Three is a crowd…
In an ideal EU – let’s follow Churchill’s lead and call it the United States of Europe – petty little squabbles about national interests and invisible job quotas wouldn’t matter. We would all rise and shine, pledge allegiance to the European stars and sing proudly “Alle Menschen werden Bruder.” [Enter the sound of squeaking car brakes] We however don’t live in that world named EUtopia and yours truly prefers to reside in a sublunar sense of reality. We thus have to face the fact that there are certain facts of life that cannot be avoided much like death and taxes.
So let’s focus on the job angle, more specifically the appointment of Portuguese diplomat Joao Vale de Almeida to Washington DC. One of the euroblogger stars Julien Frisch noted on Twitter that all this counting of which job goes to which nationality is very pre-Europe. Although I believe that is an excellent point of view and I cheer the attitude, we’re not quite there yet. I have no doubt that Mr. de Almeida is a fine diplomat and an excellent chief of staff but sending an envoy who is mostly known for being “Barroso’s man” to Washington DC does not really translate into a message of an United Europe.
Perceptions and symbols do matter and that appointment, my friends, is a beautiful token of one of the five stages of grief in a Post-Lisbon Europe. I leave it up to you to guess which stage. Mr. de Almeida will be answering to the High Representative Baroness Catherine Ashton who in turn has, so far, been mostly known for her invisibility. So much so that the famous phrase “Where’s Wally?” has now officially changed to “Wheeeere’s Cathy?” Sadly, Barroso’s direct line with DC is just one more example of how the Commission will trample over guard its influence in the new EU diplomatic corps.
So I have a question for you. If I were in the US State Department witnessing the Post-Lisbon Europe with its EU chairman, its High Representative & a Commission President trying to deny the course of life and I wanted to speak with the proverbial person(s) representing Europe who do I don’t call?