Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Today the High Court in Prague gives its verdict on the legality of the Lisbon Treaty in the context of the constitution of the Czech Republic. It is expected to declare no serious problems.
President Havel will thereby have to end his stand against the ambitions of the Eurocracy. The last obstacle to the Lisbon Treaty has failed; Havel must sign; a Federal Europe will be established in all but name.
Who will get the new top jobs, especially who will be the first president? I suspect we are seeing the endgame of the Blair Retirement Plan.
Slowly we are understanding the final objectives of the european policies of Prime Minister Blair. As always, the good reasons were trumpeted, the real reasons were suppressed or denied.
The good reasons are so familiar: Europe as a world superpower to balance American hegemony; wonderful commercial opportunities in an ever expanding market; Britain at the heart of Europe, a wise, experienced, senior member of this union of high ideals, punching above its weight; Europe as a great force for peace, reconciliation, and human rights. Yesterday we heard it all again from David Miliband.
I will be generous and allow that the Eurocracy probably believes its own rhetoric: the good and the real reasons are complementary, the public and private ambitions co-exist.
The real reasons can only be surmised, but I think the following is more likely to be reality than cynicism.
As the consummation of a political career, an EU appointment is devoutly to be wished.
The Aristeurocracy - the cabal of senior eurocrats - enjoys power with little democratic accountability, a most tempting prospect for those wearied by the tribulations inflicted by an electorate.
They believe the hand of history is on their shoulders - if I may borrow a phrase.
Better to walk with destiny than cope with the problems of little people in a weekly constituency surgery; better to present your case to a sympathetic EU committee than have to argue it forcefully against an opposition in the House of Commons.
And much better not to be subject to proper audit of your expenditure decisions.
No-one mentions money, of course. Only the vulgar raise the issue. Called to public service, our masters are indifferent to the high salaries the Eurocracy awards itself, they reluctantly accept the multitude of expenses and other perks, and the wonderfully generous pensions are no more than their just rewards.
After 5 years even a simple MEP can expect a pension and maybe a million pounds saved, while an EU commissioner can expect a very comfortable future.
We remember that Tony Blair promised that the British rebate was safe in his hands. Mrs. Thatcher had negotiated a substantial relief of Britain's net contributions to the EU. In the event he conceded the rebate in return for a verbal assurance that agricultural subsidies would be reviewed sometime soon, and maybe other unspoken concessions and understandings.
At the same time he was discussing with other leaders the job description of the President of Europe to be created by the new constitution - which mutated into the Lisbon Treaty after rejection in referenda in France and the Netherlands. It is reported that he showed great interest in the presidency, arguing for detailed changes in the initial description.
Yes, I know I should be ashamed even to think that Mr. Blair may have allowed considerations of personal opportunity to influence him in such dealings: perish the thought!
But there is no doubt about the consequences of the Blair concessions. Over the next 5 years Britain's increasing obligations to the EU will leave little change from 40 billion pounds - and that's just net contributions to the EU budget, our serious trade deficit with Europe will continue. That huge sum will be borrowed. This is the 'elephant in the room' in all discussions of Britain's financial crisis.
The Blair Retirement Plan has had a difficult ride so far. First the delays caused by referenda results. Then the risk of collapse of the Brown government, and a new Tory government promising a referendum in Britain. Mandelson was shipped back to London to buttress Brown until the Lisbon Treaty could finally be ratified. The irish were bought out, and the Czech nuisance may soon be over.
Blair's mate Silvio backs him for President, and Sarkozy is open to persuasion. Others lower in the EU pecking order are variously for, against or indifferent. In the end Blair's ambitions will be decided by Die Bundeskanzlerin, Frau Angela Merkel.
But nothing is for nothing in the EU. Blair's budget concessions were years ago. Is there any other card the British eurocracy could play for Blair?
What if Frau Merkel makes her support conditional on Britain joining the euro? Could Brown be persuaded his conditions are fulfilled, and the time is right to bounce Britain in? He too must be wondering about his future opportunities. He has nothing to lose, a chance to prove he can be decisive, and bid for a place in history. Influential people would praise him as a statesman, and at the least he would deeply embarrass the Tories.