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Mandy in trouble

Posted by Richard Saturday, September 03, 2005

According to a Reuters report, EU member states have failed to agree on how to release millions of Chinese trousers, t-shirts, pullovers and other items that are blocked at EU borders.

Little Mandy is going to have to pack a fresh set of knickers as negotiations are going to continue over the weekend. But he looks as if he is in for a hard time as he is complaining that there is "a lack of a unified EU approach on freeing up the goods". Welcome to the reality of the EU, chuck.

However, with an optimism belied by the severity of the current situation – with retail groups throughout Europe lining up to take their own governments or the commission to court – Mandy is claiming that this will not weaken his hand in separate talks with China starting on Sunday. And just who does he think he is kidding?

"I still want and expect member states to agree to unblock the goods. It's a matter of tactics, not principles," he told reporters after a day-long meeting of negotiators.

A more realistic – or honest – "EU diplomat" put a somewhat different spin on the affair, admitting that the: "Talks collapsed ... Too many member states did not agree to lift the block ahead of the negotiations with the Chinese".

"We said to Mr Mandelson that we can go only so far," said a representative from an unnamed member state – one which had opposed letting in the goods before China agreed to give up some of its future EU quotas.

With or without agreement from the "colleagues", little Mandy will have to meet Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai in Beijing on Sunday for talks ahead of a summit of EU and Chinese leaders on Monday.

Bo said yesterday he was confident of solving the problem. But then, as the Chinese hold all the cards, he can afford to be confident. Little Mandy, however, might not like the solution.

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