Back to the summit.
The roads around Euroville in the Quartier Cinquintinaire of Brussels are clogged tonight with limos, the bars full of shipped in hacks from the political desks of papers and the electronic media of most of the Continent. And they all seem to be covering two things.
Chirac’s hisssy fit about the English language and “Economic Patriotism”
Here are some of the headlines that are currently gracing the net.
Chirac Boycotts Start of EU Summit to Protest Use of English
Chirac leaves summit as Frenchman speaks English
Chirac protests against French executive speaking English
Economic nationalism row hangs over EU summit
EU summit: Verhofstadt slams protectionism plan
Prime Minister Vanhanen rebuffs Italy on protectionism complaint
Will Spring Summit overcome "protectionist winter"?
EU economic meeting stalls on protectionism
Blair seeks end to EU 'nationalism'
And so on ad infinitum. Of course this is all smokes and mirrors. The real business is only now drawing to a close - dinner. There were three ministerial posts present at tonight’s shindig. Each went to join their compadres to have private dinners.
The political leaders to laugh at the wit of Chirac, commiserate with the polling of Berlusconi and to quietly laugh at Blair’s current predicament. The economics ministers went of to continue the row about protectionism that has been bubbling along nicely for a while, and the foreign ministers. Now what are they here to talk about.
Well it is pretty simple really, what is happening at that dinner is the agreement that they will all work together to get the Constitution back on track. Whilst the press pack are getting their knickers in a twist over Chirac’s lack of manners and hammy petulance the real work of integration continues out of the spotlight. Nowhere in the press have I seen reference to this meeting.
But put it this way they will be putting together a deal that states that if 4/5ths of the EU member states have ratified by the Spring Council meeting, this time next year then they will consider the Constitution ratified.
This will give them leave to introduce al manner of aspects of the Constitution right through the front door.
Can’t happen, you say. It would be against the rules, you might say, indeed it would be against the law. All too true, but only two years ago people like me were saying that it would end like this, whilst supporters of the Constitution pooh poohed our point by saying that legal guarantees were provided by the requirement for unanimity. Now look what is happening, supports of the project are claiming that it has already been ratified as “over half the countries of the EU have ratified it”, yes I mean you Mssrs. Corbett, Chirac, Merkle, Verhofstadt and others, whilst us sceptics are left pointing to the law saying, “No, No it says here in the treaties that you need unanimity”.
Protection in European law, fiddlesticks, European law to the federasts are like words to Humpty Dumpty, it means what they want it to mean. Just think ofthe Stability and Growth Pact.