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Running out of steam

Posted by Richard Friday, October 21, 2005

Jose Manuel Barroso has issued a "wake-up" call to EU leaders, telling them to "endorse reform or risk economic, social decline", reports AP. Ye Gods! The man has issued more wake-up calls than an alarm clock for hot-bedded shift workers in a doss house.

And as for his new "big idea", announced in the same report - the creation of a multi-billion-euro "solidarity fund" to help workers in the EU hit by job losses blamed on global competition – this was covered in The Daily Telegraph on 11 October, and reviewed by this blog the same day.

That has not stopped Bronwen Maddox of The Times writing about it though. She must be getting as desperate as us when it comes to decent EU news.

Under the heading: "the rising cost of compromise in the EU", however, Maddox gives it her own spin, writing that the price of trying to bridge the gap between the British and French visions of Europe is getting higher.

She also informs us that Barroso's efforts "reflect his urgent attempt to get EU countries to agree on the budget", despite Blair wanting to avoid budget details at the informal European Council later this month, and wanting to talk about cutting red tape instead. But we wrote about that on 11 October as well.

On another front, the Doha round trade talks have stalled again, through French intransigence – as always – and there is no movement on the British rebate. Even, according to the Hindustan Times (but no British papers), the prestigious Galileo global navigation satellite system is still in jeopardy, after funds for the project were blocked, and the great plans for a Euro Army seems to be be struggling as Italy last week chopped its defence budget to a historic low of 0.84 percent of GDP.

There is still, of course, the slow march of integration, through the multifarious directives flowing from Brussels but, aside from that, there is absolutely nothing by way of new or imaginative initiatives coming from that quarter.

The impression is growing more powerful by the day that the "project" is running out of steam. It begins to look like that train is not going to arrive at its destination.

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