Saturday, December 13, 2003


Drudge has a link titled "EU BREAKDOWN." From the article:

The European Union's landmark summit to agree a first constitution was plunged into gloom almost as soon as it began Friday as leaders stood their ground in a bitter battle over their nations' voting rights.

A last-ditch meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to seek a way out of the impasse brought "no breakthrough, no real movement," diplomats said.

"The positions are a long, long way apart," Blair told reporters. "It is important to try and get an agreement. It may well not be possible."

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who as EU president for the past six months has struggled to steer the 25 bickering present and future member states to agreement on the historic draft treaty, conceded that the deadlock over power stakes in an enlarged union could sink the whole project.

"The voting system is the obstacle that can block the whole agreement, and that is a pity," he told reporters.

The stand-off pitting France and Germany on one side and Spain and Poland on the other could drag the two-day meeting into Saturday night, but Berlusconi said the leaders had set themselves a deadline of Sunday morning to get a deal.

So if we use Donald Rumsfeld's and Andrew Sullivan's terminology, we're looking at a division between Old Europe and the Anglosphere, which Sullivan defines as inclusive of ex-bloc Eastern European countries. Of course the new states are worried about what their status will be in the new union, under the new constitution. In all probability, the EU constitution, as written, skews in favor of Old Europe. Would you sign on?

Confirming my point, the article goes on:

The aim of the constitution treaty is to streamline EU institutions, simplify decision-making and give the bloc more say on the world stage by creating the position of an EU foreign minister and strengthening the post of EU president.

Diplomats say failure could paralyze the EU as it prepares to expand to 25 members in May with the inclusion of Poland and seven other ex-communist eastern states plus Cyprus and Malta.

Some leaders are worried that if they fail to reach an agreement this weekend, a two-speed Europe may emerge with key founders France and Germany pressing ahead alone. Pessimists say it might even be the beginning of the end for the Union.

A two-speed Europe... sounds like a bad bicycle.

And now for the joke paragraph:

The summiteers briefly put aside wrangling over the constitution to adopt a security strategy which is designed to make the EU a more effective actor in world affairs and prevent divisions of the sort that rocked it over the U.S. war on Iraq.

Good fucking luck.

The leaders endorsed a multi-billion-euro (dollar) plan to encourage public and private investment into transport and research projects in a bid to revitalize the European economy.

But Germany and the Netherlands squared up for a fight over budget rules, with Berlin rejecting a Dutch proposal for enforcement of the regime in the European Court of Justice.

I suspect France and Germany would like to remain comfortably above the law. That's the way they're behaving now: finger-point about US unilateralism, then act unilaterally themselves.

The core of the constitution debate is how much power the four biggest states -- Germany, France, Britain and Italy -- will wield and how much integration EU leaders can swallow.

Spain and Poland, the fifth and sixth biggest countries, are determined to hang on to voting rights that give them almost as many votes as the big four inside EU councils. Germany and France are leading the battle to get those rights pegged back.

Britain, meanwhile, is fighting to prevent Brussels having the final say on issues ranging from foreign policy to taxation.

You have to feel bad for Tony Blair. The man honestly wants to work with the Continent, but the leaders are all such assholes there. Meanwhile, Spain and Poland don't want to see themselves become bit players in the new EU-- rightly so, especially in the case of Poland, which at this point has more in common with America, ideologically speaking, than with Western Europe.

The fiction of transnational progressivism is the utopianist idea of a monolithic "Europe." At best, "Europe" is a blanket designation for a very diverse reality. While there are "family resemblances" between and among European nations that allow Americans to perceive their "Europeanness," the nations themselves are tugging in very different directions. The more I think about it, the more I realize what a miracle it was to get so many countries to agree on using the euro as common currency. But the struggle to hammer out an EU constitution is going to take a string of miracles.


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