Letters to the editor

Polls and Comment

Library - an archive
of speeches

Economists write

Bibliography of EMU

The Euroland Economy



A  B  C  D  E  F G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W Y Z


Haider, Jorg (1950-)

The son of ardent Nazis and the heir to an estate bought by his parents in 1938 from fleeing Jews, Haider made his mark on Austrian politics when he became leader of the Freedom Party in 1986. By 1999 the Party's share of the vote had climbed from 6% to 27%, making it impossible for the old coalition of Reds and Blacks (socialists and conservatives) to continue their stagnant rule. In 2000 the Party was admitted into the government as the junior partner of the conservatives, though Haider himself chose to remain governor of Carinthia rather than to accept a ministerial position.

Haider's popularity owed something to xenophobia, which he exploited by opposing immigration and the eastward enlargement of the EU. A chameleon-like character with a different word for every audience, he had at times spoken favourably of the veterans of the Waffen SS, praised Hitler's employment policies, likened Churchill to Stalin and played on Teutonic solidarity: but he had also back-tracked from these remarks and the Vienna-based Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal absolved him from anti-Semitism or neo-Nazism. For many Austrians he embodied the need for change. His policy of cleaning up the corrupting patronage of Austria's traditional parties, together with his platform of lower taxes and economic liberalisation, formed a strong part of his voter appeal.

When the Freedom Party was sworn in, Haider signed a joint declaration with the new Chancellor, Wolfgang Schussel, condemning xenophobia and racism and accepting Austria's 'responsibility arising out of the tragic history of the 20th century and the horrendous crimes of the National Socialist regime'. But this did not prevent a storm of international protest and a diplomatic boycott by the other EU member states. It was hard to resist the conclusion that the EU's reaction partly stemmed from fear of Haider's infectious Euroscepticism, which was echoed in neighbouring Bavaria and Switzerland. Within Austria, where the ghosts of pre-war Nazi complicity had never been properly exorcised, the hostility of foreigners seemed as likely to increase his popularity as to curtail it. (See also Austrian crisis.)

Hallstein, Walter (1901-82)

A law professor who had been West Germany's foreign minister under Konrad Adenauer, Walter Hallstein worked closely with Jean Monnet on the Schuman Plan to pool France's and Germany's coal and steel industries and was the author of the doctrine of refusing diplomatic relations to any country that recognised East Germany. In 1958 he became the first president of the European Commission, an office which he held for nine years (barely less than Jacques Delors). Hallstein's independent ideas, which clashed sharply with those of Charles de Gaulle, were aimed at increasing the Commission's authority; more fundamentally, he believed in economic integration leading naturally towards political union. He stood his ground so effectively as to cause France to boycott the EC and the European Parliament for the last six months of 1965. (See also 'Empty chair' crisis.)

'Hard core'

Germany, France and the Benelux countries, which before the launch of the euro in 1999 formed a de facto hard currency bloc based on the D-Mark. These countries were regarded in German circles as the bedrock of EMU, in contrast with the supposedly less austere 'Club Med' countries of Europe's southern seaboard. In more general terms, the 'hard core' refers to any group of EU member states that is prepared to push ahead with integration, leaving others to be excluded or to catch up later. (See also Variable geometry.)

Hard écu

The idea that the EC should adopt a non-exclusive common currency, instead of a single currency, was floated by the British government in 1990, but rejected by the other member states as insufficiently communautaire. The proposal was to create a 'hard écu', that is, one that could not be devalued against any national European currency. The difference between the hard écu and the discredited ECU was that the latter, being a basket of currencies, had suffered from the extreme weakness throughout the 1980s of some of its components such as the drachma and the escudo.


Harmonisation (referred to in the Treaty of Rome as approximation) is the legal process of standardisation implicit in the creation of the single market. If carried out thoughtlessly, harmonisation can have the effect of ironing out comparative advantages and so reducing the competitiveness of EU firms. An interesting example is that of the London art market, which with New York has long ranked as one of the world's two leading international art trading centres. VAT (introduced in 1995 at the Commission's insistence on works imported from outside the EU) reduced imports to the UK by 40% between 1994 and 1997, driving London's business to New York, Geneva and Hong Kong. The Commission has also announced plans to impose droit de suite (a royalty to artists or their descendants) on modern art. These rules, which apply in many of the unsuccessful art markets of Europe, aim at harmonising the UK with the rest of the EU, but at the expense of fatally damaging one of London's - and Europe's - more glamorous businesses, together with its many ancillary trades.

In the field of product standardisation, the Commission's initial approach was to devise absurdly detailed regulations, most of which were blocked in the Council of Ministers. A less intrusive method was made possible by the 1979 Cassis de Dijon case, in which the Court of Justice forbade Germany to ban the marketing of a French liqueur which failed to match German standards of alcoholic content. This decision established the principle of 'mutual recognition', enabling products that are legal in one member state to be sold in any other (before the Cassis de Dijon judgment, the Commission had been obliged to redefine the carrot as a fruit to allow Portuguese carrot jam to be marketed in the Community). The Single European Act of 1986 effectively removed the national veto on single market legislation, opening the way to a free market in products that meet EU health and safety requirements, with detailed harmonisation now delegated to industry standardisation committees.

With the growing integration of the EU, however, new forms of harmonisation are being turned to the service of the federal cause. Some degree of alignment of indirect tax levels has always been accepted within the Community, albeit modified by cultural differences, such as the Greek preference for relying on direct tax and the north European puritanical leaning towards high duties on spirits. But direct tax is supposed to be the prerogative of the nation state, so that any attempt to insert the Commission or the Court of Justice into this field is sensitive. Nevertheless, prompted by unemployment and mindful of the ability of Ireland, the UK and other countries to create jobs with their low-tax regimes, some in Europe have suggested harmonisation of corporate savings and taxes. These proposals would, in their authors' eyes, achieve several objectives: they would eliminate an 'unfair' fiscal advantage; they would contribute to a more socially oriented society (for the harmonisation would be upwards, theoretically financing improved welfare); and they would establish the EU's right to occupy another policy area previously reserved to the member states. Against this it was credibly argued that the proposals were anti-competitive and certain in the long run to destroy jobs, as well as being an infringement of national competence.

The 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam broadened the scope of harmonisation into the field of criminal law, proposing a strengthening of Europol to combat Community fraud and foreshadowing the eventual alignment of police and judicial methods of detection, arrest and trial throughout the EU. EMU also has a harmonising effect. The Stability and Growth Pact reduces individual governments' freedom of fiscal manoeuvre, and the single currency disposes of exchange rate variations. There is mounting evidence, too, of intervention by the Court of Justice to harmonise aspects of national tax regimes, and working conditions are harmonised through social legislation. Yet although this process is being conducted largely in the name of completing the single market, there is still much to be done before day-to-day business is freed from subtler forms of national protectionism.

The verdict on harmonisation must therefore remain ambivalent. Under the control of interventionists it is a powerful weapon for working towards a unitary European state; but under a minimalist system, it would be an indispensable tool for raising transparency and eliminating restrictive practices. It is, indeed, a remarkable truth that the development of e-commerce has done as much to create a level playing field as three decades of Community regulation.

Heath, Sir Edward (1916-)

Allegedly converted to the Europhile cause as a young officer during World War II, Edward Heath was in good company in attempting, as part of Harold Macmillan's Conservative government, to negotiate the UK's entry in 1961 into the then Common Market, an attempt brought to an abrupt halt in 1963 by the veto of Charles de Gaulle. In 1970, as prime minister, he completed the negotiations started by his Labour predecessor, Harold Wilson, and in 1972 the UK signed the Treaty of Rome. The terms which Heath obtained were controversial, and when he lost power in 1974 the incoming Labour government sought to amend them. But it was too late. Heath had accepted the Common Fisheries Policy, which caused Norway to vote against joining the EEC. His pledge that the UK would not turn its back on the Commonwealth was barely compatible with the Common Agricultural Policy, and his reassurances that British sovereignty would not be impaired were at odds with the advice of government legal officers about the supremacy of Community law. Doubtless his objectivity, like his negotiating stance, was undermined by the sincerity of his belief in the UK joining the Community. In his later years he claimed to have been a long-standing federalist.

Helsinki Final Act (Helsinki Accords, Helsinki Agreement)

In 1975, 35 countries (the USA, Canada and all the European countries except Albania, which after Stalin's death had allied itself to China) signed the Helsinki Final Act on human rights and security, the centrepiece of what are known as the Helsinki Accords. To the West, as to thousands of oppressed dissidents, the Helsinki Agreement signalled acceptance by communist regimes of individual entitlement to civil liberties in return for the settlement of frontiers. Among the Iron Curtain dictatorships, the Agreement was regarded as principally a propaganda exercise to weaken Western resolve to oppose communism militarily and politically; indeed, for a citizen in the Soviet bloc to cite it in aid of human rights was to invite severe reprisals. The Brezhnev Doctrine, to the effect that the Soviet Union had the right to intervene in the affairs of its satellite states, was in contravention of several clauses in the Final Act establishing the principles of non-interference and renunciation of force. But the West allowed the Brezhnev Doctrine to continue unchallenged until it was terminated at the end of the 1980s with the disintegration of the Soviet empire. (See also OSCE.)

Hierarchy of acts

The classification of EC legal acts according to their importance, with the object of establishing which law-making body should deal with which category of legislation. This orderly French procedure was proposed in a Declaration annexed to the Treaty of Maastricht, but the idea was not pursued in the Treaty of Amsterdam.

High Authority

Under the Treaty of Paris, the High Authority of the ECSC was responsible for creating and supervising the European common market in coal and steel. Jean Monnet became its first president in 1952. In 1967 the High Authority was replaced by the Commission when the institutions of the ECSC, the EEC and Euratom were merged.

'High representative'

The putative foreign minister of the EU if the Union becomes a federal state. The office, which was created by the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam as part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, is answerable to the member states (through the Council of Ministers) rather than to the Community (through the Commission). The scope for tension between the 'high representative' and the various commissioners with responsibility for foreign affairs, as well as the foreign ministers of the major member states, is a source of some concern. In 1999 Javier Solana, former secretary-general of NATO, became the first holder of the appointment.

Who do I call when I want to call Europe? Henry Kissinger, former US secretary of state

History of the European Union

Readers looking for a historical perspective of the Union can use the chronology table in Appendix 1 as a framework. For the early origins, see The 'European idea' and Founding Fathers. For the later history, see especially Common Agricultural Policy, Council of Ministers, EMU, Enlargement, European Commission, European Court of Justice, European Parliament, France, Germany and The UK and Europe. Of the entries on individuals, those on Churchill, Monnet, Adenauer, de Gaulle, Delors, Mitterrand, Thatcher and Kohl cover much of the Union's historical evolution.

Human rights

There are two forms of rights: those that assert the universal human right to freedom from oppression; and those that assert a claim on others, for example to provide welfare, employment or housing. The latter type presupposes political choices and implies a certain view of tax and social priorities. The confusion between the two is fertile ground for exploitation, since people of good will are reluctant to oppose legislation that purports to protect the disadvantaged.

The Treaty of Rome was concerned mainly with economic matters. It was silent on human rights, which in the wake of the horrors of World War II and the Soviet terror were regarded as being in the sphere of the United Nations (whose Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948) or the Council of Europe (the European Convention on Human Rights was signed in 1950). Neither of these bodies had independent sanctions or powers of enforcement, although the Council of Europe had a Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, whose judgments were well respected in the countries that were party to the Convention.

As the years went by, the class of rights that consists of social and economic claims on society progressively took centre stage. The European Social Charter of 1965 promised, inter alia, the 'right to work', the 'right to medical assistance' and the 'right to vocational training'. The Charter was subsequently expanded to include rights to equal opportunities, worker consultation, and so forth. With the politicisation of the subject, contradictions proliferated - between 'equal treatment' and 'positive discrimination'; between the right of public service workers to strike and the right of citizens to enjoy public services; between the right of free speech and the right to restrain incitement to hatred; in the case of abortion, between the 'pro-life' and 'pro-choice' camps. The EU entered the field gradually. First it made acceptance of the European Convention part of the acquis communautaire. Then in the Maastricht Treaty it converted much of the Social Charter into the Social Chapter and made 'respect for human rights' a principle of Community law. In the Treaty of Amsterdam the EU awarded itself the power to suspend a member state in 'serious and persistent' breach of fundamental rights.

A dangerous ambition ... often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people. US statesman Alexander Hamilton, 1878

Finally, in 1999 the idea was floated at the Cologne summit of drawing up a 'Charter of Fundamental Rights' in advance of the Community's eastward enlargement. This would probably have legal status, in which case it would serve as the EU's embryonic constitution. Given the supremacy of Community law, such a charter would give the Court of Justice comprehensive Europe-wide authority over many aspects of society and employment. The proposal was greeted with dismay in Britain, in Scandinavia and in French anti-federalist circles. No need had been shown for a 21st century Magna Carta. Applicant countries were already obliged to commit themselves credibly to human rights before being admitted to the EU and it would be absurd to suggest that the existing member states contained oppressive regimes. Unnecessary confusion would arise from the interplay between national courts administering domestic law, the Court of Human Rights interpreting the European Convention and the Court of Justice interpreting the new Charter. Employers, too, were concerned at the prospect of a raft of anti-competitive labour entitlements enshrined irreversibly in constitutional law and adjudicated by a supranational court. The proposed Charter was therefore seen as a device to advance the cause of EU integration behind the cloak of human rights. (See also European Convention on Human Rights.)


Hungary fought on the German side in World War II and after defeat in 1945 fell under the domination of the Soviet Union. By 1952 the entire economy had been redrawn along communist lines. An uprising in 1956, the consequence of popular demands for Soviet troop withdrawals and free elections, was violently crushed and a new Soviet-backed puppet administration under Janos Kadar was put in place. Kadar remained in power until 1989, having in the meantime been compelled by declining living standards and growing foreign debt to introduce some economic reforms. In 1989, as the Soviet empire collapsed, the formation of political parties in Hungary was finally allowed, and late in the year the national Assembly declared the country an independent democratic state.

The advent of economic liberalisation in Hungary proved traumatic. Despite the privatisation of almost half of the country's state businesses, greater trade with the West could not immediately compensate for the severing of links with the Soviet Union and the disruption of trade with Yugoslavia occasioned by the Bosnian crisis. Disillusionment with the conservatives led to the victory in the 1994 elections of the refashioned Communist Party, renamed the Hungarian Socialist Party, under a former Stalinist, Gyula Horn, who prudently formed a coalition government to mark his transformation into a social democrat.

A debt crisis in 1995 prompted a round of market-oriented reforms, with dramatic effects. The influx of foreign capital rose, the overseas debt was reduced and GDP turned upwards. Hungary applied for membership of the EU in 1994 and voted to join NATO in a 1997 referendum, albeit on a turnout of under 50%. Over 60% of the country's external trade is now with the EU and Hungary is favoured to be among the first of the ex-communist states to be admitted to the Community.

Return to top