Friday 6 January 2012

Send in the Junior Ministers

Given the talk about the UK and the infamous veto and what it means for British diplomacy, it might be worth puzzling over the French use of its Junior Ministers.

French EU Affairs minister Jean Leonetti made a strong prediction for the Financial Transaction Tax being passed this year as France and Germany had decided it:

"He added: "France and Germany have already agreed on it. And I believe the new Italian government, with which we have been in contact, is not opposed. Twenty six out of 27, in fact all the EU countries except Great Britain have no objections to the idea, and except Sweden, which had a bad experiment in this area.""

This obviously will rub the other Member States up the wrong way, but it's not the first time France's junior ministers have mouthed off, and last month saw a big spat between the UK and France over the UK's credit rating. It's an astonishing way to do politics, and you have to wonder at the tactics behind it (or the political control and coherence in the heart of government). Britain might have shot itself in the foot last month, but France would be a fool if it thinks this behaviour won't impact on its diplomatic success.

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