Saturday, October 30, 2004

It looks like he will stand down

No doubt there will be great rejoicings in the European Parliament and much (well, some) metaphorical throwing of hats in the air in the media about the great victory for, oh I don’t know, liberty or equality or fraternity or something of that kind. Buttiglione has announced that he will stand down as the Italian Commissioner, in order to help the new Commission become strong and actually take up its position.

The presence or absence of the new Commisison has not made a jot of difference to the European Union or its legislative and regulatory process. If you do not believe me, have a look at the Official Journal and count the number of Regulations published every day.

Nor has it exactly enhanced the democratic prestige of the European Parliament. They are still the junior partners in the European project, representing nobody, as there is no such thing as a European people or demos. But the EP has served a purpose. The MEPs revealed the true, somewhat intolerant nature of that project. To be part of it one must support one particular strand of political, social and moral thinking. And, since we do not have a choice of whether we want to be part of that project (having become citizens whether we liked it or not), we, presumably, shall all have to accept that point of view and make it our own.

Buttiglione is not too far out when he describes himself an innocent victim. Nor is the Catholic Church (or any other Christian group), a central part of that European identity that the EU is supposed to be an expression of, wrong in raising the alarm. In fact, we should all start getting worried, whether we agree with Buttiglione or the Catholic Church’s teachings or not.

In the meantime, there is discussion of who will be the replacement. Possibly Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini or, possibly, Mario Monti, who would not be averse to a third term, will be called back. That, the BBC avers, would be a popular choice. Popular among whom?

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