While I was walking through a quiet, quite snowy, forest in
Switzerland I was first drawn to the peacefulness of it all. Then
reality intruded – in front of me was a futuristic machine.
But it was nothing more than a large mobile blower to make artificial
snow. Switzerland is a funny place! It stresses quality, not just in
watches, jewellery and the snow pistes; but also in global banking
systems (though that sector suffered set-backs a few years ago). Above
all it upholds its quality of life. However it is surrounded by
nations with very different views: Italy to the South, in the north
Germany, and to the east is France.
We must be wary of the bilateral management being pressed on all of
Europe by ‘Merkosy’ – the steady almost dour Angela Merkel and the
mercurial ebullient Nicolas Sarkozy. The recent EU summit seems to
have created some accord between the 26 nations of the EU, but left
out the UK. That was a choice made by David Cameron when he exercised
his veto to the surprise of many members. Much has been made of this
situation in the press, but the financial markets lifted their
valuation of sterling presuming the EU leaders had not really solved
the crisis. It was somewhat telling that one Ambassador went as far as
to say he likened the new accord to “… the Loch Ness Monster. We all
think it is there, but we have not yet seen it”.
There is a parallel to be drawn of this meeting with that at Durban,
South Africa concerning climate change. The latter was scheduled to
take two weeks, with negotiators hammering out positions then head of
state flying in for the last two days to sign-off an agreement. In
fact the meeting had to be extended by two days to allow still further
acrimonious arguments to flow 24 by 24 until the end was sighted.
I see two issues common to these meetings. Firstly, political
arguments were sprung upon the collected delegates who may not have
had time to consider any ramifications. The need to consider is
paramount – so why not table these arguments early, let them circulate
openly and be discussed calmly by all members? That would also
prevent leaked documents being put to the media and the latter having
a wonderful time creating potentially erroneous diatribes compounded
by their frequent use of “… sources close to… have indicated that…”.
Such positioning hardens the attitudes of honest negotiators and
enrages those who feel slighted. Now, given a few more days of
reflection some of the European heads and those at Durban have
expressed their doubts of each accord: some Europeans may have to run
a Referendum in order to alter their own constitutional position once
the drafting of the accord become more clear.
The second aspect is just a matter of timing: it is about negotiators
‘grandstanding’ – making speeches and taking stances that might boost
their re-election chances. Sarkozy is a case in point, his polls count
in France is not high and he must work hard to gain re-election, but
too hard may create difficult times for all in the mêlée. One way
forward on this issue is to ban speeches designed to “… do the most
for my country”. The European situation is grave, and needs a solution
which may involve local compromises and not posturing. The market
forces are unemotional and sovereign. debt ratings will be downgraded
if all the politicians do not work together: sometimes that may be
difficult for each electorate to swallow.
And now, at the end of this eventful year, and looking into the next –
I wish you all the best of good wishes.
Frank-Jürgen Richter is founder and chairman of Horasis, a global
Horasis is a global visions community committed to enact visions for a sustainable future. (http://www.horasis.org)
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