Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

Reform in Europe = more liberalism and less integration

by Jerome a Paris Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 06:56:33 AM EST

I flagged this article in the Breakfast Thread, but I feel it is worth a thread of its own:

Barroso to promote reformers in reshuffle

José Manuel Barroso, the liberal European Commission president, will today tighten his grip on his administration, promoting economic reformers and forcing out the most visible reminder of past French supremacy in Brussels.

"Reform", once again, is equalled to liberalisation and to an elimination of French influence. At least things are clear.


In a contentious reshuffle of senior European Union officials Mr Barroso will promote leading reformers to the key portfolios of trade and transport and energy.

The new line-up of directors-general - the top permanent civil servants - will see British or Irish officials holding four of the most influential posts in the EU executive, a trend resisted by Paris and Berlin.

Without any other detail, again, the link British officials = reformers = agaisnt French influence.

At the same time Mr Barroso has engineered the departure of Francois Lamoureux, the mercurial French director-general of transport and energy, who enjoyed hero status among many eurocrats. Mr Lamoureux was a key ally of Jacques Delors, the former French Commission president, whose energetic reign and federalist drive between 1985-95 is the subject of misty-eyed reminiscence in Brussels.

I take it from this as well that reform = breaking up the Brussels machine by taking out the people that actually got things done for Europe in the past (i.e., the French).

Some liberal members of Mr Barroso's team regard Mr Lamoureux as emblematic of the "old guard", which resisted the new regime's drive to cut red tape and put the brakes on new integration.

Again, things are explicit: this is a new regime. That's apretty strong word. It's not new policies, it's a new regime, i.e. it is meant to last more and determine future policies as well.

French officials say privately they are happy with the shake-up because Jean-Luc Demarty, a French national, will become director-general of agriculture, long seen as a top prize in Paris.

But London is delighted with the result, believing that agricultural reform is now driven by world trade talks, overseen by Peter Mandelson, the British trade commissioner.

So the French are stuck with rear guard action, but the Blairists expect to overwhelm them anyway. I suppose that in the current ideological context, both positions sadly make sense. One defensive, one offensive. (yes, the word is carefully chosen)

Charles Grant, who chronicled the Delors Commission in his book Inside the House that Jacques Built, said: "The overall trend over the last 10 years has been for the Commission to become increasingly liberal, and this reshuffle will reinforce that."

So there we are. Has Europe any destiny beyond liberal "reform", meant to make it ineffective against companies (one would not want to impose undue burdens on them, would we) and to destroy the policies it manages. This is an agenda to break up Europe, make no mistake about it, and turn it into a corporate-friendly zone with no policies.

And let me repeat it here: this is exactly what was predicted to happen by the supporters of the EU Constitution if it was rejected: increasing selfishness by all, a slow drift towards irrelevance or willful powerlessness by the Eurpean institutions, and the domination of the Blairite model.

I know that this is exactly what Arlette Laguiller, of Lutte Ouvrière, wants, as it brings the prospect of the real revolution closer, but is this what the "real" left (as opposed to the softy turncoats like myself) fought for? And if not, what are their plans to fight it? I am curious.

And meanwhile, Europe withers. What a fucking, pathetic shame.

Display:
Who slipped Barrosso the Kool-aid, anyway?

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 08:34:38 AM EST
EU Commission office rumours have it that UK Kool-Aid has won the beverages service/delivery contract with the bar/restaurant which is situated on and caters to the personnel on Barroso offices' floor.

Barroso is said to like the Kool-Aid 'Mad Scien - Twist" flavour most.

link:

http://www.koolaiduk.com/

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 09:25:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
which is why you had to link to an import site for American ex-pats I would guess.

Money is a sign of Poverty - Culture Saying
by RogueTrooper on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 09:27:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow, that makes it a great business opportunity!

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819
by Ritter on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 09:30:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bovril then.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 01:36:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In case you don't remember, Barroso hosted the infamous March 2003 "acores summit" between Bush, Blair and Aznar where they plotted the last steps in their Iraq strategy.

He is a long-time subscriber to home kool-aid delivery.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 01:38:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is also worth to point out each time that he already failed once: when he was PM in Portugal, he managed to stop economic growth with 'reforms', supposedly to reduce the budget deficit, but after his departure to Brussels, it turned out he cooked the books - and as a height of irony, the EU under his leadership lambasted Portugal...

Also, he governed in a minority government - with outside support from a far-right party.

A thorough a**hole.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 04:25:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
after France voted against the referendum. Momentum is now with the "reformers" I am afraid.

Money is a sign of Poverty - Culture Saying
by RogueTrooper on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 10:06:50 AM EST
makes me want to scream:

'The overall trend over the last 10 years has been for the Commission to become increasingly liberal, and this reshuffle will reinforce that.'

liberal my ass...they want to sew up plutocracy by 'liberating' thermselves from common decency, and want us to bend over for mammon so they can create and sustain an autocratic financial, parasitical elite on the backs of countless 3rd world ripoffs and banlieu-warehoused slave-banks.

it's the biggest orwellian hijack of words going down right now.

they cleverly defuse many peoples' feeble attempts to understand politics this way.

bastards

aaargh!!!!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 10:22:41 AM EST
funny how "liberal" in Europe is not liberal, but neo-conservative...wonder how that happened...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 12:05:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bob,

Maybe I just don't follow EU politics enough to know, but when you say "liberal," do you mean "liberal" in the modern welfare state sense -- e.g., liberals in America -- or in the classical sense (what Americans call "libertarian")?

Help an ignorant Yankee out here. ;)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 01:16:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
liberal, in the European sense, and the one I used in the post, is indeed close to your libertarian. In the Ft/EU, it applies mostly to economic matters, i.e. free trade, deregulation and a generally pro-business slant.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 01:28:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That sounds a bit more like the American "neo-liberal" view that the DLC (that's "Democratic-Leaning Conservatives," though they'd never admit it) side of the Democratic Party pushes -- basically Republican-lite.

Libertarians are a bit of a mixed bag, at least in America.  Some have the pro-business slant (Larry Kudlow, Steve Moore, and the rest of the "Club for Growth" crowd), while others are more indifferent to the (perhaps inherent) clash between business and labor.

A lot of folks, including the names I listed above, hide behind the word "libertarian" when they're really pursuing something in between Conservatism and Fascism.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 01:39:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Traditional liberals (as the UK Liberal-Democratic party) also have a strong civil libertarian philosophy.

The term "libertarian" in mainland Europe was traditionally synonimous with Anarchist.

American libertarians are libertarian individualists or anarcho-capitalists.

European libertarians are libertarian socialists or anarcho-syndicalists.

You wouldn't believe the discussions that went on in the Wikipedia on this issue. Americans would argue it was "Orwellian" to claim that "Libertarian (socialist)" and "Anarchist" had been used by millions of people in the European Left for several decades before Americans in followers of Ayn Rand or Milton Friedman started calling themselves "libertarians" or "anarcho-capitalists".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 01:47:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Must have been fun.
But then you'd expect, structurally, that the hardest term to define on a wiki would be anarchy - it's meta existential.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 03:04:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fun? It directly led to one of my longest dry spells on wikipedia. I also gave up on political topics entirely (you should have seen how hard it was to convince people that the article on Le Pen was written from a neutral point of view even through it made him look like a racist, authoritarian asshole). Then I found out, much to my chagrin, that normal distribution was a controversial topic. Then I finished my Ph.D. and got a job, and that was that for me and Wikipedia.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 03:08:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand are certainly big libertarian names, in the American sense, but I don't think either is/was an anarcho-capitalist.  (Friedman certainly is not.  He's a libertarian-Keynesian who refuses to admit he's a Keynesian.)  "Uncle Milton" has a few liberal tendencies.

Murray Rothbard and iDavid Friedman (Milton's son) were/are both anarcho-capitalists, though David is a physicist and not an economist.  (I guess one's understanding economics is helped when Daddy is one of the most famous economists of the 20th Century, but the son is more than a little weird.)  But that's interesting to hear that there term has such an incredibly different meaning in Europe.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 03:54:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The European Parliament is the one, though effective, counterweight to the Commission and Council. They can stop all new legislation through the co-decision process.

However, with the European Socialist imploding, I am not very hopeful for the future.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 01:40:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jérôme, and RogueTrooper too: just why do you think this wouldn't have happened if French voters had not voted down the Constitution? What else would this man have done, who started his presidency by declaring himself a neo-liberal revolutionary on the pages of a US paper? What would have stopped him?

Specifically, I don't see how lack of Bliarite rhetoric about the French "Non" would have - which itself seems a weak point: do you really think the Bliarites wouldn't seeked out and found something else to spin against the French (and Germans and Zapatero)? We are in the reality-based community, the Bushites in the faith-based one, but Bliarites in the spin-based one - and I'm certain the picture Bliarites paint of France in the EU remains as disconnected from facts as the "Baghdad on Seine" BS, whatever those facts are.

Sorry, I just don't see any connection - and I say this as someone who thought the "Non" didn't make much sense, too. (Tough maybe for different reasons from you.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 04:28:27 PM EST
I agree that it would not have changed much to Blair's attempts, but it would have changed the dynamics: France would not be described as the "sick man" of Europe, it would once again be the heart of it, wit ha strong democratic support for the project of integration. It would not have to prove internally that it "gets" something out of Europe (only money for CAP, it seems, today), instead, it would have massive legitimacy to push whatever policies it wanted.

And, don't forget, Blair himself would be facing the embarrassing prospect of a UK referendum on the Constitution and actually having to prove his "European" credentials in a make-or-break vote.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 04:33:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France would not be described as the "sick man" of Europe

Just that was my argument: no, France still would have been described as sick man, but using different issues - say, public strikes, any increase in joblessness, or the 'riots', whatever.

It would not have to prove internally that it "gets" something out of Europe

I doubt the budget confrontation wouldn't have happened (and indeed think they would have been a prime reason for 'sick man of Europe' spin for Bliar). Even without Chirac feeling the need to prove himself, I think other factors would have made that sure, factors that have been mentioned in our CAP debates: 1) Even without the push from the Left, Chirac feels the push from the agricultural lobbies. 2) It is still true that there was a recent agreement on CAP reform, thus Bliar's push to change it again remains a calculated provocation you can't afford to bow to as French President. 3) It also remains true that Bliar1s idea of eliminating the CAP is opposed by quite a few other EU members, who will always let the French do the public grandstanding and get all the blame.

it would have massive legitimacy to push whatever policies it wanted.

Even disregarding Bliarite spin, I disagree on "massive" - it would have been counted as just one of the "Yes" referendums, I think. More to the point, would Chirac have been the man to push the agendas we would want France to push? Even more to the point: how would this leverage have prevented Barroso's said moves?  

And, don't forget, Blair himself would be facing the embarrassing prospect of a UK referendum on the Constitution and actually having to prove his "European" credentials in a make-or-break vote.

This is where I disagree with you most: I think if Bliar would have faced the prospect of a referendum, with the Tories and the Murdoch press yelling at him, he would have - even more than Chirac - started on a Britain-shall-gets-it-all-from-Europe, adopt-my-policies overdrive. And he would have said to other EU leaders: "see, now it all depends on Britain, if you don't back my policies it's your fault!". (In fact, I think he already played this game when the Constitution was first agreed on.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 04:56:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What I meant with the first point is that it is now possible to blame any failure of Europe onto the French ("they killed any momentum for integration", "even they don't even like Brussels anymore"). That's oncologically different to be fighting against France/Europe. Blair can be claiming to be fighting for Europe with the same policies as before, which is a major boon to him.

As regards the last point, you're right, but I think that even if all the other countries had bent over backwards to please Blair (which I am not sure they would have done - a number may have just said: "go ahead, just give us an excuse to finally kick you out"), he would still have had to start saying nice things about Europe and its institutions (the topic of the Constitution after all), and say they long, loud and hard.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 05:27:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the first, indeed that eliminates all on my list -except the extra, the budget agreement failure, which could also have been used by Bliar as "see it's the French who stall Europe" spin.

Here I have to come out of the woods and say something about the Constitution. What I thought was that while it was crappy, and indeed neoliberalism was written into it while social or environmental issues came short, this had little significance. I thought (think) policy is/would have been set by the national governments, not the Constitution - and that even said slant of the draft only reflects an acceptance of neoliberalism to more or less extent by all. Thus even if we dismantled the EU outright, nothing would change. (Hence, in my view, the "Non" camp wanted to tackle the task of change at the wrong end.)

From this comes my partial reply to your second point: I don't think European leaders would have put up that big a resistance to Bliar if he came with demands - it would have been mostly about sacrificing some national lobby interests, less about principles. On the other part, granted: it would have been a show seeing Bliar argue for Europe against Tories and Murdoch...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 06:01:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW: you will have noted I always write his name so. It came as a wow in a rush of anger a few years ago (and is too good a habit to stop :-)) I hate him above all because I think (no see, no have read in interviews) that he inspired a whole generation of European centre-left leaders (despite disagreements, on many things even Zapatero), who were first blinded by his apparent success as reflected by Labour's big parliamentary majority and media power, and his orator skills - and slowly bought into his spin. He didn't just took Labour to the right, but all of Europe.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 06:18:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey Dodo!!!

The way I see it, the current riots are a tool of political manipulation on security and fear of foreigners (a right-wing media holdup), just like the European constitution was a tool of political manipulation on free market issues (a left-wing media holdup).

For me, it's just as scary to see Sarkozy announce that he will be deporting foreigners that took part in the riots (not scared about the actual deportation because I know nothing about the individual cases or the law, but the fact that Sarkozy quickly quickly quickly announces this, like: LOOK! I'm deporting criminal foreigners, LOOK!), as it is to see the European constitution smeared by the Left (noooooo, not the Left, that's us, that's me, how could it be!!!), a constitution which though imperfect and indeed with a nasty market-oriented  tint, was the only possible way forward. But this is still open to debate, and I already spent months debating the constitution so I am too tired to do it again over here ... please do not argue with me, anyone French ;)

This is just the expression of my sad perception of national issues in this country.

I indeed am pissed off to see that 55% of French people rejected the European constitution, while now 73% of them find it normal that a curfew is imposed on the banlieues. Does this make any sense? No! No! No! Europe cannot impose its laws on us! But a full colonial curfew with massive anti-democractic rights to the police, is ok? (the right to search any home, at any time, the right to arrest anyone, on any basis etc etc)

People need to talk among themselves, in order to make up their minds. Like here on eurotrib.com, which I've discovered through DoDo and which looks great. They must never use the media to forge their opinions.

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 02:22:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are not alone...! :-)

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman
by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Sun Nov 27th, 2005 at 05:53:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[How did you manage to change your post to refer to Rogue Trooper rather than me as it originally did?]

Well, since I do not actually think this wouldn't have happened if French voters had not voted down the Constitution I don't have anything to answer. :-)

Now seriously, after the Delors Commission we have had the Santer Commission, the Prodi Commission and the Barroso Commission. They seem to alternate Christian Democrat and a Social Democrat, so I suppose we can expect a Social Democrat after 2009.

The Prodi Commission had to deal with Chirac in France, "third way" Blair and Shroeder in the UK and Germany, Berlusconi in Italy and Aznar in Spain. It did not represent progress. The December 2002 debacle at the Nice summit is very representative of this period.

I personally thought that the "non" camp was a hodge-podge of disparate groups with no real effort being made at articulating a coherent argument or an alternative. Nevertheless, I saw the new Treaty Establishing a Constitution as an unnecessary evil: a bastard child of the abortive Nice treaty and Valéry Giscard D'Estaign.

The Spanish referendum was a joke and Zapatero's government actually discouraged any discussion of the actual content of the Treaty, and rushed to be the first to approve it in a referendum as if Spain still had to prove its EU credentials after 19 years. If I hadn't had problems with absentee voter registration on account of my move to the UK I would have voted "no".

The European Left is as incapable of articulating a response to Blair's spin-based assault as the Democrats are of standing up to Bush's faith-based administration. Neither of the two seem to realize that the right is playing a different political game. I am not optimistic about the future.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 05:31:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru: [How did you manage to change your post to refer to Rogue Trooper rather than me as it originally did?]

Used my frontpager powers to delete & repost it :-) Sorry for messing up names, I had hoped I acted quickly enough for you to not notice...

On what you write, with Jérôme's words, all good points :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 06:05:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What happened was, I was reacting quite quickly to the recent comments so I hit reply, wrote a comment, and as I was getting ready to post it I was summoned to the kitchen to eat some cake... When I came back I got an error and when I looked for your comment I found the names changed.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 06:11:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]