Films and the future of the EU
I've just updated The Unseen Movie Review with a selection of May and June releases. As I still haven't seen most of them, I can't guarantee that there aren't any spoilers, but I think I managed to avoid most major ones. Of the ones that I have since seen, I got Kingdom of Heaven slightly wrong - it does have a political agenda, albeit a rather lovey-dovey, hardly overly serious one, but it's otherwise a big, fun, stupid movie. Having seen Revenge of the Sith last night, with it's top-notch opening 20 minutes followed by another three hours of wooden acting, awful dialogue and frequent mind-numbing tedium interspersed with decently entertaining computer-generated spectacle (which nonetheless leaves you feeling all "meh"), it seems I got that one pretty much spot on.
If you want some political style stuff, I'll suggest you check out The Japan Times' EU Special - a handy guide to the French constitutional referendum plus the EU's relations with the Far East, all in .pdf format. Quite interesting stuff, if coming from a right-wing US-centric viewpoint, with some useful observations which are made more so by this coming from relatively dispassionate non-EU observers. Having siad that, one of the most interesting pieces is Agence France-Presse Brussels bureau chief Philippe Ries on what might happen if the French vote "Non":
"the greatest consequences of a negative result on May 29 would fall on France first. A defeat at the polling station would likely turn Chirac into a lame duck president for the remaining two years of his mandate. On the left, the current leadership of the Socialist Party would be thrown into total disarray. They would have succeeded in an internal referendum to deliver strong support for the constitution but failed to carry the momentum to the finish line. The reform process would stall for good, and paralysis would prevail until the next presidential election in 2007.
"At the European level, it could be as bad. A failure of France to ratify the constitution would of course send the wrong signal to the countries where the ratification is not a given. Some may consider the cause as lost and not even bother to carry on with the process. What would be the point for Tony Blair to call a referendum in the U.K. when the risk of being defeated would turn into a certainty?
"At the institutional level, the European Union would still function with the current rules, last updated in the dreadful Nice Treaty. The constitution anyway is not to be in force until 2009. But it would be without any doubt a huge political setback.
"France and Germany, already reluctant to accept the consequences of the last enlargement, as shown by their criticism of the new member states alleged fiscal and social dumping, might turn even more defensive. Common policies that are not so popular with the electorate, like competition or the monitoring of state subsidies, would become even more difficult to sell to the public, with the legitimacy of the whole process very much in doubt.
"Repercussions may be far reaching on the international scene. What would be the mandate of the European Commission for the achievement of the Doha Development Round if there is a political malaise at home? Protectionism within and outside Europe, in retreat for the past several decades, could well raise its ugly head again. The euro would likely not suffer in the short term, but its prospects of challenging the dollar as a key reserve currency would be darkened. People and governments in Europe would be even more reluctant to abide to the budgetary rules set in the Stability and Growth Pact.
"...One of the worst fantasies entertained by the partisans of the ``no'' camp who claim to be pro-Europe is that the rejection of the Constitutional Treaty by France would force the 25 member countries back to the drawing board. While that is very unlikely, at least for a number of years, it is a certainty that the result would be even less to their liking. What would be exactly the leverage of a French delegation to better the compromise painfully elaborated at the convention? The pro-Europe 'no'' is at best an illusionand at worst an excuse."