This rung a bell with me. When I did my tour of duty in the Scottish Parliament, this was a goal of the SNP. They want to creep on to the world stage, without asking permission. One step is to send “observers” to various committees. But aid is the softest target. The SNP have long wanted to use this as a way to project Scotland as an international actor (just as Rompuy wants the EU to be recognised as having a force in its own right). So when an earthquake strikes, Scottish aid with Scottish money leaves a Scottish airport on behalf of the Scottish people. Politically, it’s a great tactic – because it seems heartless to object to such a mission. It should, of course, be quashed as needless duplication. The SNP want to duplicate what DFID does – this sneaking one step closer to nationhood.
Rompuy has cottoned on to the same scam, as he made clear in his press conference with Brown today (transcript here). It’s all part of the slowly-slowly method of preventing voters with a fait accompli: to create a fake Scottish or EU government and the following it up with tax-raising powers. Aid, defence and foreign policy should not be an EU competence: different countries have different priorities. But aid is the softest target for the EU – and Rompuy clearly has his eye on it.
* For a run-down on Barroso and the darker side to his charcter, read Brian M Carney’s profile for The Spectator entitled “The Godfather of Europe”.