A crucifix hangs on a wall map of Europe in a school classroom in Rome November 3, 2009. The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that Italian schools should remove crucifixes from classroom walls, saying their presence could disturb children who were not Christians.The decision is likely to provoke a controversy in Italy, which is deeply attached to its Roman Catholic roots.REUTERS/Tony Gentile
On 3 November the European court of human rights ruled that crucifixes in classrooms violate the religious freedom of schoolchildren. Representatives from politics and the church roundly condemn the judgement, while many media welcome the decision. The Iberian, Maltese and Italian press react
The crucifix judgement is still making waves. On Tuesday the European Court of Human Rights ruled that crucifixes in classrooms violate the religious freedom of schoolchildren. Representatives from politics and the Church have roundly condemned the judgement, while many media welcome the Strasbourg court’s decision.
Monday is 9 November, the day when the Berlin wall was brought down. To reflect on this iconic modern historical event for the eurogeneration, citizen journalists from five cafebabel.com local teams – Sofia, Budapest, Turin, Strasbourg and Istanbul – simultaneously blogged one day out in the walls they see in their cities
When they arrested Radovan K he knew that the times had changed. They did not arrest him because of the charges brought against him by a remote international tribunal. Those charges had been there for years, collecting dust. And those who decided that he should be arrested despised that tribunal as much as he himself did. But, the country that had sheltered him for so many years, the country that had allowed him to walk freely through its capital city, disguised as a picturesque witch-doctor and to ridicule international prosecutors, suddenly decided that it had other, more pressing priorities, such as joining the European Union. These new priorities happened to be incompatible with the hospitality accorded to RK. Being arrested because of changing times is something he probably felt as a major insult, judging by the sad “offended dignitary” mask he displayed to the judges in The Hague. It is a good sign that times are changing in Serbia.
The trial of Radovan Karadzic, leader of the Serbian nationalist regime in Bosnia in the early 1990s, resumed in The Hague on 27 October 2009. The accused initially refused to appear in court on the basis that he needed more time to prepare his defence, but announced in a letter to the presiding judge on 2 November that he would indeed be present to face the court at a procedural hearing the following day.
So runs the argument of increasingly prominent anti-EU Tory, Daniel Hannan MEP ? still advocating a UK referendum despite the final ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.
This is, of course, very true. Since the 1975 referendum on EEC membership, the British people haven?t had their chance to vote on being part of the EU system.
What happens if the probable next Conservative government fails to charm the other EU member states into treaty changes further diminishing the United Kingdom?s patchy contribution to the European project?
What happens if the other EU member states decide to grin and bear it, if Britain turns to political blackmail in order to opt out of additional policy areas?
David Cameron has just made a speech in which he signified a massive U-turn on his ?cast iron? referendum scheme for the Lisbon Treaty, by abandoning the referendum itself (a breathtaking demonstration of hypocrisy in action), and instead rashly promising a ?referendum lock? on further treaties (i.e. passing a law which would demand a referendum on any new treaties passed). I?ve noticed that giveusareferendum.com has gone for a Burton.
The distance separating Britain?s perceptions of the European Union from those of its Continental partners is so vast that the English Channel might as well be the Pacific Ocean. This was my first thought when I read not just David Cameron?s speech on what steps a future Conservative government would take to limit EU involvement in British
The speech by Conservative leader David Cameron yesterday dropped the previous commitment to a referendum on the Lisbon treaty and replaced it with six pledges that he aims to achieve in the course of the next parliament. (Read the speech here.) Arch-opponents of the EU like Daniel Hannan and Roger Helmer have protested about the end of the referendum commitment, but David Cameron has recognised that the only thing a referendum on Lisbon could do would be to drive Britain to the margins of Europe: it wouldn?t actually get the Lisbon treaty changed.
After looking at British reports and reactions on David Cameron?s Conservative policy shift on Europe, it is time to view what European observers have to say on the prospects of a Tory government responsible for European Union affairs. Here are some first reactions.
Downing Street 10 may still be flogging the dead horse of Tony Blair?s candidacy for the post of president of the European Council, but the rest of Europe speculates mainly about the prospects of prime ministers Herman Van Rompuy of Belgium and Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands, although the liberals point out that both the Commission and the European Parliament already have presidents from the EPP family, and everyone is aware of the imminent lack of gender balance.
With the Lisbon Treaty entering into force next month, one particular issue that has been part of legal and political discussions for years will become pertinent: The EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
The well-known German health politics blogger strappato just published an article titled “Die EU debattiert unbemerkt über Gesundheitspolitik” (English: “EU debates health policy – and nobody notices“) in which he criticises a recent public consultation by DG SANCO that remained almost unseen by a wider public.
Within the EU, almost nothing of substance is decided without the Council, and within the Council there is a dark force: The Legal Service.
A more research-intensive and integrated European Research Area: Science, Technology and Competitiveness key figures report 2008/2009 (PDF; 9.1 MB)
Source: European Commission Directorate-General for Research
From the Executive Summary:
In 2000, the EU Member States responded to the challenge of globalisation with the Lisbon Strategy for a competitive knowledge-based economy and, as part of this strategy, the 3 % objective for R&D intensity and the initiative to create a European Research Area (ERA). The objectives are clear: invest more in research and increase excellence and efficiency by joining forces in a European Research Area, including opening up to the world and stimulating international cooperation and knowledge spill-over.
With the incredibly long-winded process of passing the Lisbon Treaty now seemingly complete, and with the resultant reluctant climb-down by the Conservative party on its promise to hold a referendum on said treaty, the British relationship with the EU has once again been headline news. The focus on the Eurosceptic debate of handing over British sovereignty to Brussels on the one hand and the pro-European response of decrying the ignorance of such a position because the EU is great and Britain needs to get its house in order on the other, exposes the core problem: there is a massive knowledge gap in what the EU is all about and how that can both benefit and hinder British ambitions. In short, I do not know why, for example, the Lisbon Treaty is a good thing or indeed why it is bad thing, for the United Kingdom.
Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of eastern European communism, international commentary has focussed on what these events meant for the spread of democracy and the disintegration of the authoritarian regimes modelled on the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Such attention is merited: 1989 marked not just the fall of half a dozen or so communist ruling parties, and the onset of the the Soviet Union’s own end of two years later, but also a massive ideological shift in the world. The end of European communism marked the end of the cold war, but also of the sustained radical challenge to western liberal capitalism that had been a force in world affairs since the French revolution.
On the FT Brussels blog, Tony Barber wrote a post on the mutual incomprehension between Britain and much of the rest of the European Union: Europe not in the mood to thank Cameron for his EU speech (5 November 2009). ? The comments are worth reading, too.