Monday

29th May 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhat's Going on in Catalonia? Join the Debate on 8 June
  2. Swedish EnterprisesDo We Need a More Social Europe? A Lively Debate Awaits You on 7 June
  3. Centre Maurits CoppietersDiscover the Role of Feminism in the Peripheries of Europe on 9 June
  4. Malta EU 2017EU Group Launched to Focus on Priorities and Policies Concerning Children
  5. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  7. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  8. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  9. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  10. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  11. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  12. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade

Latest News

  1. From Greece to Scotland, we stand by Europe
  2. Juncker keen to build EU 'bridge' to Trump
  3. Ministers water down post-Dieselgate reform
  4. Club de combat: des espions russes recherchent des recrues européennes
  5. Judges refuse to 'let go' of Le Pen's fake jobs case
  6. Merkel: Europe cannot rely on its allies anymore
  7. Macron to tell Putin EU sanctions to stay
  8. China summit and Juncker in MEP tax hearing This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  2. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  3. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  4. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Cost of Speaking Out: Human Rights Violations Committed in Belarus
  6. ACCABanishing Bias? Audit, Objectivity and the Value of Professional Scepticism
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Oslo Climate Declaration Focuses on Rising Temperatures in the Arctic
  8. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceAbdominal Obesity: A Causal Risk Factor for Cardiometabolic Diseases
  9. EU Green Week 2017Discuss EU Environmental Policies With Industry Experts and Thought Leaders
  10. GEN Summit 2017Join the World's Leading Media Summit for Thought-Provoking Talks and Experiences
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsTogether for Human Rights: A Year in Review
  12. Malta EU 2017EU All Set for Free Roaming Starting 15 June