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Topic: The comings and goings of the European Union (Read 41232 times)

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #175
But every choice constrains the subsequent choices. And we have to build on the actual actions, not scenarios and modelling.
The way actual (analysis of) international relations work, everything is in the toolbox: Considering past choices and current options as a start, and then building on this by means of scenarios and modelling. Without the latter, one would be unable to assess the consequences of one's own action or inaction - such assessment being the main goal of analysis -, and one would be unable to draw lessons from the past.

And, yes, the EU demonstrates itself time and again unable to draw lessons from its own past mistakes. They have a really hard time bringing themselves to acknowledge that they have done mistakes. They would perhaps excuse themselves "We made no promises" which is just totally irresponsible, criminal stupidity.

Here's an overview of the strategic partnership between Russia and Europe, the way the EU was seeing things in 2004. The author correctly sees Russia and Putin as quite incompatible with the EU, both as indicated by natural interests of the entities and by direct official statements of Putin.

However, in 2004 the aim was to give some "partnership" a try and the author proposes a test case: To resolve the Transnistria conflict by means of multilateral cooperation. From most of the article I'd deduce that the author was smart enough to understand that the proposal was ridiculous and it was only thrown out as a joke, as an indication that there is really nothing the EU and Russia could meaningfully partner on. Namely, the Transnistria conflict is 100% manufactured by Russia, so to try to resolve it with Russian cooperation means to deploy Russia to work against its own interests, which is sure to backfire even if the conflict were nominally "resolved" with something stupid such as joint peace-keeping patrols.

A side point in the article caught my attention:
Quote
Putin has gone to great pains to put the question of visa-free travel on the agenda with the EU and has met with some success.
So, the author is saying that the initiative for visa freedom between Russia and the EU came from Russia. But on the Baltic countries it was pressured entirely by German chancellors. The simple conclusion is that German chancellors are Putin's puppets, nothing less. I did not know that Germany was this corrupt. But now I can reasonably assume that it is far more corrupt than public information lets on.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #176
International relations are like that, very behavioristic. If you behave well you get candy, if you don't you get coal. That applied to Putin too. He got plenty of candy his first years, but now he sits on a pile of coals. Like any other weapon, it's more efficient used sparingly.

This goes for other leaders across the world as well. There might be a Reset button waiting for them in their future too, but it depends on what they are doing and how needed they are. Russia was once part of G8, another candy.

Trade policy is one such relationship. 11.2% of Estonian imports are from Russia. That is five times as much as the 2.2% of German imports. This does not make either Estonia or Germany into "Putin's puppets", nor is it "corrupt" unless the trade or interaction is against the interests of the country or corporation.



Going back to the EU:

MEPs demand full embargo on Russian imports of oil, coal, nuclear fuel and gas

Quote

In a resolution adopted with 513 votes to 22 and 19 abstentions on Thursday, MEPs call for additional punitive measures, including “an immediate full embargo on Russian imports of oil, coal, nuclear fuel and gas”.
This should be accompanied by a plan to ensure the EU’s security of energy supply, as well as a strategy to “roll back sanctions in case Russia takes steps towards restoring Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders and completely removes its troops from the territory of Ukraine”.
Exclude Russia from G20 and other multilateral organisations
Existing sanctions must now be fully and effectively implemented throughout the EU and by the EU’s international allies as a matter of priority, insist MEPs. They call on EU leaders to exclude Russia from the G20 and other multilateral organisations, such as UNHRC, Interpol, the World Trade Organisation, UNESCO and others, “which would be an important sign that the international community will not return to business as usual with the aggressor state”.

To make the sanctions more effective, the Parliament calls for Russian banks to be excluded from the SWIFT system, for all vessels connected to Russia to be banned from entering EU territorial waters and docking at EU ports and for road freight transport from and to Russia and Belarus to be prohibited. MEPs also demand the seizure of “all assets belonging to Russian officials or the oligarchs associated with Putin’s regime, their proxies and strawmen, as well as those in Belarus linked to Lukashenka’s regime”.

Pointing to Belarus’ involvement in the war in Ukraine, the resolution demands that sanctions on Belarus mirror those introduced against Russia in order to close any loopholes allowing Putin to use Lukashenka’s aid to circumvent sanctions.

Arms deliveries must continue and be stepped up




Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #177
International relations are like that, very behavioristic. If you behave well you get candy, if you don't you get coal. That applied to Putin too.
False. Putin got candy before he had done anything good at all. His first action was the second war in Chechnya. And he kept getting candy after he had become all-out evil. Yet according to you, Crimea did not qualify.

Whereas the Baltic countries kept getting the whip despite exemplary behaviour. The whip includes demands from Putin's EU puppets to sign border agreements with Russia, ignoring existential threats from Russia.

So, no, the consequences of one's actions have nothing to do with one's own behaviour. Particularly when it comes to smaller countries, it's just bigger countries trampling on them.

Trade policy is one such relationship. 11.2% of Estonian imports are from Russia. That is five times as much as the 2.2% of German imports. This does not make either Estonia or Germany into "Putin's puppets", nor is it "corrupt" unless the trade or interaction is against the interests of the country or corporation.
Schröder is not a "trade policy". Schröder is a thoroughly corrupt Putin's puppet. Merkel is not far off - visited Russia consistently on May 9th, then after annexation of Crimea on May 10th instead. You know what day that is? Or are you too much into "trade policy" to know?

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #178
How come the Russians celebrate that on 9 May rather than 8 May btw?

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #179
You mean V-E Day?
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Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #180
How come the Russians celebrate that on 9 May rather than 8 May btw?
Aren't you the guy who downloaded the entire Wikipedia?

But I can tell you something that Wikipedia doesn't tell you. After the war tide in the Great Patriotic War had turned, a legend emerged (likely propagandistically manufactured) about celebrating the final crushing of Berlin on Red Square in Moscow. Obviously there's some distance between Berlin and Moscow, so when the idea is to celebrate the victory in Moscow, it cannot be on the same day when Berlin falls.[1]

And they even made a sweet war&love movie out of it: В шесть часов вечера после войны. The movie was released in 1944, i.e. before the final victory, also meaning that it is outright war propaganda. But on IMDB I read it had some distribution in USA too as "Six PM", so I guess it's censorship-approved for both sides :up:

Oh, and it is on YT! Enjoy it like I did in my youth, before nasty bourgeois imperialists take it down:

[video]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osWFODWZhJ4[/video]
Back in those days, also messages travelled slow. As Wikipedia might tell you, pigeon post was upgraded to snail mail around those times.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #181
"Victory in Europe" depended a lot on where in Europe: Czechs mark anniversary of liberation by American troops in WWII

Norway was unique in actually being part liberated by the Soviets (liberated as the Nazis being kicked out without subsequently being occupied). When the Nazis decided against a last stand in Festung Norwegen, victory in Europe was also victory in Norway. 

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #182
Aren't you the guy who downloaded the entire Wikipedia?
Wikipedia doesn't give me the Soviet Union inside scoop.

"Victory in Europe" depended a lot on where in Europe: Czechs mark anniversary of liberation by American troops in WWII
Liberation Day is something very different than the day Germany capitulated, even in the Netherlands where it's mere days apart. Because the German army in the Netherlands surrendered on May 5, 1945. Germany capitulated on May 8.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #183
France and Germany armed Russia with €273 million (£230 million) of military hardware now likely being used in Ukraine, an EU analysis shared with The Telegraph has revealed.

They sent equipment, which included bombs, rockets, missiles and guns, to Moscow despite an EU-wide embargo on arms shipments to Russia, introduced in the wake of its 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Both Paris and Berlin have resisted an EU ban on buying gas from Russia, with the bloc currently paying Moscow €1 billion (£840 million) per day for energy supplies.

Criticism increased when it emerged that German firms had used a loophole in an EU embargo on arms exports to Russia, making sales worth €121 million (£107 million) of “dual-use” equipment, including rifles and special protection vehicles, to Moscow.

Berlin defended its use of an ambiguity within the EU’s 2014 arms blockade, insisting that the goods were sold only after the Kremlin guaranteed they were for civilian use, rather than military application.

“If there were indications of any kind of military use, the export licenses were not granted,” a spokesman for the country’s economy ministry added.

France was also found to have been responsible for sending shipments worth €152 million (£128 million) to Russia, as part of 76 export licences. Paris allowed exporters to fulfil contracts agreed before 2014, using a backdoor technicality in the EU embargo.

Alongside bombs, rockets and torpedoes, French firms sent thermal imaging cameras for more than 1,000 Russian tanks as well as navigation systems for fighter jets and attack helicopters.

The loophole, eventually closed on April 8, was only shut after mounting protests from Baltic and eastern member states.

Envoys from Poland and Lithuania ensured the text of the original 2014 arms embargo was amended when it emerged weapons were still pouring into Russia.

According to European Commission data, EU countries last year sold Russia weapons and ammunition worth €39 million (£33 million) as the Kremlin prepared for its invasion of Ukraine.
Am I still hoping that the EU can muster sufficient integrity, to become less corruptible and harder for enemies (namely, USA and Russia, which are the testbed for China) to pick apart? Maybe. Why? Because for now it looks like May 9th is ruined for Putin this year. However, I do not trust that the current momentum carries to next year's May 9th.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #184
Ally, competitor, enemy — the progression is uniquely European? :)
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"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
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Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #185
Gerhard Schröder insists on incriminating himself - and entire Germany - pretty thoroughly in this interview to NYT.
Mr. Schröder distanced himself from the war, though not from Mr. Putin. I asked about the by-now notorious atrocities in Bucha, a Kyiv suburb. “That has to be investigated,” Mr. Schröder said, but added that he did not think those orders would have come from Mr. Putin, but from a lower authority.

“I think this war was a mistake, and I’ve always said so,” Mr. Schröder said. “What we have to do now is to create peace as quickly as possible.”

“I have always served German interests,” he added. “I do what I can do. At least one side trusts me.”

That side is not the German side.

Since Russia’s attack on Ukraine began, the entire staff of Mr. Schröder’s parliamentary office resigned in protest, including his chief of staff and speechwriter of 20 years, who had been with him since his days as chancellor.

[...]

But even his fiercest critics acknowledge that Mr. Schröder’s close and lucrative dealings with Russia are also emblematic of his country’s decades-old approach of engagement with Russia. Lobbied aggressively by Germany’s export industry and cheered on by labor unions, successive chancellors, including Ms. Merkel, collectively engineered Germany’s dependency on Russian energy.

“Schröder is the tip of the iceberg,” said Wolfgang Ischinger, a former ambassador to the United States and veteran diplomat. “But there is a whole iceberg below him.”

[...]

“What I can tell you is that Putin is interested in ending the war,” Mr. Schröder said. “But that’s not so easy. There are a few points
that need to be clarified.”

[...]

Mr. Putin spoke fondly of Mr. Schröder in February during a joint news conference with Mr. Scholz, the current German chancellor, who visited the Kremlin in a last-ditch effort to avert war.

“Mr. Schröder is an honest man whom we respect and whose goal is first and foremost to promote the interests of his own country, the Federal Republic of Germany,” the Russian leader said.

“Let German citizens open their purses, have a look inside and ask themselves whether they are ready to pay three to five times more for electricity, for gas and for heating,” Mr. Putin added. “If they are not, they should thank Mr. Schröder because this is his achievement, a result of his work.”

On Russian state television, Mr. Schröder is frequently cited as a Western voice of reason, proof of the Kremlin’s contention that Europe’s current leaders have sold their countries’ interests out to a “Russophobic” United States.
Meanwhile, SPD discovered that Schröder is still a member of the party. I'm getting the feeling that the handling of the Ukraine war will thoroughly be botched under the cheerful leadership of Germany and France. Then the EU will disband because this sort of EU does more harm than good to all countries between Germany and Russia.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #186
Russian gas giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM) cut supplies to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday after they refused to pay for gas in roubles, marking Moscow's toughest response yet to sanctions imposed by the West over the conflict in Ukraine.

Bulgaria and Poland had already said they would not renew contracts with Gazprom after they expired at the end of this year and say they can secure supplies from other sources.

So, Bulgaria and Poland stood firm when Putin demanded them to go rouble. Meanwhile, Germans again obey:

Uniper says it will pay in euros which will be converted into roubles, meeting a Kremlin demand for all transactions to be made in the Russian currency.

Other European energy firms are reportedly preparing to do the same amid concerns about supply cuts.

Uniper said it had no choice but said it was still abiding by EU sanctions.

There's also the news that "European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned companies not to bend to Russia’s demands to pay for gas in rubles..." but this appears to be against Hungary instead of against those already bent. Unsurprisingly. When it comes to Uniper, I guess they may be gently goaded out of the breach by fully compensating their loss of expected profits - or, more likely, no action will be taken.

EU sanctions have loopholes by design. Poland and Bulgaria will not be rewarded for standing firm, but rather suffer the economic consequences. Uniper and other companies bend knees for Putin and will not be punished for this, but rather be rewarded with profits. It keeps getting clearer how fundamentally different western EU and eastern EU are.

Ursula's stance looks good until you make the connection that it is a warning to Hungary, not anyone else. It can be that Putin managed to pick the EU apart yet again. I really was not expecting that he can celebrate his May 9th in good spirits this year. This is way too quick.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #187
Ursula's stance looks good until you make the connection that it is a warning to Hungary, not anyone else. It can be that Putin managed to pick the EU apart yet again. I really was not expecting that he can celebrate his May 9th in good spirits this year. This is way too quick.
Update: EU clarifies how companies can legally pay for Russian gas, ENI and RWE open bank accounts

The European Commission has confirmed how European Union companies can pay for Russian gas without breaching the bloc’s sanctions against Russia, in updated guidance on the issue seen by Reuters.
Problem number one: The newest guidance is "seen" by Reuters, not published by the Commission (not found over there at least). Why lack of transparency from the commissars?

In updated guidance, shared with EU countries on Friday and seen by Reuters, the Commission confirmed its previous advice that EU sanctions do not prevent companies from opening an account at a designated bank, and companies can pay for Russian gas – so long as they do so in the currency agreed in their existing contracts and declare the transaction completed when that currency is paid.

[...]

Companies should make a “clear statement” saying that when they pay euros or dollars, they consider their obligations under existing contracts to be fulfilled, the guidance said.

It should be understood that “such payments in that currency discharge definitively the economic operator from the payment obligations under those contracts, without any further actions from their side as regards the payment,” it said.
This is loophole-talk. The scheme Putin insists on is as follows:
1. The European gas-sucker has, in addition to other accounts, a rouble account at Gazprombank.
2. The European gas-sucker deposits €$ at Gazprombank.
3. The €$ are converted to roubles and deposited to the gas-sucker's rouble account after the conversion.
4. The roubles are then drawn to Gazprom from the gas-sucker's rouble account.

From Putin's/Gazprom's point of view it is immaterial who does the conversion. It is important that the conversion takes place before the transaction enters Gazprom's books.

The EU commissars "do not prevent companies from opening an account at a designated bank" which seems to indicate permission for gas-suckers to hold a rouble account at Gazprombank. For gas-suckers to be able to formally declare "the transaction completed when [€$] is paid" while at the same time holding a rouble account where Gazprom gets paid from seems to run against the spirit of the sanctions, if not the letter, to put it mildly.

This is exactly how Italians and Germans have figured the procedure works:
"Eni is taking a bit more time to assess developments but will have to start procedures to open a rouble account next week or risk being in breach of contract," one of the sources said, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

[...]

Under the new Russian payment system, buyers are obliged to deposit euros or dollars into an account at private Russian bank Gazprombank (GZPRI.MM), which will convert the cash into roubles, place the proceeds in another account owned by the foreign buyer and transfer the payment in Russian currency to Gazprom.

[...]

German gas importer VNG [RIC:RIC:VNG.UL] said it will transfer euro payments for Russian gas to Gazprombank in the future and expects no problems during a conversion to roubles.

[...]

Gazprom has written to companies explaining in part the roubles scheme. According to one source, Eni received letters saying the contract and payment would remain in euros while Gazprom would assume all subsequent risks including conversion into roubles.
The last point means: Gazprom is sending out encouraging consolation letters to European gas-suckers about assuming all risks regarding conversion into roubles. The payment still occurs from the gas-sucker's rouble account. If the commissars unexpectedly get their shit together and decide this breaches sanctions after all, Gazprom will bear (part of) the costs to the gas-sucker - in roubles, I suppose, which would give further traffic to roubles.

Those commissars are full of loopholes. Why are they working so hard to give wins to Putin?

How EU simplifies procedures

Reply #188
Once upon a time, before there was EU in my particular neck of the woods, I was in the business of, among other things, translating and apostilling official documents between countries. As the EU was approaching, one of its perks was supposed to be that this business would no longer be required, just like with the arrival of euro currency there was no longer a need for currency exchange.

So, meet EU 2016/1191.
Regulation (EU) 2016/1191 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 2016 on promoting the free movement of citizens by simplifying the requirements for presenting certain public documents in the European Union [...]

(19)

In order to promote the free movement of Union citizens, the public documents covered by this Regulation and certified copies thereof should be exempted from all forms of legalisation and similar formality.

(20)

Other formalities, namely the requirement to provide in each instance certified copies and translations of public documents, should also be simplified to further facilitate the circulation of public documents between the Member States.
Thus far sounds like no translation and legalisation business anymore, right?

But let's read further.

Quote
(21)

In order to overcome language barriers and thereby further facilitate the circulation of public documents between the Member States, multilingual standard forms should be established in each of the official languages of the institutions of the Union for public documents [...]


(22)

The sole purpose of the multilingual standard forms should be to facilitate the translation of the public documents to which they are attached.
Now it's beginning to sound like, instead of abolishing the translation-apostilling business between member states, the EU instead introduces "multilingual standard forms" to be "attached" to the original documents. That is, more documents upon the documents we already had previously. So, contrary to the rumours of simplified bureaucracy between the states, we got tricked. The opposite is the case. It so happens that issuing these "multilingual standard forms" is not standard at all and if you fail to explicitly ask for them, you will get the same old full procedure.

I ran into this quirk personally recently. I knew about this supposedly simplifying EU regulation before. It applies to common life event documents such as birth, death, marriage, residence etc. So, a related event happened in another member state and was registered there. I have some stuff to do related to the event in my own country, but I found out that in order to do it I must, according to the reading of the regulation by the relevant state authority in my country:
1. Obtain the relevant document from the other country - on paper!
2. Translate it into the official language of my country (not by myself, mind you, even though I know all the languages all the way up to university degrees and whatnot; must be a notarised translation which is one step further)
3. Present the notarised translation to the state authority in my country
4. The state authority in my country will then issue a paper of their own saying the same thing which was already said by the authority of the other member country and which was just translated to our language too.

Somehow the above procedure - which is 100% the same as before the EU - counts as "simplified requirements" and the EU thinks it has successfully promoted the free movement of its citizens by this regulation. And somehow it counts as reasonable for a state authority to officially recognise a translation of a document smuggled by a private person from another country instead of officially recognising the *original* document issued by the authority of another member country.

The simplest procedure would obviously be for my state authority to check with the other country's authority electronically to verify the event, you know, as in paper-free green sustainable and really-truly simple. They do this checking with each other for other purposes all the time anyway. Why all this fuss to get one event recorded twice, by means of a cumbersome intermediation of private individuals? What is the EU good for? I used to naively assume there was something, like a teeny weeny little something, to be gained by it, but no, the EU only has empty declarations. Or ignorant and harmful ones.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #189
Yes, making a legal document in one country legal in another is in the base case (superlegalislation) an extremely contorted, tedious, slow and expensive process. Even the simplified process as you described above is painful. It is bootstrapped by each country recognising that the other country exists, and by extensions its embassies, registrars and notary offices.

That you think you are qualified to translate a document does not make you qualified to do so. Your country must do so, and the embassy must vouch for the offices, originals and translations in question to the bureaucracy of the other country. If you are really lucky the other country also has to vouch for their offices, originals and translations to the bureaucracy in your country. When you are done with the process you will wish a pox on both their houses.

That is the base scenario unless there is an agreement between the countries in question to do better. There are a few conventions and treaties to do that. At heart the European Union itself is a number of treaties between countries to do better. You were just shown how it would be all the time if there hadn't been a EU or comparable treaties, and when you have to bootstrap from two countries recognising each other. (If they don't recognise each other, you are either out of luck or sometimes you can tunnel through a third country.)

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #190
You were just shown how it would be all the time if there hadn't been a EU or comparable treaties, and when you have to bootstrap from two countries recognising each other.
Actually, I just learned how things are when there *is* EU. Namely, things are no different, exactly the same as when there was no EU.

Towards the beginning of the century, I was, in Estonia, employed by a translation bureau that made its best money by translating-apostilling official documents. I dealt with documents from countries like China, Kazakhstan, Armenia and others that have no willingness to ever get connected to the EU. I know the procedure from back then. Right now I learned that the procedure between EU members Estonia and Finland - where people commonly understand each other's language without any translation - is as convoluted as if we were having a first contact with an alien civilisation. And these are supposed to be EU members who recognise each other. Clearly the evident fact is that they do not recognise each other and this is apparently okay as per EU regulation that allegedly simplifies bureaucracy.

As to my qualifications to make notarised translations, I had it back when I was employed by the translation bureau. My name was written up with a notary who is no longer in business. I could just as easily write my name up again with some other notary, except I'd have to register a company of translation services of my own, which I do not want to do because this hassle was supposed to have ended with the EU.

My biggest gripe is how the regulation goes about solving a particular problem in exactly the wrong way.

The problem: Translating-apostilling documents between member countries is a hassle.
The solution: Introduce more document forms to "facilitate the translation" i.e. apparently not do away with the translation requirement.
The result: The solution is directly opposite to what is promised in the heading of the regulation. The heading promises simplification, but the solution is a complication. When you add more documents, this is a complication, obviously. And when you keep the translation requirements, you are simplifying nothing.

The regulation is worthless. Issuing regulations that achieve results opposite to what they declare is not an isolated event with the EU. It is a systemic flaw. It is also often the case with their "conflict resolution" efforts: When they step in to resolve conflicts, the conflicts become worse. I'd really prefer this particular phenomenon to be reserved exclusively for USA rather.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #191
In my experience the problems you describe don't really exist (in that form) in the Benelux/ECSC. Perhaps it's a mistake not to be more forceful on the matter to the newer members, but I don't think it's a weakness to err on the side of caution when it comes to acting like the Soviet Union would.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #192
In order to err on the side of caution they should not proclaim simplification when they are in fact complicating things.

In order to ensure the free circulation of public documents within the Union and, thereby, promote the free movement of Union citizens...
This doesn't sound cautious at all. "Free movement of Union citizens" is actually among the four core freedoms of EU, one of its main promises. Is it really safe for the EU to make a mockery of itself on this point?

The more appropriate heading would be "EU regulation that is designed to have no effect, but might help feign ensuring and promoting something". This would sound much more cautious and not stir up vain hopes.

Between Belgium and Netherlands there is a shared language, which mitigates the translation problem. The translation problem exists between countries that do not have a shared language. The allegedly simplifying EU regulation carves it into stone that EU member countries do not need to recognise each other any more than non-EU countries do. And the EU does not know what the word "simplification" means. Or what "free circulation of public documents" could possibly looks like.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #193
But I'm not talking about shared Dutch or French[1] Requesting the translation aid is a non-issue in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Italy in my experience. There's no need for any kind of certified translation because of that piece of paper. It does indeed make you wonder what purpose it serves at all, and some of the authorities involved might eye it suspiciously[2] but your description is simply not how it has worked for me with birth, marriage and residence certificates — I couldn't tell you about death ones, but I have no reason to assume it's any different.
NB The language is possibly the least shared in archaic officialese.
Ew! Foreign!

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #194
The way you describe it is the way I heard things were "in Europe" as contrasted with our not-yet EU country. We were supposed to become an EU member and have things the same way. But reading the EU regulation closely now it's pretty informative how "up yours" things really are.

For you, it could be much worse, if it were exactly as per the regulation. For me, it is as bad as always and there is a regulation to make sure it stays so.


Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #196
I'd really prefer this particular phenomenon to be reserved exclusively for USA rather.
:) My heart goes out to you, ersi!
Remind me: How long ago was it. that I suggested you read C. Northcote Parkinson? (But -of course- what interest would British Naval History have, for an Estonian savant?)

Bureaucracies become "beings" in the Darwinian sense... Their primary purpose is to "live long and prosper"...
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Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #197
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rTNBn7aDpI
That the EU is a "regulatory superpower" is a nice idea, but not quite working out in reality. As the discussion just above showed, there are EU regulations that the Western EU does not follow - because they already have a smoother practice in place - while the Eastern EU tries to follow the regulation to the letter with rather adverse results to the common citizen. Much of the regulations appear to exist only to annoy the new joiners. The entire declaratory "values" part is definitely there exclusively for the East and the for rest of the world, not for the EU biggies.

Since the EU is internally divided in various ways, North versus South and East versus West, its position in the world - assuming it has one - is threatened. Not only by the outside forces such as USA and Russia who have repeatedly picked the EU apart driving through their own agendas on GMO foods, passport checks and gas transports, but also inside forces. By now it should be clear to everyone that the worst enemy of the EU have been the biggies themselves, failing most badly at geopolitics, but failing at other things too.

Let's take the video on its own terms.
1. Market regulation (7:26): The EU has fined Google repeatedly for anti-trust/monopoly violations, and now 130 countries in the world have similar competition practices.

Not sure how similar the practices are. They are not very similar even inside the EU. Google, Amazon and many other important websites are different depending on the location where you open them up - inside the EU. There are still e-commerce and banking corporations that classify everything east of Germany as some third world region, not on the same terms as the Western EU, offering higher prices and less perks for purchases, deliveries and services. This point was supposed to be fixed the moment we'd become a member of the EU, but still waiting for the "single market" to take effect.

2. Digital economy (5:13): Privacy is a fundamental right as per GDPR.

Somewhere in mid-90's the university that I was attending created the first ever login credentials for me. This was for email, internet access, and to be able to use printers. When not used for a year or so, the credentials would expire. This should still be a good standard practice, but it was lost somewhere along the way, and the GDPR has not brought it back.

In the 90's - and well into this century - it was possible to refuse all cookies from websites that you visited but did not want to log in to. If the website did not have a login in the first place, it behaved no different regardless if you refused the cookies or not. What GDPR has achieved is that the simplest visit to the simplest website, for example to check the train timetables, is an arduous fencing with cookie popups. The cookie popups have destroyed the user experience particularly badly on modern mobile devices.

There appears to be no standard to cookie popups. From the ordinary consumer point of view, it should be possible to dismiss the cookie popups - as any popups - with a single press of the Escape key, but this is not so. Or all popups should have an immediate up-front "No, refuse all" option, but this is not so. Better still, it should be possible to refuse all cookies in browser settings - and then there should be no reason for the popup in the first place, but these happy times will likely never return thanks to GDPR. GDPR insists on cookie popups even when you have refused all cookies in the browser settings.

Messenger apps and all other connectible apps are essentially little web browsers and they should have the same options as web browsers, including cookie options so that the user could control the tracking. Moreover, those apps want to copy and upload all your contacts and other data from the device, and it is not easy to refuse it because the insistent request is issued repeatedly at different times with different button placements or with colours making it appear as if the "No, thanks" option were inactive. GDPR does not address this trickery at all.

To summarise, the most visible effects of GDPR are outright evil. The less visible effects, such as fines on some companies and institutions who treat your data and credentials badly, are incremental. Historically the situation used to be better long before GDPR.

3. Consumer health (7:31): The EU rejected Cameroun's cocoa beans due to the presence of harmful chemicals.

Without the full story, it is more plausible that bans or threats of bans on imports of raw materials, playing with tariffs etc. is a game of colonialism by the EU. Some countries occasionally lash back against European colonial attitude.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #198
while the Eastern EU tries to follow the regulation to the letter with rather adverse results to the common citizen.
Your example above doesn't seem to show that. Crudely paraphrased, the situation regarding direct neighbors hasn't changed substantially, therefore the EU is useless. In practical terms that'll be true much of the time because of course you deal with Finland and Latvia more than with Belgium or Spain. In this limited sense the EU is useless for the entire EU. But when you deal with France or Greece, you're also treated the same way as an EU citizen. The fact that this will often be invisible to a big minority or small majority of the population hardly makes it a net negative. I don't know why you would expect the EU to have much of an impact on relations with your neighbors whom you already had good relations with. When an Estonian peat company ships peat to the Netherlands, it can do so without having to deal with all manner of complex customs nonsense due to common peat standards. The Estonian government would have had to negotiate an individual peat agreement with every country it wants to export peat to. Instead it can just export peat to all of the EU, and outside of the EU on the basis of EU peat trade negotiations with for example the United States.[1]

But I wonder if people younger than you would even agree that it's all that invisible unless you look. Universities are full of Erasmus students from Estonia (and from all over the EU) for example.

To summarise, the most visible effects of GDPR are outright evil. The less visible effects, such as fines on some companies and institutions who treat your data and credentials badly, are incremental. Historically the situation used to be better long before GDPR.
That's not true at all. The situation was significantly worse before GDPR. If it didn't improve in Estonia, then you've disproved your earlier statement that it's just for new members that EU rules make a difference, although obviously any prospective new member will have to align with the EU rather than the reverse. No matter the subject, the situation won't improve in some member states because the EU enforces a certain minimum and any member state is free to go beyond. GDPR makes it so that all of Europe is now similar to how it already was in Germany with regard to personal data, and that's a great improvement pretty much anywhere except for Germany and Estonia.

Without the full story, it is more plausible that bans or threats of bans on imports of raw materials, playing with tariffs etc. is a game of colonialism by the EU. Some countries occasionally lash back against European colonial attitude.
Switzerland isn't in the EU last I checked.
I mention peat because it's the most visible Estonian product that can be found in every store, but of course the same applies to Estonia's IT industry and all other imports and exports. The fact that you pay at least 6-10% less than you otherwise would is invisible.

Re: The comings and goings of the European Union

Reply #199
while the Eastern EU tries to follow the regulation to the letter with rather adverse results to the common citizen.
Your example above doesn't seem to show that. Crudely paraphrased, the situation regarding direct neighbors hasn't changed substantially, therefore the EU is useless. In practical terms that'll be true much of the time because of course you deal with Finland and Latvia more than with Belgium or Spain. In this limited sense the EU is useless for the entire EU. But when you deal with France or Greece, you're also treated the same way as an EU citizen.
Here you are assuming my treatment by the other countries, but in my example, I was talking rather about my country's treatment of the documents issued by other countries.

Before we joined the EU, I knew the procedures in my country. Before we joined the EU, I knew the procedures in the EU. Now we have joined the EU and the fact is that the EU procedures have not reached my country. So I look up the regulation and, lo and behold, it effectively perpetuates what has been going on in my country all along.

There are two superbig problems here. First, the procedures are not harmonised. Second, were we to harmonise them as per the regulation, they would become as bad as in the rest of the world, not as good as in the Western EU. Seriously, why is the regulation so stupid and insane? And why is only the Eastern EU following it?

When an Estonian peat company ships peat to the Netherlands, it can do so without having to deal with all manner of complex customs nonsense due to common peat standards. The Estonian government would have had to negotiate an individual peat agreement with every country it wants to export peat to. Instead it can just export peat to all of the EU, and outside of the EU on the basis of EU peat trade negotiations with for example the United States.
Yes, this is obviously the greatest perk of the EU. There are still problems though, such as in in e-commerce we are still occasionally treated as a third-world country lumped together with Russia, despite over ten years of eurozone membership.

But I wonder if people younger than you would even agree that it's all that invisible unless you look. Universities are full of Erasmus students from Estonia (and from all over the EU) for example.
The students have gone haywire all over the place by now. My youngest sister studied in Brazil and Turkey. The EU was not enough. Whereas I in my time went to study in Finland, competing with ordinary Finns to become a student, by brute force of my intelligence, without any helpful programme, but rather with all the drawbacks of having to comply with residence permit and monetary requirements.

That's not true at all. The situation was significantly worse before GDPR. If it didn't improve in Estonia, then you've disproved your earlier statement that it's just for new members that EU rules make a difference,...
Now, GDPR in particular is such that it better not be different anywhere, if it is to have any point at all. And it isn't. It has a uniform global effect. Namely, the cookie popups are pretty much global. Another reaction from many American websites is to just block European visitors. The cookie popups and visitor-blocks are global effects of GDPR, but definitely not good effects.

But if you are not experiencing cookie popups globally, then again we have a difference...

Without the full story, it is more plausible that bans or threats of bans on imports of raw materials, playing with tariffs etc. is a game of colonialism by the EU. Some countries occasionally lash back against European colonial attitude.
Switzerland isn't in the EU last I checked.
And the original video does not give the full story about the Cameroun cocoa ban. I can assume it's related to some big European chocolate producers, such as Belgium and France. The other story I linked was to indicate that I know that there is some cocoa war going on between Europe and Africa. From sub-Saharan African perspective, Switzerland is in the same gang as Western European ex-colonists.

Before we dig in deeper into the cocoa war, would you be ready to bet that the EU has been handling it any better than it did Bosnia and Ukraine? In Bosnia and Ukraine the EU had stakes, because these are geographically plausible member candidates, and look how they got treated. In Africa, the EU has no reason to keep up good appearances, so...

Overall, the video is from an EU-positive British perspective. Brits and Western Europeans have in common a denial of their colonial attitude. They think they have grown past it and replaced colonialism with positive values, something like when Americans say they are exporting democracy. But from the perspective of those in the receiving end of the alleged democracy, this is not so. By the way, Brits were kicked out of the EU, for several good reasons. Just recently there were more than enough reasons to kick out France and Germany. They still have to prove themselves. The EU is in a very sorry state.