Where Do We Go From Here?

3 October, 2009

European FlagIt now looks like Ireland will pass the Lisbon Treaty. Remember the last referendum? There was literally no mention of many important issues which were lauded by the ‘Yes’ side this time round. Truly, it is difficult to blame the Irish people entirely for being skeptical the last time around.

There are valuable lessons to be learned from the whole fiasco, which started with the rejection of the European Constitution by Dutch and French voters in 2005. It’s time for everyone in Europe to start asking themselves: where are we heading with the European Union?

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Is Voting ‘No’ Europhobic?

26 September, 2009

European FlagDeclan Ganley writes in the Irish Times that another rejection of the Lisbon Treaty by the Irish people will not deter foreign direct investment to Ireland. However, to commentators in the US and elsewhere, the impression now is of a ‘two-speed’ Europe.

I would like to ask Mr. Ganley: If he was a foreign businessman with naught but commercial interest in our small island, would he feel more confident or less confident investing in Ireland on the assumption of indefinite privileged access to European markets after a ‘No’ vote? Under such completely hypothetical circumstances, I have no doubt that his interest in our nation would evaporate.

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United Europe?

12 September, 2009

European FlagThe debate on the Lisbon Treaty has taken off, and the ‘No’ campaign is as dishonest as they were during the last referendum. But it’s easy to misunderstand the benefits of supporting this Treaty too.

Many commentators have claimed that the new ‘High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy’ will make Europe stronger and more influential globally. The effects will not be immediate.

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Don’t Call Me

7 July, 2009

PhoneIn the U.S., consumers are charged for both sending and receiving calls. In Ireland, they are only charged for making mobile calls. What might explain this difference?

There are considerably fewer mobile phones per capita in the U.S. as opposed to Europe. There is also greater income inequality. These may be the proximate causes, or the former could just be an effect of the pricing mechanism.

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The Looming Spectre of Protectionism

28 May, 2009

The BBC reports on the efforts of international governments to save jobs. The current economic crisis provides an environment pursuant to protectionism, and policies that protect domestic employment at the expense of free trade.

There are ways of assuaging the harms imposed on society by the painful corrections necessary to return economies to full employment. They must be embraced, or the world will be plunged into further economic despair.

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The Price of the Euro

11 May, 2009

David McWilliams offers his solution to Ireland’s problems by suggesting the abandonment of the Euro. It is true that Ireland can only become competitive again by repricing itself, whether through deflation or devaluation. However, the Maastricht Treaty outlines no route for countries to leave the monetary union.

The transition mechanism is the most difficult aspect of the debate, but a topic which has remained relatively untouched so far by any commentators. First of all though, note that devaluation is no panacea.

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Recipe for Recovery?

10 May, 2009

The Economist critiques Gordon Brown’s tax changes in the UK. By pandering to the masses and allowing dictation of policy by politics, they will damage the long-term recovery prospects for the economy and drive out the economy’s highest earners. The entire country will suffer for this myopia, even if voters are not angered in the short-term.

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