Saturday, March 11, 2006

Cold wind blows into Europe

After the latest figures out of Austria which has the EU popularity down to 32% now we have new figures out of Finland. A poll carried out by the Finnish think tank EVA, chaired by the owner of Nokia, Jorma Ollila has found a massive hike in euroscepticism up north.
33% In favour of EU Membership(42% it one year ago)
31% against (23 in 2005)
44% against the euro, against 39% in favour.

Though these headline figures have been reported elsewhere – most notably on AFP – there are less known aspects of the survey that are just as encouraging. Despite feeling that Globalisation has not helped Finland that much itself, the Finns are still largely approving of the phenomena, “The Finns see the effects of globalisation in a fairly positive light. This is especially true with respect to the phenomenon´s impact on the world as a whole, and on the less-developed countries in particular”.
The reasons however for their comparative distrust of the effects of globalisation in Finland are effectively summarized, “news referring to globalisation usually involves redundancies and plant closures in Finland, as production is moved to low-cost countries”. The Finnish media like our own can only see one side of the story. It is far easier for them to talk about a single large scale job loss as a firm say relocates, rather than the many individual jobs that are created.

Meanwhile the Austrian situation could get even more problematic for the EU, as it currently holds the EU Presidency. The Freedom Party, now without the populist Haidar and begging to look like a serious party has just launched a referendum campaign on EU membership. The campaign called "Österreich bleib frei" - Keep Austria free, is definately playing on Austrian fears of Turkish entry, but the campaign also condemns the European Constitutiona nd the creation of a European Defence Force in contravention of Austria's historical post war neutrality. With the polling figures so dicey for EU supporters there is no guarantee that the FPO will not be able to find the 100,000 signatures needed to trigger the referendum. Though a succesful referendum result only has the effect of putting the issue onto the Parliament's agenda it would be a brave Austrian government to utterly ignore the results. Again one has to recognise that the Austrian Parliament's support for the Constitution was greater than its support for Anschluss so I suppose we can expect them to ignore popular will. What happens next is anybody's guess.

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