Richard North, 10/03/2005  

While Mr Yves Mersch, council member of the European Central Bank, may be an unhappy bunny over the direction of the "reforms" of the growth and stability pact but, it seems, his unhappiness quotient is nothing compared with that of Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg prime minister and unfortunate holder of the EU presidency.

"Governments are not negotiating constructively," he wails: negotiations to reform the growth and stability pact have degenerated into "acrimony and finger-pointing," he says. "Everybody sees things on the list that benefit others, allowing the others to backtrack".

What is worse, Juncker observes, "Governments are protecting their own interests in boosting exemptions to the rules."

And that is not even the only thing that is making Juncker unhappy. His grief spills over into the Lisbon agenda - the "plan" to make Europe "the world's most competitive economy by 2010". (Do pay attention and try to stop giggling.)

"It is a disaster," Juncker says. "The main weakness of the 'Lisbon Agenda' is a lack of national ownership" of efforts to impose labour market and other economic reforms. "We have lost a lot of ground. There has been too much talk, too little action."

Oh dear, dear, dear. Poor little Juncker. All these governments protecting their own interests. That will never do. Still, only a few more months and he can hand the presidency over to Tony Blair. He could never be accused of protecting his (i.e., British) interests, so maybe it isn't such a disaster after all.

But there again…

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