Tag Archives: Germany

How Eurobonds are the way forward

Market pressures on ailing Euro-zone countries persist and the Merkels and Sarkozys struggle to find an answer. The latest hype gaining ground is the idea of Eurobonds. These would be jointly issued bonds by all Euro-zone (or even EU) governments to finance government debt by national (or sub-national) governments.

Ironically, I remember several interesting discussions with my Italian federalist friends who have always lobbied within JEF and UEF to support the introduction of Eurobonds – to allow the EU (budget) to run deficits primarily for EU-wide infrastructure projects. I have always (and continue to) oppose this idea because I think we do not need another layer of debt  in the EU while there is sufficient room for mobilising funds to invest in EU-wide infrastructure projects from the ineffective CAP and structural policy – and where necessary also from national coffers. While the financing mechanism for these Eurobonds would be the same, the current discussion is promoting Eurobonds on a very different level.

Eurobonds to solve the debt crisis

Eurobonds as advocated these days are seen as a tool to lower borrowing costs for peripheral Eurozone countries (Greece, Ireland etc.) who struggle with run-away interest rates on newly issued debt. They are practically cut off from the market, hence EU intervention mechanisms like the EFSF are now used to finance their debt. In some ways the EFSF is not so much different from the Eurobonds discussed today except the fact that the EFSF is primarily seen as a crisis intervention – and not a permanent – vehicle. Because (just like with the EFSF) Eurobond debt is guaranteed by countries like Germany or the Nordics borrowing is cheaper for such jointly guaranteed Eurobonds. So, why should we not issue Eurobonds Continue reading

Don’t kill my fish – time for a radical change

Fisheries88% of European fish stocks are overfished. Most of my favourite fish like (mediterranean) red tuna and ocean perch are about to be extinguished within a generation unless extreme measures are taken. But these problems are common knowledge.

The EU Commission and key member states have for too long resisted a reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). While most northern countries including Germany have long given up on wide-scale fishing, southern member states like Spain, Portugal, France and Italy (and maybe Scotland) have preserved strong and extremely vocal fishing industries. Together these member states have long managed to serve their fishermen’s (short-term) interests by continuously oversubscribing on the annual fishing quotes.

Unfortunately, neither the non-fishing member states have engaged the “fish mafia” in a serious dialogue to tackle the problem with a long-term vision, nor have these fishing nations shown any leadership in facing fishermen and working towards a reform of the sector. The lowest-common denominator in this failed policy is that the tax-payer makes up for this lack of political leadership. In 2009 EU tax-payers foot the annual bill of 630 mio Euro. Annual Continue reading

France and the holocaust

France’s Council of State (its highest court) has ruled yesterday about the involvement of France in the holocaust. According to the BBC coverage

The Council of State said the state had permitted or facilitated deportations that led to anti-Semitic persecution without being coerced by the occupiers.

But the council also found reparations had since been made “as much as was possible, for all the losses suffered”.

KZ StruthofIt is obviously not ideal that court cases have to alter our (or France’s) understanding of history and therefore it was right of Jacques Chirac to offer an apology in 1995. However, sad enough, it took a president so long to. Remember that his predecessor Francois Mitterrand for all his glory received abroad had until the end kept an ambigious relationship to collaborateurs with the Vichy regime and his own role during occupation has never really been full scrutinised. As little respect as I have for Chirac, I admit Continue reading