The Cypriot EU presidency: modest and workmanlike?
by our secret columnist in Brussels
Schadenfreude has been using the slack time to sniff out what the Cypriot presidency of the Council of the European Union will do after the summer break, and imagines its strategists are working on the following lines
Our first presidency of Council of the European Union lasts effectively only three months. Nothing happened in July after the ill-starred June 28 'crunch' meeting that was supposed to save the euro, again. In December we will be working on President Herman van Rompuy to get the European Council meeting we want. So we have September, October and November to handle.
Our transcendental objective is to harness EU support for our maximum claim on the sub-sea gas and oil resources of the western Mediterranean. This puts us into contention with Turkey, Israel and the Arabs. We need to make common causes with as many member states as we can, even if it means that discussions are strung out and our 'success score' suffers.
We meet the British, and the Maltese, in the Common Law Club. We can tell the British that we will be in no hurry to bring to the table the European Commission's latest ideas about financial regulation. The Turks will not talk to us and vice versa, but we could score points with the commission by giving attention to the Serbian candidature.
It would pain the Germans if we put in our application for a bail-out, and we should defer it until next year. The Romanians and the Hungarians are steadily breaching human rights but there is no need for us to take the lead in accusing them. On the contrary, we should ensure that any ideas about depriving them of EU benefits are squashed. The do-gooders in the European Parliament will make some noise, which is enough for the time being.
Above all we must not become involved in disputes for which there is no evident solution or where a member state has a lot to lose. If some of our own objectives are contentious we should not press them pro tempore. The general idea is to be workmanlike, modestly successful and ready to listen to all.
Gold to be sold as Cyprus bail-out costs soar
The cost of the bail-out of Cyprus has increased from €17bn to €23bn, according to documents produced by the country's international lenders, while its economy is expected to shrink 8.7 per cent this year