Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Denmark Suspends the Schengen Agreement

C.Cantoni sent this terse announcement a few hours ago:

Denmark has suspended the Schengen treaty and re-introduced controls at its borders with Germany and Sweden. It was announced by the country’s Finance Minister, Claus Hjort Frederiksen. . .

As our regular readers know, the Baron has been following closely the events in Italy as its coast continues to be inundated with boatloads of refugees from North Africa and environs. Besides documenting the numbers of asylum-seekers, he’s also been commenting on the EU’s stunning willingness to let Italy simply drown in effluvia.

Though the bureaucrats in Brussels have offered some limited, limp-wristed assistance and a few sermons, there has been a marked lack of any robust help for Italy during this siege. However, it appears they’re actually worried enough to hold secret meetings about the situation.

The most concise and informative MSM story [I could find] was half a world away, here:

The tensions in the euro zone should be more than a matter of academic interest for Britain and other non-euro nations. The Schengen agreement, which guarantees passport-free travel across the bulk of the EU, one of the cornerstones of the European project, is unravelling as France closes its border with Italy and more desperate immigrants pour in from North Africa.

European diplomacy is falling flat. This is not just because Baroness Ashton of Upholland, the EU’s foreign policy chief, has a feeble grasp of EU bureaucracy, but also because there are now fundamental differences between France and Germany, and a leadership vacuum at the heart of the union.


No wonder European finance ministers met in secret in Luxembourg last Friday night. Resistance to any further bailouts is building in the German coalition, which stretches from Finland to France. There is desperation in the air and Britain should pay attention. This is about the future of our continent: not just our major trading partners, but the European order.

Yes, “no wonder” they convened that prayer meeting secret summit in Luxembourg on Friday night. It took a bit of searching for further information; here’s an entertaining, acidly humorous take called “The Lying Liars of Luxemborg”:

“When it becomes serious, you have to lie.”

Who might say the above in a public forum? The shame-faced CEO of Enron, perhaps. Or some shadowy architect of the Vietnam War era. Or Richard Nixon…

The actual quote comes from Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg. No one worries much about Luxembourg. But Mr. Juncker is also “the head of the Eurogroup council of eurozone finance ministers” (whatever that means, via The Wall Street Journal). He has held the job since 2005.

In saying “When it becomes serious, you have to lie,” Mr. Juncker was apparently talking about the serious conditions in the eurozone. The necessary lies -- this time at least -- were in regards to the euro.

“Just before 6 p.m. [on Friday],” the WSJ reports, “German news magazine Spiegel Online distributed a report saying that eurozone finance ministers were convening a secret, emergency meeting in Luxembourg that evening to discuss a Greek demand to quit the eurozone.”

Reporters frantically phoned Mr. Juncker’s spokesman, Guy Schuller, to verify the “secret meeting” assertion Spiegel Online had made. The official word: No meeting. Even though there actually was one.

“I was told to say there was no meeting,” Mr. Schuller told the WSJ. “We had certain necessities to consider… there was a very good reason to deny that the meeting was taking place.”

It was “self-preservation,” Schuller added, speaking for his finance minister boss.

The finance ministers could have instructed him to say, “Yes, we are meeting -- but not about a Greek currency exit.”

Instead they just fibbed. And blamed it on the exigencies of the moment.

Does this really matter? On one level, not really. “A prominent politician instructs his subordinate to lie… in other news, grass is green and water is wet.”

On another level, though, the incident is very telling.

“When the matter is serious, you have to lie.” Mr. Juncker made that statement in April, on videotape, at a conference on economic governance. He further admits at the conference that he has “had to lie” before.

And this man heads up all the finance ministers. Remind me again, as the eurozone lurches toward crisis, why in the world anyone listens to a bloody thing the European pols have to say?

Perhaps we would be better off listening to Finnish political leader Timo Soini, who wrote the following in an open letter to the WSJ, “Why I Don’t Support Europe’s Bailouts:”

To understand the real nature and purpose of the bailouts, we first have to understand who really benefits from them…


The rest is well worth reading. It includes this observation:

As we have long said in these pages, Europe is being held together with duct tape.

You can go here to read Finland’s Timo Soini’s Wall Street Journal essay.

None of this bears openly and directly with the refugee tsunami currently slamming into Italy. However, you can bet the most proximate cause of that the secret meeting in Luxembourg is not just Greece’s threats. A more potent threat to stability is the North African mess. It only impinges on Club Med at the moment but those waves will surely lap at the shores of the whole European continent before much longer.

Thus Denmark’s withdrawal from the Schengen Agreement is merely the first public step before the crowds are all trying to get out the door at once.

For context on the rules and the players, here’s the BBC’s question and answer page on the Schengen Agreement.

As our readers also well know, the Baron is expert-in-residence on things European, at least here on this blog. Since he's away, if anyone wants to chime in with more information on this subject, your links would be welcome


Anonymous said...

Wonderful, just.... Wonderful!!

Lurking Apple said...

Warning: the WSJ has been silently editing Timo Soini's essay. One particularly tranzi edit that stands out is turning "freedom, democracy, justice and subsidiarity" into only "freedom, democracy and justice".


goethechosemercy said...

I applaud this development.

Anonymous said...

Denmark has suspended the Schengen treaty and re-introduced controls at its borders with Germany and Sweden.

This is - alas - not entirely correct. The Schengen agreement stands insofar one doesn't have to produce a passport at the border. There has been some rumblings about Denmark leaving Schengen, but that's mostly wishful thinking - at the moment. What's new is that we will erect booths for customs officers and intensify scanning of vehicles, cargo and such. Not very impressive, but a small step in the right direction. Most important though, is the significant token value: all major European politicians and media are having a conniption fit - which means they're afraid. Denmark might very well become an inspiration to others... said...

It is very improbable that Greece will go out of the Euro. This would not be useful to them. In fact, it would make things worse. Much worse for the economy AND the politicians.

As the government try to pass the laws needed in the Parliament (or simply announce its intentions), there would be a mass exodus of capitals denominated in Euro. Then the new currency would fall in value and they would import an enormous inflation. The new currency would not be used and instead the people would continue to use euro).
They would be out of the euro but would continue to use the euro. And the national debts, in euro, would skyrocket compared to the value of the new currency.
They would anyway default on their debts.

So, they will stay in the Euro and, at worst, they will default or restructure their debts.

Sean O'Brian said...

US academic says Ireland should abandon euro

Dymphna said...

@ Lurking appple;

thanks for the link, which I'm putting up here for us lazy ppl whose inertia interferes with our ability to cut and paste:

Blatant WSJ Revisionism Redlined

It's worth looking at the pdf image which has the revisions in red. The image has been shrunk so you may see the full extent of the changes to the original.


Tyler Durden at 0Hedge says:

"Yesterday, when we posted the full original letter submitted by True Finns leader Timo Soini ... verbatim, we were surprised that the WSJ, traditionally the bastion of various Fed interests...would allow such a truthy letter to appear on its pages. Today, courtesy of Karl Denninger...the letter as it now appears on the website of the WSJ. Shockingly, as the redline below indicates, the entire letter was scrubbed with blatant deletions from the original text which can still be found on the pages of Zero Hedge.{ follow the "Blatant" link to see their URL to the first one] It is high time that the WSJ readers demand to know whether this unprecedented scrubbing was due to an editorial intervention, or if Soini himself was responsible for this blatant revisionism. If the latter is indeed the case, perhaps supporters of the True Finn party in Finland should inquire who it was that forced their leader to adjusted his letter in such a way. And here we are making fun of Jean Claude Junker for openly lying to the media..."

[my emphasis -- D]

Remember Jean-Claude Juncker, the PM of Luxembourg who was rightly ridiculed in "The Lying Liars of Luxembourg"? See link above, in my post.( If you're a Euroskeptic, you'll love that editorial)

So it's either the WSJ or the Finns?? Who are you betting on?

The commenters on that Zero Hedge post which Lurking Apple found seem to be divided as to who's to blame on the revisions. Here's one p.o.v.:

"Anyone looking for any honesty or integrity from the now total 4th branch of govt, the media, is definitely in the market for a hockey helmet because all theyre going to be doing from here on out is hitting their head against a brick wall."

Can't remember if any of the vitriol directed at the Finns is suitable to quote. And yes, there is a great deal of vigor and vitriol in that comment section but no definitive answer to the question of WSJ's veracity vs. the True Finn's Truthfulness.

Perhaps Tundra Tabloids knows?

Richard said...

The longest journeys start with a single step, they have taken the first step, now we wait and see if they step forward or backwards?

Dymphna said...

@ kepiblanc--

Thanks for stopping by to give us the real skinny. However, once those little customs houses go up, I'll bet they don't come back down. In fact, they'll just awaken those old border disputes of long ago between Denmark & Germany...imho. Those kinds of conflicted memories never die out entirely.

As I said, Greece is a proximate emergency, but the tsunami of North Africans is a giant wave everyone can see headed their way. So which country has the best welfare benefits for the least effort? Anyone know?

matism said...

For Dymphna:
Les États-Unis, bien sûr! said...

The tsunami will start around October, when Egypt will end its currency reserves and will be unable to pay for the food and fuel subsides.

JS123 said...

Way to go Denmark! Maybe someday you'll be an actual nation again.

Dymphna said...

@Painlord2k --

Lots of predictions are saying October is the tipping point, and not just about Egypt.


Sorry, that's too subtle for me. I'm an know, slow on the uptake.

@JS123 --

In many ways, Denmark has more testicular fortitude than many other countries...and yes, it is a country with borders, a flag, a monarchy, the whole bit.

In fact, it consistently makes the top three list of "Happiest Countries" which are put together by folks who care about that kind of statistic. With those long dark winters I never could figure that one out. All the American ex-pats complain of Seasonal Affective Disorder 'round about the beginning of November. Ex-pats are prime customers for Sun boxes...

Any polity with a Queen like Denmark has is definitely a country all right.

[Yeah, the Danish Embassy pays me big bucks for my crush on its country. I wish...I'd settle for some licorice and cheese)

Ron Van Wegen said...

"When things get serious you have to torture."

And the difference is...?

JS123 said...

Dymphna, in my book if you don't control your borders, if you are subject to foreign judges, if you have to accept laws passed by foreign legislative bodies, you are not a country.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Have to post a correction here:

Denmark is not suspending Schengen membership - which, BTW, contains many useful features that we should not abandon lightly.

In contrast, we are stretching to the limit what we can do within Schengen, and which is actually very similar to what Sweden has been doing for years at the border to Denmark.

Preditably, General Secretary Barosso is going ballistic over our - quite moderate - attempt to regain control of our borders. Probably he has never seen the border control EU member Sweden already has in place towards Denmark.

Or he simply chooses to discriminate against stubborn Danes, because we announced the new control loudly enough for it to become a problem for his Project.

Lorenzo et said...

Historically, Europe always was in need of a structure/mechanism that allowed for coordinated action and supranational governance. There were times of direct imperial government as with the roman empire or of rule through informal coordination as with the Concert of Europe. There were of course times when there was no such structure, as during late antiquity, when the barbarian tribes substituted Rome. The Visigoth in Iberia, the Saxons in England, the Franks in France and the Ostrogoth in Italy etc. created their own independent realms. As such, they layed the basis for many European states that would emerge many centuries later, but in the meantime they were unable to deal with outside threats.
In the last days of the Empire, when the Huns descended upon Europe, the Romans were still able to coordinate action. But once the last Emperor, Romulus Augustus, was gone, there was no one left to hold the banner of Europe. Trade collapsed, wealth withered and Europe turned from predator to victim. Over the next centuries North Africa was lost, Spain and much of southern Europe were invaded and in the east, Asia minor was crushed.
Reverse was brought about when Charlemagne was able to establish the papacy and the imperial crown as pan-European powers. Though the many different realms stayed largely independent, the imperial crown and the holy see were able create a shared sense of identity and to address supranational issues the Holy league and the battle of Lepanto come to mind.
An other break with supranational governance was brought about by the treaty of Westphalia. But this time European Powers were unopposed in power. In the name of a new concept, that of Raison d'Etat, the European powers engaged in endless competition, covering the continent in an endless string of wars, ultimately culminating in the French attempt for total domination. Once its effort was quashed at Waterloo, the Vienna settlement ushered in again a new era of pan continental governance. It was the longest period of peace Europe had even enjoyed (with the exception of the Crimean war, but even this war was localized and did not involve all Great Powers.)
But the Concert of Europe was not an institutionalized organization, it was rather informal in its character. As such it was unable to accommodate new developments, such as the raise of Germany and Italy and the endless troubles emerging from the Eastern Question (Balkans and the Middle East). Bismarck was prophetic when he feared that the "damned" Eastern Question would one day tear Europe apart. Conflicts of interests and the assassination of a prestigious prince were enough to summon the apocalypses. The Great war was followed by 20 years mistrust and petty competition and an ever greater war. In its wake western European powers were reduced to second and third rank, eastern Europe occupied by soviet forces.
The European Union thus, in an almost Hegelian-dialectic way, represents the middle ground between the two extremes of Universal Empire and Independent Nation States. There are pan-European institutions, but there is no imperial government. Governing works much in the way of the Concert of Europe, in which the several actors work out policy through negotiations and compromises.
The fall of the Union would most likely let a dysfunctional Europe in its place, unable to address common interests, followed by outside interventions.
Such a scenario seems to be wished for by many commentators here, be it out of ignorance of history or utopian dreams that will most likely never come through.

Anonymous said...

Henrik R Clausen: I read all of the reviews of the book that you recommended. It sounds great! Hesperado, in particular, really need to read it.... :)

Lorenzo: If you think that the EU importing unlimited Muslims from the worst locales on earth to the EU is functional, then no one can help you....

Anonymous said...

Oops! I meant to say "...needs to read it." :)

Henrik R Clausen said...

Egghead, The Great Deception is indeed a great book. It's somewhat UK-centric, but that's instructive as well. It also served as the main source of inspiration for me to write a book about EU myself.

Col. B. Bunny said...

The threat of a sudden flood of n. African immigrants appears to make the Europeans nervous but a worse inundation over time is a matter of indifference, if not celebration.