Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Not so fast

The news that Iceland's government has decided to apply for EU membership for the country has not been greeted with unalloyed joy and I am not talking just about the people of Iceland. The Commission, naturally enough, has welcomed the application. As far as they are concerned, any application, no matter who submits it and with what popular support or lack of it, is proof positive that the EU is a success.

However, there is trouble in Germany, as EUObserver reports.
Centre-right politicians from Germany's Christian Social Union (CSU) have spoken out against Iceland's bid to join the European Union.

"The EU cannot play saviour to Iceland's economic crisis," Markus Ferber, head of the CSU's members of the European parliament, told Suedduetsche newspaper [Süddeutsche Zeitung] over the weekend.

"We should discuss the structure of the EU before we discuss expanding it," said Alexander Dobrindt, General Secretary of the CSU, which is the smaller sister party to German chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union.

The newspaper reports that the manifesto for both parties for the 27 September general election will indirectly oppose further EU enlargement, with the exception of Croatia
Why any German politician should ignore the fact that Croatia will have to be subsidized quite heavily is something of a mystery but, presumably, the country they really do not want in the EU is Turkey.

The story is, naturally enough, reported in Iceland and in Ireland. Jamie Smyth writes in his European Diary in the Irish Times that there is a general disaffection with the whole idea of further enlargement. Given that, as some of us predicted about ten years or more ago, eastward enlargement has not been an unqualified success for anybody, this attitude is not surprising.

The old chestnut of the absolute necessity of sorting out whichever treaty is being held up for the sake of enlargement or, rather, these days, before we can speak of further enlargement comes up with the assumption, natural enough for Mr Smyth that the only thing that matters is the second Irish referendum. What of the German Constitutional Court's decision? In the long term that is likely to be much more dangerous for le grand projet than the referendum.