Thursday, June 02, 2005

 

EU Double Whammy

It's an odd, but basically correct thought, that more people trying to get into the EU club seem to think more highly of it than those who have already made it. Bulgaria and Romania are desperate that the current problems will prevent them squeezing their way in so countries like Ukraine and others in that post Soviet gaggle south of Russia may have to abandon the idea of passing through those exclusive Brussels' portals. It seems Turkey's chances have been finally scuppered by the double whammy delivered by the referendums in France and Holland. The latter was not such a surprise as it has been presaged by several polls but the 62% figure for the Nos was beyond most expectations. Turkey was always going to be a long shot when a mother who appeared on a chat show and talked about her abusive alcoholic husband, could be shot five times on her return by her own son. The place has too many medieval echoes top be a proper part of Europe yet.

Where does this leave the EU? As I suggested in an earlier post, I feel sure it will pull through and that some sort of compromise will emerge. Maybe, as I have suggested, a watered down treaty will be re-offered to voters in the hope that the most important items in the original package can be recycled and put in place. This is a possibility but now that Eurosceptic awareness has been so awakened and reinforced I reckon it will be hard to offer any kind of rehashed draft and obtain ratification.

Are there lessons to be learned? Most assuredly. Prime amoungst them, for politicians is that you can ignore the people some of the time but if you try to do it too often, eventually you pay a very high price. The perception that a mostly unacounbtable elite has been running the European show ever since the fifties has now been widely disseminated and a species of disengagement has appeared which is very similar to the disenchantment over here behind the plumetting turnout figures since 1997.

Should the EU adopt a looser format and forego any further integration? I hope not. One of the most worrying aspects of international life is the hegemony of the US. I find Bush quite scary at times and a strong united Europe can check or moderate our unruly cousins across the Atlantic. A unified EU foreign policy is very desirable from that point of view and a more Gaullist Europe would be likely to set us all at each others throats again.

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