Monday, 21 December 2009

The French Run the EU

So says Ireland's outgoing Commissioner Charlie McCreevy. It's not a surprise of course but it's nice to have it there in black and white.

In a speech on Friday to the Association of European Journalists in Dublin yesterday, Mr McCreevy said (my emphasis bold):

What President Sarkozy's statement tells us is that like many of his fellow countrymen, he does not see the European Commission as a commission for the advancement of European interests, he sees it as a commission for the advancement of French interests.

The influence of France in Brussels is impressive, though. People forget that the Brussels bureaucracy was designed by the French almost as a copy of how the administration in Paris works.
This has over the years given the French a huge advantage in knowing how to pull the levers of power. And if you look around the commission you will see that the French have been masters in getting their key people into some of the most powerful posts.
Time and again over the decades, France's influence has been obvious, from fighting to set up the CAP which initally absorbed 90% of the Community budget for the sole benefit of French farmers, from tricking Britain into giving giving up sovereignty over its own fishing waters and from the farcical situation where the EU Parliament is based in Strasbourg as well as Brussels.

Mr McCreevy hasn't always expressed these views. This was the same man who, although admitting that he hadn't read the Lisbon Treaty, urged the Irish to vote yes in their first referendum:
Anyone who thinks that, as the reality and inevitability of EU enlargement has taken hold, that we can continue to tackle urgent problems without streamlining of the decision-making process is failing to face up to reality.
and on the second referendum:
Voting 'No' would be a gamble too far
It's a bit late now complaining about French influence within the EU.

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