Tony Blair will not become the first EU President

As Julien Frisch correctly points out in fact it is not the position of EU President that Blair would be running for in any case – indeed quite a cock-up for Le Monde.

Its not suprising that the UK flag is all the way in the back corner...

It's not suprising that the UK flag is all the way in the back corner...

In any case, Charlemagne over at the Economist has rushed to inform of that Glenys Kinnock, the new Europe Minister of the UK “fucked up” and got a little over-excited with a possible Blair candidacy.
Her mess-up however is unimportant – and here’s why – Europe does not need a President of the EU European Council who comes from a country that is not in the EMU (does not have the Euro as its currency) and is Eurosceptic. Furthermore, the first President of the (European) Council under the Lisbon Treaty will get a significant position in shaping the role. This is not quite what we want Blair to do as Europeans – especially when – as Euractiv writes: The New Parliament seen retreating from Anglo-Saxon model.

It comes down to a simple question – what Europe do we seek? (plagiarised from the New Europe editorial this week)?

It just seems to me that the Union could only regress under British leadership.

Perhaps we’ve got enough of Britain represented in Europe as it is

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Virtual Strip Search – Giving security a whole new dimension… Hello Genitalia!!!

Someone thought this would be a joke... Apparently it's closer to reality than ever!

Press Release – A proposal to introduce body scanners at European airports – which show a person’s naked image and genitalia – raises serious concerns about human rights, privacy and personal dignity, Philip Bradbourn MEP, Conservative justice and home affairs spokesman, will say tonight…

Golden Expat Allowance – Welcome to the European Commission

Not to anger all those very good people working in the European Commission- but I think giving expat allowance is simply ridiculous. From what I understand, and perhaps i’m wrong, people are paid expat allowance of a minimum of 400 or so euros. From what I also understand, is that the employees are entitled to this allowance for the duration of their employment so long as they haven’t lived in Belgium the last 2 years before being hired.

My problem is the following:

1) Belgians don’t get it, and they are the ONLY EU citizens not to……

2) How long is someone considered an expat for? After a year you’re supposed to be part of the community… Not technically an expat anymore…

3) If someone decides to leave their country to go take a job- it’s their problem. Why should they be rewarded extra for it, it’s supply and demand. There’s no shortage of employees in Europe… Only jobs.

4) With all the other benefits which are included, private companies don’t have much opportunity to avoid this internal “Brain drain”. Private company employees not working for google, or microsoft, or another huge corporation are all semi-temporary, awaiting their exam results from the Commission… and then their call to start.

5) All of this money comes from the EU taxpayers’ pockets… Mind you, the employees of the Commission don’t really pay much taxes do they…

Now I understand that it’s very easy for anyone working in the Commission to not like this post, and I’m sorry… But the greater good of 450 million is more important than the good of a few thousands… or tens of thousands…

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Is Microsoft paying in barter? Or… Time to go Open Source

A few years ago Microsoft got hit by a monster fine of about 500 million Euros which was then jacked up to 900 million earlier this year. Microsoft failed to comply with Antitrust legislation which is quite strict on a theoretical level. See Wikipedia page for more info.
My question is, how is Microsoft paying the Commission this money? (Apparently they issued a check for the first fine, perhaps they already have paid in full). From what I know the whole of the European Commission operates with Microsoft programs. What’s more, these products are highly customized, with the customization possibly even varying depending on the DGs. The European Parliament also uses Microsoft products (Word, Outlook, etc) exclusively.

So is Microsoft paying the rest of money back in barter? Obviously not…

The question is, how much money have the European Institutions paid out to Microsoft for licensing fees over the years? Furthermore how much is paid annually for support, and any other services?

Instead of fining a company for going against competition rules, why don’t the institutions attempt to break the monopoly behaviour by going open source? There are alternatives to Microsoft Office. Indeed several governments are going down the open source road. These include Croatia, the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Norway, India, Philippines, Spain, Brazil, Australia, Cuba and others. This list (3 minutes with Google) is meant to serve as an indication that any response saying that it’s not possible is… not acceptable!

The European Commission is enabling this monopoly behaviour. Now I’m a big fan of Microsoft products- they work. But so do other software alternatives. A total move to Open Source is not in the character of the Commission, as a 12-step approach is usually preferred. But with the Commission’s attitude towards the principle of Open Source questionable even this scenario is unlikely.
Time to reconsider perhaps? Or forever live in hypocrisy!
(Just like me… Using Word to spell-check this post…)

 

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Bye Bye Mandelson… Back to Business…

“Business leaders have welcomed Peter Mandelson’s return to the political fold, characterising the incoming business secretary as just the sort of “big hitter” needed during the current economic instability.” Says the Guardian…

 

Oxfam didn’t mind slamming Mandelson:

Luis Morago, Head of Oxfam’s Brussels office, said: “Commissioner Mandelson, unfortunately, failed to ensure that the EU put development ahead of self-interest in its trading relations with its former colonies. The negotiation of the Economic Partnership Agreements -many of which have still not been signed- has been marked by controversy and discord. ACP countries have consistently objected to both the manner in which the EU has negotiated and to the content of what has been proposed by the European Commission. The EC has sought many concessions from ACP countries likely to undermine their prospects for economic development.”
 
Luis Morago: “Under Commissioner Mandelson, the European Commission did not pass the “development test” in the WTO’s Doha round of world trade talks. While there have been some improvements in the EU position recently, the demands on developing countries are still disproportionate and their potential impact uncertain until further details emerge.”

 

Little whispers in Brussels always echoed about Mandelson’s ability to take care of business… a little bit too well!

A small flight home for Mandelson- a big step for Europe…

Let’s home something better awaits us here in Brussels.

Que Sera Sera

(by the way it’s a bit strange the timing… don’t you think… with Mandelson’s name coming up in the Eurochatter circles quite often in the last month…)

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Bad Weather; Bad EuroPolitics?

Did anyone ever wonder whether all the Gaffe Politiques that come out of Brussels are a result of the terrible terrible weather? Though weve had a couple of bright sundays, they weather is starting to look grayer than ever... And so my fear for things betting worse grows. The financial turmoil is bringing Europe to the drawing board for solutions. Sometimes I cant help but think that senior European political figures are adversely affected by this terrible weather. With months to go before the European Elections, and the establishment of a new College of Commissioners; political activity is growing, and so is the margin for political maladministration. Maybe we should shoot atmosphere altering shells into the sky to clear the clouds... Just like in the Olympic Games- only all year around. Better weather, happier politicians, happier Europe.

Did anyone ever wonder whether all the Gaffe Politiques that come out of Brussels are a result of the terrible terrible weather? Though we've had a couple of bright sundays, they weather is starting to look grayer than ever... And so my fear for things betting worse grows. The financial turmoil is bringing Europe to the drawing board for solutions. Sometimes I can't help but think that senior European political figures are adversely affected by this terrible weather. With months to go before the European Elections, and the establishment of a new College of Commissioners; political activity is growing, and so is the margin for political maladministration. Maybe we should shoot atmosphere altering shells into the sky to clear the clouds... Just like in the Olympic Games- only all year around. Better weather, happier politicians, happier Europe.

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Barroso should have more important things to do…

On friday – the European Commission top boss, issued a press release showing just how much work those people at the European Commission have:

A longer nose would make him like Pinnochio... a couple of screws would make him Frankenstein... Some nuts might make him a real politician!

A longer nose would make him like Pinnochio... a couple of screws would make him Frankenstein... Some nuts might make him a real politician!

Message of support from President Barroso to the European Ryder Cup Captain

On behalf of the European Commission, President Barroso has sent a message of support to Nick Faldo, Captain of the European Ryder Cup Golf team in advance of the tournament against the United States this weekend.  President Barroso said, “On behalf of the European Commission and myself, I want to offer to your team our full support and best wishes in advance of the tournament starting today. I am sure this will be a great sporting occasion bringing together two great teams. The whole of Europe will be behind you this weekend”.

 

 

Clearly- the financial crisis, the failure of the Lisbon treaty, the upcoming European elections, and the cloud of scandals surrounding the Berlaymont all give way when it comes to golf. The Ryder Cup is something that at best 2% of Europeans have ever heard of… Why in god’s name is someone taking the time to write a press release of support? If the gentleman is Jose’s best bud, then send him an email, or better yet an SMS. I don’t remember any similar messages to the olympic teams, the winners of the UEFA Champion’s league, etc etc etc.

 

Clearly, either the Commission is quite overstaffed, or they have their priorities a little muddled.

 

(and yes we understand Mr.B is supporting EUROPE by supporting the Euroteam for the Ryder Cup, but please- a little bit of perspective: 1) No respected medium will report on it, and 2)Maybe a more popular event might serve the goals better…)

 

I hope to see fewer press releases wishing good luck, congratulations, condolances, and any other wishes come out of the Commission, and more releases which serve to explain how succesfully European tax money has been allocated.

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