Fainting in Coyles An occasional letter from the
Heart of Euroville
Friday, January 07, 2005
Momento Mori or joining the Great Satan It is with much regret that I announce the abandonment of this my blog. The reasons I give are below.
Salary Guaranteed salary with a tax rate of between 6 and 16%.
Before tax bonus of 16% as a nominally domiciled Brit forced to work in Brussels
Allowances p.c.m. Head of Household allowance. Approx 150 Euro
Child allowance. Approx 350 per child (One and one arriving in March)
Schooling allowance. A measley 15 Euro, but that is only pre school, things get lots of fun as they get older.
Free healthcare for me spouse and child
Pension rights (Index linked)
Two extra days holiday a year due to voting in the Hebrides.
And those are the ones I know about.
In order to get this I have to turn up to work and perform my duties as an official in the European Parliament...
I am from this week the Head of Media for the Independence and Democracy Group in the Parliament. Which essentially means that the splendid European taxpayer is paying me to throw stones at the project.
Specific duties, attacking the European Constitution, fraud and the lack of transparency in the European institutions.
Oh did I already say I was going to get paid to do this.
Delusions of Empire or Law Street and its place in Europe
One of the great monuments of Brussels is the Imperial triumphal arch in the Jubelpark. This monument concieved to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the existance of this disfunctional country. It was opened 25 years late and had been financed almost entirely on the backs of dead Congolese tribesmen.
However it is pretty impressive and can be seen from the city centre. The view that it crowns is down one of the major spokes on the city's wheel; Rue de la Loi or Wet Straat. This street, as can be seen be this map. The road passes between the Berlaymont Building (newly and expensively refurbished home to the Commission President), Justus Lipsius (Home to the Council of Ministers), Charlemagne, (the foriegn ministry) and a number of other Commission buildings; it is a streeet to avoid during the increasing number of summits sffered by the city as motorcade after motorcade goes screaming, lights flashing, outriders driving ordinary mortals into the gutters - you get the picture.
Well, over the past couple of months this street has been becoming what can only be described as an imperial triumphal way. First it was completely resurfaced (not a bad thing in Brussels I can assure you). Then came the posh street furniture, then huge EU flags hanging from the buildings (both private and institutional) at perfect intervals. Now I note that it has the most impressive set of street lights, spaced 60ft apart.
The capital of an Empire needs its architectural symbols as as all great imerions have recognised. Brussels is getting its own.
Walking, as I am lucky enough to do, to work this morning I noticed something rather odd. That is the different responses from the various countries embassies to the whole Tsunami disastor. That is, when to set one's flag at half mast and when not to? So the German flag was limp, as was the flag of Belgium, whereas the Finns, Norwegians and Brits, I am pleased to say, have kept their's aloft. However all the EU institutions had their flags at half mast. Not only that but when I arrived at the Parliament, it too had dropped all ts flags to half mast. Not only that but the Parliament has taken upon itself to render at half mast the flags of those countries whose own embassies have declined to do so.
Now the question that springs to mind is, does the Parliament, or for that matter the Commission have the right to unilaterally decide on flag flying policy for the nation states? Who owns the rights to the flags on the poles outside the institutional buildings? (Physically the institutions I guess, I suspect that they bought them, but morally, I am not so sure).
So I phoned the Commissioon's press service this morning to get an answer to this question. I phoned after 9 o'clock (well, it was at least five past). Only to be told that there not many press officers in this week, there is nobody in charge of Press relations for the Administration at all, in fact as the sectretary pointed out, "I have tried 5 different offices for you and nobody is in". The hing is of course that the executive descision must have been made by somebody. Somebody must have issuedf an order to pull the flags down. I shall report back later. I am told that a women called Pia Ahrenkilde will be able to help later.
Update According to the Commission, not Pia who is alos not in today (despite the fact that I was initially told that she had been seen this morning - oops petty little lie I know but therte you go) the decision was made by the "Presidencies of Luxembourg(new) and Holland(old)". There will be a pan European three minute silence tommorrow.
Ah but the decision was made by, "Barrosso for the EU flag and the dirfferent countries of Europe for their flags". No the Commission does not decide for what seperate countries do, the flags will be lowered tommorrow,, they are already lowered, I don't know who is responsible.
So that's clear then. Next I will try the Parliament.
Odd documents, clever excerpts, and insightful links.
A kindly comment from Dennis Boyles over at the National Review. Well I have to blow my own trumpet now and then and if somebody else does it for me then I ha ve to be greatful; Thanks again Mr Boyles.
This is worrisome, and comes via the ever excellent GermanForiegnPolicy.com What it is in essence is a report from the German Government's fully funded Foriegn Policy think-tank, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.
If you are wondering about the title of the document, The European External Action Service, that is Eurospeak for the European foreign and security institution in creation. The army and diplomatic service combined.
Amongst other gems we must look out for are the areas which will be under the control of the European Foriegn Minister after the constitution has been ratified.
"in order to achieve the strategic goals of the Union, the European aid programme, the development fund, the military and civilian capabilities of the member states, the diplomatic efforts, the development, trade and environmental policies should be brought into line with one overarching objective".
The paper goes on to point out that the move towards this is ordered "The start date given is not the coming into force of the Draft Constitutional Treaty, but its signing!" that is on the 29th October 2004. Even they seem suprised at the audacity of that judging by the punctuation.
They do see a danger in proceeding to rapidly or publically at this point because to do so might "cause a negative outcome for some referenda".
Germany is advised to firstly secure a service that is "loyal to the Community and the "spirit of the Community"", by ensuring significant German precence on the decision making committeess. Then it should join forces with everybody except the Brits and the French who might have a few issues with the plans. "In this conflict, Germany could play its established role as an intermediary between big and small countries". Don't you just love the idea of the biggest country in the EU acting as an intermediary with itself?
Oh and of course the systems should be made in the German image, thus "it is worth considering, in connection with the development of the EEAS, the instruments and procedures for the "institutional export" of German structures".
As Tom Lehrer once said,
Once all the Germans were warlike and mean,
But that couldn't happen again.
We taught them a lesson in nineteen eighteen,
And they've hardly bothered us since then.
Simple really when you are the Bureau opf the European Parliament and you have a Constitution to sell. Oh and please get this straight that is 375 thou per annum until the Constitution has been sold.
The reason I know this? That´ll be the document in my mits as I type, PE349.476/BUR/REV.
Sadly I only have the French language version of this so you will have to understand that the quotes are my own translations, not necessarily in the original document. That being said my translation will be pretty good.
You might remember that there was a concert last week in Strasbourg. The purpose of that concert was to celebrate the Yes vote on a pice of legislation. However the legislation was postponed, but the concert went ahead to the tune of 50 grand.
Now the legislation is due on the 11/12th January, and again we are all invited to the party in Strasbourg. The money I mention is to celebrate this event, the passing of the Mendez de Vigo/Corbett report on the EU Constitution.
So what to spend the cash on? Here goes...
"Publication of opinion articles, of the type "open letter to the Citizens of Europe", in the main national and regional neewspapers of the European Union. This procedure will be free, just like the letter sent by the President to the Italian press when the Constitutional Treaty was signed obn 29th October 2004"
This has a foot note to the extent that this will be run by DG Information, and will be repeated according to the timings of the referenda in specific countries. Which is pretty self explanitory, they expect to get their message into the op-ed columns of all European newspapers for free. How they get the papers to play ball will be explained.
"Invations to a large number 'plus grandes nombre' of journalists, in collaboration with the (European Parliament's) information offices to ensure maximal coverage of the events"
Please note, this is not expected to be free. Indeed the hundred journalists invited are budgetted to cost the Parliament 100,000 Euros. A hack at a thousand a pop. Bargin at twice the price if it's good for Europe.
Invitations to great thinkers and great writers from countries having referenda (names of those accepting invitations are already attached to the annex)
The original French says this better than I can even satirize. "des grands penseurs ainsi que de grandes plumes". Also interesting is that three have accepted the invites.
Adela Cortina Orts - A Spanish moral Philospoher from Valencia. nteresting she is fulsome in praise of;
Jeremy Rifkin - An all American idiot and author of The European Dream Alain Minc. Oddly the information provided was lifted word for word from this site (first paragraph).
The good news for these lucky three (the only people to have accepted so far) is that the Bureau has set aside 35,000 for them to be spent over 2 days).But of course Rifkin is not fronma country with a referendum, but he is the favourite American in town so I guessthe 10 + thou spent on him is money well spent.
Then there is going to be a flash dinner - Hey it's the European Parliament, of course there is going to be a flash dinner. This one will have "whispering" interpretation, meaning that the interpreters hover discreetly behind each head pouring sweet nothings into the delegates ears.
Next will be a special 'round table' debate type TV programme, run by Spanish channel TVE-1. This is of course for the benefit of the Spanish President Borrell. The format will be "faux directe" allowing for editing out of unfortunate commentary. This is budgetted at 80,000 Euros.
So far Euronews, ARTE, Pheonix, RTP and the BBC have all asked for interviews.
And there will also be an association with "European Schoolnet", to engage all the kiddies. Go check out the UK aspect of this, wow, so much to rebel against so little time.
The party hats and streamers for this two day bonaza are budgeted at;
Internal decorations/balloons/those coloured pieces of string that you access pass is attached to/posters/books/ etc 45,000 Euros
External, bloody great poster attached to the outside of the European Parliament building in Strasbourg 80,000.
Add all that spend up and you come to the grand total of 340,000 Euros. Which is odd 'cos they initially budgetted and granted themselves 375,000 per annum. So that's an extra 35,000 floating around every year. No I do not know what it is for, and yes I will ask.
(NB - the big external poster looks like it is designed to break French political/eectroal law as it is in direct contravention of a law that bans political advertising. This will have a huge great "YES to the Constitution" (or actually "OUI" on it), all the way through the referendum campaign.
Now I can understand that they want to talk up their constitiution. But that is our money they are using to do it.
Further to my comments earlier, it seems that Jack Straw has claimed that there is 'overwhelming support' amongst the British public for Turkish EU membership.
"In Britain I'm happy to say there is widespread agreement across the political parties in favour of Turkey joining the European Union and overwhelming support in the British public and that's great news because we in Britain recognise Turkey as a European nation as one which has the same values as we have."
How does he know that?
Well, in my continuing search into public opinion on this matter I have discovere that there has been a poll, conducted by French organisation Ifop. Have to ask Anthony about this lot)
According to them the breakdown in Europe is something like this;
Yes No Dunno
Spain 65 18 17
Italy 49 24 27
UK 41 30 29
Germany 33 55 12
France 32 67 1
"Mugabe, sole ruler since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980, is accused by his opponents and critics of running down one of Africa's most promising economies through a series of controversial policies, including the land seizures.
His critics say the 80-year-old Zimbabwean leader has become repressive in the face growing opposition to his rule, and has been forced to use violence and to rig elections held in the last five years to hang onto power.
Mugabe, a former guerrilla leader, denies the charges and in turn blames domestic and Western opponents of trying to oust him because of his black nationalistic programmes."
So the new word is "sole ruler", chickenshit Reuters, simply chickenshit.
Freedom of Speech/ Belgium constitutional referendum
This is a fascinating article to follow up my comments earlier this week.
Please note the reason awhy people should not be allowed to decide about the Constitution of their own country,
Elio Di Rupo, leader of the French-speaking Socialists, said some parties might abuse the referendum to campaign against Turkey's EU bid or to further split linguistically divided Belgium.
"I fear some would use this fantastic debate which the referendum would create to launch xenophobic or purely racist remarks."
I wonder if he regards the dislike of Belgium, by Belgian citizens as xenophobia. And if so then surely he is admitting that they are are not Belgians at all but foriegners, because to hate Belgium and be xenophobic would require them to be foriegn.
If Austria really is 75% against and 14% in favour of Turkish membership, then there will be hell to paty if the pwoers that be continue down the road they are travelling.
This whole Turkey saga is extrodinarily revealing as to the EU mindset. There is probably not a single county in Europe where an absolute majority of the population is in favour of full Turkish membership. Indeed if the polls that I have read about this are anythi g to go by what we have is yet another example were the ppolitical and central elite are riding roughshod over the opinions and fears of their own peoples. Oddly this time I agree with them, which in itself is unusual, but there it is.
Put it this way. The Commission has its own data and opinion collection organisation, Eurobarometer. Eureobarometer, as its name suggests, measures uropean public opinion. Its subject matter is legion, for example;
33% of people who play sport in the European Union do so because it increases their self control
34% of people in the EU believe that smoking cannabis is harmless
51% of Britains concur with the statement "The European Union must have a constitution. (though I have no idea who they have been talking to to get that figurtte).
However what i wuld really like to point out is that the Commission ask questions about just about everything, but they havenever dared ask the Turkey question.
Which therefore suggests that they are riding for a fall.
Fiona Mactaggart, the excuse for a "Minister for Racvial Equality", a newspeak title if I eveer heard one has written in defence of her departments anti-liberal "thought crime" legislation. In her letter to the Telegraph today she claims that, "there will be important safeguards built into the law". Interestingly those safeguards include "articles IX and X in the European Convention on Human Rights".
Now hold on there Fiona, and where do these articles have any purchase in UK law?. Don't you remember that the Convention has "no more legal standing than the Beano". Oh but that has changed hasn't it?
Because the Convention on Human Rights is an integral part of the European Constitution. What seems to have slipped the Minister's excuse for a mind is that Britain has not signed the Constitution. Indeed it is unlikely to if the polls are correct.
So why is she lying? Oh I forgot she is a member of Blairs government and in particular his neo-facist Interior Ministry, of course she is lying.
What is sad of course is that this woman used to be the Chairman of Liberty.
An organisation which tells us it is
"Liberty is opposed to the proposal to introduce a national identity scheme". However she seems to have had a 'road to Buchenwald' moment in the Guardian a while back where she renounced freedom for a permanent job in government. Her successor at Liberty, Rita Chakribati had this to say in response, (I quote in full)
As director of Liberty could I reassure Fiona Mactaggart (comment, Nov 13) that she will hear no sneers from my direction. She did valuable work as our chairwoman, especially the guidance she gave us on the arguments that Ministers would deploy in favour of ID cards.
Just over a year ago she warned of the ‘linguistic sophistry’ Ministers would marshal to claim ID cards are being introduced for the benefit of the most poor and vulnerable in society.
She was absolutely right. Here is Fionna Mactaggart writing in her capacity as a Home Office Minister on the consequences of not having an ID card if you are poor: ‘You will find it more difficult to vouch for your veracity when opening a bank account or registering at a GP.’ That sounds more of a threat than a benefit.
Fiona explains her change of mind in one word, ‘biometrics.’ But absolutely nothing has changed in the 15 months since she contributed to a pamphlet we produced on ID cards. Biometrics were then and are now, ‘hi-tech identifiers of your unique personal characteristics.’ But that doesn’t mean they can’t be copied. You would have to very naive to believe that any technology is infallible.
Fifteen months ago Fiona was convinced that compulsory ID cards would lead, as they have done in Europe, to a worsening of race relations. Try telling Turkish guest workers in Germany, or young Algerian men in France, that cards ‘do not have an unfair impact on ethnic minorities.’
As for her current claim ‘that there will be no new powers for the police to demand ID cards’ one can only wonder how she knows that. It will take 10 years to get the system working and we have no idea to what use the Government of the day will put ID cards.
Fiona now tells us that we need compulsory cards to stamp out ‘entitlement fraud.’ That’s what Mr Blunkett was saying 15 months ago and our former chairwoman had this to say :‘The Department for work and Pensions has made clear that that identity fraud is a fairly minor part of benefit fraud.’
She is entitled to change her mind but I think readers also have the right to know what she previously believed. They can do so in Liberty's ID Card Pamphlet:
Extrordinary tale of a drunk, the police and stupid law.
The thought that a pub can be closed down because the police found somebody drunk in their just beggars belief. The only relief is that it did not happen in the UK but in Ireland. Though as soon as Polly sees the clippings she will be demanding action.