Sunday, 26 February 2012

The ghost of “Social Europe” returns

Remember Delors?

In speeches to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty, signed on 7 February 1992, which led to the creation of the euro, both Jacques Delors, former president of the European Commission, and José Manuel Barroso, in a fit of federalist zeal regretted the national “resistance” and “lack of spirit of co-operation” among the leaders of the twenty-seven EU countries.

Delors said that the Maastricht anniversary provided lessons for the future, and gave his support to Barroso for heralding the community approach in the face of the recourse to intergovernmental arrangements. “I would like to express my full support to the Commission, in a moment when others take distance from the community method,” he said.

Delors was asked by journalists to comment on the social dimension of the Commission’s action, which, they argued, was less present in the present Commission, headed by Barroso; but he dodged any mention of his vaunted concept of “Social Europe,” putting the markets first, saying that the issue today was to restore the financial situation of EU countries while maintaining economic growth. “On these problems, governments should do the effort to cooperate more and to listen more to the Commission in this regard,” he said.

Asked about the present trend towards austerity, Delors said: “I was the first to use the term when I was finance minister. When it’s necessary, I talk about it. And I remain popular. See, it’s curious.”

Perhaps he has always been delusional!

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