In a some of our earlier postings, my colleague and I were given to musing about what they put in EU commissioners' tea, this being the only explanation for some of the frankly weird statements that emanated from Brussels. Here we go again.
El presidente Barroso, less than a week in office, has been telling the Hamburg daily, Bild am Sonntag, in an "exclusive interview" that "Europe will be a superpower."
Dismissing his "false start" as "a prime example of European democracy" which has strengthened the commission, he feels his primary task is to make Europe more competitive. To keep pace with the United States or China in the international market, "our social systems and our labour markets have to undergo fundamental reform," he says.
Echoing the egregious MacShame, he too feels we need "more flexibility" and, parroting the text of the commission’s competitiveness report, he adds that we need more investment in education and research.
Fielding a question on whether the EU can become the world's strongest economic region in six years – the infamous Lisbon process – Barroso’s recipe is that “Europe simply has to work even harder”. It is a pity the man is not German as one can almost hear the stage-German tones as he declares: "Europe must be a superpower - and it will be a superpower!" You vill be a Superpower, hein?
Perish the thought that this means the EU panzers rolling over the borders. Barroso is talking about being a superpower in economic terms. But he does not stop there: "also politically, the EU can become a superpower - if the Europeans manage to speak with one voice." Cue stage German again.
However, asks his interviewer, "The Europeans have a single European currency, and now they also have a common constitution. Are we on the path towards the United States of Europe?" Neglecting to correct the interviewer: only the minority of EU states have joined the single currency euro - Barroso answers:
We should never give up our dream of a united Europe. At the same time, we have to remain realistic: there will probably never be a European super state. Germans will always remain Germans, Frenchmen will always remain Frenchmen, and Portuguese will always remain Portuguese. However, it is possible that, at the same time, they feel like Europeans.He is dead right there. The EU will never be a "super state". Delete "super" – at this rate, "infra" is more likely.
But then Barroso seems content with that. He just wants the EU to be a "superpower" – a "flexible" superpower, I suppose.
Just what do they put in that tea?