Jan Peter Balkende has decided that the way to address the fact that he is deeply unpopular in the Netherlands, and even more unpopular in the rest of the EU because he presides over a country that rejected the Constitution, is to write an article in The Guardian. The full text of the article is here, although have the sick-bag at the ready if you are about to read it.
Here’s a quote:
"Many people are worried about the future. Despite their concerns, very little money is available to reform the EU, even though reform is vital to establish a position of strength relative to the US and China. Most of the EU budget is reserved for agricultural subsidies and support for regions in wealthy countries – a fact that has not escaped public attention. In this period of slow growth, it would be irresponsible to increase the total budget. There is a better solution: reforming the existing budget to prepare for the future."
Paying for reform? What does he actually mean? And why do all EU heads of state rant so much about the EU budget? The size of the budget is the size of the budget the government of Denmark has at its disposal each year – i.e. what a state of 5 million people spends. The EU has that for 450 million people!
Further, the text of Balkenende’s article is written in a kind of pleasant and sickening prose – is this going to appeal to European citizens?
Where is the leadership and direction in Europe at the moment? Balkenende for sure is not the person to provide it.