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Public ownership and nationalisation in the EU August 18, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Here’s two contrasting views of what is or is not possible in regard to public ownership and nationalisation in the European Union. Here’s the case suggesting there is no space for same, and here’s another which suggests that while there are some limitations they are of a lesser order than is generally understood.

There is a broader point which is that that which has been introduced can be removed and therefore the limitations are far from set in stone if there’s a political will to engage with them. Further more there’s a fundamental reality. This state, the ROI, is hugely unlikely to follow the UK out of the European Union. It would be good to think that all the forms of public ownership already available even as matters stand are pursued – whether municipal, etc, etc. But that requires political representatives elected to make that case.


1. Ed - August 18, 2016

It’s not quite the same thing, but there’s been an epidemic in recent years of EU officials and (especially) German politicians claiming that such-and-such is ‘legally impossible’ when they really mean ‘politically impossible (because we don’t want it to be done)’. Wolfgang Munchau wrote about this in relation to Greece and debt relief this time last year:

“During the recent Greek crisis, I came across a completely new rule. I first heard it from Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister. It says that countries are not allowed to default inside the eurozone. But a default was perfectly fine once they leave the euro, on the other hand. I later read that Otmar Issing, the former chief economist of the European Central Bank, used almost exactly the same phrase as Mr Schäuble in an Italian newspaper interview. If so many important people say it, then surely it must be true, mustn’t it? Actually, as it turns out, there is no such rule. …

“What is really happening is that Germany does not want to grant Greece debt relief for political reasons, and is using European law as a pretext. Likewise, when Mr Schäuble proposes a Greek exit from the euro, ask yourself what rule that is consistent with. The fact is they are making up the rules as they go along to suit their own political purposes.”


The alleged ‘legal opinion’ about water charges in Ireland is another case in point. I think the default assumption for people on the left when they hear these claims being made is to assume that the people in question are bluffing and push on regardless. Win support for your policies, demand that they be put into practice, and put it up to the EU institutions. All this huffing and puffing about European laws and directives is an attempt to take certain ideas out of politics and democratic debate altogether so they never have to discuss the thing on its merits.


Gewerkschaftler - August 19, 2016

Spot on Ed.

And don’t forget who drives the EU ultimately – it’s not the ‘Brussels Bureaucracy’ – its a small number of large states most of them ideologically committed to a failed ordo/neo-liberalism. Germany used to have a major ally in Britain in this respect. Hence the ‘let’s take our time’ approach to Article 50.


2. WorldbyStorm - August 18, 2016

That’s so true Ed re the distinction between legal and political possibility and very very true re the source of a lot of that rhetoric. It suits them to say it.

100% agree re the water charge opinion and as bad are those on this side of the Irish Sea like the IT who unquestioningly relay it. If anything sinks the EU it will be those like the latter who use it simply as a tool of neoliberalism while demanding unquestioning obeisance to it.


3. Gewerkschaftler - August 19, 2016

Am I the only one who here who doesn’t like the term nationalisation? I much prefer ‘democratic public ownership’ which leaves regional and transnational scales open.

For instance utilities should be owned and democratically controlled at the scale which matches their application. Recycling and rubbish collection perhaps city and county wide, water depends on bioregions like water tables, and much of the commons (take fisheries as a example) could only be managed democratically and sustainably on a transnational scale.

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