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BREXIT - my thoughts about the chaos


My thoughts in relation to the present chaos

If you sit down, take a deep breath and use your experience from many years to evaluate the catastrofic situation in the United Kingdom when Brexit is concerned, then I focus on at least three important facts, which clearly come to my mind :

1.      Europe has ever since 1973 always been talked down in the UK. Been attacked, been described with unchallenged lies and half truths. On this background it is not surprising, that the referendum in 2016 gave a negative result. Delors has described this in his own way:  If you six days a week talk badly about religion, no wonder that people do not come to church on Sunday!

The same was said more precisely on March 27, 2019 in a speech in the European Parliament by the now former Conservative member, Richard Ashworth :

He puts his finger precisely on the key problem.  But as we all know, we cannot change the past. But we can and should learn from it when the future is concerned. Not just for the UK, but for all our countries.

2.      At the same time as Europe constantly was talked down and critisized the British media was filled with outright lies and deliberate distorsions. Something was at some point actually done against these lies by the Foreign Office and also by the Commission’s Representation in the UK to reveal the lies and get the facts right.  But it did not seem to have a major effect at the time.  Perhaps these good efforts should have been pursued in a more pro-active and systematic way.


Things really went from bad to worse, when prime minister David Cameron decided to call a referendum – and said to the Commission:  Keep away from this campaign. Do not interfere in any way!  The Commission’s president Jean-Claude Juncker promised to do nothing in relation to the campaign. And that was what happened.

Mr. Juncker has later regretted this promise.  Here is what he said to Euractiv on May 8, 2019:  


3.      My personal experience from my time as director of the Commission’s Office in Denmark tells me very clearly, that Mr. Juncker is right.  The years 1970ies and 1980ies were in no way an easy period for communication about the EU – and definately not in Denmark.  We had as a public institution to move very carefully to avoid being involved in party politics in any way.  But it was our task – our duty – to ensure that lies, misunderstandings and distorsions did not pass unchallenged.

So when the Danish prime minister Poul Schlüter in January 1986 decided to have a referendum about the treaty making way for the big European single market from 1992 it was a very difficult situation.  The big Social-Democrat opposition party and many others were against the proposed treaty and argued for voting no. In the beginning of the campaign the opinion polls were negative. And the debate was immediately dominated by lies and distorsions – some based upon ignorance, others certainly part of deliberate manipulation.  At the Commission’s Office we decided to take action immediately. Of course, we ensured full backing from our political masters in Brussels – Jacques Delors and Henning Christophersen – to do so. We managed to write and publish a 12 page brochure about the treaty and what the referendum was all about on the street the morning after the referendum was called.  Nothing else was available for the voters that quickly. And our brochure was actually printed in more than one million copies and distributed by the political parties, the trade unions and business organisations, etc.  It became the dominating piece of information during the whole campaign.  At the same time we were – together with specialists from Brussels – taking part in meetings, TV- and radio-programmes, etc.  And be fully aware:  of course, we never recommended to anybody, if they should vote YES or NO. This was not our task.  We only addressed lies and distorsions. As we said :  The EU is against pollution. Including pollution of discussions !  I am convinced that we managed to stick to our efforts to keep out of the party political discussions – even though it was difficult in the very hectic debate at the time.  And we kept our credibility, also for our work later on.

             The result of the referendum was a clear YES to the treaty with over 360.000 more         

             YES-votes than NO-votes.

             The positive result of this referendum was of decisive importance for Denmark’s continued participation in the work in the EU.  And for me and my excellent team at the time it is a very good proof that we representing the Commission not only have the RIGHT to bring factual information and corrections of lies and misunderstandings. We had and have the DUTY to do it.  It was our task.   What else were we there for.


4.      If the Commission would have had the same opinion in 2016 as in 1986 and given its people in its Representations in the UK not only persission to, but the duty to intervene publicly against the worst lies and distorsions, my conviction is that the situation today would have been very different. The result of the referendum would have been another one than it was.  And more important:  this is now not only my opinion. President Juncker and the Commission have reached the same conclusion.


5.      It is very, very important that the new Commission under the presidency of Mrs. von der Leyen from the very beginning is very clear on this matter. Towards itself and towards the public. The duty to intervene and make corrections, when lies and factual misunderstanding are dominating the debate. Not the duty to keep quiet and do nothing.  Silence is not always gold.  It is often dereliction of duty.


It is in my view the best way the Commission can and should use communication to promote the further developments of Europe.


6.      PS :  It is always dangerous to look at past developments and events seen from hindsight.  But I continue to believe that my previous experience especially from the 1986 referendum in Denmark – if used -  could have given a different result of the Danish referendum on the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.  If the Commission’s office in Copenhagen had got the same political back-up as in 1986  ( and it was still the Delors-Christophersen Commission ) and taken the necessary initiatives to eliminate the plentiful lies and distortians in the campaign, the result could very well have been positive. The result of the referendum was, as you know, a NO to the treaty. But the number of NO votes was « only » 48.000 votes higher than the YES votes. In other words, the move of only 24.000 votes would have changed the whole picture.  A clear and credible voice to kill the lies could have made the difference.   And imagine what this would have meant for Denmark’s position in the EU. And also for other member states, which were inspired by the Danish NO also to start campaigns against the proposed treaty.


7.      A last point: the British referendum in 2016 showed clearly once again how dangerous and unpredictable referenda are.  They hardly ever deal with the concrete questions which initiated them in the first place.  They are much more an expression of the actual mood of the electorate. Towards the government, towards politicians, towards concrete events – normally of no relevance to what should be the key issue in the referendum concerned.  Basically, they are very dangerous to our representative democracies – giving immense opportunities to populists and hard-core nationalist to play their games.  This is another discussion for later.



Niels Jørgen Thøgersen

September 2019

Hereby a new chapter added to my blog:


Fighting for Europe's values!  We often talk about them. But what are they?  Are they concrete? And are they legally binding?

The short answer to both questions is:  YES !

The EU agreed in 2000 a Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. It consists of 54 concrete articles.  And as the Charter became part of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, it is now legally binding for all member states, and for EU institutions alike.  When you as a country have signed the Treaties you are obliged to follow the rules.  And if need be the European Court of Justice - and all national courts - are obliged to follow them.

That is why Poland's and Hungary's actual behaviour against some of these values is not only politically unacceptable. It is also legally unacceptable.

What are the main chapters of the Charter?

1. Human dignity:  the right to life, prohibition against torture, slavery and death penalty and human cloning

2. Freedoms: to liberty, personal integrity, privacy, protection of personal data, marriage, thought, religion, expression, assembly, education, work, property and asylum

3. Equality:  equality before the law, prohibition of all discrimination incl. on basis of disability, age and sexual orientation, cultural, religious and linguistic diversity, the rights of children and the elderly

4. Solidarity:  social and workers' rights, incl. the right to fair working conditions, protection against unjustified dismissal, and access to health care, social and housing assistance.

5. Citizens' rights:  the right for EU citizens to vote in elections to the European Parliament, and the right to move freely within the EU. 

6. Justice:  the right to an effective remedy, a fair trial, to the presumption of innocence, the principle of legality, non-retrospectivity and double jeopardy

These European values show the difference with the situation in most of the world, including  Turkey, Russia, China, and to some extent the United States.  

And any European country wanting to join the EU as a member has fully to subscribe to these values. It does so when it signs the accession treaty.

The United Kingdom has in connection with the ongoing Brexit process indicated that it after having left the EU no longer intends to follow many of these values.  This is, of course, worrying a lot of people in Britain.

The binding European values are a very important part of what makes Europe special and what makes it much more than just a single market.  

On the EU initiative of the Danish Liberal Party Aug. 2016

Showing EU's results - great! But more is needed !

It is very good news that the Danish liberal party, the party of the present government, has now decided to make a campaign to present the EU with all the positive results it brings every day. The campaign will start this coming autumn. Better late than never - after 43 years of membership.
But more is needed. Much more. Where are the proposals for what the EU should do next? Concrete operational proposals. On making the external borders better? On a close cooperation on receiving and integrating refugees? On getting back to Schengen? On making us less dependent on Putin? On the fight against cross-border crimes?  And at the same time the political courage to fight for it.
On SOVEREIGHTY - a romantic phantom


A romantic phantom

There is a lot of talk about sovereignty these days.  We want to keep our sovereignty. Or:  We want our sovereignty back!

Of course, it is up to any country to decide: I want to decide everything myself. I do not want others to decide anything for me.  But it has a heavy price.

If you want to sell your products on important markets you have to respect the rules valid for those markets. If you want to attract investments you have to make sure you are attractive, also by being part of a big market. If you want to be safe, you have to take active part in a committing and close cooperation. If you want to have influence and not be irrelevant on the world scene you have to work closely with others. All these means sharing sovereignty with others – with like-minded countries

What is sovereignty actually? What is in it?  And what does it mean in today’s world?

The origin of the word goes way back in history. The British political philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote about it in his book Leviathan in 1651.  This was a description of a state with an absolute sovereign – a ruler with absolute power. He decided everything about all and everybody.  Louis XIV (the Sun King) of France lived and ruled in the same period. And he tried to decide everything.

Today we call such rulers dictators. The best (or rather worst) examples now are Kim Jong-un in North Korea and Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. Not really idols for the rest of the world L A very heavy price is paid by their poor populations.

You are right:  when many people today ask for their sovereignty they are, of course, not wanting to see these extremes. But it is important to have the origins in mind when discussing it.

So what is sovereignty in today’s world? Can countries just decide for themselves, what they like?

The short answer is NO.

Let us take some concrete cases:

  1. Market access : Norway and Switzerland are not members of the EU. But it is very important for them that their export has full access to EU’s single market of more than 500 million consumers. They have that access. The price they both pay is:

  • They have to follow the laws and regulations which the EU has and all the time is adopting in relation to the free market. They have no influence on these rules. They just have to copy/paste them into national law.  In the case of Norway  the country has copy/pasted more than 9.000 EU regulations since 1994 into Norwegian law without being able to change a single comma in them

  • They have each to pay a yearly contribution into the EU budget.  For Norway it is about 880 mills. €, incl. participation in some EU programmes.

    In other words – if you want to profit from the huge EU market and some of EU’s programmes you have to pay to EU’s budget – without having a say on the use of the budget.

  1. Investments : Investments from non-EU countries such as financial institutions, production industry and research institutions:   these non-EU investors (like the US, Chinese and Japanese investors) want to have full access to the EU market, if they invest in Europe.  When a country claims that by leaving or by being outside the EU it ensures its sovereignty.  But it has no influence on where investors want to put their money

  2. Political influence in the world :  Europe’s part of the world economy and of the world’s population is diminishing all the time ( now only 9 % of the world’s population ).  Still Europe is very dependent on the rest of the world, economically, politically, etc.  Only by working closely together the countries in Europe have a chance to defend its interests and values.  If we don’t, others will decide for us. By sharing our resources we have possibility to count in the world. You can call it Shared European sovereignty.  

  3. Security:   The world is a dangerous place with terrorism, wars, criminal cross-border networks, human smugglers, etc.   All European countries are under threat from them. Of course, each country can try to protect itself and its interest on its own.  But by pooling our resources and working closely together we stand a much better chance to succeed against the common enemies. Again:  shared sovereignty is the answer.

  4. Solidarity:  in today’s globalised world  (“the global village”) you need to be strong to protect yourself and your values.  And you will only be strong, if you:

  • Work closely with like-minded countries in the same situation as you

  • Respect and implement all the decisions you  take together in this cooperation

  • Show mutual understanding, respect and helpfulness to your partners when the need it

  • Invest in the goodwill of your partners, so that your “positive political capital” is there the day you need understanding and help from them


    Conclusion:   Sovereignty is a thing of the past. It does not exist in today’s world. It is a romantic phantom.  But shared sovereignty – to do things together in a mutual committal way – is today’s reply to today’s challenges. No country – small or big – can go it on its own – and still have all the advantages of profiting from the globalised world.  A close cooperation with clear rules and commitments is what has made us all rich and prosperous.  Our welfare states are fundamentally based on that.

    So save yourself from being carried away by the romantic phantom called sovereignty.


    NJT – 07 03 2016  



What it takes to move forward - now

1. The war in Syria must be stopped.

This must be done here and now - and in any case as soon as possible. As long as it is allowed to continue, there will continue to be refugees. Syria had a population of 20 million people.  Altogether 9 million of them have fled to places other than their homes within the country. Another 4 million have fled abroad. In addition more than 250.000 people have been killed during the war.

The UN has for years made an active effort to get the war stopped. At the moment it happens under the leadership of the Swedish-Italian UN diplomat Staffan de Mistura. The third round of talks between the government and the opposition has just started in Geneva. Maximum pressure on both sides to achieve tangible results must be mobilised from all countries and organisations.

But many of the involved parties spend most of the time preventing the negotiations just getting started!
Saudi Arabia wants that only their allies represent the opposition to Assad. The Russians will have other opposition groups – more friendly to the Assad government - invited. And the Turks say they do not want to be in the process, if the representatives of the Syrian Kurds participate.

A number of   “camels” have to be swallowed by all sides to move forward. The US and its allies have already lowered the original demand that Assad must go immediately.

Somebody has to speak strongly to the Russians, the Saudis and the Turks. Who is this "somebody"? Where is the US? Where is the EU? And other Western and Arab countries?   If these countries put their total force together, then it will really count. And the three parties must clearly understand what it will cost them concretely, if they do not change policy! And ,of course, it should be presented diplomatically in such a way, that they do not lose face too much. But there should be no doubt about the end goal.

Why not start by stopping the fighting in a part of Syria? A no-fly zone with no military battles. Then Syrians can go there, if they wish. The world must stand together to get started now - together with the Syrians in that area - to re-build that part of the country.
This peace / truce may then gradually be extended to the whole country.

2. The EU's external borders must be guarded here and now.

EU Heads of States and Governments have repeatedly decided that to happen. A concrete proposal is made by the EU Commission. Incl. a common EU Coastguard and Border Service at sea.   What’s next on that proposal? The Greeks say they are not getting the help they asked for. Others say that the Greeks do not want this help. There is some very important fact finding to do.

The agreed reception centers, the so-called HOT SPOTS , in Greece and in Italy are gradually being put in place. It must go much faster. Everyone must help with the necessary resources – and not waste time by talking about sovereignty, etc. The EU needs many effective reception centres at all external borders – in a way like the Americans did it more than a hundred years ago on Ellis Island in New York harbor.

Until now HOT SPOT reception and screening centers have been established on 5 Greek islands: Lesbos (2-3 hotspots), Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos. And in 6 places in Italy: Lampedusa, Pozzallo, Porte Empedocle, Augusta, Taranto and Trapani. EU staff from FRONTEX is present in most centers to help. But the centers are not at full strength yet.

These Hot Spots have the task to screen the refugees coming. War refugees must ,of course, be accepted and registered. The international conventions are very clear about that. And they have to be distributed to the various EU countries - and sent there by plane. Greece and Italy cannot keep all of them. Other non-war-zone migrants cannot be accepted. And there has to be facilities for sending them back to their home countries right away. And if their home countries refuse to accept them, it must have clear consequences, for example. a reduction of the normal financial help from the EU.

Migrants who fall into this group, are coming from the Balkans, from Algeria and Morocco, from Africa as a whole, from Iran, from Pakistan, from Bangladesh, and many other places. It is understandable that they would like to try to get a better life in Europe. But Europe cannot cope for the time being. Top priority has to be given to the war refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

And we also have to raise the question to other non-EU countries about receiving many more of these war refugees, such as the rich Arab states, Russia, USA, Canada, etc. The international conventions of 1951 give the obligation to all UN member states to receive them. Who will take the decisive initiative to move this important question forward?

3. Help to war refugees in neighbouring countries:

Syria's neighbors have received millions of Syrian refugees. Lebanon, with its 5.8 mill. residents have received 2 million. Jordan with 9.5 million residents so far received more than 1 ½ million refugees. The UN refugee agency UNHCR and WFP World Food Programme are doing what they can to help. The EU and its member states also provide money and promised more support. The fourth donor conference for Syrians gathered in London from 4 February 2016 (at the invitation of the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the UN) collected over 10 billion dollars to help.

But there is still a limit to how many refugees the relatively small countries can receive.

4. Turkey: a particular problem - and part of the solution

Turkey has so far received over 2 million Syrian refugees. It is, of course, a big load. Therefore, the EU recently signed an agreement with the Turkish government to support the country with 3 billion Euro to help them integrate these refugees (for schools and other concrete initiatives). This help is just confirmed and is now in the process of being implemented.

But there are at least two major problems with the   actions of Turkey: as a BBC news broadcast showed a few days ago, the human smugglers in large numbers operate unhindered on the west coast of Turkey and send rubber boats   (normally without a captain) off to the nearby Greek islands with unregistered refugees. The Turkish police and other authorities do not intervene. The Turkish authorities have to stop that immediately. This is hopefully one of the conditions for receiving the 3 billion € from the EU.

Another major problem with the Turks is that they use the war against the Assad regime also to bomb the Kurds - in Turkey, but also in Syria and Iraq. It complicates the whole situation strongly. Also because the Kurdish forces prove to be the most effective in the fight on the ground,   especially against ISIL.   The Turkish government must stop these bombings. NOW.   EU and others have several means of pressure, for example. threatning to take the Kurds off the list of terrorist organisations. It will of course also give obligations to the Kurds.

And finally, there is the constantly circulating claim that the Turks are buying oil from ISIL and thus helping to finance this terrorist organisation. Both the Russians and the Israelis say they have evidence of this. It requires immediate fact-finding. President Erdogan has even said that he would resign, if this can be proven.

In short: Turkey is not in an easy situation. But that makes it even more important that they interact with the world in this very serious situation. Otherwise, it should have consequences.

5. War Refugees to be distributed across Europe

EU Commission proposed in autumn 2015, an allocation of 160,000 war refugees. Several EU countries would not agree to that. Only a few hundred have de facto been distributed so far. It is not acceptable.

Countries refusing to take their share of refugees, should see reductions in their grants from EU funds. That money can then be used to help other countries to accept and integrate these refugees.

6. Refugees who commit crimes should be sent back to their home countries very quickly

Rules making it possible to send refugees who commit crimes, back home to their home countries must be ensured as soon as possible. By being criminals they easily destroy the image of all refugees who behave properly. Figures from the German police show that in Germany, it is especially refugees from North Africa who commit crimes (about 40%), while the figure for Syrians and Iraqis are down to about 0.5% (figures from 2014-15). Is the situation the same in other countries?

7. Schengen intra-border controls should be the exception, not the rule

When the external borders of the Schengen area is made (relatively) safe, there is no longer a need to make controls at internal borders between the Schengen countries.
And if some Schengen countries are not able or willing to secure the external border, they should not belong to the Schengen area. It must also be made crystal clear.

8. Active integration of war refugees must be started immediately

Some political forces in Europe do not want the refugees to be integrated into their societies. This is a very shortsighted and inhumane point of view. Experience over many years show that well integrated refugees are an asset to their new host country – economically, politically, culturally, etc. But it is also a fact that most of them are not easy to integrate - partly because they do not have the necessary education and partly because of lack of the local language.

Therefore, it should be a top priority to start efficient training initiatives for refugees. It can take many forms. In Germany, to take an example, 8,500 additional teachers were hired in the schools to teach refugees. Other countries, such as Denmark, have made job training programmes. About 6,000 refugees have so far taken advantage of that offer.   It would be a very helpful initiative, if an overview of BEST PRACTICES in how to integrate refugees in as many European countries as possible was made – and made public.   Who will do that?

Why is it very important to educate the refugees? Partly because our societies in Europe urgently need skilled workers. We do not have sufficient labour force ourselves. Even a quick study of the future population development in Europe will very clearly show that all of our countries will be short of labor in the coming years, if we are to maintain our welfare societies. And partly because they – when there is no longer wars in their countries - can go back and be a very valuable contribution to the reconstruction of their homeland. And they will furthermore keep a very positive memory of our countries, which helped them. Our free, democratic countries should, of course, not decide for them, whether they need one or the other education. But by educating them, you give them the opportunity to choose, what they later want to do.

  And finally, we know that well-integrated and active refugees function much better and work much better than those who are not.   A win-win for everybody in every way.

The EU should also actively consider how its different funds as quickly as possible make this integration and education process as one of their priorities.

NJT - draft 04 02 2016
4th edition

(also to be made in French and German).

And support for this plan has to be mobilised throughout Europe.


F A C T   S H E E T

EU citizens have the right to vote in the European elections from May 22-25, 2014. This is in most cases also so, if you live in another country than the one you are born in.

Altogether 23 EU member states accept votes by their citizens living in another of EU’s 28 member state. And 19 member states also accept it, if they live in a country outside EU.


If you live outside your home country, you can read much more on this website (made by a group of fellow European citizens in the US): 


Here you have all the information you need:

  • If you are entitled to vote
  • When and how to register to use your right to vote
  • How to vote




Your vote is equally important as the vote of any other citizen.  Make your voice heard.  Have a say on how Europe should develop in the years to come.

Niels Jørgen Thøgersen

President of Europeans Throughout the World 


PS:   In ETTW we work hard for giving all European citizens living abroad the right to vote – in European as well as in national elections, either where they live or where they come from.  Support our efforts.

European Citizens and their Voting Rights

European Citizens - And Their Voting Rights

The right to participate in political elections should be obvious

Niels Jørgen Thøgersen

President of Europeans Throughout the World


One of the most fundamental European values ​​is our democracy . A democracy that gives all citizens the right to participate in our political elections, whether they are local , regional, national or European elections. The details of the way our democracies work vary from country to country. But the basic principle is the same: everybody -  some 400 million European adults have the right to participate in all elections - and the right to stand as candidates in these elections .

This is also one of the clear-cut conditions for a country to join the European Union.

But this is still not the case for everyone. More than 15 % of European citizens live in another country than the one they were born in. They are " expatriate citizens " - or " expats " . Most of these Europeans do not have the full right to participate in all elections - or the right to stand as candidates in these elections.

This is clearly against the whole spirit of European values. In addition, it must be in the interest of all countries, that the citizens living in the country, are well integrated and participate as fully as possible in all its activities.

This can also be said in a different way:

When a European exercising his or her right to free movement within the EU  he or she is as a direct consequence deprived of their democratic rights.

And one more thing: everybody regrets the general decline in political interest and activity. It is, therefore, also in that context very regrettable that its governments eliminate the political rights of millions of citizens just because they move to another country.

This problem has over the years been debated on many occasions - unfortunately without significant results. But since the development of our increasingly globalized world means that more and more Europeans are working and living in another country - inside or outside Europe – the importance of solving this problem becomes bigger and bigger.

Some European countries are in different ways trying to solve parts of the problem. In countries such as France, Italy and Portugal their citizens in other countries can elect a number of MPs for their parliaments. In other countries - such as Sweden and Finland so-called "Expat Parliaments" are organized every year or every second year. Participants from their citizens abroad gather and discuss topics of particular interest to them. And the government ministers participate in these meetings and try afterwards to follow-up to the recommendations from these expat parliaments.

Yet other countries (such as the Netherlands, Greece , Romania and Hungary ) have special government offices responsible for assisting their citizens abroad .

And as for direct participation in elections the picture is also very diverse. In the UK, other EU citizens living in the country, may vote in elections to the regional assemblies/parliaments, and to local elections, if they sign up. And British citizens in other countries can do the same for up to 15 years after they left the UK . In most other countries, EU citizens (after a few years' stay in the country) may vote in local elections and European Parliament elections - but not national elections . It is moreover a rule written directly into the European Fundamental Rights, Section 39 and 40.  They are part of the EU's Lisbon treaty from 2009 and therefore legally binding for everybody.

In France and Spain members of their parliaments have recently proposed that citizens from other EU countries who live in the country, should be allowed to vote in national elections. These proposals will now be discussed among the two countries' parliamentarians.

As for the elections to the European Parliament every 5 years , the situation is again different. A total of 23 EU countries ( out of 28) agree that their own citizens living in other EU countries may vote. And 19 of them also agree that their citizens living in non-EU countries may vote in these elections.  But so far few expats do so.


What should be done about it?

The organization ETTW ( Europeans Throughout the World) sees it as one of its main tasks to resolve this fundamental European democratic problem.

It should in our view be solved by the following changes:

1 ) Any European citizen should have the right to vote either in the country, he or she is born in, or in the country he or she is living in. And it should apply to all public elections at all levels

2 ) Every European should (after a short period of stay) also have the right to be a candidate for political elections in the country he or she lives in.

This is our main objective as far as electoral rights for expats are concerned.

In the short term it will – in the view of ETTW - be very positive to motivate as many expats as possible ( by those who have the right to participate today) to participate actively in the European elections in May 2014. No matter where they live in Europe or the world in general .

This can help to stimulate interest in active participation in the democratic process. And it can also help to bring the many problems - and opportunities - which expats represent, directly into the democratic process at European level and in the long term in the individual EU member states as well.

We will, therefore, launch a campaign to convince European expats to use their voting rights in the European elections on May 22-25, 2014.


Niels Jørgen Thøgersen - President of ETTW

January 2014



Imagine you are sitting in front of a small group of people. They ask you: What is Europe today? And what is the European Union?  They don’t know. They should very much like to know.

Listen ! I say. Listen very carefully!

Europe is a patchwork of cultures. Very old cultures. With a patchwork of languages. And it is also a patchwork of countries. Spread out on a very small area. Only 7 % of the land surface of the world. For thousands of years they have been at war with each other. No more so!

How did that happen? Altogether 28 of Europe’s 50 countries have decided to work closely together. They have more than 500 million people. This is the European Union, the EU.  And they are working peacefully with the rest of the countries, their neighbours, with about 200 mill. people.

Just nice intentions? No. The EU cooperation is not just based upon good intentions. Its basis is a number of Treaties. They have been agreed by all. And they give everybody very important rights. And very important duties. In addition to these binding treaties the cooperation is based upon mutual understanding and helpfulness.

What’s in it for the citizens? Every citizen may work, study or live in all countries. And they have the right to be treated exactly like the citizens of the country they go to.

The borders between the countries (except UK and Ireland) are open. No passport controls any more.

Are there special European values ?  Yes. Europe is an area of common values. Democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of the media, equal rights between men and women, protection of minorities, social welfare – and many more. Most of these values are listed in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. This is part of the legally binding treaties and contains 54 articles.

What about money?   Most countries (18 out of 28) use the same currency – the EURO. You can pay with it everywhere. Citizens as well as business save the costs to exchange money.  And  currency speculators can no longer attack and weaken national currencies like in the old days.

Europe also open for business? Yes, absolutely.  Companies in all countries can export and import goods and services from anywhere in Europe – without duties and other restrictions. They can cooperate closely with companies in other countries about production and marketing. And strict EU laws prevent big monopolies from dominating the market. The single market is creating a lot of jobs. In Denmark alone about 500.000 jobs are directly depending on exports to the other European countries.


Research and innovation also an EU priority?  Absolutely. Investments in development of our high-tech and future oriented societies are of crucial importance. And we get more per invested Euro if we do a large part of the research and innovation together.  The new EU programme Horizon 2020 allocates 70 billion Euros to these activities. Just to give one important example.

What about all our young people – many of them unemployed?   Yes, too little has been done. More joint and coordinated initiatives have to be launched. A Youth Employment Package with a youth guarantee is on the table.  Decisions have to be taken. In the member states. And at EU level.

What about Europe’s relations with the outside world?   The EU countries are also working closely together in relation to the rest of the world. It is the largest economic area in the world. It has about 20 % of world trade. And it is the biggest trading partner for 80 countries in the world. The US is the biggest trading partner for 20 countries. Therefore, Europe has a clear interest in free and open trade. It has not turned into protectionism because of the crisis.

Europe is by far the biggest importer of goods and services from the developing countries. It imports more from these countries than the US, Canada, Japan and China put together.

At the same time the European Union is the biggest donor of aid to the developing countries. It gives more than half of all aid given to those countries.

What is Europe’s soft power?  In its dealings with the rest of the world Europe and the EU is using so-called soft power:  diplomacy, negotiations, trade, nation building, election monitoring, training, development and technical assistance, peace building operations.  Yes, it often takes a lot of time. But it is in line with important European values. And it is more efficient in the long run.

What are the main challenges for Europe in the future?  Europe is part of the more and more globalised world. With its very important trade and with its open-minded traditions it is at the centre of globalization.  But the role and importance of Europe is shrinking, because the rest of the world develops faster. In population, in economic terms and also politically.

No European country – big or small – is able to handle these challenges on its own. It is generally agreed that only by working closely together Europe can avoid being marginalized. Loosing jobs. Loosing wealth. Loosing influence on our own fate.

By working together Europe can continue to defend European values and Europe’s way of life. By investing decisively in education, research, innovation and culture Europe stands a very good chance to continue to be an appreciated and influential part of the world.


This is the European Union today.


But aren’t there any difficulties? Of course, there are.  One is that Europe is often slow totake decisions. Democracy takes time.  Democracy in its daily work can be complicated and confusing.  But thousands of joint decisions are taken every day. They are often not very known or visible. But they are very important for our daily lives.

Another difficulty is that – like everywhere in life – sometimes a country, a company, a person does not obey to the agreed rules. The EU has a well tested mechanism to handle that. Again: it might take some time. But at the end it normally succeeds.

And a third difficulty is our economic crisis, the unemployment, the lack of growth in Europe.   It is generally agreed that this is not because of the European Union. It would have been much worse without the EU.  But it is also agreed by most people that the EU has to be stronger to handle these problems. More common decisions to tackle the common problems like coordinated efforts to stimulate investments and creation of jobs. More common stance towards the outside world, i.e. to defend free trade, common standards in protection of the climate, international standards in working conditions, etc.


How to understand the EU today?   The European Union today is based on the same principles as before. And it is constantly in need to develop – to adapt – to find new ways to solve new challenges. To understand it you have to focus on what our key values are and what the globalised world means to us.


And finally how to influence the European Union?    The EU is all of us. And we all have – like in any other democracy – the possibility to make our voice heard in elections be it national or European elections. We can work with our elected politicians on a daily basis. We can work through civil society. Via the media. And by direct contact to the EU institutions, incl. the European Ombudsman.  Tell them what you think. Be involved. Contribute actively to the common efforts.

The European Union is – like each member state -  apolitical battlefield. A battlefield where we all and our politicians have to discuss and take decisions based on our political views and priorities.

By always saying no and blocking common decisions you get nowhere. Like in a car. If you only push the brakes you do not move.  But the world moves on.  With or without you. 

We are all responsible for using European skills and determination to be a part of the ongoing developments – and not being left behind with all our problems which we never can solve alone.


Niels Jørgen Thøgersen

Draft 2.

December 2, 2013   

Van Rompuy's and Barroso's speeches in Oslo 10 Dec 2012
N�5;obel Peace Prize Lecture on behalf of the European Union

Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council and
José Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the European Commission

Oslo, 10 December 2012

“From war to peace: a European tale”
[President Van Rompuy takes the floor:]

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Heads of State and Government, Members of the
Norwegian Nobel Committee, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with humility and gratitude that we stand here together, to receive this award on behalf of the
European Union.
At a time of uncertainty, this day reminds people across Europe and the world of the Union's
fundamental purpose: to further the fraternity between European nations, now and in the future.
It is our work today. It has been the work of generations before us. And it will be the work of
generations after us.
Here in Oslo, I want to pay homage to all the Europeans who dreamt of a continent at peace with
itself, and to all those who day by day make this dream a reality. This award belongs to them.

War is as old as Europe. Our continent bears the scars of spears and swords, canons and guns,
trenches and tanks, and more.
The tragedy of it all resonates in the words of Herodotus, 25 centuries ago: “In peace, sons bury
their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons.”
Yet, after two terrible wars engulfed the continent and the world with it, finally lasting peace came
to Europe.
In those grey days, its cities were in ruins, the hearts of many still simmering with mourning and
resentment. How difficult it then seemed, as Winston Churchill said, "to regain the simple joys and
hopes that make life worth living".
As a child born in Belgium just after the war, I heard the stories first-hand. My grandmother spoke
about the Great War. In 1940, my father, then seventeen, had to dig his own grave. He got away;
otherwise I would not be here today.
So what a bold bet it was, for Europe's Founders, to say, yes, we can break this endless cycle of
violence, we can stop the logic of vengeance, we can build a brighter future, together. What power
of the imagination.
Of course, peace might have come to Europe without the Union. Maybe. We will never know. But
it would never have been of the same quality. A lasting peace, not a frosty cease-fire. To me, what
makes it so special, is reconciliation.
In politics as in life, reconciliation is the most difficult thing. It goes beyond forgiving and
forgetting, or simply turning the page.
To think of what France and Germany had gone through, and then take this step. Signing a Treaty
of Friendship. Each time I hear these words – Freundschaft, Amitié –, I am moved. They are private
words, not for treaties between nations.
But the will to not let history repeat itself, to do something radically new, was so strong that new
words had to be found. For people Europe was a promise, Europe equalled hope.
When Konrad Adenauer came to Paris to conclude the Coal and Steel Treaty, in 1951, one evening
he found a gift waiting at his hotel. It was a war medal, une Croix de Guerre, that had belonged to a
French soldier. His daughter, a young student, had left it with a little note for the Chancellor, as a
gesture of reconciliation and hope.

I can see many other stirring images before me. Leaders of six States assembled to open a new
future, in Rome, città eterna. Willy Brandt kneeling down in Warsaw. The dockers of Gdansk, at
the gates of their shipyard. Mitterrand and Kohl hand in hand. Two million people linking Tallinn to
Riga to Vilnius in a human chain, in 1989. These moments healed Europe.
But symbolic gestures alone cannot cement peace. This is where the European Union's "secret
weapon" comes into play: an unrivalled way of binding our interests so tightly that war becomes
materially impossible. Through constant negotiations, on ever more topics, between ever more
It's the golden rule of Jean Monnet: "Mieux vaut se disputer autour d'une table que sur un champ de
bataille." ("Better fight around a table than on a battle-field.") If I had to explain it to Alfred Nobel,
I would say: not just a peace congress, a perpetual peace congress!
Admittedly, some aspects can be puzzling, and not only to outsiders. Ministers from landlocked
countries passionately discussing fish-quota. Europarlementarians from Scandinavia debating the
price of olive oil. The Union has perfected the art of compromise.
No drama of victory or defeat, but ensuring all countries emerge victorious from talks. For this,
boring politics is only a small price to pay. It worked. Peace is now self-evident. War has become
inconceivable. Yet 'inconceivable' does not mean 'impossible'.
And that is why we are gathered here today. Europe must keep its promise of peace. I believe this is
still our Union's ultimate purpose. But Europe can no longer rely on this promise alone to inspire
In a way, it's a good thing; war-time memories are fading. Even if not yet everywhere. Soviet rule
over Eastern Europe ended just two decades ago. Horrendous massacres took place in the Balkans
shortly after. The children born at the time of Srebrenica will only turn eighteen next year. But they
already have little brothers and sisters born after that war: the first real post-war generation of
Europe. This must remain so.
So, where there was war, there is now peace. But another historic task now lies ahead of us: keeping
peace where there is peace.
After all, history is not a novel, a book we can close after a Happy Ending: we remain fully
responsible for what is yet to come.

This couldn't be more clear than it is today, when we are hit by the worst economic crisis in two
generations, causing great hardship among our people, and putting the political bonds of our Union
to the test.
Parents struggling to make ends meet, workers recently laid off, students who fear that, however
hard they try, they won't get that first job: when they think about Europe, peace is not the first thing
that comes to mind…
When prosperity and employment, the bedrock of our societies, appear threatened, it is natural to
see a hardening of hearts, the narrowing of interests, even the return of long-forgotten fault-lines
and stereotypes. For some, not only joint decisions, but the very fact of deciding jointly, may come
into doubt. And while we must keep a sense of proportion – even such tensions don't take us back to
the darkness of the past –, the test Europe is currently facing is real.
If I can borrow the words of Abraham Lincoln at the time of another continental test, what is being
assessed today is "whether that Union, or any Union so conceived and so dedicated, can long
We answer with our deeds, confident we will succeed. We are working very hard to overcome the
difficulties, to restore growth and jobs. There is of course sheer necessity. But there is more that
guides us: the will to remain masters of our own destiny, a sense of togetherness, and in a way
speaking to us from the centuries, the idea of Europa itself.
The presence of so many European leaders here today underlines our common conviction: that we
will come out of this together, and stronger. Strong enough in the world to defend our interests and
promote our values. We all work to leave a better Europe for the children of today and those of
tomorrow. So that, later, others might turn and judge: that generation, ours, preserved the promise
of Europe.
Today's youth is already living in a new world. For them Europe is a daily reality. Not the
constraint of being in the same boat. No, the richness of being able to freely share, travel and
exchange. To share and shape a continent, experiences, a future.
Our continent, risen from the ashes after 1945 and united in 1989, has a great capacity to reinvent
itself. It is to the next generations to take this common adventure further. I hope they will seize this
responsibility with pride. And that they will be able to say, as we here today: Ich bin ein Europäer.
Je suis fier d'être européen. I am proud to be European.

[President Barroso takes the floor:]
"Peace is not mere absence of war, it is a virtue", wrote Spinoza: "Pax enim non belli privatio, sed
virtus est". And he added it is "a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice".
Indeed, there can only be true peace if people are confident. At peace with their political system.
Reassured that their basic rights are respected.
The European Union is not only about peace among nations. It incarnates, as a political project, that
particular state of mind that Spinoza was referring to. It embodies, as a community of values, this
vision of freedom and justice.
I remember vividly in 1974 being in the mass of people, descending the streets in my native Lisbon,
in Portugal, celebrating the democratic revolution and freedom. This same feeling of joy was
experienced by the same generation in Spain and Greece. It was felt later in Central and Eastern
Europe and in the Baltic States when they regained their independence. Several generations of
Europeans have shown again and again that their choice for Europe was also a choice for freedom.
I will never forget Rostropovich playing Bach at the fallen Wall in Berlin. This image reminds the
world that it was the quest for freedom and democracy that tore down the old divisions and made
possible the reunification of the continent. Joining the European Union was essential for the
consolidation of democracy in our countries.
Because it places the person and respect of human dignity at its heart. Because it gives a voice to
differences while creating unity. And so, after reunification, Europe was able to breathe with both
its lungs, as said by Karol Wojtyła. The European Union has become our common house. The
"homeland of our homelands" as described by Vaclav Havel.
Our Union is more than an association of states. It is a new legal order, which is not based on the
balance of power between nations but on the free consent of states to share sovereignty.
From pooling coal and steel, to abolishing internal borders, from six countries to soon twenty-eight
with Croatia joining the family this has been a remarkable European journey which is leading us to
an "ever closer Union". And today one of the most visible symbols of our unity is in everyone's
hands. It is the Euro, the currency of our European Union. We will stand by it.
Peace cannot rest only on the good will of man. It needs to be grounded on a body of laws, on
common interests and on a deeper sense of a community of destiny.

The genius of the founding fathers was precisely in understanding that to guarantee peace in the 20th
century nations needed to think beyond the nation-state. As Walter Hallstein, the first President of
the European Commission said: "Das System der 7ationalstaaten hat den wichtigsten Test des 20.
Jahrhunderts nicht bestanden ("The system of sovereign nation-states has failed the most important
test of the 20th century"). And he added " through two world wars it has proved itself unable to
preserve peace."
The uniqueness of the European project is to have combined the legitimacy of democratic States
with the legitimacy of supranational institutions: the European Commission, the European Court of
Justice. Supranational institutions that protect the general European interest, defend the European
common good and embody the community of destiny. And alongside the European Council, where
the governments are represented, we have over the years developed a unique transnational
democracy symbolised by the directly elected European Parliament.
Our quest for European unity is not a perfect work of art; it is work in progress that demands
constant and diligent tending. It is not an end in itself, but a means to higher ends. In many ways, it
attests to the quest for a cosmopolitan order, in which one person's gain does not need to be another
person's pain; in which abiding by common norms serves universal values.
That is why despite its imperfections, the European Union can be, and indeed is, a powerful
inspiration for many around the world. Because the challenges faced from one region to the other
may differ in scale but they do not differ in nature.
We all share the same planet. Poverty, organised crime, terrorism, climate change: these are
problems that do not respect national borders. We share the same aspirations and universal values:
these are progressively taking root in a growing number of countries all over the world. We share
"l'irréductible humain", the irreducible uniqueness of the human being. Beyond our nation, beyond
our continent, we are all part of one mankind.
Jean Monnet, ends his Memoirs with these words: "Les nations souveraines du passé ne sont plus le
cadre où peuvent se résoudre les problèmes du présent. Et la communauté elle-même n'est qu'un
étape vers les formes d'organisation du monde de demain." ("The sovereign nations of the past can
no longer solve the problems of the present. And the [European] Community itself is only a stage
on the way to the organised world of the future.")
This federalist and cosmopolitan vision is one of the most important contributions that the European
Union can bring to a global order in the making.

The concrete engagement of the European Union in the world is deeply marked by our continent's
tragic experience of extreme nationalism, wars and the absolute evil of the Shoah. It is inspired by
our desire to avoid the same mistakes being made again.
That is the foundation of our multilateral approach for a globalisation based on the twin principles
of global solidarity and global responsibility; that is what inspires our engagement with our
neighbouring countries and international partners, from the Middle East to Asia, from Africa to the
It defines our stance against the death penalty and our support for international justice embodied by
the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court, it drives our leadership in
the fight against climate change and for food and energy security; it underpins our policies on
disarmament and against nuclear proliferation.
As a continent that went from devastation to become one of the world's strongest economies, with
the most progressive social systems, being the world's largest aid donor, we have a special
responsibility to millions of people in need.
In the 21st century it is simply unacceptable to see parents powerless as their baby is dying of lack
of basic medical care, mothers compelled to walk all day in the hope of getting food or clean water
and boys and girls deprived of their childhood because they are forced to become adults ahead of
As a community of nations that has overcome war and fought totalitarianism, we will always stand
by those who are in pursuit of peace and human dignity.
And let me say it from here today: the current situation in Syria is a stain on the world's conscience
and the international community has a moral duty to address it.
And as today marks the international human rights day, more than any other day our thoughts go to
the human rights' defenders all over the world who put their lives at risk to defend the values that
we cherish. And no prison wall can silence their voice. We hear them in this room today.
And we also remember that last year on this very podium three women were honoured for their
non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights. As a Union built on the
founding value of equality between women and men, enshrined in the Treaty of Rome in 1957, we
are committed to protecting women's rights all over the world and supporting women's
empowerment. And we cherish the fundamental rights of those who are the most vulnerable, and
hold the future in their hands: the children of this world.

As a successful example of peaceful reconciliation based on economic integration, we contribute to
developing new forms of cooperation built on exchange of ideas, innovation and research. Science
and culture are at the very core of the European openness: they enrich us as individuals and they
create bonds beyond borders.
Humbled, and grateful for the award of the Nobel Peace Prize, there is no better place to share this
vision than here in Norway, a country which has been giving so much to the cause of global peace.
The "pacification of Europe" was at the heart of Alfred Nobel's concerns. In an early version of his
will, he even equated it to international peace.
This echoes the very first words of the Schuman Declaration, the founding document of the
European Union. "La paix mondiale". "World Peace," it says, "cannot be safeguarded without the
making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it."
My message today is: you can count on our efforts to fight for lasting peace, freedom and justice in
Europe and in the world.
Over the past sixty years, the European project has shown that it is possible for peoples and nations
to come together across borders. That it is possible to overcome the differences between "them" and
Here today, our hope, our commitment, is that, with all women and men of good will, the European
Union will help the world come together.
Tony Blair's speech in London 28 11 12

EXT OF SPEECH - Europe, Britain and Business, Beyond the Crisis - The Rt. Hon. Tony Blair

The following speech was delivered by Tony Blair at the Business for New Europe event, 'Europe, Britain and Business - Beyond the Crisis' at Chatham House on Wednesday 28th November 2012:

The toughest challenge in politics right now is resolving the tension between the best long-term policy and the best short-term politics. Nowhere is this tension clearer than in the debate over Europe.

Europe has disturbed and divided British politics for years. One of my first votes was in the 1975 referendum on Britain’s membership. That followed years of indecision and frustration. Since then the turmoil it has caused in our politics has rarely abated. I fought my first election in 1983 when Labour promised withdrawal. I fought my last election in 2005 when the Tories had become the Eurosceptic party.

But now is different. Now the case for Britain leaving the EU or at least radically changing its relationship with it – which may amount to the same thing – is made openly by mainstream politicians from the governing party, sympathised with by some of our nation’s leaders and far more widely supported amongst the public at large.

The reasons for this resurgent hostility/scepticism are not hard to fathom. Europe is in crisis. The Euro’s design flaw – an economic union motivated by politics but expressed in economics – has become manifest. Structural changes to those economies that saw a big fall in interest rates when they joined a Germany dominated currency bloc, now have to be made, at speed, in crisis and without the luxury of devaluation. The pain this policy is causing is shown in demonstrations all over the continent and in the bitter impact on many struggling families, the young and the old.  The foundation of the pro Europe case was partly the promise of ever upward prosperity.  At present that promise is severely in question.

So the flagship policy of Europe is listing dangerously. As I have said before, to save it, I believe, requires a kind of ‘Grand Bargain’ approach rather than incremental steps, in which Germany agrees, effectively, to some form of mutualisation of debt; the debtor countries carry out profound structural reform; and the ECB stands fully behind the bargain. There are some signs this may happen. But even if it does, Europe will suffer for some time to come.

What the Eurozone crisis has done is to expose the need for Europe to reform. But it hasn’t created it. It has accelerated this need, but the need was there anyway. Changes to the labour market, pensions, welfare and the way the State operates are necessary in all Western countries for reasons of demography, technology and external competition.  The European social model has to change radically for Europe to prosper.

Many of these arguments over the years have lain most comfortably in the mouths of Eurosceptics. They were never the only ones to make them by the way. My speeches on Europe as Prime Minister were littered with references to the pro-Europe, pro-reform case.

But the truth is: much of the criticism levelled at Europe has been justified and is shown to be justified now.

So the public attitudes to Europe are explicable and understandable. Plus you can add in the EU Budget row – though frankly such rows are absolutely routine and in these economic circumstances, inevitable, where all countries including Britain will vigorously defend their interests. But it adds to the sense of European malaise.

The short term politics are clear: being anti-Europe is today popular. However leadership is not about conceding to the short-terms politics. It is about managing the short-term politics in the pursuit of the right long-term policy.

‘Europe is in crisis, therefore leave’ may win a majority in an opinion poll. But in the leap to the ‘therefore’ lies a chasm of error. I want to explain why I believe such a policy would be politically debilitating, economically damaging and hugely destructive of Britain’s true long-term interests.  Our country faces a real and present danger by edging towards exit. The correct policy is to engage, to make it clear Britain intends to be a strong participant in the debates about Europe’s future, to build alliances and to shape an outcome to those debates consistent with the right way forward not just for Britain but for Europe as a whole.

First, take a big step back from crisis and ask: what is the long-term rationale for Europe today? If there isn’t one, of course, then why would we want to be part of it? However, the truth is the rationale for Europe today is stronger not weaker than it was back 66 years ago when the project began. But it is different. Then the rationale was peace. Today it is power. Then it was about a continent ravaged by war in which Germany had been the aggressor and Britain the victor. Today it is about a world in which global geo-politics is undergoing its biggest change for centuries. Power is shifting West to East. China has emerged, with its economy opening up, one which will grow eventually to be the world’s largest. Its population is three times that of the whole of the EU. India has over a billion people. Brazil is two times the size of the largest European country, Indonesia three times and there are a host of countries including Russia, Turkey, Mexico, Vietnam, the Philippines and Egypt larger today than any single EU nation.

What is more, as technology and capital become globally mobile, in time there will be a re-alignment of GDP and population i.e. the larger your population, the bigger your economy. The USA remains extraordinarily strong, its military easily the largest and best equipped but the time when it has been the world’s only superpower, is passing.

That is the big picture. The case for the EU today, therefore is one that can be made for all European nations including Britain. It is that, in this new world, to leverage power, you need the heft of the EU. This is true in economics, in trade, in defence, foreign policy and global challenges such as climate change. It gives us a weight collectively that on our own we lack. It is not complex. It really is that simple. I rather like the idealism of Europe’s early founders. But actually this has nothing to do with idealism. It is brutal real politik. In a world in which China and India will both have populations 20 times that of the UK, we need the EU to help pursue our national interest. With it, we count for more. Without it, we count for less.

So the real issue for us should be: what type of EU? And here there is no doubt that Europe needs fundamental, far reaching reform. Many of those reforms are precisely what the UK has been arguing for, like reform of the social model. It should be pointed out that these reforms are partially being made. Spain’s labour costs have declined substantially since the crisis began. Italy has grasped crucially important reforms in areas like pensions. Greece has cut spending by a bigger amount proportionally than any country in Europe since the War. 

Other reforms especially in the arena of political reform, will be hotly contested. The UK takes a more nation-state view of the EU; others have a Federalist concept. 

Some reforms are now certain to follow from the Euro crisis like enhanced fiscal cooperation between the Eurozone members and banking union.

Thus over the next 2 or 3 years there is bound to be a vast churning debate about Europe’s future. This will be so, by the way, irrespective of what happens to the Euro. If it survives, for sure big change will happen. But even if it were to break up, and I hope it will not, the consequences for Europe and its institutions will be dramatic.

This debate is not one way. It never is. It doesn’t take a political genius to work out that strong though the French/German motor is in Europe, it is not always sparking in synch let us say. There are differences North/South; between large and small; between those who favour a more conservative fiscal approach and those who favour a more lax one; on a range of topics from defence through to labour market reform. As Britain has just discovered in the Budget debate, it can make allies and powerful ones.

When it comes to the future shape of Europe – economically, socially and politically – there is not a pre-destined consensus. There is a tumult of debate, discussion and dissension.

This is the last moment, the last moment conceivable, that we should start talking about leaving, about quitting the field just as the game starts, marginalising ourselves at the very point at which we should be at the centre of things.

Instead we should be building alliances and more than that, originating ideas, not just responding to them. The truth about Europe’s public opinion is that when Britain argues its case in Europe and about Europe, it is far more popular than that advanced by many others. But when Britain makes a case against Europe it deprives us of the credibility to win the argument that matters.

So the essential concept of a balance between integration and the nation-state is widely shared. An approach by Europe’s leaders that focuses on clear outcomes in specific areas is what most people in Europe would, along with changes to the Eurozone, support. This agenda would be about: completion of the single market to create jobs; common defence policy in an era where global ambitions aren’t satisfied by national budgets; energy and the environment, where the gains, financial and otherwise, of cooperation could be enormous; in the fight against illegal immigration and organised crime; in art and culture and higher education, where Europe is struggling to match the USA. An approach that says: first let us ask what we want Europe to do and then let us design mechanisms to do it, would draw support across Europe.  Right now when most EU members and the European institutions are properly concerned with the Euro crisis, the field is wide open for the UK to seize the initiative rather than wait passively to consider an agenda set by others.

It is in Europe’s interests that the proposals for the SSM, the integrated financial and fiscal framework, and the integrated economic framework, are correct. But it is also in Britain’s interests. Especially when predicting next year is difficult let alone the next 50 years, is it not in our interests to influence this debate too?

If the strategic rationale for Europe remains strong, then it cannot be in Britain’s interests either for us to be marginal to the debate about its future or indifferent to its outcome. 

But if we want to participate we have to do so not just as Brits but as Europeans, not semi-detached because we are contemplating the option of leaving, but in the thick of it because we intend fully to remain at the heart of it.

That, of course depends on Britain recognising not just the strategic rationale for Europe, but the strategic interest of Britain to be in it.

Here it is no longer good enough for us pro-Europeans to claim that the case for departure is made only by atavistic Little Englanders, or to pretend that outside the EU, Britain would collapse or disintegrate.

Britain could have a future outside of Europe. The question is whether it should. We should ask, not: could it be done; but is it wise? Is it a sensible judgement in our long-term interests? And neither should we exaggerate the economic impact of leaving. I can imagine how we could create an economy that could operate effectively in the global market. But just as I should not exaggerate the consequences of Britain leaving, so those in favour of this course should not understate them.

First, let us demolish one delusion: that Britain could be like Norway or Switzerland. Norway has a population of around 4.5 million and a GDP of $485.8 billion. It also has a sovereign wealth fund presently at over $600 billion rising to $1 trillion by 2020. It has this through vast reserves of oil and gas. If Britain with a GDP of $2.43  trillion had a wealth fund sitting in our accounts of roughly $3 trillion, all the arguments would change. But we don’t.

Switzerland is a unique case, politically and economically. I don’t know anyone serious who believes we could become like the Swiss.

That is not to say we could not develop our own unique brand. But in circumstances where 50% of our trade is presently with Europe and our social systems, though different in detail, are still broadly similar in principle to those in Europe, then the people who say we should have our own unique position outside Europe should at least spell out the economic and social policy that would need to be brought into being, to create such a future.

There are three major disadvantages to Britain from being outside the EU. I am not saying these arguments can’t be contested but I think they are reasonably clear.

First, we would lose our global leadership role. Don’t be under any illusions on this. Britain being part of Europe matters to how we are seen, by the world in general and our allies in particular. Any US President I know would regard Britain leaving as folly. The idea we would then seek new relationships with the likes of China and India is an especial illusion. Of course the bilateral relationship with both is strong and of course there are great trading opportunities. But both will never subordinate their Europe relationship to a British one outside of Europe. Our trade with India depends hugely on Europe negotiating the FTA and Germany currently exports more than double what we do to India and to China; and France and even Italy export more to India.

Politics at the top international level is about power. Separate us out from the decision-making structure of Europe and we will immediately relegate ourselves in the league of nations. I believe our other alliances would not blossom but decline.

Secondly, despite our close links to Europe economically, we would be out of the decision-making process determining the rules of the single market. Our companies know this. Global companies who use the UK as a base for Europe know this. When, in Government, we came to look closely at the risks to London as a financial centre from being outside the Euro, we concluded you can’t make a compelling case that it could damage us. We were never in any doubt that being out of Europe altogether was a completely different matter. Yes, we can negotiate special arrangements but each of those has to be individually negotiated.  And for the record, Norway is a major net contributor to the EU Budget as the price of its negotiation despite not being a member.  I am very dubious that other European countries would allow Britain to operate like some offshore centre at the edge of Europe, free from Europe’s responsibilities but participating fully in its opportunities. Any one of those countries within Europe could say no and no would therefore be the likely answer. We want to think long and hard before we put ourselves in that position.

Thirdly, we would lose the opportunity for co-operation and added strength on issues which we care about and where we want and need such cooperation and strength. Climate change and the environment. Trade negotiations. Foreign policy, where sometimes it will suit us to have European and not just US support. Bilateral disputes, where as we saw recently with Argentina, Europe’s solidarity counts. We cut ourselves out of future developments in Europe. We cut ourselves off from our main regional bloc when look what is happening elsewhere in the world: ASEAN, out in the Far East, now 700 million people strong looking to get its single market underway; in South America through MERCOSUR and UNASUR; the Africa Union; even the Customs Union being promoted by Russia. Everywhere nations are coming together in regional blocs. Is Britain going to drift apart from the one on its doorstep?

The reason this case has to be made now is a reason integral to understanding how political decision-making works. Sometimes decisions are taken at a moment in time, expressly and obviously. But political decisions can also be taken by effluxion, by a process that begins with an attitude, turns into a series of tactical steps driven by the attitude and then results in a decision that is strategic in effect but almost imperceptible in any one moment of time.  That is the risk now.

Let us be very clear too about this ‘renegotiating the terms of membership’ line. This is the refuge of those who want to leave but want to persuade people that really it’s just an adjustment of our relationship. Then in the course of ‘the adjustment’ when the going gets very rough, as it will, they will then say ‘well it’s a pity but now it seems adjustment is not enough’. If we make the burden of our endeavour in Europe over the next few years not how we can help Europe sort itself out, get on its feet again and progress, but rather how we change our own relationship with Europe; don’t be in any doubt as to the temper and frame of mind that our present partners will bring to that negotiation. Many of them are fighting an existential battle to survive right now. There will be varying degrees of politeness. But they will not thank us and will not accommodate us. So don’t go down this path unless we are prepared to follow it all the way. 

There is a lesson from history. Back when Europe was debating its first tentative steps toward integration, Churchill made his famous speech calling for a United States of Europe, in 1946 in Zurich. But it is important to note he was passionately in favour of France and Germany coming together to found this new Europe. He believed it was the route to peace after the horrors of war. He wished the enterprise well; but he didn’t intend for Britain to be part of it. So we weren’t.

But we spent the next two decades and more trying to get into it; and when eventually we did, many of the rules and much of the institutional infrastructure was already set in stone. If we could have foreseen in 1946 the future 66 years later what would we have wanted? I have no doubt we would have wanted to have been in there from the beginning.

This turmoil in Europe will produce a new settlement in Europe probably as momentous as any since those days of 66 years ago. We should not make the same mistake twice. This time whatever the challenges, we should put our shoulders to the wheel and be part of the collective effort to make Europe strong and effective once more.

Europe is a destiny we will never embrace easily. But it is an absolutely essential part of our nation remaining a world power, politically and economically.  It would be a monumental error of statesmanship to turn our back on it and fall away from a crucial position of power and influence in the 21st Century.

Angela Merkel's speech to the European Parliament 7.11.12

Speech by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in the European Parliament in Brussels

Thu, 08.11.2012

Mr President, Martin Schulz,
Members of the European Parliament, ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to be able to speak to you today. This is my first opportunity to do so since the German Council Presidency in 2007. I would like to use the opportunity to give you my slant on the State of the Union – not looking primarily at the Multiannual Financial Framework but I’m sure we can come back to that in the discussion.

In two days it is 9 November which this year marks the 23rd anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. 9 November 1989 was a truly wonderful moment in the history of Germany and indeed the whole of Europe. It marks the start of an era of freedom, unity and democracy in Germany and all across Europe.

We Germans will never forget that the happy development of our country is inextricably linked to the history of the European Union. We will never forget that we also owe a debt of gratitude especially to our eastern neighbours for their courageous yearning for freedom.

We Germans are aware of our responsibility for a bright future for the EU. It is in this spirit that the German Federal Government’s policies are geared towards the interests of both our country and Europe.

I would like to recall a leitmotif today, a mainspring of European integration, namely the freedom that opens the way for a life in peace and prosperity. It is this freedom in all its facets – freedom of expression, of the media, belief and assembly – that we have to work tirelessly to defend. Without freedom there can be no rule of law. Without freedom there can be no diversity and no tolerance. Freedom is the foundation for the united and determined Europe.

Particularly in this major test that Europe faces today, the power of freedom can help us lead Europe out of the crisis stronger than before. After all, the power of freedom, I am convinced, also gives us the courage to change. It is precisely this courage to change that we now need to show to assert the European Union in the international race that is the 21st century.

On my trips outside the European Union, for example to Asia, I have in recent years got to know many dynamic, ambitious countries that are very much on the rise. There, people look with keen interest to us, the European Union. But the people there often ask me with some scepticism: will the European experiment weather the crisis?

This question makes it plain. The current grave crisis dominates people’s perception of the European Union – also those looking from the outside. Now it is up to us to change the sceptical attitude towards Europe and catch up in global competition – through hard work at home.

For this reason, it is not just a great honour for the European Union to receive the Nobel Peace Prize this year. This important prize in the midst of the most serious crisis to strike Europe since the adoption of the Treaties of Rome 55 years ago is also an extremely valuable political signal to the world, but also to the Europeans.

Martin Schulz will receive the prize in Oslo together with the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission. I am delighted that some of my colleagues have, like myself, decided to attend the ceremony. By being there, we want to underscore that the European Union is all of us together: 500 million citizens. We all know that we Europeans have united for the better.

The Nobel Peace Prize reminds us never to forget this no matter how huge the challenges and how difficult our work and our daily lives. With its decision, the Nobel Committee is enjoining us to focus once more on what is really crucial in the current crisis. It is not the debt figures, unit labour costs and growth rates, no matter how important that all is. What is truly important is instead the realization that our single currency is so much more than just a currency. It is the symbol for the peaceful and democratic unification of Europe we have achieved. It is the symbol for a Europe of peace, prosperity and progress.

So what we are actually talking about at the current time is preserving and further developing European unification for the good of our children. That is why the Nobel Peace Prize is a mandate for us all to create a better EU together – a Europe marked by strength and stability.

Martin Schulz was right when he said in his inaugural speech as newly elected President of the European Parliament “Either we all lose, or we all win.” The conclusion we draw, ladies and gentlemen, can only be that we want to and indeed will win together. That is certainly what I want.

Together we can assert our European model that combines economic success with social responsibility. And taking it further, together we can consolidate it to make it stronger than ever. To do so, we need together to recall the power of freedom and find the courage to change.

We can see the first fruits of our efforts to overcome the crisis, both at the level of member states and also in the development of new crisis management instruments. Yet we must not leave it at that. Much remains to be done to win back trust in the European Union as a whole. That is why we must not stop halfway.

I would like to make a pledge to you here today. Germany will do everything it can to ensure the European Union can also in future keep its promise of freedom and prosperity. But I am also here because I am counting on your support. Once again, we are hearing more and more voices saying we could just sit back and relax now, saying we don’t actually need to renew economic and monetary union because the work has already been done with the immediate crisis management measures.

To my mind, that is completely wrong. Instead of sitting back, we need to ensure step by step at all levels of the EU that Europe’s strengths can flourish once more: the freedom, the dyna¬mism and the prosperity that the European Union can offer its people at home; the impact and influence that the European Union gives us in the outside world.

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, said in his speech on the State of the Union on 12 September in this chamber: “We must complete the economic and monetary union.” In fact, we now need to find the right way forward to stabilize economic and monetary union in the long term by rectifying the design flaws. We need to be ambitious here and must not shy away from changing the treaty basis of economic and monetary union if this should prove necessary. This process of deepening the European Union is indispensable. In this process, I see you, the European Parliament, and also the European Commission as allies. Let me say that quite plainly.

There is no model for the current crisis. The European Union is a unique entity. That is why we now have to do what Europe is rightly famous for, that is, we need to be inventive. We need to find our own, new solutions. All member states need to implement reforms, structural changes and tough consolidation steps to increase competitiveness if we are to effectively combat the causes of the crisis.

I know that this is really asking a lot of the people in the member states particularly affected by the crisis. I know the people there are finding it very difficult as a result of these steps. But I have some good news for you at such a difficult time. The reforms are starting to bear fruit. It is not a waste of time. It is worth it. In Ireland, Portugal and Spain, but also in Greece, unit labour costs have dropped significantly. That is a key factor in competitiveness. Current account deficits are also falling.

The consistent reform path followed by the member states to increase competitiveness is also of course bolstered by the solidarity of Europe, for example through the new permanent rescue package, the European Stability Mechanism. The two go hand in hand and they are both equally important.

Sustainable consolidation and growth are interdependent. The two need to be pursued with equal vigour. I want to say that again because sometimes we try to play one off against the other. But we need them both. We want new growth. We want more jobs based on solid budgets. But we also have a responsibility towards future generations not to rob them of possibilities in the future. Growth is rooted in enterprise. Growth is not something we can define politically. Rather, we need entrepreneurs in Europe. Entrepreneurship is rooted in freedom and the necessary flexibility. We need to work on this in Europe.

That is why the Euro Plus Pact includes steps to strengthen growth and employment in the member states. That is why we made a point of bolstering the fiscal compact with a Compact for Growth and Jobs. So on the one hand it is matter of targeting public spending. But because it isn’t just about money, we are on the other hand creating the conditions for new growth, above all by working hard to further develop the internal market.

We now need to rapidly implement the legislative steps included in the Compact for Growth and Jobs. This will release growth momentum that is crucial for our future. The Council is committed here, as is, I am convinced, the Parliament.

Of course, the Multiannual Financial Framework that we want to adopt at the European Coun¬cil in two weeks is also an essential prerequisite if we are to provide the necessary impetus for growth. Each and every euro that we spend – and this must be our yardstick – needs to create added value in terms of growth and jobs. It is not enough to spend money, rather the money has to be invested in a good and targeted manner.

We need to take a very close look at our policies at national and European level to effectively combat the roots of the crisis. Critically analysing and then rectifying the design flaws in the architecture of economic and monetary union is no less important. The only way to be successful in the long term, I am convinced, is if we pay equal attention to both. That is the only way to build a Europe marked by strength and stability.

It was the Maastricht Treaty that created economic and monetary union in 1992, twenty years ago. Back then, there was not enough support for those who wanted to bolster monetary union with a real economic union. A monetary union with fully communitarized monetary policy was the result. Economic union, however, was weak in structure. Today, we are dealing with the consequences of these decisions, consequences which remained concealed initially after the introduction of the euro only to emerge later.

For example, the differences in the competitiveness of the member states of the eurozone have increased not decreased. By way of example, we need only look at the development of unit labour costs. In his capacity as ECB President, Jean-Claude Trichet made the point on many occasions. All too often, it fell on deaf ears.

In some member states, it was also possible to accumulate massive debts for years without being penalized by higher interest or by the sanctions created for the purpose in the Stability and Growth Pact.

This all goes to show that the problems we are dealing with today had taken root long before the current crisis began.

The problems are of course different in each member state, ranging from government debt, banking crises, private sector debt to a lack of competitiveness. And with the onset of the global financial and economic crisis in 2008/9, developments were exacerbated.

If all the member states had stuck to the agreed thresholds and engaged in reform to increase their competitiveness, economic and monetary union would never have been embroiled in such a crisis even with a relatively week economic union. But the mix of home-grown contraventions and design flaws almost spelt disaster for Europe.

That is why I believe it is extremely important that we really learn the lesson of this crisis. We have to make sure that such a situation does not repeat itself. And we have to make sure that Europe emerges from the crisis stronger than before. That means we need to analyse what went wrong in the creation of economic and monetary union and renew its foundations. Taking it further, we need to create reliability at national level in the member states by finally sticking to what we have agreed.

Let me just give you one example: we or our predecessors as heads of state and government had agreed for every member state of the European Union to spend 3% of its GDP on research and development. Today, we have states that spend 0.7% and states that spend 3.5%. But hardly anyone has really stuck to what we said we would do.

In my view, therefore, four elements are of crucial importance for the future.
First, a renewed economic and monetary union will need greater financial market policy integration, based on functioning and robust financial markets. To this end, we have to define the framework conditions for the financial markets more precisely, harmonize financial market regulation and ensure that all of this is also applied to the international financial markets. Furthermore, we must create an effective European supervisory mechanism for European banks in order to be able to better avert systemic risks to our economic order.

The most recent decisions by the European Council made it clear that quality must have priority over speed. It’s vitally important that our supervisory mechanism really does work. We therefore have to take great care to clarify the complex legal issues. For we have to establish banking supervision worthy of that description.

Second, a renewed economic and monetary union needs greater fiscal policy integration.

We have already made significant progress towards strengthening budgetary discipline by adopting the fiscal compact. I’m delighted that eleven of the twelve member states required for its entry into force have now ratified it, most recently France and Estonia. I can well imagine going even further by, for example, granting the European level real rights to intervene in national budgets when the agreed ceilings of the Stability and Growth Pact have not been observed.

Third, a renewed economic and monetary union needs greater economic policy integration.

Today we see quite clearly that sufficiently binding economic policy coordination was lacking, and indeed is still lacking. In the monetary union, for instance, it’s not possible to keep on demanding that national policies be geared to strengthening competitiveness as the basis for long-term growth and employment nor, if necessary, to enforce such policies.

Let me remind you that in his 1989 report on the establishment of economic and monetary union, the then Commission President Jacques Delors pointed out the importance of the two pillars of economic and monetary union because, and I quote, “[...] monetary union without a sufficient degree of convergence of economic policies is unlikely to be durable and could be damaging to the Community.” That’s what Jacques Delors said back in 1989.

The crisis has shown how right Jacques Delors’ analysis was. It has shown that problems in individual member states really can cause the monetary union as a whole – and with it all of us, all 27 EU member states – to falter. Nevertheless, we have only just begun the urgently needed process of strengthening economic policy coordination.

So what needs to be done? At the European Council in October, we had an initial discussion on this and agreed that we have to look more closely in future at those areas of policy which are vitally important for the functioning of economic and monetary union. For one country’s loss of competitiveness quickly becomes a problem for all.

Greater economic policy coordination will also perhaps become necessary where core spheres of national sovereignty are affected. I’m thinking here of sensitive policy areas such as labour market or tax policy. Naturally, we have to proceed with caution. The principle of subsidiarity and national democratic processes must be respected. We therefore need solutions which create a sensible balance between necessary new intervention rights at European level and the scope for action of member states and their parliaments, which must be preserved.

The European institutions must be strengthened to allow them to correct mistakes or violations of the rules effectively. We have to finally establish a genuine exchange between the European and the national levels. I favour a new layered and differentiated procedure within the framework of which the member states, with the approval of their parliaments, would conclude binding and feasible agreements on reform with the European level, for example the European Commission.

I can also imagine supporting in a spirit of solidarity concrete reform measures which result in more competitiveness through targeted incentives from a new financial instrument in the eurozone. This is an idea for the future which, of course, needs a viable legal basis and about which we will make a decision at the European Council in December as part of the package of measures necessary to deepen economic and monetary union.

I will work to ensure that we adopt an ambitious roadmap in December on renewing eco¬nomic and monetary union. It should contain concrete measures which we can implement in the coming two to three years.

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to say once more that the European Parliament will be our partner in all of these endeavours. Our intention is neither to bring about a divided European Union nor to do anything which will have a detrimental impact on either the European Parliament or the European Commission. This is merely about shaping the necessary interaction between the various levels in such a way that it really can result in the greater economic policy coordination which Jacques Delors advocated. I believe that this will enable us to regain confidence and credibility on an enduring basis.

For – let’s be honest – the European sovereign debt crisis is essentially a crisis of confidence. That is evident when you talk to investors outside Europe. Confidence will have to be regained with care. Renewing the foundations of economic and monetary union is in the interest of Europe’s citizens, whom all of you represent here in this Parliament. That is why I’m counting on your support!

I’ve already indicated that I’m aware of the concerns about a division between an EU of the 17 and of the 27, soon to be 28. I believe we can convincingly assuage such concerns. For, firstly, the deepening of economic and monetary union is essential for the future of the European Union as a whole. Second, a renewed economic and monetary union will remain open to those non-euro countries which wish to take part. There is no closed club of euro countries, we will always welcome others. For, after all, economic and monetary union was established with the aim that every member state would take part.

I’m certainly committed to ensuring that deepened economic and monetary union does not lead to a two-speed Europe but, rather, creates a double-strength European Union. Furthermore, I’m firmly convinced that we can only create a Europe marked by stability and strength if the member states and the organs of the European Union work together.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m also aware of the concerns about the repatriation of powers. However, I’m convinced that if we perform the tasks that lie ahead well, that’s to say if we truly learn the lessons from this crisis, then we will experience the very opposite. Then we will see a Europeanization of national powers in no space of time. If we seize this opportunity and if we understand that we are stronger than any individual nation on its own, if we stand together as Europeans in a globalized world, then we will succeed.

National parliaments – just like governments – will increasingly assume their responsibility for greater European integration. In a speech in Brussels last February, the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, said that politically speaking national parliaments have become “European institutions”. We can sum up this idea by saying: all of us together make up Europe. Europe is domestic policy. A stronger dialogue between national parliaments and you – the members of the European Parliament – would also help national parliaments to perform their task of guaranteeing the Union a bright future even better.

I’m convinced that together we can create a Europe marked by stability and strength! And for that we need greater democratic legitimacy and oversight. For me, the important thing is that legitimacy and oversight are to be found on the level where decisions are made and imple¬mented. That means that if one of the European level’s competences is strengthened, the role of the European Parliament must also be strengthened. If national competences are affected then, of course, national parliaments must play a key role.

We should also openly discuss how decisions at European level which only affect the eurozone can be lent legitimacy in future. For example, we have to consider whether only parliamentarians from the euro countries should be allowed to vote on such matters. However, we should not contemplate – as is sometimes suggested – establishing an additional parliamentary institution. The European Parliament is the bedrock.

Stronger democratic legitimacy and oversight – this principle must be adhered to in all measures aimed at deepening economic and monetary union. It forms the centrepiece of a renewed European Union! As Head of Government, I want to state categorically that democratic legitimacy can only be achieved through parliaments.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, speaking here again today in the European Parliament naturally reminds me of 2007, the year of the German EU Presidency. That year we set out our fundamental convictions in the Berlin Declaration marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Rome Treaties. The then President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, signed the document on behalf of this House. In retrospect, the signing on 25 March 2007 can be regarded as a breakthrough in the difficult negotiations which ultimately led to the Treaty of Lisbon.

At that time, we were seeking to deepen the European Union as a whole. Today our task is to deepen economic and monetary union in order to lead the European Union to a new level of stability and strength. In the 2007 Berlin Declaration we said, “Our history reminds us that we must protect this for the good of future generations. For that reason we must always renew the political shape of Europe in keeping with the times.” I’m convinced that we will only live up to our responsibility if we renew the political shape of economic and monetary union in keeping with the times.

At the start of my speech, I repeated the question which I’m sometimes asked outside Europe: will the European experiment weather the crisis? I’ll tell you how I normally respond. As a physicist I know all about experiments and am therefore in a position to say that European integration has long since moved beyond the experimental stage – if, indeed, it was ever accu¬rate to call it an experiment. At any rate, I regard it as a union which – to stay true to the image – has long since achieved a stable aggregate state. Even if we have to subsequently realign individual parameters in our model, it will remain steadfast, stable and strong.

To put it like a politician: yes, we will continue the European Union success story. Germany will play its part. The European Union will be successful because the power of freedom lends us Europeans courage and imagination. We know that we are stronger if we are united and determined. United and determined we can defend our European social and economic model in the globalized world. United and determined and as a union of peace, freedom and prosperity, we can serve as a model for other regions of the world. This – and no less – should be our common goal.

I believe in our common European future. – Zu unserem Glück vereint. Unis pour le meilleur. United for the better.

Thank you very much.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2012 to the EU



The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012 is to be awarded to the European Union (EU). The union and its forerunners have for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.

In the inter-war years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee made several awards to persons who were seeking reconciliation between Germany and France. Since 1945, that reconciliation has become a reality. The dreadful suffering in World War II demonstrated the need for a new Europe. Over a seventy-year period, Germany and France had fought three wars. Today war between Germany and France is unthinkable. This shows how, through well-aimed efforts and by building up mutual confidence, historical enemies can become close partners.

In the 1980s, Greece, Spain and Portugal joined the EU. The introduction of democracy was a condition for their membership. The fall of the Berlin Wall made EU membership possible for several Central and Eastern European countries, thereby opening a new era in European history. The division between East and West has to a large extent been brought to an end; democracy has been strengthened; many ethnically-based national conflicts have been settled.

The admission of Croatia as a member next year, the opening of membership negotiations with Montenegro, and the granting of candidate status to Serbia all strengthen the process of reconciliation in the Balkans. In the past decade, the possibility of EU membership for Turkey has also advanced democracy and human rights in that country.

The EU is currently undergoing grave economic difficulties and considerable social unrest. The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to focus on what it sees as the EU’s most important result: the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights. The stabilizing part played by the EU has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace.

The work of the EU represents "fraternity between nations", and amounts to a form of the "peace congresses" to which Alfred Nobel refers as criteria for the Peace Prize in his 1895 will.

Oslo, 12 October 2012









Speaking points in Armenia, Oct. 2012  


  1. The Nobel Peace Prize to the EU in 2012: Motivation:  The EU has in 60 yearstransformed a continent of wars into a continent of peace.  And by fighting nationalism and extremism the EU continuously contributes to a peaceful Europe.


  1. Peace – the absence and impossibility of wars in Europe is a crucial European value


  1. Democracy – free and secret elections. The clear separation of powers between parliament, government and the courts is crucial. The courts have to be totally independent. The rule of law for everybody must be ensured


  1. Freedom -  to speak, to write, to make demonstrations, to work, to travel.


  1. Religious freedom – the right of all religions to exercise their services


  1. Human rights – universal and for everybody. No racism allowed in any form. No forms of other discriminations permitted. And right of citizens to go to court to defend their rights if needed.   And no capital punishment ( death penalty ) allowed.


  1. Protection of minorities -  national, linguistic, religious, sexual and other minorities have to be fully protected under the law


  1. Free and independent media -  a crucial value in Europe.  Whatever political or other orientation they have. This also includes public service television and radio, which are independent from editorial control from the state


  1. Market economy -  a free market economy with a big private sector to operate freely inside the laws. And with free access to all markets in Europe


  1. Free movement of people – abolishment of border controls between member states ( the Schengen agreement with 26 participating countries at the moment )


  1. Solidarity -  societies built on the principle of solidarity, internally and externally


  1. Protection of our different cultures, languages, etc. – “Unity in Diversity”


These are crucial values, which all present and future members of the European Union have to respect fully and permanently. Many of them are directly mentioned and described in the “Charter of Fundamental Rights” with its 54 paragraphs. This Charter is part of the Lisbon Treaty and have, therefore, legal value for everybody.

Niels Jørgen Thøgersen  








Speaking Points in Armenia, Oct. 2012 


  1.  The Nobel Peace Prize 2012:  Motivation:  The European Union has in 60 years made a continent of wars into a continent of peace.    


  1. After World War II:  Never again.  And this time not only words, but creation of structures which make war impossible.  Starting with a joint, supranational body to take all decisions about coal and steel ( the crucial commodities for making war ).


  1. Jean Monnet – Robert Schuman – Konrad Adenauer – Alcide de Gasperi


  1. The Schuman Declaration of May 9, 1950


  1. 1951: The European Coal and Steel Community  ( Jean Monnet ). 6 countries


  1. 1954: The European Defense Community fails ( in the French senate )


  1. 1956: Huge international and European crisis – Suez and Budapest.  Giving new strong impetus to develop a strong European cooperation. Full speed in negotiations.


  1. 1957: The European Economic Community and EURATOM is created – starting January 1, 1958.  Still the same 6 countries ( France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg ).


  1. 1961-63: Negotiations with UK, Ireland, Denmark and Norway about joining the EU. Stopped by president de Gaulle in January 1963:  NON !


  1. 1965: New crisis – French resistance against further integration in the EU. Compromise in 1967  ( veto right in matters of crucial importance ).


  1. 1973: Enlargement with UK, Ireland and Denmark  ( now EU-9 )


  1. 1979: The first direct elections to the European Parliament.  69 % participation.  The level of participation gone down ever since at the elections every five years.


  1. 1981: Greece joins.  Now EU-10


  1. 1986: Spain and Portugal join.  Now EU-12


  1. 1989-90: The Berlin wall falls. Communism falls too.  Reunification of Germany. Ex-DDR now a full part of the EU.


  1. 1992:  The new Single Market comes into force.  Thousands of border formalities disappear in trade between the member states. Huge positive effect of the economy.


  1. 1995:   Sweden, Finland and Austria join.  Now EU-15


  1. 1995:  The Schengen Agreement of free movement of people across borders comes into force. First for 5 member states – now ( 2012 ) for 26 countries throughout Europe. No passport control. Hardly any visible border between the Schengen countries.


  1. 1999:  The EURO starts ( first as a common currency for accounting, from 2002 with notes and coins )  Principle: One Market – One Money.  Now ( 2012 ) 17 member states with 332 mill. inhabitants take part.  More countries to join.


  1. 2004:  10 new countries in Eastern and Southern Europe join.  Now EU-25.


  1. 2007: Romania and Bulgaria join.  Now EU-27


  1. 2013 ( July 1 ). Croatia joins.   Now EU-28.



Important points to remember about the development of the EU:


a)       The EU always develops fast in times of a crisis. Or as Winston Churchill once said:  We politicians only take the necessary decision, when we can see the gallows!


b)      All European countries have according to the EU treaties the right to become members of the EU – IF and when they fulfill all the conditions of the Treaties and of the legislation which has been adopted so far


c)       The EU is a strong political and in particular economic power, which has a strong interest in having peaceful and free cooperation with its neighbours – nearby and far away. Therefore, it has over the years made a long range of agreements with almost all other countries, including partnership agreements with its neighbours to the east and to the south.


d)      The EU is a unique cooperation – not like the United States of America, not like anybody else.  It works together on all matters, which the EU together can do better than the individual member states ( esp. in today’s globalised world ). And it leaves all the rest to the member states or their regions.  The leading principle is that all matters should be handled at the level which is the most appropriate. 





Niels Jørgen Thøgersen  

EU and the WORLD







with emphasis on the areas near Europe


Speaking Points in Armenia, Oct. 2012 


  1. Some basic points of departure:  27 ( soon 28 ) member states; 4 mill sq. km; more than 500 million inhabitants;  GDP of 12 trillion €; trade: 20 % of the world’s total export and import ( the world’s biggest exporter and second biggest importer ); more than 50 % of its energy consumption based on imports


  1. EU’s fundamental interests:  An open and peaceful world. As much free trade as possible. Promotion of European values


  1. From Day 1: EU represents all member states in trade matters ( WTO, GATT, etc. ). Giving it a strong position in negotiations


  1. General foreign and security policy was in the hands of each member state, later developed into:


·          EPC ( European Political Cooperation ) from 1973. Unanimity. No Commission present. Outside the Treaty framework


·          Maastricht Treaty from 1992:  Common Foreign and Security Policy CFPC – still under unanimity, but in the Treaty. And with a common High Representation


·          Purpose of the CFPC:


     - safeguard common values and fundamental interests

     - strengthen the Union in all ways

     - preserve peace and strengthen international security

     - promote international cooperation

     - develop and consolidate democracy and the role of law and respect of human

       Rights and freedoms


·          The Lisbon Treaty from 2009: The European External Action Service ( EEAS ). An independent EU body.  166 Delegations around the world


  1. Main characteristics of EU’s external policy:  ( just a few examples )


·          Soft power  ( diplomacy, support programmes,  sanctions, culture, etc. )

·          Bilateral summits  ( such as with the US, Russia, China, India, South Africa, Korea, Ukraina, etc. )

·          Nation building ( law, media, police, administration )

·          EU election observers around the world

·          EU military and police operations ( often at the demand of the UN or NATO )


  1. EU activities in areas in Europe:


·          1994: European Economic Area ( EEA ) with Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein ( access to EU’s internal market on condition that the countries implement all EU legislation in relation to the single market )


·          Pre-accession agreements :  Now:  Croatia, Turkey and FYROM



·          Potential candidate counties :  Now: Albania, Bosnis and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo  ( Western Balkans )


·          European Neighbourhood Policy ( ENP )  ( privileged relationship )

-           Promote democracy and good governance

-           Strengthen energy security

-           Promote sector reform

-           Promote environment protection

-           Encourage people to people contacts

-           Offer additional funding

-           Civil Society Forum from 2009

-           EURONEST: Joint parliamentary assembly from 2011

-           Two “legs” of ENP:    EASTERN PARTNERSHIP  ( incl. Armenia )

                                     UNION FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN


·          Armenia is an active partner in ENP with its own Action Plan EU-Armenia since 2006



Niels Jørgen Thøgersen  
EU Staff and budgets - put in perspective

EU - staff and budgets

Seen in a larger perspective


Number of inhabitants in EU-27:  504 mill.  ( from July 1, 2013:  508 mill. )

Number of staff in EU institutions:      50.000   ( incl. All institutions and agencies. )

          Of this in the Commission:  38.000.

          Remember:  A third of all staff is there because EU is working in 23 ( soon 24 ) official  


For comparison:

·         UK:  HM Revenue and Customs:  82.000 staff

·         UK:  City of Birmingham:  50.000 employees

·         France:  City of Paris:  50.000 employees

·         France:   number of public employees:  2 mill.

·         Spain:  number of public employees:  3 mill

·         Germany:  number of emplyees in the Federal Government (not incl. the 16 Länder ): 130.000

·         City of Copenhagen:  50.000

·         EADS  ( incl. Airbus ):  133.000

·         DHL:  275.000

·         IBM:  433.000

·         Fiat:  137.000

·         Nokia:  122.000

·         Philips:  121.000

·         Siemens:  402.000

·         Ericsson:  104.000

·         Maersk:  108.000



EU administrative costs in 2012:

·         EU total budget:  147 bill. €   =  0,80 € per inhabitant per day

·         For administration:  6% of the total budget of 147 bill. €:  8,8 bill. €

·         Of this less than half for salaries, all together 3,3 bill. €  = 0,02 € per inhabitant per day



Niels Jørgen Thøgersen --   8.10.2012  


Give Europe a new dynamic drive forward


A new European and multi-party initiative has been taken. It is called the SPINELLI GROUP.  Its Manifesto says:


More than ever, the challenges we face today are worldwide: climate change, resource exhaustion and environmental destruction, economic and financial regulation, nuclear threat and collective security, fairer trade, peace-building…

In this new world, every European country is a small country. But we have one advantage: we have built together a European Union. It is a remarkable construction in which European nation-states, some even long divided by protracted conflicts, decided to be “united in diversity” and form a Commonwealth, a Community in the true sense of the word.

And it continues:


Unfortunately, whereas the formidable challenges of a manifold crisis demand common responses, drawn at least at European level, too many politicians fall tempted to believing in national salvation only. In a time of interdependence and a globalised world, clinging to national sovereignties and intergovernmentalism is not only warfare against the European spirit; it is but an addiction to political impotence.


And at the end it says:


We oppose this backward and reactionary direction. Europe has been yet again abducted – by a coalition of national politicians. It is time to bring her back. We believe that this is not the moment for Europe to slow down further integration, but on the contrary to accelerate it. The history of the European Union has proven that more Europe, not less, is the answer to the problems we face. Only with European solutions and a renewed European spirit will we be able to tackle the worldwide challenges.

Nationalism is an ideology of the past. Our goal is a federal and post-national Europe, a Europe of the citizens. This was the dream the founding fathers worked so hard to achieve. This was the project of Altiero Spinelli. This is the Europe we will go for. Because this is the Europe of the future.



This Manifesto is supported by a lot of European politicians from many different countries and from many different political parties. Among them are Guy Verhofstadt   ( liberal ), Daniel Cohn-Bendit   ( green ), Jo Leinen ( socialist ), Jean-Luc Dehaene and Elmar Brok   ( EPP ),  Jacques Delors ( socialist ), Joschka Fischer ( green ), Andrew Duff ( liberal ) – and many others.


Europe is in crisis. And history shows us that it is especially in situations of crisis that Europe takes its important steps forward. As Winston Churchill once said:  Politicians have to see the gallows, before they get their act together and take the necessary decisions!


I think that the SPINELLI GROUP  is exactly the initiative Europe needs at exactly this moment .


We need new dynamics, new ideas, new visions and new concrete initiatives to move on.


We have to mobilise citizens all over Europe, politicians at all levels ( local, national and European ), civil society, everybody.  We have to make the media actively interested in what happens also on the other side on the borders. And we don’t have to be afraid of opening Pandora’s Box with a very lively and noisy debate – if possible across borders – about what Europe should be and do in the future.


All this must be seen in the light of the colossal global challenges and of a world, in which Europe becomes a smaller and smaller part. 


We have many different attitudes and points of view. This is good and stimulating.


Many initiatives have now to be taken – such as:


We should not only have attitudes and ideas.


How do we contribute with concrete and convincing proposals and initiatives , which the leaders of Europe can use in practice ?   How do we keep them on their toes ?


How do we best empower their closest advisers to give the necessary and forward-looking suggestions ?


How do we mobilise citizens all over our continent to become active with ideas, activities, criticism and new creative initiatives ?


How do we make it easier for the media to cover, analyse and explain what is happening – also in other countries than their own ?



In other words:  How do we push the re-set button to mobilise for a Europe, which produces the necessary results ?


I suggest that the SPINELLI GROUP takes up these challenges. Step by step. And with force and determination.


Let us all support the SPINELLI GROUP in this work. Also by convincing friends and contacts in all our networks to join in too.


Be active! Be creative ! Make a difference!


JOIN here:   




Niels Jørgen Thøgersen




October 28, 2010   



Why and how do we move on


New opinion polls have just told us that only 42 % of the Europeans support and believe in Europe as they see it today. This is a drop of 6 % in only half a year. Very worrying.


But is it surprising? Not really.


We have no real political leaders in Europe today. Nobody sees it as a top priority to explain, promote and not least use Europe to solve our challenges and problems. You often get the impression that our leaders are jumping from stone to stone while constantly looking at what their home media and opinion polls are saying.


At the same time our media are generally not covering Europe and its activities. And when they do it they give the impression of being uninformed and concentrate on minor or irrelevant events and people.


The result is obvious: People don’t see the relevance or importance of Europe. They are easy to mis-inform. Europe is often linked to small and unimportant matters, which still manage to excite people in a negative way.


Therefore, people are not interested in Europe. Cannot see why they should be interested or even active. Europe is to them something remote, very difficult to understand and often irritating and interfering.


Of course, there are exeptions. There are now and then political leaders with political courage and a view beyond the next elections. There are media with solid coverage of what happens in Europe. And there are people with not only an understanding of what Europe is and how it can help solving our problems. But also people who are active in promoting Europe.


But they are all very few and often not very influential L  


Some people might say that it all happens because Europe is more and more irrelevant. They could not be more wrong.  First of all, Europe is producing lots of concrete results every single day. Results which make life for all of us better and easier. It is just not well known.  But furthermore – and even more important – today we more than ever need to work closely together in a very committing way in all the areas, where each country has no chance of solving its problems alone. Climate, energy, environment, consumer protection, security, international trade, monetary affairs, etc., etc.  The EU might not be the best instrument. But it’s the only one we have. So the answer is not yes or no to the EU. It is YES to a dynamic and much improved European cooperation. How do we best get there ?



There are STRONG reasons to change our passive and non-committal attitude to Europe. Here are a few of them:


  1. All our societies in Europe are built on the same values: Democracies, protection of minorities, solidarity with citizens who need it, a well functioning legal system, protection of human rights,  free and independent media, no death penalty, etc. etc.  If you look around the world very few countries are based on the same values. They are to a large extent European


  1. We are all very dependent of each other – economically, politically, socially, culturally. We are all in the same boat. There is no way of escaping that


  1. Our societies and welfare depends more and more on education, research, creativity, innovation, services and new ways of doing things. The old economies with agriculture, industry and traditional services have gone and moved to the new economies, not least in Asia. This is a fact which is a common challenge to all our societies in Europe. And this trend will go faster in the years to come


  1. In today’s globalised world we all become more and more dependent of each other. Europe risks becoming irrelevant. Others will decide for us – China, India, Brazil, Russia, the US.  UNLESS we get our act together, pool our political and economic resources and work closely together. Defending European interests. Promoting European values. We have NO choice. By trying to going it alone any of our countries in Europe – big or small - will loose out. And do it in a big way. The European model of our societies will disappear. We will no longer be masters in our own home.  Is that acceptable ?


  1. At the same time the world needs our help and assistance. Economically, politically, in security matters, etc.  Our help based on our European values – with full respect for local priorities, of course.  And this is only possible and certainly only efficient, if we work closely together in Europe.  And not try to compete between us to be the best and the bravest.



In other words: We have to get our act together. We have to MOBILISE FOR EUROPE.


Europe has always been best at developing new ways of working together, when it was hit by a serious crisis. A crisis has always been the midwife for the positive development of Europe. In the 1950ies with the start of the EU. In the late 60ies with better institutions and with enlargement. In the 1980ies with the single market. In the 90ies with enlargement and the Euro. In the last ten years with the inclusion of the countries in Eastern Europe.


Now is the time to make a decisive and qualitative leap forward again. With new visions, new people, new dynamics.


Let us create a Europe-wide body called MOBILISE FOR EUROPE with new, dynamic people with new operational visions on how to:


a)       engage citizens actively in the development of Europe ( with their many different political views on what Europe should be and what it should deal with )


b)       actively promote peoples’ knowledge of how citizens in neighbouring countries discuss and solve their problems – for mutual inspiration


c)       in particular develop and promote new operational visions on how Europe should develop. Visions, which our political decision-makers will not only understand, but accept by making them their own and implement them. In the same way as Jean Monnet’s famous Action Committee for Europe many years ago had a tremendous de facto influence on what the politicians decided


d)       and last, but not least present convincing new ways of communicating Europe by involving citizens for real and not only by well-intentioned lip-service.


Niels Jørgen Thøgersen




August 30, 2010   ( draft )


2nd edition  

All news from Europe - and you translate them



Follow the news from 28 European countries on



L I V I N G   E U R O P E


And translate them yourself with a click to one of 20 languages   


Updates every 10 minutes



Has more than 4.000 on-line sources



FREE – and very simple to use




Tell everybody about it

European elections 2009: Turnout



Turnout per member state




                       1.   AUSTRIA:                      42 %                                                                    


                       2.   BELGIUM:                     90 %   ( compulsory voting ) 


                       3.   BULGARIA:                   37 %                                                    


4.       CZECH REPUBLIC:     28 % 


                       5.   CYPRUS:                         59 %                                                   


                       6.   DENMARK:                    60 %                                                  


                       7.   ESTONIA:                       44 %


                       8.   FINLAND:                       40 % 


                       9.   FRANCE:                         40 % 


                      10.  GERMANY:                    43 %                                                  


11.     GREECE:                        53 %      ( compulsory voting ! )                                                  


                      12.  HUNGARY:                    36 % 


13.    IRELAND:                      58 %


                      14.  ITALY:                            66 %                                                 


                      15.  LATVIA:                         53 %  


                      16.  LITHUANIA:                  21 %                                                 


                      17.  LUXEMBOURG:           91 %     ( compulsory voting )                                                 


18.     MALTA:                          79 %


                      19.  NETHERLANDS:           37 %


                      20.  POLAND:                        25 %


                      21.  PORTUGAL:                  37 %


                      22.  ROMANIA:                    27 %  


                      23.  SLOVAKIA:                   20 %                                                    


                      24.  SLOVENIA:                    28 %


                      25.  SPAIN:                             46 %


                      26.  SWEDEN:                        44 %


27.     UNITED KINGDOM:    34 %




                      EU average turnout:  43,1 %   ( 2004:  45,47 % )






Niels Jørgen Thøgersen


June 10, 2009  




Important EU websites, also for the elctions

EU relevant websites and other services



1.     EUROPE DIRECT:  tel.  00800 6 7 8 9 10 11




              Questions about the EU ?


              Call for free from any phone in any EU country – and speak to

              somebody speaking your own language


2.     EMM  - Europe Media Monitor: 




              Monitoring about 4.000 on-line media every ten minutes around the   



              See special EU relevant information in the column to the left.


              Want to see the full article ?  Click on the headline – and you get the

              text on your screen.


               Free to use for everybody.  Running in 41 languages, incl. all EU



3.     IMOOTY – The first navigator of European news:









              Monitoring blogs throughout the EU around the clock.





         5.  EUROPA  -   the portal of the European Union:


              ( with information from all EU institutions and

                                                   agencies )



6.       EUROPE BY SATELLITE  ( EbS ):




               Live and recorded TV material from the European institutions every



               Free and for free use.






                       ( English )


         8.  miCANDIDATE:


              An overview of all candidates for the European elections in all 27 EU

              member states    ( each country added one by one in the coming days )



9.     WRITING FOR Y ( EU ):  a blog by the Parliament’s web team:





        10.  EU PROFILER:       Find out which candidate you most agree with:





        11.  CONSUMER CONTRACT:    Which consumer policy issues do you

                                                                    agree with?  Remember to vote J






        12.   CAN EU HEAR ME, EUROPE ?     MTV campaign for the elections






         Niels Jørgen Thøgersen




         April 2009.

Europe is facing NEW CHALLENGES.  People feel disconnected to it - though Europe has never meant more to them in their daily lives. How do we try to solve that problem?   One NEW way ahead is to use the COMMUNICATIONS 2.0 approach and tools. À la Obama.  Not least for the coming European elections.



G O   T O   V O T E for ……


A dynamic motivating and communicating programme



1.      Point of departure:  a one-page what-how note

( giving the key facts in a very stimulating way -

  including brand and slogan )


2.      Mobilise your activists  ( see MyBo check list )


3.      Promise:  Be the first to know


4.      Collect e-mail addresses and mobile phone numbers


5.      Buy in information on main target groups if funds are available


6.      Dispatch key information of your campaign ( via your

dynamic home page, many social networks, YouTube,

Flickr, etc. ).  Including testimonials


7.      Alert on beforehand via e-mails and text messages ( sms )


8.   Get permanent Feed-back from your activists  ( via Google Docs

      and text messages directly to your computer )


9.      React immediately to questions and criticism  ( Rapid Reply Service )


10.  Timing:  Prepare from 5-6 months before the event. Start real activities six weeks before  and concentrate the main effort on the last two weeks.





NJT – February 2009    




SKYPE:  kimbrer


C L I M A T E   C HA N G E


Get your facts right – and make them well known


Niels Jørgen Thøgersen



In less than ten months all countries of the world will meet in Copenhagen to discuss and hopefully decide on the next steps in fighting climate change. Many problems have do be addressed and solved before that. The Danish presidency for COP15 is very busy on that. So are the EU and many other players.  Time is short.  The roadmap to Copenhagen is developing by the day.


In the midst of all the discussions and negotiations several positive initiatives are presented. A very recent and very important one was the Covenant of Mayors   - signed in Brussels on February 10.  By now 372 cities all over Europe have signed the Covenant and thereby committed them to reach the 20-20-20 climate goal by 2020.  This is very important. And many more big cities will join the Covenant in the months to come.  It is concrete action on the ground that counts. Not just political intentions and goodwill.


The debate and negotiations in the months to come have, of course, to be based on as many solid facts and options as possible. Not on loose feelings and beliefs.  We are looking for very important solutions, which have to last for many years from 2012 and onwards.  Solutions that will have the intended effects on our climate in the future.


These facts and options are available. The European Climate Foundation is one of the important sources of these facts. It has been created with the clear purpose of providing them – making them available. 


You can see more on their website:


At the same time we know that people in Europe are very interested in these issues. And not only interested: They are worried. They see often the dramatic consequences of the warmer climate. The latest case is the dramatic and deadly fires in Australia.


We know from several opinion polls that people have views on and attitudes to these problems. A new Eurobarometer will be published in April. And later a couple of huge deliberative polls will be available too.


But interest and worries are not enough. You have to make people act. Put demands to their politicians and other leaders. One of the first obvious possibilities will be to involve the candidates in the coming European elections in June. There will be up to 25.000 of them.  How many of these candidates will make Climate Change a real issue? And make it an issue based on real facts and real options? We – the voters – have to force them to do it.


Not long ago I met the leaders of a major American Think Tank dealing with these issues ( and many others ). They made it absolutely clear that producing the real facts and options is crucial. And equally important is it to communicate these facts and options energetically to the public at large, using all available communication tools at disposal.   They made it even more concrete:  Use 50 % of your budget to produce the facts. And the other 50 % to communicate them !


Let’s all go and do it – also in Europe!




Niels Jørgen Thøgersen


February 2009.





Concrete cases from Member States and Candidate Countries


1.    AUSTRIA:        Europa Telefon:    ( in German )   


2.    BELGIUM:       Portail Belge:     ( in French )  


3.    BULGARIA:     Government’s portal  ( in English )



4.    CYPRUS:          Government web portal  on EU ( in English )




                                  The Czech public web portal on Europe:


6.   DENMARK:       Parliament’s EU Information:  ( in Danish )

                               Folketingets EU Oplysning: 




7.   ESTONIA:          Estonia in the European Union  ( in English )




8.   FINLAND:          Finnish Foreign Ministry: 





                                    Finnish government:






9.   FRANCE:            Toute l’Europe:   



10. GERMANY:        Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Europe Information:



                                    Parliament:  European Pages:





11.  GREECE:           Government portal   ( in English )



12.   HUNGARY:      Government’s portal  ( in English )



13.   IRELAND:



14.   ITALY:               Prime Minister’s Office   ( in Italian )     



15.   LATVIA:            Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the EU  ( in English )  



16.   LITHUANIA:    Government portal on the EU  ( in English )



17.   LUXEMBOURG:     Government’s site  ( in French )  



18.   MALTA:             Government’s portal  ( in English )   



19.   NETHERLANDS:   ( in English )   



20.   POLAND:                   Government’s portal  ( in English )   



21.   PORTUGAL:             Government’s portal  ( in English )  



22.   ROMANIA:    Government’s portal  ( in English  )


23.   SLOVAKIA:              Government’s portal  ( in Slovak )



24.   SLOVENIA:               Government’s portal  ( in English )  



25.   SPAIN:                        Prime Minister’s Office - Moncloa:

                                             ( in Spanish )  



26.   SWEDEN:                 Swedish Parliament - RIKSDAGEN:

                                            ( in Swedish )





27.   UNITED KINGDOM:   Foreign and Commonwealth Office:







1.    CROATIA:                        Government’s portal  ( in English )



2.     FRY of  MACEDONIA:   Government’s portal  ( in English )




3.     TURKEY:                          Turkey’s President’s Portal  ( in English  )  




Niels Jørgen Thøgersen


The IRISH NO and the automatic NO Sayers


Yes, of course. And it is a waste of readers' time and serious violation of the serious debate to claim that it will not be the case. In a democracy democratic decisions must, of course, be respected.

But what does it mean that the Irish No on June 12 must be respected? It is clear that the people who have spent their whole lifetime to fight the EU and everything it stands for, choose to understand the No in such a way that the Lisbon Treaty and all that is involved must be declared dead, finished, gone . These people's automatic No reactions can and should not be taken as a serious contribution to the current debate.

The only sensible meaning is that the Irish government - which called for the referendum – now should be allowed to be in the process of finding out what it actually was that a majority of those who voted said NO to. And it is exactly what the new Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen has said that he has started doing. It obviously will take some time. Things must be done carefully and properly. That’s how it is. And Mr. Cowen and his government have no need for undue interference from either Hansen, Pedersen or Bonde. And when the Irish later draw their conclusions from their analysis, all EU countries jointly will have to find out what we can do about it.

At the same time, we must not forget that a total of 19 out of the 27 EU countries have already ratified the Lisbon Treaty. Including Denmark. In addition, five more countries in reality have done it too. They represent a combined total of over 97% of the EU population. They are, of course, also entitled to our full respect. They did not say YES for fun. Each of them have through their own democratic decisions said YES, because they all hold the view that this treaty serves the EU cooperation well. Making it more efficient, so that we together can really start preparing and presenting Europe's positions much stronger  in vital areas such as climate change, energy, globalization, peace building, and much more.

This is what the case is really about. It is not about the automatic wishful thinking, that the Irish "NO" should mean that the whole of Europe should fall powerless on its back and say: I surrender and give in to all the common challenges and problems.  And this is certainly not what the Irish want either.

Back to the front page: 


Draft translation from Danish





 Danish Exemptions Out – Common Sense In.

Before long the Danes must again vote in a referendum. This time on the exemptions from full EU membership, which Denmark decided to introduce  15 years ago. Half a generation ago. A lot of water has run under the bridge since then. The world, Europe and Denmark all look very different  today than at that time.

Therefore, we should of course in the run-up to the vote (or votes) have a debate that takes into account that the situation today is quite different than it was then. Let us for once try to form our views and opinions on how the situation is NOW. And not how it was many years ago. It has never been a good idea to steer into the future walking like a crab or by taking one’s landmarks only by looking in rear-view mirror!

Let me say at once that my fundamental point of view is that when you are involved in something - you should be so fully and completely - not just half and shared. This is true about friendships. This applies to marriage. This is true when involvement in affairs about society is concerned. And it also applies to participation in international and European cooperation.

And when it comes to the current case - Denmark's participation in European cooperation in the EU - I think there are at least six very, very important reasons why we should be fully involved:

1. All the countries in the EU cooperation of nearly 500 million people have a society that is based on the same fundamental values. Values, which unfortunately are not a given thing in the wider world, not even in the whole of Europe. We all have a democracy that is built on a parliamentary system with protection of minorities, with the fundamental freedoms, a free and independent press, and much more. We are against the death penalty. And we defend all those values at home or abroad when they are under pressure.
These values are directly mentioned in the charter for the new Lisbon Treaty, and will thus have an even stronger legal importance in the future.

Denmark, of course, shares these values and attitudes a 100%.. Without exception. Therefore, we should of course be 100% involved, when they must be maintained and defended.

2. Denmark's fundamental political and economic interests lie in the EU... They are all our immediate neighbours. This is where the vast majority of our foreign trade is located. For a country like Denmark, which is SO dependent on its exports and imports, it is of enormous value that we have a large, domestic market of 500 million consumers with money to pay lying at our doorstep. A cooperation, which has common rules applicable to all. And where there are common institutions and binding rules that can help us if problems arise... For the same reason, it is invaluable for the Danish economy and the prosperity that our currency is so closely linked to the EURO. It offers peace and safety in our trade. And it prevents that anybody could dream of  trying to speculate against the Danish krone. We are totally protected by our narrow Euro-link...

Politically, it is particularly in the EU that Europe's future is shaped. And it is from here that we are TOGETHER  have a chance to influence the world around us according to what we stand for...

Therefore, we must be fully and properly involved.

3. Globalization is often blamed for a lot of things. Loss of jobs, people leaving the countryside, hazardous and toxic products from abroad, the immigration of people from other parts of the world. It is, of course, true that the world has become much more open. We often talk about “the global village” to illustrate our mutual interdependence. Lots of new international rules and agreements have opened up what was previously closed. And it is obvious that this is basically in the clear interest of a small and highly export-oriented country like Denmark. The more access we have around the world, the more we have the opportunity to make money. It is the first simple truth.

The second simple truth is that the EU is not a part of the problem. The EU is part of the solution. Not by fighting or stopping globalization. But by managing it - making rules for it. And by addressing the issues when it creates significant problems. Both economic and political problems.

The concrete examples are numerous: It is only the EU in common action, which can defend our interests against Russia. For example. in the field of energy. One needs only to mention Gazprom, to put a name on it. It is also only the EU that can cope with the U.S., China and Japan, when we must ensure that our views have weight. In the climate negotiations on CO2, etc. we must stand entirely together. The environment can be ensured only through a common effort. The same applies to the fight against international crime such as drug dealing and human trafficking.

The EU is the essential instrument in these efforts. That is why Denmark has to be there – fully and without exemptions.

4. And I hope, that nobody is in doubt that Denmark has more influence to be in than to stand outside? Not outside the EU as such, but outside the areas of cooperation in the European Union, which are developing most rapidly these years. Security and defence. Legal matters. And the economic and monetary cooperation. We HAVE good ideas and suggestions, haven’t we? And we can also argue strongly andconvincingly for them, or? Many years of personal experience in the daily European cooperation have always shown me that we as a country  always are "a little aheadin points." We are perceived as a small, nice and friendly country. We (usually) hold no extreme views. And we are known to be reasonably well prepared. Why not profit from this benefit fully? Namely, by sitting at ALL the tables, where Europe is shaped and defended. I do not think there should any doubt.

There are, of course  - in Denmark as well as in the European Union – things that can and should be much better. But it seems obvious that only by being in there where decisions are taken you can help improving things. Not by staying out.

5. Hopefully we can also agree that Denmark can not just be involved, when we ourselves directly can profit from it. We must also take our share of responsibility for Europe, that it works and makes a contribution to a peaceful and humane world. It may be actions against conflicts and wars. It may be clearing of bombs like in ex-Yugoslavia. It might be helping a new country like Kosovo on their feet. It may be peacekeeping in Darfur, Congo or the Middle East. It may be common emergency and disaster assistance when necessary. Of course, we can and must also make our contribution to this on our own. But much of the effect is much greater, if we act together and in close coordination. Denmark has so much to contribute - both with knowledge and experience and in concrete actions. We simply cannot in decency  stay out of this solidarity work. We have to be there - fully and completely.

6. And last, but not least, it might even be that we in this close and binding EU cooperation could learn something from "the others".Denmark is a beautiful and dynamic country. But it does not mean  that we cannot learn from our 26 European partners in a lot of important areas. One should never be too proud to learn. On the contrary. Students can get an even better education by taking  part of their education in another country. And by studying in their own country, together with students from outside. The same applies to researchers in virtually all fields. Our health care is often under fierce criticism. Why not learn from others who obviously can run it more efficiently - and for the same money? France and Belgium are very good examples. Schools are important to all. Here, for example. Finland some exciting experience we could learn a lot from. Collective traffic is a third area. Integration of immigrants a fourth case. Our societies have by and large the same challenges nowadays Why not do much more to learn from each other? It is win-win for all. Of course, we can also learn from each other across borders WITHOUT a strong and dynamic EU cooperation. But it is more effective when we learn from friends and colleague we already cooperate with in a lot of areas.. It is something easier and more natural to "open up your eyes and fold out your ears " with people you already work with than if you must first find some stranger to  learn from.


This article is, of course, based on my personal views and experiences. But it is more than my firm conviction that these six themes are very central in the debate that we must start. Denmark's fundamental interest is that we with all our strength and all our weight are participating in all areas and policies. Fully and completely.

Niels Jorgen Thogersen


May 2008




The heads of state and government of the 27 member states in the EU signed the new Lisbon Treaty - also called the Reform Treaty - in December 2007.

Its main purpose is to modernise the way the EU works and make it easier to take decisions. It will be very important for the European Union's possibility  for leading the way in the climate negotiations, in the energy field, in questions related to security and foreign policy and in international relations. It brings at the same time more openness into the work. And the distance between the 500 million citizens of the EU and the daily work will also become shorter.

The ratification process in now ongoing in alle member states. Altogether 13 have ratified by now ( May 8, 2008 ):

Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

In Ireland a referendum about the Treaty will be held on Thursday, June 12.

If you want to know more about the situation in Ireland you can see it on these two official Irish websites:  

The plan is that the Treaty will take effect of January 1, 2009.
What has the EU done for ME ??
You often meet the question: EU - Has it done anything for ME at all ?

Either people don't know - or they are confused because of all the false information which is circulating.

The other day I saw for the first time a very interesting and stimulating smallvideo addressing exactly that question.

Have a look:

What do you think? 🤩

I suggest that you spread it to as many people in your networks as possible.

PS: And as you will see at the top of the site this video exists in all 23languages of the EU.  Use it.

Well done 🤩
My reply to NEWSWEEK article on the EU
The serious American weekly NEWSWEEK carried on November 5 an article called "Inside Europe's Sausage Factory". Not only was it full of mistakes and distortions. But more important: it managed to miss all the key points in what it tried to explain.😠

I have, therefore, sent the magazine the enclosed reply and asked them to publish it as soon as possible:

 EUROPE: Try to Get it Right

I was very happy when I saw that your magazine published an article
about the EU on November 5 ("Inside Europe's Sausage Factory"). But I
was much less happy when I read it. Your journalist managed to forget
the four most important points related to what he tries to describe:

All key decisions in the EU are taken by  MINISTERS from each member
state - not by the "bureaucrats", as he says. These ministers all come
from democratically elected governments

For more than 50 years the EU cooperation has produced a lot of very
important results - important for the daily lives of the 487 million
citizens of the EU. The single market, the fight against monopolies
and unfair competition, the common currency the EURO, free movement of
all citizens, equal treatment of all EU citizens everywhere in the EU,
protection of the environment, the fight against climate change, a
joint trade policy towards the outside world - and much, much more.
Not just nitty-gritty stuff as the article indicates.

The author also forgets to mention that almost all countries in
Europe, who are not members of the EU, want to become a member. From
1952 until today the number has increased from 6 to 27.  If the EU
were such a strange place as the article tries to say I wonder why
almost everybody want to be there.

And finally the new Lisbon Treaty, which is on its way: Its MAIN
purpose is to make an EU of 27 countries better in taking decisions.
To make it function better. The purpose is not to fight the
bureaucrats in Brussels.

Of course, many things in the EU could function much better. Like in
any other place. And many of us try to make it better. But  to
describe it in the way your journalist does is far, far away from
realities. And furthermore, it forgets the most important points.

Niels Thogersen
Rixensart, Belgium
Pro Europe? Then on your Marks !




The supporters of the EU and of the European Constitution must now get really active in the debate. And it has to happen NOW. The result of the referenda in France and the Netherlands shows this need very clearly. The pro-EU forces became active far too late – and far too vague. And most of the time they were clearly in the defensive. The results were accordingly.😠


Everybody who supports Europe has to get on the barricades of the debate. NOW. Yes, the draft Treaty could have been better. But this is what 27 democratic countries could  agree upon. And it gives clear advantages in the way the EU will function in the future. It will be easierand faster to take decisions. The work also becomes much easier to understand (only 6 different ways to take decisions instead of 33 ways as is the case today). And we have lots of important decisions ahead of us, if we in Europe want to promote our European values and other interests, not least in our more and more globalised world.


We – the positive Europeans – should, of course,  not make propaganda, but give real and solid information. And clear and easy-to-understand arguments. They have to be presented pro-actively all the time – and in as many media as possible. Don’t let the No people decide the themes to be discussed. But, of course, we also have to “kill” false information and irrelevant arguments, whenever they appear. And do it immediately - and with force.


The European cause is far too important to leave it to the mercy of unserious and often irrelevant arguments. 


And let us see many more pro-Europe citizens in the debate. Not only the national politicians. But also all the rest of you, who have a positive attitude to Europe. Let’s see young people, journalists, business people, trade unionists, environmentalists, those who fight for equality, researchers, people in the educational sector, local politicians, citizens with international experience and background. And many more. We know that you are there. We know that you believe in a close European cooperation and see it as natural and necessary. Then SAY it! Give YOUR reasons to be positive.


And let us not be afraid to repeat our information and arguments. Not because they become more true. But because they might well strengthen the understanding among those people who need that.


Let us get a really good and sober debate – with the emphasis on what it is all about: if you want a European Union, which functions better. Or you want the opposite.


Niels Jørgen Thøgersen  
First pan-European deliberative poll
The European Think Tank NOTRE EUROPE is preparing the first ever EU-wide deliberative poll on the future of Europe. It is planned to take place in October and can become very interesting in the likely run-up to the new European constitution / treaty.

See much more on the new website:  

The Danish organisation NEW EUROPE
A Danish Centre-Left organisation called NYT EUROPA / NEW EUROPE  is fighting very actively to bring Europe forward. It works on all the most important aspects of European politics.

You can read about some of its activities on their English website:

Elections in EU countries in 2012






                       1.   AUSTRIA:                         Local elections in Burgenland in October 2012                                                  


                       2.   BELGIUM:                       Local elections October 2012


                       3.   BULGARIA:                     No elections in 2012                                                      


4.      CZECH REPUBLIC:      No elections foreseen in 2012


                       5.   CYPRUS:                          No elections in 2012                                                                       


                       6.   DENMARK:                     No elections in 2012                                               


                       7.   ESTONIA:                        Local elections in the autumn 2012


                       8.   FINLAND:                        Presidential elections in spring 2012   


                       9.   FRANCE:                         Presidential elections 22.4. and 6.5. 2012

                                                                        Parliamentary elections 10.6 and 17.6.2012


                      10.  GERMANY:                    No elections in 2012                                                 


11.    GREECE:                        No elections foreseen for 2012                                                          


                      12.  HUNGARY:                    No elections foreseen in 2012


13.   IRELAND:                      No elections foreseen in 2012


                      14.  ITALY:                            Parliamentary elections possible autumn 2012

                                                                       Local elections in some cities and regions late spring

                                                                       2012  ( May )                                  


                      15.  LATVIA:                         No elections in 2012


                      16.  LITHUANIA:                 Parliamentary elections: 14.10.2012                                                    


                      17.  LUXEMBOURG:           No elections in 2012                                                 


18.    MALTA:                          Local elections in March 2012


                      19.  NETHERLANDS:          No elections foreseen for 2012


                      20.  POLAND:                        No elections in 2012


                      21.  PORTUGAL:                  No elections in 2012


                      22.  ROMANIA:               Local elections in June and national elections in



                      23.  SLOVAKIA:             No elections in 2012                                                        


                      24.  SLOVENIA:              National elections either in January or Sept.-Oct. 2012  


                      25.  SPAIN:                       Parliamentary elections mid March 2012      


                      26.  SWEDEN:                 No elections in 2012        


27.    UNITED KINGDOM:    Local elections in London and some other

                                          Municipalities in England  on May 3




Niels Jørgen Thøgersen






July 24, 2011