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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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.

MyParl.eu – No take-off, No crash-and-burn

Gawain Towler has announced the death of MyParl.eu with the followup of Jon Worth .

The project was simply a waste of money. A project which didn’t take off so it doesn’t crash land! Because the project would simply crash-and-burn.

Sometimes I wonder who comes up with these great ideas…

Instead of finding new projects to fund with a few million euros, why not fund existing projects that are successful. Blogactiv (which I am not crazy about but at least have some respect for) is an example of such a project. (note that I have absolutely no affiliation with Euractiv or Blogactiv…

So,etimes it’s like they have competitions for who the most useless projects…

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.

 (June)

From the Press:

No Lisbon Treaty by June 2009- Juncker

Juncker rules out Lisbon treaty before 2010

 

 

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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EU Elections – Opportunity to go transnational for parties

MEP Andrew Duff has set about to change things up a little bit in the way EU elections are run. Amongst other things, he proposes that a number of MEPs from lists put together by the European parties to be voted on at the EU-level and not the member-state level. Whether this is done automatically (ie if someone votes for a national party part of the EPP, his vote goes to the EPP automtically, or whether voters have to check an additional box indicating which party at the EU level they vote for) is not clear at this point.

This proposition gives parties, and Europe itself a chance to go transnational and achieve a cross-border connection between member states. Interesting, and positive for Europe. Thumbs up!

A new electoral procedure for re-enforced European democracy

With the European elections approaching in June 2009 we cannot but face up the fact that that though the European Parliament is among the most appreciated of the European institutions according to recent Eurostat survey, it is also one of the least visible. This has been proven by the constantly dwindling voter turnout since the first election by direct universal suffrage in 1979.

This situation is not irreversible. Beyond the characteristics of the campaigning political parties there are objective reasons for this voter disaffection. Reasons were identified and specific proposals to remedy this outlined by the ALDE spokesman for Constitutional Affairs, Andrew DUFF (Lib Dem, United Kingdom).

Mr Duff will present his report proposing to modify the 1976 act concerning the election of members of the European Parliament. This report will be debated on the same afternoon in the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) in the European Parliament.

Duff’s key proposal is the establishment, in time for the 2014 elections, of a small number of MEPs elected from EU-wide lists drawn up by the European political parties. This reform, he believes, will transform the character of the European elections campaigns and allow the transnational political parties to come of age. Duff also proposes, to bring forward the date of the elections from June to May to allow the newly elected Parliament to start working over the summer. The proposals also include concentrating of Europe’s polling days over one weekend, rather than a week, in order to focus a greater degree of attention on the event, emphasize what is at stake for the electorate. Duff also calls to facilitate voting for EU citizens residing in another EU country and for a regular revision of the number of MEPs per country in order to reflect demographic trends and to maintain a fair balance in the representation of Member States.

 

 

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EBS Plus- Thank God, but Why, Why, and Why

 

I’m very happy to see that EBS is expanding with a plus channel… Thank god that there is expansion. There are however three small things I don’t understand:

1) why (since they have the raw material) don’t they use a more userfriendly platform? (Realplayer is absolutely TERRIBLE)

2) why don’t they add embeding codes to the darn videos so they can REALLY circulate the internet and be seen by the citizens of Europe…

3) Why didn’t they put EUROPARLTV on this platform as well, with both a website and a satelite channel playing a playlist of selected parliament videos and live coverage at the same time? There was nothing to stop the company from making a user-friendly, approachable interface AND having an EBS type platform. ..

Why Why Why?

See below the press release for EBS+

 

 

EU launches Europe by Satellite ‘Plus’ channel: Test phase from October to December 2008

The European Union institutions are launching an additional Europe by Satellite channel at the beginning of 2009 in order to offer more EU-related raw material to broadcasters and more access to EU-related events to the media and the general public. The test phase of the new channel, EbS+, is scheduled from 6 October to the end of December 2008.

 

EbS is an inter-institutional TV service established in 1996 that provides broadcast-quality, up-to-the-minute and free-of-charge audiovisual coverage of EU news to media professionals and other interested parties around the world. It offers live transmissions of EU news through the SIRIUS IV satellite and through the EbS portal on the Europa server (http://ec.europa.eu/avserviCES/EBS). The material on offer also includes archived images and sounds.

 

Due to the increased number of events of major importance taking place in parallel, an additional EbS channel: EbS+, will be launched on 1 January 2009.

 

The two EbS channels will have the same mission of transmitting EU-related raw content without editorial comment, whether live coverage or edited news extracts.

 

This expansion will allow transmitting more live coverage of EU-related events, giving access to more EU events not only by the media but also by the general public. And so that the general public may use the service to follow important EU events, such as open debates of the Council, presentations of the Commission’s proposals or plenary sessions of the European Parliament and committee meetings, the enlarged service will also offer a multilingual web streaming service.

 

How to receive EbS+

 

EbS+ is on the same satellite with the same reception details as EbS. Reception details at: http://ec.europa.eu/avserviCES/EBSPLus.

 

A satellite receiver that has been tuned to receive EbS will automatically have set itself to receive in EbS+.

 

Depending on the make and model of satellite tuner, EbS+ either will be listed in the programme menu or will be available as a service to be selected manually. If, for some reason, EbS+ is not listed, then a simple re-scan of the transponder will correct the situation. Each service carries the same range of language channels and these are selected via the menu.

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