The job of deputy press secretary to the European Commission is, as you can imagine, one of great prestige and power. The man who has had his promotion confirmed this week therefore should be a very happy man.
However, Alessandro Buttice is far from happy. Indeed he is sop unhappy that he has launched an investigation into how a scandal magazine, The Sprout, managed to print an article about his elevation nine months previously.
Why is this important to Americans? Because it lets a little light into the way they do business over in Europe.
Previously, the Italian Buttice had been chief press secretary to the European Union’s fraud busting office in Brussels. He is best known for having the Brussels correspondent of the German news magazine Stern arrested for printing the true stories about uninvestigated fraud. Now, as a thanks for putting the frighteners on to the press pack, he has been promoted. And his first act is to set the fraud buster chasing the leak of his promotion.
Meanwhile the European Parliament will, amongst other things (the status of the European eel for example) be discussing the "Work program for 2006." This legislative program has a number of key issues that should be of concern to American conservatives.
It has become an acknowledged truth in the forums of Brussels that if you want a cheer from the audience, attack the U.S. So as a public service I have trawled through the mealy mouthed Commission Communication to forewarn you all.
Initially, you must understand the looking glass world in which they live, thus a "Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs," has as a key component the idea that "health and safety at work should be reinforced and modernised." It has to be remembered here that it was under health and safety that the maximum 37 hour working week was introduced, that provisions ensuring that barmaids cover up their cleavage and where brought forward and instructions banning tractor drivers from working more than four hours a day emerged.
The present slow collapse of the European economy would be nothing more than a sad footnote, until you remember the amount of U.S. exports cross the Atlantic. And there seems no prospect of a turnaround. Instead, there will be new regulations governing emissions, a greater drive to establish even stricter (Kyoto-plus) goals on climate change–goals that will never be achieved by EU countries but provide a moral stick with which to beat the U.S. whenever necessary.
Other legislative acts in the pipeline include a review to the European Banking Directive which will allow EU "supervisors to effectively block proposed mergers and acquisitions of banks in their jurisdiction on prudential grounds." This in itself will create significant entry barriers to U.S. capital investment in credit institutions. There is also a major change in the offing in the field of defence procurement. Currently, each nation can cite national security to ensure that it may choose from where it wants to purchase its bullets, bombs and assorted green equipment. This has allowed the UK, in the past, to source much of its military hardware in the U.S.
It has traditionally been felt that interoperability with our major military alliance is important. No longer, as the EU wishes to narrow conceptions of national security interests. With the creation of a European Defence Agency and new European Defence Procurement rules this attack on national sovereignty will accelerate current trends in defence spending.
What this will mean is that a few years down the line, UK and U.S. forces will no longer be equipment compatible, and therefore, we will be incapable of remaining a military ally.