to create a huge, borderless, blurry, mess called Europe? What's the catch?
Tymoteusz 2 | 353
3 Mar 2010  #2
Its the United States of Europe. Shhhhh! just don't tell the Europeans, They either haven't figured it out yet, or they think we haven't. :)

Four things a nation make:
1. Borders
2. Language
3. Culture
4. Currency

1. Borders = Gone
2. Language = English (2nd universal)
3. Culture = Secular Socialism
4. Currency = Euro

Keep this under your hat. :/ We don't want to frighten anyone.
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 9,724
3 Mar 2010  #3
We don't want to frighten anyone.

Nothing frightening about it! :)
OP rychlik 41 | 373
3 Mar 2010  #4
More serious answers would be appreciated. I keep on hearing about this Lisbon Treaty?
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 9,724
3 Mar 2010  #5
I keep on hearing about this Lisbon Treaty?

Do you prefer making up your own mind like with reading it or getting told from others what to believe? Your choice....nobody can help you with that I fear!
delphiandomine 83 | 17,626
3 Mar 2010  #6
Once in a while I read about Poland standing up to the EU because the country feels like it is being short changed by the bigger powers (I hear Polish farmers are not too happy).

Polish farmers are ungrateful as hell - not only are they subsidised by the Polish state, but they're also subsidised by the EU. Quite frankly, they benefit massively from the EU - read about the Common Agricultural Policy for more.

The whole "standing up to the EU" thing was simply politics in the part of the President's party - Poland has gained massively from EU entry.

I also hear EU skeptics predicting the collapse of the EU in the future because countries lose sovereignty.

Countries have a formal right to leave the EU if they wish, either via a formal exit or by simply repealing the legislation which allowed the country into the EU to begin with. It's not like the USA where the right to seccession was brutally crushed.

Why the need to create a huge, borderless, blurry, mess called Europe?

Examine European history 1800-1991. Pay particular attention to how many lives and money was lost in the process of war in Europe. Then come back and ask the question again.
OP rychlik 41 | 373
3 Mar 2010  #7
Examine European history 1800-1991. Pay particular attention to how many lives and money was lost in the process of war in Europe. Then come back and ask the question again.

I understand that generations were wiped out due to war in Europe, especially in Poland. But isn't there huge criticism and EU skepticism right now because countries like Poland do not want countries like Germany and France calling the shots and indirectly having influence over their futures? Are these not legitimate concerns of a country like Poland which has only been free for 20 years. Are people really that naive to think that Germany and France have Poland's interests in mind?
inkrakow
3 Mar 2010  #8
Why the need to create a huge, borderless, blurry, mess called Europe?

Have you ever been here? Borderless does not mean lack of diversity.

Are people really that naive to think that Germany and France have Poland's interests in mind?

Well, if you've already made up your mind...

My view is that the improved roads, rail, sewage treatment works, power plants, food processing, small business support (grants and training), environmental clean up, school facilities, university facilities, help for the 2 million small family farmers, lack of borders and freedom to travel, freedom to work in other countries paid for by the 80 billion euro or so that will have been pumped into the country by 2013 etc etc is pretty convincing and the effects are obvious. Poland is light years ahead of where it was before it joined the EU.
MareGaea 29 | 2,752
3 Mar 2010  #9
Things went wrong wen the original 6 started admitting other, usually poor countries like Greece, Portugal, Ireland, the entire former East Bloc and so on. It should've stayed the core of 6 states, all rich and not burdened by these poor suckers who only drag things down. It's my personal opinion that the EU should go back to the original six and leave the golddiggers to fix their own mess. These poor bastards get billions each year from Brussels, hence only cost us, the rich countries, money and yet they are always complaining the hardest. Ungrateful buggers.

>^..^<

M-G (back to the nucleus of the EU: the original six with the addition of the UK, Danmark and Sweden)
skysoulmate 14 | 1,297
3 Mar 2010  #10
More serious answers would be appreciated. I keep on hearing about this Lisbon Treaty?

Rychlik - I live in the States so take my words with a grain of salt but the Lisbon Treaty as Tymoteusz pointed out brought the U.S.E. - United States of Europe one step closer to reality. Not there yet but getting closer.

In a nutshell, several years ago there was an attempt to create an EU constitution which would apply to all member states (sort like the US constitution). Currently there are 27 EU nations.

treehugger.com/european-union-countries-image

That attempt failed when several countries held referendums and some of them failed to win the majority of the votes. Since this is such an immense reform affecting all EU member states, ALL member states had to agree. That didn't happen.

After the initial setback the politicians came up with a new version and basically the Lisbon Treaty (which finally passed and became a law) is a watered-down version of the initial reforms.

Small countries complained because the "large" member states (Germany, France, UK, etc.) got more power now as more emphasis is placed on a member state's population. However, there are safeguards for the smaller member states.

EU is like any other large institution, gets big and bureaucratic but it has many advantages too...

It's probably too early to tell if the EU will be a success story however if you consider the original beginnings and the overall purpose of the European integration - then it's been a great success.

EU started out in 1952 as the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). This Coal and Steel Union was founded by six countries - France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Federal Republic of Germany and Italy . It involved cooperation on the coal and steel production of these countries, which was important to the arms industry and was a major commodity in trade between them. However, another purpose of the cooperation was to pave the way for greater European cohesion by making the countries mutually dependent on each other's coal and steel production, thereby preventing hostilities between them and ensuring durable peace in Europe.

In other words the idea was to make European countries so dependant on each other that they'd never be able to go to war with each other. So in that sense it's been a great success.

"I also hear EU skeptics predicting the collapse of the EU in the future because countries lose sovereignty."

Personally I doubt it but who knows? Maybe what you heard was a prediction of the €uro collapse due to recent turmoil with Greek finances? If so, I doubt this too.

The Euro-zone consists of 16 out of the 27 EU nations, in other words only 16 of them use the Euro. All but 2 (possibly 3) will eventually have to adopt the Euro. UK and Denmark negotiated an opt-out clause meaning the don't have to join it - ever (many economists think one day they will but who knows?).

Sweden does not have the opt-out clause but in 2003 there was a referendum where the majority of the Swedish population voted against adopting the Euro. (Full disclosure, I voted NEJ in that referendum myself ;)

Today, by keeping the Swedish Crown "floating" or not fixed against the Euro (like Denmark for example) Sweden "artificially" does not meet one of the specific Euro adoption rules and therefore does not have to (or rather may not) adopt it. In other words the Swedish politicians are circumventing the EU obligations (to join Euro) in order to follow the will of the people of Sweden who at the moment do not want the Euro.

Either way, some economists claim that it's a dangerous situation to have a "super currency" such as Euro without an actual "super state". In plain English, although the EU more and more acts like one large nation each country still follows it's own path. Since the adoption of the Euro no member state can devalue its own currency since it no longer exists - a tactic often deployed in the past by the Greek, Italian, Spanish, and many other governments. They cannot revalue or devalue their currencies since as I mentioned they do not exist (Drachma, Lira, Peseta, etc).

However, those countries keep spending money as if the ability to devalue still exist. Yet all that's left now is to cut spending and/or raise taxes - which are already high. Therefore, many economists believe that unless there's some kind of harmonization of the European economical laws one day some of those countries will face huge unemployment levels; I read in the Economist once that Greece might face a 20%+ unemployment rate unless they fix their finances.

So maybe that's the "collapse" you've heard about? Either way, in my view the stakes are too high and the EU governments will come up with a solution.

Here's one website you can check out. It has a pro-EU bias but explains some of the new rules.

europa.eu/lisbon_treaty/faq/index_en.htm

Also, Wikipedia has a good summary of the treaty: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Lisbon

...But isn't there huge criticism and EU skepticism right now because countries like Poland do not want countries like Germany and France calling the shots and indirectly having influence over their futures? Are these not legitimate concerns of a country like Poland which has only been free for 20 years.
are people really that naive to think that Germany and France have Poland's interests in mind?

Yes and no. People are rightfully concerned and often I agree with them. However, at this point it's probably better to improve what's already there. Poland IS an EU member state and thus is able to reform it from inside. Not by itself of course but strong coalitions of small states have brought changes in the past and will so again.

Polish farmers are upset because now they have to compete with other European farmers and some countries subsidize farming more than others. Overall most reports I've read seem to indicate that the farming subsidies will keep decreasing and I venture to predict that many smaller farms will end up shutting down or will merge with larger, stronger farms. One core value of EU is free competition which of course will never happen as long as member states subsidize their "favorite" industry - farming.

In mid 80s when Spain and Portugal joined the EU they were considered dirt-poor yet only 10 years later their combined GDP more than tripped. It might seem strange to "invest" in another country but remember that those investments usually create jobs in the donor countries too. EU is NOT perfect and never will be but I think they seem to be doing all right...

europa.eu/abc/history/index_en.htm
Amathyst 19 | 2,702
3 Mar 2010  #11
1. Borders = Gone

Wrong - Britain still has its boarders - we are not in the Schengen zone but we are in the EU.

4. Currency = Euro

Wrong again - Britain are under no obligation whatsoever to take the Euro, other countries that joined (A8 or now A10 or is it A12) are obligated to take it whether they like it or not this was an understanding of their being allowed to join the EU.

I read about Poland standing up to the EU because the country feels like it is being short changed by the bigger power

Hardly short changed, check how much Poland contribute financially and then look how much they benefit financially. Look at the freedom of movement (regarding work) they have gained, which has massively benefited them.

Poland IS an EU member state and thus is able to reform it from inside.

The EU will bully until they get the right answer - Poland (no offence intended here) are insignificant in the scheme of things and hold no cards whatsoever.

Not by itself of course but strong coalitions of small states have brought changes in the past and will so again.

What changes? (are you really talking about the EU here?)

Polish farmers are upset because now they have to compete with other European farmers and some countries subsidize farming more than others.

This has happened all over the UK, only larger farms have gone to the wall, due to cheap imports which local farmers can not compete with, also some farmers get paid more for keeping feilds empty rather than "farming" them. Then we have our dairy farmers who have been shat on from a great hight!

telegraph/earth/agriculture/farming/6958013/The-dairy-farmer-reduced-to-tears.html
MareGaea 29 | 2,752
3 Mar 2010  #12
Full disclosure, I voted NEJ in that referendum myself

If you, like you say, live in the US, why did you vote "no" for the Euro? What's it to you? The Euro, monstrous as it may be, is a blessing, especially for the traveller. No worries about having to change currencies, losing money in the process, etc.

Wrong again - Britain are under no obligation whatsoever to take the Euro, other countries that joined (A8 or now A10 or is it A12) are obligated to take it whether they like it or not this was an understanding of their being allowed to join the EU.

There is considerable pressure on the UK to adopt the Euro and the British government understands that it would be very advantageous for the UK to adopt it as it would strengthen their economic position.

The EU will bully until they get the right answer - Poland (no offence intended here) are insignificant in the scheme of things and hold no cards whatsoever.

Well, they wanted to join themselves. Nobody forced any state to join the club. However, I think it's wrong to merely look at the size of population as far as votes are concerned. I think the length of membership should count more and that in this respect it should be only France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg and Italy who should call the shots. Another option would be that the countries who pay the most should call the shots; which in this case would be Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.

All the rest wanted to join, so they would have to adhere. It's very simple. And if they don't like it, learn to love it. Nobody forced them to join and nobody is forcing them (yet) to stay in. They can always leave if they think it's better for them.

>^..^<

M-G (is not opposed the EU, but thinks that all the new members have a far too big mouth)
Exiled 2 | 425
3 Mar 2010  #13
EU benefits mainly Germany and Benelux countries.They have ready markets for their products.
MareGaea 29 | 2,752
3 Mar 2010  #14
EU benefits mainly Germany and Benelux countries

Absolute nonsense. We pay the most while you Greek f*ck up all the time and lie to the rest about your finances, all the while dragging us down. I was never in favour of Greece joining as it would bring a lot of crap into the EU and I hate to be right once again.

>^..^<

M-G (Greece out)
Exiled 2 | 425
3 Mar 2010  #15
They are ridiculous politicians who lie.How could you not figure them out?They are entirely stupid.Anyway I see that before joining the EU Greece had a better economy than Spain and much better than Portugal and now we are behind.So I don't really know what the benefit was apart from increasing the debt and bringing sh1t into the country.

But really I see so many angry and anxious faces around that I don't exclude a general collapse with situation getting completely out of hand.The general feeling is that some will have to pay by being imprisoned.But I see violence coming.

As I stated before the problem in Greece is that competent people are marginalized and have no desire to help.The contrary:We want to demolish them from the ground.
Arien 3 | 721
3 Mar 2010  #16
EU benefits mainly Germany and Benelux countries.They have ready markets for their products.

I'm sorry, but you couldn't be more wrong. Financially, we're going through some heavy weather at the moment, because we contribute too much. (Per capita.) Holland could easily fix these problems for itself, if only all the rich people here were going to show some solidarity. So far, they're not. If the more social parties aren't going to be a majority in our next government, most of us are going to have even more costs after the election. Today, we're going to vote locally, so this might give us an indication as to how the next elections will look like. (I'll keep my fingers crossed for some solidarity!)

I'm not at all opposed to the idea of a united Europe, but I don't like the idea of having to change our laws, (Because we tolerate a lot when it comes to softdrugs, which really solved a lot of crime-related issues for us.) and I seriously dislike the unfair competition that's going on between working people. I guess I'm hoping for equality and more solidarity, but the way things are going..

:S
jwojcie 2 | 763
3 Mar 2010  #17
Explain the EU on internet forum? Amusing :-) Can you explain the Canada to me?
Oh, what the hell lets give it a shot...

On personal, individual level EU is about freedom, like freedom of travel anywhere you want, freedom of working anywhere you want, freedom of commerce, etc...

On the other hand, on state level it is about diminishing power of states goverments and rising power of local govs., and rising power of European Commision.

So, you can see there is many opposing forces in place here, and equation is complicated not black and white choices. So far, as a citizen of Poland I've got more freedom that I had before, that is why I'm in favour of EU. But don't worry, if at some point EU central gov. will gather to much power, we Poles will gladly help to destroy it as we used to in such cases ;-) In short most of simple people likes EU because it gave more freedom, but some politicians don't like it, because EU rules restraint their power.

PS. One thing that always should be remebered is that EU come into being as a tool to restrain Germany. EU is kind of golden cage for them.

Secondly, of course the biggest countries often use their weight to push others around. But it is not the question of being pushed or not. It is question of tools that someone is using to push you. Inside EU Poland is usually pushed gently and can influence pushers or even sometimes can push herself. Outside of EU Poland's options in European politics would be much smaller.
Amathyst 19 | 2,702
3 Mar 2010  #18
Another option would be that the countries who pay the most should call the shots; which in this case would be Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Sweden: 0.50 per cent of GNP,
Germany: 0.47 per cent of GNP,
Netherlands: 0.44 per cent of GNP,
Luxembourg: 0.35 per cent of GNP,
Austria: 0.27 per cent of GNP,
United Kingdom: 0.25 per cent of GNP.

I think it's wrong to merely look at the size of population as far as votes are concerned.

I didnt say anything about population.

There is considerable pressure on the UK to adopt the Euro and the British government understands that it would be very advantageous for the UK to adopt it as it would strengthen their economic position.

It wont happen, the vast majority are against, in fact there are a growing number who would rather not be a part of the EU full stop, the EU can pressure all they like, we are not beholden to them, Britain, unlike all of the new members are under no obligation whatsoever to have the Euro, most of the new members are not in a postion to have it either, look at the Czech Rep, they are looking at 2019 now as they dont want to be rushed into it, they want to be strong enough economically, rather than end up like Greece.

So I don't really know what the benefit was apart from increasing the debt and bringing sh1t into the country.

Id say thats mostly the opinion of your average Brit.

Anyway I see that before joining the EU Greece had a better economy than Spain and much better than Portugal and now we are behind

Maybe too much "creative" accounting? Spain are not far behind you, cost of living is spiraling and unemployment is the highest in Europe, I'd say the tourist industry will dwindle in both Spain and Greece, it's just not as attractive as it was and let's both be honest, this is an industry that is relied upon heavily in large proportions of both countries.
convex 20 | 3,978
3 Mar 2010  #19
Sweden: 0.50 per cent of GNP

It might be more interesting to show net benefit, total or per capita. Remember, half of the EUs budget goes to farm subsidies....
Exiled 2 | 425
3 Mar 2010  #20
In Greece most of the financial help to farmers to buy new machinery etc was spent on Russian women in night clubs.It took EU some years to figure out what was happening.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,626
3 Mar 2010  #21
Remember, half of the EUs budget goes to farm subsidies....

And the sooner these subsidies are scrapped, the better. It's the one (massive) failing of the EU in that they cannot deal with the CAP - how does it make any sense whatsoever for farmers to be paid to keep fields fallow?

Are people really that naive to think that Germany and France have Poland's interests in mind?

Well, considering that Germany (and let's not make any mistake here, if it wasn't for Germany pushing for Poland, she never would have obtained EU membership in 2004) has managed to get Poland access to a large internal market, free from barriers and tariffs - alongside all the other benefits, I'd say that Germany does in fact have Polish interests in mind - because as is often quoted, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

Here's a suggestion rychlik - come to Europe and see the benefits for yourself. People used to have to queue for hours at Swiecko (the main German-Polish border crossing) - now - no-one even has to stop. Or what about the Germans who buy Polish fuel and cigarettes because it's far cheaper in Poland than in Germany? Likewise, the Polish can come to and fro without any problems whatsoever.

Poland has benefited massively from the EU.
convex 20 | 3,978
3 Mar 2010  #22
People used to have to queue for hours at Swiecko (the main German-Polish border crossing) - now - no-one even has to stop.

No, we just get pulled over now 5km inside of Germany.

You can have open borders, abolition of tariffs, and all the other benefits without the need for a powerful EU wide law making body.
OP rychlik 41 | 373
3 Mar 2010  #23
Check out this article:

New EU economic plan to disadvantage of Poland?

UPDATE - The Europe 2020 strategy, announced by the European Commission today, raised concerns in Poland.

Jose Manuel Barroso has revealed that the 10-year EU plan for jobs and growth is meant to lead Europe away from financial crisis. In order to make the EU the world's leading and "competitive knowledge-based economy", the member states needed to work harder on coordinating economic policy, Barroso said, Wednesday.

"It is difficult to find a place for Poland in this strategy because it is written for the needs of the older member states," a high-ranking official at the Commission is quoted by Polish Radio's IAR agency as saying.

The strategy, to the dissatisfaction of the Polish government, is primarily focused on a knowledge-based, environmentally friendly economy. However, little space is devoted to EU cohesion policy - smoothing out the differences between rich and poor regions in the EU.

There is concern in Warsaw that the assumptions of the strategy will affect discussion on the shape of a new EU budget after 2013 and will be grounds for a reduction of expenditures - for example, for the construction of highways, something badly needed in Poland.

Hungary's PM Gordon Bajnai met with Prime Minister Tusk, Tuesday, to discuss the EU's new economic strategy.

Poland wants the new "EU 2020" plan to encompass the continuing needs of the EU's new member states and demands completion of internal EU market construction and infrastructure funds envisaged in the EU's budget after 2013. The issue of further enlargement of the euro zone is also to be on the agenda.

The strategy which will be presented at the EU summit this month. The new plan will replace the Lisbon Strategy, which some say suffered spectacular failure. In 2000, the European Union assumed that within a decade it would become the most competitive economy in the world, a goal so far not achieved. (pg)

thenews.pl/business/?id=126680

MareGaea
"Things went wrong wen the original 6 started admitting other, usually poor countries like Greece, Portugal, Ireland, the entire former East Bloc and so on. It should've stayed the core of 6 states, all rich and not burdened by these poor suckers who only drag things down. It's my personal opinion that the EU should go back to the original six and leave the golddiggers to fix their own mess. These poor bastards get billions each year from Brussels, hence only cost us, the rich countries, money and yet they are always complaining the hardest. Ungrateful buggers."


- Very stupid quote and extremely ignorant. What country are you from? Don't forget that the German as'sholes received billions of dollars from the United States after WWII so they could get back on their feet. What did Poland get? Europe owes Poland.
time means 5 | 1,310
3 Mar 2010  #24
It's a big German plan to finally control Europe. The Frenchies think it's their idea but the wile Germans know better.
westofscotland1 2 | 7
3 Mar 2010  #25
The Treaty of Lisbon entered into force on 1 December 2009. It provides the EU with modern institutions and optimised working methods to tackle both efficiently and effectively today's challenges in today's world. In a rapidly changing world, Europeans look to the EU to address issues such as globalisation, climatic and demographic changes, security and energy. The Treaty of Lisbon reinforces democracy in the EU and its capacity to promote the interests of its citizens on a day-to-day basis
OP rychlik 41 | 373
3 Mar 2010  #26
Have you ever been here? Borderless does not mean lack of diversity.

That's the thing. Poland should be Polish (I have been to Poland). Not a mess like the UK or France.
westofscotland1 2 | 7
3 Mar 2010  #27
President Barroso’s new team wins backing from parliament.

MEPs approved 26 candidates for the European commission today, enabling President Barroso’s new team to get down to business. The vote was 488 in favour, 137 against (with 72 abstaining), well over the majority required.

The vote culminates a process that began in September when the president won parliamentary support for a second term.

The new commission was supposed to take office in November 2009 but the appointment was held up by delayed ratification of the Lisbon treaty and by the withdrawal of the Bulgarian candidate after her confirmation hearing in January. Rumiana Jeleva was replaced by World Bank vice-president Kristalina Georgieva, who sat for her hearing in parliament last week.

With Mr Barroso, the new line-up comprises 27 members, one from each EU country. Fourteen, including the president, served in the previous executive. Their term lasts five years.

The Barroso II team will take office once EU leaders have formally appointed it.
convex 20 | 3,978
3 Mar 2010  #28
The Treaty of Lisbon reinforces democracy in the EU and its capacity to promote the interests of its citizens on a day-to-day basis

How does the Lisbon treaty reinforce democracy? Wasn't that the document that was voted against by the people of multiple countries, and was then renamed and rammed through national parliaments?

The Swiss and the Norwegians seem to have the right idea. All the benefits without all the stupid laws.

That's the thing. Poland should be Polish (I have been to Poland). Not a mess like the UK or France.

Bwahaha....
jwojcie 2 | 763
3 Mar 2010  #29
How does the Lisbon treaty reinforce democracy? Wasn't that the document that was voted against by the people of multiple countries, and was then renamed and rammed through national parliaments?

That is the tricky thing. On the one hand the way the Lisbon treaty was reinforced was quite dogdy. But in the same time it strenghtened Euro Parliament. But in the same time it weakened states...
Seanus 15 | 19,706
3 Mar 2010  #30
The whittling down of national sovereignty has been going on for some time now. There is nothing to be done. Ireland did the intelligent thing by asking for formally annexed protocols.


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