In Germany, France and Italy, but also in many other places, we find ourselves confronted with a generation of leaders ever more shortsighted and given over to electioneering: among them, none speak to Europe nor for Europe
Russia has declared an import ban on vegetables from the entire EU due to the dangerous E. coli bacteria. Madrid is now calling for compensation after Germany warned prematurely against eating Spanish cucumbers. E. coli hysteria is wreaking economic havoc and highlights once more how divided Europe is, the press writes.
Demonstrations on the streets of Madrid on May 15 have turned into big camp outs all over Spain, and across the world. There had not been any police intervention since the second day of protests in Madrid, May 17, but on the morning of May 27 Barcelona protesters started sending messages that they were being evicted. According to the police, it was not an eviction but an attempt to allow for the cleaning patrols to do their job. Videos showing police charging against demonstrators have gone viral:
Germany’s liberal-conservative government agreed on Sunday night on a complete nuclear phase-out whereby the last of the country’s 17 nuclear plants will be taken off grid in 2022 at the latest. A trendsetting move that will boost innovation and the German economy, write some commentators, while others express concern about Europe’s power supplies
By John Dyer, Guest Contributor
(John Dyer is an American dual citizen who relocated permanently to the UK in retirement from public life in the US. He now lives in Lytham St. Annes on England’s West Coast.)
In advance of the 5 May, 2011 UK elections, pundits and politicians alike billed it as a bell weather of the British electorate?s feelings toward the Coalition currently administering central government for the country.
A quick look over the fall-out in French politics from DSK. Le Monde has a fascinating article on government surveillance of public figures? sex lives. The most trivial point is that Strauss-Kahn had been allegedly caught frequenting prostitutes, but far more interestingly, this information had been swept up the police food-chain and delivered privately to the president?s desk and also to Nicolas Sarkozy?s presidential campaign, which leaked it to the press.
Mr. Berlusconi’s coalition has suffered a major hit in the recent administrative elections, but it is yet too early to celebrate as a crucial vote for the future of Italy (and indeed Europe) is due on June 12. On that date, Italians will have the chance to vote on nuclear energy development and the ongoing privatization of water, in a national referendum. The nuclear alternative had already been rejected in a similar referendum, 24 years ago. But since referendums in Italy are not binding for succeeding administrations, the ruling political parties have long endorsed a return to the risky energy source in the second most earthquake prone country in Europe.
from Blogactiv by Protesilaos Stavrou
by Open Europe blog team
There is a new contagion spreading across Europe from Spain ? not related to sovereign debt or tummy bugs, but rather, to the spread of hysteria about what we eat and feed our children. It is causing well-intentioned public officials to commit an outrageous sin: to start testing all types of food for E. coli.
Sixteen people have died from the intestinal bacteria E. coli, 15 in Germany and one in Sweden. Well over a thousand people have been infected. Spanish cucumbers are apparently not responsible for the outbreak, although official warnings about these and other vegetables have caused sales to plummet. The European press decries the hysteria of the German authorities and calls for a rational approach to the epidemic.
from Blogactiv by Eberhard Rhein
by Tomas Valasek
How do you do more with less? The EU defence ministers agreed last week that the way to limit the impact of the economic crisis on their defence budgets lies in more co-operation. In a joint statement, they called for more military ‘pooling and sharing’: joint development and procurement of weapons, and partial integration of European militaries. EU member-states have trialled such ideas before but with limited success. Deep co-operation remains highly sensitive: governments are reluctant to build joint units because this may require them to share decisions on how and when to use them. The ministers’ conclusions are correspondingly cautious: they call for a ?structured? and ?long-term? approach while offering few specific guidelines. It need not be this way: past pooling and sharing attempts offer plenty of lessons on what makes military collaboration successful.
President of DIGITALEUROPE, Dr Erkki Ormala, writes about the European Digital Agenda for neurope: Europe is at a cross road. In the climate of a continuing fiscal crisis most of our energy is focused on short-term fiscal consolidation. This issue must be resolved in an appropriate way to restore macroeconomic stability which ultimately is a precondition for growth and prosperity in Europe.
Having received a reply from the European Commission again refusing to publish the Great Charter of the Founding Fathers of the European Community, I was invited by the European Ombudsman to give my reactions.
Ratko Mladi?’s arrest: a start, but let it not obscure how much more is needed for justice, Sadzida Tulic and Heather McRobie
from Blogactiv by AriRusila
Ratko Mladic?s transfer to The Hague on 31 May 2011 is a milestone for international criminal justice. The Serbian warlord?s forthcoming trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) will cap what many regard as the most successful war-crimes court since Nuremburg.
This Transitions Online piece is fascinating ? as south-eastern Europe has changed, the location of ?Europe? or ?the West? has swung around all over the place. Once upon a time, Bulgarians and Romanians looked at Yugoslavia as the future, a better version of their own society, and both a reasonable substitute for Germany or Italy and a transit route on the way there. People watched Yugoslav TV illegally. Then, the earthquake, the nightmare. Nobody wanted to be anything like it. People in what had been Yugoslavia looked east, both because there was peace, because that was where the smuggled fuel came from, and also for political support.
Sonia Le Gouriellec at Alliance Géostrategique quotes Bernard Badie on the Ivory Coast and the fact that democracy is a lot more than just elections.
?World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts? ? ?The contribution which an organised and living Europe can bring to civilization is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations.???Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan.?
-Robert Schuman, Foreign Minister of France, The Schuman Declaration May 9th 1950
The schizophrenic Council, Part 2: The follow-up story on how the EU Council deliberately prevents transparency
?Any citizen of the Union, and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State, has a right of access to documents of the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union, whatever their medium.?
Article 42, Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the European Union
On Monday or Tuesday (30-31 May 2011), 21 EU member states will formally approve in the Council of the European Union that EU citizens may not have access to the positions they put forward in the EU Council during legislative processes.
from Blogactiv by Protesilaos Stavrou
After a year of fiscal adjustment and structural reform, involving many sacrifices, Greece still faces major challenges in a highly adverse and turbulent market environment. Therefore, the better part of wisdom suggests the need for Greece to intensify and accelerate its efforts to build a firm foundation for financial stability and sustainable growth. It should be recalled that about a year ago, the Greek economy was on the verge of total collapse and debt default. After three decades of generally inappropriate policies and practices, including widespread corruption and tax evasion, Greece faced the serious dual problem of a very large public sector deficit and debt and a substantial loss of external competitiveness; this was exacerbated by the delayed impact of the global financial crisis on the domestic economy.
The English pdf version of the proposed radio spectrum decision, based on Article 114 TFEU on approximation (harmonisation) of laws:
Proposal for a DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL establishing the first radio spectrum policy programme; Brussels, 20.9.2010 COM(2010) 471 final (20 pages)
from FP Passport by Joshua Keating
Local elections rarely cause a flutter. But when a head of government makes them a referendum on his popularity, and then loses, everybody takes notice.
Germany’s decision to decommission its nuclear power stations is the outcome of a half century of anxiety about technocratic modernity.
from Blogactiv by Open Montenegro