Let Battle Be Joined

Well, things are shaping up nicely for a ‘healthy debate of the underlying issues’ on 16/17 June. Chirac and Schr?der have pronounced: the ratification process must continue, Jean-Claude Juncker is warning that failure to reach a budget deal at the summit would “turn the big European difficulties into a big European crisis“, and Peter Mandelson forsees a historic opportunity for Tony Blair. Mandelson is quoted as saying:

Tony Blair could carry on for another three years now that he has been given a “fresh calling” to resolve Europe’s crisis, his old ally Peter Mandelson claimed last night.

Mr Mandelson said the French and Dutch rejection of the European Union constitution handed Mr Blair another chance to secure his legacy as Prime Minister“.

What does all this mean? Well, according to France’s Le Figaro:

Si Londres gagne, c’est la victoire de l’Europe lib?rale, ? l’anglo-saxonne, aussi ?largie que possible, un grand march? contr?l? au strict minimum par Bruxelles. Si Berlin l’emporte, c’est la victoire de l’Europe politique, libre-?changiste, mais surtout f?d?rale, avec une d?fense, une diplomatie, et une monnaie commune. Dans l’Europe b?tarde du trait? de Nice, tous les Etats membres n’ont pas encore choisi leur camp. La crise va les obliger ? tomber les masques.”

“”If London wins [the ratification dispute] it is a victory for liberal, Anglo-Saxon Europe, enlarged as much as possible, a giant market, with regulation from Brussels kept to a strict minimum. If It is Berlin that carries the day, it’s victory for the Political vision of Europe, free-trade, but especially federal, with a common defence, diplomacy, and a common money. In the ‘bastard’ Europe born of Nice treaty, all members states have not yet chosen their camp. The crisis will force everyone to take off their masks.”

Of course there is a third party here: the Commission. What Barroso will undoubtedly be working for is a pragmatic, workable compromise.

Mr Barroso urged the French leader and his colleagues to “turn a crisis into an opportunity” and argued: “It is vital that we use the present moment to forge a new consensus.”

He warned Europe not to indulge in a “blame game” or an “ideological rift” between supporters of free markets and those who believe in government intervention. What was needed, Mr Barroso said, was “an intelligent synthesis between the market and the state, which can help Europe win and not lose in the face of globalisation”.”

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About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

2 thoughts on “Let Battle Be Joined

  1. But if London wins the ratification dispute, where does this leave the French and Dutch electorates? They voted against “London”‘s view of the liberal free market, so can liberal free markets simply be imposed on them regardless?

    Regards,

  2. I think the Dutch and French votes are quite different. There is probably a lot less ‘anti-liberalism’in the Dutch vote. There is after all no ‘one’ european social model – what people want in Scandinavia, and what people want in France are in many ways quite different. The voters who have really strung themselves up on their own petard are many of the French ‘no’ voters (some of the no voters would undoubtedly agree with Blair: although remember Blair was going to recommend the constitution).

    Actually the most intelligent thing that Jos? Bose, Laurent Fabius etc could do would be to go talk to Chirac and ask for another vote, but I doubt they’re subtle enough for that.

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