Sunday, June 24, 2007

A stud farm and European integration

Stables, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Here we were a week ago, in Ireland at the stud farm with my Irish family. Today was spent at home in Amsterdam, in and out of the showers outside. It is still warm, but it is wet and we are not having that hot long summer which we seemed to have been promised in April. Maybe we'll see the sun again in July.

I will be seeing the sun next week., if the BBC is to be believed, as I will be goint to Atlanta in Georgia, USA tomorrow, for my work. I wil have meetings during the week and it will mean that I will have spent my first five days at work in three countries and two continents! I have never been to Georgia and I am not exactly sure whereabouts it is. I t is said to be where the Civil Rights Movement in the US started in the 1960's and I know that the song 'Georgia On My Mind', was written by Ray Charles and it has been adopted as the State's anthem.

No anthem for the European Union, it seems, thanks to the efforts of the Dutch Government. They say there will not be a European Flag either, but what is that blue flag with aring of yellow stars which we see everywhere, particularly at large road-building projects?

It was a nice surprise to wake up this morning to see that they did finally come up with an agreement about the Constitution/Treaty and it really does seem to be less than what they were putting foward last time, when such constitution was voted down by the good people of France and The Netherlands. A bit of a cheek though to change the name so that no-one has to call any more referenda.

I blame the politicians, who lack courage to support Europe and explain to the people why Europe is good for us and how it can be used to make the world a better place. Instead we always have the Press scoring cheap points taking the mickey out of the latest silly bit of regulation to come out of Brussels. Certainly in Holland they are too scared to come out and comfront the people.

Another good thing about the Treaty, in my view, is that the Dutch proposal which was made with the sole aim of making it more difficult for Turkey to eventually join the EU was not incorporated. Gelukkig! It was a particularly mean idea and I am glad it did not get through. On the other hand, I know there was a plot between Germany and The Pope to make some mention fo Europe's Christian Roots in the Treaty pre-amble. I have no idea whether they have succeeded. I think and I hope not!

In the menatime, the European Union will press on and WILL affect the tax systems amongst other things. They have already closed many concessions in the Dutch tax system which encouraged companies to make The Netherlands their European headquarters (which I found to my cost when looking for a pan-European Finance job). Europe is also responsible for Ireland having to change its benefical tax schemes for stud farms and I wonder how the family will be affected in the future by this measure.


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