September 21, 2007
As innumerable people have pointed out, this isn't in fact, strictly speaking, legal.
French plans to bail out Europe’s ill-starred satellite navigation project with a €2.1 billion raid on the EU farming budget yesterday provoked outrage in Britain and Germany.
Critics said that France’s attempt to seize spare taxpayers’ cash after private investors pulled out would break every budgetary rule in the book – and set an alarming precedent.
Because, until the
Constitution Reform Treaty is passed, space isn't an EU competence, so they can't spend tax cash on it.
This is an interesting way to do it:
Mr Mugabe was banned from visiting EU member states in February 2002. But Mr Michel said this restriction, which also applies to all Zimbabwean cabinet ministers and senior figures in the ruling Zanu-PF party, did not stop them from coming to international meetings.
They're such evil bastards that they can't come to shop but we'd love them to come so we can do business.
September 17, 2007
Margot's Great Idea
TEBAF Margot has come up with a great idea. No, really.
A lively debate about the future of Europe is always welcome and I
understand that the President of France has proposed a “wise men’s
group” to provide inspiration and ideas.
Here is my idea: appoint a “smart kid’s group” as a complement. (Or why not an “angry women’s group”…). Engage those that are too often talked about, too seldom with.
Ask how young people want their lives, what education they want, how to live together in a multicultural Europe of rapid change
Yes, why not? In fact, why not ask everyone their views? We could even invent a word for it...something like, ooooh, say, election? Or even referendum? Ask the citizenry of Europe whether they wish to be ruled by the ex-Swedish Minister for Religion for example.
September 10, 2007
Yet to my own surprise, the more I look at the proposed new treaty, the more I find myself in the referendum camp.
Being on the same side of an argument as Jackie Ashley? I'll have to reconsider this very carefully indeed.
September 09, 2007
The Lancet’s report is a shocker, but what made me tremble was the response from a government that has just declared itself paternalistically so concerned with our nation’s children. Instead of immediately banning the six common E-numbers and the preservative sodium benzoate as other countries including Norway and Sweden already have, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) passed the buck to the European Food Safety Authority, to see whether it wanted to impose a ban.
Sweden hasn't banned them. They did, in the past, but they had to allow them again. And the UK Government has to pass the matter up to the EU. Because this is now an EU competence, not a national government one. This is what being in the EU means: that we can't make our own decisions. Capisce?
September 05, 2007
Leaving and Devolution
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard asks:
Would Britain’s exit from the EU set off the disintegration of the United Kingdom, pitting England against Scotland?
Well, we can hope, can't we?
September 02, 2007
What a Wonderful System
Washington has taken a much more sympathetic line lately to the main Iranian opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which for 30 years has campaigned for a democratic, secular state, and more than 100,000 of whose supporters have been killed by the Guards.
After a lengthy investigation, the US authorities found no evidence for placing the largest group in the NCRI, the People's Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI), on its list of terrorist organisations.
All this is in startling contrast to the record of the EU, and our own Government in particular. In 2001, the British Government led the way in proscribing the PMOI (at the bidding of the Teheran regime, as Jack Straw explained last year). When the rest of the EU followed suit, the European Court of Justice last December ruled that it had acted unlawfully.
But in January, at Britain's behest, the EU's Council of Ministers agreed to ignore the judgment. A thousand parliamentarians from all over Europe protested, including more than 100 members of our own Parliament, but the Council of Ministers again agreed, in June, to flout the ECJ's ruling.
Astonishingly, this leaves us not only prohibiting, in flagrant breach of EU law, the chief body that campaigns peacefully for a democratic Iran, but explicitly doing so to appease a regime which itself orchestrates terrorism, supplying the rockets and roadside bombs that are killing British and other allied troops.
So wonderful to know that we're governed by the rule of law, isn't it?
September 01, 2007
Usual level of thought here:
The first meeting of the Commission dealt with issues like antidumping measures for energy saving light bulbs from China. The Commission recommended to the Member States that ‘anti-dumping‘ duties on energy-saving light bulbs from China be removed in the next year. There was a good discussion on this complex issue. The reason for imposing duties in the first place was to protect European companies from unfair competition so an assessment was needed as to whether they were still needed. On the one hand there are environmental considerations: we should be encouraging the use of energy-saving light bulbs where possible. But anti-dumping duties obviously increase the price to the consumer. One of the key factors was that the EU can only produce about 25% of its demand for energy saving light bulbs through domestic production. In the end the Commission decided to discontinue these measures but to allow a year for companies to adjust to the new situation.
Yes, it's good that they're going to lift the duties, yes, good that they realise that the whole damn point of trade is to get the things that we cannot make ourselves (or not as efficiently).
What does annoy though is this blathering about "European companies". There are only three large makers of CFLs. Osram, GE and Phillips. All have factories around the world: but only one has major production in the EU. What this catfight has been about is not, however absurd the argument is in reality, whether some stalwart Mettelstand company is being crushed by underpaid and exploited Chinese peasants. Rather, should the multinational with a factory in the EU be protected from the two multi-nationals which do not? And, to add to the joy, all three have Far East factories.
Put that way even the one year delay is ludicrous.
Just to add to this nonsense over points of origin. What we're talking about here is only where the things are assembled. All, (yes, all) of the mercury charges that make the things work come from Illinois, for example.
August 29, 2007
Richard Corbett MEP puts forward this argument about the European
Constitution Reform Treaty.
The social dimension of the reform treaty
The reform treaty will explicitly commit European governments to defend and strengthen the European social model. It will enshrine the values of social justice, full employment and solidarity in the EU's "mission statement" and commit the EU to "a social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress".
Similarly, the treaty emphasises that the EU must work to "combat social exclusion and discrimination", and will be legally required to promote social justice, gender equality and solidarity between generations. It is values such as these that clearly differentiate the EU from the American model of capitalism that allows private wealth and public squalor.
A new protocol will require the EU to safeguard public services,
including the way they are organised and financed in each country. The
treaty also requires the EU, in all policy areas, to take account of
"the promotion of a high level of employment, the guarantee of adequate
social protection, the fight against social exclusion, and a high level
of education, training and protection of human health".
The treaty reaffirms the existing obligation on the commission to "promote the consultation of management and labour at Union level", to "facilitate their dialogue by ensuring balanced support for the parties", and to "consult the social partners before submitting proposals on social policy".
An excellent list of reasons to oppose the whole thing, don't you think?
Unfortunately, this dingbat sees them as reasons to support it.
So, what do you think? Mattocks? A gibbet? Sent to bed without any supper?
August 27, 2007
Interesting Phrasing, Don't You Think?
Gordon Brown's chances of ending a Labour revolt over the new EU reform treaty have been snuffed out after leading Euro-MPs made clear they would give no further concessions to Britain.
And there I was thinking that the EU is an association of sovereign nations. That is, that we pass up which powers we wish, retaining all others. If Euro MPs are insisting that we shall get no more "concessions" that would appear to mean that the boot is on the other foot: we get to keep those scraps which we are allowed.
So it is an interesting word to use then, one that shows what they think the situation is.