If there’s one thing absolutely guaranteed to put back the European Union cause in the UK, it’s having some unelected Brussels bureaucrat mouth off about how the country is “closer than ever before” to joining the single currency. Especially when you use ill-considered phrases like:
“I know that the majority in Britain are still opposed, but there is a period of consideration under way and the people who matter in Britain are currently thinking about it”
You couldn’t get a more prefect example of the kind of language that the eurosceptics can leap on to show the EU as being anti-democratic. The majority are opposed? Never mind! The mysterious “people who matter” will force it through anyway! It’s a conspiracy!
Christ… When is the Commission finally going to learn to conduct itself in a manner more likely to produce some positive reactions? It’s like French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner’s idiotic comments ahead of the Irish Lisbon Treaty referendum all over again.
Do they even have any PR people? Do they have any concept how to communicate a positive message? Hell, even the recent launch of a new communications campaign (see the current Parliament Magazine, p.6 – PDF) failed to attract any attention, Communications Commissioner Margot Wallstrom herself reporting that the event went “almost unnoticed”.*
And even ignoring all that, it’s still far, far too early to say whether Britain would be better able to weather the current economic storm if it were part of the Eurozone. Hell, it’s not as if the Eurozone’s managed to stay clear of recession, is it? It’s not as if there are rising fears of deflation in the Eurozone, coupled with a 7.7% unemployment rate in the region (official UK rate? 5.5%).
Until we see how the Euro and Eurozone copes with this, its first big economic crisis – and especially until we see how it does compared to the pound and other old European currencies – any claims about its stability (or otherwise) are just so much hogwash. Because, let’s face it, if the case for the Euro was already proven then it wouldn’t remain quite so controversial, would it?
So here’s an idea – instead of spouting speculative, cryptic nonsense that’s only going to hurt the cause of European integration by raising yet more suspicions in an already suspicious British public, why doesn’t Barroso just shut the hell up?
Yet another reason to support the Anyone But Barroso campaign.
* I actually think Wallstrom’s done a relatively good job as Communications Commissioner, considering. She’s certainly been making all the right noises on getting the people of Europe involved, was the first Commissioner to launch a blog (and convincing others to do the same), spearheaded the launch of the Debate Europe forum, experimented with EU Tube and has toyed around with all kinds of attempts to raise interest and awareness as part of her post-Constitution Plan D (“for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate”) initiative. That she hasn’t had a huge amount of impact outside the Brussels beltway is, I reckon, more due to entrenched opposition from within the Commission than lack of will on her part. And I’m not just saying that because she says nice things about me, honest.