Tony Blair is an able politician. His fellow government leaders are slightly less, but still quite, able politicians. In the coming days, the 25 of them will try to come to a unanimous agreement on the EU’s long term budget, the Financial Perspectives 2007-2013 (see Finances in perspective for the previous episode). Judging from the latest text proposed by the UK presidency, and taking account of the unexpected optimism I hear around me (although today the tone seemed to be different), our dear leaders will agree on an EU budget that is a shameless, provincialist sham of a common enterprise.
Of course this is what can be expected with the decision-making system we have. When each and every of 25 able politicians who are only answerable to their own constituencies can veto an agreement any time they like, and when the whole thing has to be brokered by another able politician who is only answerable to his own constituency and has a giant stake in the outcome, the result is bound to be riddled with the effects of pork barreling. However, after the defeat of the European Constitution last summer and subsequent grandstanding on “reform” and “leadership” and “reconnecting Europe to the people”, this is much, much worse than what could be expected, even within the constraints posed by reality. (more…)