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Friday, August 26, 2011

The European lie - Netherlands call Bulgaria and Romania non-Europeans, 2011

Quote of the day:And I can't but ask myself what war exactly is Sarkozy cooking. And could we sacrifice everything we've achieved in the past decades, just because of some over-ambitious and greedy politician.
  1. Parliament half-opens its doors to OLAF
  2. Netherlands curbs Bulgarian, Romanian workers
  3. Spain obtains ‘safeguard’ against Romanian workers
  4. France breaks ranks on Libya, dwarfs EU's Ashton
  5. EU closes in on contract law for consumers, SMEs

Parliament half-opens its doors to OLAF 

31 March 2011
The European Parliament made today (31 March) a small step forward in a corruption case involving at least four MEPs by admitting that it is within the remit of the EU's anti-fraud office to investigate the matter. But it stood firm in its insistence that any such investigation would require a mandate from a national judicial authority.
Concretely, the Parliament will now ask the European Commission to come forward with legislation to establish a mandatory register for all EU institutions.Until now, lobbying activity is subject to a voluntary registers that apply only to the Commission and the Parliament.
The Parliament also envisages creating a de facto mandatory register for lobbyist visitors, requiring them to register on a daily basis even if they hold a one-year access pass. The register is expected to keep track of who they are meeting and which meetings they are attending in the European Parliament.
Furthermore, MEPs who advocate any cause or interest in which they have a direct financial interest (or an anticipated interest) will be asked to make this fact known clearly and unequivocally in writing.
As the scandal involving the four MEPs revealed that many parliamentarians in fact have 'second jobs', oversight will be strengthened by asking members to update their existing declarations of interest more regularly than once a year.
sourceMy comment: Nice. So, they can be investigate, but they cannot be punished. Well, I think that gives OLAF the same statute as of medias. Because journalists also can investigate, but they cannot punish. Well, let's hope that something good will come out of this, at least when it comes to transparency.

Netherlands curbs Bulgarian, Romanian workers

14 April 2011
 As of 1 July, Bulgarians and Romanians as well as foreigners from outside the EU will only be granted a work permit in the Netherlands under "exceptional cases," the Dutch press reported on Tuesday (12 April).
The proposal by Social Affairs Minister Henk Kamp was backed by the Dutch government, according to press reports.
Kamp wants employers in agriculture and horticulture, for example, to make more use of unemployed people of Dutch nationality.
Since the EU's 2004 enlargement to ten member states, some 165,000 people from Central and Eastern Europe on average have been working in agriculture and horticulture, construction, industry and the transport sector in the Netherlands.
Although the Netherlands has the lowest unemployment rate in the EU, at 4.5% compared to 10% for the EU as a whole, it has been stuck for years with an army of job-disabled.
Regarding workers from outside the EU, Kamp takes an even tougher line.By "outside the EU," Kamp also means Romania and Bulgaria, the website adds. Both countries did join the EU in 2007, but the Netherlands has made use of an option to maintain work restrictions for those countries .
For workers from other EU member states – primarily Poland – nothing will change.
Employers who claim to need Bulgarians and Romanians must apply for an employment licence from the country's public employment service, UWV.
Farmers sometimes do get Dutch jobless via the UWV, but say their work morale is low. They complain about back problems, and do not work hard like East Europeans, the LTO says. source
My comment: The most ridiculous thing is that people from Bulgaria usually don't go in Netherlands to work in the agriculture - for such jobs they go to Greece or Spain. Anyway, what I find most bothering is that Dutch politicians dare to call Bulgaria and Romania non-Europeans. And that nobody reacts at such an offense. And I don't get their attitude, Bulgarians are 7 million in total. It's not like we can send 1 million emigrants in the Netherlands to take their precious jobs. 

Spain obtains ‘safeguard’ against Romanian workers

12 August 2011
Romanian workers have been barred from Spain after the Commission agreed (11 August) that Madrid could block their arrival because of ‘disturbances’ on the labour market of the crisis-hit Mediterranean state.

The EU’s fourth-largest economy, Spain has the bloc’s highest unemployment rate and is currently undergoing austerity measures designed to avoid a Greek-style bailout. Traditionally open to foreign workers, including those from the newest EU member states, the country has recently experienced a massive inflow of Romanian workers – from 388,000 in 2006 to 823,000 in 2010.
Romanians in Spain have been strongly hit by the rising unemployment levels, and 30% are now out of work, with 191,400 cases recorded in the first quarter of the year, second only to Spain’s own citizens.
Spain’s  decision to open its job market to the workers from the two most recent EU member states, Romania and Bulgaria is irreversible, so its restriction on Romanian workers has been introduced in the form of a safeguard clause, limited until 31 December 2012.
A Commission spokesperson admitted that the step is unprecedented in EU history. She made clear that the restriction related only to new arrivals of Romanian workers seeking work in Spain.
Unemployed Romanians in Spain will not forfeit welfare payments as a result of the measure, and will be covered by the same rules as other Spanish nationals, the Commission spokesperson said.source My comment: Now, I must say I support Spain in this. Not because I hate Romanians, as many people wrongly assume, but because the situation in Spain is quite serious. They are in severe financial trouble and indeed there are way too many Romanians there. And note, they don't just send home everyone, they don't rob them from their privileges, they just say "no more'. This position sounds more reasonable to me than the Netherlands whose reasons are more or less fascists ones (and not very realistic ones - you cannot make people work something they don't like by making sure nobody else will take that job).

France breaks ranks on Libya, dwarfs EU's Ashton

15 March 2011
France broke ranks with its European partners yesterday (10 March) by becoming the first country to recognise Libya's opposition and by deciding to "explore the possibility" of carrying out targeted bombings in the civil war-torn country. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton finds herself pushed onto the sidelines as EU leaders flock to Brussels for a crisis summit.
France wants to explore the possibility of targeted bombing in Libya as an alternative to imposing a no-fly zone, French officials said on Thursday.
Foreign ministers were taken by surprised by France's move to recognise the rebel-led National Council, with Paris announcing it would send "an ambassador" to rebel capital Benghazi.
But it also irritated several EU countries.
A high-ranking diplomat who asked not to be named warned that prominent turncoat figures from the Gaddafi regime had grabbed leadership positions in the Interim National Council, something he said was "disturbing".
EU sources told EurActiv that some of the people in the Interim National Council were among those responsible for the caricature trials of Bulgarian nurses, who spent eight years in a Bengazi jail before being freed in July 2007 at the intervention of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Ashton and her team had stood strongly against the idea of giving official recognition to the Interim National Council.sourceMy comment: I think I already expressed my disappointment with European position and actions in Libya so I'll skip that and just say that Sarkozy's actions were shame for the whole EU. Something which of course went unnoticed (more or less) outside of diplomatic circles. And I can't but ask myself what war exactly is Sarkozy cooking. And could we sacrifice everything we've achieved in the past decades, just because of some over-ambitious and greedy politician. In case you disagree with those words, read this: Libya oil race starts as fighting continues - 
Italian oil company Eni led the charge back into Libya yesterday as rebels hailing the end of Muammar Gaddafi's rule warned Russian and Chinese firms that they may lose out on lucrative oil contracts for failing to support the rebellion. About 75 Chinese companies operated in Libya before the war.- How about this?

EU closes in on contract law for consumers, SMEs

09 June 2011
A common European contract law yesterday (8 June) came one step closer to reality after MEPs backed proposals by the European Commission to establish an optional EU-wide system. But consumer groups warned that such a scheme would do little to boost cross-border trade and only add to the confusion faced by businesses and shoppers alike.
Introducing an EU contract law and a possible civil code is an ambitious long-term goal for supporters of closer European integration, as it is expected to make the EU's single market genuinely borderless.
MEPs yesterday (8 June) adopted a report on introducing an 'optional instrument' in European contract law – drawn up by UK Liberal Democrat MEP Diana Wallis (ALDE) – that would give businesses and consumers the opportunity to choose EU contract law over national law when agreeing a contract, including when purchasing products online.
Today, companies have to adapt to local rules if they want to sell their products in a different EU country. Legal uncertainty and the additional cost of complying with several legal systems often end up discouraging cross-border commerce, deterring consumers and businesses alike from shopping and trading across frontiers.The Commission estimates that an optional European contract law could save a small online business wishing to trade in Europe an estimated €9,000 in legal and translation fees per market – or over €230,000 if they wanted to take their business EU-wide.Consumer groups, however, warned that the 'optional instrument' system of European contract law backed by the Parliament yesterday was "fundamentally flawed."
European consumers' organisation BEUC complained that the term 'optional' was not at all accurate, arguing that businesses were putting consumers in a 'take it or leave it' situation by deciding whether to use the instrument or not.The organisation believes it is unrealistic to ask consumers to choose between national and EU-wide legal systems and predicts that an optional instrument will create only more problems.sourceMy comment: I don't quite get, if such EU-wide law is accepted and then there is some dispute, which judge in which country and under what kind of law will decide. Maybe the idea is something like arbitrage court, but if we talk about consumers and not companies, then each consumer should be protected under the laws of his or her country. And it's not something he or she has the power to accept or deny. This simply makes no sense at all.
New EU lobby register to go online in June - Plans to establish a joint register of lobbyists for the European Parliament and the European Commission were today (11 May) formally given the green light at a plenary session of the EU assembly in Strasbourg, paving the way for the registry to go online in June. -
Power shifts mark Draghi's ECB accession - According to insiders, Italian Mario Draghi, on track to become the new European Central Bank chief having received the backing of eurozone finance ministers, will need to dispel mutterings about lax southern Europeans and win over a more hawkish Bundesbank chief. 
But the other new ECB policymaker on the block may rein in any eagerness on his part to be tougher on the debt-stricken.
Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann, who took over from Weber, has established himself as an inflation hawk by calling for a normalisation of monetary policy. But his previous role as economics adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel has marked him out as a pragmatist when it comes to the debt crisis.
While Draghi will want to impress the Germans with his monetary orthodoxy, Weidmann could bring a more flexible approach than Weber when it comes to dealing with the periphery.
"For Draghi, the key thing is to firm up his credentials with core Europe," said Berenberg Bank economist Holger Schmieding. "He could sound tougher than Trichet."
"As a counterweight, the switch from Weber to Weidmann probably adds a dose of pragmatism, not necessarily on interest rates, but into the overall dealings with the European crisis. -

Commission to propose freezing EU's long-term budget -  drawn-out battle over the EU's next long-term budget (2014-2020) is due to begin this week with European Commission proposals expected on Wednesday (29 June). The draft will include a controversial plan for an EU tax aimed at reducing national contributions, but the overall size of the budget is expected to remain close to the current €1 trillion per seven-year framework. 
The Commission, which will formally open the debate on the EU's next multi-annual financial framework this week, finds itself torn between opposing demands.
On the one hand, many member states – led by Britain, France and Germany – are asking the Commission to freeze the EU budget, in order to reflect austerity cuts currently being implemented at national level.
On the other hand, the EU has enlarged from 15 to 27 member countries since 2004 and the range of areas it now deals with was widened by the Lisbon Treaty, something which is expected to require additional funding.
Agriculture and regional policy are set to remain the biggest chapters of the next budget, but their share will decrease slightly.Eastern European countries, and notably Poland, which assumes the EU's six-month rotating on 1 July, are strongly opposed to any reduction of regional funding. And countries with a strong agricultural sector, led by France and Italy, are not keen to give up funding for their farmers.
The biggest increases are expected in home affairs and migration policy, research and innovation, and sectors where the Lisbon Treaty has given new competencies to the EU, such as foreign policy.
In order to free itself from these shackles, the Commission will propose this week a system of new "own resources" or taxes to fund the budget, while gradually phasing out direct transfers from member states.

Cyber attack on European Commission reported - A serious cyber attack on the European Commission was reported yesterday evening (23 March) as EU leaders prepared to gather in Brussels for a two-day summit during which military intervention in Libya is expected to take centre stage.The cyber attack was described as "serious" by a Commission spokesperson, who said that EU High Representative Catherine Ashton's services appeared to have been particularly affected.

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