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Monday, August 04, 2008

running for re-election

The FT blog makes a good point:

José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president who wants to be reappointed next year to a second five-year term, has in recent days received two important but somewhat curious endorsements. The first was from Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, who has been sharply and publicly at odds with Barroso over the European Central Bank’s policies and over the European Commission’s handling of world trade negotiations.

The second was from Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s prime minister. The areas of potential or actual conflict between Italy and the EU are numerous to list here. But among them are Italian state aid to the near-bankrupt airline Alitalia, a rubbish collection crisis in Naples, and the treatment - or mistreatment - of Italy’s gypsy population.

To these one might add a warning from Berlusconi, issued on the eve of a summit of EU leaders in Brussels last month, about the European Commission. “We must no longer see public remarks by commissioners who create a lot of trouble for ministers [at national level],” he declared.

Barroso puts up with this needling from the likes of Berlusconi and Sarkozy because, if he wants the EU’s 27 government leaders to re-select him next year, he really has no choice.

The Commission sells itself as being "above politics" - it isn't.

The Italian gypsy-caravan-torching issue is a classic example. We have oodles of human rights law in the UK, often going far beyond core human rights and deep into judicial activism (sham marriages are OK apparently).

But then when someone really needs human rights (to stop the caribineri burning down their house with them in it) they seem to vanish and those in charge (like the Commission) look the other way. Thanks for nowt.

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