A measure of European public opinion is already reflected on multilingual Bloggingportal.eu, which aggregates 732 Euroblogs. The Hungarian media law is one of the recurring themes on the front page.
Hungary’s new media law shows contempt for democracy, the separation of powers and core European ideals, Constanze Stelzenmüllerhun
“Europe whole and free” owes a great debt to the decision by a courageous Hungarian government to open its frontiers to Austria in the summer of 1989, allowing thousands of East German refugees to escape. Twenty-one years later, and just as it takes over the rotating European presidency, Hungary is a frontrunner once more. The difference is that this time it appears determined to reverse its course. And the risk is that it might take Europe with it.
Freedom of opinion is an ideal too important to be swept under the rug by vague promises by high officials, or limited to purely legal scrutiny of a patchwork of minimum standards, so we continue to look at the Euroblog discussion, as in: Hungarian media law and EU Council presidency: Evolving European opinion (8 January 2011).
By Marietta Le
The attention drawn to Hungary because of the new media law is still not decreasing. Citizens advocating freedom of speech are also trying to keep up the volume of the international coverage by means of communication on the internet. A group called Blackout for Hungary started a campaign for 24 hours beginning on Jan. 5 against the new media law introduced on Jan. 1. They stated in their manifesto:
from EUobserver.com – Comment
from EUobserver.com – Comment
2011 is going to be a big year in Irish politics. Fianna Fáil, the ruling centre/centre-right party (currently in coalition with the Greens and some independents) which has been the governing party in Ireland for most of its history since independence, is consistently low in the polls (14%, equal with Sinn Féin in the latest one), and appears on course for the worst result in its electoral history. The next government, which is likely to be a Fine Gael-Labour coalition (a Grand coalition), will have to steer Ireland through the recession, and implement the IMF-EU Bail-Out agreement.
After France and Germany sent a letter to the EU opposing the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen zone (a decision each Schengen member state has a veto on), Romania has hit back with suggestions that it will delay Croatian accession (or that the CVM [Co-operation and Verification Mechanism] that applies to it and Bulgaria should be applied to Croatia as well), and that it might delay ratifying the Protocol allowing the 18 Lisbon MEPs from taking their seats in the European Parliament. France and Germany are blocking the expansion of the Schengen zone to include Romania and Bulgaria because of their failure to make good progress in combating corruption and organised crime. However, technically both Bulgaria and Romania have met the criteria for acceding to the Schengen zone, and the two sets of criteria are supposed to be separate.
Last month I attended Bloggingportal’s #EUuk event, on the EU in the British media and the British blogosphere. The first panel’s topic was how the British media deals with the EU, and the second covered the British blogosphere and blogging about the EU in general.
The discussion about the Hungarian media law prone to arbitrary implementation has revealed profound ignorance about or lack of care for European values, even outright denial of their existence.
“Catherine Ashton is well known as one of the hardest working people in Brussels.”
James Morrison, Head of Cabinet of Catherine Ashton
I had a good laugh when I read this quote in a blog post of the EU Commission Representation in the UK today.
I was laughing because, when you are in Brussels, a lot of people complain about the way EU “foreign minister” Ashton works and this description thus almost sounds like sarcasm from her head of cabinet. The quote is also strangely funny given the fact that there are probably a lot of officials working hard in and around the EU institutions (although some might object to this assumption…), and maybe even harder than Ms Ashton.
Yesterday we looked at the fresh foreign policy position paper of one of the important Swiss political parties, FDP. Die Liberalen, which confirmed our picture that Switzerland is deeply dug in with its bilateral European policy credo: European Union: The Swiss entrenched (FDP. The Liberals) (2 January 2011).
2011 has been designated the European Year of the Volunteer by the European Union. This is following a campaign led by Marian Harkin MEP (Ireland/ALDE). She worked with the unofficial “EP Volunteering Interest Group” to lobby the Parliament, the Council and the Commission on this initiative.
The most significant EU-related development over the holidays was Estonia’s official entry into the eurozone on New Year’s Day, an event that is worth revisiting as the single currency prepares for what is likely to be another year of turmoil.
Tumultuous changes to the Ukrainian executive, legislative and legal branches of power over the past months have until recently deflected the public’s attention from another important change in the political system of Ukraine. At the last local elections, Oleh Tyahnybok’s nationalist party Svoboda [freedom, ed] received around 5% support from the Ukrainian population, which means that this political force, which has yet to be studied in detail, increased its representation in the regional and local parliaments of Western and Central Ukraine. It also has more and more chances of forming its own party in the next Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian Parliament). This would change the structure and the nature of both political competition and public discourse in Ukraine. The ideological spectrum of the party landscape at national level may soon lose its current two-pronged division.
For the European Union a reality check, as good as good as they come: EU roars, but Switzerland not moved (3 January 2011).
Last week as Parliament was about to pass the controversial university reform bill, Rome braced itself for trouble. On 14 December, the week before, street violence had once again erupted with pictures of cars in flames in the Corso and Piazza del Popolo; masked and helmeted youths and policemen beating each other up. Thunderflashes and molotovs were much in evidence. Windows were smashed and ATMs broken. It took many people back to 1977 when there were similar scenes in Rome. Or to London or Athens over the last month.
On 1 July 2010 Belgium took over the presidency of the Council of the European Union from Spain, as the second country in the presidency trio. The Belgian government showed team spirit by using the www.eutrio.be web address and the #EuTrioBe hashtag on Twitter.
Political reform is high on the agenda in Irish politics these days. Labour now has a paper of 140 proposals (the Twitter approach, perhaps?) for “New Government, Better Government” (PDF). Generally, the papers proposals are fair enough – longer periods with the Dáil in session, greater opportunity for private members’ Bills and amendments, greater transparency of executive decision-making (whether it was a minister or a delegated power to a level in his/her department)…