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

Obama Election: EU Reactions

With Obama’s Coronation as the new President of the United States of America, Europe was quick to react. A collection of reactions can be found below:

 

European Commission:

COMMISSION PRESIDENT BARROSO CONGRATULATES SENATOR BARACK OBAMA

Commission President José Manuel Barroso this morning made the following statement on the outcome of the US presidential election:

“On behalf of the European Commission and on my own behalf, I would like to congratulate Senator Obama on becoming the 44th President of the United States of America.

This is a time for a renewed commitment between Europe and the United States of America.

I want to assure Senator Obama of the support of the European Commission and of my personal support in forging this renewed commitment to face together the many challenges ahead of us.

We need to change the current crisis into a new opportunity. We need a new deal for a new world. I sincerely hope that with the leadership of President Obama, the United States of America will join forces with Europe to drive this new deal. For the benefit of our societies, for the benefit of the world.”

 

 

Javier SOLANA,

EU High Representative for the CFSP, congratulates Barack Obama on his election as President in the United States of America

“I want to congratulate Barack Obama on his impressive election victory. Elections are about political renewal. The campaign has been exciting and uplifting and the turnout impressive.

The sense of renewal also applies to the transatlantic relations. Europeans and Americans are keen to open a new chapter in their relations.

President-elect Obama ran on a ticket of change. This is most welcome since many things in the world today need changing. Let us do that together.

Europe is willing and able to help. There is a high number of very complex global problems: from the Middle-East to Iran and Afghanistan and Pakistan, from climate change to nonproliferation. We need to address those problems together with determination and creativity. President-elect Obama personifies what is good and impressive about America. He also personifies today’s complex and globalized world where change is a constant. As we grapple with these problems, it is good to have someone who put change, empathy and good judgement at the heart of his campaign. I am looking forward to working with President Obama and his administration.”

European Parliament:

Hans-Gert Pöttering congratulates the new President of the United States

The President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, has conveyed his congratulations to the newly-elected President of the United States, Barack Obama, for his great success in these elections.

In his letter congratulating Barack Obama on his election as President of the United States, Hans-Gert Pöttering wishes Barack Obama “every success in the challenging new role which you take on at this critical time’. He says that the result “has proved once again the extraordinarily capacity for renewal which has so often been evident at difficult moments in American history”. He welcomes the opportunity for a fresh start to EU-US relations, putting them on a stronger and more vibrant footing” and looks forward to the US and EU “working together in effective partnership on many of the global issues facing decision-makers in our both continents, for example climate change”.

Hans-Gert Pöttering congratulated Barack Obama in the name of the European Parliament and expressed at the same time an invitation to the new US President to address the European Parliament on an early visit to Europe, possibly in April before the 2009 Nato Summit. “Such a speech would allow you to showcase your approach to transatlantic relations and set out your vision of foreign policy for the years ahead”.
 
“It would give an excellent message to the people of the European Union if Barack Obama were to make a speech in the European Parliament during his first visit to Europe. This way he could address the almost 500 million citizens of the European Union”.
 
The last time a US President addressed the European Parliament was when Ronald Reagan spoke in Strasbourg in May 1985.
 
ALDE: 

Barak Obama, a president for a new transatlantic partnership

European Council:

Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament give three cheers to Barack Obama on his well-deserved victory. Senator Obama has redrawn the electoral map, reshaped the debate in American politics and revived hope for America’s future.

“As a candidate, Barack Obama promised to heal the divisions within America and between America and others in the international community: as President his challenge is to make good on those fine words.

The Presidential in-tray is bulging with challenges: the financial crisis, Iraq, Afghanistan and so many more. But in Europe President Obama will find a partner and friend, ready to strengthen the links between the US and the EU and work for common solutions to common problems” said ALDE Leader Graham WATSON.

“This breakthrough also throws the spotlight on Europe’s leaders. As we look around the table at the Council of Ministers and the European Commission we see twenty seven white heads of government, and twenty seven white Commissioners. Which will be the first European country to break our glass ceiling and puts its faith in a leader of colour?”

Alexander Graf LAMBSDORFF: (FDP, Germany) added: “Barack Obama has promised change, now he must deliver. We Europeans are hoping for a change as well, a change of tone in transatlantic relations. The challenges are as manyfold as they are complex: the financial crisis, climate change and peace and security in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East. Barack Obama has promised more consultation, in return, he will look for more contribution from Europeans when it comes to addressing these challenges.”

ELDR:

Obama victory heralds new dawn for EU – US relations

Annemie Neyts, President of ELDR Party declared today: “The European Liberal Democrats welcome Barack Obama’s victory in the US presidential election and consider it not just a victory for Obama, but for those with liberal democrat beliefs throughout the world. Greeting Obama’s victory, the ELDR Party welcomes the democratic commitment on the fight to strengthen civil rights enforcement and the desire of the new president to fight for pay equality between men and women and encouraging women-owned businesses. For Europeans, however, it is Obama’s desire to strengthen relations between the US and EU that will be particularly important. ”

“As European liberal democrats we have not forgotten the promises Obama made in his speech in Berlin about supporting democratic partners and upholding principles of sovereignty throughout Europe and Eurasia, towards a common idea of democratic progress. We look forward to increased cooperation between the EU and the new US administration. Furthermore, in relation to the conflict between Russia and Georgia, the challenge is to pursue an integrated strategy in the region and to invigorate the Transatlantic Alliance, so that we can work together in a trilateral commitment: US-EU-Russia with a unified voice.”, she stated.


GUE/NGL

Election d’Obama: “Une puissante et magnifique exigence de changements”

 

Déclaration de Francis WURTZ,  Président du groupe de la Gauche unitaire européenne – Gauche verte nordique du Parlement européen

 

Bruxelles, 05/11/08,

 

Une quarantaine d’années à peine après les durs combats pour les droits civiques, je perçois le mouvement populaire qui vient de porter à la présidence des Etats-Unis, un “Africain-Américain” – comme aime à se présenter Barack Obama – comme un grand et beau moment d’histoire. Et pas que pour les Etats-Unis. Il exprime tout à la fois un profond phénomène de rejet de tout ce qu’a représenté la funeste administration Bush – la guerre, la violence sociale, l’intolérance, l’ultra-conservatisme, la volonté de dominer, et finalement le fiasco intégral et l’isolement international – et une puissante et magnifique exigence de changements. Barack Obama a su incarner cette soif de dignité et ces aspirations à une ère nouvelle. Son éclatante victoire lui confère d’immenses responsabilités.

 

Les attentes vont, en effet, très au-delà des engagements pris par le candidat démocrate. Tant sur le plan économique et social qu’en matière de politique internationale. En outre, dans le contexte d’une Amérique affaiblie par la crise qui secoue le monde entier, les pressions de Wall Street sur le nouveau Président seront très fortes dans le sens de la reconquête du “leadership” américain.

 

Cette situation entièrement nouvelle devrait conduire les progressistes européens à relancer une dynamique de coopération avec les progressistes des Etats-Unis pour faire converger leurs efforts en faveur d’objectifs aussi pressants que la démilitarisation des relations internationales; la réforme profonde des règles et des institutions économiques et financières internationales; la mobilisation contre le changement climatique; la lutte contre le racisme et pour les droits humains.

 

Un nouvel espoir est né. C’est une chance que nul n’a le droit de gâche

 

 

 

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…

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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Mandelson back in “action”

Sooner or later... therell be no more yachts for Mandy to cruise on...

Sooner or later... there'll be no more yachts for Mandy to cruise on...

Peter Mandelson gave trade concessions worth up to £50m a year to Russia’s richest man who has entertained him on his superyacht.  Following my post Bye Bye Mandelson… Back to Business… I found this on a fellow bloggers site. Apparently, Mandelson is back in action:

Only days back in UK politics and Mandy is the centre of controversy. This time according to The Times it is over potential conflict of interest in respect of a rich Russian acquaintance. Apparently trade concessions worth some 50 million pounds a year could be involved.

Mr. Mandelson knows very well how to handle issues of trade… Brussels taught him well. Interesting to note that this is the same paper that did the Sting operation on Fritz-Harald Wenig not too long ago. Go figure…

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Fear of the Austrian far right; far fetched. Or is it?

From the Associated Press, to the FT to the Independent and the Times, the press is all over the rise of the far right in Austria. The real question is, should we (the rest of Europe) be concerned?

The Times notes that “The two parties that campaigned on an anti-immigrant and anti-European Union ticket have captured about 29 per cent of the vote”.

The Guardian raises the alarm with the historical and religion elements:

Heinz Christian Strache, the leader of the Freedom party …  who has been associated with neo-Nazi militants who deny the Holocaust, according to a court ruling, and who wants a new government ministry created to manage the deportation of immigrants, wound up his campaign at the weekend by calling Muslim women who wear the burqa “female ninjas”.
… He talked of east European immigrants to Vienna as “European brothers who don’t want to be Islamised”, while another of his party leaders reminisced about the days when the kiosks on Vienna’s squares sold sausage and wiener schnitzel, rather than “the kebab joints selling falafel and couscous, or whatever you call that stuff”. 

Though all of the above sounds quite significant and frightening, especially looking back at what negative effect the extreme right (and left) have had historically, we must take into account what sort of society we live in today.

First off, the reality is that if the Austrian goverment is not singing the EU tune, they can be, not thrown out, but put on a political, and more importantly financial freeze. This would not be the first time something like this came to happen… again to Austria none-the-less.

And this would end up backfiring until the people were bullied into voting for an acceptable candidate. Acceptable? Democratically speaking no… For the better of the world? Maybe… But still wrong…

Other option: Austria leaves the Union and heads for solitude, only not with the good graces of the member states like the solitude of Switzerland…. Outcome? God knows, but I don’t think (and I hope I never have to be proven wrong) that Austria’s military size pozes a threat- 81st in the world according to good ‘ol wikipedia.

Bottom line; extreme situations end up resolving themselves. The biggest problem is not the rest of Europe, but what goies on inside the country, and THAT is what the EU and all other international organisations must strive to protect if the shit hits the fan, and I say if because politicians do not tend to be as extreme as they have been historically.

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New Europe gives Gawain Towler a bulletproof vest

Following up on my previous post on the situation of Gawain Towler, an official of the European Parliament to whom it was suggested that he shut down his not pro-european blog, or face penalty equal to 4 months wages, I am very happy to see the response of a European Newspaper. Towler’s story hasn’t reached the FT yet, but there is still time 🙂

The first medium to react (to my knowledge) on the matter of Gawain Towlers persecution is New Europe, with a full page article (pdf)… including excerpts from a few bloggers!

I can only hope that this article is one of many to come; or that this article will be enough for the Parliament officials involved to come to their senses…

Hope to see some more reactions on this. I’m eagerly awaiting some feedback…

 

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