Europe breathed a huge sigh of relief as Emmanuel Macron held off the challenge of Marine Le Pen to retain the French presidency.
There’s enough instability in a post-lockdown war-torn Europe without one of the two key EU national leaderships being gained by such a far-right candidate as Le Pen.
Macron now must join forces with his German counterpart Olaf Scholz to unite Europe in purpose and policy. It won’t be easy.
Scholz has yet to emerge from the giant shadow cast by Angela Merkel.
And as western Europe worries about food security, EU countries further east are worried about their national security.
Finland is reportedly on the brink of applying for NATO membership, Poland and Bulgaria have just lost their gas supply from Russia.
And how does Ireland’s farm lobby make it’s voice heard in the corridors of power? That too has changed.
The nature of how the EU’s political process works has evolved over the last 20 years. Anyone who hadn’t visited Brussels in 20 years wouldn’t recognise the dynamic around the corridors of power.
For example, the Fischler CAP reforms of 2002 were hammered out between the EU-15.
For Austria, Finland and Sweden it was their first CAP negotiation, they’d only joined in 1995.
By the time Mariann Fischer Boel presided over the 2008 “health check”, the EU had nearly doubled in size with 27 member states, among them the vast countries of Poland and Romania, who between them had more farmers than the rest of the union put together.
With most of these either very small farms or massive former collective farms run as co-ops, everything was different. And Dacian Ciolos, a former Romanian agriculture minister, brought that vastly different perspective to the CAP reform he presided over as Commissioner from 2010-2014.
The centre of Europe had shifted eastwards. Speaking English, French and/or German no longer gave universal access.
Power of Parliament
The other big dynamic was the growth in the power of the European Parliament.
We saw that particularly in the recent CAP, where the INHFA could see its priorities championed by MEPs like Matt Carthy, Chris McManus and Luke Ming Flanagan to great effect.
The smoke-filled corridors of the Commission were no longer where deals were brokered in the small hours.
That said, diplomacy and politics haven’t changed that much in the centuries and millenia since the likes of Plato, Julius Caesar and Machiavelli wrote the original script.
With a war on the EU’s doorstep, the challenge for the European Parliament is to have a coherent voice on core issues. And Ireland’s delegation could do with providing a voice of reason and reasonableness, as it often has.
Not easy when the likes of Mick Wallace and Claire Daly have moved so far out on the ledge on the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.