Author Topic: one minute to midnight  (Read 465 times)

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Offline thaiga

one minute to midnight
« on: December 04, 2011, 11:47:02 PM »
The chief executives of Shell, Unilever and Phillips called it "one minute to midnight." Even the EU's own financial affairs commissioner, Olli Rehn, says Europe only has ten days to stop the euro falling apart.

By this coming Friday, the ninth of those ten days, the continent's leaders are supposed to have agreed a plan that satisfies the markets and gives their tottering currency a future. They have tried, and failed, three times this year already. A fourth failure would probably be the end. But in the Brussels corridors, with the sands fast running out, you really wouldn't know that these are perhaps the most dangerous times in Europe since the Second World War.

At the Berlaymont, the Commission HQ, on Thursday, they were proudly launching their "better airports package." "There is no Commission proposal for the auctioning of new airport capacity," explained an official. "The decision was to go ahead with liberalising the secondary trading of existing slots." Across the road the European Council, the ministerial decision making body, was busy on a resolution deciding that member states must "combat negative stereotypes regarding older persons" and demanding that "optimism has to prevail in the EU." The week before, the Commission announced a new drive to "protect our sharks," proclaiming it a "very good day, not just for European sharks, but for sharks worldwide." The sharks in question were the finned, not the financial, variety.

The European Parliament was doing a little better. Mario Draghi, the new head of the European Central Bank, addressed MEPs on ways out of the crisis. His speech was easily the most important thing said in this particular building for years. Amazingly, however, he made it to an almost empty chamber. Of the 736 MEPs, about 700 – or 95 per cent – were elsewhere. Still, never mind. They had a key meeting later on the subject of "online gambling at a policy crossroads: towards an EU regulatory approach or increased member states' co-operation?"

Parliament still teemed with people discussing the EU unitary patent and the Euro-Ukraine association deal. MEPs and their staff could still have their hair done at the "Guy Alexandre" salon. In the members' restaurant, there was honey – or rather filet de poulet avec sauce chasseur – still for tea. But as the world's most expensive ship, with its glittering passenger load of ex-social workers from Brighton and lecturers from Lower Saxony, sailed closer to the iceberg, you could hear the distinct sound of deckchair rearrangement.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.