from EUobserver.com – Headline News
Thursday’s EU summit in Brussels has been overshadowed by internal wrangling. French President Nicolas Sarkozy upbraided Commission President José Manuel Barroso for the EU’s criticism of France’s Roma deportations and the comparison with Nazi Germany. The press writes that Sarkozy can hardly play the victim, and points out that EU rules hold for everyone.
BRUSSELS – French President Nicolas Sarkozy upended a European Union summit to defend his nation’s honor Thursday, vowing to keep clearing illegal immigrant camps despite accusations that the France’s policy is racist and unfairly targets Roma, or Gypsies.
We have seen an extraordinary war of words between the European Commission and a highly strung government of France. This has tended to obscure the real issues. Let us return to some of them.
Yes, historically France has made important contributions to human rights. With its universal values, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (1789) remains a milestone. The motto of the French Republic – Liberty, equality, fraternity – is also universal.
The conclusions of the European Council yesterday, 16 September 2010 (EUCO 21/10) give a somewhat surreal impression, because they drone on about the external relations of the European Union and briefly mention economic governance, whereas the drama inside seems to have emanated from an irate president Nicolas Sarkozy. The reporters outside were served highly contradictory accounts of the altercations.
Yesterday I was privileged to attend a meeting about the Citizens’ Consultations with a keynote speech from Viviane Reding, Vice President of the Commission. As a discussion about citizen interaction within Brussels policymaking, it was the perfect venue for the announcement by Toute l’Europe of their new website Tweet Your MEP, a tool they developed in cooperation with Europatweets.
The head of the Catholic Church will make the first papal state visit to the UK since the separation of the Anglican Church in the 16th century. A historic event, commentators write, during which Pope Benedict XVI must also address the cases of sexual abuse in the Church.
Yesterday a number of dedicated Europeans launched the Spinelli Group for a citizens’ Europe, federal and post-national. On the webpage you can read and sign the manifesto, which aims to accelerate the process of European integration in a world where each EU member state is small on its own.
With a few exceptions, majorities in the eurozone countries said the euro has been a bad thing for their economy, including France (60%) and Germany (53%), but also Spain (53%) and Portugal (52%). Italians were divided on the benefits of the euro with 47% saying the euro has been good and 48% saying it has been bad for their economy. Only the Dutch (52%) and Slovaks (64%) had majorities saying the euro has been a good thing.