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European Union report European Union report
by Euro Reporter
2009-10-30 07:52:11
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Tide turns against Blair for EU presidency

Tony Blair’s chances of becoming the EU’s first full-time president were in serious trouble on Thursday, as a Brussels summit opened with a chorus of criticism for the former British prime minister from his own supposed centre-left allies. Meanwhile, British officials say the political mood suggests that support for Mr Blair is waning in a number of European capitals and that even Nicolas Sarkozy, French president, may be about to drop his long-standing backing.

The two-day EU summit is supposed to be discussing issues such as climate change and treaty revisions, but many of the bloc’s 27 leaders were feverishly discussing privately who should become the union’s new president. Tony Blair had emerged as a front-runner but on Thursday the tide seemed to turn strongly against him in Brussels, notably in a stormy meeting of European social democrats. 

Gordon Brown, the UK prime minister, made an impassioned appeal for his fellow socialists to back Mr Blair, but there was very little support and plenty of criticism for a man whose support for the Iraq war was highly divisive and has not been forgotten. Martin Schulz, top socialist in the European parliament, said his party should instead concentrate on securing a separate new job of EU foreign policy chief – a post which he believes could be highly influential.

Should we say …thanks God?


Czech opt-out

European Union leaders were poised on Thursday to clinch the deal needed to ensure final ratification of their Lisbon reform treaty, but the prospects for a climate change financing accord were less rosy. Jan Fischer, the Czech prime minister, planned to tell leaders of the 27-nation bloc at summit talks in Brussels that Vaclav Klaus, the Euro-sceptic Czech president, would sign the Lisbon treaty in return for an opt-out from its charter of fundamental rights

If, as expected, Mr. Klaus lifts his objections and the Czech constitutional court approves the treaty in a ruling due on Tuesday, the arduous, eight-year effort to modernize the EU’s institutions and decision-making procedures will be over. “I strongly believe that we will come to the result we all want, which is a valid Lisbon treaty from the beginning of next year,” Mr. Fischer said as he arrived.

Diplomats said a few leaders, such as Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s president, were so suspicious of Mr. Klaus that they wanted cast-iron assurances from the Czech president that he would not seek some new excuse to obstruct the Lisbon treaty. “He wants Klaus to sign in blood,” one diplomat said.


East-west climate row

EU leaders have begun a summit in Brussels deeply divided over how much money to offer developing nations to cope with climate change. Polish Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski said Eastern European nations were prepared to block a deal unless richer countries paid their fair share.

Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt, who is chairing the two-day meeting, said the EU's credibility was at stake. EU leaders will also discuss how to get Czech approval of the Lisbon Treaty. The EU is keen to reach a united position on climate change ahead of December's United Nations Copenhagen summit, which aims to hammer out a new global climate treaty to replace the UN Kyoto Protocol.

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Emanuel Paparella2009-10-30 11:07:45
It appears that the soap opera that is the Lisbon Treaty, so called (i.e., the EU Constitution reduced to a mere treaty) is coming to an end. Or is it? Now it appears that some “Newropean” nations, namely the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, wish an exemption from a rights charter contained in the document while at the same time approving the document. Sounds like having the cake and eating it too. And what is the tussle all about? Nothing less than Old Europe’s bloody past coming to haunt those nations on Halloween. Those nations claiming an exemption have brought to the forefront issues that go back to the end of World War II and their German ethnic populations…Perhaps the new European is not so new after all and it profits little to ignore one’s past and think of oneself as a Newropean, for indeed the risk of that amnesiac operation is that one ends up ignoring one’s heritage and tradition too, to wit the Lisbon Treaty. In any case, there would be no need to guarantee human rights legally if they were accepted morally as inalienable and self-evident by all the EU nations. But to do that requires that they remember the best of their tradition. Catch 22?

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