Yesterday afternoon Diana and I went across to the Parliament to sit in on the Development Committee meeting. My first one. It was good to see some of the legendary MEPs like Glennys Kinnock and Ana Gomes in action.
The big draw though was Peter Mandelson, current Commissioner for External Trade, who was presenting to the committee on the EPAs (Economic Partnership Agreements) between the EU and ACP (Africa Caribbean and Pacific – look how good I’m getting at all these acronyms!) countries. These are rather controversial. There was a big rally against them here in Brussels a few weeks ago which a few thousand of the African Diaspora in Europe turned up to.
Well, I am not an expert on EPAs. But I don’t think it would have mattered anyway, because just two minutes of listening to Mr Mandelson speak and I would have believed anything he said. His soothing English, public-school tones, impeccable grammar and gentle explanations lulled me into a false sense of security. Then his clever words won me over. Why would I not want trade to benefit Africa’s poorest? Why might I want to delay a mechanism that has the potential to lift millions out of poverty? Why am I criticizing and harassing African politicians who are working to tirelessly and selflessly for their countries and who know what’s best for them?
Yuh, I should not go and listen to him speak again. For me own intellectual safety.