UPDATE: in the text that follows I go on a rant and say some pretty awful things about Mr Sarkozy. Although I have decided to keep the original text as a reminder, a sort of wall of shame, I must humbly widraw my comments. I do not think Mr Sarkozy’s attitude to the present north African exodus is despicable or hypocritical. It may be somewhat opportunistic, but he certainly is not using it as an excuse to destroy the Schengen Area. Much the opposite, actually. As this post from the FT’s Brussels Blog argues, Mssrs Sarkozy and Berlusconi actually proposed, in this letter to Van Rompuy(in French), a very pro-EU set of reforms, not least of which, the delegation of all border control resources to the EU’s FRONTEX. This would eliminate national border controls, eliminate a lot of waste, exploit economies of scale and most importantly represent the first serious step towards meaningful European military integration.
For the embarrassingly misinformed but passionate rant that follows, I can only blame myself forbeing so gullable. In rushing to express my outrage, I forgot the first lesson I really only learned when writing this blog: “always go back to the original source. Don’t trust the media’s coverage. Most of the time it is ok, but intends to be very bad as far as EU developments are concerned because journalists don’t know or care enough about it, particularly in the UK.
NonEthelred, this is an ongoing issue, the details of which are still being studied. I must admit that I only partially agree with the FT. It may begin as a technicality, but if the FRONTEX reforms do go ahead, it will quickly become much more political, as it locks us further down into a promising security integration path. If nothing happens and if indeed only the proposal to reinstate border controlsis kept in an upcoming reform package, then I’ll be doubly embarrassed as I’ll have to retract this retraction…
This will be a short break from my break. I’ve sitting on my hands so as not to write about Portugal, the bail out, the sequence of events that led to it, the national confusion about it, the public and banking needs, and the economic reforms that Portugal needs to carry out in order to get itself out of this swamp. Incredibly, I’ve been able to contain myself. I have a lot of work that requires my full attention and I must stay away from spending too much time on this blog until mid June.
Therefore, you can imagine how much I lost my composure when I came across today’s news reports that France is actually shutting its borders with Italy, because of North African migrants! It is ACTUALLY shutting down its borders!! It’s a visit from the ghost of errors past! I have to have a little rant about this…
This is a show of profound hypocrisy from the traditional engine of European integration. It is a purely and exclusively political choice that is being used as an excuse to opportunistically serve the electoral needs of the leading, but ailing, UMP. It comes in the heels of a not so distant deportation of Romanian Roma communities that created much scandal. It follows the UMP’s destruction at the cantonal elections and after its scandalous debate about “laicite”, which witnessed suspicious tones of anti-islamism. Finally, it comes immediately after the UMP lost its most centre politicians, Jean Louis Borloo and Rama Yade.
I remember a conversation I had a conversation back in 2002 about the fact that LePen made it to the second round against Chirac. My interlocutor, as the son of Hungarian immigrants to France, was devastated at the sight of this event. France, a bastion of freedom and civility, had been overtaken by the barbarians upholding beliefs from the darkest hours of its past. I dismissed him at the time, partially because I didn’t quite understand what he was on about, partially because I was brought up to think that the horrors of the Third Reich will never allow us to even approach rhetoric, much less actions, of that kind. I was brought up a European and a European is not prejudiced towards the other. After all, “Strength in diversity” is out motto!! I now see I might have been wrong…
Sarkozy has consistently used the strategy of attempting to steal voters from the far right Front National, lead by Jean Marie LePen and now his daughter Marine. He succeeded in doing this to the tune of a presidential election in 2007. However, since then, all that this strategy has done is to legitimise the demands of the nationalistic, racist and bigoted Front National. the result: Most polls now have Mr Sarkozy being eliminated at the first round of the presidential election, leaving it to be disputed by Marine LePen and whoever the Socialist Party puts up against her, be it Martine Aubry (daughter of Jacques Delors) or Dominique Strauss Kahn (DSK to his French compatriots and present Director of the IMF).
There is no moral excuse for what France has done. It violated the principle of the law and according to that report by the WSJ it seems to have also violated the actual letter of the law by not informing the Italian authorities. Moreover,
- It completely destroyed any principled political leadership that France might have enjoyed. How dare France ever again pontificate about its EU credentials!!!
- It’s horrible economics. Not only would this lower wages, it is possible that a lot of these migrant might not stay in France.
- In light of his recent poll results it seems fair to say that it is also fairly bad politics.
- It will have a terribly strong and negative impact on the economy of an already depressed south of France.
- It’s also simptomatic of the EU’s inability to agree to a proper EU (or Schengen, at least) migration policy.
- Finally, the sum of the events listed above sheds a dark suspicion that may very well legitimise the view that Sarkozy’s interest in taking action against Lybia had more to do with arriving at the 2012 presidential elections as a military leader than about Human Rights and international stability.
All in all, it is a very sad and shameful day for France and a very dark day for Europe.
Ce n’est plus une question d’idéologie politique. Ce n’est plus un choix. C’est une question de responsabilité nationale, européenne et mondiale. Pour une France crédible, vivement DSK!! (If you wonder why I don’t support Aubry, she instituted the 35 hours working week, back when the socialists were last in government.)