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Michael Folkesson
23-02-10, 19:38
As an unofficial criteria, the debate of European geography - what is European or not and how much - seems to be unproductive and not much in the interest of EU.

As oversea territories - French Guyana, Falkland Islands, Canary Islands et al - are hardly European, it boils down to historical and cultural ties.

Should we amend the Copenhagen Criteria, to better suit the reality and EU interests?

European62
23-02-10, 20:37
My thoughts as well. Just make the following mind-experiment:
Next year Quebec secedes from Canada due to linguistic differences, becomes independent and applies for membership in the EU. Do we really decline then?

Michael Folkesson
23-02-10, 21:15
Indeed, and - even though it might not be in their or our best interest - Australia and New Zealand (or CER) are English and European cultures. Should they be considered if they were to apply or rejected right off?

Even more pertinent, if French Guyana were to secede and become a sovereign state, would that mean that they are not eligible to be a member of the EU anymore?

Maciamo
23-02-10, 21:19
I might be useful to introduce what are the Geographic Criteria, as a part of the Copenhagen criteria (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copenhagen_criteria) to those who don't know what that is. In short, the Copenhagen criteria are the rules that define whether a country is eligible to join the European Union. The Geographic criteria state what region is eligible to be an EU member.

Michael, do you mean to exclude oversea territories of EU member states from the EU ? Obviously they won't become independent, so do you mean that people from these territories should have visas to live and work in the EU, besides their metropolitan country ? How would that be enforceable and compatible with the Schengen visa ?

Maciamo
23-02-10, 21:22
Next year Quebec secedes from Canada due to linguistic differences, becomes independent and applies for membership in the EU. Do we really decline then?

Of course the EU would decline, unless Quebec would want to become an overseas dependency (autonomous region ?) of France or something.

European62
23-02-10, 22:03
Of course the EU would decline, unless Quebec would want to become an overseas dependency (autonomous region ?) of France or something.

If Quebec opted to join France as a couple of départements then the question would not pose itself - Québec would be as European as Flanders from that moment on.

But even if they wanted to join as an independent country I don't see the case as clear-cut as you do. In my opinion it is the most likely case for a re-interpretation of the wording "Any European State" in the Treaty on European Union (Art 49).
France holds Quebec very dear - the linguistic band is nurtured, even enhanced. Especially Sarkozy would not rest until Quebec is a full member.
(and in my opinion he is right, Quebec is a European State as far as values, ethniticity and traditions are concerned - it's just the geography that won't play ball)

Michael Folkesson
23-02-10, 22:06
...
Michael, do you mean to exclude oversea territories of EU member states from the EU ? Obviously they won't become independent, so do you mean that people from these territories should have visas to live and work in the EU, besides their metropolitan country ? How would that be enforceable and compatible with the Schengen visa ?

No, no, no. Not at all. Though that could be a way to view it from the other way around.

With the example of overseas territories and secession I wanted to illustrate how inappropriate and inapplicable any form of Geographic Criteria is to a generic membership criteria.

Moreover, that how illogical it would be that if a territory like French Guyana - which is a part of EU as a part of France - would become ineligible as a EU member in case of secession from France, when applying a Geographic Criteria to membership.

Surely they should be able to stay inside the EU if they so wish?

Andalublue
23-02-10, 22:41
But even if they wanted to join as an independent country I don't see the case as clear-cut as you do. In my opinion it is the most likely case for a re-interpretation of the wording "Any European State" in the Treaty on European Union (Art 49).
France holds Quebec very dear - the linguistic band is nurtured, even enhanced. Especially Sarkozy would not rest until Quebec is a full member.
(and in my opinion he is right, Quebec is a European State as far as values, ethniticity and traditions are concerned - it's just the geography that won't play ball)
Then surely Canada could apply to join right now,no? There's no cultural difference between Canada as a whole and Quebec, is there? As far as their European credentials, that is.

Maciamo
24-02-10, 01:50
Moreover, that how illogical it would be that if a territory like French Guyana - which is a part of EU as a part of France - would become ineligible as a EU member in case of secession from France, when applying a Geographic Criteria to membership.

Surely they should be able to stay inside the EU if they so wish?

I don't think so. If they wish to severe their ties with France by declaring independence there is absolutely no reason that they should stay within the European Union. The EU is not the United Nations. It is and has to be geographically restricted to Europe. I am all in favour of strengthening relations with non-European countries of European heritage, but that should be done through another organisation, like the Commonwealth for ex-British colonies.

Maciamo
24-02-10, 01:58
If Quebec opted to join France as a couple of départements then the question would not pose itself - Québec would be as European as Flanders from that moment on.

But even if they wanted to join as an independent country I don't see the case as clear-cut as you do. In my opinion it is the most likely case for a re-interpretation of the wording "Any European State" in the Treaty on European Union (Art 49).
France holds Quebec very dear - the linguistic band is nurtured, even enhanced. Especially Sarkozy would not rest until Quebec is a full member.
(and in my opinion he is right, Quebec is a European State as far as values, ethniticity and traditions are concerned - it's just the geography that won't play ball)

With that kind of logic Argentina, Uruguay, Australia, New Zealand, and even the United States and the whole of Canada could join the EU. There is already the OECD. Why not work on that ? What kind of integration do you wish to see between Quebec and the EU ? Is it just economic (single market) or also political (citizenship, visas, foreign policy, defence, education) ?

Michael Folkesson
24-02-10, 07:58
Maciamo

With that Geographic Criteria both Russia and Kazakhstan could become members making Kamtjatka as well as a large portion of Central Asia a part of EU, where Azerbaijan can be a member but Lebanon cannot despite having significant historical ties to Europe where the Azeri has none, but that a part of France can't reach sovereignty to run local politics and also have European Union membership in spite being a European state in everything except geography. How does that make sense? Kazakhstan has more territory in the perceived continent of Europe than Turkey. What makes Turkey eligible? Is it only the small part of the West Bosporus that could just as well have remained Greek? If Morocco conquers Gibraltar from Britain, can they then join?

Or one might ask this:

• What exactly makes a European state European?
- Why is Turkey a European country but Algeria is not?
- Why is Iceland a European country but Morocco is not?

I think these are important questions, and not as easy to answer that it might seem. The answer explains why Europe's border ends in Caucasus and not in the Middle-East or China. With answers to those questions, could you please explain exactly why French Guyana or the Canary Islands could not be sovereign states in the EU, and why culture and ethnicity should not have precedence? It seems the French views Reunion and French Guyana as as much as part of France as Provence or Normandie. There has to be a rationale behind the EU membership as well. Is it only by proxy the Falkland Islands is a part of EU? Can we say to people "Yes, you are Europeans but the land you live on is not traditionally considered so, hence you cannot become a member."?

Europe is not a nation state; one people, one culture, one nation. It is both the continent and the people, but nothing says that they must coincide.

I know it's not the same, but Hawaii is not a part of America per se, but still became an American state, and it might just be that Guam could reach statehood.

Isn't it more reasonable to judge case by case from cultural, as well as geographical and mutually beneficial aspects? I just don't see the logic behind geography as being a crucial factor to membership. It can make Azerbaijan eligible, but should not exclude cultural Europe outside the continent.

Starship
24-02-10, 12:29
Perhaps if the European Union continues to be a success and continues to grow, in time the best solution would be to merely change its name, just drop the European from the title.

Maciamo
24-02-10, 12:53
Or one might ask this:

• What exactly makes a European state European?
- Why is Turkey a European country but Algeria is not?
- Why is Iceland a European country but Morocco is not?


The factors of Europeanness are mainly genetic, cultural and historical. Some also add a linguistic factor.

Based on these factors, Iceland, Norway, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia are completely eligible. Turkey, Armenia, Georgia and Kazakhstan would be eligible as long as history is concerned. Linguistically Armenia is Indo-European, but so is most of South Asia. Historically and genetically modern Europeans can trace their roots to Anatolia, the Caucasus and the Pontic-Caspian steppe. It's ironic that none of these regions are even candidate for EU membership.

Whether Europe's geography ends before or after the Caucasus and the Urals is a matter of definition. But it is 100% clear that North Africa is not Europe.

Genetically North Africa has less in common with Europe than Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan or Pakistan.


What makes Turkey eligible? Is it only the small part of the West Bosporus that could just as well have remained Greek? If Morocco conquers Gibraltar from Britain, can they then join?

Turkey's connection with Europe runs much deeper than the Greek heritage. During the Neolithic Europe was recolonised by farmers and herders from Syria and southern Anatolia. During the Bronze-Age the Indo-European expansion could have started from all the Black Sea shores, including northern Anatolia. The oldest branches of IE languages are the Anatolian ones, so there is a chance that European languages (except Finn, Estonian, Hungarian and Basque) originated in northern Turkey.

If you look at the genetics of modern Turkish people, 75% of the paternal lineages are the same as in Europe (the rest is 15% Arabic and 10% East/Central Asian). Kazakhstan has two distinct population : a Mongolian-descended majority and a European Russian minority. Tajikistan would be more eligible genetically.




I think these are important questions, and not as easy to answer that it might seem. The answer explains why Europe's border ends in Caucasus and not in the Middle-East or China. With answers to those questions, could you please explain exactly why French Guyana or the Canary Islands could not be sovereign states in the EU, and why culture and ethnicity should not have precedence? It seems the French views Reunion and French Guyana as as much as part of France as Provence or Normandie. There has to be a rationale behind the EU membership as well. Is it only by proxy the Falkland Islands is a part of EU? Can we say to people "Yes, you are Europeans but the land you live on is not traditionally considered so, hence you cannot become a member."?

France, like the United States, tends to take a non-ethnic view of citizenship. But that's the mainstream of politicians who think so, not necessarily the people.



I know it's not the same, but Hawaii is not a part of America per se, but still became an American state, and it might just be that Guam could reach statehood.

The USA was not built on geography. The EU is a post-colonial system aimed at reinforcing Europe after two world wars and the loss of its colonies. If you want to include non-European countries like Canada, Australia or Argentina into the EU as overseas states of a greater state, that you nearly amount to neo-colonialism. Anyway, do these countries really want to join the EU ? Unless there is an overwhelming consensus towards joining the EU in at least one of them, and Europeans see it favourably, there is no ground for a debate about it.

It's hard to imagine Quebec or Uruguay sending members of parliament to Brussels. It's easy in itself, but they would be so far away from the member-state they represent. There are Brits who already complain that Brussels is too far (2 hours by Eurostar from London !) and feel they are ruled by a foreign power !

Michael Folkesson
24-02-10, 14:42
No. I don't think for a second that neither Canada nor Quebec would consider joining the EU. I was not questioning if Canada would be joining or not, but questioning the legitimacy of judging eligibility for membership by Geographic Criteria. The Maghreb countries have their own unions; AMU and AU.

I also think it's fair to say that the European project is going far longer than being just a peace project which it started as, where the priorities and goals have grown. Peace is still a part of it but the priorities are European growth, deeper political integration and creating a transnational entity with the desire to build a Europe that is a great power.

We are now creating a confederacy, and several parts of the world is slowly following suit - notably USAN, GCC, SAARC, ASEAN and many more. It has become something more than a European concern, and is emerging into the world as a major key player.

Now, with all these global movements it might be pertinent to reconsider the Geographic Criteria if there is a case of mutual interest. The national states - with few exceptions - around the planet are committing themselves to supra-national cooperation, being a part of the evolving cooperative multi-polar world.

The Cap Verde islands have considerable ties to Portugal, where Portugal promotes Cap Verde's aspiration to join EU, rather than to be integrated into ECOWAS. Is that an impossibility? Should it be? They seem to hope for an exemption from the rule. Would they distance themselves from ECOWAS - like they do - if they were told it could never be done? Is there a mutual interest?

Would they be granted accession, the unofficial Geographic Criteria would be rendered moot and abandoned, which would be stating that candidacy criteria is mainly cultural. Even though I don't think they will be granted membership de jure, they could very well make bilateral treaties resulting in a de facto admission with representation without voting power, or as a Privileged Partner if you will.

Point being, that one might consider why there is a consideration over the unofficial criteria of geography, since it is not clearly stated that a non-European country cannot join. The only source of this is the precedence of the turn down of Moroccos application by the reason of Morocco not being a European country, this being 1987 when the Copenhagen Criteria were laid down in 1993. By that criteria they would not have been eligible for other reasons, but not for being non-European.

I for one consider the attempts to deem Turkey non-eligible with that Moroccan Geographical Criteria feeble, and I think they have every right to join per se. That I don't support it, is because I don't see them meeting the Copenhagen Criteria. I didn't consider Bulgaria ready to meet them either, but that didn't hinder admission. Considering the results that might have been more than a couple of years to soon.

With that in hand, I don't think that the Geographic Criteria has much ground to stand on, and that the Berlusconi statement of future admission of Israel, is not totally off base.

Andalublue
26-02-10, 03:45
Admission has to be on the balance of a basket of factors, none of which, considered alone, can guarantee admission. These factor I consider should be the following:


Geographical. Can the candidate nation be considered as a part of geographical Europe?
Political. Does the candidate now, or will the candidate agree to amend their constitutional and democratic structures in accordance with the EU constitution?
Economic. Can the candidate reorganise their fiscal, financial and regulatory systems to accord with EU regulations?

That's about it. I don't see any other criteria as being non-negotiable. I don't give any credence to ideas of cultural, historical or ethnic compatibility being relevant given that there are no such factors that all current EU member states currently share.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Michael Folkesson
01-03-10, 15:53
Thank you for your answer. Sorry for not answering right away.

The geographical criteria - if used as a defining tool rather than advisory - could either include or exclude Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
It would definitely exclude Armenia from EU membership. I don't think such a criteria would be a correct reason for excluding that country.

Geographical and cultural Europe doesn't exactly coincide.

What do you think? Should Armenia be excluded or not, or could it be that the Geographical criteria a somewhat unreliable instrument to use? It certainly makes Turkeys accession unnecessarily doubtful being mostly middle-eastern or Asian.

How much European must one be, how is it measured, and what is the gold standard?

This issue is pertinent to the question one might want to ask:
What will the final EU look like?

Beefree
01-03-10, 17:35
if USSR was considered a European country, then why shouldn't Armenia and the rest of its former republics shouldn't be in the EU???