Friday, 8 June 2007

The spectre of Charles de Gaulle

No, it was not that the United Kingdom left itself behind on the European Coal and Steel Community and the Rome Treaties (EEC and Euratom). It was the pragmatism of Jean Monnet to launch European integration again, after the failure of the European Defence Community and European Political Community that Eulawblogger meant. See “What Monnet did: a further response to the Grahnlaw blog” on:

http://eulawblogger.blogspot.com

Raising the spectre of Charles de Gaulle, was a real masterstroke.

How can I talk about ‘disruptive behaviour’ looking at the present: a well-meaning, but timid British government trying to wriggle itself out of a quandary, a Polish government ‘willing to die’ for the over-representation it somehow wrestled during the chaotic Nice summit, or the general unenthusiasm of the Czech government?

Pretty silly stuff, I have to admit, when we look back at Charles de Gaulle’s view of himself, of France and of Europe. A coalition of Gaullists and Communists shot down the EDC and the EPC. The efforts to downgrade the Commission, the empty chair, the Luxembourg ‘compromise’ effectively reinstating a general veto power, the Fouchet plans to emasculate the Communities, the two vetoes against British membership, were the hallmarks of a certain idea of Europe, but far from European in spirit: self-aggrandisement that has left a lasting legacy.

In those days one unadulterated nationalist was able to wreak havoc on a Europe of six. Today, the European institutions, which have to serve 27 members and almost 500 million citizens, are all the more fragile, because one man can still damage the Union, but the actors have multiplied.

This basic weakness would in no way evaporate if the Constitutional Treaty entered into force; still less if important pieces are left outside the new ‘simplified treaty’.

At a more practical level, there seems to be some movement on EU treaty reform.

The latest news that I have seen are all dated yesterday, 7 June 2007:

International Herald Tribune: Sarkozy says he and Blair agree on reforming the EU
Euobserver.com: MEPs for votes swap suggested to Poland in EU treaty debate
EurActiv: Parliament pushes for ‘Treaty plus’

Pragmatism and cherries in the air. I still hope that substantial treaty reform wins the day.

Ralf Grahn