Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

A quick case study of the EU’s problems

Today marks the start of the French presidency of the EU. Sarkozy’s task as president? To guide the union from the post-Irish referendum confusion into a fresh new dawn of harmony and mutual appreciation, to an EU both truly united and sure of its purpose.

Yes, the Polish president may have refused to ratify Lisbon as well, but he’s a homophobic right-wing nutter, everyone knows that. We’ll pretend that hasn’t happened, just as we’ll pretend the Irish no vote hasn’t happened. And worst case scenario we’ll put our fingers in our ears, go “la la la la la!” whenever anyone else speaks, and then act as if we’re all singing from the same hymnsheet when we aren’t even singing from the same hymnbook. It’ll all work out fine in the end.

To wit, a case in point, from the reception the French Ambassador to the Court of St James (aka to the UK, for those not au fait with outmoded chivalry), held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London the Saturday before last to mark the start of the French EU presidency (to which I was kindly invited):

The French Ambassador speaks, listing France’s three priorities for her presidency of the EU as:

1) Culture
2) Diversity
3) The people of Europe

Up next, a representative of the British government (whose name I didn’t catch and whom I didn’t recognise), listing what the UK thinks are the three French priorities:

1) Energy and energy security
2) Climate change
3) Migration

Followed, of course, by much shaking of hands, smiling, and mutterings about how great it was that everyone was in agreement. No mention of France focussing on more abstract concepts (in an effort to reunite the EU around core shared ideals, so entirely understandable) while the UK focusses on practicalities. No acknowledgement of the complete lack of anything in the way of similarity in what the two representatives have just stated as being the key priorities. Just carrying on regardless like a couple of deaf old ladies over tea and biscuits.

“I said let’s prioritise Climate change, Ivy.”

“Culture and diversity, you say? Why Ethel, what a lovely idea! How about doing something to get the people of Europe on board while we’re at it?”

“You’re entirely right – we really should do something about all those migrants crossing the borders.”

At this rate we’re never going to get anywhere.


  1. There is a 33 page work programme with all of the above, and then some.

    Just pick and choose.

  2. How much difference do these “priorities” make during one presidency of six month anyway? At maximum, they bring new issues on the agenda, but any binding decision will follow long after France has passed the helmet to the next presidencies…

  3. You could have a multispeed EU, scrap it altogether, keep it with some countries out of it (hopefully the UK),or reverse it to the Common Market.
    Of course, you`ll say this is not a “politacal reality” or some such rubbish, but the fact is the above will be talked about in the future.

  4. Julien – they can occasionally help shape the debate at sensitive times. France is in an ideal position to push the EU in the direction she wants at the moment, but early signs are not good. Too much mud-slinging from Sarkozy and co, not enough constructive suggestions.

    Robin – If you actually read anything I wrote rather than merely crop up intermittently to accuse me of being a Commission mouthpiece, you’d know that all those things you’ve mentioned have been discussed numerous times here over the last few years – and that I’m in favour of wholesale reform on a multispeed model. The more there are setbacks like no votes in referenda, the more likely such complete rethinks become – which is precisely why I was hoping for No votes in all the referenda so far. The EU needs a proper crisis to shake it out of its complacency.

  5. When have I called you a Commission mouthpiece ? Although you seem in with the EU luvvies that must be more your own perception of yourself.

    It`s a bit confusing to see that you wish for NO votes in referenda that you don`t wish to be held.

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