The Result of Nationalism – Great Britain Might Have to Fear Dissolution

After Tito’s death, Yugoslavia was for a while headed by Milosevic, who was a staunch nationalist. He started with mild and ended with wild attacks against his own peoples. The result: Yugoslavia had been dismantled by themselves, and the historical core is now Serbia. Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina split off as independent states, and so did Kosovo, after a particularly bloody and cruel war against them. Still today Serbia claims that Kosovo is a part of its state territory, a more hypothetical claim. Yugoslavia, a country with approx. 25 mill. inhabitants, ended up in seven independent countries, of which Serbia, the ex-Yugoslavian core, has around 8 millions.

There are also many historical examples of secessions, also in Europe, or of intended secessions, at least by a part of the population – like Catalonia or the Basques from Spain, where the will to go for one’s own is already anchored in the center of the political spectrum. This was and is triggered by the impression of lacking dialogue and what is called nationalism by the central state. In turn, it triggered nationaism in the periphery of the country. While Madrid can have hope, as there is a constructive discussion about the role of the state and in the direction of a de-facto-federalism, Yugoslavia ended in wars and armed conflicts and therefore broke in pieces. Now the perspective of the European Union is a kind of federalist vision for the citizens of the Balkan states, identified with peace, freedom, human rights, the rule of law, and a functioning economy.

How Great Britain will develop? For London, there is the big danger that if the British Government stresses national issues too much, then parts of the UK like Scotland or Northern Ireland may be lost. This would have also repercussions on Wales. Why? It became evident with the Brexit referendum that from England there was exercised too much pressure (or power) for the whole country, e.g. by the simplified form of the referendum question. At the same time, this discussion is held, or tolerated, by the Government, in a nationalist mode. Let us remember only the sounds of Lord Howard, a leading Tory, when threatening Spain wit a British Armada comparable to the one to the Falklands many years ago under Mararet Thatcher. Incredibly, he forgot to mention that the latter wa the case as Argentinian dictatorship troops occupied the Falklands, and Gibraltar was never occupied by the Spanish. The Spanish only wanted, with full justification, a clear position of the UK in the Brexit talks, on the issue „Gibraltar and Single Market“, which is for evident reasons of high interest for Spain. Should they re-start with border controls? Gibraltar has voted with more than 95% against Brexit, and it was for decades not part of the EU, as the UK Government determined so, and became a member of the EU (as part of the UK) only after a European Court of Justice decision initiated by ist own government.

History shows us that enlightened, democratic Europeans are well able to replace their home capital by a regional capital (until now) and the European fabric above – a fabric which is neither imperialist nor violent nor nationalist. This fits excellently to the case of Scotland and Northern Ireland, which might break away from Great Britain in the vears after the Brexit. However, it might occur that Brexit won’t happen, as there may be grave economic distortions to the detriment of the UK. I am still full of hope of a kind of peaceful revolution by the people who should know it: scientists, university people, youth, company owners – and if you look at the Brexit results, altogether the open and more intelligent people.

The result of the equation „the more nationalist, the more states at the end“ might be followed at a significant change in the European map, like in Yugoslavia. This is undoubtedly the long-term tendency. If you listen to some Brexiteers, you can express your pity that due to the bloody EU they were not any more able to go tiger-hunting for the weekend to Eshnapur.

On the long term, the overall trend is against the national states in the EU – which all come from a certain period in the past. They will continue to serve as administrative levels – no problem with this. Because who is in an overall love to his respective administrative levels, e.g. the Regierungspräsidium Tübingen (which is one of my administrative levels) …  So in order to prevent the breakup of other countries, we need sound regional competences, a European federalism (with the subsidiarity principle!), and, why not, constitutional and cultural patriotism. But no nationalism at all. In four day, the French people will have defeated these ghosts from the past, after the Austrians, the Dutch, and the next ones will be the Germans in September 2017.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka (European Union Foreign Affairs Journal)

http://www.eufaj.eu

 

 

 

 

Women in Power – The Case of Latin America

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By Carmen Aguilera Garcia, a freelance journalist from Honduras, living in Germany, studying at UNED in Madrid/Spain.

Women Power in international politics and economy is a relatively new subject. Discussions are held only since several years about this subject. As of January 2017, the global participation rate of women in national-level parliaments is 23.3%. A number of countries are exploring measures that may increase women’s participation in government at all levels, from the local to the national. It is, too, necessary for gender parity in our legislation, at least an interim quota for women (as e.g. in boards of big companies). This notion of women’s empowerment is rooted in the human capabilities approach in female representatives, not only to advance women’s rights, but also to advance in national legislatures.

These are the latest figures of women in national parliaments (only single or lower chambers) of the Americas – as per 1.1.2017, and out of 193 countries:

     2 (global rank) Bolivia – 53, % (99 out of 130 seats)

  1. Cuba – 48,9% (299/612)
  2. Nicaragua – 45,7& (42/02)
  3. Mexico – 42,6% (213/500)
  4. Ecuador – 41,6% (57/137)
  5. Argentina – 38,9% (100/257)

[then comes as 23. Germany, for comparison, with 37%, and 233/630; six other EU Member States come before]

  1. Costa Rica – 35,1% (29/57)
  2. Grenada – 33,3% (5/15)
  3. El Salvador – 32,1% (37/94)
  4. Guyana – 31,9% (22/68)
  5. Trinidad & Tobago – 31,0% (13/42)
  6. Peru – 27,6% (36/130)
  7. Dominican Republic – 26,8% (51/190)

[then comes as 62. Canada, with 26,3%, and 33/128)

  1. Honduras – 25,8% (32/128)
  2. Suriname – 25,5 (12/51)
  3. Dominica – 25,0% (8/32)
  4. Venezuela – 22,2% (39/167)
  5. Uruguay – 20,2% (20/99)

[… and as no. 104. come the USA: with 19,1% and 83/436 in the House of Representatives, and in the Senate with 21%, and 21/100]

  1. Colombia – 18,7% (30/166)
  2. Panama – 18,3% (13/71)
  3. Jamaica – 17,5% (11/63)

… (then some small Caribbean island states)

  1. Chile – 15,8% (19/120)
  2. Paraguay – 13,8% (11/80)
  3. Guatemala – 12,7% (20/158)
  4. Brazil – 10,7% (55/513)

… and at the very end: 183. Belize – 3,2% (1/32)

  1. Haiti – 2,6% (3/117)

This is an extract from the tables of the Interparliamentary Union; http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/arc/classif010117.htm. From the same source one can learn that, in the regional distribution, the Americas have quite a hig score of 28,3% women in parliamentary assemblies (but the top are the Nordic countries, with 41,7%), still a bit ahead of Europe-OSCE countries, with 26,4%. However, the EU alone is a bit better.

And in the regional parliamentary assemblies there are 21,6% in the Central American Parliament (led by Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras with 7, 6 and 5 M.P’s); in the European Parliament however the comparable figure is 35,2%, with 259 out of 736 seats held by women.

Women’s work not always recognized

One example of Central American countries is Honduras – my home country. With a quarter of woman Members of Parliament, we have at the moment neither equality of payment nor an exciting share of women in parliamentary power. But Honduran women ask each day more to require their part of living in the political space. With a share of more than 50% of the entire population, they want to have more than 26% of the participation quote in the parliament. In Latin American politics, you can see that women’s work is not always recognized.

In Honduras, the law on equal opportunities for women had set a quota of 40%, which cannot be reached. According to Suyapa Martinez of the NGO Education Centre for Women this is a radicalizing problem in political participation. It’s just that feminism is not equal everywhere. On 25 January 1955, the Decree of recognition of rights for women in the general election in Honduras to vote was issued during the administration of Julio Lozano.

A year later in 1956 for the first time a woman was elected as a member of the Congress of Guatemala. In the year 1999 by the 960 candidates only 133 women with 11.3% were elected in Guatemala, in Costa Rica 19.3% and El Salvador 16.7%. Today the percentage in the parliaments of Costa Rica is 35% and of El Salvador 32% – a certain progress indeed, but not enough.

Peru, has a single chamber of 130 congress members, of which 36 are women. This represents 27.7%, which places Peru on post 54 in the global list of women’s participation in politics.

The IPU (UIP )documents on women’s participation in parliaments of 193 countries indicate that, globally, about 23.4 percent of lawmakers are women. In other words, less than a quarter. Election law experts say in this context that mechanisms in the electoral law are not the simple solution.

Women presidents in Latin America

In the executive, the governments, it is interesting; there were some women even in Latin America. For instance a woman who was the first spouse of an Argentine President. At that time, in the 1950s/1960s women had not really political rights. Women like Alicia Moreau de Justo, Julieta Lanteri, Dellepiane Elvira Rawson, had unsuccessfully claimed the recognition of political rights for women. In general, the dominant male culture considered a lack of femininity which a woman comment policy. María Estela Martínez de Perón, was the first woman to reach the Presidency of the nation of Argentina, and assumed the position of President after the death of her spouse, President Juan Domingo Perón. So did Kristina Kirchner of Argentina. Alone these two women would have never been presidents.

Laura Chinchilla is the first President in the history of Costa Rica, Michelle Bachelet Jeria was President of the Republic of Chile from 2006 to 2010, Mireya Elisa Moscoso Rodríguez, in 1999 won the presidential elections in Panama. Janet Jagan Rosemberg became first woman President in the history of Guyana. Rosalía Arteaga Serrano was the first woman in the history of Ecuador in the positions of President and Vice President. Violeta Barrios Chamorra was President of Nicaragua and Lidia Gueiler Tejada was interim President of Bolivia. And not to forget Dilma Roussef who was the first female president of Brazil, and who was forced to resign amid a lot of machismo arguments. (see detailed CVs of these women, in Spanish, under http://www.adnpolitico.com/2012/2012/02/06/las-presidentas-de-america-latina)

Finally, Rigoberta Menchú Tum should not be forgotten. She has become a figure in indigenous political parties and ran for President of Guatemala in 2007 and 2011 and has dedicated her life to publicizing the rights of Guatemala’s indigenous feminists during and after the Guatemalan Civil War (1960–1996), and to promoting indigenous rights in the country.

Economic Power

Women are even less present in positions of economic power. They represent 9 per cent of members of the boards of central banks, 15 per cent of members of the governing bodies of trade-unions and 10 per cent of members of the governing bodies of employers’ organisations. Women in the boards of companies registered on the stock exchange are less than 15 per cent. Ukraine, however, stands out again as the only Eastern Partnership country with two women Presidents and two women Vice-Presidents in two of its organisations representing workers.

In a legislation, executive political institutions, political parties, public administration we need not violence and harassment against women remains insufficient. Women in power roles in leadership is very important for Action for Equality Development and Peace.

Our object is a better the change developments and measures in women’s and men’s participation in power structures, in the single, lower houses of the national, federal Parliaments; promote a balanced participation in political elections (policy). As well as in the local assemblies. There is also a need to change women’s representation in Central Banks, economic ministries, employers’ confederations, labor unions (see as an example for other regions of the world: Women in power and decision-making n Eastern Partnership countries, on page 64 of European Unon Foreign Affairs Journal 2/2016: http://www.libertas-institut.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/EUFAJ-2-2016.pdf).

Carmen Aguilera García

 

Frankreich: Wie das Fahrradfahren gefördert wird

In diesem Blog wurde vor einigen Jahren das Thema „EU-Fußgängerpolitik“ behandelt – in der Tat für die Städte ein wichtiges Element kommunaler Verkehrspolitik (siehe . https://libertasblogs.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/pro-pedestrian-is-there-a-european-walking-policy/). Heute lohnt ein Blick nach Frankreich, wo nicht nur das Hochgeschwindigkeitsnetz der Eisenbahn, sondern auch die Fahrradinfrastruktur wie Radwege, öffentliche Leihsysteme usw. ausgebaut werden. Das Loi de Transition énergétique von 2015 (Gesetz zur Energiewende) lohnt einen näheren Blick. Darin fördert der Gesetzgeber mit Prämien den Ein- bzw. Umstieg aufs Zweirad. Im Einzelnen:

Wegekosten zur Arbeit

Seit dem 13. Februar 2016 können private Arbeitgeber in Frankreich über Betriebsvereinbarungen oder auch als Arbeitgeberleistung die Wegekosten von Arbeitnehmern, die per Fahrrad zurückgelegt werden, finanziell mit 0,25 Cent pro gefahrenen Kilometer unterstützen. Der Arbeitgeber braucht für die ersten 200 € pro Fahrradfahrer keine Sozialabgaben zu entrichten und die ersten 200 € sind für den Arbeitnehmer steuerfrei. Auch in einigen Bereichen des öffentlichen Dienstes läuft bis Ende August 2018 eine Testphase.

Haben die Unternehmen einen eigenen Fuhrpark mit Rädern bzw. Elektro-Fahrrädern, die sie der Belegschaft zur Verfügung stellen, können Sie Anschaffung und Betrieb in Höhe von 25 % der Kosten von der Körperschaftssteuer absetzen.

Die neuen Regelungen sind ein Schritt hin zur Gleichberechtigung der Verkehrsmittel. Autofahrer können ihre Wegekosten von der Steuer absetzen und Arbeitgeber sind per Gesetz dazu verpflichtet, 50 % der Kosten einer Monatskarte eines Angestellten für den öffentlichen Nahverkehr zu übernehmen.

Fahrrad-Parkplätze

Beim Neubau von Gewerbebauten, Fabriken, Einkaufscentern, Kinos usw. besteht seit Anfang 2017 die Pflicht, Fahrrad-Parkplätze mit einem gewissen Sicherheitsstandard zur Verfügung zu stellen. Ein Unternehmen muss für 15 % der Angestellten einen Fahrradplatz vorhalten und bei einem Einkaufscenter etc. müssen 10 % der Parkplätze für Fahrräder zur Verfügung stehen.

Fahrrad-Mitnahme in öffentlichen Verkehrsmitteln

Hier gibt es gewisse Fortschritte in den meisten EU-Mitgliedsstaaten. Zum Vergleich Frankreich: In den Regional-/Nahverkehrszügen TER ist die Mitnahme von Fahrrädern kostenlos. Auch viele Hochgeschwindigkeitszüge (TGV) nehmen Fahrräder gegen eine Reservierungsgebühr von 10 € mit Diese Züge sind mit dem deutschen ICE vergleichbar und das europaweite Erstmodell für Trains à grande vtiesse..

In den letzten Jahren erlauben die Verkehrsverbünde außerhalb der Hauptverkehrszeiten vermehrt auch die kostenfreie Mitnahme des Fahrrads im öffentlichen Nahverkehr. So ist in der Pariser RER das Fahrrad ebenso willkommen wie in den Straßenbahnen vieler Städte (Bordeaux, Brest, Clermont-Ferrand, Le Mans, Montpellier, Mulhouse, Orléans, Straßburg, Toulouse).

Anschaffung eines Pedelecs

Interessant ist die Förderung von Elektro-Fahrrädern in Frankreich: Seit dem 19. Februar 2017 unterstützt der französische Staat die Anschaffung eines Pedelecs (E-Bike) durch Privatpersonen, Unternehmen und öffentliche Verwaltungen. Auf 20 % des Anschaffungspreises wird eine Prämie gewährt, die allerdings bei 200 € gedeckelt ist. Bedingung ist zudem, dass die Batterie des Elektroantriebs des Fahrrads kein Blei enthält.

Plan vélo 2020 – Paris für das Fahrrad – Fahrradexpresswege

Paris investiert mit seinem Plan vélo 2015-2020 150 Mio. € in den Ausbau der Fahrradinfrastruktur. Dabei wird die Länge der Fahrradwege von 700 km auf 1400 km verdoppelt und in den Richtungen Nord-Süd und Ost-West werden Fahrradexpresswege in beide Richtungen mit einer Länge von 80 km entstehen. Ziel ist es, dass der Anteil des Fahrrades am Verkehr sich von 5% auf 15% verdreifacht. Zum Konzept gehört auch die flächendeckende Einführung von Tempo 30-Zonen, 10.000 neue Fahrradstellplätze, die Einführung von 7000 Vorrang-Fahrradzonen an Kreuzungen und Überführungen sowie Vorrangschaltungen für Fahrradfahrer an Ampeln.

Insgesamt: Respekt vor dieser verkehrspolitischen Leistung in Frankreich, Chapeau! Nicht nur, dass einige TGV-Zugverbindungen, die dieses Jahr eingeweiht werden, schneller als geplant und billiger als budgetiert (!) gebaut wurden …

New EUFAJ 1/2017: Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood, Belarus, Balkan, Albanian rivers, Faroes, Nagorno-Karabakh Referendum, Azerbaijan arrest warrants, Armenian NGO chief deported from Russia, warfare by private companies …

The new issue 1/2017 of European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (EUFAJ) is out. See articles on:

  • EU and Egypt Revolution after 2012,
  • Muslim Brotherhood should be declared terrorist,
  • private enterpreneurs running wars,
  • EU Fund for Sustainable Development – a new instrument,
  • Belarus crisis and Europe,
  • Russian Deportation of an Armenian NGO chief,
  • the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) referendum from 20.2.2017,
  • Azerbaijan arrest warrants against European parliamentarians,
  • Faroe Islands will hold referendum – with far reaching possible consequences,
  • Western Balkans and the EU Annual Reports about possible membership,
  • Balkan rivers and environment: Sava in Serbia, Mavrovo Park in Macedonia, Vjosa valley in Albania: national park vs. hydropower plants,
  • EU for Multilateral Investment Courts,
  • Let’s go to Bornholm Island – with a new European initiative.

See this issue of EUFAJ under: http://www.libertas-institut.com/eufaj/eufaj-1-2017/

 

 

Azerbaijan’s Government Attacks European Principles of Parliamentarism

Illustrated with a charismatic picture of an Azerbaijani civil servant, the Azerbaijan press agency APA reported on 22.2.2017 on a new case for them. Plese see the original text of this press agency release here:

———————————————————————

Prosecutor General’s Office: „A criminal case was launched against members of the European Parliament“

Azerbaijan has announced an international arrest warrant for European Parliament members (EP) Frank Engel (Luxembourg), Eleni Teoharus (Cyprus) and Jaromir Stetin (Czech Republic) for the monitoring of the „referendum“ in Nagorno Karabakh, spokesperson of the Prosecutor General’s Office Eldar Sultanov told APA.

Azerbaijani General Prosecutor’s Office instituted criminal proceedings against the foreigners who have committed an illegal visit the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, also sent a corresponding request to Interpol for their announcement on the international wanted list, said on Wednesday the press service of the Prosecutor General.

“A criminal case has been launched against the members of the European Parliament under the relevant articles of the Criminal Code for repeated illegal visit to the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, in particular, on suspicion of illegal visit to Nagorno Karabakh to participate in the so-called “referendum” as the “observers” on February 20,” Prosecutor General’s Office said in a statement.

In addition, the accused European parliamentarians charged for conducting propaganda of seperatist entity called „Nagorno Karabakh Republic“, illegal participation in the activities organized in those territories, and presenting illegal entity in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan as an independent republic.

“The court decided to arrest F.Engel, E.Teoharus and J. Stetin and they have been declared internationally wanted through Interpol,” the report says.


This constitutes an incredible attack on European parliamentarism. Three Members of European Parliament went as observers to a referendum. There were around 100 international observers at the constitutional referendum in Nagtrono-Karabakh from 20.2.2017, according to the result of the referendum now called Artsakh, which should regulate the circumstances how the people there live in the future. Artsakh is not recognised by any other country, but it works together with institutions all over the world (like e.g. Kosovo  in a phase of its history) and, in a strong contrast to Azerbaijan itself, it can be considered to be, in grosso modo, a democratic community, which in the region maight be topped only by Georgia. This is a positive sign, but for the Azerbaijan government it seems to be a bad sign: They do not let their people live in a freedom like it is the case in the disputed territory of Artsakh. There no state harrassment is known to bloggers, critical journalists, opposition members etc., as it is the case in Azerbaijan, who even has managed institutions in the EU to have compiled a list of their political prisoners. Azerbaijan, after all, is not only the most corrupt regime among the Council of Europe Member States, but it is also the most repressive, where it seems to have doubled now Belarus. Only their brother state Turkey has has imprsoned more journalists at present, but it has also more than 10 x the population.

What can the EU do?

The three arrtest warrants are, of course, ridiculous. They also include that the accused European parliamentarians [are] charged for conducting propaganda of seperatist entity called „Nagorno Karabakh Republic“. This is a propaganda notion like e.g. in Turkey  „terrorism“ is used for opposition members, or as it was used in Soviet times, but definitely not in an open society. And it should be reminded that OSCE was compelled to cancel their own observer mission for the Azeri parliamentary elections in autumn 2015 (see also  http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/azerbaijan/181611).

The warrants might be enforced by states who „just want to do a favour“ towards Azerbaijan. Belarus did so some weeks ago in the case of the Russian-Israeli blogger Lapchin who was extradited to Azerbaijan (…just to have some conversations with the police…“). This would be an incredible violation of free parliamentarism. Any European parliamentarian, and not only in the EU parliament, has the right to observe whatever  election or vote may be held anywhere in the world, if he was invited (which was the case). I have to add, also if not. To observe an election or a general vote like a referendum is a good tradition among democracies or not-so-advanced democracies, anyway it is a good sign for popular vote and people’s power. That this is attacked under the pretexts used by the Azeri government is an incredible attack on free parliamentarism. This should be solved under political auspices only, by discussions, debates, parliamentary actions. The fact that Azerbaijan reduced their actions to criminal procedures shows only the nervousness of a regime who cold not do anything – due to their commitment to gas and oil extracrtion only and a lack of economic diversification – against an economic and monetary downturn, and who did not really manage to overcome the disparities between the capital and rural  areas. Instead of this, it buys arms by the billions (euros) from Russia and exercises regularly a belligerous language aganist their neighbour. It is the European country with the worst state branding policy, with a too transparant „caviar diplomacy“ and corruption towards third countries as well – see the present investigation in the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly member Volonté who is under suspicion to have got 2,4 mill. euro from Azerbaijan sources.

The EU could – and should – after all, besides a clear resolution by the European Parliament, first suspend all talks with the Azeri government until the arrest warrants would be withdrawn formally.

If necessary, it can approach all third country governments and ask them whether they will follow to implement this international arrest warrant by Azerbaijan. This should be confirmed by any other government, as it is not clear if legal procedures will be correct in some of these states – see the extradition of Lapchin from Belarus. This should be launched in an official diplomatic note. It is a chance to enhance EU common foreign policy – and also European parliamentarism, which cannot be forced to meet the level of what is consicdered as parliamentarism by Azerbaijan.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka

Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal

 

 

Finally: The EU Reacted Strongly. United we Stand, Divided we Fall.

Finally, the EU has reacted in a rather strong way. Today, 31st Jan., 2017, in the afternoon the EU Council President, the former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, wrote an open letter to his 27 colleagues, as a Jingle for the forthcoming EU Summit Meeting in Malta next weekend. I wish this letter a world-wide distribution, and it goes exctly in the direction of two articles of John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus from Washington D.C., and myself in the next EUFAJ which will appear in some days. What is Donald Tusk’s letter about? Here is the full text:

„Dear colleagues,

In order to best prepare our discussion in Malta about the future of the European Union of 27 member states, and in light of the conversations I have had with some of you, let me put forward a few reflections that I believe most of us share.

The challenges currently facing the European Union are more dangerous than ever before in the time since the signature of the Treaty of Rome. Today we are dealing with three threats, which have previously not occurred, at least not on such a scale.

The first threat, an external one, is related to the new geopolitical situation in the world and around Europe. An increasingly, let us call it, assertive China, especially on the seas, Russia’s aggressive policy towards Ukraine and its neighbours, wars, terror and anarchy in the Middle East and in Africa, with radical Islam playing a major role, as well as worrying declarations by the new American administration all make our future highly unpredictable. For the first time in our history, in an increasingly multipolar external world, so many are becoming openly anti-European, or Eurosceptic at best. Particularly the change in Washington puts the European Union in a difficult situation; with the new administration seeming to put into question the last 70 years of American foreign policy.

The second threat, an internal one, is connected with the rise in anti-EU, nationalist, increasingly xenophobic sentiment in the EU itself. National egoism is also becoming an attractive alternative to integration. In addition, centrifugal tendencies feed on mistakes made by those, for whom ideology and institutions have become more important than the interests and emotions of the people.

The third threat is the state of mind of the pro-European elites. A decline of faith in political integration, submission to populist arguments as well as doubt in the fundamental values of liberal democracy are all increasingly visible.

In a world full of tension and confrontation, what is needed is courage, determination and political solidarity of Europeans. Without them we will not survive. If we do not believe in ourselves, in the deeper purpose of integration, why should anyone else? In Rome we should renew this declaration of faith. In today’s world of states-continents with hundreds of millions of inhabitants, European countries taken separately have little weight. But the EU has demographic and economic potential, which makes it a partner equal to the largest powers. For this reason, the most important signal that should come out of Rome is that of readiness of the 27 to be united. A signal that we not only must, but we want to be united.

Let us show our European pride. If we pretend we cannot hear the words and we do not notice the decisions aimed against the EU and our future, people will stop treating Europe as their wider homeland. Equally dangerously, global partners will cease to respect us. Objectively speaking, there is no reason why Europe and its leaders should pander to external powers and their rulers. I know that in politics, the argument of dignity must not be overused, as it often leads to conflict and negative emotions. But today we must stand up very clearly for our dignity, the dignity of a united Europe – regardless of whether we are talking to Russia, China, the US or Turkey. Therefore, let us have the courage to be proud of our own achievements, which have made our continent the best place on Earth. Let us have the courage to oppose the rhetoric of demagogues, who claim that European integration is beneficial only to the elites, that ordinary people have only suffered as its result, and that countries will cope better on their own, rather than together.

We must look to the future – this was your most frequent request in our consultations over the past months. And there is no doubt about it. But we should never, under any circumstances, forget about the most important reasons why 60 years ago we decided to unite Europe. We often hear the argument that the memory of the past tragedies of a divided Europe is no longer an argument, that new generations do not remember the sources of our inspiration. But amnesia does not invalidate these inspirations, nor does it relieve us of our duty to continuously recall the tragic lessons of a divided Europe. In Rome, we should strongly reiterate these two basic, yet forgotten, truths: firstly, we have united in order to avoid another historic catastrophe, and secondly, that the times of European unity have been the best times in all of Europe’s centuries-long history. It must be made crystal clear that the disintegration of the European Union will not lead to the restoration of some mythical, full sovereignty of its member states, but to their real and factual dependence on the great superpowers: the United States, Russia and China. Only together can we be fully independent.

We must therefore take assertive and spectacular steps that would change the collective emotions and revive the aspiration to raise European integration to the next level. In order to do this, we must restore the sense of external and internal security as well as socio-economic welfare for European citizens. This requires a definitive reinforcement of the EU external borders; improved cooperation of services responsible for combating terrorism and protecting order and peace within the border-free area; an increase in defence spending; strengthening the foreign policy of the EU as a whole as well as better coordinating individual member states‘ foreign policies; and last but not least fostering investment, social inclusion, growth, employment, reaping the benefits of technological change and convergence in both the euro area and the whole of Europe.

We should use the change in the trade strategy of the US to the EU’s advantage by intensifying our talks with interested partners, while defending our interests at the same time. The European Union should not abandon its role as a trade superpower which is open to others, while protecting its own citizens and businesses, and remembering that free trade means fair trade. We should also firmly defend the international order based on the rule of law. We cannot surrender to those who want to weaken or invalidate the Transatlantic bond, without which global order and peace cannot survive. We should remind our American friends of their own motto: United we stand, divided we fall“.

I really like this Open Letter – finally the EU gets a spine of steel. Donald Tusk Shows that he is a leader, and I hope he remains still a while in his present Job in the future, too.

It is not by chance that Donald Trump is mentioned in one line with questionable presidents like the ones in Turkey or Russia. This is really a shame for an American president. We all in Europe should not be passive in the attempts of the conscient Americans to stand and finally overcome this Person. He has so Little political and civic education, that his advisors seem to have free way, much to the pleasure of the president who thinks he can run a complicated state like a billionaire’s shop.

What is worst: The US have always been at the side of European integration, and of course we had some small difficulties, but this is normal in families. In families who share the same values, also internationally. In the last years of the Soviet Union, in the 1980s, there was a big discussion in Europe about so-called „equidistance“ of Europe, towards the USSR and the USA. In Europe, it was clear that we may be geographically closer to the first ine, but value-wise closer connected to the US. Now we know: We stand alone – and we will not give up, now more than ever, to tell the world that it is worth while to have an open society, of immigration and emigration (many famous US companies would not exist if today’s travel bans would have existed!), a social market economy, and a clear concept of the togetherness in the world. What the Republicans do at present, is adventurous, and it shows that the political coordinates cannot be considered parallel at all, between Europe and the USA. This not yet a cultural fight, but serious cultural differences – and it is indeed a matter of education, of being open to other cultures and countries. Let us work in the suitable way in keeping contact with „enlightened“ Americans, who think apriund the Corner, and let us prepare the day, when Trump is „shot down the tube“ by the voters, or by an impeachment before, what I do not exclude, if you see the exhaust of his companies.
Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal
http://www.eufaj.eu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ertragssteuern und Europäische wirtschaftliche Interessenvereinigung (EWIV)

Unser Blog verzeichnete in den letzten Wochen immer wieder Aufgriffe auf einige ältere Hinweise auf Workshops des Europäischen EWIV-Informationszentrums, einen  losen Zusammenschluss von EWIV-Experten aus Recht, Wirtschaftswissenschaften, Steuerlehre und dies aus mehreren EU-Ländern. Die Europäische wirtschaftliche Interessenvereinigung (EWIV – auf Deutsch, in den anderen 24 EU-Amtssprachen entsprechend) ist eine EU-weite Kooperations-Rechtsform aufgrund EU-Recht und wird in der EU-Verordnung 2137/85 geregelt (dieser Text und viele andere Informationen können auf http://www.ewiv.eu abgerufen werden). Um unseren Blog-Lesern Anrufe zu ersparen, hier einige grundlegende Informationen:

  1. Wie erwähnt, ist eine EWIV eine Kooperations-Rechtsform zur transnationalen Zusammenarbeit, also mindestens zwischen zwei Mitgliedern aus zwei verschiedenen EU-Staaten (+ die drei EFTA-Staaten des EWR: Liechtenstein, Island und Norwegen). Das heisst: Wer keinerlei leicht, etwa mit Dokumenten nachweisbare europäische Kooperation nachweisen kann, sollte auch keine EWIV gründen bzw  betreiben. Die Gefahr ist sonst groß, dass die Finanzämter (die in der EU ständig besser grenzüberschreitend zusammenarbeiten) feststellen, dass einer der Mitglieder eine „leere Hülse“ darstellt (Zitat aus einer baden-württembergischen Außenprüfung, wo eine deutsche GmbH mit ihrem spanischen Partner, einer Comunidad de bienes auf Mallorca, keinerlei Zusammenarbeit pflegte). Die Folge kann sein, dass bis zur Verjährungsgrenze (also mindestens 10 Jahre retrospektiv) die EWIV rückabgewickelt werden kann. Dies also zum sog. Transnationalitätserfordernis, das allerdings bei den wenigsten Finanzämtern bekannt und bewusst ist – allerdings von den Finanzgerichten aufgegriffen werden könnte. Es kann damit gerechnet werden, dass dies in den nächsten Jahren allgemein bewusst werden könnte und dann entsprechend zurück geprüft wird.
  2. Eine EWIV hat immer Unternehmereigenschaft (vgl. auch das Schreiben des Bundesministeriums der Finanzen von 1988 zur EWIV, ebenfalls auf http://www.ewiv.eu). Das bedeutet, dass eine EIWV, die ja auch in  den Handelsregistern Abt. A in Deutschland eingetragen wird (und somit als Personengesellschaft gilt, die im Übrigen keine Publizitätspflicht kennt), z.B. den Grundsätzen ordnungsgemäßer Buchführung (GoB) des HGB unterliegt. In der Praxis – durchaus sanktioniert von Finanzämtern in Deutschland – genügt eine einfache Einnahme-Überschuss-Rechnung, bei Umsätzen bis 500.000 EUR jährlich, oder bei einfachen Buchungsvorgängen. Erst ab diesem Limit muss man eine (Handels-)Bilanz anfertigen.
  3. Eine EWIV darf keinen Gewinn aufweisen – dies steht in den meisten Gründungsverträgen und ergibt sich auch aus Art. 40 der EU-VO (die eigentlich EWG-Verordnung heisst, da sie im ersten Entwuf 1970 angefangen wurde, aber der Einfachheit halber hier EU-VO genannt wird). Dieser Art. 40 besagt, dass eventuelle Überschüsse der EWIV nicht bei dieser zu versteuern sind, wenn sie an die Mitglieder aufbezahlt werden. Diese Mitglieder müssen dann diese Einnahmen (aus Beteiligung z. B.) versteuern, wo auch immer sie sitzen. Dabei können diese Auszahlungen über das Jahr verteilt oder auf einmal erfolgen, und sie können nach Köpfen oder „asymmetrisch“ erfolgen (also entsprechend Projektanteilen, nach Messgrössen wie z. B. Umsatz, Mitarbeiter o. ä.).
  4. Eine Möglichkeit aber ist auch die Bildung von Rücklagen, die bei der EWIV als „Reservefonds“ bezeichnet werden. Diese sollten in einem Rücklagenbeschluss genauer bezeichnet werden, z. B. …. EUR für ein Seminarzentrum am Lago di Garda etc. Aber auch zukünftige Kosten wie z. B. die Anschaffung von Pkw, die Webseite, allgemeine Bürokosten usw. können Gegenstand von derartigen Rücklagen sein. Derartige Rücklagen sind selbstverständlich von den Finanzämtern zu akzeptieren – dies geschieht auch. Wenn allerdings eine EWIV stets Jahresumsätze von 150.000 EUR generiert und dann plötzlich eine Million auf dem Rücklagenkonto aufweist, ist dies erklärungsbedürftig bzw. muss schlüssig erklärt werden können. ACHTUNG: Die deutschen Steuerbehörden akzeptieren derzeit mehr und mehr Investitionsrücklagen. So ist seit 2016 beim Investitionsabzugsbetrag (IAB) nicht mehr obligatorisch (und dieser endet bei 200.000 EUR), einzelne Wirtschaftsgüter einzeln zu benennen. Voraussetzung ist eine Steuererklärung per Datenübertragung.
  5. So gesehen, bezahlt eine EWIV also – bei korrekter Buchhaltung – weder Körperschafts- noch Gewerbesteuer. Voraussetzung hierfür ist aber, wie erwähnt, dass der Jahresabschluss der EWIV „null auf null“ ausgeht. Wo im Übrigen EWIV Gewinne ausweisen (manchmal geschieht dies, weil unwissende Steuerberater oder Buchhaltungsbüros dies so ausweisen, zum Teil auch aufgrund veralteter IT-Programme), müssen sie diese versteuern. Gleichzeitig machen sie sich auch automatisch zum IHK-Mitglied (mit allen Beiträgen) und bei der Kommune gewerberegisterpflichtg, wovon sie ansonsten befreit bleiben.
  6. Ansonsten bleibt eine EWIV natürlich steuerpflichtig bei allen anderen Steuern, z. B. Lohnsteuer, Kfz-Steuer, Grundsteuer, Grunderwerbssteuer, aber auch Umsatzsteuer. Sie ist in diesem Zusammenhang als ganz normales Unternehmen anzusehen.
  7. Wir machen sicherlich auch in 2017 einen oder mehrere Workshops zu diesem Thema und werden hierauf hinweisen. Wir werden auch in den nächsten Tagen ein Blog nur für EWIV-Fragen eröffnen, wo in qualifizierter Weise auf Fragen eingegangen wird – und nicht, wie seltsame Unternehmensberater implizieren, auf „Null-Steuern mit EWIV“ oder ähnlichen Unsinn.

Zwischenzeitlich stehen wir gerne zur Verfügung, falls es für präzise Fragen nötig sein sollte. Unsere E-Mail: ewiv@libertas-institut.com. Und wir können auf 25 Jahre Erfahrung und mehr als 330 gegründete EWIV zurückschauen.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka, Assessor jur.

Leiter des Europäischen EWIV-Informationszentrum, http://www.ewiv.eu