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Monday, March 07, 2005

Euroskeptics and Blogging

The Times has a story today about the personal blog of Margot Wallström, the Vice-President of the European Commission, and the hordes of (mainly British) Euroskeptics it has attracted:

"IT WAS meant to bring the European Union closer to its citizens, putting an appealing face on what often appears to be a distant bureaucracy. But the personal blog, or internet diary, of a European Commissioner has been hijacked by British eurosceptics.

They are using it, instead, to attack the EU and to pour scorn on those who lead it.

Margot Wallström, the Vice- President of the European Commission, was handed the job of boosting support before the wave of referendums on the EU constitution and she started her blog on the Commission website after the new year, mixing the personal and political to emphasise the benefits of Europe.

Her efforts have been engulfed in a cyber-war, however, with British Eurosceptics leaving hundreds of messages attacking the Commission for destroying British industry and Britain’s democratic traditions."

Her blog is a mixture of the personal and the political, but what stands out the most is the spectacular vitriol of some of the comments:

Margot, it is very brave of you to blog your feelings. At least you are making an attempt to communicate with the great European public - and for that you should be credited. But I'm afraid there is no getting around the fact that you represent an ELITIST, CORRUPT, AND UNELECTED POLITBURO, WHICH FOR SOME REASON EXERCISES ENORMOUS POWER OVER THE LIVES OF MILLIONS.

Why? Why do YOU have this power? Who voted for you? Who gave you this power? Were you elected? When was this election? Why do YOU, an unelected bureaucrat from a foreign country, have power over ME, a citizen of an entirely different country? When the citizens of the Lebanon and the Ukraine are marching for their democratic freedoms, here in Europe, the very home of democracy, we have the most undemocratic system in the Westerm world. Why is this? How has this come about? Why? When? Can someone, anyone, explain?

Posted by sean on March 03, 2005 at 12:46 AM CET

I've always had pretty benign feelings about the EU. It certainly has its bureaucratic excesses, but it has been an enormous force for good in post-WWII Europe. The economic and political cooperation it has fostered has (along with NATO's military cooperation) been essential for granting Western Europe such a long period of peace. It has played an enormous role in lifting Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Greece to their present levels of prosperity, and today it is again helping the nations of the former Warsaw Pact bloc to grow. The carrot of EU membership played a crucial role in the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine. I think that, for all of its faults, it has been a very positive thing for Europe, so I've always been a bit bemused by the ferocity of much of British Euroskepticism.

Although perhaps my perspective is tainted by my being an outsider looking in? I lived in Britain for a long time, but I never fully identified with it, so perhaps I can't really empathise with the way that many of those who are so furiously against the EU feel.

|| RPH || 4:27 PM || |