|So what did Brown talk about over dinner?
||[Mar. 26th, 2010|09:38 am]
Today in Politics
By Michael Savage
Europe’s leaders took their latest chance to catch up over dinner last night, a traditional do at the start of a European Council Summit. Another tradition is that while they shoot the breeze, their backroom teams work through the night to solve some intractable diplomatic problem or other. Up this time was no trifling matter, no pun intended. At stake was rescuing the euro from the worst crisis it has faced in its short, but relatively unblemished history. With Greece’s economy falling to pieces, all the talk was of coming up with a plan to stop it from damaging the currency further.
But Brown could enjoy his dinner in relative peace. With Britain still outside the eurozone, it wasn’t his problem. He could just sit on the sidelines and tut about how long the whole thing has taken to sort out. Naughty Greeks.
So what did he get up to while sipping on the aperitifs?
Well, first up, he’s got a pet project – setting up a European Peace Corps. The idea comes from the US. Under his plan, which he has taken up with the commission president, José Manuel Barroso, and our very own EU foreign affair supremo, Lady Ashton, thousands of young people could volunteer to work on EU humanitarian projects around the world. The volunteers would, hopes No.10, become the “human face” of EU relief efforts. Sounds like a goer and shouldn’t cost much as the volunteers from around Europe would work on existing EU schemes. Best of all, the Peace Corps would come under Lady Ashton’s external action service, so Britain gets the credit. Cheers!
Good chat for the starter, but did Brown have anything more meaty to talk about over the main? Well, perhaps getting rid of the horrible talk of making the European Council into Europe’s “economic Government”. That kind of language is quite difficult for the PM to swallow as it causes awful problems back home.
But perhaps, more importantly, he may have found time to sneak a quick word with Frau Merkel. Word is that she could come over to Britain before the election. Back when Nicolas Sarkozy came to visit, the French President gave David Cameron what amounts to a bit of a kicking in diplomatic terms when he stood next to Brown and said he wished the Tory leader hadn’t taken his party out of the EU's main centre-right grouping, the European People's Party.
If Brown could persuade Merkel to go through with her visit and say something similar (her own party is also in the EPP), it would be a great pre-election boost. Not only would it dent Cameron’s European relations, but it would also underline Brown’s statesmanlike qualities. Let the schmoozing begin.