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Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

A quick European roundup

The BBC has a handy press summary of Europe-wide reactions to the EU’s mind-numbingly tedious and unproductive summit last week (which, like DJ Nozem, I simply couldn’t bring myself to pay any attention to, I’m afraid). EU Observer has a fairly telling paragraph in its summary, though:

“‘There is not yet agreement on the best way to move forward,’ said commission president Jose Manuel Barroso but added that there was consensus that something needed to be done.”

In other words, erm… no progress has been made at all in the last year and a half. Arguably, not since Maastricht, as the problems trying to be solved now are the same as were meant to be tackled with the Treaty of Nice six years ago…

Mark Mardell also has a good overview:

“Thanks to an agreement reached by foreign ministers on Monday, the word “Turkey” was not formally uttered at this summit. But that is what it was all about.”

Also on the Turkish front, some vaguely promising indications that we are not a continent of bigots, a poll suggesting that although support for further EU enlargement is falling, it is not thanks to the prospect of a Muslim country joining (hell, we’ve already got an ex-Muslim country as a member, and umpteen different brands of Christianity, many of which have had much fun killing each other during various religious wars over the years, why should there be any problem with another bunch of God-botherers joining in?) Meanwhile American Prospect has a quick book review/article on Muslim assimilation in Europe, which may be of interest.

Oh, and this article on US involvement in post-Soviet Eastern Europe from the Monthly Review is worth a gander, as the American angle usually seems to be ignored by most coverage of the EU’s newest members, not to mention the various Eastern European wannabes.

Over in France, meanwhile, the presidential race continues to heat up, with the spectre of Jean Marie Le Pen’s National Front raising its ugly head once again – something the socialists need to remember about, considering Le Pen beat them to the final two last time around…

Those who know more about energy markets and economics than me might be able to explain the significance of the Norwegian oil/gas merger. Likely to be moderately significant, though, considering the various difficulties the EU’s having thanks to the growing reliance on Russian gas supplies and all that…

Utterly unrelated, but this made me chuckle – a bunch of Germans expelled from Poland after WWII are apparently trying to seek, erm…, compensation for their loss… Up next: Germany claims compensation from Britain, France, America and Russia for the death of so many of its citizens, and from the Jewish people for the extortionate gas bill run up during the early 1940s… Oh, and should you even vaguely care, EurActiv has a run-down of the priorities for the German EU Presidency, taking over on 1st January. (Update:More on German aspirations at Atlantic Review.)

Almost finally, new discovery The Evil European has the perfect paraphrase of some of the nuttier anti-EU types’ general worldview which bears repeating following the news that EU Referendum won the “Best UK Blog” category in the Weblog Awards:

“If you correct people on the factual information, as in the European Union is not being run by Hitler’s re-animated corpse which seeks to force evil communist-fascist agenda like making all British people drive on the left side of the road or only eat straight bananas, you are being an arrogant snob and elitist liberal blah blah blah.”

The thing to do, old boy, is try to ignore them. Much as our dear leaders were trying to do with that damned summit last week. Maybe this is the way forward for the EU – we all try to pretend that it doesn’t exist, and they in turn pretend that we don’t exist. Everyone’s a winner.

Finally finally, via Erkan, EU Digest (which I’d forgotten about due to their RSS feeds seeming to be screwed, but is rather good) has a run-down of the European politicians who made an impact in 2006. That they can only come up with three names – one of whom some would argue is not “European” anyway – speaks volumes about the waste of time 2006 has been for the EU…

3 Comments

  1. God, the Weblog awards. What a national embarrassment.

    For all the pious drivel I hear about how the blogosphere is supposed to be "self-correcting", it should be obvious to anyone that this isn't the case with propagandists and arseholes.

    Two terms which sum up EU Referendum perfectly.

  2. The German compensation claim may make you chuckle. But what do you make of the Palestinian claim for right of return?

  3. Ken – I'm afraid I have no definite opinion one way or the other. Yes, the families that now categorise themselves as Palestinian should have some claim to property rights to the lands that were given (without the inhabitants' consent) to Israel following WWII – just as Jewish families who had their property looted by the Nazis should have some claim to property rights over artworks and the like that have now found their way in to various museums around the world. But, at the same time, Israel has been a functioning state for quite a while now, and to give the Palestinian families their land back would be to destroy that state.

    In short: there is no solution that I can see. Posession is nine tenths, but that doesn't make it right. But if the posession has been given to you by a third party, nor, do I believe, are you to blame for now having posession.

    The only sensible, obvious compromise is Israeli recognition of a Palestinian state, and financial aid to said state to enable it to get on its feet. But, sadly, that will not be enough to placate genuine grievances – and those grievances will almost cetainly continue to fester throughout your lifetime and mine. The obvious comparison is Ireland – and that little problem has been festering for centuries, while the Israel/Palestine thing has only been around for 50-odd years…