History doesn’t repeat, it rhymes

The flipside of the European dream is that by its nature, the vision of “non-imperial empire” as Barroso calls it is a powerful encouragement to the paranoid imagination. Curiously, the vision remains much the same across different paranoid styles; almost uncannily so.

In Britain, a surprisingly large number of people in the Conservative Party – not just UKIP and the BNP – think that the existence of “regions” is a secret plot to dismantle the UK, somehow associated with a scheme to reduce the British Army to 100,000 men, at which point it magically becomes “a defence force” – that the Israelis call their military that doesn’t seem to register.

In the United States, fascinatingly, the know-nothing hard right is gradually developing an ideological position that can be best described as American Euroscepticism. Supposedly, George W. Bush is scheming to replace the dollar with a new currency for a tyrannous North American Union; it will be called the “amero”. The upshot is that Mexicans are coming to take your stuff. It seems clear that the Gedankengut of the British far right is being repurposed in the US.

And in Turkey, right-wing generals apparently think the AKP’s drive for EU membership is part of a cunning plan to Talibanise Turkey. By joining the EU, the army’s role in politics will be terminated. Then, the AKP will unmask itself and convert Turkey into Afghanistan. It’s astonishing how similar these paranoid structures are. They clearly bear some similarities to well-known cultural tropes about the seductions of prosperity and peace, which go back to the ancient Greeks, and to the fascist idea sometimes described as the “city as whore”. After all, there is no real future for a military-ruled Turkey that beats EU membership.

But it’s an occupational hazard of being the Borg.

The Horse-Trading Model

Earlier in the week Doug Muir posted on the generally negative attitude most Austrians seem to have towards EU enlargement. Others in comments have been suggesting that it is important not to go soft on human rights issues in the case of Turkey’s application. Well……

According to the French newspaper Le Figaro (as reported in EUPolitix) “Croatia forms part of the total bargaining on Turkey.” (that’s a quote from an anonymous diplomat btw).
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Austria Would Prefer Not To

Earlier this year, Eurobarometer started asking members what they thought about future EU expansion. The results (which can be found here, as a pdf) were pretty interesting.

52% of Europeans support membership for Croatia, while only 34% oppose it. (War criminals? What war criminals?) And 50% support membership for Bulgaria. But only 45% support Romania coming in. Which is a bit embarrassing, given that the EU has already firmly committed to Romanian membership, even if it might be delayed for a year.

Still, the Romanians can take comfort; they’re well ahead of Serbia (40%), Albania (36%) and Turkey (dead last, with 35% of Europeans supporting Turkish membership and 52% against).

Where this gets interesting — in a Eurovision-y sort of way — is when you start to break it down by country.
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Not So Trivial Pursuits

[The observant among you may have noticed that two earlier post-ettes have suddenly disappeared. The even more observant will have noted that they are now over at our sister blog – A Few Euros More – where they should have gone in the first place. I’ve picked up some bug or other and am a little groggy today, I hope it doesn’t show up too much in my argument :).]

Now, yesterday I focused on some relatively trivial examples of inflexibility on the part of the Commission, decisions I argued that did not really serve the interests on the Union itself. Today I have two more to add to the list (one in this post and one in the next), but these have a rather greater import.

Firstly there is the question of formally opening negotiations with Turkey, negotiations over an accession which would take place ten years from now at the earliest. However in recent days it has become evident, to say the least, that not everyone is happy with the conditions as already laid down for the start of negotiations with Turkey.
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Turkish Accession Talks And The French Vote

People in Turkey are getting nervous. If French voters reject the Consitution Treaty later this month, it will be for a whole string of reasons, none of which necessarily are related to any of the others. Some will vote against the treaty because it is perceived as removing sovereignty too much, others because they feel it leaves too much room for national sovereignty (the ‘social dumping’ debate). But possibly ‘no’ voters hold one view in common: they don’t like the idea of Turkey joining the EU.

Now many of the consequences of a ‘no’ vote – if ‘no’ vote there be – are unforseeable. But one distinct possibility would be that among the items contained in the ‘plan B’ rescue package would be a proposal to review the state of play with the Turkey accession process. This possibility is exercising the mind of Morgan Stanley’s Serhan Cevic no end. Mine to. Full declaration: I support Turkey’s *eventual* membership of the EU.
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Agenda 2020.

New Europe?
Late Thursday night, the European Council approved, as widely expected, the Commission’s recommendation to open membership negotiations with Turkey, largely without imposing additional conditions to be met prior to the beginning of the talks on October 3, 2005. “The time to start negotiations with Turkey has come,” Commission President Jos? Manuel Barroso said. Council President, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, will discuss the EU proposals Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, over breakfast on Friday.
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Turkey recommended for EU accession talks

The European Commission has recommended that accession talks for Turkey should begin, but hasn’t laid out any dates for the process:

Commission officials are reporting on the progress Turkey has already made, along with Bulgaria and Romania.

The final decision on Turkey rests with the leaders of all 25 EU member states in December – with accession years off.

The Commission’s recommendation is a milestone in an increasingly impassioned debate.

The decision was reached by a “large consensus” among commissioners, one EU official said, but no vote was taken.

There was also no recommended date to start negotiations with Turkey.

More from The Scotsman/PA, EU Business, Reuters and EU Observer.

Update: The full text of Romano Prodi’s speech can be found here and I’ve copied it below, so you can click on the ‘continue reading’ link to see it as the English HTML link on the site doesn’t seem to be working (pdf and doc links are).
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