Anorak News | Oui The People

Oui The People

by | 18th, June 2004

‘SO much for the United States of Europe.

‘I too cannot tell a lie’

While the nation on the other side of the Atlantic cites its constitution with pride and recalls its signing in Philadelphia with feelings of brotherly love, Europeans debate the colour of the ink in the signatories’ pen.

It’s unlikely to be orange of the Kilroy-Silk UKIP kind but, with so much conservative blue, socialist red and eco-friendly green in the inky mix, any signature is any danger of resembling a muddy coloured smudge.

What will happen to the future of European unity is being debated in the grandiose Council of Ministers’ building in Brussels.

And Tony Blair has, the Times says, laid down “red lines” in the latest Irish draft of the EU constitution, in which Britain plans to veto plans for harmonising tax and social security and to limit the powers given to the European court.

And this has upset the French and Germans, which although not bad per se – indeed, it’s pretty much guaranteed to make many Britishers smile – is unlikely to please Chris Patten.

The last time many of us saw the former Tory Cabinet minister was when he was waving a teary goodbye to British control over Hong Kong and his role as its governor.

But since then, the Times says, Patten’s been shuttling to all the capital cities of the EU’s 25 member states in a bid to whip up support for his bid to become president of the European Union.

But the stand-off between Britain and the Franco-German alliance over Blair’s militaristic red lines could mean the man who would be George Washington is in danger missing out.

While the Times notes how the Germans are trying to play down any differences, the French and their leader, Jacques Chirac, are having no problem giving vent to their feelings.

“It’s difficult to have the representative of a country which doesn’t take part in all European policies [at the head of the EU],” says Chirac.

“The ambitions that we had have been reduced, in particular over tax and social initiatives, by the very clear ‘non possumus’ [Latin for ‘we cannot’] strongly expressed by the United Kingdom.”

The French president then put the mood in a language that needed no translation, saying how Britain’s position presented a “real problem”.

Which leaves the question, if not Patten, then who? We the people of the United Europe, have, er, not the foggiest…’

Posted: 18th, June 2004 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink