A roundup as usual… last updated: 14:30 (4 Nov)
I wonder what the Obama team is asking the Merkel team right now.
The German election campaign is over. So is the grace period for tough demands for more German support, which the Obama administration probably gave the German government due to the unpopularity of the Afghanistan war.
With Vaclav Klaus? low-key signature this afternoon, the Lisbon Treaty ? which its critics have long accused of being capable of altering the very fabric of European life ? has been ratified. I was in London, reporting the reactions live on Twitter as the news of the signing spread. First update c.3:15pm UK time, last c.6pm:
Right. So Lisbon?s signed. I await the end of the nation state (as warned of by some of its madder opponents) with positive glee.
If I got the anti-Lisbon memo right, we now all have to have abortions and join the army as well. Are the queues already forming?
Social democrats need to reassert the protective power of the state ? this time through global institutions.
Ten years ago Gerhard Schröder declared that: ?economic policy is neither left not right. It is either good or bad?. Today we can conclude that this was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Then, eleven out of fifteen governments of the European Union were run by socialists. Now ? in election after election, in country after country ? the left has been elbowed out of state power. The crucial point, though, is that such changes of the guard have ceased to matter.
President Sarkozy has floated the idea of having French MPs to represent French people abroad. There are hundreds of thousands of French citizens living in the UK ? London is now the seventh largest French city ? and they currently have little voice in French politics. Candidate Sarkozy came to London to campaign for votes during the presidential election ? French expats in the UK are probably more favourably disposed to the centre-right than the average French voter at home ? and now he thinks about extending the principle.
The EU’s long international nightmare seems to be over. Czech President Vaclav Klaus has signed the Lisbon Treaty treaty, nearly two years after the ratification process began. Klaus finally agreed to sign after the Czech constitutional court finally ruled against a legal challenge to the treaty, but the legendary Euroskeptic also took the opportunity for a parting shot:
Sayyed Imam al-Sharif gets all the credit, but another important Islamist preacher has published a letter renouncing violence in Europe. Mohammed al-Fizazi is currently sitting in a Moroccan jail for his role in the 2003 Casablanca terrorist attack, which killed 45 people.
The European Council on Foreign Relations came out with an interesting report today on the US-EU relationship, concluding that Europeans ?remain in denial about how the world is changing, making a fetish out of the transatlantic relationship.?
Since I wrote the blogpost ?One of the 3 top EU jobs must be held by a woman? early October, I?ve been delighted to see that the idea of a woman at one of the top EU jobs has gained momentum, both in social media and mainstream media, both among women and men. Just a week ago, after a few EU geek girls met in Brussels, linotherhino launched a clever campaign on Twitter to raise support for the nomination of a woman at one of the top EU jobs. The concept is simple and efficient, you add a pink ?twibbon? -a Twitter ribbon- with the motto ?Woman @ EU top? to your profile picture on Twitter (you can do it here). The initiative was a dazzling success: my twitter page turned all pink in just one day. And I was very pleased to see that many men adopted the pink twibbon as well, and so did a few MEPs.
The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament joins 54 members, which is well above the needed 25, but only three countries have substantial delegations: the UK Conservatives (25 MEPs), the Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS; 15) and the Czech Civic Democrats (ODS; 9). In addition, there are five solitary MEPs from five member states, which brings the number of countries represented to eight. This leaves the ECR with a slender margin above the minimum of seven countries.
Things aren?t looking so good for the Fianna Fail Party in their new Grouping in the European Parliament. At the last plenary session they caused hassle by abstaining on a vote on a resolution by the ALDE, Green and Socialist groups on media freedoms, this caused the vote to be lost. This has causd huge anger in the ALDE grouping.
A guest post from that rare beast, an openly pro-EU Tory ? in this case Thomas Byrne of the blog Byrne Tofferings, who is keen to sound out the thoughts of a more international audience to his suggestion for the first High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the successor to the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (currently Javier Solana):
Chris Patten has signalled his interest in the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy position, something I?m going to give my support to.
from EUobserver.com – Headline News
When we look at the Euroblogs on multilingual Bloggingportal.eu, we notice that some of the top blogs are in French.
The Coulisses de Bruxelles, Regards-citoyens, Bruxelles2 (Europe de la Défense) and Le Taurillon make it worth your while to brush up your French and to get acquainted with informed debate about European integration.
Europe?s progressive test: three crucial months, Simon Maxwell Paul Engel Dirk Messner Pierre Schori
The key decisions made over the next three months will determine Europe’s future international role. Both the world and Europe are changing. On the one hand, the script which drives global policy-making is being rewritten to address the financial crisis, climate change, and global security challenges. On the other hand, the institutions of the European Union are – whether or not Ireland’s referendum on 2 October 2009 allows the Lisbon treaty to be ratified – on the brink of radical overhaul. By January 2010, the union’s institutions, leaders and agenda will have acquired a new aspect. But will the changes that are coming allow Europe to emerge as a progressive force?
Take a look at Finland, a small Nordic country with a population of 5.3 million, a member of the European Union only since 1 January 1995.
Most Finns are tickled by the fact that enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn (centre party, European liberals) has been mentioned in international media as one of the candidates to become the EU?s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, and that media speculation about the president of the European Council has included former prime minister Paavo Lipponen, former president Martti Ahtisaari and current president Tarja Halonen.
Is the prime minister of Belgium, Herman Van Rompuy, now the favourite to become the first president of the European Council?
Van Rompuy belongs to the Christian Democratic and Flemish party (Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams; CD&V), represented in the Group of the European People?s Party (EPP), the largest in the European Parliament.
So, a deal was struck with the Czech Republic to get the Lisbon treaty through. An opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights, along Polish and British lines, was added to the treaty, and that was enough to satisfy the Czech president, Vaclav Klaus. (Read page 15 of the European Council conclusions here.)
Opponents of the European Union say they find the manner in which agreement was reached unedifying: they are right, but for the wrong reasons.
Well, it is not as if I relish rubbing salt into old wounds, but this quote from the latest piece by Ben Hall in Paris and Ralph Atkins in today?s Financial Times is just too good to resist.
French manufacturing output rose at its fastest rate for nine years, according to a survey on Monday, confirming that France has become the economic powerhouse of continental Europe. Purchasing managers? indices for manufacturing showed France performing significantly better than the continent?s other main economies ? thanks to robust domestic demand.
Well, if John Lennon had still been around today he would undoubtedly have entitled his song Norwegian oil, but whatever way you want to put it Norway is back in the news, and this time not because of adolescents who find themselves with no alternative to sleeping overnight in the bath-tub, but rather because its central bank has been put in a position where it has little alternative but to raise interest rates, even if in fact it would be more comfortable for it not to do so. So, not being in the habit of looking for a quiet life, decision makers over at the Norges Bank decided last week to put themselves in the hot seat by lifting the banks main rate by 25 basis points to 1.5 per cent and in this inauspicious and modest way entered the history books as the first European central bank to raise interest rates since the financial crisis started to ease.
Next we will get a cast-iron guarantee of prolonged institutional wrangling for the Conservative Party, Britain and the European Union, when David Cameron abandons his previous pledge to arrange a UK referendum on the EU?s Lisbon Treaty.
A sad story from the edge of Europe last week: fifteen Kosovar Albanians died trying to cross the border between Serbia and Hungary. The border there is a a river, the Tisza, which is a large and swift-flowing tributary of the Danube. The Albanians were illegal immigrants trying to move from Kosovo into the EU. Their boat capsized and most of them drowned. The immigrants seem to have been family groups, and the dead include at least two children.
After months of blocking progress Czech President Václav Klaus yesterday became the last head of state to sign the Treaty of Lisbon. The Constitutional Court in Brno had previously rejected claims brought against the legislative document by conservative Czech senators. There are high hopes for the EU Reform Treaty, which can now come into effect.