June 10, 2005

A Gesture of Solidarity

From the FT:

Tony Blair, Britain's prime minister, is facing total isolation at next week's European Union summit, as he fights to save the UK's controversial rebate from the EU budget. Mr Blair came under renewed attack from Jacques Chirac, French president, who urged him to make "a gesture of solidarity for Europe" by negotiating on the future of the 4.6bn ($5.38bn) "British cheque"...

...There is particular disquiet in London at the way Mr Chirac has used the rebate dispute to shift attention from his own humiliation on May 30, when French voters rejected the EU constitution.

On Thursday Mr Chirac returned to the theme after talks with Mr Juncker in Luxembourg, ahead of the EU summit which starts next Thursday. "The time has come for our English friends to understand they have to make a gesture of solidarity for Europe," he said. [emphasis added]

Takes your breath away, doesn't it?

Posted by Gregory at June 10, 2005 11:22 AM | TrackBack (6)

Not really. Chirac did this even in the run-up to the vote, blaming the Constitution's "Anglo-Saxon" liberalism. This is not a new strategy!

I mean, sure, it's a hell of a _dumb_ strategy; France and Germany seem to be pushing away an essential partner in going forward. Plus Britain has an outside chance of joining a Merkel government to become the new engine of the EU, marginalizing France. But just because it's dumb strategy doesn't mean Chirac hasn't been pushing it, relentlessly.

Posted by: Sanjay Krishnaswamy at June 10, 2005 07:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Solidarity", eh?

Time was when "solidarity" referred to working men and women spontaneously arising to cast off a brutal dictatorship. Now it apparently means cash on the barrelhead.

Posted by: thibaud at June 10, 2005 11:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

More cash-rich gestures we can expect in coming weeks from the EU elite include splashy displays of independence from Bush, preferably combined with one or more multi-billion euro contracts for French and German industrial giants.

Perhaps an xxB euro contract for Renault in Iran?

Maybe a lifting of the EU's China arms embargo, to be followed by signing of a massive A380 deal and tens of billions' worth of high tech military exports to the Chinese?

Posted by: thibaud at June 10, 2005 11:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

How about ditching the rebate if the CAP is dumped? After all, fair's fair...

Posted by: Foobarista at June 11, 2005 08:31 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Didn't Hitler once refer to the English as natural friends of the Herrrenvolk? The Brits were right to refuse "solidarity" that time, too.

Posted by: Bruce at June 11, 2005 08:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Blair should just fart in Chirac's general direction.

Posted by: cp at June 12, 2005 04:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I did once hear a British officer refer to his country's "natural enemies--the French". It tickled me at the time, and often since. When I was stationed in Southwest Asia, we always assumed anything we told the French or the Arabs would be in Baghdad within hours...

Posted by: Jem at June 13, 2005 06:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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