19 Nov 2009

It's Euro mess for dessert tonight

The absurd antics unfolding around the dinner table in Brussels are giving Europe an awful name.

Protective of the national sovereignty of member states, the interests of the citizens of those states have always been represented by their heads of government.

The problem with this way of doing business is that it has all the appearance of hole-in-the-corner anti-democratic activity.

The European Parliament has never been vested with the power to represent the interests of the people who elect it – the very same citizens of those member states.

Indeed the European Parliament, itself long suspected of being a hotbed of expenses abuse and largesse, gives all the appearance of being as unrepresentative as the heads of government when they meet as the Council of Ministers – this despite the fact that we elect it.

In some ways it is remarkable that the European Union is as effective as it is. But one senses that in trying to fix a president and a foreign minister for Europe, the European ideal has hit a new low.

The choice is a mess…at its extremes it’s a choice between a man who started a war that divided Europe itself, and someone with zero international profile from a divided neo-ungovernable member state.

That choice will be made during the foie gras tonight. When the dust settles, the rest of us probably won’t give a damn anyway.

Europe is a compromise, so its president will be, together with its foreign high representative. That’s because we cannot agree, as Europeans, whether we want a convenient trading bloc or a United States of Europe.

The trouble is that because Britain, perhaps understandably, wants to stand slightly to one side of Europe, the UK has almost no influence over the way the EU evolves and gets dragged along within it.

It isn’t a happy situation. One can’t help thinking that those who have opposed the development of Europe, have backed its rapid growth of members precisely to ensure that it never works. Tonight around that Brussels dinner table they will score another victory for their cause.

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