Thursday, June 02, 2005

Intriguing to see the early fallout from the French and Dutch referendums. The Spanish President and the leader of the opposition share the objective of maintaining the funds flow from Brussels but are poles apart as to strategy. The former has nailed his colours firmly to the mast of the Franco-German axis [unfortunate term] and demanded that the ratification process continues regardless. The latter, on the other hand, has said Old Europe’s day is done and Spain should ally with what is now being called the UK-Poland axis. Vamos a ver. Interesting times ahead. I just hope I don’t get caught with Spanish euros if and when the EU currency implodes into its constituent parts.

Meanwhile, the Dutch Prime Minister, bless him, has said that the big positives from the experience were the robust national debate and the high turnout. Not here, mate. In the country which is the greatest beneficiary from the EU’s coffers, the No camp abjectly failed to put in an appearance of any sort and precious few bothered to register a vote. No coincidence, I suppose, but it has all clearly gone to Mr Zapatero’s head and he has departed from Planet Reality. Why, even President Chirac has endorsed Tony Blair’s disingenuous call for a period of reflection. On how to stay in office and out of prison in his case, of course.

One of the great pluses of Spain is that small, family-owned shops abound and you can still go into a hardware store and buy 5 nuts and bolts for 25 centimos. Mind you, the non-monetary price is waiting half an hour for the 3 tradesmen in front of you to crawl towards completion of their orders. No wonder houses take years to get built here.

Finally, back to the EU – some astute commentator has said that the French have actually moved beyond the eurosceptic Brits and become euronihilistic. Who would have thought it? Well, me for a start. And the French chap who wrote a year or so ago that, once it dawned on the French they could no longer run the EU entirely for their own benefit, they would pick up their bat and leave the pitch.

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