Friday, November 20, 2009

Mr Van Thingy and Baronness Whatshername

"Europe" has decided:  Herman van Rompuy will occupy the new position of President while Baroness Catherine Ashton will be the Union's new foreign minister.  Both are 'worthy' candidates, with Van Rompuy enjoying a good reputation as Belgian prime minister and Ashton being a respected Commissioner.

That's not the point, however.  It's bad enough that these two positions (in principle, two of the most powerful in the world) are designated rather than elected.  Its worse that the whole process has been opaque and has happened in the proverbial 'smoke-filled rooms' of the Brussels administration.

What is truely abominable, however, is the cynical manner in which two relatively unknown and basically powerless people have been thrust haplessly into these two top jobs.  They will be unable to forge the common foreign policy that was supposed to be the centrepiece of the Lisbon Treaty and will instead spend their days cobbling together messy compromises between Berlin Paris and London.  In one fell swoop, the European Council has defeated the purpose of a treaty thay have fought long and hard for.  They've also ignored the mounting evidence of estrangement between the Union's institutions and its citizens.

I say lets throw away Lisbon (which is now next to worthless) and go back to the birthplace of European democracy.  The new 'Athens' treaty should provide for a commission and a presidency which is directly elected by all the people of Europe.  Mr Van Rompuy and Baroness Ashton are welcome to throw their hats in the ring, but the bottom line is that I want a vote.

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