01 June, 2014

The devil you know

Most people don't follow the rarified bits of European politics, feeling, correctly in my view, that it will go on in the direction chosen by unelected politicians, whatever the voters might think.

But if you have a modest concern about how your life is being managed by other people, consider this. The European Parliament is the institution which is put forward as being democratic, even though its little rules mean that anyone who is against the whole business is never allowed to speak for more than one minute (sometimes two). The Parliament decided that it wanted a bit of influence over the Head of the Commission, so it introduced the concept of favourites being recommended by the bogus political groupings. These are called Spitzencandidaten, and I hope you have noticed that the language for important things has changed from French to German, whilst everyone actually speaks English to each other.

Anyway, the two Spitzencandidaten put up by the main parties were Martin Schulz, currently leader of the Parliament and a leftish integrationist, and Jean-Claude Juncker, former Luxembourger Prime Minister and a rightish integrationist. No one, it appears, likes Schulz (Berlusconi once said he would be suitable in a film about Nazi Germany as a concentration camp guard) and Mrs Merkel favours Juncker.

To appreciate this you have to try to get into the mindset of these people. They believe in the 'European Project' absolutely and to the exclusion of all else. That is to say they believe that the nation state is an outdated institution and that government, to protect the Union against silliness by the electorate, should be by the people who know how to do it.

Cameron appears on the surface to be cutting up rough. He has said that Juncker is such a federalist that his appointment as Commission President could cause the bringing forward of the British Referendum and an early exit from the EU.

Two other pieces of information I should give you: one is that the Parliament reserved the right itself to elect the Commission President. The other is that Tony Blair said in an interview that he would like to 'help' Europe and is next week making a speech in Germany on how he would like to see Europe in the future. In William Hague's terms he is 'on manoeuvres'.

Is Cameron trying to push Blair into the job? Personally I view the possibility with horror: at least we know what Juncker is about; Blair might believe one thing or another or nothing and still say something different.

Better the devil you know....

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