The European Commission still can’t tell participation from a horse’s arse. Neither, sadly, can the advocates of closer European integration. At least the ones who the Commission (and all the other institutions) thinks will help them win friends and influence people.
Example the first. Three organisations – the European Movement, plus something called “Notre Europe”, and something else called “Europanova” – are going to hold a gathering in Lille on the 17th of March. Now, the European Movement is familiar enough – rather worthy, painfully Commission-ish. Who the hell are the others? Notre Europe is run – indeed, going by the bylines on its website, is – two superannuated bureaucrats and Jacques Delors. Europanova has the first devilish sign of Euro-dullness on its home page, a reference to “jeunes leaders”.
They turn out to be a French academic who, surprise surprise, works at the European College in Bruges, and a German CSU MEP, a von to boot, who boasts that he invented the concept of “privileged partnership” for Turkey. I wouldn’t boast of that if it were me. It’s run by somebody who headed the European Youth Parliament, and then ran the news magazines Euro92 and A’l Heure de’l Europe.
Look, if anyone’s got a copy of either, I’ll vote for you in the Pyjamas. Can’t say fairer than that. It was 1992 – couldn’t he have been out dancing? The rest of them all seem to work for the Robert Schuman foundation, and one of them for the French national assembly’s European secretariat.
They are a congregation of vapours, but hardly foul or pestilent. Not enough there for that. Honestly, you want to grab them all by the neck and shake them until they do something interesting.
But it’s not just that. Why, why, why does their conference have to be called “Etats generaux de l’Europe”? This phrase is completely meaningless outside France or Holland. If this is an attempt to convince the world at large that the EU is not a dull wing of the French civil service, it ain’t the best start.
And why does the EU have to keep indulging its infuriating little claque of prefects? The Union loves to spend money on “young leaders”, who are inevitably the sort of kids who take part in youth parliaments and such – crashingly uninspired prigs, in other words. Unfortunately, this also means that the promotion effort is being wasted on people who are already strongly committed to the cause. Not just any version of that, either – the pro-EU organisations are all wedded to a charmingly quaint 1950s vision of neofunctional spillover leading inexorably to world federalism, Esperanto and nuclear power. No debate, no new ideas, just polish on Monnet’s statue. Is the chairman of the Young Federalists – I may have mistaken his exact style – really the person outside government Wallstrom and Co. ought to seek out?
But as always, as a perusal of these organisations’ committees shows, the best career option for these people is to administer the youth organisations they came up through.