June 22, 2005


Hard words from Schroder against Blair (Honor Mahony, 22.06.2005, EU Observer)

German chancellor Gerhard Schroder has put himself on confrontation course with prime minister Tony Blair following strong comments about his British counterpart on Tuesday (21 June).

While not referring to Mr Blair directly by name, the chancellor said that the EU's "values" were under threat since the collapse of the summit last week.

"There is a special European social model to protect that has developed on the continent," said Mr Schroder.

"Those who want to destroy this model due to national egotism or populist motives do a terrible disservice to the desires and rights of the next generation" the chancellor added.

The words were another reference to accusations levelled at Mr Blair directly after the summit that all London wants out of the EU is a free market zone. [...]

But despite the harsh words emanating from Germany and Luxembourg and supported by France, Mr Blair is holding tough.

In a guest comment for mass-selling German Bild newspaper on Wednesday, the British leader once again outlined why he believes the common agriculture policy is outdated and how more money needs to be spent in other innovative areas.

He also strongly rejected the accusation that he sees Europe just as a free trade zone.

But it is not an entirely lonely front, he has strong support from Sweden, another country that had threatened to veto the talks unless there was some movement on farm subsidies.

Swedish prime minister Goran Persson visited the British leader in London on Tuesday and emerged after the meeting full of praise.

According to Swedish papers, Mr Persson said "He is a world politician, no other European politician can speak to the people in the 25 countries like Blair can".

He also indicated that Stockholm is firmly on London’s side when it comes to the divison between British ideas and the "old ideas" about Europe.

At the point where you're accusing your enemy of playing to popular opinion you've lost.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 22, 2005 7:34 AM

The vile Mr Schroeder will plummet to many other depths during the German election campaign. While everybody believes he's toast beyond recovery, I believe that he'll unleash a near-Hitlerian hatefest against the US and the UK in order to save his job. And he may very well get away with it. As the "bloodsucker" campaign theme in Westphalia indicated, even a ghastly dose of pure anti-semitism is to be expected from this power hungry maniac.

Posted by: Peter at June 22, 2005 11:12 AM

"At the point where you're accusing your enemy of playing to popular opinion you've lost."

Funny, I missed that and I think Peter has too. Speaking from Europe I believe Schroeder holds with the popular, though unrealistic, opinion: save the EU social model.

They know it can't be done but are suffering an addiction to the lotus.

Posted by: Genecis at June 22, 2005 2:21 PM

My understanding of European history (admittedly somewhat limited) is that the elites have always regarded the masses as stupid, incapable of informed political decision, and only fit to be led by their betters. Schroeder's disdain for Blair's populism is perfectly reflected in his countryman Bertolt Brecht's solution:
"But wouldn't it be
Simpler if the Government
Simply dissolved the People
And elected another?"

Posted by: jd watson at June 22, 2005 4:11 PM