Friday

19th Apr 2019

EUobserved

Remorseless troikas

  • Trichet. The troika process is so foggy that no one takes the blame if things go wrong (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

“The parliament, the place where the heart of Europe beats:” Such mindless flattery never heralds a frank exchange.

And so it was with Jean-Claude Trichet, the former ECB chief asked to appear before MEPs to give an account of the troika’s activities in bailout countries. He was certainly not taking any blame for troika fumbling.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Neither was Olli Rehn, economic affairs commissioner. In fact he followed the same template. Blame somebody else. Speak of one’s own impeccable activities. And don’t apologise.

And that’s rather the ugly beauty of this whole eurozone bailout set up.

So many people are involved (yet it’s never completely clear who). The path to a decision is foggy. The path to implementation, foggier still.

To top it off, all can be blamed on someone else somewhere along the line. The debtors, the creditors, some combination of the two, the troika representatives, harried national MPs.

So that, lo and behold, no one is actually to blame for anything at all. Things (like mass unemployment and no growth) just happen.

Luckily for those of us who might be dragged down by such heavy thoughts, there exists Jose Manuel Barroso. The European Commission President peddles a relentlessly upbeat interpretation of the facts in speech after speech.

We’d all be tempted to believe him if it wasn’t for reality.

Migrants

Poor old UK government. Having done its best to whip up anti-immigrant hysteria ahead of the 1 January lifting of work restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian citizens, it then suffered two body blows.

First, the social welfare system continued to function on 2 January. Second, a planned report on migration had to be shelved due to lack of evidence to support tighter restrictions. Indeed, in a further factual blow, a top official concluded the UK’s fiscal position would be “somewhat worse” if net migration was lower.

Still, any migrants - would-be or otherwise - might be grateful to the French President.

The UK press’ breathless anticipation about Francois Hollande’s alleged bedroom antics all but wiped the migrant issue from Britain's printed pages.

The President disappointed, however. In a marathon press conference, he took one direct question on the issue (rather oddly timing clarity on the matter with a trip to the US next month) and then held forth for over two hours on Other Stuff - (chiefly) how to fix the ailing French economy.

His new economics might be described as Hollande's transition from being a Socialist to a Social Democrat. Or coming around to Germany's way of doing things.

(There were indeed many nods of approval from across the Rhine).

It begs a small question though, on the eve of EU elections: Who can people on the left turn to when they feel their views are no longer represented anywhere in the mainstream parties in Europe?

A year later

It is a year since Cameron's big EU speech, which after the fuss died down, appears to have achieved little. Tory backbenchers want more than Cameron can promise on the EU while other member states don't know what he wants.

Unnecessary skirmishes with Poland don't help his cause. Nor do threat-like proclamations about leaving the Union. They overshadow the good points London has to make about reforming the EU and lead to the dastardly suspicion that this all revolves around internal politics.

After all, if the Conservatives don't get re-elected in 2015 ... there will be no in/out referendum.

A final word on the commission presidency race. We know who's officially out there. Or who would like to be out there.

But who else is just hanging around suspiciously?

"So are you back in Brussels?" one journalist asked Pascal Lamy at the beginning of the week during a press conference on TV and radio broadcasting.

"... I am back in Brussels when I need to back be in Brussels," the Frenchman replied.

But that second's hesitation was enough to make one ask - just what does he know about the UHF spectrum band anyway?

EUobserved

When Barroso dared to take on Berlin

Barroso gave up any hope for a third term as EU commission chief this week, while daring to challenge Berlin on economic policy.

EUobserved

Playing at a British EU exit

Playing at a British EU exit. Is it a case of: 'can't live with them. But don't particularly want to live without them either'?

EUobserved

Beloved Ashton

It looked like it would be another humdrum year for Catherine Ashton. Then Iran happened.

EUobserved

Institutional fisticuffs

MEPs spent months and months carefully constructing a house of cards. EU leaders just blew the whole thing down with one dismissive puff.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us