A few bits and bobs that have caught my eye over the last week or so:
Robert Amsterdam on Donald Rumsfeld’s legacy to Europe:
he was the original master artist of disaggregation – a man who saw and skillfully exploited the very fissures of the contemporary European Union which today threaten its purpose and continued existence as an alliance of nations… And this week, the Rumsfeldian conception of “old and new Europe” is making a comeback in the debate over how to handle Moscow’s threat to put missiles in Kaliningrad”
It’s not just over Russian missiles – old vs. new Europe seems to be an emerging theme in the ongoing confusion over how to tackle the growing economic storm, according to Eurozine:
Even if a common set of regulations and measures were to be reached, differences would be manifest between member states, and above all between West and East: unemployment, inflation, budgetary deficits would affect each country differently. The problem is that a recession would have more severe consequences in the fragile and unpredictable eastern European countries, including at the political level.
Also on the economy, Obsolete is (as ever) really rather good on the bizarre collapse of the Tory poll lead during the current crisis:
The man who promised an end to Tory boom and bust has succeeded in abolishing boom, while the prospects for the bust look increasingly ominous. The economy which he boasted was among the best placed to deal with the global downturn is in actual fact one of the worst placed to deal with it, according to the IMF and the European Union. Unrelenting, the Labour party believes that the solution is to borrow more to fund the tax cuts to stimulate the economy. As Larry Elliot has pointed out, this is a direct contradiction of what Gordon Brown formerly believed. At the weekend the same man attended a conference which he claimed would back up his solution to the downturn; it did nothing of the sort, and predictably only agreed to more or less meet again. Gordon Brown, by rights, ought to be finished.
Si, jusqu’à présent, les voix critiques étaient rares, elles commencent à se faire entendre, ce qui montre que la campagne pour le renouvellement de la Commission a bel et bien commencé.
Complementing Quatremer’s overview, the Financial Times’s (new look) Brussels Blog asks
why are political parties of the left in such poor shape across much of Europe? It’s the worst financial crisis since the early 1930s, the worst economic recession since the early 1990s, if not the 1970s – and where is the left?
And finally, a very promising signal from the European Parliament:
MEPs today overwhelmingly backed calls to strengthen the EU’s anti-fraud unit OLAF to enable it to tackle fraud more effectively…
[report author Ingeborg Grässle MEP] said that the Parliament’s zeal to strengthen OLAF and how it worked was not shared by the member states. “The Council [of Ministers] doesn’t want to strengthen OLAF,” she said… She said the Council did not want awkward discussions about the fight against fraud.
Once again, one of the EU’s biggest problems and PR disasters can be blamed nice and neatly on the reluctance of the Council of Ministers – on the governments of the member states – to press ahead with reforms to increase both efficiency and transparency.