Trying to explain the inner workings of EU governance to non-Europeans is a bit like trying to explain the importance of the American League’s designated hitter rule to baseball neophytes. So it’s in the spirit of the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox that I present my European press review, written for Slate, for your rumination and criticism.
The Buttiglione affair touches on a lot more issues than I had space to get into, and indeed more issues than I’d care to go into here, even. Just to name a few:
1. Following up on Tobias’s point below, why is it that when the U.S. President vetoes a bill or Congress blocks a bill’s passage with a philibuster, it’s considered business as usual, yet when European Parliament refuses to approve a slate of candidates for the Commission, it plunges the EU into “institutional crisis”? Aren’t Europeans getting a bit weary of one so-called “institutional crisis” after another? I recall something about a boy and a wolf… Do we not run the risk of one day waking up with a real institutional crisis on our hands — one that is met with a collective yawn?
2. According to Deutsche Welle’s press review:
Rome’s Il Messagero wrote that “it doesn’t take much to understand that in the end, Europe will have to pay dearly for this crisis which most likely won’t be resolved without some blood shed”.
Come again?? Is this a translation thing? In English, “bloodshed” almost always involves the actual shedding of blood.
3. The bit about Buttiglione calling Vladimir Spidla a “tough ex-communist” didn’t get much press outside the Czech Republic. I don’t know much about Buttiglione, frankly, but Spidla is neither tough nor an ex-communist. Is Buttiglione always this way? Talk first, think later (if at all)?
4. What exactly is the anti-Parliament beef of euro-skeptics like the editors of the Daily Telegraph? Is this a simple right vs. left issue, or is it, as I suspect, something a bit deeper and philosophical? The argument, it seems, is whether the the European Parliament has any real claim to democratic legitimacy. I’d say it does, for pretty obvious reasons — it’s directly elected, duh. (Then again, voter turnout in MEP elections is abyssmal, and there’s no democratic legitimacy without a nation state, and blah blah blah.) If one day we have a right-leaning Parliament and a left-leaning Commission, will the British press start singing a different tune?