To be fair to Mandelson (which is something that goes against my better instincts) he does genuinely appear to be striving for everyone’s best interests here. Because, as French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy puts it,
“Either [the UK presidency] presents a balanced proposal in the coming days with a just distribution of the costs of EU enlargement or it condemns us all to failure”
– and Gordon Brown, albeit for different reasons, agrees:
“Failing to break the deadlock will mean a huge price ï¿½ for reform of Europe, for prices, for consumers, for our competitiveness, and for the worldï¿½s poor”
They’re both right. No agreement will mean failure. It will mean an all-round fuck-up.
But we’re still not going to get an agreement, because neither Britain nor France – despite what their leading politicians may say – is going to back down. It’s hard not to agree with Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht’s assessment of this whole thing,
“We are sitting here wasting our time.”
Gordon Brown may be spot on when he says that
“It is simply wrong to say that tariffs are essential to advanced industrial societies and wrong to say that big cuts in farming tariffs would not help a solution to poverty”
but sadly being right means nothing when it comes to this sort of thing. Because, as pointed out yesterday (for the umpteenth time – see also here, here and here for starters) there’s no way in hell France will back down on this one.
Blair has offered to give up the rebate, the US has offered to cut their farm subsidies to make the loss of CAP cash less hard. But French parochialism has already blocked both of these really quite incredibly generous offers.
So, once again, Blair will be a loser – and his EU presidency (as predicted right at the start) will be a failure. Which would normally be something to celebrate – unfortunately, however, the longer the CAP remains in its current state, the more poverty-stricken and screwed will be the third world farmers who are always going to be the biggest losers as long as France continues to act in its national interest rather than in the interest of the world.
Nation states, you see? It always comes down to nation states. Source of all the world’s ills.