Thursday, 24 November 2011

30 Years of the European Free Alliance

On Wednesday, November 9th a conference was held in Brussels entitled "From Nations to Member States, a new architecture for Europe." Mebyon Kernow was present on site, in the form of Cllr John Rowe and Davyth Hicks a long serving MK member who is based in Brussels working with Eurolang and the inter-parliamentary groups. With the presence of several European Free Alliance MEPs, former leaders of autonomous regions, representatives of various European parties. The day was divided into three themes:

• Rethinking the European Union: how to awaken the
nations in Europe in a crisis?

• The emergence of new member states: Scotland,
Catalonia, Basque Country, Flanders

• A multi-level governance, combining global and local

During this conference the idea emerged that the European Union seemed out of breath and taken aback by economic and institutional crises. This continued into how we need to breath a new life in the EU if it is to continue in a credible form. Thus the idea took shape that now the best and most appropriate solution is for a federal European Union. A Union with strong autonomous regions.

Several party officials were then able to intervene and explain how their independent nations would be beneficial. It goes without saying that the issue of Europeanism to Catalonia, the Basque Country, Flanders or Scotland is highly important. That's because they are pro-European, they demand their independence and they want to play an active contribution in the European authorities. At the end of the conference we celebrated the 30th anniversary of EFA, with the launch of a new publication detailing the party’s history through photographs including a good few of MK members (looking rather younger!)

On a more serious notes, EFA’s existence is more important now than ever in times of economic hardship. One of EFA’s most core tenants that sets it apart from other political institutions is how it has embedded its commitment to peace and diversity into its social and economic policy. In a Europe where the economic crisis is causing a rise in right-wing nationalism, racism and ill feeling towards migrants we need the humanising effect that EFA brings now more than ever.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Kernow x member attends the Polish EU Presidency Youth Conference

The Polish EU Presidency recently hosted the second cycle of the EU consultation on youth social mobility, this time focusing on Eastern Europe and the Caucasus area (EECA). The youth conference took place from 5 until 7 September 2011 in Warsaw, Poland. There were 120 delegates including youth reps from each State’s Youth Councils, Polish Education Ministry representatives and junior ministers, representatives of the National Agencies for Youth In Action programme, candidate countries, EFTA (European Free Trade Alliance) Member States, the European Youth Forum and youth political party organizations (members of the European Youth Forum) like the EFAy, LYMEC, Federation of Young European Greens, etc.

The conference was very well structured towards producing a concrete document on the final day which will be submitted to the European Commission with the hope of informing EU policy on Youth Social Mobility.

EFAy has a history of supporting a mutual understanding and dialogue between young people from the EU and EU neighbouring countries such as Croatia, Macedonia and Ukraine (as well as Slovenia and Poland before their EU accession). We regularly send representatives to conferences covering issues related to cultural dialogue, youth mobility and cooperation. For example, few years ago EFAy reps participated in a weeklong conference on regionalism and regional co-operation that took place in Slovenia. Also, 6 years ago EFAy reps took part in a social mobility project called “Cycle for Solidarity”.

The main recommendations from this year’s EU consultation on youth social mobility concerned the visa restrictions on the people in the EECA to travel and work in other parts of Europe and even attend conferences. As one of the Russian delegates informed us, he had to apply 3 months in advance to get a visa in order to attend the conference. More specifically we hope that there can be a visa-waver for youth workers and volunteers from the EECA transiting into other areas of the EU. Also, that the amount of bureaucracy involved in the visa application process can be reduced and that the Schengen-visa process can be made available online.

As the EFAy representative I engaged with as many of the other youth delegates as possible and tried to enlighten them about the struggles that our people face as members of linguistic or cultural minorities and stateless nations. Whilst cementing the ideas that we are here and want to be around the table working with other nations. The experience was extremely positive and I look forward to EFAy sending representation to similar events so that our voices can be heard and our views put forward.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Myths of Fiscal and Political Autonomy

I have decided to make a few blogs (hopefully) about dispelling the myths around devolved economics. Since the SNP victory we may well have as good a chance as we get in a while to shout for a more federalised union and more devolution of power. However when you start to discuss autonomy it inevitably turns into amateur economist’s hour. Hopefully this will sort out unproven claims (both pro and con). As such I wanted to attempt to clear up a few things I regards as misconceptions.

1) You can’t afford devolution/ I don’t see how we can afford it

This is a common argument which confuses political autonomy with fiscal autonomy.
As things currently stand All devolved government have block funding from Westminster. In the case of Scotland this equates to approximately £8 billion a year. As such it I Impossible to go over that limit, you can run out of money but you cannot go into debt. This is a critical point. It is like having a bank account without an overdraft.

Even if Cornwall had solely political autonomy, i.e. the ability to choose how the block grant is spent, but not the power to raise it itself, it would not be possible for it go into debt. Looking at it further you may have noticed, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have devolved government and none of them have gone into debt, their countries have not descended insolvency either currently or in past financial cycles. The financial problems each nation faces comes as a results of UK wide Westminster government policy and the global financial melt down.

If Cornwall were to gain political autonomy the sky would not fall in just like it hasn’t due to devolved government anywhere else in the UK.

I will end on the point that most people who assert “I don’t see how we can afford devolution” are in fact saying “I don’t understand how government funding works” which is fair enough most people don’t either but the reason this statement is made is that people are understandably scared of issues which they have no real knowledge. If I didn’t understand it I wouldn’t be inclined to go for it either.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

What is the new divide ?

As we progress

Post AV and post local and national elections, I feel ( and this is a personal feeling) that the real division that is emerging in politics is not so much a left right issue, but more a centralist Vs federalist issue.

We all know about the SNP and the positive ( and radical ) campaign and also in the last 24 hours Sinn Fein (and the DUP) have increased their votes in local council elections (and in the NI assembly) and the other parties has floundered. Is the issue now that the people are more concerned that they have no real imput into politics and feel disenfranchised ? is this a reflection that the union is too remote and dare I say it uninterested in the affairs of the Celtic fringes.

Everything out of Westminster has been reactive not proactive ! Unionism can only continue as devolutionist unionism, and not as a centralist unionism. I feel this is a critical point. Most unionist parties are default centralist parties and totally fail to engage in the fact that we have devolved nations in the UK. The Scottish Labour party campaign focused on UK issues not Scottish issues.

Until this is resolved I predict ( and it remains to be seen) that the unionist parties will decline until they start to realise that the game has shifted and adapt to it.

However its all speculation,

We live in interesting times.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Where Now for Scotland ?

Firstly ,

Congrats to the SNP and the people in Scotland on electing a government that is willing to take change as an agenda seriously. It was quite a feeling to see the 65th seat come in and realise that change can come. All the more pleasing that the Scottish government was designed by the Labour party to eliminate the the SNP, and the voting system design to prevent any majority being formed. The SNP broke all the rules. It showed that all the machinations of the labour party are no match for the will of the people.

Secondly, its shows there are still many lessons to be learned in the other Celtic nations on "how to do it" but we all keep the faith that its possible and now hopefully we have a route map. The road to fiscal federalism will be long but it now looks like we know more confidently which way to steer the ship.

oll a'n gwella