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Friday, January 23, 2009

Being frank

Former Spanish PM Jose Maria Aznar has made some fascinating comments in an interview with Le Figaro today.

Echoing Irish EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, he said Ireland should not be made to vote again on the Lisbon Treaty, adding that the Treaty is not even necessary to function.

He said:

“I do not think it is a good idea to make a country re-vote if it has said ‘No’ until it says ‘Yes.’ Europe doesn’t have an institutional problem, it is more a problem of political leadership. During the French Presidency, we were able to see that the EU can function with its current institutions on the condition that it has an able leader and a direction in which to go.”

It makes you wonder - how many of the current EU leaders feel, deep down, that it is wrong to make Ireland vote again? But are unable to say so, until they leave office?

Aznar added that the current economic crisis is “clearly not a failure of liberalism, but rather a breakdown of current regulatory mechanisms and of state intervention in a sector that is already highly regulated, the banking sector.” He calls for “more flexibility and freedom in the economy, lower taxes and expenses, more budgetary stability and less state intervention,” while complaining that Europeans are doing the exact opposite, “which is why the USA will come out of the crisis before Europe.”

When asked about whether Europeans should increase their military presence in Afghanistan, he answered that they should, as “one cannot be in an alliance, demand the benefits of the security it provides, and not contribute to it. Yet I don’t think the Europeans will accept this invitation.” On the possibility of establishing a European defence force, Aznar said “organising European defence outside of NATO is a pipe-dream. Better is one system which guarantees security, than two parallel systems which are a source of insecurity.”

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