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With the collapse of the EU constitution, the leaders of Europe that put their personal and national prestige on the line in its support have suddenly found themselves looking for a way to lay blame off onto someone else for the EU failure. That has led to the eruption of recriminations across the Continent as the previously united leadership of the EU has dissolved into a finger-pointing club:
A bitter war of words has erupted among EU states after the failure to reach an agreement on the union's future budget.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder blamed UK and Dutch obduracy for one of the EU's "gravest" crises.
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw expressed sadness, but said the failure could prove a turning point.
The EU's current president Jean Claude Juncker said he was ashamed poorer countries had offered to cut their EU income to reach a deal.
The summit collapsed after Britain refused to accept a demand by France and some other countries to accept a reduction in its EU rebate.
The BBC's correspondent in Brussels, William Horsley, says the recriminations mark perhaps the deepest and most spectacular bust-up ever in the EU.
Instead of actually addressing the central problem of the failure, people like Jacques Chirac and Schroeder want to pick nits about peripheral economic issues to distract from their utter inability to understand why the pact failed. French voters rejected the pact because they didn't want to reform their socialist economy to meet the EU requirements, and yet Chirac attacked the British rebate in the budget summit as the problem. The Dutch worried about Turkish integration and the destructive manner in which the euro was imposed on their economy, but Germany disdainfully dismissed them as a case of attitude problem. The British offered to give up part or all of its euro rebate if the French would quit subsidizing their agriculture, and the France called the UK "arrogant".
All of this amounts to nothing more than a sleight-of-hand. The true issue for EU integration is that no country is willing to let go of its sovereignty to make it a reality. The French want French economics imposed on Europe, and Britain isn't willing to return to the Edward Heath days to do it. The Germans want rock-solid stabilization for their currency, but the other nations aren't willing to adhere to debt control to get there. None of them have shown the necessary desire to create a nation-state of Europe that supercedes their nationalistic and ethnic divisions.
Instead of addressing those issues, the European leaders have focused on the secondary and tertiary minutiae of EU politics. They have to keep the focus on the trees rather than address the forest -- otherwise, they would have to admit that their project of European integration has no hope of success. Ironically, their frustration has led to diplomatic ruptures that could render all these questions moot.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Tracked on June 20, 2005 7:56 PM
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