By James Rogers
In a speech delivered in Berlin on Tuesday, 9th November 2010, the President of the European Council, Herman van Rompy, made a passionate argument for more European integration in the face of deep and pervasive geopolitical changes that threaten to marginalise or greatly reduce the power and influence of Europeans. For even the largest and strongest European powers ? the United Kingdom, France and Germany ? will count for little in two or three decades when faced by continental giants like China and India, which will be far more wealthy and confident than they are now. Arguing that Euro-scepticism is a curse and that the individual Member States can achieve far more together than they can alone, he rightfully stated:
We still do not know if the parliamentary question about EU trade agreements with Liechtenstein is nonsense, but we hope that reasons will be forthcoming if it makes sense: What does the Earl of Dartmouth know about the EU? (26 December 2010).
Bloggingportal.eu has called for a Blog Action against the new media law that will come into force in Hungary on January 1st. Hungary will assume the rotating presidency of the Council for the next 6 months, and has set up a presidency blog, so it is a great time for the Euroblogosphere (and national blogospheres) to highlight the dangers to press freedom, and to push for the law’s repeal.
The ECHR has delivered its Grand Chamber judgment on the A, B, and C v Ireland case earlier this month, on whether the rights of three women under the Convention had been violated due to their inability to access abortion in Ireland. The current Irish abortion laws are very strict – some of the strictest in Europe – prohibiting abortion except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk. This is a high threshold, as risks to the health of the mother are not enough. The issue is very sensitive in Ireland, as the right of the unborn to life is enshrined in the Irish Constitution (brought in via an amendment in 1983), and would require a referendum to change – something which there is little will for among the political parties. Ireland has held several referendums on the issue of abortion, and the parties have pretty much decided that there’s no votes in opening up such a sensitive issue.
Yesterday I wished for public EU information to be more readily available and specific about the remaining issues regarding the common travel area: Liechtenstein heading for Schengen area (27 December 2010).
In my last post I wrote about the latest ECHR judgment concerning abortion – A, B and C v Ireland. On Tuesday the leader of the largest opposition party, Enda Kenny of Fine Gael, said that the issue was for an all-party committee to investigate, and would not commit to a referendum on the matter:
In the midst of the Wikileaks, another story exploded onto front pages around the world which claimed that the present prime minister of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, had been a master-mind criminal involved in the killing of people to extract their kidneys for sale..
Organ trafficking allegations against Kosovo PM need serious investigation with full cooperation of the EU and the USA, Christophe Solioz
The Balkans? chiaroscuro effect is impressive. On the one hand, there are clear signals that dialogue and reconciliation have become a strategic priority. First came the declaration of the Serbian parliament adopted on 30 March 2010 condemning the ?war crime? that took place in Srebrenica; second, the visit of the President of the Republic of Serbia, Boris Tadi?, to Srebenica (Bosnia) on 11 July 2010 and to Vukovar (Croatia) on 4 November 2010; and third, the visit to Banja Luka of the Bosniak member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bakir Iztebegovi?. Despite some open bilateral issues, this positive trend has opened a new perspective for a region that has globally changed for the better. Nobody forgets, but forgiveness is possible.
The blog post ‘Liechtenstein under EU pressure on taxation’ (28 December 2010) only scratched the surface, but let us go into more depth regarding taxation issues when readers and I feel like it.
As we saw in the previous blog entries ‘EU relations with Switzerland: End of the road for bilateral model’ (30 December 2010) and ‘EU conclusions regarding Switzerland’ (31 December 2010), the General Affairs Council (GAC) gave the impression that the European Union is fed up with the administration of 179 bilateral agreements with EFTA country Switzerland:
Yesterday’s blog post tried to be clear enough about official Swiss insistence on the bilateral nature of the relationship with the European Union: EU and Switzerland disagree on relationship (1 January 2011).
If anyone needs convincing, Simon Gemperli described in NZZ Online how FDP. Die Liberalen (FDP. The Liberals) sent Switzerland’s applications to join the European Union and the European Economic Area to the scrapheep of history: FDP schwört dem EU-Beitritt ab (18 October 2010)
Economic crisis, debt crisis, euro crisis – the year now drawing to a close has been full of woes. Europe’s press looks back in dismay at 2010 and sees few achievements.
By Marietta Le
In a very sensitive environment because of the new Hungarian media law, which came into force on January 1, 2011, the Hungarian National Media and Infocommunications Authority started investigating Tilos (HUN), a non-profit radio station.
Through legislation and jurisprudence the body of European Union law is in constant movement, but with Switzerland each relevant change has to be negotiated separately and every one of the 179 bilateral treaties administered. This is more cumbersome than the European Union is willing to accept for the future: EU relations with Switzerland: End of the road for bilateral model (30 December 2010).
Sorry ? no time to write up yet, so beneath the fold are the videos of the event I spoke at earlier this month, looking at how the EU is portrayed in the British media and blogs.
The centre-right European People’s Party (the biggest in the European Parliament), or specifically its President, Wilfried Martins, has defended the new Hungarian Media Law, which blogs, including this one, are against due to the chilling effect it will have on press freedom. In the absence of any other EPP comment on the subject, it seems like it’s the current EPP position.
The 14th December symbolised Europe in 2010 for me. Berlusconi, despite all the scandals, won two confidence votes (in the lower house by just 3 votes!), and outside the protestors took to rioting. A few days later there would be a European Council summit where it was decided to dig in: there will be a Treaty amendment to make the Eurozone’s bail-out facility permanent, but no increase in the facility’s funds, nor any moves towards closer fiscal union through Eurobonds. Outside rages anger and uncertainty about the future, but inside there is little vision, and fear for the alternatives.