The week in Bloggingportal: Cinnamon rolls and independence

We hate to break bad news to you, but let us just get this out of the way first: The decade-long stability in Europe is over and "we are no longer the coolest dudes on the planet". Says Jan Techau, the director of Brussels-based think tank Carnegie Europe.

In other news, the Scottish now have a document to base their independence discussion on: a white paper describing why Scots are better off alone. The Open Europe Blog has looked at how the Salmond administrations intends to deal with the delicate topic of EU membership.

Looking to the East, we see the Vilnius Summit coming up, which will bring together the EU and the six Eastern partner countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus. While pro-EU demonstrations in Kyiv capture the world's attention and headlines, the blog of the Library of the European Parliament ask: What’s in for Moldova?. Unlike Ukraine, Moldova still has a good chance of initialling the Association Agreement. Currently, however, the signing ceremony is still marked "tbc" in the agenda.

Lastly, we recommend reading Ylva Elvis Nilsson's "Don´t take their word for it" for a healthy dose of EU myth-busting. In case you wondered what Danish cinnamon rolls, Swedish snuff, vacuum cleaners and communism had in common.

Week in Bloggingportal: Eurosceptic Chic

 Ian Dodds

 BY CC Euro Realist Newsletter

 

Europe’s turned Eurosceptic, is the not-entirely-surprising conclusion of an examination of attitudes to the EU over the crisis. So Euroscepticism was big in the Euroblogosphere this week. We’ve had German Euroscepticism, dangerous games with Euroscepticism, questions over whether Poland should join the Eurozone, and even discussions about dissolving the Euro in the name of social democracy. (Although some still believe in Europe).

 

But is that to be expected in a Europe where the Bundesbank is intransigent, unemployment is rising and despite Olli Rehn‘s aim of balance between austerity and growth, austerity has an official “There Is No Alternative” feel to it. Frustration is everywhere, with even Solvene politics errupting.

 

Is it a democratic deficit problem? Some argue that the real deficit is in the media, while politically the Party of European Socialists will pick a candidate for Commission President (Jon Worth examines the possible candidates) – would that make the EU more democratic?

 

Elsewhere in the Euroblogosphere, Switzerland’s restrictions of the free movement of people are examined, the lives of those in Serba and Kosovo are brought to light, and the Armenian genocide is discussed. Italy has a new foreign minister, another look is taken of the Cyprus bailout figures, social change is pondered, and the extension of voting rights in the EU is the subject of a campaign.

 

We also have a round-up of the week in Luxembourg, and a look ahead to next week in the EU.

 

And, of course, the question you’ve all been asking: will the TV strike back?

The Week in Bloggingportal: Not in the Mood to Slaughter the Sacred Cows

What shall we do to save Europe and give a future to Europeans? We need to make a U-turn: slaughter the sacred cows, not the black swan.” (Filippo Addarii, Dating 4 Good)

By Juan Ramon Parilla (Flickr) || BY-NC-SA

What’s your mood today? Looking for a helpless cry for a “European Republic“? A joke about Vaclav Claus as a potential successor to European Commission President Barroso? Or a positive review of  50 Shades of Eurobrussels (or so)?

Stumbling through last weeks Euroblogosphere, your humble editor’s mood was lightened up by tax evasion, trafficking in human beings and violence against women. Just as examples.

Turning to foreign policy, the obvious question to further improve our mood was how “Europe” will deal with Russia’s divide and conquer strategy and with its very encouraging NGO policy. Speaking of encouraging policies, Odessatalk wasn’t sure whether EU-Ukraine relations will survive a change of mood after the 2014 European and after some national elections in 2015.

2014 European Parliament elections? Right. That’s the ones with these rules. Do you already know for whom you’ll vote then? You don’t? But you’ve already read the EU position of the German Social Democrats for the 2013 national elections? And the electoral program of the German neo-eurosceptics?

Neither? You’re not in the mood? Well, that’s because you opt for direct democracy and started your own European Citizens Initiative? Not really, you say? Because you don’t know what you should call for? What about:

  • Croatia needs a higher turnout in EU elections.
  • All Danish ministries need to be on Twitter.
  • EU-Norway trade relations need to improve.
  • Europe needs less horse meet in its food.
  • The EU needs to get rid of the IMF.
  • Slovenia needs to avoid a bailout.
  • ENIS needs a new mandate.
  • Europe needs a vision.
  • Angela needs David.

None of these, you say. Your Bloggingportal.eu editor realises by now that you’re not interested at all. You’re not in the mood to kill the sacred cows. You don’t care that Serbia and Kosovo finally came to an agreement. At last. You’re not in the mood to think about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising 70 years ago.

It doesn’t bother you that the European Parliament plays out in the game around the EU’s long term budget. And you don’t want to be bothered with a dozen European Court cases and opinions issued last week. Like this one. The European Central Bank’s actions brought before the German Constitutional Court? So what, you say!

Your humble Bloggingportal.eu editor wonders whether there’s anything that you would like to read or be bothered with? You’ve already read the Brussels Blog Roundup on Friday, you say. You’re not in the mood for more European blogging stuff by now, you say. You prefer to kill the black swan. Just like Schäuble killing the banking union. That’s your mood right now.

Well, maybe you’ll be in a better mood next week. Then, we’re going to kill the sacred cows, together with the next Italian President (it’s the old guy again).

Week in Bloggingportal: Exercises in Democracy

 Ballot box

 BY CC FutUndBeidl

 

It may be a year until the European elections, but with Croatia joining the EU in July, Croats are heading to the polls today to elect their representatives to the European Parliament. It’s not been the best week for people power in the EU, however, with heavy criticism directed at the European Citizens Initiative and the Commission for the lack of initiatives been taken up by the Commission. (Stephen Spillane highlights one of these ECIs still collecting signatures – the Let Me Vote campaign). When it comes to European office terms, Eberhard Rhein argues that a third term for Barroso would be one term too many. Finally, Hungary is in the spotlight again, as the EU considers taking legal action over the country’s radical constitutional changes.

 

Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minister, was remembered as she passed away this week. A controversial figure, Jason O’Mahoney asks us to forget some of the myths surrounding her. The debate on her legacy continues to rage in the British media and will doubtless last for a long time to come.

 

Cameron’s renegotiation strategy has suffered a setback this week as France and Germany rule out participating in the review of competences. Simon Usherwood notes that some constructive cooperation continues between Britain and other Member States below the surface.

 

The Eurozone crisis continues to trundle on, no matter how annoying some people may find it. Papers were leaked suggesting that more trouble might be ahead for Portugal, and the big brains at Bruegels failed to come up with any radical answers to the crisis. A German anti-Euro party, Alternative fuer Deutschland, was launched, and a federalist party started building regional sections in Germany and Austria. George Soros made his voice heard this week for Eurobonds – or a German exit.

 

And if you still haven’t had enough of the crisis, Estonia brings us Austerity Opera – bringing the debate between the Estonian President and Nobel prize winner Paul Krugman to musical life. Could a Finanzministerdaemmerung be next? ;)

 

In other news, Google has settled with the EU, and the EU has passed new transparency laws for the mining sector. Martinned discusses anonymity and the latest Dutch court ruling, and OneEurope writes about religious tolerance in Greece. Finally, Jonathan Fryer has posted this week on discussions surrounding Syria.

The Week in Bloggingportal: Cyprus in (y)our heart

Let’s put it like this: Adrenaline that comes with jumping from a cliff, as the Cyprus tourism video suggests as its first message, definitely was part of this week in Bloggingportal.eu.

The tentative Cyprus deal agreed last week that was quickly called “a brutal lesson in Realpolitik” and denounced as an “unfair, short-sighted and self-defeating” decision setting a dangerous precedent, not just because it would put depositors onto the list of those who had to pay (except senior bond holders) but also because it showed a certain helplessness of “the” south.

The story about how this could happened was told by many like Egghat or Jean Quatremer and many questions had to be answered. Discussions about the injustice of the deal took on steam quickly – while some bloggers still disagreed - and we even got to hear what Europhiles could make out of this.

Once this first wave of blog posts was over, we were warned of the “dramatic days ahead” and informed about the search for “fresh solutions“. Yet suddenly, we all realised that democratically elected parliaments still had a say when the Cyprus parliament offered “the gift” to refuse the deal – quickly followed by European Central Bank’s threat to stop paying if democracy prevailed.

And in the midst of charts, and round-ups, and next-day’s stories, and thoughts on capital controls, and more updates, and warnings, and contemplations about austerity measures, and Lex Luthor metaphors, or stories written between Paris, Moscow and Nicosia we would have almost missed that the French language is losing ground in the EU institutions.

In the midst of all this, we would also have missed that Central and Latin America is moving towards more integration, that some are discussing a European employment strategy or the future of the rule of law in Europe.

But then again, it is Sunday and the European and Cyprus leaders continue to negotiate about who will or will not pay for whatever this is all about. Or, as the tourism video calls it: “From a relaxing day to an unexpected night.


The Week in Bloggingportal: Show me the money, Jean Monnet and Margaret Thatcher!

Dear Jean Monnet, dear Margaret Thatcher,

we here at our idealistic European project called Bloggingportal.eu (that’s for you, Jean) that functions without any government money (that’s for you, Margaret), we hope you both had a modestly convenient week watching EU affairs.

Jean, you will have noticed with pleasure that 50 years ago the EU court ruled on the supremacy of EU law, and we know that you, Margaret, would have loved to go back in time and do what would have been necessary to prevent this from happening.

Jean, you will have seen with great pleasure that, despite the democratic deficit and the lack of European media and despite European copy-paste journalism, a European public sphere has emerged during the crisis. And while we are not sure that you, Margaret, are happy with that, this emerging sphere has made that a cook from Britain could have major influence on the EU’s failed fish policy.

And you, Margaret, you may also be happy about said European Public Sphere strengthening the negotiation position of your political grand-child Cameron in this week’s trillion Euro budget battle in the EU. And even though not everyone thinks Cameron’s victory was a good one , the battle helped to keep up the Europe of two speeds.

Speaking of budget battles, we are not sure, dear Jean, that you would approve of the institutional imbalance in the budget negotations or the European Parliament’s cry for secrecy following the European Council decisions. For you, national egoisms, even in the shadow of parliamentary intervention, may seem wrong and out of time, even if you might put some hope in the Parliament, still.

But looking at the content of the budget deal, Margaret, we are not sure either that you’d be happy with the fact that actual investments (e.g. into infrastructure) have been cut while farmers keep being subsidised - leading to a budget of savings, not of future investments.

In the end, Margaret, don’t you fear that this leads from a healthily critical approach to centralised EUropean power to a caricature of policy-making? And were you, Jean, really hoping for somebody like Mario Monti to be presented as the future hope for the European Commission?

Well, looking at all this, we here at Bloggingportal.eu ivory towers, we know it may have been a week full of ups and downs for both of you. Yet, since you are or were both politicians, you would be able to sell any of these things as a victory for yourself and your own ideological ideals – just as all national leaders have sold the budget deal as a win for themselves.

We think this made yo happy, below and above the soil. Thus, we wish you a happy next week, probably more quiet than the previous on when it comes to EU matters.

Your Bloggingportal.eu team

Week in Bloggingportal: Money, Money, Money

 Rajoy en Valencia. 18 Marzo 2011

CC BY ppcv

 

This week on the Euroblogopshere saw the scandal in Spain, where the ruling Popular Party and Prime Minister Rajoy are claimed to be part of a party funding and tax dodge.

 

Meanwhile, the idea of a European Semester Officer was revived by the new Dutch Euro group chief Jeroen Dijssel.

 

We’ve had seven days in the life of a campaigner working for greater transparency in the EU.

 

The Law Society has urged the British government to reconsider pulling out of the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs policies, and questions were raised over whether the British people were so unaware of the integration direction of the European Community in 1975…

 

There’s been humour in mapping the British Tories’ idea of Europe, and the Balkans are considering the UK’s membership of the powerful non-EU bloc.

The Week in Bloggingportal: Leadership and unemployment in Europe

In the week we turned 4, in the week Cameron held his speech on Europe, in the week Jeroen Dijsselbloem became head of the Eurogroup, in the week the EU adopted the Financial Transaction Tax, in the week the Franco-German friendship turned 50, the Euroblogosphere argued for the single market, for an EU-wide unemployment system, for a Union that focuses more on citizens than on technocracy, for a more transparent Union, for a celebration of Croatia’s EU accession, for a more active and European Ségolène Royal to maybe one day become the President of the European Parliament.

In this week, José shared a video from Spain:

And so we hope you had a good week, wherever you are in Europe!

Bloggingportal.eu turns 4 years old!

Week in Bloggingportal: The Prime Minister’s Speech

 Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking at the opening of the GAVI Alliance immunisations pledging conference in London, June 13 2011

 David Cameron, making a different speech

CC BY DFID – UK Department for International Development

 

The big buzz about the Euroblogosphere this week was the long-awaited speech of Prime Minister David Cameron. It was bound to be a car-crash speech with the PM not being able to satisfy anyone – Katainen noted that the EU without Britain would be like “fish without chips” – but the breaks were applied at the last moment. Labour meanwhile set out its own federalist-free vision, though one British MEP chose this moment to extol the virtues of federalism and treaty change. What does this say about the European spirit?

 

The IMF admitted mistakes on the policy of austerity, which was a blow to the legitimacy of the EU’s economic policy, never mind the questions over democratic legitimacy (and the privileged access of big business). It may or may not comfort you to know that a paper was commissioned on the small question of democracy, however. And what of the European Year of Citizens? Polish MEPs decided to remedy austerity with their own work programmes, and the ECB made its first big decision of the year.

 

So where does this leave us on debt forgiveness for Greece?

 

The EU and Mali is naturally an important issue for the Common Foreign Policy, and there are many questions still to answer. On a smaller scale, an EU fellow going to the University of Washington reminds us of personal links formed globally.

 

Europe 2020 also attracted attention this week. What is the strategy for the next 18 months? How does the maritime policy fit in?

 

And finally given all the discussion on language and blogs, is a post on blogging and Esperanto. Also, if you want an excuse to blog, and you live on the Baltic sea, they’re looking for bloggers here.

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