This was Barroso’s last SOTUS (State of the Union Speech) and he was introduced by Martin Shultz – the guy who intends to get his job!
The main thing that stood out was his continued false “optimism”, his continued demand for more EU, and his continued attempts at blaming everyone else for the problems in Europe.
“It is not true that Greece is a victim of European policies. Greece is the victim of the irresponsible behaviour of the governments of Greece” Barroso then added, predictably – “Europe is not the creator of the problems. Europe is the victim of the problems, and it is part of the solution”.
He denied saying last year that the “crisis was over” and this was underlined by Guy Verhofstaft, who said “the crisis wasn’t getting worse, because we have hit rock bottom”…(in the trading environment, when people talk of a bottom, very often others mention that they might find a hole)
Whilst more fiscal union was placed high on the agenda, Barroso also tried to appease those who are asking for a repatriation of powers. But somehow his comment “the EU should be big on big issues and small on small issues” left many people scratching their head as to what he meant.
He did mention work was needed to address the problem of having 25-million people unemployed across Europe “The current level of unemployment is economically unsustainable, politically untenable and socially unacceptable”. He added “Europe needs to avoid a jobless recovery”, (skating over the point that the euro-zone’s relentless austerity programmes are blamed by many for causing the unemployment crisis).
Barroso went on to say that “the people of Europe would vote on the EU’s success in next year’s elections”.
Not only is this completely untrue – as we are not given the option to close this organisation down – But it seemed a bit “rich” that a President who was NOT ELECTED by the European electorate, talks of the importance of getting a mandate from the people.
The response to his speech from many MEPs, especially those from southern Europe, pointed out that his optimism was greatly overdone and that he, and many of his buddies, had no idea of what was happening in the real world.
Cyprus’s MEP, Takis Hadjigeorgiou, also criticises Barroso’s optimism over the European economy. “He can only be so upbeat because he lives in a different Europe than the rest of us…In my country, where the decisions taken by the troika destroyed the economy, the commission is now associated with the economic crisis”.
Laurence Stassen of the Netherlands is blunter, challenging Barroso to take his message that ‘things are getting better’ onto the streets of Europe. “What planet are you on?” she asked.
On more topical issues, he discussed Ukraine’s entry to the EU, which will annoy the Russians, and Europe’s unified view on Syria (which is only unified at the politician level). Moreover, he appeared to slap himself on the back for the EU sending 1.5-billion of European tax-payers money to support Syrian’s, which many poor across Europe may not be too happy about.
Farage had a few words on the eventual collapse of the Euro, but sadly, he wasn’t his normal cut-throat self. He applauds Barroso’s consistent support for federalism — “you probably picked it up as a Maoist” (Barroso was a communist in his youth)…It’s been a good time for some people, Farage says, but it’s been “a disaster” for poor people.
Overall, it was a speech which was thoroughly predictable, which was more noted for the responses it earned, than its contents.