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


ALDE leaves out the boring stuff… MEPs apparently not squandering all their money :)

Update: Brusselsblogger went into the trouble to question ALDE on the matter (original post in quote further below). It seems that in the effort to make the pages of the press, ALDE left out some important details. The very fact that there is interaction between this sphere of blogging and the political spectrum is a very important step, which is often needed to correct misconceptions (admittedly like mine).

As Brusselsblogger commented-

This is the answer from ALDE press officer (so, if one wants to see it from a more positive side it means ALDE has just highlighted the more interesting sports aspects in its press release and left out the boring official visits part)

“The football match you are referring to is part of an official visit to
Gibraltar taking place from 12 to 14 November 2008.

This is the first visit of the ALDE Bureau to Gibraltar whose residents
were only allowed to vote in EP elections in 2004. During the visit the
MEPs will meet government ministers, party leaders and representatives of the civil society.

The football match is just one segment of the visit and was meant to
highlight the fact that Gibraltar is subjected to discrimination because
of Spanish sovereignty claims.”

Original Post:
Translation of press release below:
A group of 14 MEPs will be travelling (probably first class) to Gibraltar and back, with what will probably be an overnight stay at a 5 star hotel, a few gourmet meals, etc etc etc, to play a game of football to show that UEFA should accept Gibraltar as a member. Also they have gone into the added expense of printing high-quality custom football jerseys so they can have a memento of this fine expirience.

Not that I think their cause is wrong; I just think that they should have more important things to do. If you want to get Gibraltar into UEFA, send a collectively signed letter…

Cost of getting a collectively signed letter sent to UEFA: 25 euro by courrier

Cost of playing football in Gibraltar with no expense spared: Approximately 50,000 euro

Knowing that you can do whatever the hell you want with taxpayers money: PRICELESS!

Calling Notice: Liberal and Democrats to play Gibraltar Football Association in football match

Match to raise awareness of Gibraltar’s rebuffed efforts to join UEFA

Liberal and Democrat (ALDE) Members of the European Parliament will be playing football Thursday against a team representing the Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) at the Victoria Stadium in Gibraltar.

The aim of the match is to drive home the point that the MEPs are more than happy to play against the GFA even though Europe’s governing body of football UEFA continues to ban Gibraltar’s participation in European competition.

It will be recalled that on instructions from the Spanish Government, the Spanish Football Federation has opposed the GFA’s application to join UEFA. Moreover, UEFA rules were changed after the GFA applied to join to ensure that only sovereign independent states could be admitted as members.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has already ruled in two separate cases that the GFA’s application must be considered in the context of what UEFA rules were at the time the application was made, that under the said rules the GFA is entitled to membership of UEFA and that the Executive Committee of UEFA had not acted in accordance with its rules in dealing with the GFA’s application.

Graham Watson MEP, the Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), has made strong representations to UEFA urging them to accept the GFA as members. Mr Watson is a UK Liberal Democrat MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar and is leading the delegation of 14 MEPs from 13 different countries that will be in Gibraltar.

The MEPs have had football kits printed specially for the event.

Barroso Bus Campaign – Why not…

Following up from Jon Worth’s Post about the Atheist campaign on UK Busses, I thought this little bit of satyr would be funny…

Wanted: The Lisbon Treaty

I wanted to see what everybody thinks… Though I don’t expect a huge voter turnout… 🙂


Just looking back on some emails, I recieved mixed messages:

The President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, welcomed as a strong political signal the call by European Heads of State and Government meeting in Brussels for the Lisbon Treaty ratification process to go ahead in those countries that have not ratified.


From the Press:

No Lisbon Treaty by June 2009- Juncker

Juncker rules out Lisbon treaty before 2010



President Kaczynski Cartoon…

With Poland’s President Kaczynski having stirred the waters with nearly every one of his visits to Brussels, his government is now literally begging him not to come to Brussels next week for the EU Summit.
Little gold star for Foreign Minister Sikorsi who realises that Kaczynski does more bad than good; for Poland, and for Europe.

What the press said:

The Times:

Radoslaw Sikorski, Poland’s Foreign Minister, pleaded with President Kaczynski “on bended knee” not to attend this week’s European Union summit, saying that his presence could harm Warsaw’s negotiating position.

Sikorski added each of the EU’s 27 member states will have two seats at the negotiating table, and the government wants them to be occupied by Tusk and Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski, who both have a history of economic proficiency.

The summit is expected to focus on the global financial crisis and the EU’s efforts to buttress its beleaguered banking system. Leaders will also discuss the EU’s plan to tackle global warming, which Poland believes to be too costly. (Reuters)


‘On bended knee, I beg you Mr President, don’t go… Don’t weaken our negotiating position at this important summit,’ Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said in a radio interview.

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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