(05c) (09a) Greece, other countries and their relation towards the EU
Many countries, including Germany, are trying to help Greece by deciding whether they lent money to Greece (and I hope they do this with the knowledge that the debts of Greece may be that big that they will probably loose on it). The Greek are angry because the other countries demand in return that Greece reduces its deficit and stops the corruption in the country. The countries helping Greece fear they may run into troubles doing so because they are spending vast amounts of their own money. Unfortunately, I think the financial crisis will get bigger, certainly when my fears concerning the effects of climate change will come into effect (there are severe droughts in South East England and other parts of Europe and the world while other places such as Australia are flooded, causing problems with the harvest of food (may be the best investment today is food in cans (contains fluid that can be used for cooking) as you can't eat money (although you need money to pay for the food and the rent)). Climate change may destroy any efforts made by governments to restore the economy. Also, subsidies for tackling climate change are reduced as they cost money and I read Poland is likely to veto new decisions concerning actions against climate change (I am convinced we should invest more in green energy such as solar, wind and water energy as this will generate work building the equipments and maintaining them). Germany (the strongest economy in Europe) agreed to give more money to Greece, and because of this during the next financial breakdown Germany may no longer be able to save its own economy and many countries in Europe may go down with Germany. (One country does not give much and may become the leader of Europe in return for giving money.) In the meanwhile, Greek people remind the Germans about their past instead of thanking the Germans (and others) for the help (although I understand the anger of the Greek people as they have to make great sacrifices but also people in other countries made and make sacrifices). Finally, it is only normal that each government tries to save its own people; problems and people of other countries are the problems and people of the politicians of the other countries and thus should not really be the concerns of politicians in other countries who face their own problems. Unless of course the problems in countries threaten the stability of other countries as is now the case in the Eurozone.
I think we need a stronger European government that will not suppress its nations but work for the best of them (I am a Federalist and believe each state should govern itself as much as possible without too much interference from above except when necessary). Europe should now show its reason of existence in a problem country such as Greece. Indeed, why do all those individual European countries have to save Greece when the EU exists? Should each country not look after its own budget? This is also a problem in e.g. Belgium where the Federal government ask its regions to help to balance its budget. I find the Belgium government should accept Belgium is a federal state and thus Belgium should manage its own budget and the regions theirs. A major problem is that the EU only accepts the budgets of its member states and refuses to look into the budgets of regions (and thus the EU denies federalism in its member states). As a consequence the EU neglects regions that are budgetary solid and even force them to save their bigger country, making those regions poorer. It promotes bad management because Federal governments may think they can rely on their regions for money. Of course, in order to get a more efficient Europe, reforms are necessary and these reforms are difficult to achieve. Indeed, while European politicians don't like to spent money on other member states, they equally don't like to loose power on the world stage and they don't like not to be able to interfere in other countries' policies as firmness towards another country mostly strengthen the politicians' powers in their own country without having to take into account the anger of the people in the other country who can't vote for them. In the meanwhile, these politicians don't like politicians from other countries to interfere in their country's affairs. A problem is that these politicians even start to interfere in the elections of politicians in other countries (recently an article mentioned that PM Merkel and PM Cameron and some others support President Sarkozy of France against his rival. What will they do if Mr Hollande wins the election? The reason for this support is that they all follow the same (British-style) policies).
Possible solution: European taxes
To be able to help member states, Europe should be allowed to collect its own taxes so it does no longer have to beg for money by its member states (e.g. the UK was against an increase in the EU budget). As a consequence, the EU will be able to implement its own policies in the domains where it has responsibility. This has benefits for the member states: when the EU can collect its own taxes, the member states no longer have to pay for their European membership and thus may be able to lower their own taxes, or use the money to stimulate their own economy (and indirectly that of other nations as they will be able to buy goods from other countries). When the EU collects taxes throughout Europe to help the nations that are having troubles, the burden will be divided over all citizens of Europe while the money from individual member states will no longer be used to help other states and thus can be used to stimulate the member states' economy. As a consequence, countries who behaved well during good times will no longer need to spend their money on states who behaved badly and therefore their money stay within their own borders. Thus, when the economy goes bad, the "good" countries will have money to support their own economy and the local politicians can concentrate on solutions for their own problems.
In the meanwhile, European politicians can concentrate on the European problems and ask bad behaving states to change their attitude or face consequences. But the EU would also be able to help those states as it did in the past by e.g. giving money to those lesser countries to stimulate their research or green energy (and thus people will have work thanks to Europe and thus will approve the decisions made by Europe). E.g. When supporting research at a university, the EU can give the money directly to the university so some of the money can't disappear at other levels. When no results are produced at the university, money can be refused in future. Also, rich people remove their money from poor (failing) countries and invest it in rich countries making the poor countries even poorer. Because the EU should be allowed to collect taxes in the whole of Europe, every European will have to pay a percentage of their earnings and thus rich people can no longer escape their responsibilities by leaving their poor country. (Equally, the UN should be an elected organisation and collect its own taxes worldwide; then this money can be used to help countries that are in financial need and accept changes to improve their country. Thus, rich people bringing their money to stable countries would still support the poor countries via the EU and UN taxes.)
Greece has no other choice then to accept interference from Europe if it wants the help of Europe (no-one should give money to a country that does not want to change its bad habits). Europe cannot give and not demand something in return. Those who receive should say "thank you" and then the politicians who give will be more willing to do so (now the Greek become violent whenever we want to give because we also ask something in return). This does not mean the Greek cannot discuss ways on how to use the given money to improve their economy (only firing people is not a solution). But again, those who get saved should accept they have to restrict their spending (e.g. people should accept they can no longer cheat and that they have to pay their taxes or that they can no longer claim e.g. pension for death people. This is corruption and corruption should be punished although probably it would be better to give everyone who cheated a one-off fine so they feel that corruption results in a punishment. Then the government would get some money back but they should also threaten to punish everyone severely who does not pay their fine and stop the stealing). Nevertheless, politicians of the country that receives money should still be able to discuss solutions with the European politicians. If the Greek politicians decide not to change their way of living, Europe can decide not to invest money in the Greek economy, and thus people will be without money. But Europe should not, as it does now, threaten to enforce penalties on Greece for not doing what Europe demands. Greece should be allowed to make its own decisions and feel the consequences of those decisions (no EU money, in the worst case, thrown out of the Euro). But if Greece can't repay its debts because they are too big, then Europe should not be the one who makes things even worse by penalising the country and thus enlarging the debt.
Advantages of this system
In this system, European politicians in the European Parliament and the European government (from ALL countries) can concentrate on ways to save poorer countries, while local politicians can discuss how to improve the position of their own state with European politicians. Local (German, French, Spanish, ...) politicians can thus concentrate on solutions for their own European state and do no longer have to spent time discussing ways to help other countries. Of course, this does not mean local politicians can't suggest solutions for the other countries, but as their own money is not spent (to some degree because the EU collects its own taxes in all countries), they can mainly focus on the problems in their own state (of course, e.g. when Europe would raise too much taxes, local politicians should be able to complain, firstly via their Members of the European Parliament (MEP) and when that doesn't work, directly). Politicians who like the higher levels of politics can always decide to be elected for a European position (or the UN) but they should accept they cannot be too centralised in there policies.
Reforms are needed (but blocked)
Of course, the above is only possible when Europe reforms itself. Europeans should be able to elect their European President, the EU should be able to raise its own taxes, it should be decided where the powers of the EU start and finish and where those of its members start and finish (e.g. the EU should set minimum goals to be achieved in each member state regarding education but the EU should allow each state to organise its own education or culture as most countries are perfectly able to organise this themselves. However, when Europe decides to give money to certain projects when the member state agrees then the EU should also investigate whether the money is well spent). Some European countries claim the EU is undemocratic while they prevent the necessary changes to increase the democratic level of the EU. And the politicians who claim that each country should have the power to decide its own policies are also the countries that force other countries to follow their direction. Indeed, many of these politicians think very centralised and hate deregulation when they have the powers for themselves. That is the main problem with European countries: they are so used to decisions made by the central government in the capital.
Banks and member states
Finally, politicians should make it clear that states can't go bankrupt, but banks can. Therefore, it is in the interest of banks that states can pay their debts because otherwise the banks will fail. Indeed, when banks assume a country can go bankrupt, the banks may continue putting pressure on the countries as they may assume they can do with the country as they do with ordinary people: possess its belongings. But what can banks do when a country fails? Invade the country? A state can't go bankrupt, banks can. Thus, it is in the advantage of banks that countries can pay their debts, thus banks should do whatever is in their power to make sure countries can pay back their debts so banks can continue receiving their money. Because, when a country fails, the banks may get nothing and may fail. And although banks cannot invade countries to claim their money, other countries can. For that reason, countries should always first pay back the debts they have with other countries to prevent the other countries becoming aggressive. When a country goes bankrupt and thus can't pay money to the banks, then banks are powerless unless they have the backing of countries that are prepared to invade the failing state. Fortunately, most banks understood it is not in their interest that Greece fails and thus allowed a rearrangement of Greece's debts.
In summary, solidarity with other countries is necessary, but not via countries but via taxes raised by the EU so countries will not deplete their own reserves on other countries while the efforts to help countries are divided over all EU citizens. And as a percentage is taken from the wages each individual earns, rich and poor people also contribute.
Politicians of countries should not interfere too much in other countries' politics. E.g. it should be regarded as unacceptable that foreign politicians support a politician in one country over another during elections. Indeed, what if the "unwanted" politician wins, will they ignore him/her? And may be the new person has better solutions than the leaving politician.
Indeed, it should be federalism and not centralism.