February 8, 2010

Trouble in Paradise

The freshly-unified Europe is barely out of the gate under the EU's Treaty of Lisbon, and they are already paralyzed by internal conflict over such weighty matters as which of their various leaders should be the recipient of the newly traditional bow from the President of the United States. In turn, The One declines to grace them with a visit until they get their ceremonial shit together.

Paul Belien at Brussels Journal:

At this point Europe is not even halfway its 100-day political “honeymoon” since the Treaty of Lisbon, which transformed the EU into a state in its own right, came into force. So far the honeymoon has been a nightmare. Since the beginning of the year, the EU’s currency, the euro, is on the brink of collapse; Greece has been placed under EU financial supervision to prevent it from going bankrupt. Now U.S. President Barack Obama has announced that he will not attend next May’s EU summit in Madrid. It was to have been Obama’s first visit to post-Lisbon Europe – the consecration of the new political order.

Washington informed Brussels last week that Obama is not coming because it is not clear who is his European counterpart. Since the Lisbon Treaty came into force on January 1st, Europe has its own President, Herman Van Rompuy. This former Belgian politician chairs the European Council, the assembly of the heads of government of the 27 EU member states. However, there is also José Manuel Barroso, a former Portuguese politician, who is the president of the European Commission, which is the EU’s executive body. And there is José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Spanish Prime Minister, who is hosting the Madrid meeting and as such co-chairs the summit meeting of the EU heads of government with Mr. Van Rompuy.

Messrs. Van Rompuy, Barroso and Zapatero all want to be the first to shake Mr. Obama’s hand and receive the deep bow which the American President is in the habit of making to foreign leaders. Because of the embarrassing intra-European squabble about who should have the honor, Obama has declined the invitation until the Europeans have figured out which of them is the most important.

Obama’s decision has come as an unexpected blow to the European leadership. It has upset them so much that they are considering postponing the summit to the autumn. Meanwhile, they have begun quarreling about who is to blame for the present debacle. The Europeans generally agree that the vainglorious Zapatero is mostly to blame, but others are damaged more. “The Spanish have made a mess of the summit but Van Rompuy and the post-Lisbon EU institutions will carry the can in the long term. The squabbling has damaged the EU in the eyes of the most powerful nation in the world,” a senior EU official said.

Haven't they heard? We're not interested in being the most powerful nation in the world anymore.

Posted by dan at February 8, 2010 4:26 PM