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Europe 28 Profiles

 

 

The European Union

 

The Copenhagen criteria (1993) or how do I get a ticket for the gravy train?

"Membership of the European Union requires ........ stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy..... the rule of law...... human rights .....respect for and protection of minorities .....the existence of a functioning market economy as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union. "Membership presupposes the candidate's ability to take on the obligations of membership including adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union."

Suffice it to say, the majority EU members do not meet the Copenhagen criteria!

 

euromap

Map source: Worldatlas.com, check out the site.

 

Austria (1995) euro -

Famous only for starting the First World War and providing a safe haven for psychotic house painters named Adolf and most famously, for inventing psychoanalysis, thereby providing Americans with an excuse for their lunacy.

Belgium (Founder) euro -

Famous only for Stella and sprouts, and Herman Van Rompuy, currently President of the European Council. Interesting that Van Rompuy was not deemed fit to run Belgium but is inspired enough to head up the Council? Apparently, only Iraq waited longer for an elected government than Belgium - who needs the vote?

Bulgaria (2007) -

Famous for nothing, except gangsters and wrestlers and yes, gypsies, lots of gypsies. In the 1980s Bulgaria became known as the Silicon Valley of the Eastern Bloc and is still doing well thirty years on, or should that be, IBM is still doing well in Bulgaria? However, Bulgaria is a top space invader, having launched a number of space probes, including a space greenhouse, too bad they forgot to send someone to collect the tomatoes once they were ready for picking. Also, Bulgaria is such a wonderful place that all the smart young things are all leaving, population decline is a major problem.

Croatia (2013)

Croatia joined the European Union on 1 July 2013, having taken 12 years to meet the joining criteria. On paper the economy looks robust but with a population of only 4.3m it will not be long before further progress is halted by labour shortages. Immigration might of course provide an answer but there seems to be a reluctance by migrant workers to get anywhere near Serbia.

Cyprus (2004) euro -

Cyprus is two countries masquerading as one, the Greeks hate the Turks and vice versa. Allowing Cyprus to join the EU really calls into question the value of the assessment procedure. Significantly, Cyprus has a central role in human trafficking for the sex trade, legislation on domestic violence is non-existent and racism against immigrant labour is rife.

Czech Republic (2004) -

Today, there are an estimated 70,000 Vietnamese in the Czech Republic., making them the third largest group of foreigners in the country. Very interesting, if you are waiting for more interesting things to know about the Czech Republic, don't hold your breath.

Denmark (1973) -

Beyond Hans Christian Andersen and The Emperor's New Clothes, there's not much to recommend Denmark. They are described as socially progressive, being the first country to legalise pornography. And in 1989, Denmark enacted a registered partnership law, becoming the first country in the world to grant same-sex couples nearly all of the rights and responsibilities of marriage - not everyone's idea of progress.

Estonia (2004) euro -

The State of the World Liberty Project ranked Estonia first out of 160 nations, so it certainly seems to live up the EU's ambitions in relation to individual liberty. Unless of course the Liberty List was compiled by Estonian statisticians.

Finland (1995) euro -

Home to Nokia and Angry Birds. The Finns are doing very nicely, thank you for asking. They are ranked second only to the US in terms of their IT industry and their welfare system just embarrasses the rest of the world - something to do with a history that never allowed kings and queens to get their hands on the nation's wealth and distort development by dishing out favours for cash or allowing right-wing Tea Parties to take hold.

France (Founder) euro -

If France was a fast food outlet, operating in a Cardiff back alley, it would be condemned, for its contributions to history and all spheres of cultural life. France, in common with the USA, over-compensates for life's failures. Their food is not special, their language is not special and neither is their fashion.

Germany (Founder) euro -

Germany runs Euroland, the success of its economy, based on technological innovation and a totally docile workforce provides it with the financial muscle to boss everyone else around. Germans grumble a lot about lazy Greeks but don't have the guts to do any more than moan.

Greece (1981) euro -

Just a crazy bunch of plate breakers and tax avoiders. Once a happy nation of hoteliers and olive growers but now suffering harshly at the hands of the Troika (the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank). The Greek government doesn't govern, it just plays a game with the Troika. The game goes like this; the Troika says, if you don't impose more austerity on your people then you wont get any more money from us. The Greek government says OK, plays along for a few days and then says, enough is enough. The Troika then comes back again and they both start another round of the game. Meanwhile, Golden Dawn recruits more members.
 

Hungary (2004)

Like most EU members, Hungary has problems related to the financial meltdown of 2008 and like Greece and others, is not happy with the Troika. Inflation and unemployment are currently quite high and so like Mr Micawber, Hungary is waiting for something to turn up. It would like to join the Euro but the eurocrats say it doesn't meet the tests required, which is a trifle odd, since when did joiners actually meet the necessary tests?

 

Ireland (1973) euro -

According to a British Medical Journal study, 100 additional suicides have occurred in Ireland related to the 2008 economic crisis.

The crisis in Ireland started around 2002, when its boom turned into a bubble, narrowly focused on the housing market and related industries, banking activity and government tax revenues were also narrowly focused on housing. So when the housing market went south, everything else followed. Upshot, Ireland needed a 98 billion euro handout from the EU and IMF.

Italy (Founder) euro -

Totally dysfunctional politically, anyone who says they understand how the Italian political system works is a liar, even Italian politicians don't know. And any nation that allowed itself to tolerate Silvio Berlusconi, a sex obsessed, tax evading media baron for over 20 years, a man who has made 2,500 court appearances in 106 trials, at a legal cost of 200m euros totally deserves to be mocked, when ever the rest of the world feels like mocking someone.

Economically Italy is in crisis, in the grip of Troika austerity measures, which is the same thing. Half the country is run by the Church and the other half is run by the Mafia - most Italians find it hard to tell the difference between them.

Latvia (2004) -

Not a good place for a vacation just yet.

Civil rights' organisations have reported police abuses, poor prison conditions and overcrowding, judicial corruption, discrimination against women, incidents of violence against ethnic minorities, and societal violence and incidents of government discrimination against homosexuals.

Lithuania (2004) -

Historically, Lithuania was the first soviet satellite to throw off the yoke of oppression, it became independent in 1990 and the Soviet troops went home in 1993. Since then the country has been playing catch up with the rest of Europe.

 

Luxembourg (Founder) euro -

Famous for being the first pirate radio station but hasn't done anything earth shattering lately. One is forced to ask, given the pointlessness of Luxembourg (a country that doesn't actually have a history) what is its contribution to progress: what is the point of Luxembourg. Well, until a few years ago Luxembourg was operating as a land-locked offshore tax haven for the rest of the Euro zone, lately, they have been diversifying it seems, their main activity now is data 'mining' - the country has 17 data centres, many top secret?

Malta (2004) euro -

Good place to go on holiday. Malta has the highest average temperature for Europe and more sunshine hours, winter and summer, than elsewhere in Europe. Importantly, Malta is fast becoming a key destination for medical tourists. Nice to know that there's some point to its existence.

Netherlands (Founder) - aka, Holland! euro -

Famous only for contributions like double-dutch, dutch courage and a dutch treat, i.e. pay for it yourself. And annoyingly, for insisting on having two country names.

Poland (2004) -

Poland briefly became interesting when the union Solidarity came to prominence under the leadership of Lech Walesa during the 1980s. After Lech became the President and the Stalinist elites were returned to their sarcophagi, Poland stopped being interesting; now its just boring.

Portugal (1986) euro -

The good news is that they subsist on a diet of sardines, the bad news is that they also have a liking for cod, which they steal from British fishing grounds.

Romania (2007) -

Home to Vlad the Impaler and not much else.

Slovakia (2004) euro -

Slovakia is the bit that used to be on the end of Czechoslovakia, well it's not there any more since Slovakia went independent in 1993. And is doing very nicely thank you.

Except for a few teething problems ..... restrictions on freedom of religion; concerns about the integrity of the judiciary, corruption in national government, local government, and government health services; violence against women and children; trafficking in women and children; and societal discrimination and violence against Roma and other minorities.

Slovenia (2004) euro -

Slovenia is just another accident of Yugoslavian disintegration, with only two million residents it can hardly be called a country, more a city-state. It had a boom around the time it joined the EU, fuelled by borrowing to build things they nobody now wants. It has an over-dependence, two-thirds, on services and it's not able to sell what it does make abroad. In sum, Slovenia is a basket case but nobody is taking much notice, why would they?

Spain (1986) euro -paella, and

The home of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Cubism, fish pirates and the Ferrovial Group - with fingers in many UK paellas. The quality of life is among the best in the world, if you are a retired east end gangster or banker - which is of course is the same thing.

Spain is a building site, across the landscape you'll find unfinished holiday developments. The property market has collapsed and so have the banks - sounds bad? However, Spain has phenomenal potential in telecoms, construction, technology and transport, luckily for the Germans, the Spanish are not even close to realising it.

Currently in dispute with Britain over the sovereignty of Gibraltar, also in dispute with Portugal and Morocco over sovereignty issues. They really should concentrate on more important things like the fact that Spain is the European point of entry for all illicit global narcotics and they still have not sorted out that business with the Basques.

Sweden (1995) -

Home to ABBA, ATMs, the Nobel Prize, dynamite and Ikea stores. Usually cited as educationally advanced by Michael Gove, having introduced education vouchers in 1992, free schools 1998 and for supplying free school meals for all school children and guaranteeing a nursery place for all 1 to 6 year olds.

However, simmering under the surface, the land of the midnight sun has a few problems, mainly to do with immigration and economic inequality and has seen not a few riots in recent years.

 

United Kingdom (1973)

Always a reluctant EU partner. Britain was keen on the EU project back in the early days, i.e. in the late 40s and even wanted to join in 1963 but was perceived to be a US lackey and so France said "Non" - ungrateful bastards. Clearly, General de Gaulle had forgotten who was feeding him after he ran away from the Nazis and who liberated his country - that's right General, the Yanks and the Brits. In truth de Gualle's key aim was to protect those French hill farmers, with their two chickens and a cow against the far superior British farming sector. There is also some suggestion that he was harbouring resentment because there was no duck on the menu during his war time stay in Britain.

The UK finally joined in 1973 and what did it get, the Common Fisheries Policy, through which Britain gave up its exclusive fishing rights to a bunch of Spanish pirates.

It took Britain 10 years to realise that it wasn't getting very much from its EU membership, so Margaret Thatcher was sent to Brussels to get a sizeable rebate on our contribution.

Well, nearly another 30 years have gone by and Brits are still asking, why did we join that EU nonsense and why are we still members - we need a referendum!

Britain does not forget 'Black Wednesday' in 1992, when it was forced by currency speculator George Soros to leave the ERM, at a cost of £6 billion.

Waiting to the board the gravy train, i.e. being assessed by the Commission?

 

Iceland

Applied for membership of the EU in 2009 but now has doubts about joining and intends to hold a referendum on the issue. Nobody likes Iceland anyway, after their banking collapse they stopped foreigners removing money from their banks and they are still keeping it. The British stopped liking them, due to the Cod Wars, going back to 1958 and ending 1976, when Iceland increased its fishing waters from 3 to 12 miles and then, outrageously, to 100 miles. Under pressure from NATO Britain backed down and started eating Pollock instead.

 

Turkey

Turkey will have to become a lot less Turkish to gain entry. The erosion of press freedom is a striking feature of this wannabe joiner. Scores of journalists are now in jail, mostly accused of plotting to overthrow the government or split the country. The government has also banned up to 12,000 websites, a prohibited list of 138 words like 'skirt' and 'homemade' are automatically banned from view. Turkey is simply not ready for the 21st century, let alone joining the EU. And need we mention the treatment of the Kurds?

Albania

Home to Enver Hoxha or rather home to numerous larger than life size statues of Enver. Albania's first railway line was completed in 1947, another one was built in 1948, after which no more railways were built. Enver decided that literacy was a far more pressing problem and by 1955 a 100% adult literacy rate was achieved. This was important to Enver since he was the only published author in the land and he didn't want to be wasting his time writing books that no one would read. That's it, there's nothing more interesting to know about Albania, except that their television programmes are worse than ours.

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, Bosnia's history never improved much.

Its darkest hour, the Srebrenica genocide. In 1995, Mladic's paramilitary Scopions, comprised of Serbs, Russians and Greeks butchered 8,000 men and boys whilst they were under the protection of the a UN Dutch unit in a Security Council decreed 'Safe Zone'. Basically, the the boys in the blue berets watched helplessly while the massacre took place and worse, the Dutch have finally acknowledged (Sept' 2013) they actively coordinated the evacuation once Srebrenica fell.

Less importantly, no one appears to know what or where the Herzegovina bit actually is, apparently it lies somewhere within the borders of Bosnia but it doesn't have a town hall or post office?

 

Kosovo

Kosovo does actually exist but if you were there you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Albania when you turn on the tele or radio. However, besides lousy television, Kosovo has a major problem with Serbia, which does not recognise its independence - in keeping with five EU member states. So joining anytime soon looks unlikely.

Montenegro

Major criminal activity occurring, it's on the candidate list but until it does something about its judiciary and rampant gangsterism not much will happen - we hope.

Macedonia

Macedonia could start accession negotiations by mid 2013, conditional on reaching an agreement on its dispute with Bulgaria and Greece. The Council says it was encouraged that progress on the latter dispute had recently been made. The question is who cares?

Serbia

It looks likely that Serbia will be allowed to join the gravy train in 2014 - which is just simply absurd.

 

The Rest of Europe

Belarus

In Belarus things have become darkly comic. Protesters have taken to marching without banners, silently, except for synchronized clapping. Stalinist Belarus mafia boss, Alexander Lukashenko, responded to the 'clapping threat' by banning applause at public gatherings. This caused the Mob Boss a slight problem at the recent Independence Day anniversary; the crowd were told to only applaud veterans and artists; Lukashenko now knows what one hand clapping sounds like!

Insignificant specks

The map of Europe contains a few specks of no significance whatsoever, like Andorra, San Marino, the Vatican, Monaco and Liechtenstein. Why these places exist is a mystery, apart from making up the numbers for the European Song Contest, getting on everyone's nerves in the World Cup qualifers and providing places for the 1% to hide their money, they have no other purpose.

Switzerland

The home of Nazi gold, Tetra Paks, Swatch watches, and unsavoury corporations like Glencore, Nestlé, and Hoffmann-La Roche. On the plus side they can boast of Roger Federer, the most successful men's tennis player ever. Beyond Roger, there's not much to recommend the place, its main function is to provide a warehouse for the ill-gotten gains of the world's dictators, drug barons and gangsters and show offs on skies.

 

UP