One has every sympathy with the Portuguese having to deal with the awful fires that are sweeping areas of their parched land, especially those in Coimbra where the fires had reached some parts of the city of more than 100,000 people.
And congratulations must go to the French government which has sent two Canadair firefighting aircraft to help, and Spain which has sent one. Germany has despatched three helicopters and Italy has pitched in with another Canadair. The Dutch air force has contributed two Cougar helicopters, each capable of carrying 500 gallons of water.
But there is something particularly distasteful about the former prime minister of that benighted land, one José Manuel Barroso, currently presidente of the EU commission, who is claiming credit for the EU in despatching the aid, attracting headlines from around the world to the effect that "EU helps Portugal fight fires".
"I welcome the speed with which the commission and member states have been able to respond to the urgent request for help," says Barroso, without a hint of embarrassment. Er… excuse me, just how many fire-fighting aircraft has the EU got?
This, of course, is not the first time Barroso has pulled this tawdry trick, being very much in evidence during the Tsunami crisis, claiming on behalf of the EU all the funds that had been pledged by individual member states,
Unable to do anything constructive, and uniquely incompetent at everything it tackles, the EU is the ultimate parasite, living off the reflected glory, missing no opportunity to claim for itself credit for the fruits of others' efforts.
Still, for an organisation that parades itself as the body which has "kept the peace in Europe", only grudgingly acknowledging the existence of Nato – and not at all the support of the US in that organisation – this is exactly what you would expect of such a low-grade bunch of shysters.
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