The dreadful errors made by the Czech Presidency of the European Union go on and on… They don’t know who’s who in the Kremlin, they think Israel is defensive, and now they’ve caused all kinds of fuss by hanging art in the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels that depicts national stereotypes about the EU Member States. Germany looks like it has a deconstructed swastika on it, and the Bulgarians are annoyed that their ’symbol’ is a toilet. This is the Presidency PR about the installation, and this is how the BBC covers it and there are more photos here.
An new art installation poking fun at European stereotypes angers EU members as it goes on display at the European Council building in Brussels.
The Czech EU presidency was forced into a public apology after a prominent artwork designed to demolish national stereotypes by mocking them caused diplomatic outrage
Gaza conflict fuels Arab-Jewish tensions in France
The French Presidency of the EU turned out to be less fun than I thought it would be. There turned out to be enough real crises for Sarkozy to satisfy his desire for action and grandstanding, and well, he did manage those quite well.
The Czechs, though, seem to be living up to my expectations. The Czech artist David Cerny has created an art installation that displays stereotypes of various European countries, which the Czech presidency has installed in the atrium of the European Council building. This has kicked up a minor media storm, also because he stated it was the work of 27 European artists when it turned out to be only his. Here’s a part of his explanation:
Still no solution to the gas dispute. The European press turns an eye to Ukraine’s role in the conflict, commenting on the awkward situation the country now finds itself in.
Russia is once more pumping gas to the West via Ukraine. After the six-day delivery stop the gas dispute now seems to be unwinding. But the delivery crisis has ignited a debate over alternative energy and nuclear power.
The European Commission is threatening legal action against Russia and Ukraine if they do not restore gas flows to Europe in a sign of mounting frustration at a crisis that has left thousands without fuel
The bitter gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine descended into near-chaos yesterday, leaving European Union diplomats baffled as promises to restart supplies fully…
In a joint letter, Martin ?íman, the Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic, and Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner for Energy, have warned Moscow and Kyiv that the credibility of Ukraine and Russia as reliable partners would be irrevocably damaged should gas supply to European consumers not be immediately resumed.
The nature of this conflict is still not completely clear. Was Ukraine stealing gas intended for Europe from the pipeline passing through its territory? Or did Russia close the pipe in an attempt to shift the blame for the unfortunate consequences on to its partner? Independent observers do not have any reliable information. Nor do we know important details of the negotiation process between the Russian producer Gazprom and the Ukrainian purchaser Naftohaz. For this reason analysis of the whole gas dispute is as yet impossible.
KIEV, Ukraine, Jan. 13 — The European Union accused Russia and Ukraine on Tuesday of breaking a deal to restore deliveries of natural gas to the continent, saying the countries were hindering observers sent to monitor gas flows even as large parts of Europe struggled for a sixth day to find…
It is time for Obama to bring his change campaign to NATO, writes James Jay Carafano of the Heritage Foundation in Washington Times. Carafano argues Obama should use NATO’s 60th anniversary to launch a new vision
for the military alliance, which he refers to as NATO 2.0. Specifically NATO needs to take action on five major issues:
The Union’s foreign affairs ministers will discuss, on 26 January, how to help US President-elect Barack Obama close the controversial Guantánamo detention camp by accepting the relocation of former inmates on EU soil, a Council source confirmed today (13 January).
The European Commission is investigating potential violations of EU competition rules by the rating agency Standard & Poor’s regarding the way it sells data to banks and other financial institutions.
The Czechs have done it again. The EU presidency was recently taken over by the Czech Republic and its Eurosceptic president Vaclav Klaus and now another Czech citizen is ruffling some EU feathers. Artist David Cerny embarrassed the Czech government, and the EU, with his revelation that the art installation entitled Entropa commissioned by his country to celebrate its EU presidency was not, as stipulated, created by 27 European artists. Cerny created the installation himself and invented the names of the other artists:
The role of EU law in hindering financial regulation is rarely analyzed. Andreas Fisahn and Lars Niggemeyer argue that European states are captive to their own legal contracts, preventing a departure from the neoliberal path.
So here we go again. The EU has a multitude of problems on its hands: Russia turning off the gas, the Gaza conflict brewing, and no-one really knowing what to do about the economic downturn, least of all the Commission. The Czech Presidency has already made a few gaffes, and there are sure to be a few more from Klaus and co before the end of their 6 months in the chair.
The current "constellation" of European leaders gives incoming US President Barack Obama a "unique chance" to strengthen EU-US relations, but Europe must in turn "show Obama that it can be an effective partner," Fred Kempe, president of the Atlantic Council of the US, a leading Washington think tank, told EurActiv in an interview.
Before we continue with our series on the future role of the state here some information about a significant development.
Today a campaign for Britain to join the Euro was launched. Find more information about this here: http://www.e4u.org.uk.