When the first Head of the European Central Bank (ECB), Dr. Wim Duisenberg, was unceremoniously elbowed aside by the French who coveted the post for one of their own and duly replaced him with Jean-Claude Trichet, many worried that he would prove to be no more than the catspaw of France, doing their bidding in the French, but not European, interest. The French certainly thought that having one of theirs running the money would prove a bonus as they strove to bend the rules of European Monetary Union when and as it suited them.

It must, therefore, have come as a galling surprise when M.Trichet denounced the Mark II Constitutional Treaty’s provisions concerning the ECB, claiming that they will erode ECB Independence, sparking fears that France is trying to control the bloc’s economy for its own benefit. What a surprise that would be.

M. Trichet’s concerns stem from changes to the text agreed in the treaty earlier this year. In particular concerns that that definitions of the bank’s status were radically and controversially rewritten without consultation. He has astounded many by demanding that the text is returned to the original during negotiations on the Treaty which are due to reopen next month. His particular concern is that, far from ensuring its independence, the Mark II Constitutional Treaty places the ECB alongside all the other EU bodies such as The European Council as one of the Institutions of the EU, that is as a core part of what amounts de facto and de jure to an EU Government of the kind that, as I have argued (HERE), will allow the EU to claim on 1st. January 2009 that it has achieved the status of an Independent Sovereign State. The text of the new Treaty seriously circumscribes the independence of the ECB.

Let us ponder this a moment: here is a man who might normally be thought to be anxious and willing to sing from the Élysée Palace songsheet sounding the alarm at the curbing of his Bank’s independence. Things must be serious indeed if he is prepared to go into bat against the Mark II Constitutional Treaty.

Strong suspicion is that this change is being done at the behest of France which also slipped under the radar the Brussels summit in June the removal of a commitment to “free and undistorted” competition in a list of the EU’s defining objectives, replacing it instead with a weaselly pro-protectionist script instead.

What is going on here? That is quite simple. France is doing its utmost to bring the ECB to heel, as it has repeatedly tried to do in the past, and thereby to bring the EU’s economy within its control too, all for the benefit of M. Sarkozy who has significant economic problems of his own to struggle with.

M. Trichet has put all his anxieties into a letter to the Portuguese EU Presidency. So now Macavity has no excuse: he knows what the plan is and yet he does nothing nor says nothing.

His supine surrender to the complete power-grab which is the Mark II Constitutional Treaty is something which, if it goes uncorrected, will truly be his shameful legacy to the history of the former United Kingdom

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