Thursday, March 22, 2007

A very worrying development

It is difficult to believe that one could ever have warmed to the current (or any) EU commission president, but the Telegraph's Bruno Waterfield – their latest EU correspondent – has come up trumps, painting a sympathetic picture of José Manuel Barroso.

The occasion is an interview in which, under the heading, "Political correctness is killing our freedoms", Barroso tells us that "Europe's citizens" must be on their guard "against political correctness and moralising politicians". He is concerned that freedom can be the loser in European culture wars over climate change, cheap air travel, Islam and free speech.

"We should be aware," he says, "of people who, sometimes for good reasons, try to establish what I call private moral codes, for this or that, be it climate change, religious behaviour or any kind of social behaviour."

But the absolute corker is his comments on the UK's climate change agenda, which he condemns as a "turn-off". This, he warns, risks intruding into people's lives, threatens individual freedom and could turn voters off the fight against global warming.

He also hails cheap air travel as "a great thing for our civilisation" and expresses grave concerns over fashionable plans, floated by Mr Miliband, for personal carbon rationing and suspects that proposals to restrict CO2 emissions from an individual's activities will lead to intrusive surveillance into private lives.

"I do not see any need to establish these intrusive approaches that may reduce the freedom of our societies," he says. "We have to find the right balance and I believe the right balance is not found if we start giving these kind of personal good or bad behaviour certificates to people."

Barroso's views on tackling global warming, writes Waterfield, also clash with Cameron's plans to introduce green taxes and individual allowances on air travel. "Cheap air travel is great for our civilisation. When we think now that people have the freedom to circulate instead of being confined to a small territory, it is great progress," he says.

This is very worrying indeed, when an EU apparatchik actually seems to be talking more sense than our own politicians. I think I will have to go and lie down.


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