Barroso and Van Rompuy compete for Clown of Europe title

It's a race to the bottom for the two biggest buffoons in Europe. Whoever wins, the people still lose

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Who's breathing down my neck?
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Daniel J. Mitchell
On 9 July 2012 07:10

For quite some time, I’ve thought of Herman van Rompuy as the poster child of Europe’s incompetent political elite.

Virtually unknown to people in the real world (his sole claim to fame is that a British MEP, in a speech that went viral on YouTube, said he resembled a “low-grade bank clerk”), the President of the European Council manages to blunder from one mistake to another.

** Whining about markets downgrading Europe’s welfare states.

** Crying about whether he gets prestigious seating at bureaucratic meetings.

** Seeking to impose one-size-fits-all big government on EU nations with “economic governance.”

** Publishing an anthology of haiku poems (this last has nothing to do with economic policy, but I can’t resist including it on the list).

** Complaining that investors don’t trust Europe’s feckless political elite.

But Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, is trying very hard to be an even bigger joke.

** Like van Rompuycomplaining that credit rating agencies don’t believe European politicians.

** Squandering taxpayer funds to boost his public profile.

** Squabbling with van Rompuy about who’s the top bureaucrat.

** Pushing for more centralization, harmonization, and bureaucratization in Europe.

** Advocating statism at the United Nations.

Well, Barroso now has done something else that deserves mockery and scorn. He’s whining that some of his opponents are happy about the mess in Europe.

Here’s some of what the EU Observer reported.

"European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso Tuesday (3 July) launched an angry attack on British Conservative’s in the European Parliament, accusing them of “taking delight” in the eurozone debt crisis. …Barroso’s outburst in Strasbourg followed a speech by Tory MEP Martin Callanan, who heads the eurosceptic ECR group."

Since I also experience some Schadenfreude about the mess in Europe, I suspect Barroso is right that the Tories are enjoying the situation. But that doesn’t give Barroso any moral authority to complain since the fiscal crisis largely exists because of policies he supported.

I also can’t resist adding this passage from the story.

"President Barroso said he was “puzzled” that British eurosceptics were encouraging countries to leave the euro adding that this was “in stark contrast” to statements made by UK Prime Minister David Cameron."

Barroso is right. There is a gulf between the views of British MEPs and the attitude of the U.K.’s Prime Minister. But that’s because David Cameron is a wobbly statist with no strong beliefs (other than that he should be Prime Minister).

Barroso’s comments, in other words, are akin to an American leftist saying that Republicans shouldn’t attack Obama’s statist agenda because Bush supported the same big-government policies when he was President.

In closing, I will acknowledge that I agree with Barroso on one point. He warned that democracy could collapse in Europe if economic conditions continue to unravel, and I think that could happen.

But, as I’ve explained before, Europe’s future is somewhat bleak because of the policies supported by Barroso and his fellow travelers like van Rompuy.

Daniel J. Mitchell is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, the free-market, Washington D.C. think tank. His articles are cross-posted on his blog by agreement

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