Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
Colman:
There are plenty of people in the UK who are pro-EU. Maybe this appointment will make their lives easier: maybe it'll even be good PR for the EU in the UK. I can't tell.

Or maybe it just won't make much difference either way, in which case the Council will have wasted an opportunity to make an appointment which could have made a difference to the EU, if not the UK.

I think the concern here is not Brit bashing, but a reaction to the Narrative that Tony Bliar had to get the top job, and, failing that, Britain had to get at least the other job.

The fact that Baroness Ashton may turn out to be competent, or at least unobjectionable is almost irrelevant to that Narrative and the hostility it has evoked.  Why must the UK always be appeased?  What would have been so wrong about appointing a duo over Browns objections by weighted majority vote and send out the message that those who seek to weaken the EU will not be indulged?

The fact that Brown got his way in the end is a victory for UK Euroscepticism even if Brown or Ashton are not Euroscepticism.  It feeds into the narrative that "Europe can't do without us, and needs British leadership - exactly the sort of leadership we have been providing since Maggie Thatcher and Tony Bliar".

Really, it's so easy to push those consensus loving, cheese eating surrender monkeys around, isn't it?.  We can safely ignore them in the future.  We have succeeded, again, in making the EU largely irrelevant as anything other that a free trade area - Ashton's claim to competence.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 06:36:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah. So the problem is one of gaming. Sort of a zero-sum approach where the Brits have won and other people have lost. As pushed by the sort of British media we're meant to deplore. Hadn't occurred to me to look at it that way. Must remember to put on my nationalist hat before I think about the EU next time.

Turns out I don't care if it gives some of the British establishment a testosterone boost.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 06:43:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman:
Turns out I don't care if it gives some of the British establishment a testosterone boost.

The British establishment couldn't care less and will continue with EU disruption tactics on a business as usual basis.  Her appointment is an attempt at appeasing British Euroscepticism which will simply react by treating the EU with even greater contempt.  They hate the EU, and now, thanks to their efforts, the best the EU can come up with is some obscure Belgian and some even more obscure Brit.  Life just couldn't be better if you are an anti-EU British establishmentarian.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:07:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spot on! Can we dismiss her now or is it still too early?
by vladimir on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:10:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm still not convinced that obscurity is a problem here. I'm not convinced of the need for a traffic-stopper.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:10:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]


notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:15:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I don't understand.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:22:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The traffic stopper is needed - allegedly - because it's impossible to think of a state, or a superstate, without a charismatic newsworthy figurehead.

The figurehead isn't there to write policy notes and have meetings, but to embody a political narrative, so that people know what they're a part of - giving them a chance to feel they can at least agree or disagree, in that traditionally powerless democratic way.

If there are no figureheads, the process becomes remote to the point of disinterest.

The EU does a lot of this already, so picking Van Rompuy and Ashton is in character - more so than picking Blair would have been.

That doesn't mean 'The best we could have expected, considering' is really all that admirable, or the ideal template for the future.

The EU is good at functional politics, but very bad at narrative politics, with theatre and pageantry. Theatre and pageantry are stupid and annoying, but very necessary.

Brussels doesn't want to believe this, but I think it's a mistake to ignore it.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 08:04:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some of the most inept campaigns I have seen was aimed at strengthening european identity. Like one were the EU sponsored some campaign about giving flowers to your loved ones with big billboard posters. It was embarrassingly bad. I have wondered why - with all those resources at command - it was so horribly badly performed. I could - and have - done better political campaigns on a shoestring budget.

ThatBritGuy:

Brussels doesn't want to believe this

This sounds like a plausible explanation. If you do not believe something, you might develop a structural incompetence in the area, because you prioritize wrong and give promotions to the wrong people.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:44:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps on ET too, we have a bias toward rational policy analysis and "administrative competence" and a disdain for the emotional, imaginative, identity, and need for belongingness that popular politics is also partially about.  I sometimes feel that that the debates we have here are intra-elite or aspiring elite and that we have an inability or unwillingness to comprehend or engage with non-believers in the European ideal.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:05:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU is good at functional politics, but very bad at narrative politics, with theatre and pageantry. Theatre and pageantry are stupid and annoying, but very necessary.

Brussels doesn't want to believe this, but I think it's a mistake to ignore it.

There is also the fact that every time the EU tries to build a pan-European demos - with EU flag days or whatever - you get all kinds of nationalist neanderthals up in arms about the Evil International Jewish/Communist conspiracy "undemocratic, unelected Bruxelles bureaucrats seeking to subvert people's national identity."

And those nationalist neanderthals quite often have a strong say over the federal purse strings...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:38:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who are "They" that hate the EU here?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:12:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm trying to articulate the British Establishment position (which is largely Eurosceptic and surprisingly cohesive for such a large and diverse group on that issue).

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:17:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You have a history of pretending to articulate positions that are not yours without making it explicit that that's what you're doing. Could you stop?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:20:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The "They" came in the same paragraph as British Establishment, so I would have thought it was obvious which "they" I was referring to.  And if I am not allowed to attempt to articulate or understand views I don't agree with, I have no further interest in being here.  I have no interest in being part of a chorus line parroting the perceived wisdom here.

Jerome has written a good story articulating the case for the status quo post Lisbon and the Council appointments.  I think it is possible to argue a coherent contrary case - that the competence of the appointees is not proven, that it is an attempt to appease British Euroscepticism and will fail, and ultimately, that the EU might have been better served by appointees with greater electoral standing, proven track records of articulating EU interests, developing new EU policies or mandates, and influencing their adoption on a global scale.

The jury is out, I don't know which view will ultimately turn out to be right, and I am open to persuasion, but I am interested in participating here only if I am allowed to articulate views which are not necessarily mine or which I am not sure about.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:47:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
I am interested in participating here only if I am allowed to articulate views which are not necessarily mine or which I am not sure about.
That's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that when I think you're arguing a certain point, suddenly it turns out you're actually paraphrasing what you imagine to be someone else's position.

You could make this clear for dumb people such as myself.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 08:53:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A Brit was given the job because the majority of European leaders involved in the selection process felt that it was the best (only?) way of keeping the goal of building an EU with Britain... on life support.
by vladimir on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 06:46:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
The fact that Baroness Ashton may turn out to be competent, or at least unobjectionable is almost irrelevant to that Narrative and the hostility it has evoked.
I'm glad to see you're getting on with the Narrative, Frank.
The fact that Brown got his way in the end is a victory for UK Euroscepticism even if Brown or Ashton are not Euroscepticism.
So this is the story: Brown got his way.

Zapatero alega que era inaceptable la falta de mujeres al mando · ELPAÍS.comZapatero alleges the lack of women at the helm was unacceptable - ElPaís.com
"Objetivo cumplido. A la primera y por unanimidad". El presidente del Gobierno español, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, no ocultaba ayer su satisfacción por la rapidez con que los Veintisiete se pusieron de acuerdo en la elección de Herman Van Rompuy y Catherine Ashton, flamantes presidente permanente del Consejo Europeo y alta representante para la Política Exterior y de Seguridad de la UE."Goal achieved. In the first round and unanimously". The Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, didn't hide his satisfaction with the speed with which the 27 agreed on the choice of Herman Van Rompuy and Catherine Ashton, brand new permanent president of the European Council and high representative for the EU's Foreign and Security Policy.
Aseguró que se había "implicado" en los nombramientos; sobre todo en el de la segunda, por su condición de socialista y mujer. "Como responsable de un Gobierno con más ministras que ministros, me resultaba difícilmente entendible y aceptable que no hubiera ninguna en los principales cargos de la Unión", alegó.He claimed he had been "implicated" in the nominations; especially in the latter's due to her being a Socialist and a woman. "As the leader of a government with more female than male ministers, I found it hardly understandable or acceptable that there would be no [women] among the main positions of the Union", he alleged.
Zapatero siempre dijo que, si se presentaba la oportunidad, apoyaría la presencia de una mujer en las instituciones surgidas del Tratado de Lisboa y ésta se la brindó el primer ministro británico, Gordon Brown, cuando retiró la candidatura de su antecesor, Tony Blair, y propuso a la desconocida comisaria británica para dirigir la diplomacia europea.Zapatero had always said that, if the opportunity presented itself, he would support the presence of a woman among the institutions created by the Lisbon Treaty, and this opportunity was given by yh Britis Prime Minister Gordon Brown when he withdrew the candidasy of his predecessor Tony Blair, and proposed the unknown British Commissioner to lead European diplomacy.


En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 06:54:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Brown got his way" presupposes that he was supporting Blair because he genuinely wanted him in the job. Given past enmity between the two, is there not at least a chance that he went along with the campaign on the basis that Blair would come out of it looking shabbier than when he went in?
Again did he really want a Brit in the High Rep job, given the reduced influence in economic issues in the Commission? Van Rompuy-Miliband would have been a shoo-in two weeks ago, before the "woman candidate" campaign picked up steam. Has Brown been forced into Ashton's appointment, as Zapatero appears to be indicating?
It was widely assumed a week ago that Brown was continuing to support Tony Blair so that he could give him up in return for something good. Instead he gave him up before the meeting even started and seemingly has also given up influence in the economic field. Obviously it's being presented by Brown as a great victory getting a Brit in the job, but it seems pretty hollow.
by koksapir on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:35:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
koksapir:
Given past enmity between the two, is there not at least a chance that he went along with the campaign on the basis that Blair would come out of it looking shabbier than when he went in?

Brown isn't that devious. He doesn't do calculated.

I think it's more likely someone suggested Ashton to him, and when it was obvious that the other fellow travellers were out, he jumped at the chance to shoo-in someone who could wave the flag.

I wouldn't expect plots within plots from Brown. He's neither adroit nor imaginative.

As for why - yes indeed, it was to keep the UK on side. Not picking a Brit for the big jobs would have given the Eurosceptic gutter press in the UK its best Christmas ever.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 08:09:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Display: