Wednesday, May 26, 2010

President Barroso pronounces

Let's face it: we have all been waiting to hear it from the head of the real government, Commission President Barroso. As it happens, he has said nothing about my joining the government (a subject on which the Boy-King has also been strangely silent but then he may not be in a position to decide). Probably he is waiting to see how the coalition pans out so I am in with a good chance.

However, he has been making comments about the vague proposals to have another treaty, the one the Boy-King has been threatening with the usual red lines. As the Boss has pointed out, the suggestion that there is going to be a new treaty was always rather vague and unconvincing. This has now been confirmed by President Barroso.

According to Der Spiegel, he has called Chancellor Merkel's suggestions for a new treaty (half-hearted at best) "naive". Fighting words.
Meanwhile, in a further sign of divisions in Europe over how to deal with the euro crisis, the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, called Chancellor Angela Merkel's demands for modifications to the EU treaty to enhance control of member states' budgets "naive."

"We will not propose treaty modifications even though we are open to good ideas," Barroso told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in an interview published on Tuesday. "It would also be naive to think one can reform the treaty only in areas Germany considers important."

If the treaty were amended to boost economic governance, other member states would want to see modifications in other areas too, said Barroso.

Barroso also questioned Merkel's calls for persistent debt offenders in the euro zone to have their voting rights withdrawn. "When it comes to procedures against countries with excessive deficits, it is already the case under current rules that the member state affected is not allowed to vote. Under constitutional law it would be nearly impossible to do more, in my view," he said.
All very well to have beneficial crises but you do have to work out how to benefit from them and there seems to be a certain lack of ability to work out anything across the European Union, I am glad to say.

A couple of points need to be mentioned. One is that the myriad of organizations, analysts and advisers might like to take note of paragraph 3 in the quote. If one country wants to change the treaty to suit itself, other countries will want changes to suit themselves. That is why the promised repatriation of powers was never going to happen.

Secondly, lack of any treaty is something the Boy-King was fervently hoping for. Consider some other promises he and his mate Nicky have been making.

In the Queen's Speech today there is this sentence:
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, my Government will introduce legislation to ensure that in future this Parliament and the British people have their say on any proposed transfer of powers to the European Union.
Hard to tell what "any proposed transfer of powers to the European Union" means. What of the financial directives? Or the proposed common immigration policy?

Fortunately, we get a clue in that egregious document: The Coalition: our programme for government, subtitled Freedom Fairness Responsibility. How they love those grandiose slogans, to be sure.

In the section on Europe, we read this:
We will amend the 1972 European Communities Act so that any proposed future treaty that transferred areas of power, or competences, would be subject to a referendum on that treaty – a ‘referendum lock’. We will amend the 1972 European Communities Act so that the use of any /passerelle/ would require primary
The bit about primary legislation is tosh. A good many EU laws are implemented through primary legislation (though even more do not require that). The point is that primary or secondary, it has to be implemented. The British Parliament has no right to reject any EU legislation or regulation.

But, of course, none of this means anything. The promise (not a cast-iron guarantee, I am glad to say) is clear: there will be a referendum on a treaty that transferred areas of power, or competences. Presumably, these will be defined by the government and, after all, there might be a treaty that did no such thing. However, President Barroso seems to think there will be no treaties in the foreseeable future. So the coalition government is safe. There will be no need for a referendum.


  1. Stable. Door. After. Horse. Bolted.


  2. You can say that about most British political decisions with regard to the EU, Nick.