It is beginning to look like the smart money should be on "smouldering wreck".
From your keyboard to God's ears.
You mentioned the Swedish FM Carl Bildt; here are some more news from the Flying Dutchm...no...Swede:
Bildt told the Swedish press that yesterday at the Foreign Ministers' Ministerial Meeting (General Affairs Council?) was the first time one discussed Europe's (he means "EU's") answer to the economic crisis. (What did Richard call a previous thread? "Getting there" - I seriously doubt it.)
So what solutions did they come up with? "We need European institutions that can handle these things (the crisis in Ukraine, Latvia, south-east Europe, etc, etc.) and we must use those already in existence as effectively as possible. (What a genius, eh?)
Bildt added that "we" may have to revise the Maastricht criteria. It may be that the stability pact and the inflation rules are not optimal for the present situation. He referred to Latvia that is kept out of the Eurozone due to the inflation rules. "We would have been in a much better situation if Latvia had been a member of the Euro", Bildt* mused. "Without the Euro we would have had one currency crisis per week." (Actually, today Latvia was the second EU nation after Romania to receive a “junk” level credit rating after Standard & Poor’s reduced its rating to BB/+B.)
Bildt was much more pleased about the positive response to the Eastern partnership where Poland and Sweden have been the main promoters. There was a certain reluctance among the Southern EU nations (and France), since there were fears that money to the Eastern nations (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldavia, and Ukraine) would be taken from the EU-Med project. However, the Commission guaranteed that the money for these two projects came from two different accounts. Anyway, ever since the Gaza conflict the EuroMed Partnership has ground to a halt. "The Med Union is not technically but politically blocked, said French FM Kouchner after the meeting. (Well, well. Looks like we are all in debt to the Israelis. Wonder how much money are non-technically blocked?)
Oh, yes, the amount we should spend on the Armenia, Azerbaijan etc etc is about €350 millions.
So, this was from the Swedish FM via the website Europaportalen
. However, according to EUObserver
all did not go so smoothly:
EU external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner on Monday also called on ministers to agree to an extra €350 million for the Eastern Partnership.
The new policy, to be launched at an EU summit in Prague in May, is designed to help Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan come closer to the EU. Belarus may also be involved, if it resists Russian pressure to recognise Georgian rebels in Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.
"After the Russian-Georgian war and the gas crisis, it has become evident that we have a crucial interest in the political and economic stability of these countries," Ms Waldner told press.
France was wary about allocating extra money to the scheme however, saying EU states had previously agreed to give two thirds of their so-called "neighbourhood policy" budget to Mediterranean countries in a "Mediterranean Union" scheme, and one third to East Partnership.
"We had decided on a two third-one third repartition," French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner said.
He added that the €15 million a year earmarked for each of the six eastern countries was "maybe a lot if you want to organise a conference, but not enough if you want to help an economy like Ukraine's which fell by 20 percent recently."
And these days, no EU meeting without a Czech "misbehavin":
Mr Kouchner also caused controversy with a proposal to include Turkey and Russia in some Eastern Partnership initiatives, so that Russia does not have "the impression that it is completely surrounded," as with NATO.
Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg responded to the idea with sarcasm. "We have nothing against a third country taking part in projects - not only Russia and Turkey, but maybe also Japan, the United States or China. Why not? We are open to co-operation with many countries," he told reporters.
Earlier on Monday, Mr Kouchner and Mr Schwarzenberg held a special press point to show that Franco-Czech relations were on fine form, despite a recent public row over French car protectionism.
Yes, the cracks are showing. Just hope they widen quickly enough.
*A much wiser Swedish politician, the Lord High Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna said to his son: "An nescis, mi fili, quantilla prudentia mundus regatur"
("Know, my son, with how little intelligence the world is ruled.")
It appears that the situation is no better, possibly worse, than 1650.