Posts Tagged ‘Brussels’

Europaeum.eu Blog listet unglaublich viele Europa-Blogs deutscher Autoren auf. Mich findet man alphabetisch zwischen MEP Reinhard Bütikofer und RandomInsights aus Österreich (sehr “idiosynkratisch”), in der Liste viele Bekannte und Unbekannte.

Aber 55 deutschsprachige gesammelte Blogs sind viel zu wenig für unser Projekt Europa der Bürger. Zusammen mit ein paar Kollegen bereiten wir gerade sehr konkrete Lösungen in Sachen “Brüssel Bubble-gum” vor. Es ist Zeit an der Wurzel anzusetzen.


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The Europe Union institutions copy more elements from the United States than I believe suit the dignity of the European Union. Even the “e pluribus unum“, you may also find that on the US seal, though the current US motto is “In God we trust”, ironically the EU started a competition to come up with a translation of the Latin phrase in its 27 member languages, and even reverse-translated it to Latin, in an odd fashion “In varietate concordia”.

Legislative counterfeiting is quite common. The EU serves as a recycling market for U.S. policy proposals, which results in consultancy driven EU policy initiatives, well tracable by their unusual language e.g. the Small Business Act. I admit, I am guilty, I’ve done the same, cut and paste. Monolingualism certainly helps to further that transatlantic transfer.

Today Commission President Barroso delivered a “State of the Union” speech. State of the Union, we know that from the US. Where the President of the United States, at present Barack Obama, makes a crosspartisan highlevel speech to Parliament and standing ovations are expected. But this is the European Parliament. Barroso is not the US or EU President. Everyone seemed dissatisfied with what he said. And they expressed it. Next time it needs far more thought, he has to address the right style and improve his selection of words. MEPs don’t offer Barroso the great privilege to speak his mind, they want to grill the Commission President and get him to enact their own proposals and demands.

Let’s have a closer examination

Honourable Members,

It is a great privilege to deliver the first State of the Union address before this House.

From now on the State of the Union address will be the occasion when we will chart our work for the next 12 months. Many of the decisions we will take this year will have long-term implications. They will define the kind of Europe we want. They will define a Europe of opportunity where those that aspire are elevated and those in need are not neglected. A Europe that is open to the world and open to its people. A Europe that delivers economic, social and territorial cohesion.

Who is that “we” he speaks about?

We should be under no illusions. Our work is far from finished. There is no room for complacency. Budgetary expansion played its role to counter the decline in economic activity. But it is now time to exit. Without structural reforms, we will not create sustainable growth. We must use the next 12 months to accelerate our reform agenda. Now is the time to modernise our social market economy so that it can compete globally and respond to the challenge of demography. Now is the time to make the right investments for our future.

We, at the Commission?
We, the Commissioners?
We, in this room?
We, the people? Which one?
We, the European citizens?

Members of Parliament did not appreciate an inclusive rhetoric approach. Rather they were interested in the statements of the Commission in current controversial matters of interest. A dull topic of the day, a controversial expulsion of some Roma to (non-EU) Romania by President Sarkozy in France was highlighted by many speaker as an issue worth to address by the European Commission President. Barosso’s lofty speech didn’t convince them and didn’t suit them.

Next month, we will come forward with the Commission’s first ideas for the budget review. It shall launch an open debate without taboos to prepare our legislative proposals that will be presented in the second quarter of next year.

Which taboos?

We need to spend our money where we get most value for it. And we should invest it where it leverages growth and delivers on our European agenda. The quality of spending should be the yardstick for us all. So it is not only important to discuss the quantity, but also the quality of spending and investment.

Taboos like new fundraising methods and EU public debt:

That’s why we should also explore new sources of financing for major European infrastructure projects. For instance, I will propose the establishment of EU project bonds, together with the European Investment Bank. We will also further develop Public Private Partnerships.

Indeed, it was hidden but “we” are able to spot it. What would “we” finance with it, for instance:

Our European Digital Agenda will deliver a single digital market worth 4% of EU GDP by 2020.

Now is the time to make the right investments for our future, I see. Barroso wants to follow the U.S. in public spending and seeks new public debt instruments and tax revenue at the EU level. A return of Keynesianism, this time on the EU level, or did they just copy the phrases?

Oh, later of course Barroso delivered a media statement on the Roma issues. We would listen to gnashing of teeths by French President Sarkozy or would get no reaction at all, solely depending on your awareness of sarcasm.

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David Hammerstein wrote last week:

Written Declaration presented today in Brussels

ACTA is legislation laundering on an international scale, trying to covertly push through what could never be passed in most national parliaments” declared the socialist Member of the European Parliament Lambrinidis in his presentation of a written declaration that aims at establishing the official oppositon to ACTA of Europe´s elected representatives. He also criticized ACTA´s intention of “systematic monitoring of citizens in the hands of internet service providers, giving them more power than police have in anti-terror operations”.

Here the article again. The quote from Lambrinidis sounds rather harsh and shrill to me but it is all true. Yes, the misuse of FTA for policy laundry is a problem for our emerging European democracy. David pointed that out. I wrote an article a while ago to try out the Salon.com blog titled What laws and bananas have in common about the same issue.

I used a tone which sounds a bit propagandistic:

No more tariffs and quota for imports and exports of bananas and steam engines but legislation itself is now traded across the Atlantic, across the world. Trade administration, not parliament, makes our laws. Billions of citizens are affected but don’t get consulted in any way. Business and civil society stakeholders and our representative legislators are unable to inspect what is negotiated.

It sounds rather harsh and shrill to me but it is all true. When I read it as if it were from another person I would find it exaggerated. How do we manage to stay calm, moderate and diplomatic when a process is outrageous? Furthermore, how do we bridge a “time gap” until the rest finds out what is going on? You censor yourself, you tune your communication a bit down. Do I endorse the Lambrinidis quote? Absolutely. Would I communicate in that bluntness? Probably not.

A very usual thing to do when a bomb destroys your house is to take a brush and clean the street in front of the ruins.

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There is a new information from Sweden, Åsa Torstensson from the Swedish Government will meet the United States representatives on ACTA transparency. She is the Swedish minister for Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communication, and Sweden is still presidency of the European Council. We rebuild kindly translated the substance of her message for non-Swedish speaking parties:

There is a shadow on the world, a shadow of secrecy surrounding the ACTA treaty. We are concerned that this treaty will have severe consequences for the future of the Internet. But there is no need to fear, only to rebuild and patch the errors that appear in politics.

Towards the end of this month, Swedish Minister of Communications Åsa Torstensson will travel to Washington DC to convey one (out of several other) important message from the European Union and Sweden. …

Åsa Torstensson will also meet with the president’s advisor Peter Cowhey (Senior Counselor to the US Trade Representative) in order to discuss the new trade agreement known as the “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” (ACTA), which is currently being negotiated. Åsa Torstensson will present the opinion that the negotiations process should be opened up, so that interested parties and groups are given the opportunity to submit more detailed opinions about the contents of the negotiations and draft documents.

Let me add that 1st of December Art 15 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU is set into force. In my German language “confirmatory application” for an ACTA document access to the European Council I argued recently that this takes effects for the ACTA document access regime as well.

I continue to advocate the following doctrine:

If the EU-Commission (DG Trade) is unable to comply with Art 15 (former Art 255) citizen rights then the Commission lacks authority to negotiate such legislative and regulative matters with these third nations. It is upon the US and other nations to agree on a transparency regime compliant with Art 15 citizen rights.

It seems unacceptable to me that documents are provided to few American professional lobbyists but not to European legislators (despite repeated requests) and European citizens which enjoy a right scrutinize such documents of legislative nature.

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Computers, Privacy & Data Protection conference: Data Protection in A Profiled World?

16 January 2009 – 17 January 2009 Brussels, Belgium: This event aims to offer a discussion forum for policy makers, academics, practitioners, activists and representatives from standardization bodies and ICT industries,on key issues related to data protection and privacy.

The main topic of this year’s conference is “profiling and automatic computing”. Other topics covered: e-voting and data breaches, e-privacy regulations and surveillance, privacy by design and social networks.

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