Tuesday 30 June 2009

Why the "Coulisses de Bruxelles" is not a really good blog

Something that is always striking me at Jean Quatremer's Coulisses de Bruxelles is that he almost never quotes other blogs.

In fact, over the last 30 "blog" posts (that is three weeks) he doesn't link almost anybody beside himself and sometimes La Tribune (see for example his latest post). How can you write a "blog" and not even quote others (which necessarily would be accompanied by links)?

If even Charlemagne is able to quote a blogger from time to time, why shouldn't it be possible in the "Coulisses de Bruxelles"?!

Blogging is about creating debates, about interaction, and without really reacting to others, writing remains a simple, one-dimensional activity as we are used in print.

In fact, the Coulisses are registered on Technorati, which ranks blogs according to their in-links, and it is pretty highly ranked. This means that other bloggers often consider what Jean is writing by giving him credit for that - while he is extremely hesitant to do the same.

I cannot remember that I ever became aware of interesting blog discussions in France through the Coulisses. It never makes me interested in others. It never seems to be aware of what is going on around itself. It might be a journalistic activity, but it lacks the spirit that fills the blogosphere.

This makes "Les Coulisses de Bruxelles" a well-read and appreciated website, but not a really good blog.

Update: See the follow-up post to this article on the importance of hyperlinks for the creation of a European public sphere.

German Constitutional Court: Yes to Lisbon, but not yet! - updated

The German Constitutional Court has just confirmed the constitutionality of the Lisbon Treaty. You can find the details in the English press release and in the preliminary English version published by the Federal Constitutional Court.

However, it demands the re-formulation of an accompanying law (with non-constitutional character) that guarantees the influence of the German legislative branch (Bundestag and Bundesrat).

As long as this law is not re-formulated, the Lisbon Treaty may not be ratified.

The will of the people expressed by elections has to be guaranteed in practice, says the German Constitutional Court. It must be secured that the EU does not get the right to obtain competencies on its own but only by a democratic decision of the democratically elected bodies.

The German constitution in its present form would not allow Germany to be part of a European Federal State, so EU competencies may only come from the clear will of the people as expressed by the legislators.

This decision is a clear strengthening of the democracy principle in the context of EU-lawmaking, while leaving enough room to design the respective law on the concrete involvement of the German legislative branch in EU-related decision making without rejecting the Lisbon Treaty as such.

In my point of view, this is an excellent and extremely intelligent judgement, because it clarifies something that is extremely important: It is not just a question of how European Treaties are designed how much influence elected national bodies have but a matter of the concrete design of influence structures on the national level.

It is easy to blame the EU for a lack of democracy, but seeing the influence (and intransparency) of the executive branch in EU decision-making, a good deal of the undemocratic character of EU-decisions is the result of a missing ability of the parliament(s) to control their governments when they decide on the EU-level.

By demanding to guarantee that national (!) procedures have to be democratic when it comes to EU-lawmaking, the Court has underlined this important point. This judgement is thus pro-EU and pro-democracy - and that is extremely positive!

The question will now be, how quick the German legislator will be able to formulate the respective law - especially since the political parties are already entering into the election campaign for the Bundestag elections at the end of September...

See also: The German full text of the judgement.

Update: According to German news sources, the Bundestag will hold a special meeting on 26 August to deal with this issue. According to tomorrows FAZ, the second and third reading shall take place on 8 September so that the the Bundesrat - the second chamber - could agree on 18 September. Afterwards, the German president could ratify the Lisbon Treaty.

The Czech EU-Council Presidency (16): The eurotechnocrat's summary

"Personally, it felt like 6 month lost, when we would have need[ed] a strong leadership in time of an major economic crisis and an important election. Really hope the Swedish do a better job."
Source: The Eurotechnocrat

Monday 29 June 2009

Blogging, self-referentiality, and Hill & Knowlton

This morning I used a minute to write a post on Hill & Knowlton's communication outlook for the new European Parliament.

In a reaction to the post, Elaine - that's probably the H&K CEO Elaine Cruikshanks - wrote:
"Thanks for picking up on the EurActiv interview, Julien. Hill & Knowlton is more than happy to join the conversation!

We’ve watched the growth in the use of social media – by EU policymakers and the wider stakeholder community – with professional and personal interest. Professional as we naturally follow online discussions of interest to our clients; personal as our passion is EU politics and the digital age has clearly arrived in Brussels. After all, we can now follow the tweets of Swedish presidency staff as well as those of increasing numbers of MEPs.

So of course we will follow your blog and others like it. Digital communication is about two-way engagement and when we have something to contribute we will seek to join the conversation. At H&K we believe – and advise our clients as such – that by engaging with online communities in an open way, we can promote informed discussion and transparency. This shouldn’t be anything that MEPs – or the wider blogging community – should be afraid of.
The first thing one has to understand is that the reason why I took up the interview was pure self-referentiality.

It was an easy catch, because blogs were mentioned as part of strategies to influence European politics.

Since I find it funny to be considered part of a strategy (even if this doesn't actually mean me) - it brought up memories about this story during the EP election campaign - it was worthwhile to blog the quote with a small ironic comment.

At the same time, it gave me an opportunity to remind readers that there are companies like H&K in Brussels (and all around) who try to understand us - bloggers and citizens - to sell messages, no matter whether these message are for the good or bad.

As Toby said in reaction to Elaine's comment: If PR companies have to sell a war, they sell a war. The task of the informed public is to disguise those efforts, to spin against the spin. Make sure that intentions become transparent - kindest regards to GPlus.

This would have been the whole story, nobody would have noticed it for long, not even me. Without a "professional" reaction it would have been nothing but a short remark in the infinite vastness of the internets. But by getting a reaction from H&K, the blog post became more relevant than it was intended to be.

In this sense, the relevance of blogs is created not by ourselves, but by those who take us more seriously than we actually want to be - and afterwards all the PR people have to explain to their clients why they need to spend their time to interact with bloggers...

Hill & Knowlton: Using blogs as part of PR strategies to influence MEPs

On EurActiv, Elaine Cruikshanks, the CEO of the PR agency Hill & Knowlton, talks about the loss of influence of the Tories in the new European Parliament and about the future strategies to influence the many new MEPs:
"[T]he inauguration of the new European Parliament will bring "a lot of work for consultants," because "some 40% of MEPs" are new.

"Flagging a problem, proposing a solution and trying to generate support amongst decision-makers both in Brussels and in member states is as the heart of each lobbying campaign," the Hill and Knowlton chief explained.

In doing this, "communication channels such as blogs or social media have to be considered" to involve a wider audience and provide politicians with a platform to profile themselves.
So please, MEPs, be careful when you read us - we could be part of H&K's strategies!

(via eurosocialiste on Twitter)

Sunday 28 June 2009

OSCE remains divided after Corfu informal meeting

The Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt who will co-lead the EU-Council presidency from Wednesday concludes in his blog - not very surprisingly - that the OSCE remains divided over the concept of security after the informal foreign ministers meeting on Corfu.

The disagreement that one could already see at last year's Helsinki summit is a division mainly between Russia and the EU (plus the USA).

Russia wants to replace NATO by a NATO-like OSCE - which means influence for Russia - that does not care for human rights, democracy, and non-military security issues which seems unacceptable to the Union.

I have doubts that the newly launched "Corfu Process" will change anything, in particular after the continuing division over the Russian-Georgian war in 2008.

Follow-up: Agendas of the meetings of the European Commission

In a recent article I reported about my "success" to find a list of Commission meeting agendas in the Commission's register, while complaining about the inability to find these via the Commission's main website.

In fact, I realised that there is a way to find them via the main page but it is still far from intuitive:

You go to the main page, where on the side menu you have to click on "Working for you". On the submenu you chose "Commission at work". On the page that opens, you have the centre column "Day-by-Day", where you need to click on "Weekly Commission meetings", which opens the next page.

Somewhere in the text on this page you find a link "agenda of the next Commission meeting" - and via this link, you finally end up at another list of Commission meeting agendas.

But it is even more confusing how I made my way to this list of agendas:

After I found the initial list via the register, I looked through the most recent agenda (17 June 2009). On page 4 under agenda item 8 there is "Memorandum from Mr TAJANI". This raised my interest and I searched for this phrase on Google.

The first entry on the results page is a cabinet newsletter from the Cabinet of Commissioner Antonio Tajani. In fact, I found that there is a whole list of cabinet newsletters, which are cruelly designed and relatively content empty.

The second entry on the results page is the agenda of the latest Commission meeting. But when I opened it, I realised that the link under which this document is saved is different to the register URL:
So on the basis of this URL, I went back to the main page and was able to reconstruct the path I have described above.

This "improbable journey" shows how far away from transparent the Commission website is, and I hope somewhere in the Commission there are some persons who are able to re-design it as soon as possible!

Saturday 27 June 2009

The EU in German blogs (5): Internet filters in China and Germany - updated

A considerable number of German blogs like knick.knack, Lars Heise, Feistes Ding, Addliss, P-Pricken, Nicht Spurlos, Blogwürdig, The Archangel, Rappelsnut, Windflüchter, Kamikaze-Demokratie, uebergeek, schongehoert, and also the most important and influential German blog Netzpolitik have reacted to a statement by EU Commissioner Viviane Reding against internet filters in China.

If they don't cite netzpolitik.org, they all refer to a news article at a German radio station published 4.30 pm yesterday. I don't think that this is not the original, since a German AFP press release with the same content came out earlier. But why checking sources when it comes to EU politics?

In fact, I was unable to find this statement on the press overview of the Commissioner herself, so it is quite hard to verify in which context it has been said. EUobserver had the statement yesterday morning, but quoting Martin Selmayr from the DG Communication.

The reason why the German blogosphere is sarcastically reacting to this statement is that the German parliament just passed a law to charge the Federal Criminal Police Office to centrally filter child porn pages.

This legislative proposal (the story in English) has led to the largest reaction of the German internet community ever, unsuccessfully trying to prevent the installation of censorship mechanisms (which also proved to be ineffective against the diffusion of child pornography) by the German legislator.

The non-responsiveness of the governing parties (Christian Democrats and Social Democrats) to the concerns of hundreds of thousands who reacted online and offline is likely to cost them many votes of the "internet generation" at the parliamentary elections in September, possibly even strengthening the German Pirate Party.

Having the EU Commission react to China but not to Germany therefore sounded rather ridiculous in the ears of German bloggers

See also: Dyrathror

Friday 26 June 2009

Europe in blogs (4)

The following article should not contain too many traces of irony or hyperbole.

Since the last Europe in blogs was only last Sunday, the fourth edition looks rather short. But the past days have been excellent days in the euroblogosphere, both in quality and quantity.

FollowTheMoney.eu followed a lot of money from the pockets of the taxpayers deep into the empty seas while the Brussels Blog (FT) smiled with the coming Swedish EU Council presidency.

Brussels Sunshine did not celebrate the birthday of the Commission's lobby register, while Margot Wallström celebrated with Irish jam.

And by far the biggest issue of the week was the formation of the new European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECRG) in the European Parliament. The euroblogosphere was shining brightly in an enormous amount of blog posts (random order):

Central Europe Activ here and here; La Oreja de Europa here; Grahnlaw here, here, here, and here; Daniel Hannan here; Nosemonkey here, here, and here; Jon Worth here and here, Coulisses de Bruxelles here and here; ResEuropa here; The New EP here and here; The Lobby here; Conservative Home here and here; Stephen here; The European Citizen here; Gulf Stream Blues here. And me too.

Oh yes, and I was put into the Danish EU Zoo, species: "Europhile EU-sceptic". Don't pet!!!

Update: This one from Eurojunkie came after I published the article, but it fits to the zoo thing and it is a good read, too.

There was much more in European blogs over the last week, but that's it for now. Europe in blogs will be back soon.

PS.: Should I have missed more ECRG articles, please put a link in the comments, I will then add them!

Thursday 25 June 2009

Agendas of the meetings of the European Commission

Read also the follow-up to this article!

I am continuing my journeys through the marvellous world of EU documentation, trying to understand its logic, the hidden details, the funny surprises.

This time I started via Grahnlaw and ended up in the Register of Commission documents where through the search function I found a list of agendas of Commission meetings (2009). They are available in English, French, and German.

I have tried to find them on the (still horrible) main website, somewhere where a general public or the media would also have access to them. But I did not see anything, which means that at least there is no intuitive way to get them.

So if you are looking for Commission agendas, use the link above or go to the Commission register and search for document type "Agenda".

However, I would prefer if the press & communication service of the Commission would put these somewhere more visible, since they contain information which are highly relevant for European politics.

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Ukraine without ECtHR judge

Through Antoine from the ECHR blog I just learned that Ukraine does not have a judge at the European Court of Human Rights (belonging to the Council of Europe which I covered earlier this week) these days:
"A procedural battle is being waged about the appointment of a new Ukranian Judge at the Court. [...]

The origin was the fact that in 2007 one of the three candidates on the list submitted to Ukraine withdrew. Thusfar, the authorities refused to submit a new third candidate. Instead they have submitted a completely new list, without even justifying such a move with a reference to exceptional circumstances. [...]
How can it take two years to resolve such an issue when the ECtHR is chronically understaffed and could need every judge it can get...?

Genetically manipulated organisms in the EU: Subsidiarity and banning

On the side of the member states, there seems to be growing opposition against the Commissions openness towards the use genetically manipulated organisms (GMOs) in agriculture.

In a note directed to all member states, Austria, so far supported by
  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Greece
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Malta
  • Slovenia
and referring to an earlier declaration made by the Netherlands, demands the clearly defined legal right for each member state to ban GMOs:
"The legally soundest solution we envisage is a set of minor amendments to relevant EU legislation, which should introduce the right of an individual Member State to restrict or prohibit indefinitely the cultivation of authorised GMOs on its territory. The amendments could be based on the subsidiarity principle (Article 5 TEC) and the principle of unanimity for decisions on land use (Article 175 TEC). Such an “opt-out” clause could be formulated in quite straightforward legal terms and could easily be integrated into the existing legislation.
In general, I don't have anything against this approach but I also don't have anything against GMO in agriculture.

I just don't understand why we have a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that takes the biggest share in the EU budget and then we should decide not to have a CAP in a certain field...?!

If the member states want their right to subsidiarity in agricultural policy they should scrap the CAP (in fact, they should do it anyway)!

Tuesday 23 June 2009

EU politics, Twitter, and the human smell of Brussels

This is not a blog post trying to jump on the hype wagon of Twitter - I just want to say some words on the relevance of Twitter for EU politics (after Jon recently posted about Twitter for politics more generally).

Let's start with history: My first tweet ever (on 26 January 2009) was
[Julien Frisch] [h]as just entered the twittersphere - you have to do what everyone else does, right?
and the reason I joined was that I started to get serious traffic coming from Twitter, as far as I could see this traffic came from feeds of other eurobloggers like Kosmopolit.

This is why I tweeted "you have to do what everyone else does". Getting targeted traffic from Twitter accounts of fellow bloggers meant that the medium I was aware of for a good year but wasn't really interested in at that time started to become relevant for me and my blogging.

I started very slowly, because Twitter is a medium that is hard to follow in a simple browser.

Only after I started using TweetDeck and then Nambu I became fully aware of the functionality of Twitter as a true complementary tool to my blog and the wider euroblogosphere, both in writing and in reading.

With regard to blogging, it has freed me from thinking about whether it is worth writing about a little detail or a minor site I found. Now I tweet it, and those who follow me can decide on their own whether they look at it or not.

Twitter is also quicker and more responsive than blogging.

During the European Parliament election evening, for example, I focused on Twitter, letting myself direct to different websites, videos, streams while following the talk of a European public discussing results, coverage, and general politics in an open and very refreshing way. But there is a more important change going on:

My perception of EU politics starts to become more dynamic thanks to Twitter.

I am following a number of MEPs, Commission officials, Swedish Presidency persons, PR people, journalists, and other involved people (like most of the Eurobloggers). But I also follow a number of hashtags (like #eu) to see what people I don't follow are saying about things I am interested in. And I get into discussion with them, whenever I think I should do so. And usually there is also a reaction.

This quadruple perspective on people actually doing EU politics, influencing EU politics, covering EU politics, and those discussing EU politics transforms EU politics into a dynamic political process. And since all Tweets are generally equal, their mixture creates an awareness-sphere compounding diverse talk into a consistent mass of political reality.

This is significant, since so far, the EU never appeared to be a real-time polity.

Things move slowly, diplomatically, administratively. And everything the machine spits out makes you feel this heavy slowness. Movement might have been within the Brussels bubble, but it appeared like movement for the sake of movement, as if many important people were pedalling without getting the bike to move. Almost nothing of that was felt outside the city.

And although this might still not change, the eurotwittersphere is making it more interesting to follow.

The heavy smell of paper files is slowly replaced by the body-odour of real people. Yes, you can also smell them stink, but at least it is not just imagination as it was before.

Content is one thing, but real people and tangible dynamics are the spices in the soup of life in general and of politics in particular.

In this regard, Twitter is a chance for real persons working in and for the EU to make the "black box" become transparent - which will not just be helpful for a more open and democratic process, but it will also help to show to the continent the human face(s) behind the diplomatic-administrative talk.

If EU politicians, officials, and administrators realise this opportunity, the EU has a little chance of becoming a better polity. But probably somebody will invent some stupid regulation to never make that happen...

Update (24 June 2009): Just found a short discussion on the use of Twitter by the Commission.

The EU in German blogs (4): Lobby register celebrates 1st birthday

LobbyControl "celebrates" the first birthday of the Commission's lobby register (own translation):
"The lobby register of the European Commission celebrates its first birthday today. The Commission used this occasion to draw some first conclusions - a complete analysis is due to follow in July. Yesterday, the responsible director Jens Nymand Christensen declared the voluntary approach a success because the number of registrations was steadily increasing. Thus, there would be no need for an obligatory register.

This assessment can not be held up at a closer look as our study that we publish together with Alter-EU and some newer figures prove:

There are 1,604 lobby groups registered by now. Only 625 of those actually have an office in Brussels. Many of the associations registered are totally irrelevant for the lobby register because they are not based in Brussels and dispose only of minimal lobby budgets. If we use the estimations of the European Parliament that 2,600 lobby groups have their seat and an office in Brussels, only 24% have registered themselves until today. [...]

Speaking about of the register under these conditions is not a sign of an objective perspective. The register is and remains the unloved child of the Brussels lobby scene. Law firms and think tanks refuse completely to accept it. They have boycotted the lobby register from the very beginning. [...]

Looks like the register has still a long way to go...

Monday 22 June 2009

Is the Council of Europe dying? - Dispute over election of Secretary General continues

The oldest post-war European international organisation, the mother of the European flag and anthem - the Council of Europe - looks like it is dying.

Chronically under-financed by its member states who either think the organisation is too critical or unnecessary beside the ever expanding European Union, disturbed by the membership of Russia, freezing in the shadow of its extremely successful but not-yet-reformed European Court of Human Rights, burdened by internal bureaucracy, it is now facing a serious institutional crisis over the election procedure of the Secretary General.

I have already reported about this problematic process before, here and here, and apparently no solution has been found until now, since in his speech the Slovenian foreign minister who is holding the rotating presidency of the Council of Europe deplored that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) decided not put the election of a new Secretary General on the Agenda of their summer session.

This means that the intergovernmental and the interparliamentary sides of the institution are unable to communicate, they are lack the professionalism to find together and to define themselves as parts of a joint institution. They want the fight, but the question is just who will lose the most.

It is sad to the the Council of Europe in this bad shape, but sooner or later the latent internal crisis had to be followed by more visible problems - and here we are now.

Maybe the CoE is not yet dying in the 60th year of its existence, but all these are signs that it will not really get back to life...

The European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECRG) - corrected and updated

The "European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECRG)", isn't that the most ridiculous combination one could imagine? Mixing those who want to conserve and those who want to reform?

But it has become a truth:

The British Tories, the Polish PiS and the Czech ODS form a joint eurosceptic group in the European Parliament. This brings together three of the most important not-so-European anti-good-things parties, those who want to conserve the bad sides (like nationalism) in the European Union and reform the good ones (like working together, liberalising interpersonal relations, etc).

But since nobody really wanted to play with them (who wants to play with such a strange trio), they needed to find a bunch of individual MEPs who seem to be so unpopular among their peers that they were ready to form the appendix of their three big brothers.

And they found five six of them, from Finland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Belgium, Latvia, and Lithuania. The theatre group is formed.

Well, this ridicules the idea of a parliamentary group, but since together they combine 56 MEPs from 9 countries [see update on figures at the end!] - more than the Greens - they do have the right to form an official faction in the European Parliament.

Will they hold together? - Probably yes, because it doesn't really hurt them to stick together and the financial and political advantages are probably higher than the losses. But still, according to the new Rules of Procedure (PDF) of the European Parliament (Article 30), they will have to keep up MEPs from at least one fourth of the EU's member countries.

However, if one of the partners says something stupid - and seeing this group it is more than probable that this will happen - the other can easily ignore it, since the national media won't notice it anyway. Being in that group will thus most likely not have any negative influence on the image of the parties. So the reasons to quit might remain lower than the incentives to stay in.

And, to be honest, I think the Union and the Parliament deserve such a strange group, which is the result of a rule made by the majority against the minority short before the elections - but a rule that is easily to circumvent by those who have the will to do it if it serves their individual advantage.

Doesn't that sound like most of the EU's regulations?

PS: Jon Worth has some more substance on this matter. Nosemonkey as well.

Correction (23 June 2009): One more MEP from Lithuania has to be included as I've learned at EurActiv.

Update (23 June 2009): Besides Grahnlaw and La Oreja de Europa who are backlinked below, Jon, Nosemonkey and The European Citizen have followed-up on the story. One of the news passing around today was that the Finnish Centre Party MEP will remain with his colleagues in the ALDE group, thus reducing the ECRG down to 55 MEPs from 8 member countries.

Short remark: Border controls

Last week I was passing the Dutch-German border by train. At the border station, the German Federal Police went through the train and selectively controlled passengers' IDs, asking where they were heading to.

I wasn't controlled, and felt guilty towards those who were...

Border controls within the EU make me angry!

(What is so difficult at the concept of NOT having borders - not making them felt - within the European Union, and the Schengen area in particular?!)

Sunday 21 June 2009

The EU in German blogs (3): Debut in Brussels

Franziska "Ska" Keller is a young newly elected Green MEP from Germany (I already covered her some time ago).

In her blog she reports about her first days in Brussels (own translation):
"Becoming an MEP is like marrying: you don't feel much different afterwards than you felt before. Despite the fact that from now on one has to care for committees and offices, taxes and insurances.

Last week we had the first group meeting in Brussels. Before we had to go through a show-jumping course of information desks, badge presentations, photo shootings etc. Next week we will get our committees and delegations (after day-long negotiations about who gets what), we will be able to hire our assistants (no more applications, please, I am already taken!), set up our offices and sit in trains for many many hours.

On July, 14th the Parliament will constitute itself officially in Strasbourg. Whether we will have to vote for - or against - Barroso at the same time is not sure yet.

By the way, the youngest Green MEP's name is Emilie, she is 25 and comes from Denmark. The next one is Jan [Philipp Albrecht; JF], 26, from Lower Saxony [Germany; JF]. Only then come Karima from France and me, both 27.
I am really looking forward for her continuing reports about her "debut" in Brussels...!

Saturday 20 June 2009

Europe in blogs (3)

Caution: The following article may contain traces of irony or hyperbole.

Europe in blogs comes a bit late this week, but since from Sunday to Tuesday I was in Rotterdam for the TH!NK ABOUT IT blogging competition finale and was fighting with a cold afterwards, it had to wait until today.

One thing we eurobloggers came up in Rotterdam was to look for the next European Commission. Actually, we wanted to decide on our own who actually becomes Commissioner, but in a trace of modesty we decided just to look for possible candidates by now.

Jon took the lead and published the main article that has already attracted around 40 comments, Kosmopolit, me, Stephen and Frank have reacted with posts linking to Jon.

And even Daniel Hannan, a blogging MEP (if you kiss him, he turns into a pink pitbull) just re-elected for his 3rd consecutive term, has joined and proposed the next Commission president: "Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Yusuf al-Barroso".

This caused a chain reaction, and Tony Barber now agrees with Charlemagne who claims that it is nonsense to campaign against Barroso, especially when this comes after the elections and only from stupid pro-integrationists.

Reading their articles, I think, the Eurocrat who is shouting at European citizens should have used his energy to annoy those media morons. Or were they all feeling bad due to the food poisoning that the dangerous Berlaymonster reported about?

On the Commission side, it was obvious that now after the elections everyone is preparing for the summer break since Meglena, Janez and Margot found some quiet minutes to write blog posts.

Commissioner Margot Wallström even seemed to have so much time that she could comment on one of my blog posts. Actually, that scared me to death because I didn't know whether I should feel threatened or honoured. High officials shouldn't react to blog posts, that makes them too human!!!

But while the European elections are over, causing terrible depression at the EP webeditors, the Iranian elections dominate the world. Douglas at A Fistful of Euros used this opportunity to do some comparative history teaching on the example of the 2008 Armenian elections. And Veronica has found even more examples to compare with.

Back in the EU, Brusselssunshine deplores some setbacks in the fight for lobby transparency in the Commission while The Lobby spots an advertisement offering a special "How to deal with lobbyists" course for MEPs.

And last but not least: Don't miss Nosemonkey on TV and read Louis who is as glad as I am about the upcoming Swedish EU-Council Presidency 2.0 (also exemplified by Bente).

There was much more in European blogs over the last week, but that's it for now. Europe in blogs will be back soon.

PS.: I have decided to keep the name "Europe in blogs". It's simply to beautiful.

Meglena Kuneva: "Focused on many issues"

EU Commissioner Meglena Kuneva yesterday in her blog:
"The Annual conference of the European Policy Centre took place on 17th June and was dedicated to the state and future of the Union. The discussion between panellists and participants was lively and focused on many issues."
Can somebody explain to me what "focussing on many issues" looks like? :-)

Friday 19 June 2009

European Council on 18 & 19 June 2009: Presidency Conclusions

The June 2009 European Council has ended, and the Presidency Conclusions have been published.

The only positive word I can highlight:
"The Heads of State or Government agreed unanimously on the name of Mr. José Manuel DURÃO BARROSO as the person they intend to nominate as President of the European Commission for the period 2009-2014."
Apart from this little word "intend", this decision is a catastrophe for the European Union, as mentioned so many times before.

Taking a look at the rest of the conclusions, it is remarkable that among the quite intensive coverage of the financial crisis and possible measures to counter its effects, the financial situation in Latvia has been particularly highlighted (para. 13) - that is not a good sign.

Interesting is also the following sentence:
"32. The European Council welcomes the intention of the incoming Presidency to develop, in close cooperation with the Commission, a work programme to ensure that there is sufficient time for internal EU coordination and decision-making prior to important international meetings which will prepare the December Copenhagen Conference."
Does that mean that usually the presidency does not provide work plans that allow "sufficient time" for internal co-ordination?

And regarding the special declaration made for Ireland in the Annexes to the Conclusions one can only say that this is nothing but a clarification of the present Lisbon Treaty, that, no matter whether it has legal effects or not, will not change anything.

However, this Declaration is a confession of 27 heads of state and governments that the Lisbon Treaty is so unclear that it needs a special explanation so that the Treaty text can be put forward for a second vote in Ireland.

It is also an expression of the failure of the Irish government to explain the Treaty to its citizens and a sign of weekness of this government if it needs the backing for 26 member states to give these almost self-evident explanations enough political weight.

For the rest, the conclusions are not very interesting, and again written in a catastrophic bureaucratic way. I hope the Swedish Council presidency will have people that are able to formulate such texts more citizen-friendly!

Becoming an EU-sceptic

I am a convinced European citizen and glad to be a citizen of the European Union - but now that I am approaching the first birthday of this blog, I think I am becoming an absolute EU-sceptic.

The European elections are over, and the lack of European ambition we have seen during the campaign seems to continue after the elections.

After yesterday's political decision by the Council, Barroso looks like the definite candidate for the presidency of the European Commission.

And although I have great confidence in that the European Parliament will show some muscles, I don't see anything speaking against his renomination as the world's most powerless leader of a supranational institution.

The EPP supports him, because, they don't have a less qualified person still able to handle a European administration. The ELDR supports him because they want some of the other power positions in the Commission and the Parliament - which they won't get without EPP support. The Socialists have failed to present an own candidate because they are absolutely divided and thus incapable of running a European campaign from the beginning to the end. The Greens are small but important enough to demand whatever they want without having any impact. And the extreme Left does not even know what kind of Europe it wants.

When I look at all this, I more and more get the impression that the EU has failed to be the project of Europeans.

The EU is the project of power games, mostly between old, worn-out men who try to compare the length of their penises instead of caring for the interests of the continent. In one of these contests, an old Pole now has apparently won the EP presidency over an old Italian guy.

On the one side, the EU is a PR project of technocrats who have no interest in supporting a common European identity and a genuine European democracy, and on the other side, it is the ideal supranational playing field for nationalists who always fight for "the best" of their countries instead of promoting the best for Europe as a whole.

They all lack European ambition, they all lack spirit, and they all don't have any idea where they want this Union to be in 10 years.

The more I watch them doing this, the less interested I am in what they do. The more I listen to their heartless speeches, their superficial declarations, their diplomatic compromises, the more I am convinced that nothing will change.

I think the task of this blog will have to change.

Before the elections, I saw its main task to support information on the European Union and the EP election campaign, because there was and still is a lack of substantive coverage of EU politics. But now that the elections are over, the time for positive-critical coverage is over.

From now on, this blog will look at the EU with more EU-sceptic eyes.

When I say "EU-sceptic" I don't mean a return to nationalist times like many British EU-sceptics. When I say "EU-sceptic" I imply the firm conviction that the present EU institutions are not capable of bringing forward a common Europe.

In fact, I am not even sure that it is the institutions itself that are designed to fail, but I also don't see the actors within these institutions who could give the European Union the impetus it needs. And Barroso is only the tip of the iceberg.

So instead of looking for the successes of the Union, I will look for the failures. Instead of praising good examples, I will dig deeper into the negative ones. To a certain extend I have been doing this already, but from now on, the focus will change:

Finding the wolves in the sheep's clothing will become more important than enjoying the beauty of the herd.

If there is no European opposition within the institutions, then we - europhile EU-sceptics - will need to be a stronger European opposition outside the institutions!

Update: See Nosemonkey's reply to this post.

Thursday 18 June 2009

All new MEPs... - updated -

... can be found here (PDF). (Link updated on 26 June 2009)

(Credit to Burson-Marsteller Brussels)

Wednesday 17 June 2009

The EU in German blogs (2): Co-operation in police & justice matters

Under the title (translated)
"Bundestag: Police from EU member states will be allowed to use guns in Germany"
author Daniel Neun of the Radio Utopie blog covers a number of matters now implemented into German law by the German parliament (the Bundestag) in the field of justice and policy co-operation.

Based on the Prüm Convention, the EU justice ministers had agreed in late 2007 to extend co-operation, e.g. in the exchange of data (e.g. in the context of EUROPOL) or the co-operation during large events, which now has to be introduced into national legal systems.

The article is extremely critical of most of these measures and sees the extension of transborder and intra-state competencies of national and supranational police authorities as a threat to human rights and democracy, widely unnoticed by the national press and political parties.

(via Duckhome)

Why Tony Barber gets it wrong (on Barroso and on European democracy)

In a new article, Tony Barber of the Financial Times' "Brussels Blog" argues that the centre-left parties now rallying against Barroso have no right to do so.

He says that since they failed to nominate a candidate against Barroso before the elections, they now should hide in their basements and let things go.

I basically agree with his criticism of the failure of the other parties to nominate their own candidate(s) against EPP-baby Barroso before the elections, but Tony gets it wrong when he concludes from this failure that they don't have the right to oppose Barroso now.

To the contrary: The European democracy needs visible opposition, at any time, and especially from forces within the European Parliament. Only if voters see that their vote actually mattered, that "their" parties oppose a candidate of another party, they are able to understand that a political choice during EP elections actually has an influence on EU politics.

Barroso might still be elected, because it remains questionable whether the non-EPP groups would be able to gather a majority around an own candidate like Verhofstadt.

But if the rising opposition against Barroso - who, by the way, was not an EPP candidate when the party ran for the last European elections - is able to show that he is not unquestionable, that he needs to defend himself instead of being passed without democratic scrutiny, this would already be a success of the European Parliament as the guardian of citizens' influence on the European level.

Tony Barber's vision seems to be that of a technocratic European Union, one where political competition may only take place in an election campaign, which is absolutely wrong - so please, Liberals, Greens, Socialists, and independents, rally against Barroso as much as you can!

Read also: Barros vs. Barroso by JEF Europe & Stop Barroso - Too little too late by Kosmopolit

PES not to become ASDE?

After some discussions (not least here on the euroblogosphere) whether the PES group in the European Parliament would rebrand itself into ASDE, there seems to be some movement.

The acronym ASDE as well as the final name of the group do not seem to be final by now and decisions have been postponed.

Tony Robinson, the head of Communications of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament has tweeted the following (highlights by me):
  • "Centre left leaders agree to form Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament. Meet Tues 3pm" (Source)

  • "New name provisional. Working group to decide on logo and acronym after summer recess." (Source)

  • "@kosmopolit The acronym and logo will be decided on by a working group after the summer recess. The name could be fine-tuned then too." (Source)
Sounds like the Socialist do not want to be confused with the Liberals (ALDE) or a large supermarket chain (ASDA)...

Monday 15 June 2009

The next European Commission: Th!nk09 initiative

I am at the finale of the Th!nk about it blogging competition.

One of the ideas we have come up over lunch is to try to find out who will be possible Commissioners from all 27 member countries in the next European Commission.

We want to use collective knowledge of Th!nkers and the wider blogosphere to come up with a list of possible candidates before the national media will have managed to figure it out. And I am sure we can do it.

So please go to Jon Worth's blog and comment on his article, informing who could be the next Commissioner from your country.

Sunday 14 June 2009

German Constitutional Court to decide on Lisbon Treaty


UPDATE (30 June 2009): See my summary of the decision on the Lisbon Treaty


Via the European Union Law Blog I just learnt that the German Constitutional Court will decide on the constitutionality of the Lisbon Treaty on Tuesday, 30 June 2009.

Commentators say that they expect the Court not to block the treaty reform, although it might raise some limitations or concerns.

A rejection would probably be the end of Lisbon, making a repeated referendum in Ireland unnecessary.

The EU in German blogs (1): The light bulb ban

Yesterday, the German blog Duckhome published a longer article on the EU's light bulb ban.

The blogger is asking for active resistance by citizens against the goals of the directive by buying large stocks of old-fashioned light bulbs before they will be forbidden from September (i.e. the first category of high energy light bulbs):
In her kindliness, the EU that regulates everything from salad cucumber curvature to the size of condoms in the best bureaucratic manner, has decided to do something nice for the European producers of energy saving lamps. [...]

Her calculations on energy saving are absolute horseplay since the life expectancy is limited to two years, which makes these lamps very expensive, and in addition you can expect that their illegal disposal will bring a lot of mercury into the environment. [...]

But this time it is simple for the citizen. You can resist. Those who are clever buy a five year stock of 100 watt light bulbs and do the same in 2011 with other kinds of light bulbs. This is an manageable investment, and light bulbs, different to pears, do not lose value if stocked.
(own translation)
The (known) arguments brought forward by Duckhome are that a) the energy savings are only minor and that b) in the near future LEDs will become affordable and can thus replace the unnecessary switch to classical energy saving lamps.

This is the first example of the image of the EU on the national level: A regulator of little details which are already antiquated as soon as the regulation is in place.

Related articles of mine:

The EU in German blogs - New series

One of the lessons I have learned over the last twelve months and through these European Parliament elections:

We will have to foster transnational communication on European issues in order to create a European public sphere!

I will therefore start monitoring German blogs to see if and how they treat European issues. This will become a new series on Julien Frisch - Watching Europe titled
"The EU in German blogs"
As far as possible, I will also comment on those issues in German blogs in order to create argumentative links to European discussions or realities.

The Euroblogosphere has to become a hub for the wider European blogosphere instead of being a separate group of bloggers - and if we manage to do so, we will win as much the national blogospheres!

Euronews interview: A civic rights activist on Moldova

via codexpoliticus

A very interesting euronews interview, critical but optimistic, on a European country that has seen quite a lot of political turmoil over the last months - see the label Moldova for the coverage in this blog - and is likely to see more in the months ahead:

Saturday 13 June 2009

EU Directive on the term of protection of copyright and related rights: Austrian & Italian positions

Thanks to a possible mistake by the Council secretariat, we are able to identify some member states positions on the
Proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive amending Directive 2006/116/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the term of protection of copyright and related rights (see the full legislative procedure)
In Council document 7440/09 you can find a drafting suggestion by the Austrian delegation (10 March), under 6446/09 an Italian position (13 February).

In the documents themselves, the names of the delegations have been erased, but on the summary pages (here & here) the respective countries are mentioned by now.

See also: Revised Council compromise proposals of the draft directive from January and March.

The single peak: European Parliament elections online statistics

Florent from the European Parliament web editors is reporting about the post-electoral emptiness and the lack of interest they are experiencing now.

And it is clear: The interest in the EP elections has peaked on Sunday/Monday/Tuesday, when everyone was looking for results, and has then dropped sharply afterwards.

A very good impression of the importance of this peak gives the June statistic on the visitors to the EP 2009 election article on Wikipedia:

EUX.TV debate on EU election results

The national media have already forgotten that there have been European Parliament elections - and if they haven't, they are talking about the impact on national politics.

If you want to get more, you need to follow European media like EUX.TV which has produced a good and reflected 30 minutes long journalistic debate.

They are not just looking for simple answers, but take a first look at the election results from a mixed European and transnational perspective, which makes a show that is worth watching the whole 30 minutes, even if this is very long for the internet as the moderator Raymond Frenken closes the debate:

via New Europe on Twitter

Friday 12 June 2009

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on the European Parliament elections

More than four minutes on the European Parliament elections on the Daily Show (from 1:40), including mocking of the European Parliament, the victory of the right, the BNP, Gordon Brown, and Berlin.

An absolute must!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2009 - Everywhere but Here Edition
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorNewt Gingrich Unedited Interview

NO! to Barroso becoming the European Council's secretary

Jean Quatremer has definitely made the quote of the day regarding the future of Barroso and the European Commission in a wonderful article titled "L'équation Barroso":
"En l’obligeant à s’exprimer devant eux, Angela Merkel et Nicolas Sarkozy veulent clairement marquer la subordination de la Commission au Conseil européen qui devient ainsi officiellement son secrétariat."
For those not familiar with the beautiful French language, here the translation:
"By forcing him [Barroso, JF] to declare himself in front of them, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy are clearly highlighting the subordination of the Commission to the European Council, which will thus officially make it its secretariat."
Merkel and Sarkozy demanding a program from José Manuel Barroso means that they consider him responsible to the European Council (and to them), not to the European Parliament or to the EU citizens.

If the EP accepts Barroso, it will accept this situation and it will consequently have to work with a Commission openly being an appendix to the member states and the Council. And if it does so, it will lose power, relevance, and credibility.

MEPs have to make clear at their first session that they neither want such kind of a Commission nor such a Commission president - they have to make sure that the balance of the European institutions is not undermined by egomaniacs at the top of European member states and shifted towards more intransparency and less accountability!

So I fully share the assessment of Jean Quatremer - and also his final question:

Will our directly elected parliamentarians have the guts to stand against the European Council? - If yes, this would be a great day for the European democracy!

EuroparlTV: Group formation in the European Parliament

EuroparlTV has 2:30 minutes on group formation in the European Parliament, including MEPs defending the rebranding of PES into ASDE:

EU reduced value added tax rules: Cyprus' teeth grinding

In May, the EU Council has adopted the Directive 2009/47/EC ammending an older directive regarding EU-wide reduced rates of value added tax (VAT).

Cyprus abstained in the vote, but from a special statement recently released in an addendum to the Council minutes you can see that it did so with teeth grinding:
"Cyprus currently applies an exemption with deductibility of VAT paid at the preceding stage in respect of the supply of pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs for human consumption. The current application of zero VAT rate on these items is based on a derogation, which after renewal, expires on December 31 2010. Though we are in favour of zero VAT rate on these, in good faith and Community spirit, Cyprus refrained from specifically raising the issue of further extension. [...]

Cyprus considers that the wording of the proposed Council Directive amending Directive 2006/112/EC as regards reduced rates of value added tax should have better reflected the principles of equality and equal treatment of Member States in similar
situations. In this respect, the same derogation should have applied to Member States in similar situations allowing them to benefit from the same special arrangements provided for in Article 111(c).

Cyprus expects that an appropriate way will be found in order to accommodate its legitimate request before the expiration of the said derogation at the end of 2010.
This is yet another example of the group pressure existing within the Council, in particular on smaller states. But it is also an example on the general will to come to common solutions, even in an area that many might not see in the competence of the European Union - VAT.

As a blogger and scientist, those special statements are most valuable to understand special preferences and dynamics within the Council, probably the most intransparent of all EU institutions, so I am always glad to find them.

Because let's not forget:

Although over the last weeks we have been concentrating on the European Parliament - and we will continue, since it is the only directly elected EU body - the EU Council has much more legislative power than the EP, but we hardly understand how it's decisions are made, so it also needs much more thorough attention from our side!

(The whole legislative procedure on the directive here on Pre-Lex.)

Thursday 11 June 2009

PES becomes ASDE

Update (17 June 2009): See new developments that indicate "ASDE" might not be the final word.

(Via The Lobby, confirmed by Italian news sources)

In a strange move that is just done to please the Italian Partito Democratico, the PES group in the European Parliament will be re-branded into ASDE, the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

I think this will ruin any move to brand the term "PES" which until now was both, the name of the party and of the political group. It will make future campaigning more difficult, and it will also make it more difficult for people in the member states to recognise the differences between the parties and the politics.

Having the "Alliance" and "Democrats" in ALDE and ASDE will for sure lead to confusions and to misunderstandings, not to mention that the EPP also has an "-ED" in its parliamentary group.

This will blur the lines and the concepts, and this can only be bad for the European democracy that is already in bad shape today.

So I think the re-branding as ASDE is wrong, even if it will bring 21 additional seats to the Socialist group, wrong for the socialist group and wrong for the European Parliament in general.

Update 2: Since ASDE sounds pretty much like a UK/Ireland-based supermarket chain called ASDA, Jon Worth was again able to prove his marvellous graphical skills by bringing ASDE and ASDA together.

Update 1: Interview with PES/ASDE member Robert Goebbels on EuroparlTV

Will there ever be a "Gabon Coalition"?

Jon Worth has come up with a new term for the usage in the context of European Parliament politics:
"The Gabon Coalition".
On Twitter, we were discussing possible options for a European Parliament majority for the next European Commission president, and one possibility mentioned - although still hypothetical - was the "Gabon Coalition" formed by the EPP (colour blue), ALDE (yellow), and the Greens (colour self-evident), a combination of colours that you find on the flag of Gabon.

This discussion is linked to a similar discussion in Germany in 2005, when a hypothetical combination of the Christian Democrats (black), the Liberals (yellow) and the Greens (that never happened) was named "Jamaica Coalition".

The Gabon option is very unlikely for the European Parliament, but you never know - so please use this term whenever you combine EPP, ALDE, and Greens!

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Make Guy Verhofstadt the next European Commission president!

Via Stephen and EurActiv I became aware of the fact that discussions about replacing Barroso with Guy Verhofstadt are remaining alive, even after the EPP victory at the recent EP elections.

To make things clear: Guy Verhofstadt would by far be a better Commission President than Barroso!

First, he has more profile as a convinced European than Barroso, having proposed the creation of the United States of Europe and having been endorsed by European federalists.

And second, he has made himself a name in Europe as the leader of his country, as a visible statesman who is more than just a compromise candidate as Barroso was when proposed in 2004 and which he remains until today.

We need a person that can inspire Europe, a person that has the personality to stand against the overly powerful, intransparent Council, a convinced European who is electable but more than just a political trade-off.

As a member of ELDR/ALDE and if supported by the PES and the Greens, he would have a stronger voter basis than Barroso who is only endorsed by the EPP. The question will be how the many others on the far left (GUE/NGL), on the right (e.g. the newly formed group around the British Tories) and the many so far unaligned will behave.

This is pretty unclear by now, and I can only hope that somehow there will be a coalition of the Europeans willing to make a step to the front after these elections have been two steps backwards.

So I don't see yet that Verhofstadt will get a majority but it would be more than desirable to make him replace the unbearable José Manuel Barroso!

Update: Just saw that Jon also published an article on this topic some minutes ago.

EuroparlTV: Isabelle Durant very first new MEP

The Belgian Green Isabelle Durant was the very first new MEP to register at the European Parliament, and EuroparlTV got her on camera:

Watch Nosemonkey and other EU bloggers on TV

Even though the elections are over and many might turn their backs to this topic, I recommend watching the bloggers from Nosemonkey, Shiraz Socialists, and EU Referendum discuss on BBC before and after the European Parliament elections 2009 here on Vimeo.

Commissioner Wallström blames others for EU elections fail

Right. These were European Parliament elections, so one might say that it is not the European Commission's task to get people to vote.

But it is very poor by Margot Wallströme to blame others for the failure to communicated the European Union while refusing any responsibility by her institution:
A hunt for someone to blame will also no doubt start and some will look to blame the Commission, which would be absurd. The main responsibility for persuading people to vote lies with the political parties.

The Commission has displayed more modern thinking than many others in recent years by embracing Youtube, MTV, actively engaging womens organisations etc. It has engaged people in debate and discussion and has been responsible for Plan D and Debate Europe. It is for others to learn the lessons for the next few years.

Political parties in Europe need to learn how to use modern methods of communication and campaigning and that European issues need to be a permanent part of the domestic debate.
She says the hunt for someone to blame will start soon, and she is the first to do it. Bravo!

I know she has been in a defence position over the last weeks, but this paragraph of her latest post is so disappointing because it shows that Margot does not have any ideas how to make things better. It shows that there is no strategy how to help national actors to be more aware of European politics. It shows that the attention crisis for the European Union is a crisis based on all institutions and actors involved.

But it also it shows that the Commission does not want to take any responsibility, and this is blatantly wrong.

Sorry Ms. Wallström, but this article of yours is a proof why many of us who are fans of the project called "European Union" will become more and more critical of the people handling it - and we will make ourselves heard!

Lech Walesa honoured by Berlin mayor

Yesterday, former Solidarity leader Lech Walesa has received the highest honour of the city of Berlin, the Ernst Reuter badge, from Berlin's mayor Klaus Wowereit for his outstanding role in making possible the fall of the Wall in the divided city of Berlin 20 years ago.

I had the possibility participating in the honorary ceremony, and was very curious about what Mr Walesa would say, in particular since his appearance at Libertas has been very controversial in the pre-electoral period.

Starting with his role in Solidarity, making very clear that nothing that happened later on would have happened without this movement which took away the legitimacy from the Communist Party to represent the workers, he came quickly to more recent isues.

Today he spoke very pro-European, going as far as asking to think about a "European state". He promoted common solutions for common problems like building good roads all over Europe, so that "the German Mercedes would not lose a wheel on bumpy roads".

He also pointed out that it is in the interest of Germans that there is work all over Europe, because if not, people might first stop buying German cars and, if out of work for too long, would start a new revolution which would be bad for Europe. It was important for Europe not to fall back into nationalism and discrimination of minorities.

He asked Germany to take a lead in Europe, and he said that Germans were too often not aware of their importance and lacked the chance to fulfil their role. If Germany wasn't interested, he said, Poles would be glad if Germany could hand over to them. If not, Germany would have to march ahead and help to fill words like globalisation with life.

Hadn't there been the Libertas story, his speech would have been really nice. He has a funny style of speaking, very lively and conscious of his importance ("You should invite me more often, I have so much to say."), but he doesn't speak like somebody who has grown up with doing political speeches - he sounds as if he is doing it "from the gut".

In the end, after he had given all his ideas and advice, he concluded:

"Now, that you have given me this honorary badge, you should also listen and follow to what I say."

Smiled, and left the stage.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Estonian independent candidate Indrek Tarand becomes MEP

In Estonia, which saw turnout for the EP elections almost double compared to 2004, Indrek Tarand, an independent candidate, received enough votes - 102,509 - to enter the European Parliament as one of only 6 MEPs, apparently by running an anti-party campaign:

Europe in blogs (2)

Caution: The following article could contain traces of irony or hyperbole.

Whooo, the whirlwind of the European Parliament elections 2009 has blown pretty heavily during the last days. If you've missed that, you've missed quite something.

During these days, The European Citizen did a tremendous job in the coverage of the election process, and he is absolutely worth getting linked here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. I suppose he realised that I wasn't capable of doing it, so he took over from me.

La Oreja de Europa was equally active, blogging directly from the European Parliament. 15 blog posts on the 7th of June, that is quite something. It is a shame that they are all in Spanish so nobody will understand them. Why not blogging in Maltese?!

Now that the results are in, Jan is happy that he guessed the wrong number of Greens entering the new European Parliament. What he forgot to mention is that he actually made it into the European Parliament himself, where from now on he will be called on duty by the European blogosphere whenever we need him. Bad luck!

Charlemagne partly blames MEPs for the low turnout, and, more important, criticises them for planning to do "more of the same" in the future, just on a larger scale. His simple, media-guy conclusion: Let's get rid of the EU, make it national. It's the Economist, stupid!

The Kosmopolit has set out a long agenda of things he needs to write about after these elections, and the list is long enough to keep an army of bloggers, politicians, PR people and scientists busy for the next years. But why to be overmodest when you have been nominated Best European Blog in 2008!?

Behind the Scenes is ignoring the will of the people when she questions the authority of Barroso. How dare she?! 60% abstention were a clear "YES" for José Manuel who abstained from doing anything valuable over the last five years. Non-Voters want more of that!

At Central Europe Active, Dániel sounds very surprised by the heavy victory of the right in Hungary, in particular the anti-Roma far right. He himself admits having endorsed a Roma party which only received very few votes. But he should have known better: Nobody in Europe likes Roma because many of them try to live the European dream by moving around freely - and the immobile populations are very jealous about that.

It was also a sad Sunday for British MEP and blogger Richard Corbett who will have to leave his EP office to make room for a British neo-nationalist which EU Referendum is joyfully defending. I should write some nice words about Mr Corbett because many seem to be upset, but somehow he has only marginally captured my attention and I am not the best to hold the funeral eulogy.

Maybe Nosemonkey could do it, after he spent his election night on Twitter, probably with the bottle of something he bought recently (cannot find the Tweet, sorry). Or Jon, who not surprisingly is is disappointed by the results of the left and who wants to see Martin Schulz' head roll (that is yet another Twitter story).

Before closing, we should not forget the many others who have heroically blogged about Polish winners, about the elite deserving the results, about a Libertas leader not making it into the EP, their frustration as pro-Europeans, or who have published 10 boring conclusions on the election results in the UK.

And last but not least, with tears in his eyes, PES leader Rasmussen admits the defeat and has already learned his lesson: He makes clear to everyone that European socialists and social democrats have to continue as they did. Because once you are on the way to hell, don't turn around or you'll get your back burned, too. Great job, Mr R.!

There was much more in European blogs over the last week, but that's it for now. Europe in blogs will be back soon.

(PS: The good-bye does not come without mentioning that the title of this series - "Europe in blogs" - which I came up with while being offline - was probably unconsciously influenced by "L'Europe en Blogs" of ARTE, which means exactly the same.

I knew this category before, but only during last week I remembered it and then I realised that my innovation was not very innovative. I felt very stupid then. And I still feel bad about it. I think I will have to invent another title for the category. Any idea for something short?

You see, the post-election era continues with deception, this time with me being uncreative. My apologies!

Monday 8 June 2009

Youth and a female President for the new European Parliament!

I see that now that the elections are over, some are already speculating who will get the best post(s).

Let me therefore be very clear:

I want a female President for the new European Parliament!

And I want that Europarlamentarians show that they have learned a lesson, and that they don't just put forward interesting women for top posts, but that they also to renew the face of the European Parliament.

Young people might not turn out to vote in satisfactory number, but maybe this is because the faces we got so far are worn-out, and their way to speak does not reach the many among us who already live Europe while don't feeling connected to the European political sphere.

What we need is the enthusiasm of a new generation, able to revive interest in the EP, able to speak European and to think global.

Dear European Parliament, dear new MEPs,

get the next generation by being the next generation, by involving the next generation - and by becoming more gender balanced, from the "bottom" to the top!