Saturday 30 May 2009


I am not sure how much blogging there will be over the next 10 days. I am busy travelling around and might not find much time to blog.

Friday 29 May 2009

Video: Youth delegates at the United Nations

The Now-Secretary-General of the European Youth Forum, Guiseppe Porcaro, has directed a 30 minutes long film on (European) youth delegates at the United Nations, titled "The yoUNg"

It is nicely done, although I still don't really get what the role and influence of youth delegates is. But I really like the poem at the end.

Funnily, I've even met one of the people interviewed in the film. Europe is a village. So is the world of young people:

The YoUNg from Giuseppe Porcaro on Vimeo.

European Parliament election 2009 (114): Criticising the critics: Hat tip to Charlemagne

Charlemagne on the has published a wonderful article in which he criticises the PES for criticising the Romanian politician Monica Macovei on its website.

This is one of the few examples of a European news source or blog actually taking up a political statement published by a European Party, and, based on intelligent and thorough argumentation, making a strong and yet pan-European point:
"[...] So it is not, on the face of it, shocking to turn to the campaign website of the main centre-left block, the Party of European Socialists, and find a feature denouncing 12 “terrible” candidates from rival parties [...]

Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party, a racist, extreme right-wing outfit, is also singled out for his horrid views, and that is fair enough. [...]

But then comes an astonishing choice: Monica Macovei, the former Romanian justice minister. Talk to senior EU officials and European diplomats who worked on Romania’s accession to the union, and they call Ms Macovei an heroic figure, and pretty much the only reason Romania achieved entry into the EU in 2007. [...]

This attack on Monica Macovei reads—not least because of the stilted apparatchikese in which it is written—as if it were dictated by Romania’s socialists. They certainly do not like Ms Macovei: after all, she tried to prosecute several of them, starting with Mr Nastase.

But the website belongs to the PES headquarters. So they have ended up bundling a brave reformer and fighter against crippling corruption with a British racist, as one of the 12 worst candidates for the European Parliament.

What on earth were they thinking?
This is the kind of journalism the European Parliament elections need!

Update: And I just saw at the Nosemonkey that this was already the second marvellous piece of journalism by Charlemagne in a day. Respect!

Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

For the five newest post see also the sidebar.

Thursday 28 May 2009

Brussels-based think tank Bruegel coined the term "Blue Card"

On Monday, the EU Council agreed on a directive introducing an EU "Blue Card", which is supposed to be comparable to the US-American "Green Card" (press release), easing the access of highly qualified third-country (non-EU) workers to the EU countries.

Today I learned that the term "Blue Card" was initially coined by Jakob von Weizsäcker, a German economist working for the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel. I just briefly checked and so far, the first time I could find the term in the context of EU-policy was indeed in a 2006 publication (PDF) by Bruegel.

Hearing the author personally today, he told that although the EU institutions have used the term he has been proposing, the final result of the directive is far away from the think tank's proposals, being much more restrictive than initially advised.

von Weizäcker stressed in particular that the Green Blue Card would not be fully valid across all member states, so that somebody receiving it for country A would have to go through almost the full application procedure if he wants to work in country B.

I am not an expert in this issue, but I have just seen that there is a specialised blog on the "Blue Card" policy process, so anyone interested in more details should check it out!

EuroparlTV: How much lobbyism in the European Parliament?

On EuroparlTV, Dominika Pszczółkowska, Polish journalist and blogger writing the Poland in the EU blog, and Mariane Dony, professor at the Free University of Brussels, are discussing the role of the European Parliament, the amount of lobbyism MEPs are confronted with, and the changes in the salary scheme of MEPs.

It's not a big debate, but still worth watching - if not for the reflective atmosphere then maybe just to see a fellow blogger live and in action:

PS: Recommendation: Erik's very critical comment to this discussion.

Wednesday 27 May 2009

European Parliament elections 2009 (113): The turnout panic ends - and nothing has changed

Sorry, but anyone putting any particular weight into the latest public opinion survey results showing that 49% of EU citizens plan to vote (instead of 34% in April) in the upcoming elections is not taking her/his job seriously.

When the last Eurobarometer results were published, announcing record low turnout intentions, and everyone (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here) was writing like hell about it, I made a remark, saying that the survey was conducted at a time where the campaign activities were so low, that the results necessarily had to be low, too.

Since then, this initial panic around the alleged record low turnout has remained the most important issue in many media and blog reports.

It has been this dominant, that I would recommend that, next time, the political parties should have a political position on turnout, so that they'll have at least something to campaign on with media attention.

Now, one week before the elections, with most member states being in the full campaign (although "full" sounds rather sarcastic in this context), with most initiatives having reached out to parts of the public, with most media having at least some basic coverage of EU- and EP-related issues in the context of the European Parliament elections, it is no surprise that the figures are "better" than they were in April (which covered a period in late January/early February).

If we reach 49% turnout Europe-wide, this would still be very low. But it sounds realistic. But now all the media and blogs finally have something to report on, again. First, they create a panic and now they can express relief. Isn't that beautiful?

More important is the question: Did it change anything? My answer: No!

Maybe some people were more motivated to motivate others, maybe some have become aware of the upcoming elections just by this kind of panic.

But the campaign has not been better thanks to this media herd instinct. Instead of making a better campaign, the parties have kept it low key. Instead of pushing the parties into better campaigns, the media have kept it low key.

So, now we have spent a lot of valuable time on discussing a hypothetical turnout - which still can be record low and which still can be average - instead of discussing actual campaigns.

Bravo, that was really helpful!

Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

For the five newest post see also the sidebar.

Recommended: "MEP-turned-lobbyist shuns voluntary register"

Brussels Sunshine, a very good lobby watch blog, has published an article on MEPs who changed from the European Parliament into lobby and consultancy firms and whose names do not figure in the lobby register:
"A few weeks ago, in our ‘Inside the Brussels Bubble’ blog, we wondered how many of the MEPs not standing for re-election would go through the revolving door into new jobs as industry lobbyists.

Some high-profile MEPs went through the revolving doors to join Brussels lobby consultancy firms after the 2004 elections [...]. None of these ex-MEPs feature in the Commission's lobby transparency register, because the Commission – astonishingly – does not ask for lobbyists’ names to be disclosed. One can only hope that the Commission remedies this blunder when the register is reviewed next month. [...]
That is indeed a very interesting topic, one that I think I will keep an eye on after the elections, too.

Germany, France, and Austria demand interventions in the milk market

In a joint note, Germany, France, and Austria have demanded interventions into the milk market due to low milk prices.

The request was directed to the 2944th AGRICULTURE and FISHERIES Council meeting on Monday, and there was supported by Lithuania, Slovakia, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Poland, Hungary, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Portugual, Ireland, Spain, Latvia and Romania.

They all demanded higher aid for cheese, for skimmed milk powder and for milk consumption.

This looks very much like a populist reaction to the latest milk farmer protests, and I deplore that the member states react on such short sighted pressure, especially in the field of agricultural policy that already gets way to much funds.

According to the Council summary, only the Commission, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom raised doubts and asked for a more "cautious approach".

Welcome back, European Agricultural Union!

Tuesday 26 May 2009

European Parliament elections 2009 (112): Nothingness

One week until the European Parliament elections. Emotionally, there is nothing that catches my attention. Intellectually, there is not much to do what hasn't been done before.

Yes, there is more attention, but it all looks so artificial. It doesn't feel like a natural campaign, neither domestically nor Europe-wide. My impression is that both, politicians and media, have to motivate themselves to actually do something.

So do I.

It feels like they are getting up in the morning without the will to be active and only after someone kicks their ### they decide to leave the house and say something European.

There are no new topics, the discussions merely scratch the surface, I don't hear any argument that hasn't been made over the last months already. Quantitatively you can see the elections approaching, but qualitatively there is no improvement.

Maybe it's just deception about the low-profile character of the campaign, something that hasn't really changed despite E-Day coming closer and closer.

Maybe it is because I have been covering the subject for so long, maybe it is my own fault. Maybe it is because I have already voted.

But one week before the European Parliament elections 2009, my personal interest in the subject is the lowest in a year.

Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

For the five newest post see also the sidebar.

No longer European leaders without European biographies!

European leaders should have European biographies. All the others may leave. Now!

For Europe to advance as a common cultural space, as an area of shared identities and a feeling of connectedness, we have to leave behind those old-fashioned politicians - so-called "European" - whose biographies are based on national education and national careers.

We have to get leaders and politicians who have actually lived what the European Union promises - mobility, multicultural experiences, multilingualism.

When you look into the CVs of the outgoing European Commissioners (you may add Solana to the list), almost non of them has lived a life that deserve the term "European". This is no surprise, since they are nominated by the member states, you may rightfully say, but that doesn't make it more satisfactory. I suppose most MEPs CVs don't look much different.

A handful has studied in another European country - rather limited to France, the UK or Russia - and the most common foreign education experience seems to be a Master or PhD in the US. Almost non has lived or worked in another European country - let alone two or more - for a considerable time before getting into some EU-related or international organisation office.

No surprise again - they had to build their national political (at maximum: diplomatic) careers to be promoted into a European office. But this is not European in the true sense of the word, it is neither transnational nor supranational, its just old wine in new skins.

But now is the time that the terms of these worn-out biographies ends, that a new generation of Europeans comes into higher offices.

I have no doubt that some of the old personalities now in office have learnt to play the European game, they have learnt do make European politics, and they may have been socialised into the European Union's institutional culture. Fine.

But I as a European do not really feel represented by those who have never been really European before political power was calling. They talk about the four to five freedoms, but they don't know how it feels to actually make use of them. They take decisions on policies in countries other than their own without ever having lived in another European country, especially none with a more distant culture than their own.

They should represent the common Europe, but in my eyes they represent a Europeanised national perspective. And this is the maximum we can get from them. Not necessarily do they represent the interests of their own country, but they lack the pan-European feeling having grown up in the small worlds of their national politics.

They lack the cultural diversity that is the essence of a European identity, and they don't have the spirit that we need to revitalise this amazing project called European Union.

And Barroso is the tip of the iceberg!

If I had a wish, I would wish that the new European Parliament - of which we will know the new composition in two weeks - would be much stricter in its scrutiny of new and old candidates for the European Commission. I would like to hear tougher questions on the European identity and biographies of the future Commissioners, on their actual ability to feel European, not just act European.

The European Union of national politicians - in the Council, the Commission, and also the European Parliament - has to end; we need a European Union of European politicians, with European biographies, with European identities, and with a true connection to the community of European citizens, not just to the European Union of member states.

So let the old generation leave their offices and spend some years living throughout Europe. Let them catch up their European socialisation, let them do ERASMUS, COMENIUS, and LEONARDO DA VINCI - and meanwhile the next generation will try to rebuild Europe before it is too late!

PS: This is the kind of "radical" approach I would like to hear from European political youth organisations, even much more radical, against the old elites - not boring old people's rhetoric through prefabricated statements!

Monday 25 May 2009

Progress in EU military capabilities development - Lisbon without Lisbon?

One of the frequent critiques to the Lisbon Treaty is the extension of EU competencies with regard to military activities.

I have the feeling that those who are criticising the Treaty for including the obvious are already missing crucial developments.

While they claim that there will be a European army under Lisbon - which is nowhere in the text - the European military co-operation is further advancing even without the entry in to force of the Treaty.

Although my expertise in the field of European defence policy is very limited, taking a look at the latest Single Progress Report on the Development of EU Military Capabilities (which is very technical and would need more thorough studying from someone with more knowledge) clearly reveals that a lot is going on already.

The developments are based on the military capabilities enhancement strategy, and one of the goals seems to be to foster the co-operation between the Council's Military Committee (EUMC) and the European Defence Agency (EDA).

The latest conclusions (18 May) of the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) also mention intensified co-operation between the EDA and the Commission.

So the development of military capabilities and inter-institutional co-operation seems to be advancing step by step - and Lisbon looks more like an institutionalisation of what is already becoming a practice, and not much like something new.

Sunday 24 May 2009

Member states' useless fights: Where to place EU agencies

What is among the biggest and most controversial political questions in the European Union?

The Lisbon Treaty? The European Parliament elections? The next European Commission? The EU-China summit? The EU-Russia summit? The financial crisis?

No, these are minor issues, compared to the question where to place EU agencies.

This time some member states are fighting for the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators; I have reported about it in December.

And this is what I said about it in December:

"We will witness yet another fight between the member states where to place the agency [...]."

And sadly enough, I was right.

Member states, you get on my nerves with your useless fight in which you invest more time than in important policy questions!

Why we might need EU-sceptic parties

Nosemonkey has made a strong point for EU-sceptic parties, even though he dislikes them:
"[...] With the EU still seriously under-reported in almost every member state, and with so few sceptical voices around to form an opposition - one of the most essential elements of any healthy democratic system - little wonder that there is so much public frustration. The worries of the people are not, in the eyes of the people, being addressed. [...]"
In principle, I agree.

But I have made my point in a comment to this article:
"The problem is that EU-sceptic parties’ critique to anything the EU does can easily be discredited as if it was just done to harm the Union, as a matter of principle and not as a constructive approach to make the Union better, even when they are right.

I think we will need heavily EU-critical parties with a true love to the basic idea of such a supranational entity. So far, this critique too often comes from the extremes, but it needs to comes from the centres of the political spectrum, to make it more credible.

But maybe those political forces will first need the EU-sceptic pitbulls to smooth the way before they get their window of opportunity to make the EU a better polity than it is today…
What do you think? Go to Nosemonkey's article and join the discussion!

Saturday 23 May 2009

(In-)Transparency in the Council: An empty protocol of the Article 133 Committee

The bizarre intransparency of the Council is again very well depicted by this protocol (pdf) of the Article 133 Committee.

Trade negotiations might by strategic and thus not meant to be public, but why publishing an outcome document that does not give much more information than the agenda?

Archiving web resources for a European Parliament Elections 2009 Collection

Below is an email I received on Thursday from the British Library.

As a scientist, I find the preservation of web resources an important work for a public archive, and with pleasure I agreed that they may use all content of this blog. I hope that others will do so, too.



The British Library would like to archive the following website for European Parliament Elections 2009 Collection:

Dear Julien Frisch


The British Library is developing a collection of websites relevant to the European Parliament Elections in June 2009. It is our intended aim to download selected websites once or more during the course of the campaign (from May to July) and subsequently make them available to the public via our website at


The European Parliament Elections are of international interest and the British Library believes it has a responsibility to archive relevant materials for the benefit of current and future researchers. This project is an important collaborative initiative between European National Libraries which will set a precedent for international subject-based website collections. 


We appreciate that you will be extremely busy at present however, we feel it is important to archive such valuable resources urgently before they disappear. If you do not wish us to archive your website please let us know, alternatively, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns at all. More information about copyright and how your archived website will be made available can be found in our FAQs at


Thank you for your time.


Yours sincerely



Web Archiving

The British Library

96 Euston Road

London NW1 2DB

E-mail: web-archivist []

UK Web Archive:


pp. Alison Hill

Curator, Web Archiving

The British Library

(Email published with the consent of the sender.)

Friday 22 May 2009

What will I do after the European Parliament elections 2009?

One fifth of all articles written in this blog over the last eleven months have been dedicated to the European Parliament election 2009.

Inevitably, the special category created for this purpose will come to an end pretty soon.

Then, I will have to find another continuous story I can cover, because it was probably the most interesting thing to follow such a story - it was like swimming down a river, knowing that at some point you would reach the sea. Or like being a piece of litter on its journey to the dump, now hoping to be recycled instead of being burned.

If I could, I would like to follow a group of completely new MEPs, women and men moving from the member states into Brussels, from different ages and political backgrounds, and to see how they become Members of the European Parliament, how they become part of the institutions, how they integrate into the existing structures, and how they get socialised into what some think is evil and others think is the best that has ever evolved on the European continent.

It's a pretty improbable idea, because I don't think I would find such a group. I even have doubts that there would be any MEP ready to let a blogger get more than a short look into her/his life as an MEP. Because I'd be interested in much more than just analysing press releases. Maybe I should directly go for a group of new EU Commissioners...

Nevertheless, I think about moving to Brussels in early Spring 2010 to do some research. I am still not sure whether I will have the finances to support living there continuously, but I will probably know over the next months.

If this will happen, this might ease some of this blogging because I would be able to work more with first-hand information and to create a series of articles that evolves from the direct "touch" to the scene. But it could also spoil the more personal and pan-European approach of a blog now written from an informed outsider perspective (since I have never lived in Brussels or worked directly in the institutions).

In any case, I want to find a new post-election theme that will replace the "European Parliament elections 2009" series, no matter where I live or what I do.

So if any of you has an idea, I'd be ready to listen.

Absence in European Parliament committees?

Jean Quatremer speculates in his last post that the EP committee attendance records are not public because that this could reveal that certain MEPs are not only absent in the plenary but also there where they claim happens the most work.

In addition, this would probably show that during important compromise negotiations, absent MEPs who later attack the compromise, where actually not present.

Thursday 21 May 2009

European Parliament elections 2009 (111): EP web editors on the election night

Tibo from the European Parliament web editors has given a nice insight in the EP multimedia coverage of the election night on 7 June 2009, inter alia mentioning that 22 Twitter accounts in all official languages of the European Union will be set up by the EP web team to ease the flow of information on all results and coverage issues.

The English account already exists.

Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

For the five newest post see also the sidebar.

European patent regulation and litigation: Council progress report

The EU Council is working on two major issues regarding patents at the moment:
  • a Regulation of the Council on the Community patent
  • an Agreement creating a Unified Patent Litigation System
The preparatory work for both of these issues is done by the Council Working Party on Intellectual Property, and now the Competitiveness Council will deal with these issues next week (28-29 May 2009).

For this purpose, the Czech Council Presidency has prepared a progress report (five readable pages) from which I could see that the major topic of the Unified Patent Litigation System will be the setting up of a European and Community Patents Court for which an updated draft agreement and draft statute have been published in March.

Article 14a of the agreement defines the legal scope of this Court that shall replace "the current fragmented patent litigation system" (progress report):
Article 14a Applicable law

(1) When hearing a case brought before it under this Agreement, the Court shall respect Community law and base its decisions on:
(a) this Agreement;
(b) directly applicable Community law, in particular Council Regulation (EC) No … on the Community patent, and national law of the Contracting States implementing Community law […];
(c) the European Patent Convention and national law which has been adopted by the Contracting States in accordance with the European Patent Convention; and
(d) any provision of international agreements applicable to patents and binding on all the Contracting Parties.
(2) To the extent that the Court shall base its decisions on national law of the Contracting States, the applicable law shall be determined:
(a) by directly applicable provisions of Community law, or
(b) in the absence of directly applicable provisions of Community law, by international instruments on private international law to which all Contracting Parties are parties; or
(c) in the absence of provisions referred to in (a) and (b), by national provisions on international private law as determined by the Court.
The Council Regulation on the Community Patent has seen a latest draft version in April, and it looks like work will continue for a while, since the progress report states that this revised version "should form the basis for further discussion and work on the outstanding issues in the coming months" (highlighted by me).

Finally, the Czech Presidency concludes the progress report with the following outlook:

"With respect to the unified patent litigation system, the Presidency, in line with the wishes of a large majority of Member States, believes that the Council should request an opinion of the [European Court of Justice] on the compatibility of the unified patent litigation system with the EC Treaty. Finally, the Presidency considers that the Working Party should continue work with a view to enabling the Council to reach an overall agreement on both files as soon as possible."

Wednesday 20 May 2009

European Parliament elections 2009 (110): I have voted

Today, I have voted for the European Parliament elections 2009.

Since I won't be present on election day, I have been voting directly at the district polling stations for mail voting today (which technically is voting by mail, but after filling out the necessary forms, making your cross, and putting it into a letter, you may put the whole thing directly into a ballot box).

Asking the official in the polling stations on the "turnout" so far, she informed me that the number of persons applying for mail voting was surprisingly high; already now they have reached two thirds of what they had expected to be the total number of applications for mail voting, which sounded like the final figures might be higher than foreseen.

I don't know whether this is actually a sign that the final turnout (in my district) will be higher than expected, but at least the trend is more optimistic than pessimistic!

Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

For the five newest post see also the sidebar.

Moldova's president not elected in the first round

According to Moldovan news sources, Moldova's parliament failed to elect a new president, with the former prime minister Zinaida Grecianâi receiving the full 60 votes of the communist party faction, while the unknown second candidate didn't receive a single vote.

Since the presidential majority is 61 of 101 votes, the communists can thus not reach it on their own. The opposition did not vote, and so a second round will be held on 28 May. If there will be no president elected, there will have to be anticipated parliamentary elections.

Council of Europe chairman criticises Moscow Gay Pride abatement / Moldova under scrutiny

Slovenia has taken over the Chairmanship of the Council of Europe, which has celebrated its 60th anniversary on the 5th of May, from Spain last week.

And the new Chairman has already reacted in his function, criticising the abatement of the Gay Pride in Moscow last weekend.

But for those of you who might think that this is a good sign: Not really!

Since this statement is put out only in the name of the Chairman and not in the name of the whole Committee of Ministers, this means that the 47 member states of the Council of Europe (including Russia) have not agreed on this.

Only if in today's weekly meeting of the Ministers' Deputies (= the ambassadors representing the member states) the 47 member states agreed on a joint declaration put out in the name of the whole Committee, this would be a strong sign.

But I suppose that at least Russia will have something against this...

Yesterday and today, there is also a Council of Europe delegation in Moldova, investigating the post-electoral incidents that stroke the country in early April.

This coincides with the first attempt to elect a new president taking place today. There are two candidates, the former Prime Minister and an unknown doctor. The presidential majority is 61 of 101 seats, but the ruling Communists only have 60.

The question is: Will they be able to get one or several oppositional votes (some commentators have said: "buy the votes"), or will the opposition, for once, be strong enough to stick together, if only for the negative?

If there is no president elected, there will be a second round within 15 days. And then maybe a third one. If there is no president elected after the third round, there will have to be new elections.

Moldova, where are you going?

Tuesday 19 May 2009

The European Citizens' Consultations - a follow-up

Some 9 days ago, I have published a rather critical article on the European Citizens' Consulations (ECC).

I would like to mention that a short but very constructive discussion has developed in the comments to this article.

There is a reaction from a participant of the ECC, my clarification of some things I said in the article, another clarifying reaction from the participant, and now also a comment by Gerrit Rauws, ECC project leader.

For those of you who have just read my initial article, it is very much recommended to notice this follow-up, too!

European marketing via European blogs: The artist's approach

Writing a blog on European issues seems to attract quite different audiences with very diverse interests.

Today I was contacted by a French artists named Martin Le Chevallier who asked me whether I would be be willing to advertise a piece of art called "The Holy Flag".

Since one of the goals of this blog is to understand the dynamics of the European public sphere, if such a thing exists, and since I was wondering why this blog was regarded as a possible means to promote art, I have asked Martin some questions that were of interest to me.

And he was ready to answer.

Julien: Martin Le Chevallier, we had never spoken or met before, but earlier today you contacted me via email asking whether I would be ready to publicise your latest piece of art, "The Holy Flag". How did you find my blog, why did you decide to contact me, and what were your expectations?
Martin Le Chevallier: "The Holy Flag" is the story of a miracle: the apparition of a Christ face on an european flag. A procession brought this relic to the european institutions in Brussels, as a divine sign of the christian identity of Europe. My will was to bring this parodic story out of the artistic circle, to bring it to a more political circle. So I tried to submit it to people involved in the European debate. And going around on the web, I found your blog.
Julien: Is this part of a true marketing strategy? Did you also contact other bloggers? Which further means do you use to make yourself and your art known, and what has proven to be the most effective way?
Martin Le Chevallier: I send it to several bloggers. Maybe, it's a kind of marketing. But I'm not sure that putting bottles in the ocean is really efficient! I made a piece about the success strategies: an artistic performance audit. The consulting firm gave me some advices concerning the commercial, mediatic or relational strategies... This can be consulted here:

It seems that the most effective way is to be lucky once in your life. Meeting the right person at the right moment...
Julien: When I saw "The Holy Flag", I wasn't really sure whether this was the ironic comment of a critical artist or the provocative presentation of religious ideology. Is confusion intended or do you actually want to transport a clear message? What kind of reactions did you get so far? Any surprises?
Martin Le Chevallier: According to me, it is clearly parodic. But, obviously, it's not! I thought that a such idolatrous approach would the idea of a christian Europe in a quite ridiculous way... But anyone can make up his mind looking at it:
Just a clarification regarding the last question:

I really had some doubts on the intention behind this piece of art before I researched a little bit on Martin. I have seen enough bizarre things around Europe and the blogosphere that appear ironic but that are actually dead serious, especially when it comes to religion...

But as Martin said: Take a look yourself and comment on this piece of art. And afterwards, don't miss the chance to inform yourself about the atheist bus campaign!

Monday 18 May 2009

Vote for eurotopics

Let me join Kosmopolit in the following request (formatted quote):

"One of [our] favorite European websites/online news services - eurotopics - is nominated for a Grimme Online Award - the most prestigious online award in Germany!

You can vote here for eurotopics (just click on “Stimme abgeben”) until 21.6.2009.

The award is rather symbolic but the ceremony always generates quite some media attention - and to have media attention for a unique online service with a European approach is worthwhile."

Breaking news: Fire in the European Commission

News appear on Twitter that there is a fire in the European Commission Berlaymont building.

Trying to follow...!

Update (13:57): Fire seems to be out and building intact (via TonyRobinson). Telegraph reports about employees complaining about chaotic evacuation.

Update (16:38): Video footage by EUX.TV:

Another glimpse into the Council's budget committee

It is the second time this year (here is the first time) that Martin Westlake, blogging Secretary General of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), allows us a glimpse into the Council's budget committee:
"I spent most of the afternoon in less comfortable surroundings; defending the Committee’s draft 2010 budget before the Council’s Budget Committee. These annual hearings with the other institutions, chaired by the future Swedish Presidency (since the final budget will be adopted during their mandate), are something of a ritualistic occasion. [...]

National treasuries had clearly been given tough instructions. As I sat down I could hear blades being sharpened and blow torches being lit and the occasional thud of a baseball bat in glove. [...]

It’s not easy for the smaller institutions and maybe particularly difficult for the two consultative committees. They are not big and indispensable like the European Commission and certainly not big enough to undertake major redeployment exercises without prejudicing vital functions. They don’t have a gentlemen’s agreement, as the Council and the Parliament do, not to look into each others’ administrative budgets. [...]

One [member state; JF] delegate referred to a sort of inverted beauty contest, with delegates competing to declare which of the two Committees is the uglier, but the Committees themselves are certainly not competing with each other in this way. [...]
Sounds like the member states are not big friends of the EESC and the Committee of the Regions (CoR).

Does EuroparlTV use external footage without telling us?

In a recent post, I pointed towards the "Opinion Corner", which is done by Mostra, and which published written and video commentaries by EU journalists on the reasons for the disinterest in the European Parliament.

Now the same video footage that you can find in the Opinion Corner has been published as genuine EuroparlTV clip, without reference to the source:

I am confused...

Europe sells - EU politicians making a national career

There is a tendency to speak disrespectful about politicians going to Brussels and becoming MEPs or Commissioners - as if going to Brussels/Strasbourg/Luxembourg was the end of a career.

But, if the trend is confirmed, EU Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite, who was retiring from office to run in the presidential election campaign in Lithuania, will be yet another example of a politician entering into a high office after a European career: It looks like Ms Grybauskaite will become the first female president of Lithuania, which would also be another important step to put more women into powerful positions in Europe.

After the recent victory of the Lativan MEP Valdis Dombrovskis, who became Latvian prime minister, and after Finnish MEP Alexander Stubb becoming the foreign minister of his country, this is the third time in 14 month that the European institutions help to promote politicians into important national offices.

And I assume that this has happened more than just three times during the last term of the European Parliament and the Commission, so if you have more examples from your countries, I'd be glad hearing about them!

Update: Flasher reminds in the comments that the Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves was also an MEP until October 2006.

Sunday 17 May 2009

European Parliament elections 2009 (109): Looking back at 1999 and 2004

Earlier, I took a look at a German newspaper article from June 1999 on the European Parliament elections. And you bet what was the core message:

The campaign was focused on national topics, the candidates where not known, and the only true European references in the electoral manifestos where similar across all major parties: More democracy, more transparency, better connection to the citizens.

This post could also have been filed under "History blogging" instead of "European Parliament Elections 2009"...

And since it fits into the history blogging thing:

On my scientific "journeys" I found a 2009 issue of the Journal of Political Marketing dedicated to the 2004 EP campaign with the following articles:
It's kind of funny reading such analyses now, so short before the elections and not 2-3 years ago. Feels like marketing from the journal editions, because these days people might be looking for such kind of articles - so you offer them a nice special edition.

When it comes to me, I am already looking forward to the findings for the 2009 campaign(s). I suppose, the only big difference to 1999 and 2004 will be two additional countries, Libertas, and the emergence of large-scale internet campaigning. Maybe a glimpse at the institutional EP campaign, too. But the conclusions will be very close to those we got in the past.

Anyone betting against me...?

Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

For the five newest post see also the sidebar.

Saturday 16 May 2009

Eurovision Song Contest: Testing Europe-wide elections and tolerating homophobia (with Norway winning)

Okay, this is not really comparable to the European Parliament elections, but I suppose it will get much more attention, and it is not limited to the European Union.

Tonight, the Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Moscow, where today the Gay Pride was broken down by the police.

Congratulations, Russia, you have already won the contest of most tolerant country, when it comes to anti-gay demonstrations. I suppose this is why Russia is member of the Council of Europe.

For the "election" tonight, already 16 countries have been "eliminated" in semi-finals. Imagine this for the EP elections...?!

The final result will be be celebrated for a week, the winner brings fame to his country by bringing the event to her/his capital in the next year. So there is a lot at stake.

And maybe next year, this will be a city where tolerance is not only for those who practice intolerance. May the best win tonight!

Update: Well, it seems like with Norway a country that does not participate in the European Parliament elections but where Gay Prides are not forbidden has won the #ESC. What a fairy tale!

Post scriptum: Good manners

PS: Dear journalists and other interested people,

it's nice when you contact me to invite me to write for your EP platforms, participate in TV discussions, to hold presentations on topics I write about, etc.

The ego is pleased getting those offers, but this ego belongs to an individual who knows what it wants and whose motivation to blog is not to get such offers.

Hence, when I answer you giving some limitations to what I can do and what I want to do, and you never write or call back, not even saying that under these conditions you are not interested in my contribution, that's kind of impolite. And it has happened several times by now.

Good manners are something different to me.

So for everyone interested in my work, my participation, my person: I am generally open for all kinds of projects, especially when they make me travel around Europe, when they contribute to bringing public attention to European topics, when they involve serious discussions. If it's interesting enough, I will even come on my private expenses if my budget allows.

Yet, first and foremost, I am a private blogger. I am glad when people are interested in what I write. But if at all, I want to promote the content, not my person.

This person is anyway very similar to most others around in the the political blogosphere: Male, white, young, good education, with a history of socio-political engagement. Nothing special about me.

Find a female blogger without higher education blogging on EU politics, that's far more interesting!

If you want to use my content, you are free to copy, translate, print and distribute whatever I write as long as you link the source and take into account that I sometimes correct older articles or write follow-ups. If you use full texts, I'd be glad just to be informed.

Everything I do in addition to blogging on my personal blog is an extra, an exception.

If you want me to do something extra, I might have conditions which are mostly linked to my professional background and which I will tell openly. If these conditions do not fit your own plans, you can tell this openly, too.

And although this sounds natural, not everyone seems to share this view on good manners...

(If by now you are still interested in contacting me, you can do this via [Julien Frisch], via a comment to an article, or via Twitter.)

European Parliament elections 2009 (108): MEPs, mums, and weirdos

In his latest post, BBC's Mark Mardell who will soon leave the Eurosphere for the Obamasphere takes a look at the public disinterest to the EP elections:
"From the Arctic Circle to the middle of the Med there are around 9,000 candidates and they, and their mums, will be playing close attention [to the EP elections; JF].

But, in general, interest in the European elections seems to be regarded as a possibly harmless eccentricity, like collecting matchboxes or a tendency to wear cravats... something that says "weirdo".
Then, the article turns towards France, in a move that looks like trying to connect local politics with EU politics but that lacks a good connection, just to return to the disinterest, repeating some of the explanations we have heard a hundred times by now.

But repetition doesn't matter, because we, the weirdos, the small eccentric group of those who care, we are the only ones who notice.

Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

For the five newest post see also the sidebar.

Friday 15 May 2009

European Parliament elections 2009 (107): On the media coverage

No, I won't repeat everything I've been saying in many articles before on the media coverage of Europe and these elections. Just some short remark.

What we see right now is a raise in interest in the European Parliament elections that seems absurd compared to the ignorance of the last weeks and months.

It is as always: The European and national media wait until the very last moment - until the catastrophe has come - until they cover important things, but then they try to overwhelm us until we close to commit brain suicide.

And then everything is big and nice, important and fancy. Like this "Opinion Corner" on the media coverage of the EP elections.

Look how shiny it looks, when journalists talk about why they don't cover European issues, how clear it seems when professionals analyse the situation that is obvious to any serious observer.

And I could explode reading this quote by Jean Quatremer:
"Our newspaper is convinced that [the European Parliament election] is an event that has to be covered - but in the same way a plane crash has to be covered. We don't have a choice."
That is exactly the point with so-called "journalism": A plane crash that tragically affects 200 people due to a technical defect is put at an equal level to a European election that affects 500 million people and which failed due to the defect of journalism.

You get the difference? - Reporting about the plane crash doesn't involve your own responsibility, but reporting about the failure of the elections due to unprofessional coverage involves you more than you could ever admit!

Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

For the five newest post see also the sidebar.

European Parliament elections 2009 (106): An anecdote from Prof. Andrew Moravcsik

Okay, I had read that Jan reported in his blog about a lecture of famous political scientist and EU specialist, Princeton professor Andrew Moravcsik, at the London School of Economics.

Yet another lecture...

But through Jan's tweet I learnt that the professor himself reacted to the blog post by Jan with a comment, which is remarkable indeed.

But even better: Moravscik shares an anecdote he experienced on his way back to Heathrow airport:
"Final anecdote: On my way back out to Heathrow I quizzed the cabby about the European elections. Exceptionally, he was not treating it as a “second-order election” on national politics but seemed really concerned about Europe. This meant–predictably–he was voting UKIP, consistent with the principle that extremists are disproportionately mobilized around Europe. Why UKIP? “We signed on for a free trade area,” he said, “and now Europe is taking over British politics, one issue at a time.” I asked him what issues concerned him most. “Not really sure,” he said. When I pressed him, he named human rights and criminal law (Council of Europe not the EU), and troops in Afghanistan (NATO), and third-country (Moslem) immigration (not a European competence at all). Only an anecdote, but multiply it by a million and you have the record of every West European EU election and referendum of which we have records. Need we say more about the prospects for meaningful deliberation on European politics?
I have the feeling that he's got more content in an anecdote than most press and blog articles (including mine) have during the whole pre-electoral period.

Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

For the five newest post see also the sidebar.

Thursday 14 May 2009

European Parliament elections 2009 (105): A volunteer's look at the elections in Latvia

Since I plan to go to Daugavpils in Latvia for the European Parliament election day, I was interested in how others might look on the situation in the country.

A German volunteer working in Latvia reports on from Latvia in an article titled "Keine Ahnung" ('No clue'):
"In a country that is not as big as Bavaria and that has not as much inhabitants as Saxony-Anhalt there are more than 10 parties running for the elections this year. The translations of the parties' names brings up illustrious names like "Latvia's Way", "People's Party, "New Era", "Latvias First Party", "For Fatherland and Freedom", "Latvian Social Democratic Workers' Party", "For Human Rights in United Latvia", or Socialist Party of Latvia".

The first five are rather conservative, patriotic, and anti-Russian. The last three are rather belonging to the left-wing, pro-Russian side. In between there is the "Union of Greens and Farmers", which has not much in common with the Western image of a Green party; they are also quite conservative but more oriented towards the protection of the environment and the interests of farmers.

All parties have in common that they see a remarkable amount of reproaches for corruption and ... a frequent change of personnel. If a party becomes inconvenient for a politician, he just changes to the next one. And with the personnel also the thematic focus of the parties change, so that you don't have a voter base for parties but for individual politicians.

Regarding the election campaign for these elections, you can find giant billboards in Riga and also in other big cities, active street campaigning, flyers on sidewalks and in waste bins. The newspapers are full of electoral advertisement for individual parties, too.

On the other side, almost all students and pupils I have spoken with about the elections have to admit that they don't now much about politics. They don't believe any promise of any politician in Latvia. [...]
(own translation)

Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

For the five newest post see also the sidebar.

Euronews has reacted to Votewatch/Parlorama confusion

Some days ago I reported on the confusion between and in an Euronews report.

The old version (at the moment still available in the video and in the Google cache) starts like this, mixing and into one story on
"Some praise it on transparency grounds while others say it misrepresents them… Pressure from various members of the European Parliament in full campaign for the elections in June got the website closed. tells how much they showed up for work. It gives their public attendance records over five years, and says how they voted. The site hopes to be back online imminently. [...]
The updated version (so far at least the text) makes a clear distinction between both websites, thus correcting the mistake.

Wednesday 13 May 2009

European Parliament elections 2009 (104): Youth against youth - FYEG and EFAy attack YEPP, ECOSY, and LYMEC

Huuh, the political youth organisations are getting active.

Now FYEG (the Young European Greens) and EFAy (the youth of the European Free Alliance) attack the youth organisations of the three major European Parties (YEPP, ECOSY, LYMEC) following their statement on youth abstention issued yesterday together with Commission President Barroso:
  1. The mother parties in the European Parliament and Council of EU of the three conformist party political youth wings failed to engage proper measures to explain to all citizens how the EU institutions work during their past EP mandate. As always we can see that those efforts are only done just before and during election time. This as such shows no real interest in a continuing dialogue with Europe's citizens.

  2. The youth wings of these mother parties have a shared responsibility in not tackling this issue in an earlier stage, since they have not been able to convince the ELDR, EPP and PSE of this necessity.

  3. The ELDR, EPP and PSE in the European institutions together with their youth wings are thus responsible for playing a game of political illusion towards the voters and with the support of their national members feeding political passiveness in European society. European politics has unfortunately become a game where nation-states are only concerned with their own interests and show very little solidarity missing the European perspective.
So if I am getting it correctly, on the youth side, the clash is conformist youth organisations against non-conformist?

Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

For the five newest post see also the sidebar.

European Parliament elections 2009 (103): No PES candidate before the elections

In a move to end speculations, the President of the European Socialists, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, has issued a press release stating that the PES is definitely against Barroso but will not have an own candidate for the European Commission presidency prior to the elections:
I would have preferred the PES to have a candidate for the President of the European Commission, but we do not, and we will not before the elections. Who becomes President of the European Commission now depends on the result of the European elections. This is the one thing that everyone agrees – Governments are free to nominate who they like - the shape of the new Parliament will determine the next President of the Commission. If there is a new majority in the European Parliament Barroso will not become Commission President.
This is what I expected at this time of the campaign, and, even though for the true democratic character of the elections a PES candidate would have been an important factor, I don't think that at this stage the Socialists do not have any other possibility than to run just on issues.

Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

For the five newest post see also the sidebar.

European Parliament elections 2009 (102): Youth candidates running for the European Parliament - LYMEC

Last week, I have been asking four European party youth organisations - YEPP, ECOSY, LYMEC (who have been issuing a joint statement against youth abstention yesterday) and FYEG (the Green youth) - about "their" candidates for the EP elections.

Here are the questions and the answers I received from the first organisation, LYMEC (European Liberal Youth):

Julien: Do you know who is the youngest LYMEC/ELDR candidate running for the EP elections? If yes, can you tell something about him/her? (If you don't know who is the youngest, you can also tell about the youngest you know.)
Name: Ingrid Lundqvist
Organization: The Center party youth
Country: Sweden
Age: 21
E-mail: ingrid.lundqvist [ at ]
Personal blog: (language: Swedish)

"I’m on the 35th place of the Center party list and I’m also the one who is the youngest. I’m 21 years old, living in Stockholm and especially interested in matters concerning trade, environment and police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

My dream for EU is open borders and that we work together in order to get a healthier environment, all over the globe. I want to make it possible for every citizen in EU to work towards achieving ones goals. I also want to make it easier for companies to establish in EU and for countries outside EU to trade with us on similar conditions.

I hope to inspire others, especially young, to take an active interest in politics."
Julien: Who in the LYMEC leadership is running for the elections and also has high chances of entering into the European Parliament?
Alexander Plahr, LYMEC vice-president (FDP list, Germany)
Sibel Redzheb, LYMEC treasurer (MRF list, Bulgaria)

They are not without chances of being elected and are working hard on achieving this goal.
Julien: Are you satisfied with the number and position of young ELDR candidates on the electoral lists of member parties?
LYMEC: We can be very satisfied as a lot of our parties have put forward young candidates on their lists and some are in the places where they can realistically get elected.
The answers were provided by Srd Kisevic, LYMEC Secretary General.

Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

For the five newest post see also the sidebar.

Am I too negative?

It's easy to criticise, I admit. And I criticise a lot.

The negative usually needs less arguments, it looks more self-explaining.

It is more motivating sometimes. The positive side needs more effort, more involvement, better arguments. I might have chosen the easiest solution then.

But I am asking myself: Am I too negative, too critical, too aggressive sometimes?

It is hard to find the right balance between my very positive general attitude towards life, towards people, towards time, and my political self which has a tendency to search conflict.

I often take an argument further than I myself believe in it. Playing the devil's advocat. Because I like a discussion based on counter-arguments that can find to each other somewhere in the middle.

I am picking little details without true importance and make them look relevant, because I am kind of a perfectionist. And it's fun to find these little things. Especially considering chaos theory.

So don't take me too personal, even if I quote you or if I am playing with your favourite baby. It's never against you! A political blog needs to encourage debate, and a European democracy cannot live without an open discourse in which we try to find the best solutions.

Hence, when you see my negative side popping up, take it as an argumentative challenge, show me that I am wrong, because I like the moment when I realise I am wrong or I was imprecise. This little moment of guilt that can ruin a whole day.

Then, the perfectionist in me turns against himself, pointing his finger at me saying: Look, bastard, you're not an inch better than those you criticised!

Tuesday 12 May 2009

Euronews report mixes and

A report published online one hour ago by Euronews mixes the recent closure of with the start of

Both websites are shown in the clip, but their stories are mixed as if they were the same.

Completely unprofessional!

Update: Euronews has partially corrected the mistake.

European Parliament elections 2009 (101): YEPP, ECOSY and LYMEC met with Barroso calling for more youth participation

The three major European youth organisations of political parties - YEPP (EPP youth), ECOSY (PES youth) and LYMEC (ELDR youth) - met with EU Commission President Barroso today to discuss youth participation.

Jointly, the three party organisations issued the following statement urging young people to vote (statement at the end of the article)

Although I support the message and its content, I am not a big fan of using the EU Commission President, whose personality is probably one of the reasons why young people won't be attracted to go to vote, to get this message passed.

But apparently, the youth organisations needed the presence of Mr Barroso to make their voice heard, which is already a bad sign.

So why should this actually raise citizen participation? Isn't this kind of boring political, self-referential talk without heart exactly the kind of politics young people don't care for? It is nice PR, and it will bring some attention to the three youth organisations and to Mr Barroso, but not more.

Just take a look at this extract from the press conference (first Barroso, then Laurent Schouten (YEPP), Petroula Nteledimou (ECOSY), Aloys Rigaut (LYMEC)):

Will this encourage young people to vote? Just because it happened in the presence of Barroso?

I think this professionalised kind of political communication won't reach out to any young voter, and the only one profiting from this meeting might be Barroso who can now claim to support youth activities.

They should have come up with something more creative, more youth-like thing!

But probably, the apathetic Commission President would not have allowed to destroy the image of the Union that he has built over the last five years: Less spirit, less dynamism, less young faces.

Therefore bravo, YEPP, ECOSY and LYMEC for your incredible courage to call young people to vote (what else should political youth organisations do?), and your willingness to follow the boredom of Barroso, risking not to reach out to anyone!

And here is the famous statement:
"We, representatives of the European party political youth organizations, namely YEPP, ECOSY and LYMEC, wish to urge all young Europeans to participate in the forthcoming European elections, to act and express themselves with a clear voice on Europe's future.

It is our decision and our choice to give the European Parliament a strong mandate in order to face citizens' needs and demands in the next period, taking the European Union out of the institutional and economic crisis, and designing a better future for all. And participation is a democratic right which we should not denounce or neglect - because this is what makes our voices stronger.

At the same time, we urge the European institutions, the Commission and the new Parliament, to deal in a more effective way with the everyday problems with the citizens, and to make European policies more visible, more understandable, more concrete.

We, Young Europeans expect from them a clear and effective plan on how to overcome the economic crisis, how to deal with unemployment, how to ensure sustainable development, how to expand the Erasmus programme, how to prepare a new Youth Pact with impact.

Therefore, our message today is simple:

When young people participate, and representatives provide effective solutions, Europe becomes stronger!"
Update: Some photos from the event by an ECOSY activist here

Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

For the five newest post see also the sidebar.

The European Union 2.0

You can never have enough 2.0 metaphors, so let's see what we can get today:
The European Union is based on international treaties between member states, not a union by the people. About 200 pages of treaty text and about 160 pages of protocols and declarations follow from the member states’ desire to control events in minute detail.

This is the old covenant, European Union 1.0 based on diplomats and technocrats. The Lisbon Treaty is version EU 1.1 with added powers for the European Parliament and other reforms. [...]

If the power is vested in the people, the European Union could have a strong, short and readable basic document. It would not be a treaty, but a basic law or constitution. This would be the new covenant, EU 2.0.
Oh yes, and this EU 2.0 has to be much more interactive than the old one!

It has to be a platform on which citizens can interact and create content on their own. This platform needs to be open source and should be free for developers who could program applications that are most useful for its users. It needs to be easy to use, and I should be able to connect to my old friends and to find new ones.

And eurosceptics would be happy if it's for free and just financed by advertisement!

The only problem: One day, when it functions good enough, it will be bought by Google. Or China.

Monday 11 May 2009

European Parliament elections 2009 (100): The European campaign is finally blossoming out

Since last July, one hundred posts have been published in this special category, which will find its end in about one month.

And only 100 posts later, the the Sleeping Beauty is finally waking up.

For some days now I can feel it, online and offline, that the European campaign activities are finally blossoming. Parties have realised that, what a surprise, there are elections coming closer. And so do the media.

Euronews shows Merkel and Sarkozy campaigning together while Zapatero is on his own (though he's got a bigger crowd).

Donald Tusk of Poland wants that the next European Parliament President is Polish, while for Finnish candidate Riikka Railimo it would be enough if the Union just showed how it affects the citizens.

For Wolfgang Munchau (via Kosmopolit) at the Financial Times, Barroso is the rotting fish head of Europe, unstoppable if the centre-right will win the elections.

It seems to be so rotting, that some obscure powers are attacking the website of the "Anyone but Barroso!" campaign that I have support since very early.

Yet, the European Socialists still don't have their own opposition candidate, criticised by me as it is by Frederico Brunelli on Le Taurillon. And Jon Worth is confused, too.

In the meantime, the Liberals seem to have Guy Verhofstadt and Mario Monti in their mind as possible solution if neither the left nor the right will have a majority for the President of the EU Commission. Campaign tactics?

And still, Daniel Antal concludes from the reports coming out of the European blogging competition TH!NK ABOUT IT (that has seen a number of interesting reports from the member states recently) that there is not much of an election fever in Europe.

At they don't see the campaign start off, and for Guillaume Klossa, the election campaign is at a dead end, with the only light at the end of the tunnel being the recent Yes of the Czech senate to the Lisbon Treaty.

Bulgaria sees last minute legal struggles, which, according to viharg could threaten the legitimacy of the EP elections in his country.

In Germany, EU Profiler and Votematch are competing with the German version Wahl-O-Mat and on Twitter the latter is winning significantly.

The French Greens have put to together a nice campaign video, while a young German Green admits that the election campaign is pretty exhausting.

EuroparlTV tries to gain points by letting citizens speak, while remarks that another video on Youtube attracts much more attention than the overpaid Parliament project or than the official campaign spot will ever get.

On the news sites, reports and special coverage of the elections starts to pop up, billboards find their ways to the streets and sidewalks, candidates tweet on Twitter, and TV spots and discussions start to air all around.

The campaign seems to be starting, and today in four weeks we will know whether this wasn't too late.

If you read back the last 99 posts in this category (plus some that are just labelled "European Parliament elections 2009"), you will again realise that what is going on now is, although still quite low-scale compared to national elections, much more than what we have seen over the last months.

But the parties will have problems to catch the attention of voters in this short period and to present their European agendas, and as I have said before, I don't think that they even care for European topics but that they will stay focused on national issues.

For this blog, it will be much more difficult from now to follow everything and many things that have been said in the European blogosphere for almost a year will be repeated by the mainstream media over the next days and weeks. There is no need to follow this mainstream, apart if something very interesting should come up against my expectations.

I think I will focus on a number of particular issues during these last weeks of this special category, trying to link what other say while looking for uncovered aspects that deserve attention. If you have any ideas in this regard, I'd be glad to hear about them!

(PS.: In fact, I wanted to devote this 100th post to young candidates and youth organisations. I had written some short and clear questions regarding young EP candidates to four political youth organisations - ECOSY, YEPP, LYMEC, and FYEG - last Thursday, but since I didn't get one reply by now, this will have to wait.)

Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

For the five newest post see also the sidebar.