Richard North, 11/05/2004  

Well sort of. Le Monde reports that parties of the right and the left have launched their election campaigns on May 9, rather half-heartedly described as Europe Day. This was the day on which in 1950 Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister, broadcast on French radio Jean Monnet’s plan for uniting Europe or, at least, the production of coal and steel, to ensure that Germany would never again be more powerful than France.

By Europe, he meant western Europe. Over in the east, May 9 was celebrated with all pomp and circumstance, as well as vast amount of heavy armoury as the Soviet Victory Day. And now, they launch lacklustre election campaigns.

Two months ago the right was severely beaten in the local elections and Chirac hastily reorganized his cabinet, hoping that would appeal to the electorate. We shall see whether he was right on June 13. Or will he be yet another European leader to be mauled by his electorate just a few days before the crucial Summit that will, supposedly, agree on or, at least, discuss the new Constitution.

The same newspaper reports that an ambitious plan was due to be unveiled on May 10 for upgrading Waterloo (the town rather than the station) as an intenational tourist attraction. It was after all, as the correspondent points out, the scene of one of the most famous battles of European history. Around 300,000 soldiers fell in one day. And what was the day? Well, funny you should mention that. It was June 18, 1815. The next deadline for an agreement on the EU Constitution is June 18, 2004. An interesting day to pick.

Where is Marshal Blücher, now that we need him?

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