OK, so what have I missed while I’ve been busy?
The Centre For European Reform blog has been discussing the failure of the EU constitution and the need for a new kind of “pro-Europeanism”, in relation to that “Europe’s Story” idea to kick off debate from Timothy Garton Ash (which I strongly encourage everyone to get involved with – could be good, so I’ve made my first contribution).
Also on the future of Europe, the Financial Times’ Brussels Blog has had a couple of pieces on Britain and the EU after Blair (and the follow-up), which nicely update this piece of mine from back in July. FT Blogger George Parker is, however, almost certainly right that “Blair’s critics in Europe may one day look back at his leadership as a halcyon moment in the UK’s engagement with the EU.”
On a similar note, the Open Europe Blog asks whether Peter Mandelson will keep his job at the EU Commission under a Prime Minister Brown…
Also in the world of the EU, there’s been another proposal to revive bits of that damned constitution from French Green MEP Gerard Onesta, but it sounds like even less of a goer than previous efforts. Jon Worth has more – and doesn’t reckon Gordon Brown would ever go for it.
Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema also has some suggestions for the constitution – largely springing from the desperation of knowing that the EU is currently functioning on rules meant for 15 with a membership of 27 – and has also announced that Italy (under former EU Commission President Prodi, at least) “wants the EU to admit all the Balkan nations and Turkey as members”. Hell, at least that’d mean that Italy’s economy looks better in comparison, right?
Italian Minister of the Interior Giuliano Amato has weighed in to the constitutional debate too, sensibly suggesting “let us not wonder whether we need a constitution. Let us ask ourselves if the questions outlined in Laeken are still valid, if the constitutional treaty provides adequate answers and if new responses are necessary.”
Meanwhile, further east and south, nothing’s changed in Turkmenistan – and although that Economist article was written before the election (“blatantly falsified” according to Pravda), as Registan points out, the outcome was such a foregone conclusion that the post-match analysis could easily have been written weeks ago. The only question is, can the new President ever hope to get as nutty as his predecessor, the god-like Turkmenbashi the Great?
Sticking with the Economist and the former USSR (I’m still in a post-Soviet mindset at the moment, unsurprisingly), Edward Lucas on the opposition to Vladimir Putin, which features an interesting – but important – line about old Alexander Litvinenko: “The Litvinenko murder was a disaster for the Kremlin.” You see, a lot of Litvinenko’s case against the Russian security services for their alleged role in planting the apartment bombs that killed hundreds in Russia in September 1999 and kicked off the second Chechen war is simply that the Chechens had the most to lose from launching terror attacks. Same goes for the Kremlin with killing Litvinenko, by my reckoning. Before his death he was just a random conspiracy theorist. After his death he became a martyr, his death itself seemingly proving that his theories about the murderous nature of the Russian regime were true. (They almost certainly are, by the way, but still – I very much doubt that Putin’s lot ordered his asassination…)
Back west, the French presidential election is hotting up, with Royal launching her manifesto – but she’s now lagging 4-8% behind, having been neck and neck with Sarkozy towards the end of last year, when I made my prediction she would win… Will the huge surge in voter registration be enough to give her back a chance? Should she even get a chance? Methinks Stanlavisbad may not be the only one starting to think Sarkozy’s the better choice…
Then a bit more on the future (and past) of Europe, as that 50th anniversay of the signing of the Treaty of Rome gets ever closer. Via Kosmopolit comes a .PDF from the European Policy Centre looking at the various challenges facing the EU. Articles include French conservative MEP Alain Lamassoure on “Relaunching Europe after the constitutional setback”, the head of the Paris Political Studies Institute’s European Centre, Professor Renaud Dehousse on “Can the European institutions still be reformed?”, Paul Gillespie of The Irish Times and openDemocracy on “Would today’s leaders still sign the Treaty of Rome?”, and many more. Looks to be an interesting read.
That should do it for now, I think…