Monday, May 26, 2008

A good question

The IHT is telling us something we already knew (and wrote about in early April) that the EU commission is keeping a lid on controversial decisions until after the Irish referendum on 12 June.

The view that Brussels has been gripped by a go-slow is shared widely, the paper informs us, citing an anonymous "EU diplomat" saying: "We all know this is happening, but we are all denying it - so you won't get me saying anything on the record."

Elsewhere, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes of the stresses suffered by Ireland as a result of its membership of the euro. He suggests that the situation in Eire "is starting to feel like the ERM crisis in 1992 but without the escape valve." He adds:

By the time this EMU denouement plays out, Ireland will have voted. Lisbon will probably be law. The euro-elites will have prevailed. But history will not be kind to the venture.

It is one thing to nudge the European Project forward by stealth - the "Monnet Method" of fait accompli. It is another to impose a treaty that has already been rejected by people in a direct vote, as the French and Dutch did by emphatic margins in 2005.

We are witnessing Europe's Prague Spring … the moment the EU loses its legitimacy. Yes, the system endures. The tribes acquiesce. But the idealism is draining away. Can anyone really claim that the Lisbon Treaty is rooted in the democratic assent of the French, Dutch, British, Danes, Swedes, Finns, Poles, and Czechs?

We have the spectacle of Gordon Brown refusing to sign the treaty in public because of the potent danger it poses to his Government.

A British prime minister slinks away to a private room to commit Britain to an arrangement that alienates the powers of Parliament - in perpetuity and perhaps illegally - knowing that his people would vote 'no' by crushing margins if given a chance.
"How on earth did we arrive at such a sorry state of affairs?" he then asks. Although obviously rhetorical, Ambrose could benefit from reading the IHT report. This is further evidence that, when it suits it, the EU commission can disappear under the horizon to the point where it is all but invisible. Given that the media and domestic politicians are then quite happy to "conspire" with the commission in keeping EU affairs out of the headlines, people tend to remain unaware of what is happening.

And, when the chatterati then focus on the soap opera of politics, instead of the substance – in obsessive detail – what little news about the EU which does escape is drowned out. Look, for instance, the huge amount of coverage devoted to speculation about whether Gordon Brown is going to be replace as prime minister, before the next general election electorally mandated reshuffle.

Despite the fact that Brown is and always was going to stay in post until the next election, coverage of the soap opera has totally dominated the political "news" ever since last Thursday's by-election. Now compare this with the coverage of the Irish referendum or, for that matter, the debate on the British referendum (not) in the Lords.

Therein lies something of the answer to Ambrose's question. It is a good question … and it needs more answers.

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