A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Vive La difference?

The European Union is fast becoming a hotbed of standoffs, grumpiness, and lack of fraternity. The French people voted Non to the Constitution, followed swiftly by a Nee from the Dutch. Rather than understand the reasons for voting No, the leaders of the European project go into a sulk and start finding people to blame other than themselves.

This should be a time of reflection and trying to find a solution that the people of the 25 countries that make up the European Union can relate to. Instead, the French President seems to think that he, and possibly the German Chancellor, should dictate how Europe is run. Well, monsieur, that is not the case now!

It is rather like a couple of businessmen forming a company to make a product. The product sells reasonably well and the company expands. New directors and staff are taken on. But the founders don't want the new directors having any real say, or even having meaningful votes. In fact, they would prefer them to be very much in the background. The last thing they would want is for their precious company to be taken in another direction, or for themselves to be voted off the board!

If Tony Blair means what he says, then he has a chance to guide the European Union to some kind of modern success. It is quite right that the funding of the Union is put on the table for discussion. The Common Agricultural Policy is an anachronism, designed to prop up the wasteful, spendthrift legacy that has befallen the French farming community by the absurd inheritance laws of the Napoleonic Code.

Tony Blair's real opportunity is finding a way that the French can keep their way of life with the so-called "social model", and leading Europe to a more flexible, entrepreneurial, less bureaucratic union. When the French Referendum is analysed, what are we to make of it? "It was a pro-European no," said one young man. "We are not against Europe - we just want a different kind of Europe." Precisely, but are you thinking what we are thinking?



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