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A good few weeks for Europe

December 18th, 2004

The last few weeks have been good ones for Europe, and for the EU, with the success of the democratic campaign for fresh elections in Ukraine, the court decision in Britain prohibiting indefinite detention without trial and now the decision of the EU to begin accession talks with Turkey (missed the obvious pun there). Negotiations with Iran were also a qualified success, certainly by comparison with the futile sabre-rattling coming out of Washington.

I predicted in February that the start of the EU admission process for Turkey would be the biggest geopolitical event of the year. Things dind’t go precisely to plan, but in the end it didn’t matter. Tobias Schwarz at a Fistful of Euros has more

Chris Bertram at CT covers the judgement of Lord Hoffman in the decision by the House of Lords that Detaining foreign terrorist suspects without trial breaks human rights laws is incompatible with European human rights laws. Hoffman makes a ringing affirmation of all that’s best in the British constitutional tradition, but Eurosceptics should note that it’s now the European Convention on Human Rights that is protecting those traditions against the untrammeled power of the executive.

The Ukraine which was covered fairly extensively here, thanks to guest posts from Tarik Amar and Tom Oates. Apart from the outcome, it was encouraging to see the EU working well on this, and also the lesson to Putin that the era of superpower/hyperpower politics is over.

Timothy Garton Ash is well worth reading on all this.

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  1. December 19th, 2004 at 16:20 | #1

    JQ, when you say “…have been good for Europe…” you shouldn’t then go on to list, in support of that, a whole load of means that you yourself find valuable.

    The logical fallacy is that you are asserting what you seek to prove as part of the support for your thesis. When you start talking deeper stuff like “good” you can’t take it as read that democracy is good – if it turned out later that all this democracy worked out to the harm of Europe you couldn’t turn round and say, “ah yes, but it was democratic”; that’s the sort of justification that the neocons are using for what is actually happening in Iraq, labelling it “freedom” and saying it is untidy.

    For similar reasons you cannot take it as read that “what JQ likes/approves of” is a working definition of “good”. If you want to argue that recent developments were good for Europe – which they may well be – you need to use less derivative concepts. Among other things it will force you to define your terms, like “what is Europe” (it’s not just what the Enarchy thinks it is). Civil wars start over different expressions of different understandings of people’s sense of identity, so it matters (Australian republicans, please also note).

  2. John Quiggin
    December 19th, 2004 at 16:55 | #2

    PML, feel free to read “good, on the assumption that democracy is good” everywhere I’ve written “good”.

    And for readers who dislike/disapprove of the things I like/approve of, feel free to read the whole thing as “a bad few weeks for Europe”.

  3. December 19th, 2004 at 22:34 | #3

    I daresay bloggers like Tim Blair would call it a bad week for Europe. I think PWL has a point. You cant say something is “good” just because you agree with it.

  4. John Quiggin
    December 19th, 2004 at 22:51 | #4

    Exactly when can you say something is good then? When God agrees with it?

  5. December 20th, 2004 at 02:32 | #5

    “Negotiations with Iran were also a qualified success,…”

    In the sense that the Iranian government is going to develop nuclear weapons…but the negotiations about the matter will be very polite while they do so?

  6. matt byrne
    December 20th, 2004 at 08:25 | #6

    from http://www.dictionary.com

    good: Being positive or desirable in nature.

    Now that’s settled, what is good for one mightn’t be good for you, but this IS JQ’s blog, so if he thinks it’s good then this IS the place for him to say so. Isn’t it?

  7. December 20th, 2004 at 09:30 | #7

    Interesting that all the good news seems to be happening on the periphery of Europe not its centre – where the over valued Euro is likely to start kicking in soon.

    More importantly none of these events have any finality – the Lords didn’t fully kick out the detentions, they explicitly said that legislation is required – and I think legislation they’ll get.

    Secondly, well with Iran, if you think that’s the end of the story you’re nuts.

    But the most interesting one is Turkey – good that they’ve entered into negotiations but I think the real question is how are those negotiations going to be carried out – in good faith or bad? I don’t think France has genuinely agreed and if this view is widespread and the Turks are strung along in the negotiations, I think things could get ugly. More importantly with referenda on the constitution coming up a lot of countries have the incentive to play tough for the next year and a half. It’ll be interesting to see who gets put in charge of the negotiating team, then we’ll know if its good news or bad.

  8. December 21st, 2004 at 12:40 | #8

    Some silly pedantry in these comments- obviously JQ is expressing an opinion, this is a blog, what’s anyone’s point? Demonstrating their inability to understand the context in which they read things?

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