One of the real evils of the European Union is the tawdry way it manages to debase everything it touches by converting apparently benign, well-meaning initiatives into yet another excuse for more integration.
Even in the generally dispassionate reporting by Reuters, this now shines through, witness their latest story on a call for the European Union to create a "special reaction corps" to deal with disasters such as the Asian tsunami of 2004.
This was actually suggested last year by EU external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who actually wanted it set up by 2007. But now aid commissioner Michel Barnier has got in on the act, and is also suggesting pooling national consular services to help "EU citizens" caught in disasters.
With Barnier on the case, though, the timetable has slipped from 2007 to 2010, with the details yet to be decided but, as Reuters observes, the proposal "is the latest effort by the EU to plough ahead with integration" despite the uncertain future of the EU constitution.
Readers will recall that the constitution included a "solidarity clause", obliging member states to come to each others' aid in natural disasters, and the "special reaction corps" would give effect to that clause, despite there being no treaty base to give it legal effect.
No doubt, with the proposal on the table, the commission is hoping that the "feel good" factor engendered will pave the way for a wider popular approval of the stalled constitution. Once again, though, all this proves is that, when it comes to pursuing the integration agenda, everything and anything is grist to the mill – nothing is sacred.
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