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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Indo-EU Summit language

I am offering a sumptuous vegetarian lunch at the Swagath Gourmet on Oak Tree Road in Iselin, NJ to the person that can explain to me what the following paragraph (taken from the Joint Statement of the EU-India Summit of 6 Novermber 2009 means:

"35. The Leaders noted with appreciation the role of Indian and European civil society and of the EU-India round table, and agreed on the need to review its role in India-EU relations and to decide on its future activities."

On one (pseudo-naive) level, I find it extremely offensive (it should be civil society that affirms (or not) the activities of politicians, not the other way around, or have I missed something?). Otherwise, I am at a complete loss. I would be grateful for any pointers. :-)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A German-Greek Dialogue, Of Sorts

Germany (with a debt of 185.2% of its GDP) is leading a crusade against the Greek government's irresponsible fiscal policies (at 48.4% of the GDP).

Meanwhile, Marc Baronnet's calculations indicate that the magnitude of Greek and German government spending is roughly the same (40-45% of the GDP).

Germany is so adamant about putative Greek "irresponsibility" that Angela Merkel raised even the specter of possible expulsion from the Euro-zone, in the context of discussions about the Greek crisis. But even if that doesn't happen, Greece "needs to do its homework."

Unless these data are seriously off (which is always a possibility with stuff one gets from the web) I'm not sure what exactly gives the German government this high podium to talk down from.

Once Liberal Netherlands Might Have Extreme-Rightist-Led Government?

Poll results indicate that Dutch anti-immigrant politician Geert Wilders might become the first explicitly right-extremist prime minister of an EU-member state (see here or here for more). Should that happen, the truly interesting question is how the European Union will react to the emergence of a government in one of its member states that pursues political goals that might clash not only with the EU's rules of behaviour, but also basic human rights. (In my humble opinion, probably nothing will happen, just as it did [not] in the Austrian case when the right-extremists were junior members of a coalition government.) What a mess.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

China (!) is considering rail-links to EU

Apparently, the government of the People's Republic of China is studying the feasibility of the construction of a high-speed rail link to the EU. I love this: It is not that the "EU is considering . . .", no. The PRC is considering. We really are living in new and interesting times.

Three branches are planned, one in the south (through India, Pakistan and west Asia), and another in the north, through Russia, toward Germany. A third branch would extend in China's south to Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.

Perhaps it could be called . . . hm, oh, I don't know, maybe . . . I got it: The Silk Route?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Women in Parliament

Missing International Women's Day by a few hours, the upper house of the Indian Parliament passed a historic bill today, providing for a guaranteed one-third representation of women in political power.

According to data published by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the world-wide proportion of women in parliaments is 18.8%. The EU Parliament has 35%, a proportion that had increased steadily from 16% in the 1979-84 term. Only five of the EU's twenty-seven current member states--Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Belgium and Spain--have parliaments where the proportion of women reaches one-third. BTW, the highest result is Rwanda, with over half of the members of the lower house, and just below one-third of the members of the upper house, are women. (Hungary is at a miserable 98th place, with 11.1%). :-((((

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Asymmetries

So, negotiations for an EU-India Free Trade Agreement are on. What's striking about this is the asymmetry of the arrangement.

To start with, the European Union "shares and pools" the sovereignties of most states that were, only one to two generations ago, the colonial powers of the history of capitalism; India, on the other hand, is an iconic example of a former colony that attained independence from west European colonizers.

As such, the EU is a non-state public authority with limited competencies (e.g., it has no army, no police, no executive apparatus of its own at all); India is the world's second largest state, with enormous capacity at its command. With less than 7.5 percent of the world's population (and falling, compensated only by enlargements), the EU commands one-fifth to one-fourth of the gross world product (also decreasing); with approximately 17 % of the world population (and growing), India has five to six percent of the gross world product (also growing). Something like 25-30 languages are spoken in the EU, depending on how you count them (to be more precise, the European Union recognizes 23 "official languages," three "semi-official languages," not to mention five others, including Romani; in India, meanwhile, "29 languages have more than a million native speakers, 60 have more than 100,000 and 122 have more than 10,000 native speakers."

Multiple asymmetries have a tendency to be used against each other. It would be truly interesting to have direct access to the negotiations.

cover page of the book

cover page of the book
image used for the cover design by Anannya Dasgupta