Friday, November 8, 2013

Whose bubble?

"Go anywhere inside the Brussels bubble now, and you will find that election fever has broken out; no dinner table chat is complete without speculation about the 2014 elections and the name game- who succeeds Barroso? Who gets the Ashton job? Will the European Socialists or the European People’s Party get most seats?"

Let's take this quote from a recent article by EU insider Julian Priestley at face value. It makes some sense: though the EU Parliament in particular, and the various EU apparatuses writ large hardly constitute a federal government comparable to the US one, this election, alongside banking unification and the resolving euro crisis,  will mark another big step in that direction. And let's recall that the EU, adding its 28th member state this January, is considerably bigger than the US, and poised for more growth. So all that ferment and "fever" inside the "Brussels bubble" makes some sense.

But how much traction has it gained, or will it gain, on this side of the Atlantic? 'EU Parliament election fever' sounds like a late-night TV one-liner--in contrast to the detailed, perceptive coverage the US Congress receives in European news outlets. Will the seriousness of Europe's condition--the challenges of euroscepticism and persistent recession, inadequate integration and resurgent protectionism--win the attention of Europe's 'Atlantic partner' after all? This question should preoccupy not just Brussels insiders but their Capital Beltway counterparts, for whom American global narcissism is an increasingly  limited option. 


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