Issue 13 3/2000
There we are in the year 2000 - for some people the last year of the last millenium, for others the first of the new one. Anyway, Europe does not look too nice at the turn of the century: War in Chechenia, difficulties in the peace processes of Europe's troubled regions (Basque Country, Northern Irland, Balkan), a town in Southern Spain where a big part of the population expels brutally the 10.000 Moroccean inhabitants from the town, and and and. Then there are the scandals around the German conservatives and their former chancellor Helmut Kohl, who now combines the reputation as one of the most important and respected European politicians and as a corrupt cheat.
And then there is Haider's FPÖ, the party of the extreme right who is now part of the Austrian government. Still, this political shift in Austria has brought a possibly very positive signal in form of the reaction of the European Union. All EU countries have directly shown that they do not want to work with a rightist party in the union. That is actually impressive and new: It is possibly the first time that the EU shows that it is not only an economic union, but also an ethical one. It is a sign of maturity that the EU takes this trouble to lower the relationships with the government of one of their member countries out of ethical reasons. The EU shows that it has learnt its lesson of the last century, trying to stop a rightist party right at the start. This gives us a lot of hope for the new century, that we won't repeat the mistakes of the last one.
At the same time, it is also a good sign that the opposition against this government in Austria is strong as well, shown in the huge mass demonstrations - they may just keep them up until the demos show success!
Speaking of the more harmless themes of the European Union, we have discovered another bizarre situation showing again that Europe has not yet grown together. The theme is one of FolkWorld's old favourite: The so-called Foreigner's Tax.
While in Germany foreign artists have to pay much higher taxes then Germans, in our neighbouring country, the Netherlands, it is just the opposite way: Clubs and venues can save money by booking foreign acts, because then they can deduct some of the tax because the foreigners have much higher costs (flights, hotels, etc.). So in Holland the organiser is better off to book a foreign artist then a Dutch one. It's just as bizarre as the German foreigner's tax.
With these tax laws, a Dutch artist would probably be best off by getting a German passport - then he is in the Netherlands a foreigner and in Germany a local, and the taxes are in both countries lower!
Enough politics, lets go back to the real thing - the music, helping to bring people together and to accept international cultures. There are enough happy news in FolkWorld, so enjoy reading!
Your FolkWorld Editors.
Drawing by Annegret Haensel; more infos on the artist at her homepage
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