French planning for how it will run the Union in its interest is well under way. The French are going to be like the proverbial child let loose in the chocolate factory in the run up to the Treaty coming into force. Not only do they hold, quite by accident, I am sure, the six month rotating presidency of the EU in the second half of 2008, but the Slovenians, whose native skills of diplomacy and statecraft go back all of sixteen years, have effectively handed control of their Presidency in the first half of this year to, yes, you’ve guessed it, the French.
Thus President Sarkozy has an unrivalled chance to fashion at his leisure the new institutions of the Union in the image of France or so to arrange matters that he can be the puppet-master. In this way he is already grooming Tony Blair for the post of the first permanent president of the EU (permanent in the sense of extended fixed terms of two-and-a-half years at a time).
It is a cunning move. Rather than choose someone with an extant political base in Europe, he wants to install someone who has no particular political following in Europe. Who better than Tony Blair? Blair’s Iraq war, his failure to deliver the UK up to the thrall of the Euro, his more Atlanticist approach to things European have certainly distanced him from the most important players in the EU (as they see it).
In addition he has just been ejected somewhat unceremoniously from his post as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom whose citizens would not now elect him to a parish council. He has thus no political base anywhere in Europe (quite apart from the specific legal restriction under the Constitution which would forbid him from also holding national office) and will have constantly to look for support to his sponsors for the post of Union President for support in getting Union business done. His power, then will derive principally from President Sarkozy of France.
Sarkozy had him over recently to speak to his Union Pour Un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) party. Blair treated them to a speech that we in the UK would have seen through in a moment five years ago but which, being novel, still plays well elsewhere, notwithstanding that it is the usual meaningless Blair tommyrot:
‘Europe is not a question of left or right, but a question of the future or the past, of strength or weakness.’
‘It’s about today versus yesterday. Less about politics and more about a state of mind; open as opposed to closed.’
‘Terrorism, security, immigration, organised crime, energy, the environment, science, biotechnology and higher education. In all these areas, and others, we are much stronger and able to deliver what our citizens expect from us as individual nations if we are part of a strong and united Europe.’
This sort of thing we in the UK will recognize instantly as the sort of vacuous guff with which Blair managed to hoodwink a nation for years, though we might have been stuck with hearing it in Blair’s reasonable French, another factor which will have wowed his French audience.
Certainly he pleased his new master who proceeded to stroke him as he would his favourite poodle:
‘He is intelligent, he is brave and he is a friend. We need him in Europe. How can we govern a continent of 450 million people if the President changes every six months and has to run his own country at the same time? I want a President chosen from the top – not a compromise candidate – who will serve for two-and-a-half years.’
With backing like that, who would now bet against Blair picking up a fat wedge of Euros come January 2009, with a nice fat cat pension at the end of it? It will naturally appeal too to his ghastly wife as she will see in it the chance to put one over again on her most hated enemy, Gordon Brown, over whom her husband will, under the new Constitution, have considerable power. In addition she will be but an hour-and-a-half’s TGV train ride away from some serious shopping in the Faubourg Saint-Honoré, the Boulevard Haussmann and The Marais Quarter where she can spend some of the serious moolah Tony is trousering these days.
But also pay careful attention to the words of President Sarkozy:
How can we govern a continent of 450 million people….?
Does not that phrase reveal the truth of how the Euro Nabobs see the effect of the Treaty of Lisbon? For with its passage through the subservient Parliaments of the member states, they know that, at last, they have the keys to the castle and that from now on it will be a case of: