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The EU summit even warranted an editorial in today's New York Times, "Missing the Big Picture in Brussels".  After saluting EU leaders for putting aside debates over the constitution, the editorial then notes that "European Union leaders then promptly descended into a tawdry dispute over the next budget."

But instead of focusing on the big picture, France's Jacques Chirac and Britain's Tony Blair chose to revive a perennial dispute over budget rebates to Britain. While the issue is real, there are far bigger issues that need to be discussed. Instead of squabbling about the budget, the leaders should have been talking about, for one thing, the huge amount the E.U. spends on agricultural subsidies. This is a serious issue, especially when it is African farmers who end up paying because they are priced out of competition in European markets. E.U. leaders also need to decide whether the union should pursue an economically liberal or a "social" economic model.

Looking at Tony Blair, the editorial concludes by saying, "Let us hope that during his six months at the helm, he succeeds in setting Europe's eyes beyond divisive squabbles, and starts a critically needed debate on where the European Union is headed."

It's hard to say, however, whether any of these issues will have much penetration in the U.S. beyond New York City and Washington, D.C.

by The Maven on Mon Jun 20th, 2005 at 09:06:37 AM EST

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