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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Future of the Lisbon treaty, November, 08

In today's edition:
  1. Diplomatic storm rages in Ireland after Czech leader’s visit
  2. 'Disappointment' as auditors reject EU accounts
  3. Czechs, Swedes reject EU presidency swap plan
  4. Sarkozy accused of hijacking Czech EU Presidency
  5. Crisis shows EU needs Lisbon Treaty, says Irish leader
  6. Conservative EU leaders endorse second Barroso term
This is a very fun post. I laughed when I read the news yesterday, especially the situation in Poland that is simply...ridiculous. Check the source of the 3d article to find out how the Polish president hired a plane for 40 000 euro and went to a Brussel Summit withouth invitation or a badge. Just to continue his war with the Polish prime-minister. Now, if that's not fun!
I hope you enjoy all of the articles (they are all very short) and my comments.

Diplomatic storm rages in Ireland after Czech leader’s visit

13 November 2008

Controversy and acrimony over the Lisbon Treaty continued to rage in Ireland following an official visit to the country by Czech President Václav Klaus this week (10-12 November).

The diplomatic storm caused by Klaus's visit worsened as a number of leading Irish political figures expressed outrage at the Czech president's "inappropriate intervention" in Ireland's internal Lisbon Treaty debate. Mr Klaus responded in kind, labelling Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin a "hypocrite".

Klaus's three-day visit first degenerated into controversy when the Czech leader met prominent Irish 'No to Lisbon' campaigner Declan Ganley in Dublin (EurActiv 11/11/08).

Anger within Irish government circles was exacerbated when Klaus and Ganley announced their intention to form a new pan-European political force opposed to the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and further EU integration (EurActiv 12/11/08).

Irish opposition leader Enda Kenny said the visit was an "embarrassment" that "perhaps should have been cancelled altogether". Micheál Martin described the Czech president's "very political comments" as "an inappropriate intervention" in Ireland's "discussions with our partners in the European Union".

Klaus retorted that he could not accept "such hypocrisy," adding that the problem of "democracy disappearing in Europe" seemed far worse than he expected following the reactions of Micheál Martin. source

My comment: An utter shame! If you ask me, Sarkozy is right to try to prevent the Czechs from getting the presidency-it's a real embarrassment to have the President of the EU to participate in a party against the EU or against the Treaty that is supposed to give so much power to the EU. And in any case, even if he's so against it, he's now representing the whole Union, they will hold the Presidency, this is a huge honour. He is simply not allowed to do that! Too bad the EU doesn't have a protocol to deal with such idiots.

'Disappointment' as auditors reject EU accounts

12 November 2008

The majority of payments made by the EU in 2007 were regular, according to a report published on 10 November. But some members of the European Parliament have expressed 'acute disappointment' after auditors failed to sign off the EU accounts for the fourteenth consecutive year, identifying errors in two to five percent of payments made to the bloc's member states.

The European Court of Auditors reportexternal for 2007, published on 10 November, asserts that "errors are still too frequent in some areas" just in 2006.

Nevertheless, the 2007 report finds that for most budget areas, including research grants and humanitarian aid, "between 95% and 98% of payments are error-free".

As in previous years, the report shows that the highest rates of error lie in regional and cohesion policy spending, which is managed by national authorities. Errors here account for 42bn euro, with the court estimating that "at least 11% of the value of reimbursed costs should not have been paid out". source

My comment: I start to understand the behaviour of the EC when it comes to corruption in Bulgaria. Now it all makes sense-let's show off our firm fist against the weakest member of the EU and consider the problems solved. Sad and upsetting...This audit shows irregularities in the European finances in much bigger scale than little Bulgaria. Why this isn't all over the news? Why those members that made the errors are not punished?! No, it's way easier to show the finger to Bulgaria :( I'm so disappointed!

Czechs, Swedes reject EU presidency swap plan

30 October 2008

Both Sweden and the Czech Republic have dismissed suggestions that their countries could exchange EU presidencies next year. The idea was first put forward by a German MEP to minimise the risk of a weakened Czech government leading the Union when Prague takes over the bloc's helm in January.

Ingo Friedrich, a conservative MEP from Germany, called on the Czech Republic to swap EU presidencies with Sweden, which is due to take over the EU's leadership from Prague in the second half of 2009. "I honestly have doubts that the Czechs will be able to solve their problems in the coming weeks," Friedrich told EurActiv.

The Czech government was weakened by recent local elections, during which it lost a number of seats in the Senate and narrowly avoided a no-confidence vote in Parliament. A growing chorus of voices is now calling for Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek to step down.

Friedrich justified the proposal by the current crisis that require a strong EU capacity.

A Czech diplomat told EurActiv that the idea, first circulated in the Czech press, was "absurd", adding that it was "legally impossible".

Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt's spokesperson told EurActiv that aside from the legal aspect, her country was "not prepared" to start its presidency in January. source

My comment: I never hoped that the Czech would agree to something like this. Actually, this is their right, if you think about it, that's what the EU is about-everyone to have his or her share of power. The problem for me is not so much that they are not ready-I don't think that any of the smaller countries could be ready for European presidency. Or that it should be denyied to any member-state on that basis. The problem is their unwillingness to get ready and to do their best. To be a President it's not only about showing off the TV, contrarily to what Sarkozy made us belive. It's about real responsibility-not so much about power, as much as desire to keep the flow of power in right direction. I hope that the Czech government would understand that before it's too late and that I won't be ashamed by our next President country.

Sarkozy accused of hijacking Czech EU Presidency

27 October 2008

Weakened by electoral defeat over the weekend (24-25 October), the survivor Czech government came under attack from eurosceptic President Vaclav Klaus, who accused France of planning to "siphon" the Czech EU Presidency in the first half of 2009.

Just days after it survived a no-confidence vote in Parliament (EurActiv 23/10/08), the Czech ruling coalition led by the Civic Democrats (ODS) of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek suffered a setback over the weekend, losing its majority in the Senate.

A third of the 81 senate seats are up for election every two years in the Czech Republic, and Topolanek's ODS won just three of the 26 seats that were up for grabs. It still has 35 seats, but lost its majority of 41, while the opposition Social Democrats now have 29 from only six before the polls.

Topolanek's government, which comprises his Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the Greens (SZ), does not have a majority in Parliament and relies on a dozen independent MPs.

President Vaclav Klaus, who is co-founder of the ODS, attacked his prime minister over the "arrogance" of his governance. Klaus also lashed out at French President Nicolas Sarkozy for allegedly planning to "siphon" the Czech EU Presidency, which is set to begin on 1 January 2009. Klaus used the term "siphon", which in the Czech political vocabulary refers to the depletion of national resources in the early 1990s after the fall of Communism.

But Klaus added that for a small country, the EU presidency was of little importance. In his words, the big decisions are made by France, Germany, Great Britain and Italy. He added that these were the same countries "who wrote the Munich agreements" that allowed Hitler to annex part of Czechoslovakia in 1938. source

My comment: I don't understand for how long will the Czech continue to be sour on Europe for old wounds. Things are so much different now. And even if they are not, what's the point of crying in front of the big guys-it's much better to find a good use of your situation. I don't understand, what's wrong with this guys, seriously. It's like this is the kindergarten. What's even worst-it's not only them. Even in Bulgaria, there are freaks, who would face the big EU member-states and blame them for all the miseries of our current history- even if and when they are right, it's humiliating and well, useless. Enemies, rivals or working together competitors, no one ought to sympathize to someone else, or to feel guilty for past sins. If you want to be one of the big, act like them and leave the feelings for your free time. This is all business. Europe is way too burdened with her own history, to be able to simply forget. We need time to become friends, but in mean time, we can be good colleagues and get the most out of the situation. (read the source article to know the Polish shame :P )

Crisis shows EU needs Lisbon Treaty, says Irish leader

16 October 2008

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen told his counterparts at the Brussels EU summit on Wednesday (15 October) that the financial crisis and the recent war in Georgia showed "the critical value" of membership of the EU and the euro zone.

The Irish prime minister hinted that his country could change its mind over the Reform Treaty. As French MEP Alain Lamassoure recently warned, without the euro, the financial crisis could have put Ireland, which has strong economic ties with the US, in much the same situation as bankrupt Iceland.

Cowen promised his colleagues that he would present an action plan at the 11-12 December summit on how to solve the stalemate following the Irish 'no' in June's referendum.

EU leaders agreed to give more time to the Irish, although this appears to be a step back from a decision taken at the last summit in June, when Ireland committed itself to "considering the way forward" in October.

European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering told journalists that he still hoped the Lisbon Treaty could be enforced before the June 2009 European elections. He invited the Irish "to say what they want," adding that "having a commissioner for everyone, including Ireland, should not be a problem". source

My comment:Hmmm. Ok, this is very odd. I kind of wondered why the UK smashed Iceland, now there is another possible reason. If I didn't know how much the UK hates the EU, I would think they sacrifices Iceland for the common good. I highly doubt they did but still. In any case, whatever the reason why Iceland went down, the use of the euro is obvious. As well as the benefits from being a full member of the EU. I'm sure Ireland will understand that sooner or later. Or that eventually, the EU will drop off all the players that doesn't want to play along.

Conservative EU leaders endorse second Barroso term

16 October 2008

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso came a step closer to securing a second term in office after being informally endorsed by conservative EU government leaders at a meeting prior to the EU summit yesterday (15 October), according to a German government official.

"Barroso stands for continuity and the cohesion of Europe. And this is what the EU needs in the coming years," Peter Hintze, a secretary of state in the German finance ministry, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

Having previously served as Portugal's prime minister, Barroso took up his post at the Commission on 1 November 2004. His current mandate will expire at the end of October 2009.

Barroso was not the EU leaders' first choice in 2004, but rather a compromise acceptable to both left and liberal leaders who had rejected the Conservative candidates such as Luxemburg's Prime Minister Jean Claude Juncker and Jan Peter Balkenende, his Dutch counterpart.

Yesterday's decision in favour of Barroso came ahead of an EU summit at which leaders met to discuss measures to cope with what Barroso called the "worst financial crisis since the great depression" in the 1930s.

The Commission chief has already signalled his willingness to stay in office, but despite yesterday's endorsement, a second mandate is far from certain as all 27 member states will have to have their say.

His chances are better than in 2004, however, since several big member states such as France, Germany and Italy are now being run by conservative leaders.

The only thing that seems certain is that the next Commission chief will again be a conservative, as every candidate needs to be confirmed by the European Parliament, where the centre-right EPP-ED group has a large majority which it is likely to retain after the 2009 European elections, according to current polls. source

My comment: I don't mind Baroso. I'm not sure what exactly he's doing for the EU except for drinking with Sarkozy and making faces on conferences, but if they like him so much, he's probably useful. And I like him too. I'd certainly prefer Junker to come in power or someone more ivolved with the social idea, but central-right is fine with me.

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