Fainting in Coyles
An occasional letter from the Heart of Euroville
Visitors:


Monday, March 31, 2003  

Pity this man

In the rugged Telemark district of Norway lives a man who has a little trouble with his name. Aftenposten has this rather charming story.
An Iraqi refugee now living in Norway's mountainous Telemark district has applied to change his name to Dastanse Rasol Hussein. His current name, Saddam Hussein, is far too troublesome.
So good people of Telemark, be nice to him, its not his fault.

posted by Eliab | 4:02 pm
 

Europe blames Isreal for buggery in the Council

Le Figaro which first announced the buggers in the EU scandal has now revealed two interesting aspects of the case. The first is that the EU's investigators were so cack handed that they alerted the listeners, thus making it impossible to find out who they were. Second is that now they are unable to define which organistation it was that had the desire to listen in they can make allegations about anybody they feel like. And this being Europe guess who they turn the spotlight on, Isreal of course.

The resaon, because in Berne in 1998 Mossad was caught trying to bug the offices of Hezbollah. Now why would they want to do that? But it all suits the increasingly anti-Isreali attitudes of the 19th republic - in a week when we are told that anti-semetic attacks in France have quadrupled as pointed out by The Radical.

posted by Eliab | 2:00 pm
 

European response to French goods boycott

I found this on the Commission intranet, and it makes amusing reading, if only in its impotence.

It has been asked already, and I am asking again. Why are all the soft drinks available to us only from the Coca-Cola company, or a subsidiary of Coca-Cola?

Simple realy, unless you are an ardent fan of Vimto or Iron Bru then your choices are slim. America produces the most popular drinks, simple as that realy, and yes they adapt to market conditions, if there were popular European drinks then they would be available - market economics deal with it, nitwit.

With the ongoing illegal invasion of Iraq by US lead troops, with the USA and Australia tagging along, a movement of boycotting certain American made goods is growing.

This is the first example of the movement I have heard of so if it is growing then it nees to move pretty fast to be effective. There again Europe will have to start producing products that people want to buy at prices Europeans are preparee to pay, don't hold your breath. Oh and did I note that the UK was kept out of the equation, as well as Poland and others, yes, thought so

In order to be realistic, some US products are not included. Obviously, here in the Commission we are forced to use MS products (american) in computers where the CPU is made by Intel (also american).

Same problem, we must stop using American goods, oh bugger we can't do that cause we could not operate without them, so lets have a boycott of some American goods, the ones that aren't essential to our operations as effective beurocrats, that'll help.

Instead this boycott movement is aimed at foods and drinks, as well as oil companies.
Coca-Cola is one of the obvious companies on the boycott list. And I am trying to participate in this boycott.
Why doesn't the enterprise running our resturaunts provide us with some European drinks?
The list of products being boycotted is:

Kraft
Campbell
Coca-Cola
Colgate Palmolive
Del Monte
Del Monte: especially bananas
Chiquita: Bananas
Dole: Bananas
Tenderly
Georgia Pacific
Heinz
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson Wax
Kellogg's
Kimberly - Clark
M&M's
Mars
Pepsi Cola
Procter & Gamble
Buddweisser Beer
ESSO
Shell

So instead we should use oil produced by that wonderful, clean and un corrupt and bloodstained firm, Total Fina Elf. That'll show them.

Lord only knows what this idjit is trying to prove, that Europe cannot operate without American know!how and capacity, well if that is what he is trying to prove he's done it very well.

posted by Eliab | 1:46 pm


Friday, March 28, 2003  

Latest News from The Foriegners Office

Worldwide Travel Warning:
The risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks in public places, including tourist sites, will be especially high during military action in Iraq. You should be vigilant, take sensible precautions, be aware of local sensibilities, monitor the media, and check our Travel Advice for the country you live in or plan to visit.


Nothing Strange there, though I am suprised that they don't suggest the wearing of sensible shoes and pretending to be Irish - everybody loves the Irish.

Belgium:

The vast majority of visits are trouble-free. Visitors should be alert to the dangers of street crime in the cities. Belgium shares with the rest of the world, including the UK, an increased threat from terrorist incidents of international origin.

There is no recent history of terrorism in Belgium. The Belgian government has to date exercised a strong and effective counter-terrorism policy. We do not have information of any specific treat to western or to British interests from terrorism in Belgium, but the area round Brussels in particular hosts a number of international institutions (EU, NATO) which might be seen as attractive targets to terrorists. You should be vigilant in these areas, in public places and areas frequented by tourists. All British institutions and businesses should review their security arrangements.


However the Queen's visit last week was cancelled on the grounds of "Security concerns" so those of us that live here better watch out. As I walked to work this morning, looking every inch the Brit (well live the stereotype I say) I was spat at and jostled for being an "agressor anglais" or something like that. I wasn't going to folow the fellow into his cafe where Al-jazeera was palying full blast to find out the precise terms. Maybe my idea to hang an 'In My Name' banner off my balcony to compansate for the rainbow PACE banners fluttering around the communeis not such a good idea. For that matter hanging a union jck there for next weeks Turkey match might not be too bright either.

Back to the FO

France:
The vast majority of visits to France are trouble-free. You should be alert to the dangers of car and street crime in cities. France shares with the rest of the world, including the UK, an increased threat from terrorist incidents of international origin.

There have been no terrorist attacks on mainland France since the bombing of the Paris Metro in 1995. You should, however, be aware of the risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, in all countries of the world, against civilian targets in public places, including tourist sites. Although we are not aware of any specific threat to western or to British interests from terrorism in France, we believe there is an increased general threat to visibly British institutions and organisations from global terrorism in France, as there is in all other countries in Europe. Against this background, UK nationals should be vigilant in public places and areas frequented by tourists


The attack on the chemical plant in Tolouse seems to have been forgotten. There again who needs terrorists ahen armed gangs patrol the peripherique carrying out attcks on police stations with RPGs. After the Vile ones refusal to articulate any support for the coalitions armed forces, implying that he and France believe that there is some moral equvilance between the two sides in this war, I am suprised that there is no threat to 'British or Western interests from terrorists in France'. It's not so much the terrorists that are the danger it is the french state itself.

posted by Eliab | 4:53 pm
 

EU Fisheries boss struck by moment of Honesty

EU Obs report a glorious gaff (Surely stroke of honesty) yesterday in Norway. Jörgen Holmquist the EU's Director general of Fisheries (his predecessor Steffen Smidt was sacked under pressure from the Don last year) said that "In fisheries, Spain is hated and feared", realising what he had said he then desperately backpeddalled and then withdrew the word 'Hated' , "I retract ‘hated’. Let us say that they are criticized."

His purpose for being in Norway was to soften up public opinion for a future acession referendum in Norway expected sometime in th not too distant future.

Of course Norway is viatl for European interests - it has fish for starters, unlike Europe that has decimated its own stocks under the criminal Common Fisheries policy. And as he states pretty bluntly the Spanish would like to get their grubby trawlers all over Norways fish. It also has Oil, and (see pervious post) given Europe has now decided that North Sea oil is an ËU strategic asset, the Europeans would quite like to gain control of that too.

Recently Europe has been firing illegal tarrifs at Norway to force that country to allow Spanish fishermen access to its waters. The tariffs are against Norwegian fish products. This high handed colonial approach to Norway is not going down too well in the Fijords and I somehow doubt that the hapless Holmquist latest comments will have gone any way to allay those fears.

posted by Eliab | 11:37 am


Thursday, March 27, 2003  

Ex Clarke Press Officer gets top CCO job.

So the sacking of Rick Nye and Mark Magregor from central office was all about clearing out modernisers was it? Not when the new Deputy head of Communications is non other than Richard Chalk. Chalkie is the current Head of Media Ops for the Tories in the European Parliament and has a history of working on succesful camapigns. Such as the chief Ken Clarke for God err... make that Tory leader campaign, the Steve Norris is better than you, London Mayor campaign and so on.

Chalkie is credited by some for increasing the Tory MEP hit rate with the national press, though I doubt many of you have noticed. There again the fact that the Tory press office did expand exponmentially in the time. (The wages are pretty good over here as well). The reason for the decent wage - quite shocking thought for anybody who has ever worked in Smith Square is that unlike in London party staffers are payed out of the taxpayers pocket and are officially considered European People Party/European Democrat assets, and are essentially civil servants.

Interestingly he has cultivated good links with the Independant, which show he has an eye on expanding Tory readership into places where they have never been before.

He once stood for the Blue corner in the City of Durham

I raise my glass to his future career, and pray that the stories emanating from at least one Tory MEP that he jumped before he was pushed are false.

posted by Eliab | 7:26 pm


Tuesday, March 25, 2003  

BLAIR WANTS KOK... AGAIN,
and this time he suceeds


Fine headline, but sadly it's unlikely to appear in any respectable journal, nor is the comparable

Kok employed by Europe

The truth is a little more subdued, the result of the EU summit held last week are finally filtering through and it appears that the discredited former socialist PM of Holland has been given the job of working out why there are so few people with jobs in the EU. To be fair he presided over what was known as the Dutch Miracle, where the unemoployment fell in Holland from about 12% to undef 4%, but there where mmany accusations of fiddling the figures and statistical ingenuity at the time - The ILO were particularly cautious.

Whatever he has the job for good or ill. Apparently Blair was his main proposer and Blair had wanted him to head up the Convention, the job finally going to Discard the Stain. I do however suspect that he will not challange the ongoing desire to stamp out "harmful tax competition" which was given another push.

Oh yes and there are calls for "re-inforced co-operation" over EU gas and oil stocks. ie. Europe will decide as to what happens with 'Europes' oil and gas. Now I know that the Dutch have gas platforms, but the only oil I can think of other than the North Sea are the vast quantities of snake oil pouring from the Elysee Palace. So the North Sea stocks are regharded as EU strategic assets.

Got that, Scotland.



posted by Eliab | 12:02 pm


Monday, March 24, 2003  

Check this out

Shock horror, thoughtful conservatives exist, spread the news. Admittedly a bit fluffy on the whole European Issue, but other than that good commonsensical thinking. Cripes what have I just said. Seriously these people deserve to be listened to a bit. One of the authors James Mawdesly is better known as the bloke who made a habit of getting imprisoned by the Burmese regieme, the other Ben Rogers is similarly directed. Faith, trust the individual and most importantly living these ideas through to their natural conclusion.


Conservative ideas
The ideas that bring Conservatives together include the following:


Ø Freedom: people should be free to take decisions about their own lives
Ø Light government: the state is there to serve not to dictate
Ø Rule of law: it is the rule of law which secures our liberty
Ø Strong defence: in Britain we have a valuable heritage and a way of life worth
defending

Conservatism is based on the belief that people are more important than the state. It combines a respect for individual liberty, and a belief that people should help each other. Compassion comes through people, not through the state. All of us are responsible for the condition of our country.


posted by Eliab | 6:19 pm
 

A casualty of War

Now this might be a little in bad taste, but I have just discovered that I have become a casualty of the war. Not the real one I hasten to add but the petty one. I had been commissioned to create the layout for a French MEP, just a few days a month. But my services are no longer required, shame you might say, shouldn't have been working for the French in the first place you might add. I can only say in my defence that every euro is a good euro. (When you live in euroville).
After talking to his office, I can confirm that the comment - We want to work with a Frenchman, translates roughly into - we don't want to work with an Englishman.

posted by Eliab | 4:10 pm


Thursday, March 20, 2003  

Liberal Democrats again besmirch the name liberal

Following up Peter Cuthbertson's execellant post on Charly Kennedy, now listen to his man in Europe, Graham Watson. Watson is not merely the head of the UK Lib Dems in Brussels, but also the head of the ELDR Group, the third largest group in Parliament.

The war against Iraq is not a just war, but the EU must nevertheless unite to rebuild both Iraq after the conflict and its common foreign policy.

"It could yet be that this crisis will prove a turning point, if our Heads of State and Government accept the need for a common foreign policy and a single EU seat at the United Nations Security Council. Europe's troubled tribalism means that Washington wins the day. If there is a message for London, Paris, Berlin and Madrid it is that if we had a common foreign and security policy, Europe's world view would prevail."


Such a trail of sanctimonious claptrap has hardly been heard before. What the devil can he mean by this? Other than the abject surrender to the anti-democratic, pressure-group dominated nonentities that fail to lead. Talking to ancient nations as if they were troublesome children caught having a scrap in the playground. How he thinks that having one voice (decided by whom pray?) on the security council would give us a stronger voice. Putting the current 15, and the future who knows, countries on a par with a denuded russia and a free and democratic China seems patant and dishonest nonsense.

I winder what it is that he so dislikes, what it is about our democracy he so distrusts, what it is about our histories he so denies? This little man, unheard of outside the boudoirs of the nlargement nations presumes to disppense with their right to an independant voice. Shame on him and his collection of historically and culturally retarded freinds.

posted by Eliab | 2:13 pm
 

Check this one out, today is called in Europe "Spring Day". The Spring day is a day for propagandising in schools across the continent about how simply spiffing the EU is.

Message from Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission
20/03/03


Even in difficult, tension-filled days like these, none of you should forget that European integration has to keep moving forward.

Dear young Europeans,

Even in difficult, tension-filled days like these, none of you should forget that European integration has to keep moving forward.

World crises and rifts between Member State governments are an added reason for -- not against -- greater European unity tomorrow.

The brief past of our united Europe tells of divides bridged, of countries separated by world wars and later by the Cold War, and then gradually starting to work together in the awareness of a shared destiny.

.....
But tomorrow's European Union cannot be built without its young people and certainly not on opposition to them. So it is vital for your generation to take part in the European integration process, even if you are critical of it, taking a constructive attitude based on accurate information, the free exchange of ideas and openness to dialogue.

Spring Day in Europe is an opportunity for you to grasp the challenges and possibilities that lie before you, a chance to be heard and to express your ideas. Over 5 000 schools throughout Europe -- and in some countries beyond too -- are taking part in today's discussion on our continent's future. Together with the sponsors, Michel Barnier, Ana Palacio, Georgios Katiforis, Henning Christophersen and Olivier Duhamel, I want to thank all the teachers and organisers. I hope the event will bring you even closer on the issues that concern Europe and that it may help to put Europe's future on a sounder and surer footing.

So kiddies, even if you do not agree you should say so and we will ignore you and carry on intergrating anyway

posted by Eliab | 1:33 pm
 

Brussels Responds

Romano Prodi shows us exactly why the EU has got this whole crisis so hgorribly wrong.

"The onslaught of war has put paid to the international community's efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis within the United Nations" - Sadly of course the peaceful route would have been the wholehearted support of the French and other fellow travellers to show thart the free world meant business.

"The Commission is committed to delivering humanitarian aid quickly and effectively, under international auspices, where it is most needed". - Except that Chris Patten has already said that Europoe will not pick up the tab for reconstruction (Unless we get the juicy contracts)

Whatever the outcome of the war, there can be no denying this is a bad time for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, for the European Union as a whole, for the authority of the UN, for NATO, and for transatlantic relations. - Check out the priorities here. First and foremost of course is the future of a single foreign and defence policy - now that's what I call vital.

And it goes on, the disciples opf the Oportunities of a beneficial crisis look forward.

Europe can make an effective contribution to peace in the world only if its nations pull together within the European Union. We all agree that we owe our wealth and prosperity to the Union. It is not in our interest to continue relying on others when it comes to defending our values militarily. - So there you have it ços we cannot do anything, we must make sure that nobody can.

posted by Eliab | 1:25 pm


Wednesday, March 19, 2003  

And they really thought they would hear something interesting?

Fascinating story just up on the BBC.
"Electronic bugging devices have been found at offices used by French and German delegations at a European Union building in Brussels, officials have confirmed".

Of course everybody will blame the Americans and 'perfidious Albion', but hold on a moment, the Commission itself has its own internal security forces DG1(A) a small but shadowy organisation. There again all the cleaners in the building are North African, so maybe it's Al Queada, hmmm lets roll on 'the conspiracy theories,

posted by Eliab | 3:56 pm
 

This is what the Europeans think - Lord help us

The Greek presidency of the EU has on its sie a vote forum on EU policy to the Iraq crisis. Dammit, with these results if I didn't live here I would go into shame induced purdah.

Note the resultsd for these choice questions.

1. There are a number of different actors involved in the crisis on Iraq. Rate your general feeling about each on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being very favorable and 10 being very unfavorable.

Iraq - Very favourable 9.5 percent
Very unfavourable 22.1

USA - Very favourable 15.2 percent
Very unfavourable 54.4 percent

Uh!! I just cannot compute those figures, I try reason, prejudice, whatever I try anything that my life and training has prepared me for and I still don't get it. America - leave us, just forget about us and in 50 years consider recolonising us again. We do not deserve the freedom that you have earnt with your blood, Sorry but its time for you to let us rot.



5 Given what you know about the situation today, do you think an attack on Iraq is justified?
Yes - 6.7 percent
No - 97.3 percent

6. Do you believe that Iraq currently has biological or chemical weapons, or other weapons of mass destruction?

Yes - 54.4 percent
No - 28 percent

So he has them but we should do nothing about it.

8. Based on what you know now, which comes closest to your view? If there is a war with Iraq:
i. My country should join with the US and others and send troops - 3.5 percent
iv. My country should support Iraq - 2.3 percent
v. My country should use diplomatic means instead of military force - 82.4 percent

9. If a war happens, the 15 countries of the European Union will all be affected in some way. Which comes closest to your view?

iii. There needs to be a common EU policy that everyone agrees with, before any significant actions are taken - 75 percent

So there you have it, simply put the reason why America need never listen to Europe ever again. We think they are dangerous, we won't do anything about it, we should sit around discussing it and we should wait for Europe to come up with a joint policy that everybody here agrees with before we do anything anyway. (And how long would that be - about as long as a Commission communique on frozen peas)

I'm an Englishman, get me out of here.


posted by Eliab | 12:12 pm
 

More on Turkey's position

A very interesting post from Strategy Turk on the un-enviable position that that country faces.

Though the author carries through the canard about oil, he then flattens Germany and France.
GERMANY – €600 Million export to Iraq in 2001

As for Germany, Deutsche Telecom suffered losses of almost 24.7 billion Euros; various German banks such as Deutsche Bank also suffered huge losses. German companies well known for their machinery and engineering have been establishing contracts with Iraq after the first Gulf War in 1991. The executives of a German company DEGUSSA, sold centrifuge equipment, which could be used for civilian or nuclear weapons purposes to Iraq despite knowing it might be used for dangerous purposes. Experts have said that such centrifuge technology could help Iraq overcome its biggest challenge to building a bomb: obtaining weapon-grade fissile material. A former executive of DEGUSSA Michael Jansen stated, “By German laws and German standards, there were no illegal deliveries,”
Karl-Heinz Schaab, a German technician convicted of treason in 1999 for selling Iraq secret plans for building a centrifuge to enrich uranium to nuclear weapons grade. Schaab sold Iraq plans that he stole from the German company MAN. For that, he was convicted of high treason, fined a mere $32,000 and ordered to serve a suspended five-year sentence.


Finally he reluctantly concludes that Turkey's national interest rests with the allies.

posted by Eliab | 10:42 am


Tuesday, March 18, 2003  



The problem with Europes numbers.
Thanks to the daghtator and all the way fromAndrew Sullivan comes an article from Stratfor's George Friedman.


It may be true that a simple majority of Europe's nations would support the US,
Stratfor's George Friedman performs the revealing task of actually counting where European countries stand on war against Saddam. There are three categories: countries that explicitly support the U.S position; countries that support it but wanted a second resolution; and countries that oppose war against Saddam. In the first camp, we have the United Kingdom, Spain, Denmark, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Macedonia, Croatia, Portugal, Bosnia and Montenegro. In the second camp - supportive - we have
the Netherlands, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Slovakia - a bloc of five. But of these, The Netherlands sent Patriot missiles to Turkey before NATO approved the shipment, while the Czechs and Slovaks have sent chemical detection teams to Kuwait.
I'd put those five into the broadly positive column myself. That makes a total of 21 European countries in favor of war. Then we have the neutrals: Ireland, Austria, Finland, Serbia, Switzerland and Norway. And the opponents: France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden and Greece. Friedman therefore notes something that should be borne in mind when you hear NPR, the BBC and others tell you that "Europe" opposes the war. By an overwhelming majority of 21 countries to five, Europe backs war, with five countries neutral. And of those 21, you have the second and fourth largest economies, Britain and Italy, the two biggest emerging powers, Spain and Poland, and the entire former Eastern bloc. It would be a huge majority in the future EU. So why isn't the story that Germany and France are now isolated on the continent?


But sadly Europe operates under Qualified Majority Voting (QMV), or as currently for Foriegn and Security matters, unanimity. Thus yup, the French could veto any action by Europe as it has done at the UN. What is more under the plans for an European Constitution currently being drawn up, individual nations would have no right to act independantly either. q.v. the infamous Chirac insult to the countries of Eastern Europe.

In fact there are plans to introduce simple majority voting, sponsored by France and Germany, which would make things more interesting, but as the figure below argue that under such rules German and French forces woumld be today parked in the Kuwait sand I do not see the plans being persued.

First Figure Current weighting second From 2005
For

UK 10 29
Italy 10 29
Spain 8 27
Poland -- 27
Romania -- 14
Netherlands 6 13
Czech Republic -- 12
Hungary -- 12
Portugal 5 12
Bulgaria -- 10
Slovakia -- 7
Denmark 3 7
Lithuania -- 7
Latvia -- 4
Slovenia -- 4
Estonia -- 4




Against
Germany 10 29
France 10 29
Greece 5 12
Belgium 5 12
Luxembourg 2 4

Neutral
Finland 3 7
Austria 4 10
Ireland 4 10
Sweden 4 10
Total 87 345

Don't know
Malta -- 3
Cyprus -- 4

The Allis need 62 255
The Allies have 42 197

What is more they have this wonderful principle, called the principle of Loyal Co-operation, which ,means that you should not do what everybody else doesn't want you to do.

posted by Eliab | 6:53 pm
 

Turkey will fall into line

According to this post on the TurkishPress.com

Presidential Foreign Affairs Chief Adviser Tacan Ildem said
''during the meeting at the Cankaya Presidential Palace, a full consensus was reached that the government should take all measures to protect national interests of Turkey, and take steps immediately in line with its assessments under the recommendatory decision of the National Security Council (NSC) on January 31, 2003.''

Essentially they are looking at ways of overturning the previous decision not to allow US forces into Turkey, or to use Turkish airspace, air bases etc.

This happened after the Turkish Lira collapsed according to the FT; Interesting isn't it how oil prices went down and the stockmarkets of the US and UK went up on the announcement that the time for talking was over? Obviously the world economy doesn't follow the UN.

posted by Eliab | 1:04 pm


Monday, March 17, 2003  

Bye bye Cookster

Robin Cook
Shit is that one of ours or one of theirs?

The question remains if Robin Cook will still have the confidence ofthe European Party of Socialists of which his is President?

posted by Eliab | 6:21 pm
 

Will the truth about the Maastrict referendum come out - I doubt it

Thanks to The Radical for this. The trial of the leaders of Elf Aquitaine is opening in Paris, good, and about time too, but one aspect that will doubtless be quietly cold shouldered in the investigation is mentioned in the BBC report.

"and the alleged funnelling of funds via Elf to the then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl"

Cast your minds back to the Maastricht Referendum in France in 1992, and you feel like you are living withinthin the pages of Andrew Robert's Aachen Memorandum. The vote looked close, too close. Mitterand needed help, needed finance and was casting around in desperation. Mitterand announced his cancer a week before the vote to secure a sympathy ballot. Helmut Kohl, then the inassailable Chancellor gave him cash to help fund the referendum. In the end it was this cross party and cross national illegal funding that formed the case against Kohl, and the reason why he refused to testify.

This current trial will go into the quid pro quo - what did the French offer Germany in order to secure the funding that allowed the French yes vote to pass by less than 1 per cent? A difference of less than 500,000 votes, in a referendum where there were more than 1 million spoilt ballots.

posted by Eliab | 11:41 am
 

The First Casualty of War

For months the British contingent in the European Commission, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament have been polishing their boots, checking for halitosis and ironing their glad rags. On Wednesday Brussels was to play host to H.M. the Queen - fanfare, tabards and bugles.

However the powers that be at Buck House and N° 10, have decided "for security reasons" to cancel the trip.

I guess that they did not want the Head of State to be visiting a hostile nation at a time of war.

posted by Eliab | 11:13 am


Sunday, March 16, 2003  

This is why Kinnock must GO

Right this is going to be a very long post, and for that I apologise in advance. Below I am putting the entire letter from Jules Muis to Neil Kinnock. The contents of this letter and the circumstances surrounding it condemn Kinnock’s management style, judgement and suitability to do a job as important as Vice-President of the European Commission. Kinnock commissioned this report, then hid it , preferring to destroy the career of a woman who was merely doing her job.

I will first selectively quote from the letter and try and explain what I mean.

This is a prima facie professional-technical summary of observations on the accounting reform proposal by the Commission’s Accountant, dated 5th of April, 2002, addressed to Mr. Mingasson; as amended into an undated draft addressed to Ms Schreyer for Commission consideration. Note should be taken that the Commission’s Accountant tells us she has had no substantive co-operation/feedback from/within BUDG, including the Director-General, in preparing this note”.

Muis explains what is going on. Schreyer is the Budgets Commissioner and a German Green, employed merely because Schroeder wanted to throw a bone to Joshka Fischer his foreign secretary and coalition partner. Normal procedure for the big countries in the EU is that the opposition gets one Commissioner, to balance the one from the Government side (Kinnock – Labour, Patten –sort of Tory). BUDG is the internal designation for the Director General for Budgets.

...the Accountant’s note is (not) too clear about the depth of effort required.[I have been through it at the Worldbank]. It would also challenge the Iron Horse, called Sincom, on its versatility to cope with it all; and if we factor in its present reliability, I would speculate its functionality will fall far short of eventually identified needs”.

Sincom is the infamous accounting system in the Commission. Andreason had shown how it could be fraudulently tampered with.

The Commission lacks the necessary skill base, both in accounting and controls, as well as, I speculate, in project management for a project of this complexity and scale”.

The chief auditor does not believe the Commission is capable of financial reform!!

This briefing would not be complete without pointing out the circumstances under which the new Accountant is presently working, i.e. in a perceived intrinsically hostile work environment, where she has to get control over a department haunted by a profound lack of qualified staff, a host of vacancies/absentees in critical functions, an entrenched mindset and positions/ functions, a power ambience totally catered to the DG who himself has strongly opposed her appointment in the first place, an upset Commissioner who stopped being her main sponsor when she found out she has to work with an individual whose insistent questions are threatening the regular flow of funds and potentially causing embarrassment in the process to the appearance of a smooth functioning BUDG outfit; and an interested staff audience that looks back at the history of the Commission and put their money and support on the most likely winner of the arm twisting exercise; rather than asking themselves who is more right and what is in the better interest of the Commission.

No Commission(er) can let nature have its course without him/herself being seriously exposed, if the source of the controversy proves to be right in the type of questions she raises
”.

Quite, I couln’t put it better myself.

At this stage, her (Andreason’s) demise, if it were to come that far, would be a serious blow to Reform, sending a signal that the old ways of keeping things from happening still work; and put all professionals within the Commission on notice that ‘might makes right’, whatever one’s professional convictions/duties.

The substance of Ms Andreasen’s communications so far seem factually substantive and correct
”.

Remember Kinnock received this note the day before he destroyed her and announced her resignation – she had not in fact resigned. Shades of Stephen Byers.

Also, Guth refers to the importance of the addressees being ‘informed about the work already undertaken for the modernisation of accounts’ but does not mention that the work has been at a virtual standstill since the drafting of this report; and hence, that none of the suggested deadlines have been met. In fact the impression is that BUDG having drafted this June report lost total interest subsequently”,

Eckart Guth, head of Commissioner Schreyer's private office – Mr Budget.

The core problem is BUDG had no champion promoting the cause of improving accounting, to the contrary. I find it hard to accept we can blame the new Accountant not having been able to wrap her arms around this complex issue, with a homebase in a deep state of denial on the quality of the existing systems, embedded in a very top down managerial mono-culture, with a DG who only recently told the Audit Court he did not see the need for any accounting system at all. We should also not blame the Audit Court for not responding to this June note; if there is no serious audience”.

Nobody cares, nobody tries and if somebody does, it’s shoot the messanger time.

I apologise again for the length of this post but the seriousness of the case is such that ful disclosure rather than selective quotes seems to be the purpose of the sphere. The full letter is below.

posted by Eliab | 11:20 pm
 



Brussels, 21 May 2002
IAS/JM D(2002)

NOTE TO THE ATTENTION OF MR. J. LUCHNER
MEMBER OF KINNOCK CABINET



Subject: Proposal by accounting Officer for accounting reform


1. Professional-technical summary of observations

This is a prima facie professional-technical summary of observations on the accounting reform proposal by the Commission’s Accountant, dated 5th of April, 2002, addressed to Mr. Mingasson; as amended into an undated draft addressed to Ms Schreyer for Commission consideration. Note should be taken that the Commission’s Accountant tells us she has had no substantive co-operation/feedback from /within BUDG, including the Director-General, in preparing this note.

Her note is backed up by a draft BUDG internal study, dated June 2001, which underpins to different degrees the proposal of the Accountant. The two documents do not really conflict with one another, but note should be taken of the fact that The Accountant seems to put more emphasis on the need for powerful information systems (SAP/R3 based), in addition to strongly supporting a less cavalier language of accounting, or rather: to go for a paradigm shift in the Commission’s language of accounting towards full accrual accounting; as well as a pre-condition for introducing the controls features for any budget/accounting system, what ever the language of accounting adopted.

Hence it should be well understood that the proposals made are, inevitably, as much about controls and information strategy reform as addressing accounting reform.

To put it differently: even if the Commission were to decide to stick to the present language of budget accounting, vintage public sector in the 60’s, and not go for full accrual accounting, it would still have to address the lack of controls issues on its contingent assets and liabilities, i.e. relating to income and expenditures charged against/ credited to the budget under the prevailing traditional system, which probably have also already gone through the discharge procedures of past years, but having a contingent asset or liability nature till certain conditions have been met (audits, closure, payment of pensions etc); as well as address the ‘Sincom issue’.

Therefor, care should be taken that the issue of the need for Reform in the Commission’s Accounting System is not only seen as a need emanating from a more ambitious language of accounting; it is equally a due diligence/controls need in and of itself, predicated on the assumption that contingent assets and liabilities that go with a blunt budget accounting system as presently applied, require the same duty of care in identifying, audit trails and follow-up, even if the are off balance sheet! The reason they do not have that same duty of care at this juncture is because the (incentive system at the basis of the) current budget language, in combination with the current discharge system are not conducive to follow contingent assets and liabilities with the same rigor. Which is the controls dimension the Accountant, quite rightly in my view, seems to put so much emphasis on. In addition to the need for an data architecture/ strategic information management system that meets both the immediate information-technical controls needs as well as more ambitious accounting objectives.

If I compare both notes, i.e. the June 2001 document and Ms. Andreasen’s note on internal consistency, then I see no dramatic differences other than room for more clarity on the rationale/driving force of the Reform process, mentioned above; Ms Andreasen’s has a different audience an therefor is more condensed: and could have been structured a bit more clearly [ the price to be paid for isolation?]; I perceive more sense of urgency in Ms. Andreasen’s for getting the informational-technical platforms harmonized and up to snuff first; and a more realistic assessment of resource needs, but, intuitively, also her proposals too do not look realistic enough: her request for resources is probably a good start for a feasibility project, followed by a
strategic operationalized plan. But a project of this kind will be major multi-year effort, dramatically changing the data-architectural, information- strategic as well as accounting language of the Commission, enhance institutional transparency hence powerbases, requiring an institution wide mobilization of resources, have major governance and organisational behavioral consequences. Neither the June 2001 nor, to a lesser extent, the Accountant’s note is too clear about the depth of effort required.[I have been through it at the Worldbank]. It would also challenge the Iron Horse, called Sincom, on its versatility to cope with it all; and if we factor in its present reliability, I would speculate its functionality will fall far short of eventually identified needs.

Also, The Commission lacks the necessary skill base, both in accounting and controls, as well as, I speculate, in project management for a project of this complexity and scale. With the fragility of the present systems as they are, the need is to minimize the risks by the extant team [damage control focussed maintenance] and for a different team to work on the new design [innovation], with a probable need for parallel runs for some time.

Also, I think, the rush to judgement that SAP is going to e the answer is, for all practical purposes probably right, but it will take more orderly process, an evaluation team, to arrive at that conclusion responsibly. The same, but in the other sense, can be said to the June 2001 paper when the author seems to bet for a further development of SI2 (Action 11 point – page 17) apparently without a clear oversight of the whole systems framework.

I appreciate Ms. Andreasen has made a best guess effort on resources needed, insofar foreseeable, but that much of the project will have the nature of a discovery process, hence contingency planning is imperative. I therefor fully support her suggestion to outsource the out-sourcable, but would like to add that it would seem wise to me, in view of the many entrenched intra en inter-service diverging views and interests, to have the project management as a whole equally outsourced. With a partnership/hybrid formula for an implementational team. That should be done on a results agreement basis.

One should be careful to avoid this project being seen as totally Accounting and Accountants driven; because it is not; there are major self-propelling controls/information management issues that makes a project of this nature imperative. Ideally a designated CIO could take responsibility for the whole or a project directorate, along the lines of the Reform Task Force. Most importantly, one of the actors missing in the June 2001 BUDG paper is the controls/ internal CFS unit (BUDG.D3). It is as if CFS has to do with all DG Controls except for the central ones….

For the rest I refer to our own observations on the essential flaws in the accounting system per our letter of 25/03/2002.

2. WORKING ENVIRONMENT

This briefing would not be complete without pointing out the circumstances under which the new Accountant is presently working, i.e. in a perceived intrinsically hostile work environment, where she has to get control over a department haunted by a profound lack of qualified staff, a host of vacancies/absentees in critical functions, an entrenched mindset and positions/ functions, a power ambience totally catered to the DG who himself has strongly opposed her appointment in the first place, an upset Commissioner who stopped being her main sponsor when she found out she has to work with an individual whose insistent questions are threatening the regular flow of funds and potentially causing embarrassment in the process to the appearance of a smooth functioning BUDG outfit; and an interested staff audience that looks back at the history of the Commission and put their money and support on the most likely winner of the arm twisting exercise; rather than asking themselves who is more right and what is in the better interest of the Commission.

No Commission(er) can let nature have its course without him/herself being seriously exposed, if the source of the controversy proves to be right in the type of questions she raises. We do not know Ms Andersen’s managerial capabilities, but we are sure she is raising the right questions and in a very short period of time, despite alleged across the board stonewalling of her colleagues. We do not think her procedural lack of communicational finesse to be an element in this, and see the fact they happen as a possible index of the lack of support she has inside DG BUDG: no-one protecting her avant la lettre. At this stage, her demise, if it were to come that far, would be a serious blow to Reform, sending a signal that the old ways of keeping things from happening still work; and put all professionals within the Commission on notice that ‘might makes right’, whatever one’s professional convictions/duties.

The substance of Ms Andreasen’s communications so far seem factually substantive and correct. They are benign in comparison with the assurance statement assertions we have seen from the DG’s in the recent assurance statement exercise; indeed of DG BUDG itself, which seem to have been shaken out its state of denial by default rather than self-design. She has grasped the key issues at hand, despite her uphill initiation and familiarization phase and relative to a heavy year-end closing workload, very fast indeed. Her intervention/ views/wishes to have up front acknowledgement of the inherent risk environment of the Treasury Management function, has triggered major emotions, but professionally, in particular with the hands on observations/experience she now has with the department, is fully understandable. So far the professional report card; we have no idea whether she is a good manager but would warn for any premature conclusions until she had a real chance to manage.

I this context, Eckart Guth, through his note of May 14, 2002, distributed the June 2001 Accounting Reform document to various actors involved in the debate on the Accountant’s functioning, suggests this work had given the new Accountant a flying start to implement her marching orders. This report, which basically borrows most of its ideas from a the so-called Montesinos report commissioned a year earlier, is a good base document addressing the WHAT question in transitioning from a mixed attribute/modified cash & accrual system to a mature accounting system. But it is also not a realistic analyses identifying the importance of the HOW, the organizational, procedural, systemic and information-technological issues, which are imperative, and crucial to the success of the implementation of any accounting system. Suffice to refer to the fact that even under the present, totally inadequate accounting language system, BUDG felt it necessary- under IAS prodding- to acknowledge the weaknesses in the underlying information systems to get the present budget accounting right. Needless to add what it would involve not only to fix the system, but also to make it adaptable to a much more demanding accounting language.

We speculate this may in part be due to lack of professional- technical awareness of the importance of such interface; and/or the chronic state of denial, witness the strong opposition from BUDG through the APC chair in auditing Sincom at the beginning as well as the end of 2001.

Also, Guth refers to the importance of the addressees being ‘informed about the work already undertaken for the modernisation of accounts’ but does not mention that the work has been at a virtual standstill since the drafting of this report; and hence, that none of the suggested deadlines have been met. In fact the impression is that BUDG having drafted this June report lost total interest subsequently, did not share it with the IAS team that was looking into accounting systems summer 2001; and despite promises to the contrary choose to totally ignore informal- but strong – recommandations by the IAS in 2001 to take any suggestion in the Commission’s standards- in particular prudence- out of its public statements. Which would have been a very easy, effective fix, avoiding external embarrassment, or worse, of the Commissions gross overstatement of its present state of accounting.

The core problem is BUDG had no champion promoting the cause of improving accounting, to the contrary. I find it hard to accept we can blame the new Accountant not having been able to wrap her arms around this complex issue, with a homebase in a deep state of denial on the quality of the existing systems, embedded in a very top down managerial mono-culture, with a DG who only recently told the Audit Court he did not see the need for any accounting system at all. We should also not blame the Audit Court for not responding to this June note; if there is no serious audience.


3. CONCLUSIONS

My suggestions would be for Neil to:

(1) Ask for a revised proposal segmenting more clearly the work to be done with- and without - changing the accounting framework, i.e. for controls/information management purposes on the one hand[this will make more clear the deficiencies in the system as it is; as an absolute minimum to fix]; and for purposes of a modernized language of accounting on the other. This proposal should come from the DG BUDG!

(2) Ask for a revised proposal that includes the role and contribution required by the Commission services as a whole, i.e. with participation of the RUF community; and the governance system of this Reform project. And that clearly answers the governance question.

(3) Ask for a clear, realistic timeline, properly contingency planned, clarifying the involvement/ resource commitment of the different actors; and the deliverables that go with it.

(4) Before decisions are being taken, ask to have a special controls (self) assessment done by the Sincom community, users and producers, on the present functionality of Sincom and its resourcefulness to deal with the old as well as new challenges inherent to a more ambitious accounting system; and solutions to the problems {the burning platform phase}. So that the opinion of the information Community is known (but not necessarily followed. Have this self-assessment independently reviewed by outside consultants; or let outside consultants run the self assessment exercise.

(5) Suggest that, given the fragility of the present systems the Accountant not be distracted too much, but to make sure the extant fragile systems works as good as possible; and come up with a special interim plan to that effect.

(6) Instruct the accountant, moving forward, to take the most dangerous sting out of our financial statements, i.e. that they approximate compliance with international standards, and have been prepared conform the prudence principle. That will take at least the false pretence out of Commission statements of its financial accountability. The IAS proposed this a year ago.

(7) And for the Accountant to be supported by external consultants in this blueprint phase on all matters referred to above; and to express a preference to have implementational project management as a whole, outsourced, on a partnership bases.

(8) The idea that the IAS should become the auditors of the opening balances, will simply not be doable and turn us into de facto compliance controllers. This is the job of the RUF Community and CFS…..

(9) Finally, the Commission should realize if it entails on a project like this, it engages in a multi-annual program, going to the heart of institutional transparency by introducing one language of business/ data/strategic informational architecture, probably ‘busting’ the home grown, each for himself, DG driven information management culture. It should only do so, if it has a Commissioner who is willing to own such change program; who has the stamina and spine to take a lot of shit; and see it through consistently. Therefor it is so important to first let the RUF Community itself come to its own conclusions a) that the present free for all language is untenable {the assurance statement exercise has already done the groundwork); that SAP is probably the only sound option (but go through a due diligence procedure)
Copies: IAS management team Jules Muis

posted by Eliab | 11:18 pm


Saturday, March 15, 2003  

Clarity from Belgian Socialist shocker

Elio di Rupo, who glories under a welter of jobs has sent out a message to all of us lucky to lve in the Walloon section of Brussels. In it this "Ministre d'Etat" tells us the following - please excuse my bad translation.


"These last weeks, the international situation has monopolized our attention. It is true that the war is worst choice. Our parents and our grandparents underwent the horrible experiment".

True, it has. Yes it is nasty, no it is not the worst choice. As mayor of Mons the earth beneath his feet cries out about the horrors of war, and the sacrifices needed to defend civilisation.

"Since more than one half-century, thanks to European construction, in Belgium we live in peace. It is essential to live in dignity. However, though precious peace does not resolve all problems".

Like all true euro-believers peace in Europe is solely a factor of the EU. What happemed before the founding of the European Iron and Steel federation is of little import, still less the prescence on the Continent of large numbers of men in green from the US and the UK, oh and that whole NATO thing. Nope as he says "thanks to European construction, in Belgium we live in peace". It is true though that peace does not solve all problems.

"As, I believe that it is my responsibility as the Belgian Walloon Socilist Party to tell you about great inequality. The socilist model of society associates economic development and strong protection from social risk to be necessary"

He then goes on to claim that the Flemish are trying to destroy the welfare state. Bully for the Flemish I say. If they can bring down the tax take, wind down the huge level of corruption that goes with such an overweening social security system and generally encourage all to rely upon themselves a bit more then all who live here would be in a better place, French speakers included.

Oh, one of Mr Di Rupo's other jobs - Vice president of the Socialist International. Nuff said.

posted by Eliab | 2:30 pm
 

Probably the finest bunfight in the World

When in doubt call a summit. Europe seems to be succumbing to summit frenzy. Over the past 24 hours two EU summits have been called - not including the US/UK/Spain cahtlet in the Azores, which will do wonders for the politicians air miles and drive the hard pressed Euro press corps to distraction.

Do we go to the Luxembourgois boondoggle about the European Constitution, or will the UK called summit on EU anti-Americanism be more fun. Well if you like badly timed insults the latter has got to be a winner.

Who will ChIraq piss off next? Take your pick.
Is Schroeders mini me conversions to diluted Thatcherism enough of a bone to deflect feed his own increasingly keen militarists?
Will anybody remember the Belgian's name?

posted by Eliab | 1:11 pm


Friday, March 14, 2003  

By the pricking of my thumbs

Very worrying stuff blowing out of Denmark via Dilacerator, but sadly not only there.

This carrying on is getting more and more widespread throuout Europe. The rabbit in the headlights approach to the subject from our so called leaders is pusillanimous in the extreme. Do they really think that acting against this intolerance would itself be intolerant? I am all in favour of being broadminded, but accepting such evil maunderings from those whom we give shelter and succour is being so broadminded that I fear that our brains have dropped out.

posted by Eliab | 3:08 pm
 

Belay that order

Following the German military theme. The Luftwaffe has been accused of war crimes, no not for bombing Coventry or anything like that.

In a test case 35 victims are sueing the German government for a bombing raid on the Yugoslav town of Varvarin on 30 May 1999. 10 people were killed and scores injured. The case is that they were operating under NATO auspices - but without UN backing - when the town was hit.The ramifications of this case could be extraodinary if and when the allies tonk Saddam.



posted by Eliab | 12:19 pm
 

All hail the Wehrmacht, I mean the Bundeswehr

Former CDU German Defence Minister and current Professor of Law at Munich University Rupert Scholz, is the latest senior German to attempt to break that countries self imposed military/constitutional straightjacket.

Yesterday he made the statement that the current German rules were "not sufficient". In his view The right to launch preventative military strikes is now unaviodable. He has poured scorn on the self-defence only approach that has governed German military doctrine since the war and interestingly has claimed the right of "preventative" strike is in itself self defence, thus neatly dancing around UN rules governing such things. In this he has the support of the CDU/CSU opposition. Looking at the recent Lande election results in Nord Rhine Westphalia and elsewhere, we could well be seeing the birth of a Germany that is not merely economically agressive but militarily assertive.

This stance is backed up by recent comments by the SPD defence minister announcing that German forces must be able to operate at short notice anywhere in the world and the head of their armed forces also stating that preventative wars should be possible.

posted by Eliab | 12:10 pm


Thursday, March 13, 2003  

There have been developments on the corrupt MEP, and he's not French, more soon

posted by Eliab | 1:20 pm
 

Doing things by halves

Boy oh boy, it's fun to be a villain in France. Today's Telegraph reports on yet another prison breakout near Paris.
France's most notorious bank robber was sprung from jail yesterday in a raid by 10 members of his gang armed with machineguns, explosives and a bazooka.

The gang scaled a perimeter fence, shot at watchtowers, fired a bazooka shell at a main door and blew up another door to reach a building holding Antonio Ferrara.


Way to go, if only the French political elite showed the same gumption and determination as their criminal elite the world would be a safer place. Hysterically this is not the first time that Antonio Ferrara has been sprung from jug. What is more the authorities might have worked out something like this was going to happen, only a week ago his best chum and "les plus importants du banditisme français" also broke out of prison, this time in Corsica with the assistance of another bazooka according to this report in Le Monde.

Thinking about it, are villains in France better armed than their army?

posted by Eliab | 10:28 am


Wednesday, March 12, 2003  

Law without the sword is only a word and morality without will is a hollow dream.

Execellent article by Yves Roucaute in La Monde on the 8th, translated by the boys over at Winds of Change. I wish could write like that.

posted by Eliab | 1:39 pm
 

Slovaks not to be trusted to bribe their own people effectively

Telling story over on EU Observer.

It seems that the propaganda offensive launched by the Slovaks just isn't good enough so the EU is going to do it for them. The Commissions gauletier in Bratislava, one Onno Simons is quoted as saying "The Slovak government just took some old logo, there is no slogan, there are no regional activities, there is not even an information centre. No contracts with PR-companies have been signed yet and people in the administration don’t know what tendering is."

Could it be that the Slovaks are not that keen on joining up with the economically and morally moribund EU? NO that though would never cross their minds, could it, would it?

posted by Eliab | 11:06 am
 

Was Marta Martyrd?

I note that last years big Commission baiting session, which featured the ludicrous spectacle of Niel Kinnock gallantly shielding the frighteningly incompetant Budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer from her department's dreadful showing. A quick reprise. Andreason the Agentinian born former Chief Accountant of the OECD was brought to the Commission to cast a fresh pair of eyes over the infamous mess that is the EU's accounting. She did precisely what she was asked and pointed out that things were, as suspected a mess. So far so clear. Problem is that Schreyer ignored her.

Kinnock as Vice-President of the Commission and the bloke that they - lord help us - put in charge of reform (a buzz word meaning that something can be kicked into the long grass) did some secretive checking of his own. He commissioned a further report secretly from a bloke called Jules Muis, to see what was going on. Muis is the internal auditing officer. A this point it gets a bit complicated. Muis presented his report to Pillock's office on the 21st May last year. This important because the college of Commissioners were meeting the next day todiscuss the Andreason allegations. (She had got fed up with the Commission stonewallng her report and had leaked some of its findings to the Press).

So before the meeting Kinnock had his privately commissioned report which was a belter. The Commission's accounting system was "vintage public sector in the 60's." The accounts department was "haunted by a profound lack of qualified staff, a host of vacancies/absentees in crucial functions an entrenched mindset." According to a report in the FT there was "a homebase in a deep state of denial on the quality of the existing systems, embedded in a very top-down managerial mono-culture, with a DG who only recently told the audit court he did not see the need for any accounting system at all". What was truly devastating about the report was that it backed Andreason to the hilt, saying that her alleagtions - that the Accounting system was liable to fraud - were "factually substantive and correct" and that she was "raising the right questions."

Kinnock neglected to mention to his fellow Commissioners that he had in his possesion complete confirmation of Andreason's allegations and pressed the Commission into suspending Andreason. She was chased to Brussels airport by Commission security abd handed her resignation papers at the check oyut desk. Papers which she refused to take. The problem was of course that Pillock had informed the world that she was going to resign, without asking her first. This aspect of the case was followed up in The Sprout in September.

On Monday Kinnock claimed that he had done nothing wrong, the Muis report was merely a private note - so private that he could not tell his colleagues about it. We are talking about the chief auditor supporting the chief accountabnt here and Pillock denies that the letter was a substantive issue to be brought up in a discussion. What complete and utter tripe. Andreason pointed out some obvious facts. Kinnock shot the messanger, the Commission did what it always does, and yet again the accounts of the EU - and we are talking €98bn ($108bn, £68bn) here, will be rejected. AND NOTHING HAPPENS!!

If this was Enron heads would roll, but it's taxpayers money so nobody gives a damn.

Best of all in a letter to MEPs handed out on Monday Pillock referred to Mrs Muis, Jules Muis is a man.

posted by Eliab | 11:00 am


Tuesday, March 11, 2003  


urg

posted by Eliab | 3:46 pm


Monday, March 10, 2003  

Irish Freeloaders renounce Neutrality
Fascinating little snippet in todays news. Despite the great outblowings during the Irish Nice II referendum campaign that Ireland's much valued neutrality would be secure it seems that they have entered a military alliance of sorts with the UK.

How else could one read the announcement by Michael Smith the Irish Defence Minister that The RAF is requested to protect Irish air space in the event of attack. Ireland's defense relationship with Britain seems to a mini mirror of Westen Europe's approach to the US.
Well begorrah, we won't spend any of our hard taxed Euros on defence, because you big fella will defend us. Then we can go around shouting from the moral high ground and denounce you as militarists.

Damn it, why should Britain provide air cover to the Irish? The historical links with neutral Ireland's despicable behavior during the 40s is hard not to notice. (I do not include the many thousands of Irish volunteers who joined to fight the Nazi's just the repugnant de Valera regieme.

posted by Eliab | 5:29 pm


Sunday, March 09, 2003  

Hold on there
Is Blix witholding information for any serious purpose?

This piece of news buried deep in an article in today's Sunday Telegraph should put peoples doubts to rest, but I somehow doubt that anybody who needs to listen is in fact listening. But why did neither the US and the Brits use it in their sterling performance at the UN last week? Is it because it was not trailed and they were unaware. I cannot believe that Blix himself was unaware. The Iraquis may be breaking more than toothpicks but they seem to be making more than spears.

"The potential threat to Allied troops increased yesterday when it was revealed that Iraq has secretly built a new and potentially lethal unmanned drone that could rain down chemical and biological weapons on advancing forces.

The revelation was buried deep in the latest 173-page report from United Nations weapons inspectors, declassified only late on Friday"

posted by Eliab | 3:33 pm
 

Strabo Swift makes it to the Guardian

It seems that our erstwhile anarcho-sceptic poetry collective, see below 3rd March, achieved a small amount of fame from Ian Black in the Guardian. What is interesting about Blacks piece is that it seems supportive of what it describes Swift's "sceptical note, nicely caught in his final couplet: "The trouble with Europe, I'm sure you'll agree/Is everyone takes it too seriously"." Though this being the Guardian he seemed more interested in the gender of our hoaxer.

posted by Eliab | 3:11 pm
 

Reference to the post on the 5th about pillar boxes, the Telegraph carried the story, well some of it on saturday. It seems that they did not aske the right question to bolster a wholesome Euro myth, but I am sure if somebody just asked the opprtunity to wallow would arrive.

posted by Eliab | 2:30 pm


Thursday, March 06, 2003  

Well it seems I am getting the hang of all this stuff, tags and whatever. Next message will be from Scotland, Glasgow home of the ... well home of the Jags for one.

posted by Eliab | 11:30 am


Wednesday, March 05, 2003  

Pillar boxes to go the same way as routemasters

Sounds like the start of a Euro myth brewing. Noises reach my ears that the pillar box may find itself derelict due to a EU directive for the partially sighted. In much the same way as the routemaster's day are numbered due to the danger of passengers falling off, and speaking as a former London bus conductor, yup people did fall of at times, but generally stupid people, the pillar box is falling foul of regulations to help the partially sighted. When somebody in Yorkshire noticed that the postage times had been removed from their local box he complained to the Royal Mail. The answer given was the little box for text was too small acccording to EU rules governing public font sizes. Thus rather than providing a service useable by 90 percent of the population they must remove all text; The problem is that old with the old pillar boxes the area for text is part of the original cast iron whole. Therefore the post office is considering removing them in order to comply.

Not sure of the veracity of this one but the scource is normally reliable

posted by Eliab | 6:32 pm


Tuesday, March 04, 2003  

Somebody is in trouble in the European Parliament - and this time they're French

And I quote (Ok I translate badly from the original French) from a discussion note in the Bureau of the Parliament (It's governing body)on the 27th Feb.

"The Bureau, held in camera after an intervention by the President (Pat Cox)

- Calls on the secretary general to work out the exact debt of the parliamentarian.

- Calls on the Secretary General to find out how the member plans to pay it back

- Calls on the Parliament's legal service to produce some work on the modalities of allowing the European Parliament to carry through civil procedings in the French courts".


Well there are 87 French MEPs, and as I was told by a French functionary, "Two French members are cleaner than clean, three are too stupid to work out how to do it, so that narrows the field to 82 suspects".

So that makes it clear as mud. What I guess will happen is what always happens over here, somebody will be charged, no newspaper - particularly no French newspaper will cover it and that will be the end of that.

posted by Eliab | 5:13 pm
 

Further Euro amusements
This is absolutely true Some prize charlie who will remain nameless has hoaxed the European Convention. Claiming to be "a postmodernist collective of angstist
artists which coalesced to communitarise their transposed concerns on the tryptichs of
neo-liberal society, including the idols and ideology of the morphed Treaty of Rome".

I predict a serious sense of humour failure when the powers that be discover what has happened here

posted by Eliab | 4:01 pm
 


One fine quote from the official version of the speech made by Prodi mentioned below,
"On the other hand, the role given to the future President of the European Council and the EU Foreign Minister might help the Union to have a stronger voice in the field of common foreign and security policy". Now I know that everybody is aware of the general design of the EU foriegn policy and its desires, but the bald directness of this and the unhidden ambition to neuter individual nations is not often beaten.

posted by Eliab | 3:52 pm
 

Bush has Freudian complex with Saddam
Out of the mouths of....

I have just had a chat with somebody who went to a panjandrum dinner in Brussels on the 28th Jan. The President of all the Europes, Romano Prodi, was the keynote speaker.
The event was a celebration of the 'Brussels Alumni Chapter' of the European University Institute.

It is one of those times when one looks at the speach as presented to the press and note carefully the comment, "Check delivery".

Here is the speech, all about the constitution and how the Commission and its Penelope paper has got it all right. (Pretty Scary in itself, more comment to come). However according to my scource the speech delivered was barely recognisable, but instead was a impassioned Euro-crowd pleaser which sat firrmly in the "Old Europe". The crescendo was the headline Bush has Freudian complex with Saddam.

My scource, a graduate of the Euro seminary himself and a staunch federast was stunned.

posted by Eliab | 3:32 pm
«expat express»

«#Blogging Brits?»

Blogroll Me!Listed on BlogShares
archives
Stuff read while sitting
EU Observer
The Sprout
The Spectator
The Telegraph
Tech Central Station Europe
Centre for the New Europe