Wednesday, January 22, 2003
Hitting the Buffers - 22nd January 2003, 23.21

The Franco-German proposal were received with as much enthusiasm in the Convention as a mosque in Ulster (although the source for the mosque is "independent"). However, Peter Hain did not fail to abase himself before the Continental Engine.

The time has come for each of us, on the basis of our distinct sensitivities, to move toward each other - as France and Germany have done," he told the 105 delegates. Peter Hain, the British government's representative, said he agreed "word for word" with de Villepin. But most delegates were deeply critical of the proposal.

Lamberto Dini, a former Italian foreign minister and one of Italy's delegates to the convention, said in an interview that the Franco-German proposal represented "a Gaullist vision of Europe made by states and not the construction of a federal Europe." "They have tarnished their own image and their own union by putting up a proposal that has been overwhelmingly rejected by the convention," Dini said. Of the idea of having two presidents Dini added: "Inevitably there would be a clash."

In stark contrast to France, Germany offered only a tepid defense of the proposal, which both countries announced in Paris last week.
Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister, said he recognized concerns about two presidents "falling over each other." But Fischer, who is known to have been disappointed by the deal, did not say how this conflict might be addressed. He called the Franco-German proposal a "compromise solution." "Nothing is ideal in this world," he said.
The failure to reach a consensus means that Valery Giscard d'Estaing, the president of the convention, will write draft articles on power sharing in Brussels without any clear direction from the delegates.
The convention is scheduled to reconvene in February, but power sharing is not officially on the agenda.

Did France bow to German doubts over the war in Iraq as a quid pro quo for the compromise on the Convention and does this hammer another nail into the coffin of NATO? - divided today and unable to provide the US with the logistical support that they requested on the war in Iraq.

Now, the chattering classes talk of a choice for Britain between Europe and America. Blair has chosen the line of appeasement in the Convention to prevent any distraction to the forthcoming war.


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