Saturday, June 02, 2007

We're all isolated now

You can see the same old, familiar rhetoric re-appearing as we drift towards the dénouement that is the European Council on 21-22 June, when Merkel will lay her proposals for a new treaty on the table.

This it is that we see The Telegraph headline today, over a piece written by Bruno Waterfield: "Britain 'isolated' over new treaty for Europe".

Yeah, yeah, we've heard it all before. Britain is isolated .. but then so is Poland, and so is the Czech Republic, as is The Netherlands and who knows which other "players", some of which have yet to declare their hands.

Nevertheless, that is what we are led to believe will be the substance of the message which will be given to Blair tomorrow when he meets Merkel at a pre-G8 meeting in Berlin. For Blair, it will most certainly be "same old, same old" - he faces isolation and a bruising battle over British opposition to new powers for the European Union.

However, at least we are getting a vaguely intelligent comment from shadow foreign secretary William Hague, who is complaining about the shuttle diplomacy of recent weeks. "We are in the bizarre position that Merkel and Sarkozy seem to know more about the British Government's policy on Europe than the British public," he says.

For once, he has a point. The "colleagues" are embroiled in fast and furious negotiations about a potential treaty, the substance of which none of us have seen.

Meanwhile, according to that fount of information, the Chinese news agency Xinhuanet, Belgian premier Guy Verhofstadt has been laying down the law during a visit to Berlin to see Merkel.

He expressed strong opposition to watering down the EU constitution, declaring: "What we need is a treaty, and a treaty with substance," a "key element" the EU should have the legal status to enter into treaties of it own – i.e., it own legal personality. Since that it at odds with what – as far as we know – both Merkel and Sazkozy are proposing – one supposes that Belgium is isolated as well.

As for isolated Poland, this poor benighted country is apparently going to get a visit from EU parliament president Hans-Gert Pottering, who is paying an “official visit” on June 4-5, in a bid to persuade the government to preserve the substance of the EU constitution draft.

So far, Kaczynski has only indicated that his countrymen are prepared to die for their version of the treaty but it now looks as if they are going to suffer a fate much worse than that, when Pottering and his entourage arrive.

At least, or so it appears, we are all (or some of us) shortly to be put out of our misery – if you can call it that. Waterfield tells us that, after five months of secrecy, all will be revealed at a "sandwich supper" of foreign ministers in Luxembourg on June 17. Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, will hear for the first time Berlin's plan for an "EU blueprint" and timetable for a replacement of the constitution.

Presumably, shortly thereafter, our maters will deign to let us know what they have in store for us.

The rather stunning pic is called Isolated II by Anouska Vaskebova, available for sale as a poster, via the link.


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