back to front: who needs sovereignty?


THE NEWS that France and Germany are to celebrate 40 years of the European Union with a joint session of their parliaments is more than a symbolic act. They know that nothing untoward could happen at a joint meeting, if only because their parliaments seem to have abandoned not just the idea that they might be central to their nations’ sovereignty, but also the idea that sovereignty might be a good thing.

It is more than this, of course. It is a reminder to Blair that whatever pose he likes to strike in Britain, no one is taking too much notice of him. Here is a man with the feeble ambition of being at the centre of Europe…perhaps he could make a stab at being in the centre of Britain, instead of either trying to hand us over to Brussels, or, on other days, provide cannon fodder for the US’s imperial ambitions.

Franco—German cooperation is not a concept with a long or distinguished pedigree. Before the European Union was set up, its most noticeable achievements were a failed iron and steel cartel (replicated, perhaps, in the EU’s iron and steel policy, which appears to be to have no iron or steel capacity), and Vichy France. The aim, as always, is to get more power for the owners of capital.

When the French and German parliaments do get together, it won’t be a question of not mentioning the war, more like don’t mention the economy. Germany, in particular, is mired deep in recession, with faltering growth at the start of the year followed by actual decline in the last three months of the year.

Meanwhile, Blair is reduced to sending his Europe minister, ex-journalist Denis Macshane, on a "charm offensive", an unlikely combination of concepts. Macshane, interviewed by the BBC in the middle of January, would have us believe: "What we have to avoid is making the question of the euro a political issue…At the end of the day it is a currency, a measure of value, that’s all."

So, the question of who controls your currency is not political? But then again, Labour, having given up political thought for itself, now insists the whole country does so as well.

And then in the middle of January, a German court decided that since we are all in the EU, German laws must apply throughout the EU. It issued an injunction banning the Mail on Sunday from talking about German chancellor Schröder’s sleaze. To its great credit, the Mail on Sunday defied this injunction, and published.

We shall have to wait and see what the courts say. In the meantime, we have all to consider ourselves as having been served notice: inside the European Union, the only laws that are going to count are ones that come from parliaments other than your own.