Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Storm in a teacup

This is not another posting about Douglas Carswell. I really do not think there is anything more to be said about him until the Clacton by-election, which will take place on October 9 (earlier than I had expected but the Conservatives may well think it is better to get it all over with as fast as possible) a few days after first the UKIP then the Conservative Party Conference. It seems that the Conservative Party is going to take Carswell's ideas seriously by having an open primary in Clacton.

Let us now turn to the newly chosen top officials in the European Union, which is after all, our real government.

There was, as I recall, quite a fuss about Jean-Claude Juncker becoming President of the European Commission. For the life of me I cannot see why that should be a problem. Would anyone else be any better, given the structure of the European Union and the lack of any kind of accountability among the eurocrats? Why do we go through this ritualistic pretence that the difference between the various candidates (usually two) has any kind of distinction?

Anyway, Commission President Juncker has announced his "team" today though we actually knew one of them already. The new Common Foreign Policy (still in development stages) High Panjandrum, as we know, is Federica Mogherini, a hitherto little known (outside Italy) Italian politician. She will be known as the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Policy and Security as well as Vice-President. Here is one article that does not think highly of that choice. I know there were many others from people who fear that she might not be as tough on Russia as Radek Sikorski, the Polish Foreign Minister might have been but who could not get the job as his erstwhile boss, Donald Tusk became President of the Council of Minister.

Mr Tusk has handed in his Cabinet's resignation and has moved on to his new job.
A smooth transition is expected after current Sejm speaker Ewa Kopacz was picked to succeed Mr. Tusk by the ruling center-right coalition, which has a slim but reliable majority in the lower house. Kopacz, previously health minister in Mr. Tusk's cabinet, is set to become the second woman after communism in Poland collapsed in 1989 to head the Polish government.
Though whether everything will go just as smoothly in the next election remains to be seen.
"The main challenge for the next prime minister and the party leader is to reconfigure the party and its leaders in such a manner as to have a realistic chance of winning the next election," said Radoslaw Markowski, professor of political science. "It is normal for a party aiming to become a senior coalition partner and win over 30% support to have factions and managing them will be a challenge."
In actual fact, there is no EU common foreign policy, not even on a subject that ought to be close to most Europeans' interests, that is Russian behaviour in eastern Poland, where Russian soldiers unaccountably keep straying over the border and whence body bags have been going back to the motherland.

When it comes to events further afield, say, in the Middle East, the chances of any kind of an agreement on common interests and common policy are slim, to put it mildly. Whatever policy erupts from the European Union, it tends to come from individual member states.

Let us now turn to the new Commission, the body, which, according to the Consolidated Treaties, the real constitution under which we live, has the sole right to initiate legislation of any kind and has a great many rights to interfere in that legislation to ensure that it is more or less in line with its ideas. Though I have very little time for the sort of nonsense that is usually spouted in the European Parliament and would not like that body to become the legislator in the EU (as numerous misguided media hacks seem to assume it is) I view the EU with the position of the Commission being what it is, a very fine example of governance by management rather than politics.

European Voice has helpfully provided us with a list of the new Commissioners (to be confirmed by the European Parliament) and their assigned portfolios though, curiously, the list is in alphabetical order of member states rather than jobs. Clearly, even European Voice cannot quite bring itself to treat the EU government as a single entity.

Our own Lord Hill, so derided by the cognoscenti though not by this blog, has been given Financial Services, which, given the UK's importance in that sphere, ought to be good news. Whether he will manage to make anything of that and, indeed, whether there is anything to be made of that, remains to be seen. Largely the destruction of financial services has been unrolling for a decade or more and it is hard to see what one Commissioner can accomplish.

The storm continues unabated. Open Europe has been rather pompously giving its advice to the new Commission about the way it ought to proceed:
It is time for the UK and other reform minded countries to put their words into action. By giving the new European Commission a tough mandate, they can ensure that over the next five years the EU focuses on delivering jobs and growth and stops meddling in areas better handled nationally or locally.

While much of the UK’s renegotiation strategy will hinge on striking deals with other national governments, the Commission is vital to improving the EU's day-by-day functioning. From improving transparency to focusing on areas where the EU can truly add value, it is essential that the new Commission has a clear set of boundaries and priorities.
That should sort them all out.


  1. Most people only notice when they no longer can buy a vacuum cleaner which can clean their carpet, or when the EU wants to tell you what colour toast you should eat.

    By rights the press should be over all the new Commissioners, but I'm not holding my breath.

  2. The media still considers EU matters to be rather unimportant foreign news. Quite extraordinary.