WLCentral will be providing news coverage from Spain on the ongoing #spanishrevolution trough this liveblog. Contact us at @wikileaks_world or firstname.lastname@example.org to help us with footage, information and opinion.15MayRevolution.com provides information in English about the 15M movement. An updated agenda of related protests around the world can be found here.
It is with a sense of relief and disbelief that many Bosnians and Serbs alike today learn about the arrest of Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, charged with genocide and war crimes during the 1992-95 civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The arrest of Ratko Mladic may come as a surprise to many, but international pressure has been building in recent years that Serbian authorities finally bring the general to justice.
The former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladić was arrested on Thursday in northern Serbia. He is considered the mastermind behind the Srebrenica massacre in 1995, when Serbian troops murdered around 8,000 Muslims. According to the press, the arrest will allow all concerned to come to terms with the genocide, while Serbia moves closer to the EU.
Myths and misinformation feed in to a general lack of ideas about how to save the eurozone
The crisis of the eurozone seems to be going from bad to worse. Not only have the key players not yet found convincing solutions for the fiscal problems in Greece, Ireland and Portugal but we are already witnessing the beginning of a political backlash that could undermine the achievements of decades of European integration. There is generally a lack of ideas about what needs to be done to turn things around so here are my suggestions:
On Friday, the FT revealed that France is leading a majority group of eurozone governments in opposition to German demands that the permanent eurozone bailout mechanism include clear language providing for the inclusion of private bondholders in negotiations on any restructuring of government debt post-2013. This seems like a pretty dangerous game on France’s part, but it also goes to show that the removal of Britain from the eurozone equation doesn’t equal spontaneous Franco-German agreement.
For decades the process of European integration was an elite-driven process supported by a “permissive consensus” of the population as a whole. While the populations of European states were hardly involved in shaping the process of integration, and were almost never asked for their explicit approval (in elections or referendums), the elites could count on a basic level of unexpressed support.
“Let’s leave the EU and join the EEA or EFTA – Norway and Switzerland are doing fine without EU membership!” It’s a perennial argument of a surprisingly large number of anti-EU types, and I’ve been meaning to do a proper post on it for (literally) years. It is, needless to say, a nonsense argument based on a fundamental misunderstanding of Norwegian/Swiss relations with the EU.
Yesterday, I collected a few of my blog posts regarding the eurozone crisis and the issue of transparency on Grahnlaw Suomi Finland. The text is in Swedish, but most of the posts and some references are in English: EU-institutionerna mellan stumhet, PR och genuin öppenhet (Portugal och Grekland). (For the rest, you can try Google translation.)
from EUobserver.com – Headline News
The peaceful mass popular protests in cities across Spain, calling for democracy and protesting bipartisanship on the eve of elections, caught Greeks by surprise after a year of fruitless protests in Greece against IMF/ECB imposed austerity measures. Many Greek netizens reacted in solidarity to the sight and sounds of the “Spanish Revolution” and considered their own predicament.
Driving across the rolling farming country of northern and central France, as my wife and I have just done, you might think that French arable farmers have never had it so good. Grain prices are high and the landscape as far as the eye can see is bright yellow with rapeseed and brilliant green with wheat, barley or potatoes, the very picture of a healthy agriculture.
2011-05-22 Assembly decides #spanishrevolution will continue as #Spain chooses the conservatives in elections
Voice of America Reports on Spain Demonstrations as Inspired by Arab Protests:The Chains of Law and Order: Be Careful What You Wish For
It is one thing to be for democracy but quite another to cope with what mass democratically-inspired civil unrest can actually mean.
Law and order may be our chains, but they also protect us.
I was a speaker yesterday at the Nordic-Baltic Youth Forum 2011 in Narva, Estonia. The slides from my presentation are here, but this post is about an issue that was on my mind all day – how Members of the European Parliament should organise their web presence. The 3 MEPs at the event in Narva - Emilie Turunen, Kristiina Ojuland and Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė – all have personal websites and some presence on social media, but judging by their comments on the panels they struggle to make the most of the technology, and find it hard to work out what they should do and what their staff should do. So here’s a plan for them.
It is a telling sign of weak EU structures that the chief outcome of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin) is produced ”in the margins” of the Council:
Statement by the Eurogroup and ECOFIN Ministers (16 May; no document identifier)
The unanimous decision by ministers is there, but references (links) to decisions and other documents in final or draft form would have made the statement more credible and readable.
Here’s an encouraging proposal:
As we reported in our press summary yesterday, the European Commission has announced plans to revise its Byzantine state aid rules, potentially making life a bit easier for local and regional authorities. Currently, local bodies have to comply with the EU’s jungle of rules, designed to ensure fair competition on the Single Market, even when subsidising or contracting out small projects such as swimming pools, playgrounds or crèches – which is just silly (and which adds unnecessary costs for taxpayers).
It is already a year after Greece was forced to seek a bailout from its fellow euro partners and the IMF but the outlook seems no brighter than before. Despite the Socialist Government’s great efforts, accomplishments have in general fallen short of expectations. Greece’s budget deficit in 2010 was 10.5 percent of GDP, which is 1.1 percentage points higher than forecast. During the same year, total government debt stood at 142.8 percent, the highest in the EU. As the fiscal figures continue coming in worse than planned, and amidst fears of deepening recession, further pressure builds in Greece to raise taxes and cut spending to meet its targets. As the country finds it increasingly difficult to put its finances in order, investors become increasingly skeptical about the government’s ability to avoid restructuring Greece’s debt.
Spain: When Everything Turned Upside Down…The Spanish demonstrations as seen by a Spanish living in Greece!
When no one predicted, when the most boring, monotonous, and disappointing campaign for the upcoming municipal elections ofSpain was taking place, everything turned upside down, and the citizens, aware of their function as the base of the society, took the streets and claimed their rights. Thousands of people demonstrated daily in front of the buildings of the Spanish government,and hundreds of them stayed all day and night in tents, forming a camp that has gained power, deciding what to do next.
Even after the regional and local elections, tens of thousands of predominantly young Spaniards continue to protest against mass unemployment and the two major parties. The press comments that the problems addressed by the demonstrators concern everyone and says similar protests could spread to other European countries.
French feminist bloggers and women bloggers writing on women’s issues, have gained a larger audience and a new respect in France in the aftermath of the Domininique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) scandal. They were the first and very few voices reminding that there was a woman involved, possibly a victim, and they drew attention to the biased and sexist coverage of the French media.
In his blog post The schizophrenic Council, Ronny Patz saw the real face of the Council of the European Union as that of an EU institution
…that may have started to understand how 21st century PR works but that has not yet understood how 21st century democracy should look like.
Kudos to Reijo Kemppinen for presenting the Council view about restricted and privileged access to information.
However, Kemppinen’s arguments miss the fundamental principles of equality of and equal attention to the citizens of the EU (Article 9 TEU), as well as the guiding values of a union ‘in which decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen’ (Article 1 TEU).
This is more than a bureaucratic slip.
from EUobserver.com – Headline News
The Spanish Socialists suffered a bitter defeat in regional and local elections on Sunday, receiving only around 28 percent of the vote. At the same time tens of thousands of young Spaniards demonstrated across the country against corruption and unemployment. The press writes that the people are angry at Spain’s rigid austerity policies and the cynicism of the political system.
Seven days before the local and regional elections in Spain, the main political issue has been the ‘Spanishrevolution’, a civil movement which has sprung up to demand deep democratic changes. Thousands of young people, the unemployed, retired, and people from every sector of society have been camping in the main squares of Spanish cities calling for democratic changes. For the onlooker, this may well prompt comparison with the Arab uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia: but there are too many differences. Spain is a mature democracy, where the economic situation is not so good but whose democratic institutions are very similar to those of other countries of the European region. While Arab protesters want to remove dictatorial governments who have ruled their countries for the last thirty years without any election, the Spanish want to radically overhaul the intrinsic democratic mechanism, transforming a representative democracy into a more participative and direct democracy. They have several requests – most of them well beyond anything that is likely to be adopted by any political party who aspires to be part of the government.
Looking through the latest round of EU GDP data, one thing is becoming increasingly obvious: when it comes to future monetary policy decisions at the ECB, and to exactly how many more interest rate hikes we are going to see, then the performance of the Italian economy is going to be critical. The growth pattern now is clear enough: Germany and France move forward at a lively pace, while the so called “peripheral” economies (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain) either remain in or continually flirt with recession. They are constrained bythe combined burden of their lack of international competitiveness, their over-indebtedness and the contractionary impact of their austerity programmes.
In the past days, right-wing extremists in Athens, Greece have launched pogrom-like attacks on immigrants in the downtown Athens area. It began on May 10, 2011, one day after a 44-year old escorting his pregnant wife to the hospital was mugged and stabbed to death. There is no evidence as to the identity of the killers, but racist gangs have gone on something like vengeance spree on immigrants -or even foreign-looking Greeks- who they hold generally responsible for rising crime and unemployment in Greece.
Are you allowed to spoil a party when you are invited? What if the host of the party actually is quite schizophrenic, one day ignores you and the other day treats you like your best friend?
The EU Council is such a schizophrenic institution. EU member states either use it to fight populist fights against other countries to gain points back home or they try everything to secure the secrecy of the institution to stand for policies they would not be ready to defend publicly.
A conflict over border controls in the Schengen Area has broken out in the run-up to today’s meeting of EU interior ministers. Denmark passed new controls on Wednesday for fear of illegal immigrants from Eastern Europe, while France and Italy are apprehensive about migrants from North Africa. The press defends freedom of movement and warns against short-sighted parochialism.
from EUobserver.com – Headline News
The strong reaction to our report on EU external aid, particularly in the Netherlands, has prompted the European Commission to issue a 14 page rebuttal. Without rehashing the Commission’s entire response, which you can read here, we think it’s important to highlight some of the contradictions within it and also where it seems to have completely missed the point.
Many an economic eyebrow must have been raised last Friday when Europe’s first quarter GDP data was released, and people discovered that the Greek economy had suddenly surged forward, rising by 0.8% over the level it had attained in the last three months of 2010 (or at a 3.2% annual rate, or faster than the US). Since almost everyone with knowledge of the situation is forecasting a further contraction in the economy this year, the result may have been thought to be a surprising one.
In 2005 I went to France to campaign in the referendum on the European Constitution, making the case for oui. One thing about that campaign has been with me ever since: it was clear what oui would mean (France would ratify) while it was never clear what non would mean. The diverse interpretations of non – from ‘stick with the Treaty of Nice’ via ‘we want a Social Europe instead’ to ‘we want to punish the government’ – meant that non was a responsibility-free shot at the establishment. The EU could have operated with the old treaties, so it’s not as if the non had a particularly high price.
from A Fistful Of Euros » A Fistful Of Euros by Edward Hugh