“Merkel and Sarkozy unite to end Blair’s European dream
Former prime minister’s bid for EU presidency founders as continent’s most powerful leaders announce they would prefer candidate from smaller country
The European Council, the Council of the European Union, the Council of Ministers and the Council of Europe: A guide
Yes, it?s confusing. Too many Councils, all something to do with Europe. I get that it?s hard to keep track of them all ? hell, I get confused myself sometimes.
But ? and this is an important but ? when the media is discussing these things, it should get them right. All too often, the media gets them muddled up and seems to have little understanding of where the distinctions lie, which does what, and where the sensible comparisons are.
Could Jan Peter Balkenende become the first EU President?
For the complete report from the RNW click on this link
EU presidency: Blair out, Balkenende in?
As Tony Blair’s chances of becoming the first president of Europe are dwindling, plan B (for Balkenende) appears to be swinging into action. The Dutch prime minister’s name continues to be mentioned in the corridors of power in Brussels, and his Christian Democrat party confirmed to Dutch NOS TV that they are seriously preparing for a possible departure of their leader.
As European Union leaders gather for their two-day summit in Brussels, the word is that the British government?s effort to have Tony Blair selected as the EU?s first full-time president is running into trouble. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has just finished a round of afternoon discussions with other European socialist leaders, trying to persuade them that Blair deserves the job.
Finland, we have recently been told, is the world?s most prosperous nation, and it is deemed to be prosperous not only in monetary and financial terms, but also in terms of the implicit wealth of its democracy and governance. This striking assessment is to be found in the latest edition of what is known as the ?Prosperity Index?, an initiative launched by the Legatum Institute, a London-based think-tank. In fact Finland took first prize – up from third last year – and was closely followed by Switzerland and the other Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Denmark and Norway – also see Doug Muir?s ?debunk? of all this brouhaha here).
Oct 29th 2009 | RIGA AND TALLINN
From The Economist print edition
Jitters in eastern Europe over Russia?s military manoeuvres
SCAREMONGERING is where defence-planning and politics overlap. Big military exercises in western Russia and Belarus, which finished earlier this month, were based on the following improbable scenario: ethnic Poles in western Belarus rise up and ?terrorists? from Lithuania attack the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. More than 10,000 troops from Russia and Belarus countered them, reinforcing Kaliningrad from the sea and sending special forces behind the enemy lines. Three NATO?like brigades, one visiting, one Estonian and one Latvian, then invaded western Russia, where they were successfully rebuffed by the elite Pskov-based 76th air assault division, reinforced by a motorised rifle brigade.
The Estonian exception
Oct 29th 2009 | RIGA AND TALLINN
From The Economist print edition
Estonia gets a boost, but worries persist about its Baltic neighbours
SMUGNESS is Estonians? least attractive feature, at least in the eyes of their Baltic neighbours, Latvia and Lithuania. A surprise endorsement by the International Monetary Fund of Estonia?s plans to join the euro in 2011, coupled with gloom about the other two countries, will only make that worse.
European social democracy needs a fresh start. In the wake of the most severe economic crisis in decades it became clear that social democrats have not paid enough attention to the development of a real political alternative to the dominant free market orthodoxy. When the demand for an alternative politics was there social democrats had very little to say. Adaptation to the political mainstream over the last one and a half decades was a strategy that gave short-term electoral success at the price of the long-term viability of social democratic politics. Recent national and European election results prove that this short-term success is over and that the crisis of social democratic politics has reached worrying levels indeed.
A spectre is haunting Europe, but this time it is not the spectre of revolt by the popular masses, or even one of yet another wave of bank bailouts. No, the spectre which is currently stalking the corridors of Europe?s most prestigous institutions is one of a Spanish economy which stays on a flatline while Europe?s other economies, one by one, start to struggle back to life. And the main reason that this particular ghostly image is giving everyone so many sleepless nights is because Europe?s current institutional structures, and especially the monetary policy tools available at the ECB are scarcely prepared for such a nighmare eventuality.
?Trick or treat??, asked president Vaclav Klaus, and 27 member state governments (including his own) obliged by granting the Czech Republic an opt-out from the Charter of fundamental rights of the European Union.
This is how the Presidency conclusions of the European Council 29 to 30 October 2009 (document 15265/09) settle the issue (page 1 to 2):
Nothing is more international than nationalism, the great ?-ism? of the 19th and 20th century, but these nationalisms tend to be mutually exclusive, where ethnic groups and national borders do not coincide.
The establishment of the Alliance of European National Movements (AENM) is an effort to lay the foundations for a European level party (Europarty) and later a political group in the European Parliament, in order to resist the European Union, immigration and globalisation.
Facing down Iran, French president Nicolas Sarkozy stood shoulder to shoulder with President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in Pittsburgh last week. Or so it might be said. The statements of all three were consistent as they denounced the Islamic Republic’s construction of a secret nuclear facility. But in this stage show of solidarity, body language sent a different message. Obama and Brown really did stand side by side. Sarkozy stood apart, looking a little like he’d been asked to stand as best man at a stranger’s wedding.
It’s often easy to view Europe as an aging continent in terminal decline. Pundits and politicians lament that the European Union is weak, riven by conflict, and unable to translate its size and wealth into hard power. Or, as British Foreign Minister David Miliband put it last week, “the European whole is less than the sum of its parts.”
One of the Euroblog categories on Bloggingportal.eu is Governments, where we find the following actively updated ministerial blogs: Carl Bildt (SE), Bendt Bendtsen, David Miliband, EU Minister?s Blog (Cecilia Malmström), Alex Stubb blogi (FI) and Turkov ?as-opis.
Multilingual Bloggingportal.eu, which aggregates posts from 474 Euroblogs, offers opportunities for cross-border debate on European issues and enjoyable language learning. In principle, 25 languages are on offer, but I suspect that there are a still a number of ?national? blogs with broadly European themes, which nobody has thought of proposing to the editors of Bloggingportal.eu.