David Miliband is out, but Tony Blair is still in with a shout. Those whom shriek with horror at the thought of a Blair presidency, but also want a stronger more coherent EU might want to consider the potential contradictions in their respective posi.
Today, The Telegraph reported that Herman Van Rompuy, current Prime Minister of Belgium and “the new front-runner to be the first EU President,” is looking to institute a European anthem. Van Rompuy could pull ideas from the EU’s website, which nobly proclaims its aims as “Peace, prosperity and freedom for its 498 million citizens — in a fairer, safer world.” Or he might look to the Treaty of Lisbon; “Drawing inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe, from which have developed the universal values of the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law.” These are the sorts of airy proclamations that are grist for a modern-day anthem.
For the complete report from The Independent click on this linkThe Dutch government is to become the first country in Europe to introduce a green tax to replace annual road tax on cars. Drivers will have to pay per kilometer driven in a bid to end chronic traffic jams and cut carbon emissions.
The sixteen EU member states Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Hungary, Malta, Austria, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and the Slovak Republic have something in common. What could it be?
When it comes to human dignity, Western European societies agree without questioning. In this line, the European Union stated their goals to combat a broad spectrum of discrimination in article 13 of the 1997 Amsterdam Declaration: “Without prejudice to the other provisions of this Treaty and within the limits of the powers conferred by it upon the Community, the Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament, may take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.”
An agreement negotiated between the US and the EU on sharing bank data in the context of antiterrorism has just been blocked by Germany, France, Finland and Austria. This shift in German policy signals general political changes that will continue to impact transatlantic relations.
It is difficult to contemplate the new EU Commission for five years with fewer women than at present. A better gender balance should evolve naturally, without forcing matters, but the known nominations by the member states put this development at risk.
For Jean Quatremer on the Coulisses de Bruxelles blog, prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker from Luxembourg remains the preferred candidate because of his firm and long European engagement.
Sweden’s Social Democrats are still an inspiration for the rest of the European left.
The Swedish Social Democrats were the most successful left-wing party in the last century, not only in the longevity of their years in government but also in their ideology and programmes. At their conference this autumn in Stockholm the leadership produced new ‘political guidelines’ for the future in preparation for next September’s general election. The Social Democrats and their allies on the left – the Greens and the Left Party – are by no means sure of a victory. Their electoral defeat in 2006 came as a shock, at a time when the Swedish economy was booming, with both trade and budget surpluses and relatively low unemployment. Now Sweden is suffering from high unemployment and huge deficits under its centre-right government, but in opinion polls the Social Democrats in the so-called left bloc are only running neck and neck with the ruling coalition.
Sweden’s Fredrik Reinfeldt has consulted outside the public sphere, and soon he will have to deliver. Thursday evening in Brussels, 27 heads of government or state (and José Manuel Barroso as president-elect of the EU Commission) will try to reach agreement, or at least a decision on the new top jobs under the Lisbon Treaty.
Never mind that the Tories oppose him, never mind that the British do not want him, never mind that many EU citizens reject him, for Charlemagne’s notebook Tony Blair is the only serious candidate, the only world leader (Ex-leader, I would venture.): Europe’s global credibility in the balance (17 November 2009).
It’s taken me a few days to get aorund to it, but here’s my take on David Cameron’s equality speech (The Big Society: Hugo Young Lecture, 10 Nov 2009).
Cameron name checks Wilkinson and Pickett and says that they “have shown that among the richest countries, it’s the more unequal ones that do worse according to almost every quality of life indicator”.
I just wanted to use the opportunity to thank the editors of “New Europe” for printing euroblog articles in their weekly newspaper and for linking them on their front page.
I had the pleasure to appear twice over the last two weeks (see page 22 of the issues 559 & 560), first with my post “10 steps to becoming a Euroblogger” and this week with last Friday’s article “A European Blog Action against a Commission without gender balance” that became reality quicker than I expected with the campaign for a “Gender Balanced Commission“. But it is as much a pleasure to find my own texts published as it is to read the texts of other bloggers, seeing our content distributed in a new way and incorporated into editorial content.
For the complete report from the nrc.nl click on this linkThe heated Dutch debate about ethnic minorities and their integration could leave the impression that immigration in the Netherlands has been a complete failure. But a government report released this week says some progress has been made in the past ten years.Several statistics in the annual report point to improved integration of young Turks and Moroccans in the job market and education. The number of Turkish- and Moroccan-Dutch youngsters going on to higher education has doubled over the past ten years to 40 percent. During the same period the number of Turkish and Moroccan Dutch in the job market went up 10 percent to 55 percent. The number of unemployed has almost halved from more than 20 percent to 11 percent.
Quite irksome really, with all those funny little foreigners wanting a say on running the European Union, and not recognizing the self-evident leading role of the United Kingdom in European integration. If this continues, Britain will have to expel the rest of the EU member states to put Europe in order.
Forgive the poetic licence, but here are a few examples from the UK debate about the EU summit this Thursday evening, convened to nominate the president of the European Council and the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy.
The BBC appears to have taken some kind of corporate decision to refer to the post of president of the European Council as “president of Europe” or “president of the EU”. (Here, for example.) Sometimes, when they’ve got the space, they use the proper term, but they are willing to use the misleading shorthand.