EU Parliament: Opening Day!

by Andrew Stuttaford

The Daily Telegraph’s Bruno Waterfield gives some background:

MEPs have today elected Martin Schulz for a second highly paid term as president of the European Parliament as a key part of the deal to install Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels. The German Socialist will take home a pay and perks package worth over £213,000 a year and the Left-wing MEP who often thunders against tax havens will pocket £124,000 of his income in special allowances without paying any taxation at all.

Wait there’s more:

Despite the fact that the [‘center-right’] European People’s Party (EPP) won most seats in the European Union assembly, Mr Schulz, a Socialist, will take the powerful post as part of backroom dealing surrounding the installation of Mr Juncker as president of the European Commission.  He won Tuesday’s vote 409 for and 314 against but angered many MEPs by refusuing to turn up for a debate between different candidates, including Sajjad Karim a British Tory, for the post on Monday night…His appointment to the post was announced by Sigmar Gabriel, the head of Germany’s Social Democrats and vice-chancellor in Angela Merkel’s coalition government, a full 11 days before today’s vote in a behind-closed-doors agreement by the EPP, Socialists and Liberals to stitch up the parliament and the EU’s top jobs.

To get this into perspective, it should be remembered that the EPP and the Socialists voted together roughly three-quarters of the time in the course of the last EU parliament.

George Orwell:

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

Meanwhile UKIP’s delegation (the biggest group of MEPs from the UK) joins in the fun (or, rather, doesn’t).  The BBC reports:

Nigel Farage has led his fellow UKIP MEPs in a protest against the European Parliament at the opening of its new session in Strasbourg. The UKIP MEPs turned their backs as an orchestra played Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the EU’s unofficial anthem [and Rhodesia’s official anthem, but I interrupt]. Most of the party’s 24 MEPs – the biggest delegation to the Parliament from the UK – are believed to have taken part in the protest…Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan said members of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), which includes David Cameron’s party, “sat quietly” during the anthem, while most MEPs stood.

As for the elevation of Jean-Claude Juncker into the EU’s top bureaucratic job, the British celebrations continue. Writing a few days ago, Dan Hannan dug up this reassuring phrase from the great man’s past:

During the French and Dutch referendums on the European Constitution, [Juncker] cheerfully announced: “If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘on we go’, and if it’s a No we will say ‘we continue.”

Splendid! And more please. This is just the sort of talk needed to help Brexit along. The worse the better.

Meanwhile, writing in the Daily Mail Robin Harris, a former senior adviser to Mrs. Thatcher (and the author of a fine biography of her too), sums up the Junckering of David Cameron thus:

To embark willingly and willfully on a minor confrontation, the forerunner to far more important ones, and then not just go down to defeat, but a humiliation that shows that the whole strategy will be defeated – and then to brag about it – is surely unique, even in the long and inglorious history of British diplomatic bungling….David Cameron seems to have invented a new concept – the Pyrrhic defeat.

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