Thursday, November 19, 2009
Europe's Grey Move
The massed ranks of euro-sceptics could, if they had a mind to, breathe a small sigh of relief this evening. The announcement of which two politicians are going to take on the shiny new pan-European roles created by the Lisbon Treaty - that of President and the ludicrously named 'High Representative' - has sent most people racing to their political almanacks to find out who on earth they are. To be fair, Herman van Rompuy, the Belgian premier now destined for greater things as President of Europe, has apparently been a much liked, and very able, prime minister of a nearly disintegrating Belgium. Baroness Ashton, however, Labour's successfully nominated High Representative, has barely been heard of in her own country, and certainly never done anything as undignified as stand for election. She appears to have been appointed as a bit of a trade-off in the dinner meeting that made the appointments, but the fact is that neither she nor her new boss have the personal authority or standing to do much more than travel round the world trading niceties. Europe is not going to turn into a superstate on their watch, and that at least should comfort the doom-sayers who thought we were suddenly and irreparably going to fall under the iron sway of a charismatic Brussels government. Europe remains a conglomeration of independent minded sovereign states - as it was always going to.