Tuesday

22nd Sep 2020

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 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

News in Brief

  1. Italy to cut number of MPs by one third
  2. World's richest 1% 'fuelling climate crisis'
  3. Polish government at risk over animal-rights law
  4. UK 'could see 50,000 new corona cases a day'
  5. EU cuts carbon market compensation for industry
  6. Russia and US could scrap another nuclear arms treaty
  7. Turkish president sues Greek newspaper over headline
  8. Hungarian ministry wanted list of journalists' foreign trips

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. Borrell gives EU four weeks to save foreign policy
  2. Belarus opposition leader urges EU to be 'braver'
  3. Kyrgyzstan cannot paper over death of Azimjon Askarov
  4. 'Big Three' EP groups nominate homophobe for Sakharov prize
  5. Cyprus leaves EU ministers red-faced on Belarus
  6. EU seals new Covid-19 deal amid global distribution fears
  7. German court hears harrowing testimony of Syria torture
  8. Turkey, Belarus and migration in the EU spotlight This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  2. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  4. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  6. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us