Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Yes to Europe means No to Tony

As of this morning, the Czech Supreme Court has cleared the way for Czech president Vaclav Klaus to sign the Lisbon Treaty, completing its ratification. Hopefully he will do so forthwith.

Of course, this leads to the immediate question: who will be the first president of the new Europe?

Personally, I feel that the president should come from among those countries that have demonstrated themselves to be committed to the project of continental integration. Tony Blair should not be in the running, as he hails from a nation that is not among those ranks.

Imagine instead the UK were integrating with not the EU, but the US, and the British were saying, "Oh, yes, we'll happily take full, unfettered access to your markets and offer you the same. But we won't accept to be tried in your courts or by your laws; and we don't want your Bill of Rights or certain articles of the US Constitution to apply to us; and we expect even people coming from the US to present their passports when they come here; and we won't agree to use the dollar. You see, while we're happy to move freely in your country and live, work, and learn as we please, we don't want you beastly people interfering in our lovely country. Oh, and please make sure your next president is one of us." What do you think the US would say? I think once they stopped laughing they'd be hard-pressed not to push the Button. It's gallingly insulting. Or maybe "de Gaulle-ingly" puts it better.

I guess it's fine for the British to cut the best deal they can, and play it the way they feel it, if the rest of Europe's willing to accommodate that. But there's no way the British, with all these tepid opt-outs and refusals to commit, should expect or even hope that one of their number should have the top job in an association they don't even fully participate in on so many levels. Frankly, I think there should be a tacit, or even explicit, disqualification for citizens of members that remain outside the eurozone, Schengen Agreement, and other crucial hallmarks of a continental home, from the presidency of the European Union.

N.B. Later, same day — Vaclav Klaus signed the treaty a couple of hours ago. Finally. Well, it took him far too long, but at least once the writing was on the wall, he put the writing on the treaty, too, and quick-smart. Alka Seltzer should work so fast. Congrats to the EU; the Lisbon Treaty is ratified at last!

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