Wednesday, December 01, 2004

One of those days…

We apologise for the paucity of new material so far today – due mainly to the Blogger server going down, preventing us from publishing new postings.

However, with the Blunkett soap opera still dominating the headlines, it is also one of those rare days when there is very little actually new in EU politics, apart from the deteriorating situation in the Ukraine, where the situation is far too muddy for this Blog to offer useful comment.

Following his foray into the Hamburg daily, Bild am Sonntag, Barroso seems to have gone quiet, although you can be assured that he and his commission are up to no good.

That can certainly be said of Barroso’s predecessor, Prodi, who according to The Times today has stormed back into Italian politics to lead mass campaign against Berlusconi, joining forces with the trades union movement to launch a nationwide general strike.

This, on the face of it, is a protest against the 2005 budget passed by Berlusconi’s government and the irony is that it had been approved by the very commission that Prodi previous led.

However, the real target is the 2006 general election, when Prodi hopes to sweep into power.
Opinion polls look good for him, with 52 percent calling for the centre left. Berlusconi’s centre right Forza Italia party has slumped from the 29.5 percent it won in 2001 to less than 20 percent.

Meanwhile, with Barroso out of the frame in his home country, Portugal appears to be heading for early elections after the president said he had lost confidence in the 4-month-old government of Prime Minister Pedro Santana Lopes. The country looks set for a period of political turmoil, which could have an interesting, if unpredictable effect on the EU constitution ratification.

A different kind of turmoil is affecting France, with socialist voters today deciding to whether to back or reject the constitution, a decision that yesterday the EU parliament had no difficulty in making. Predictably, the constitutional affairs committee voted overwhelmingly in favour of it, their only reservation the fact that it did not go far enough.

In an amendment to the supportive resolution tabled by our very own Richard Corbett, with arch federalist Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, they expressed their views, stating that: "the Constitution, as a compromise that had to be acceptable to all Member States, inevitably left out some proposals of the European Parliament or of the Convention that would have, in the view of their authors, brought further improvements to the Union, many of which remain possible in the future".

The existing proposed constitution is not yet ratified and, already, the "colleagues" are planning to add to it.

As I said, it’s one of those days.

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