OPINION

No civil service-inspired compromise

I feel I must write to you with regards to the commentary written for the Kathimerini online edition of June 24 titled «Straddling two boats» by Mr [Stavros] Lygeros. I am a German national with a Greek partner living in London, and I feel his comments on the current EU crisis are neither balanced nor helpful at this stage in the European debate. Firstly, it is rather disingenuous to suggest that Mr Blair «raised the issue mainly to deflect pressure on Britain to give ground over London’s long-cherished EU budget rebate.» As Mr Blair has stated since the French referendum, Britain is willing to give up the rebate, but only coupled to a compromise on the distortions produced by the Common Agricultural Policy. Mr Chirac’s refusal to compromise on this issue is outrageous, especially when the economy of a country such as France is compared to one that is far more reliant on its agricultural sector, such as Greece, and I would venture to suggest that the current debate about Britain’s rebate was raised by Mr Chirac mainly to deflect pressure from him following the result of the French referendum, which was a bitter personal blow for the French president. Secondly, although by no means a fervent supporter of Mr Blair, I believe that crediting him with constantly wanting to «undermine the EU enterprise» is plain wrong. It is true that Britain would prefer a looser organization of EU states, but then it is by no means the only country to express such views, and rather than undermining the EU enterprise I believe that this position lends a healthy counterbalance to the rather utopian, and economically stagnant, social model still supported by many in the EU. As is the case in any healthy democracy, the measure of success of the «EU enterprise» should be judged based on how well the state reflects (or represents) all the different views, hopes and fears of its citizens, not on whether all the countries can agree on one rigid set of rules. Furthermore, it should not be forgotten that the broad idea of an economic European Union is far more inclusive than the constant push for political integration proposed by many European bureaucrats. The wish to expand the EU economically without deepening political union was, according to many, one of the principle reasons behind Britain’s strong support of EU membership for countries in Eastern Europe, as well as for the entry of Greece, Spain and Portugal in the 1970s, a move opposed by many in Germany and France (for example) who were more focused on promoting the political union of Europe’s wealthier states. To be sure, all is not well with the European project. But countries promoting their own views and seeking to establish debate rather than just agreeing to another non-democratic, civil service-inspired compromise is surely beneficial to all the member states, whether large or small. CHRISTOPH SCHULTES, London.