Thursday, April 14, 2005

Which Europe?

There are wildly different versions of where Europe is heading in the two most lively political dramas of Europe at the moment.

In France, it seems as if the opposition to the Constitutional Treaty has definitely gained the upper hand in the run-up to the May 29 referenum. The latest 11 opinion polls all show a lead, although a small one, for the no side.

A dominant theme in the negative campaign - apart from the issue of Turkey - is the complaint that the Constitutional Treaty takes us towards a "neo-liberal" furure fundamentally incompatible with social ideals dear to the French and others.

Across the Channel, it all sounds very different. In sofar as the issue is there in the campaign for the UK election on May 5 - there seems to be a tacit agreement to concentrate on other issues - it's there in forms of complaints that the Constitutional Treaty would impose a straight-jacket of regulation on any attempts to run a decent liberal economy.

Although political cultures are always different, the difference is still striking. Are they talking about the same Constitutional Treaty? Are they talking about the same Europe? Simply speaking - they can't both be right.

I guess the thruth is that neither of them are really talking about the Constitutional Treaty at all. They are just using their usual laundry list of prejudices to project on the issue of Europe in order to gain support.

It's rather depressing. Politics at its worst. And hardly the leadership that Europe needs in times like this.

Sweden - by the way - is hardly better. Debate and discussion on these issues is virtually non-existent.