Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Dutch to the rescue! (No, not really...)

Netherlands PM Jan Peter Balkenende in today's Guardian:

"it is increasingly clear that the public's attitude towards Europe has changed. The desire for peace and stability is no longer an ironclad argument for further European integration...

"Do we want an EU that focuses primarily on consolidation of vested interests, or one that pursues reform and displays solidarity with the less prosperous member states and the world around it? European agriculture is of great importance, and we must not overlook farmers and their families. But the current system, with rivers of subsidy flowing out of Brussels, cannot last... And is it fair for Brussels to spend so much of its limited resources on regions in rich member states?"
In other words, the same old calls of "let's build a European demos, France has too favourable a position" and the typical platitudes. To add to the truisms, action, not words is what is needed. But no one is currently in a position to take action.

Meanwhile our man Blair, currently holding the presidency of the EU, has once again found himself distracted. After a bit of EU-related posturing he trotted off to the G8 (remember that?), where he managed to make a small dent but nowhere near enough to make a significant difference. Then we had the distraction of some nutters with some bombs, and everyone forgot about that as well.

Perhaps once parliament breaks for the summer recess tomorrow he may finally pull his finger out and get down to work. Not that parliament - or domestic affairs - ever seems to take up much of his time these days, but still...

He's been busy, has our man Blair. But since his "historic third term" (TM) has kicked off there's once again been precious little of any substance. It's all very well making grand statements about reforming the CAP, ending world poverty and wiping terrorism from the face of the earth, but so far there's been tit all sign of significant progress on any of them.

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