• Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook

Search This Blog

Visit our new website.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Le Monde's 'Up yours Delors' moment: Barroso is 'a 57-year-old chameleon in search of a good job at NATO or the UN'

As we reported in our daily press summary, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso has drawn criticism from the French government after he described France's insistence to exclude the audio-visual industry from EU-US trade talks as "completely reactionary". Now, the French press has caught up as well.

And it's pretty harsh.

Le Monde has a tough editorial under the headline, "Monsieur Barroso, you're neither loyal nor respectful!" We thought it was worth translating it almost in its entirety. Here goes,
For once, the Europeans were united vis-à-vis the Americans […] The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, has torpedoed this unity by stating, right before the start of the [G8] summit, that France’s position on the cultural exception was “reactionary”. 
It is of little importance to know whether France is [reactionary]. Or whether or not one needed to exclude, in the name of the cultural exception, audio-visual services from the negotiating mandate handed to the European Commission. In order to be ready, the 27 [EU member states] negotiated at length and until late at night on Friday, 14 June. France ended up imposing its views and scored a political victory.

And whether Mr Barroso was satisfied with this outcome or not is of little importance, too. He’s the President of the Commission and is bound by the mandate he’s been given by the [member] states. By denigrating the agreement the day after it was concluded, Mr Barroso is not acting as the guardian of the [EU] Treaties, as his mandate requires.


The Trade Commissioner, Belgium’s Karel De Gucht, has adopted a comparable attitude. He didn’t manage to impose his views. A bad gambler, he pretends that it will be possible to re-introduce audio-visual services in the negotiation. That’s empty talk: everything is possible under unanimity. In reality, France retains its veto on the issue. But Mr De Gucht has an excuse: he will negotiate with the Americans and is afraid that the latter retaliate by excluding from the negotiations some domains that are strategic for the Europeans. He wants to be able to go back to the 27 [EU member states] to amend his negotiating mandate, if necessary.

Mr Barroso, on the other hand, seems to pursue far more personal ambitions. During eight years, the President of the [European] Commission has stood out for his ductility. Defender of small states as Portuguese Prime Minister, a liberal at the time of his appointment in Brussels ahead of the 2008 crisis, pro-Sarkozy during [former French President] Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency, and incapable, since, of taking the smallest political initiative to revive the Union, he has accompanied the decline of the European institutions.

Today, aged 57, this chameleon is searching for a future. In search of a good post, at NATO or the UN – who knows? – he has chosen to pander to his Anglo-Saxon partners, the British Prime Minister and the US President. At the head of the Commission, Barroso has been a good reflection of Europe: a decade of decline. 
This is "Up yours Delors" territory - and arguably the strongest attack on Barroso until date.

A European Commission spokesman was quick to point out that Barroso didn't have France in mind when he made his remarks. There are several layers to this episode, but if anyone thought that the French are becoming any less sceptical of the Commission, they are mistaken. If anyone thought that turning the Commission into an all-powerful eurozone budget police was only one German election away, that is...


Rik said...

The French have to find a way to live with the inconvenient truth that their businessmodel is no longer working.
That will be a lengthy process with probably a lot of damage (collateral and other) along the way.
And probably of all EU countries the difference between reality and selfperception is the largest.

Like the PIGGS CS, countries simply to stay away from as much and far as possible. Free trade is ok but in no way get into a situation that one way or another, indirectly of directly, moral or legal you can be liable for the mess they made of it.

Soarer said...

France defends its own interests without regard to unanimity, or even fraternity, in the great European project.

In other news, water is still wet and the pope is still a Catholic.

Anonymous said...

It becomes patently clear that ever closer union will only happen if it's an ever closer union on French terms and run for the benefit of France.

The crisis isn't working out the way some Eurocrats hoped.

Rollo said...

Barroso has been a good reflection of Europe: a decade of decline. And Europe a good reflection of Barroso: a generation of decline.

Ray said...

Anonymous, wasn't it ever thus ? However they are right, whatever the rights and wrongs the EU agreed a programme and for the Walrus to denigrate it was out of order. That is not his job, like a lot of, in fact nearly all leaders like him they forget they are actually the messengers of the people and their representatives.

IDRIS said...

A MEP friend with consireable experience of Barroso told me that he would struggle to find a job in middle-management out here in the real world, and that has long been my impression of him. For my part I would not even have considered interviewing him for a job, let alone giving him one - in the etraordinarly unlikely even that the choice had arisen.

I once remarked of the incoming Labour Cabinet in 1997 that shorn of Blair's teeth and grin, they would not have looked out of place on a Moscow balcony.

Nor for that matter would the EU bosses.