Laurent Wauquiez – dodgy oxygen

January 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

Here’s Laurent Wauquiez, French Minister for European Affairs, in a speech in Helsinki on bringing Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen area (HD to @beranger_v4 for info). “If the Schengen zone’s data-base falls into the hands of international organised criminals, then it’s European internal security in its entirety that is wiped out.” He then argues that it’s in Romania, Bulgaria and Greece that “three quarters of the problem of illegal immigration, arms trafficking, the drugs problem, child trafficking, linked to the entry of persons and goods into the EU are concentrated.”

Let’s have a look at Laurent Wauquiez. Schooled in top lycées Louis-le-Grand and Henri-IV, the young Laurent tops off his studies in ENA, i.e. the Jobcentre for the French political elite. In typical French fashion, he might be a member of the Cabinet, but he isn’t even elected to the National Assembly. His only true democratic claim to lead anyone is that he is Mayor of Le Puy-en-Velay, a backwater in the backwater Auvergne region, with a population of 18,879. How did he get to be mayor of Le Puy-en-Velay? You might want to ask his Mum, Eliane Wauquiez-Motte, mayor of Chambon-sur-Lignon, all of 2,662 souls, also in Auvergne.

Put it like this, it always strikes this blogger as particularly rich to hear a coddled, thrice pistonné confirmed son of the French political elite – a famiglia unto itself in all but name, riddled with corruption at the best of times – to insult the populations of Romania, Greece, Bulgaria as if they were all members of an “international crime organisation”.  Once again, those at the top of that so-called club of equals the European Union, of which free movement of citizens is one, if not the only, benefit, are spouting obnoxous nonsense. It’s also an insult to the intelligence, if only to his own, that a man with such a gilded education, can conjure up “international” organised criminals “wiping out” the Schengen area data-base. What is that actually supposed to mean? That you need to be in a Schengen Area computer to do a spot of hacking? Er, I suspect he crossed his fingers when he utttered these inanities.

Indeed, it’s not easy to take anything that seriously emanating from Monsieur Wauquiez, particularly in matters of iffy cross-border dealings, given that on June 28 last year, while his party was floundering in the Woerth affair, with its heady mix of great family fortunes and political affairs, he went to a Mayfair club in London to meet up with the French business elite of the City. The purpose of the meeting? To solicit financial aid for his own private and “confidential” micro-political grouping – a burgeoning industry in France – called Nouvel Oxygène (New Oxygen). Although this is above board if individual donations stop at €7500 (Wauquiez’ Nouvel Oxygène received €34,000 in 2008, the last official figures), there is never anything pretty about the peddling of influence within the sealed off world of international finance (so distinct from international crime). If Monsieur Wauquiez’ speech on the free movement of our fellow Europeans is intended to be New Oxygen, then pass the gas mask.

ECB, the bank that looks after its own

July 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

A lovely little bit of news comes from the Financial Times today. The European Central Bank, champions of fiscal austerity across a continent, has been giving Romania an earful for hitting employees of the country’s central bank with a 25% pay cut. “In a strongly-worded statement,” the FT writes, “the ECB on Monday warned that Romania’s actions violated European Union treaties allowing monetary authorities to operate freely and without political interference.”

Let’s remember that this May Bucharest went on a public service slasher that would have had austerity zealots thrumming exquisitely at such innovations in fiscal pain. But while the ECB has absolutely nothing to say on the impoverishment of teachers and nurses, etc, its lower lips trembles when the budget machetes come down on colleagues. As the FT respectfully points out, the “ECB’s stance could trigger criticism that it sees central bankers as exempt from public spending cuts.” Less respectfully you could argue that the ECB’s attitude is entirely consistent with a union that preaches the bonkers economics of austerity while keeping its own institutions austerity free. As a quiet, ineluctable brazilification of a continent takes hold like so much CO2, you simply must look after your own.

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