Put a cork in it, Jose, EU live in a bubble
Europe doesn't care about us, so we have to put our own interests first, says Eilis O'Hanlon
Published 23/01/2011 | 05:00
You know you've reached rock bottom when even the Portuguese are having a pop.
This is a country where military dictatorship remains a fresh memory, and corruption is still at levels more often associated with former Soviet satellites; a country whose main economic achievement has been to become the world's leading producer of corks. Right now they face many of the same problems as Ireland -- basket case banks; high public debt; a dispirited people worn down by austerity and tax hikes; a divided and weak government with no popular support. The weather's better, that's all. The Portuguese will soon be running to the IMF and EU for assistance, just like we did -- probably because no matter how much extra wine we're all drinking to get through the day, there's still not a big enough worldwide market in corks to keep the senhors and senhoras in the manner to which they've grown accustomed.
Sadly, that hasn't stopped the country's great and good from lecturing the Irish on our own failures, chief amongst them being Jose Manuel Barroso, spud-faced former Maoist revolutionary turned centre-right career ladder-climber, who, by some stroke of good fortune, managed to wake up one day and find himself President of the European Commission despite not getting a single vote from any of the couple of hundred million people across the EU whose destiny he holds in his self-satisfied, unelected mitts. Last week he responded to criticism of the EU from Joe Higgins that the working class were being made to shoulder the burden for a failed banking system, by insisting Ireland had only itself to blame.