The European Union is demonstrating its habitual tendency to distort the point at issue in the run-up to next week's summit, as member states spend more energy on tactical positioning rather than on the real questions at stake.

Survival of the new treaty and agreement on the EU's medium-term spending plans are weighty subjects, and merit serious reflection. But the debate risks degenerating into a playground squabble over who's to blame for where we are, rather than an assessment of where we should be going.

The most ambiguous treaty supporter, the UK, glimpsing an escape route from the dilemma it provoked for itself when it promised a treaty referendum, is carefully piling the onus on France and the Netherlands to extract the treaty from the hole dug by their failed referendums.

France, determined to shift the spotlight away from its humiliating referendum reverse, and from its EU-funded farms, is energetically mustering support to profiling the UK's budget rebate as the impediment to an agreement on EU spending plans, and among net contributors and net beneficiaries.

On all sides, the cry is "If you don't give way, doomsday will ensue".

But if the short-term political posturing was dropped, EU leaders might get a clearer shot at the real challenges facing them.

Whatever the fate of the Constitution, no-one disputes the continuing urgency of the principal questions it tries to solve...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT