Failure in December – but success in June! At their just-concluded Brussels summit the European Union’s now twenty-five members finally accepted a draft to put forward to their constituent parliaments and/or voters as the new European Constitution. Perhaps this summit’s productive result can be ascribed to the rotating EU presidency being held now by Bertie Ahern and the diplomatically-astute Irish, whereas Italy and Silvio Berlusconi were in charge last December – the Council presidency will cease to rotate this way once the new Constitution is enacted, by the way – or maybe it was all due to the new governments in place in Spain and Poland, the two “medium-sized” EU states that were the principle obstacles to progress at the last summit in December. One thing is sure, though: France and Jacques Chirac were once again in the middle of the goings-on, and so a review of French reporting and comment is appropriate. (Tony Blair was also a leading protagonist – or at least according to the French press, as we shall see – but I’ll let you read the on-line British papers about that yourself – and pay for it, in the case of The Times.) (more…)
Today’s on-line Le Monde goes deeper into the question of who will succeed Romano Prodi at the beginning of next year as EU Commission President, putting forth five candidates in all under a link Les cinq prétendants: “the five claimants,” or even “the five pretenders” if you like.
(I simply reported yesterday on Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt being tipped as the likely successor by the Czech business newspaper Hospodárské noviny. By the way, I can’t give you any link to this Le Monde article, because the five putative candidates are presented in turn by means of a pop-up picture gallery, with underlying comment that is presented for such a short time that you can barely read it before it disappears for the next picture. So those of you who can read French, but slowly, you’ll have to give up on this one and simply go with what I can report to you below.) (more…)