The EU’s Second Ring

BERLIN/KIEV/BERN (Own report) – In the aftermath of the Western-oriented putsch in Kiev, German politicians are preparing German public opinion for the disastrous deterioration of the Ukraine economic situation. Even though it was most recently suggested that the country could only expect a thriving development by linking up to the EU, it is now – truthfully – being announced that Ukraine is practically bankrupt. The CDU European parliamentarian, Elmar Brok, predicts “difficult times” ahead: “It has never rained gold coins, except in fairy tales.” In fact back in the fall, experts had already indicated that, because of its out-dated industry, the Ukraine would have to expect dramatic economic slumps if it signs the EU Association Agreements – unemployment and poverty would dramatically rise. In a position paper, the Berlin-based German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) is now proposing the introduction of a special status in EU ties for the Ukraine as well as other countries, such as Turkey. This sort of EU “second ring” would also permit the economic integration of such countries as Switzerland, which politically resists joining the EU. The SWP contends that these plans could also be used for Catalonia, should it secede from Spain and Scotland, from Britain.

Automatic Adaption

The authors of the SWP position paper initially part from the EU’s relationship with Switzerland, as the basis for their contemplations of the EU forming a “second ring.” Brussels and Bern, according to the paper, have currently signed more than 100 bilateral accords, forming the foundation of close cooperation. Brussels is now insisting on changes, because the intransigence of the accords reached with Bern are no longer in step with the continually evolving EU rules. Rather than always having to “manually” update these accords, Brussels would like to have an agreement on mechanisms, which would make it possible to practically have Switzerland automatically “accept the Union’s legal standards.” This would be “a new institutional umbrella” for bilateral relations. Negotiations were to have begun this spring. However, following the Swiss Free Movement of Persons Referendum, this is no longer immediately possible, because the results of the referendum have placed in question current accords with the EU.[1]

Integrate into the Interior Market

After the results of the referendum, as the authors see it, there should first be a “discussion of principles” on the relations between Switzerland and the EU. This would simultaneously provide “the opportunity” to work out a “model for institutional ties” to the EU for all those countries that one wants “to have participating in the interior market,” while “the political full membership is not wanted either by the country in question or by the EU.” This concerns, first of all, members of the European Economic Area (EEA) (Norway, Island, Liechtenstein), but also Turkey – whose EU membership Berlin has been blocking – as well as the “EU-fatigued … EU members … such as Great Britain,” for the case that the United Kingdom “really decides to abandon union membership.” The Euro crisis has long since “imposed integration at two different speeds,” according to the position paper on closer cooperation within the Euro zone. There are also “many indications that the members of the Euro zone will close ranks even more tightly.”[2] The concept of a “second ring” around a core Europe with a common currency would also make it possible to standardize the economic penetration of European peripheral countries, even those lacking the political will for complete integration.

Europe, No Fairy Tale

MEP Elmar Brok (CDU), who, for weeks, has repeatedly been negotiating in Kiev and is known as the one “secretly pulling the strings” for the EU in the Ukraine,[9] expressed himself accordingly. “It has never rained gold coins except in fairy tales,” Brok declared following the putsch in the Ukrainian capital: Even though the country has the “best opportunities … on its route to Europe,” it still “will be difficult in the beginning.”[10] Substantial economic problems are already looming. This year, Kiev has to pay approximately ten billion Euros in debts, which it cannot muster without dramatic budget cuts. Moscow had offered its help, but broke off transfer payments after the coup in Kiev. It can be practically excluded that Berlin and Brussels will jump in with billions in payments. After all, Berlin and Brussels are not as interested in the welfare of this country, as in its accession to the German European hegemonic sphere.

Full article: The EU’s Second Ring (German Foreign Policy)

Comments are closed.