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Schadenfreude: European ‘Union’ is becoming a bit of a misnomer

August is the dead month in Brussels. Every four years September is also moribund, writes Schadenfreude, out secret columnist in Brussels.

The “old” Commission is on the way out, in October. The new Commission is named and awaits confirmation, which this year should happen without mishap.

Then the fun begins. Reform is in the air. Something serious has to be done about the eurozone, which is simply not working. Monetary unions do not work if the financial and economic standards of the participants are not broadly uniform or going that way. But getting to that happy state is not in the first instance a task for the Commission .The member states have to do the necessary to harmonise conditions across their union – otherwise there is something like “euroisation” – countries using the euro as their currency without contributing seriously to its management.

Everybody is in favour of reform. But there is little common ground. Some, led noisily by the UK , want more autonomy, and specifically a role for their national parliaments in  decision making. Others want more central input into national economic management, in the belief that it will produce improved results to please the voters, even if the latter are being bypassed. Results tell.

Europhiles wait for the British to show what they mean by downgrading the message “ever closer union” and what exactly they want to repatriate change in the “balance of competences”. They can be expected to make an opening declaration, having first (1) worked bilaterally – on which they must already be engaged – to enlist support among those member states which are (a) open to persuasion and (b) influential and (2) persuaded Commission President Juncker  as a minimum to show sympathy. He seems open.

But other member states have their own distinct preoccupations, and the whole collection points to the negotiation of a new Treaty with different parts reflecting different interests. It is now doctrine that “ever closer union” does not mean everybody doing the same thing at about the same time

“Union” is becoming a misnomer.


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