Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Clueless at the EU

Jerzy Buzek, the former Prime Minister of Poland and current President of the European Parliament is in Washington D.C. His goal is to push for a stronger partnership between the United States and the EU.

He gave a briefing this afternoon at the National Press Club on what he would like to see. A stronger commitment to the climate and global stability, he said, was his goal.

He reported that he met with House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and then, separately with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He explained that eventually he would like to see the partnership expanded beyond just the United States. He said that among others he would like to see partnerships with were Russia, Brazil and even Saudi Arabia.

I sat there listening to this guy talk about expanding the EU partnerships to virtually the entire planet and thinking to myself, "Is this guy aware that the EU is on the verge of major crisis?"

"Never mind partnership with Russia, Brazil and Saudi Arabia, is the EU itself going to remain intact?"

It was Q&A time, so I asked him, "There are many people, particularly in the financial arena, who are wondering if the EU survives given the current financial crisis. The markets clearly don't believe a bailout is coming, or at  least question that it will succeed. Debt of Greece, Portugal and Spain were hit hard again today. Could you comment?"

He said the bailout announced yesterday would help Greece get financing that is lower than the current market rate of 7%  to 8%. I told him it didn't appear the markets believed that was going to work and  that Greece short-term paper was trading near 15%, today. He then stated he wasn't familiar with the financial area.

The next question came from a reporter working for a Spanish newspaper, who asked if he feared the crisis would spread to Spain. He said no that things would be resolved.

At this point, the moderator stepped in and changed the subject.  The rest of the questions were about climatology, which Buzek somehow mysteriously appeared to be much more of an expert than on EU finances. His main climatological comment was wherever he travels in the U.S. water is served with ice, which, he said, is not the case in Europe. But he was sure that much more needed to be done about the climate. Indeed, he reported that the EU is opening a climate office in the United States.

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