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***EU Energy Green Paper Consultation

by afew Fri Aug 4th, 2006 at 03:28:52 AM EST

Update [2006-8-2 8:18:37 by afew]: If your native language is not English, please compare the questionnaire in your language with the English one and give us your appreciation of the quality of the translation. Thanks!

European Union citizens are to be given a greater say in matters pertaining to the environment, we have recently been informed. That's a good thing, because there's a Green Paper on Energy that we're invited to join in a public consultation on. And the Green Paper (see Jerome a Paris's take on it), has this to say by way of encouragement:

The Spring European Council and the European Parliament are invited to react to this Paper, which should also spark a wide-ranging public debate (p 4),

or again, (p 19) :

The Community needs a real Community-wide debate on the different energy sources, including costs and contributions to climate change...

Ready for the wide-ranging public debate we're being invited to participate in? The English-language consultation is here. A questionnaire. With click-in multiple-answer questions. A sort of online poll.

You said wide-ranging public debate?

Well, perhaps it's a good questionnaire. Let's see.

Promoted by Colman


All the questions are optional, with the exception of Your Profile (citizen or organisation/stakeholder), and your perception of the questionnaire (at the end). Most questions accept multiple answers. They also offer the choice OTHER , which opens a text window for you to type in your other response to the question. There are eight sections, and each of them has a text window at the end for you to add any other comments you may wish to make.

Theoretically, then, you could ignore the preset answers and paste in your own text.

Except that you still have to follow their section headings and answer their questions. And their section headings and questions are hardly neutral. As Jérôme pointed out in the above-referenced diary, the Green Paper makes a number of unargued, unsubstantiated claims. These claims give the questionnaire its structure. They remain unexamined. They are no longer claims, they have become axioms that form the basis of leading questions.

This is how the questionnaire begins:

You thought we might begin with some questions of a general order concerning energy issues, major issues for today like rising demand in times of Peak Oil, GHG emissions and climate change? Silly you. You get Section A, and it says competitiveness and market. In other words, liberalisation is the priority you're going to answer questions about.

And you're not even asked open questions. You're given choices that have to line up with the criterion of furthering a genuine single market. So, if you check the second response, Reinforced powers and independence of national regulatory authorities, that's not going to further the single market, is it, dummy? Choose something else! Doesn't matter what, as long as it's in line with the stated dogma...

Note that the third response leads directly to the following question. You could almost do a flow chart where the right response moves on to a subsidiary question. Disclaimer: I'm not against a European grid and the drafting of a code to regulate it. But is there really any reason not to check all the boxes in Question 2? Aren't we being asked, in fact, to ratify the choices expressed in the question?

Like, in order to bring back cruel and unusual punishments, what methods should be instated:

a) the cat,
b) the rack,
c) the rope,
d) the stocks?

So stop complaining and click on OTHER. Type Les punitions cruelles et inhabituelles sont interdites... STOP! Write that in English if you want your opinion taken into account (see end of diary).

Two more questions in Section A:

Again, in (3), a pre-supposed right thing to do is infiltrated into the question, not offered as a choice. The assumption the market favours long-term infrastructure investment becomes a given (which it is not). The idea of public investment is barely invoked in the weak Increase the share of EU financial support.

(4) Reasonable prices? What does that mean? If we have a free market, the market sets prices, and the market is right. What's this "reasonable"? Is someone trying to tweak the market in their favour? Would that be those who want the first response, Establish integrated and competitive electricity and gas markets, in other words, free and competitive markets that have been integrated by legislative force? Hmm. Note that all the other answers (whatever their merits) can be lumped together with one of those right answers that leads to a subsidiary, Diversify the energy mix. (See Section C).

How does a market maintain employment levels? Is that its job? In fact, this question is linking market to growth to jobs. In particular by the skewed first response, that claims markets guarantee low prices, (which they only do in marketistas' dreams), and the third, attracting investments, and that these two cause growth & jobs.

(For Trans European Energy Networks, see Green Paper p 16, also here and here).

The next section is entitled Solidarity. It's about short-term energy crises. What, you mean it's not about solidarity? Of course it is, use your brains: why else would they have put it under that heading? Oh, all right then -- it's about facing the long-term energy crisis together? No, I said short-term. There's no long-term energy crisis in this questionnaire, not even as a question. Why don't you listen?

Funny how this question doesn't carry a leading assumption. Perhaps some waffle about the market would have been embarrassing here, because what's on offer ain't very market-based. Couldn't we have had a response like: Let the market take care of energy crises? No?

Cut to the chase: this one is all about legislating to enforce low-priced gas sales from the continent to an off-lying country that had its own gas supply until recently and has not made the necessary arrangements for the follow-on. Yes, EU legislation on gas stocks to ensure solidarity among Member States, that's it. Would the off-lyers be the ones worried about not getting "reasonable" prices? Could be.

What is it about this use of old power words of the left like solidarity in a mix with market fundie belief, along with a readiness to get one's way by naked bullying (preferably), that reminds me of New Labour? I don't know. Isn't there a New Laboury streak running through this questionnaire? Don't ask me.

Now we can look at what was an option in A.4, but is now a whole section:

Apart from nuclear (not mentioned in 4), efficiency, decreased imports ( more indigenous), and renewables have come along with energy mix. They had to do a Section on it because it's a heading in the GP. Note that it came in second position in the GP, after Competitiveness, and followed by Solidarity. Why did they change the order from the GP order? (This is the only case).

This is getting long. On to D.

Note the three objectives here (we'll see them again at the end of the questionnaire). We are not asked our opinion on them, or to classify them by order of importance. So, while thinking of climate change, we have to keep in mind the need for competitiveness.

Can anyone tell me why efficiency and renewables is not the same as energy technology, and does anyone have an idea about the policies needed to encourage change? And why this section does not contain an option on demand reduction? Why the words demand reduction are nowhere to be seen in this questionnaire?

Apparently doing lots of new things is the way to go here. Not worth a long discussion. (<whisper> : External policy = how to get round Russia).

And at last:

Well, I do agree with the idea of developing a new, common European energy strategy. But I'd like to have been asked about it from the start. Just as I'd like to have been asked my opinion -- right at the beginning -- on the three core elements of an EU policy that the questionnaire lays down as given in D.9.

Question 18 is a final jab. Not do you think attention to energy is necessary in the face of a major, long-term crisis, but is it going to help the Lisbon process? Just about sums the whole thing up.

Last but not least

This is what it says just above the IDENTIFICATION section at the beginning of the questionnaire:

Please note that replying in English will facilitate our analysis of your answers.

melo said he'd had difficulty downloading an Italian version of the form, so I checked that out. I was able to dl all the different languages with no problems. However, all of them (each in its own tongue) says the same thing: English please.

To be clear: the headings, questions, and options are translated. Clicks in boxes will be read by computer in the same way whatever the language. But if you want to add anything in a text box, better make it English if you want the EU -- that's the European Union of 25 countries and 20 official languages -- to be able to make sense of it. Looks to me like discrimination on linguistic grounds. To say the least, it is rejecting the principle of equality of the 20 official languages.

And it's another reason for finding that this questionnaire is not interested in provoking a true debate or listening to citizens' points of view. Are they going to tell us seriously that major energy lobbies are going to sit down and fill this thing in, that those lobbies don't have other and hugely better access to the Commission's ear?

Display:
yet again, me duck.

BTW Had some guests from LA recently for dinner - one girl was originally from Leicester!! The Foxy Diaspora

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 01:30:05 PM EST
Quorn? Fernie?

Used ter go on me pushbike, duck.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 03:15:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's it: I'm done. I will now dedicate the rest of my life to sitting in a corner rocking backwards and forwards slightly gibbering.

I've emailed them and asked what other channels are available.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 01:43:55 PM EST
Who is the commissioner in charge of this fiasco?

This is enough to turn the most staunch europtimist [yours truly] into a raving lunatic eurosceptic. I'm going to apply for membership in the UKIP.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 01:46:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 01:57:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Doesn't look like a bad statement to me.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 02:01:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The GP and its accompanying documents are not all to be thrown out. Quote from Jérôme's diary: "...a strange mix of good statistics, reality-based thinking, political bromides, freemarketista ideology, and wishful thinking."

But whoever got their slimy hands on the public consultation need clearing out fast.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 04:30:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for the run-down.

They aren't asking for a dialouge here. This is just a show-off that they've indeed managed to think of something though it seems they don't have a clue themselves of how to connect the dots.

by high5 (high5104@gmail.com) on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 02:19:28 PM EST
Truly excellent work, afew. Thanks!!

Now...I will re-read it 2-3 times to understnad what they are asking...then...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 03:43:17 PM EST
I could get outraged, but I didn't expect any better from this bunch.

What about emailing a propped-up version of afew's analysis to Piebalgs, in the name of ET? (Maybe with the name of Jérôme, to give some prominence?) The deadline is 24 September, maybe -- just maybe - we could get a hearing.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 03:47:03 PM EST
I was thinking the same.

We should totally bypass the consultation process. Let's draft an energy policy along the lines of Energize America and mail a hardcopy of it to Piebalgs directly.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 05:35:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd say ride both rails. If more people bother them with annoyed and 'annoying' comments in that feedback, something might happen. (On the other hand, EuroTrib is too small for a mass effect...)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 05:59:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Send this diary.
If anything.. I want my name on the bottom of it.. I can provide it..better of course udner the ET label...
please...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 05:58:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yup, send a copy of this diary to Piebalgs and Wallström. Piebalgs because this is being done in his name. Wallström because she's in charge of the EU's communication strategy.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 06:04:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not entirely sure that this diary is the most constructive thing we could send them! While it's a great diary the tone is guaranteed to get them on the defensive immediately, which seldom achieves anything.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 06:07:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I note that no member of the Commissioner's cabinet has public consultation among their responsibilities ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 06:14:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, so whose responsibility is it?

The public consultations are devastating for the EU's communication policy, really, so Wallstrom should care.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 06:16:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right, a different text accompanying the pictures is necessary.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 06:16:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would not change it very change. Take out the abbrasive but leave the angry. They should notice that we are angry. Add maybe the policy statement that we wrote down to identify us.

This is all the hop we have.. the pople that worry about this stuff on this sid eof the ideology are angry.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 08:16:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would suggest that someone draft a suitable letter to the Commissioner, e-mail it him, cc'ed to Wallstrom and perhaps Mr. Bonifacio Garcia Porras and the Deputy and Head of his cabinet, with a copy faxed to one of the above. Then a phone-call tomorrow to follow up.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 06:22:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In my (limited) experience it is unlikely that e-mails will actually get through to them: I've tried and they have ended up in spam boxes. Phone follow-up seems to be required, at least with the one MEP I've dealt with.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 06:27:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is PDF and printers, and postage stamps.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 06:31:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's possible too. Fax just seemed more likely!
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 06:42:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a diary meant to inform and spark discussion here on ET -- leading us to take up a position on this Consultation procedure which we could then express in a text we could send to Piebalgs and Wallström.

I don't think the diary itself is appropriate for this purpose, and I'd rather it were not used in this way.

But thanks for the endorsement, kcurie ;)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 07:13:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are right on the abbrasive part.. the part where you make fun of them.. but the angry part.. I think it should remain if we make the movement to send something similar (which I would).

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 08:18:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Last weekend , I was reading parts of Global Responses to Global Threats:
Sustainable Security for the 21st Century;
a report by the Oxford Research Group from june 2006.

Current security policies assume international terrorism to be the greatest threat to global security, and attempt to maintain the status quo and control insecurity through the projection of military force. The authors argue that the failure of this approach has been clearly demonstrated during the last five years of the 'war on terror' and it is distracting governments from the real threats that humanity faces.

Unless urgent action is taken within the next five to ten years, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to avoid a highly unstable global system by the middle years of the century.

In their report they point to four important factors:

1-  Climate Change
2-  Competition Over Resources
3-  Marginalisation of the Majority World
4-  Global Militarisation

Whith some conclusions of this report still fresh in my head I only can find this Green Paper Consultation laughable. The people making this consultation are intoxicated by de CO2 polluted air of Brussels, smoking some wierd stuff or trying to smuggle in the interests of the most pushing lobby-group.

As high5 wrote in his comment "...it seems they don't have a clue themselves of how to connect the dots" I would add they even can't find a few important dots to connect.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 03:54:43 PM EST
Yes, I don't think they really see too many dots. And I get the feeling there's a fair amount of confusion. With Blairite types getting the the final cut, the last word -- which is blithering nonsense about markets.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 04:22:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The tragedy is that I can't think of any other leader in Europe beyond Zapatero who makes a stand significantly different from the Bliarite line on energy.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 05:16:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kcurie and I were talking about writing to Zapatero about Spain's transportation and energy policy. That is a project for September/October.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 05:36:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I filled out the questionnaire myself (I posted it here). While doing so, I thought some questions may be interpreted differently from how you did.

I think question 6 is about another potential gas cutoff by Russia, and possibly the fears of Poland and the Baltics, not Britain. Britain has a long-term, not a "shorter-term emergency" problem.

Regarding question 9, now I might not know well the nuances of the English language, but to me it reads as if "balance between" means how much weight one wants to give each, which in my mind includes giving one a value of zero. Regarding demand reduction, I think it does appear with a different wording in question 7.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 05:13:04 PM EST
Dang, I forgot to give an email addy in the questionnaire... quite some consultation.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 05:17:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Short-term-emergency I interpret as protecting people from temporary market disruptions.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 05:37:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Each of us is free to do as s/he thinks fit. Personally, I think this is not only a badly-framed and manipulative questionnaire, but that it should not even serve as a general model for how to consult EU citizens and stakeholders. For that reason, I won't be filling it in as an individual citizen, but I hope we'll get together some kind of collective protest document.

As to Q.6, of course other emergencies may be considered. However, as Jérôme has pointed out a number of times, there is strong British pressure on the point of solving UK gas supply problems (which are due to lack of foresight) by means of regulation obliging other MSs to hand over their stocks. My feeling is that the question has been influenced by the British agenda, that the Commission appears to have adopted as likely policy. (It's in the GP, pp.8-9).

The UK's problem is long-term if you look at it in the long term. When UK gas prices spike in winter and they want the neighbours to send over gas from their stocks, it's a short-term problem. And it's particularly teeth-grinding when the country that just does not stop giving us all lessons in free-market ideology is the first to call for legislative constraint when it suits it.

Btw, see Nick Oz's comment on UK gas supply mismanagement.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 02:07:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't choose not to fill out the questionnaire: I recoiled in horror after Q2. I commend you for your courage and stamina which you demonstrated here going well beyond the call of duty.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 02:14:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My intention was to clear the darn thing out of our way. If the Commission will only accept participation in the Consultation by means of this poll-cum-plebiscite, then we skip the Consultation and tell the Commission why. Imho.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 02:24:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But in my opinion, that would only serve them as they wished. If they only accept participation by means of this poll-cum-plebiscite, let's 'mis-use' it to annoy them with protestations. If we don't, they'll only get the answers playing by their rules. I still hold both tracks should be ridden on.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 07:18:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If they tell us the "poll" is the only way, then let's by all means use it as you say.

We have until 24 September to do that. First we could pool together our objections to the method and the manner of this Consultation.

I'd like some help with other languages: I think the French questionnaire is badly translated, and I'd like to know what the other translations are like.

Could you (and anyone else) take a look at the version in their language or a language they're proficient in?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 07:32:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, I'll do a rundown once I get home (sometime after 17h CEST).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 08:00:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I took a first look at the Hungarian vs. English versions. The first impression is that the translator didn't really knew the corresponding Hungarian technical expressions (and was guessing).

Question 3 has some silly errors: it turned "investments in infrastructure and generation capacity" into something like "investments in infrastructural and generation capacity"; and "Increase the share of EU financial support" was translated by dropping "the share of".

Regarding question 4, I ask a question does 'competitive' there have the meaning "competition-based" (e.g. marketised)? If yes, another minor mistranslation. In the choices, methinks significant omission: from "Focus on cost effective savings of energy", cost-effective is dropped. In "Decrease dependency on imported fuels", 'imported fuels' becomes 'imports' (that would include electricity, but I don't see this difference as a big problem).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 09:00:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The first impression is that the translator didn't really knew the corresponding Hungarian technical expressions (and was guessing).

Bingo, same impression as the French version gave me. Whereas the Eng-lang questionnaire echoes the Eng-lang Green Paper, the French questionnaire didn't make use of the competent GP translation...

Q4 : I take "competitive" to mean "competition-based", rather than "in competition with one another". But the word is thrown around loosely by the GP drafters:

A truly competitive single European electricity and gas market would bring down prices, improve security of supply, and boost competitiveness. (p.5)

(Exploding heads please queue up, the nurse will see you shortly).

"Cost-effective" is important, it's really the core of that response: only do energy savings that come through cost-effectiveness studies well. (Imagine wizened gnomes in mountain hideout counting piles of ancient coins while outside the planet roasts).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 09:48:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
English vs. Hungarian versions, continued.

Question 6: this is the worst change so far. Above all in the second option ("Develop smart electricity networks, demand management and distributed energy generation, bearing in mind their potential to help at times of sudden shortage"):  First, the sentence has been turned around, with the original second sub-sentence changed to something like: "At times of sudden shortage, it could help to...". Second, two really bad cases of not knowing technical expressions: 'demand management' became something that can also be read as "income farming", and 'distributed energy generation' tunred into "divided energy generation"... In the fourth option, "likely shortfalls" turns into "foreseeable shortfalls", not insignificant.

Question 7, first option about "a solidarity mechanism to assist a Member State facing difficulties following disruptions of its energy supplies under emergency circumstances": emergency circumstances is dropped, plus loose wording: facing difficulties becomes "gets in trouble". Third option, 'emergency demand restraint' is horribly mistranslated, something like "keeping emergency income in bounds"... Fourth option, "early notice" becomes "early forecast"...

Question 8: nuance cut, "Europe, taken as a whole, promotes the diversification of energy supplies" becomes something like "Europe's energy supplies become more diverse".

I already wrote about question 9.

Question 12: "Disposal of nuclear waste" becomes "management of nuclear waste" (which is NOT the same!)

Question 14, last option, another horrible mistranslation totally changes the meaning: "Member States should be able to rely on at least three different supply sources" becomes something like "the Member States must purchase from at least three sources"...

(Next, I'll look at the German version.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Aug 3rd, 2006 at 06:16:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
English vs. German versions: overall, much much better. Only three little problems with wording:

Question 6, sixth option: 'emergency disruption' becomes 'unforeseen disruption'.

Question 9, first option: " widest possible international actions" becomes "weitestreichenden internationalen Aktionen", I think should have been "weitestreichend internationalen Maßnahmen" (the first is about actions with the widest reach, the second about widest participation in the action, where in my reading the original English means the latter).

Question 12: 'Smart electricity networks' is translated as "Ausgeklügelte Elektrizitätsnetzwerke", instead of "Intelligente Elektrizitätsnetzwerke" (the first does mean smart, but not in place in this context, it has a meaning roughly like "well-thought-out")

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Aug 3rd, 2006 at 06:43:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So I misunderstood you: you'd hold out the hope that they would change the form of the consultation if we protest in time?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 08:01:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I doubt they would now change the questionnaire. Though, a strong protest on the language issue might get some change -- you know, they might pull the "please write in English" bit from the web page.

What we could ask for is that people be given the right to send in freely-written contributions, as with the Biofuels Consultation.

Even if they don't, we should work on an energy platform for Europe and communicate it to Piebalgs and all concerned with as much publicity as possible.

In other words, if the Consultation is usable, let's use it. But in any case let's do the energy platform.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 08:14:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, and echoing kcurie, a reference to (y)our past participation in the Biofueld Consultation should be doubly beneficial: it will give them the picture that the EU already 'recognises us', and we could tell them that "the EU could do better in this other case".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 08:22:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the word "balance", see the GP, Section 1: ...BALANCING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, COMPETITIVENESS AND SECURITY OF SUPPLY.

Key sentence (p.4):

Sustainable, competitive and secure energy is one of the basic pillars of our daily life.

I don't think the phrasing of Q.9 invites us to rate these principles, let alone reduce one of them to zero -- and I doubt many people will understand it in that way. Balance implies equilibrium implies equal weight. If they meant what you thought, I think they'd have said "mix".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 03:03:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Btw, you can look at the German and Hungarian forms and see how they translated it.

The French version is clumsy and doesn't appear to me to have been translated by a native French speaker. Q.9 isn't even a proper sentence:

9. Comment une stratégie européenne commune de l'énergie peut-elle aborder au mieux le changement climatique, l'équilibre entre les objectifs de protection de l'environnement, la compétitivité et la sécurité de l'approvisionnement?

"balancing" in the English version is a verb, in the French they turn it into the noun "équilibre", direct object of "aborder" (= "address"). So the French retranslated would read:

How can a common European energy strategy best address climate change, the balance between ... etc

N'importe quoi.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 03:26:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is sad: I thought the EU had 1) a corps of translators; 2) native speakers of most EU languages in every department.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 03:32:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU has translators, but aimed primarily at Council and Parliament meetings and translating legislation. As we know from Wallström's blog, the Commission (at least the current Barroso one) has its own agenda...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 07:27:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
D'oh!

Hungarian version:

...a környezetvédelem, a versenyképesség és a biztonságos ellátás szempontjainak együttes figyelembevételével...

The 'balancing' or some equivalent is totally missing, it speaks about the "joint consideration of the viewpoints of ..." -- this is ever worse than your reading of the English version.

German version:

...die Ziele des Umweltschutzes, der Wettbewerbsfähigkeit und der Versorgungssicherheit in der Waage halten?

It says to put on the scales, which is in line with your interpretation of the English version.

So I submit this one, it's as bad as the rest I haven't disputed.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 07:26:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Equilibrium doesn't imply equal weight, it implies appropriate weights.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 03:29:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I knew you were going to pick me up on that! I still maintain that "balancing" as they use it will be read by the vast majority of people as implying equal weight to be given to each term.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 03:44:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"balancing" is one of those words that are thrown in because they sound nice, not because they mean anything any longer, like "solidarity", "sustainable"...

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 03:46:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yes, but the GP does take those three objectives as its sound-bite basis (the title of the GP is A European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive, and Secure Energy).

I just looked at the French version of the GP, and the meaning of "balancing" (if it means anything!) obviously gave the translator a problem, since at one point it's translated as trouvant l'équilibre (finding the balance, which suggests work to do assigning relative importance to the parts), at another assurant l'équilibre, (ensuring the balance, which suggests it's been found).

The French version of the GP is well-written and competent. The fr questionnaire may have been done by a native speaker, but I doubt it. Surely not by a professional translator, and not even by someone conversant with the GP, from which whole expressions could have been profitably lifted.

I get (more and more) the impression of a cheap PR operation overseen by ideological kommissars.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 04:35:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What they don't realize is that, by saying "balancing" they implicitly acknowledge that sustainability, competitivity and security are competing goals.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 05:22:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's because the only goal is competition.

Everything good happens because of competition. The Invisible Hand will reach down from the data sky and miraculously adjust all inputs and outputs, and soothe all fiscal wrongs.

People here should understand that by now.

With competition sustainability will happen naturally, after most of the infrastructure has crumbled and most of the population has died.

The markets always win in the end.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 08:44:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
People here should understand that by now.

So what are we to do? Is there anything we can do other than bitch and moan?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 08:53:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
qv my other comment.

It's an ideological problem and it needs an ideological solution. Currently there's only one narrative in media space, and things won't get better until it has a competitor.

The problem is also that market-think is taught as gospel (sic) on MBA courses and among economists. The answer has to be to get a competing narrative into the collective headspace, not just within the media but also within academia too.

When was the last time you saw a best selling book, or a magazine or newspaper feature questioning the foundations of marketism?

You have to see this for what it is - which is almost a Soviet-style lock down on public discussion of alternatives to The Party. A strong and united blitz of authoritative public statements criticising the Market Position is the only thing that can make a difference.

Old-style street theatre protest is useless, and occasional LTEs won't do more than chip away at the edifice. Linking sympathetic MEPs with intellectual dissent and alternative business interests may be the only approach that has any chance of working.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 09:51:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is also that market-think is taught as gospel (sic) on MBA courses and among economists.

You know, I'm reading "the gospel" (Smith, Ricardo, Mills, Keynes so far) and it doesn't look like the conventional wisdom. Where does the marketista ideology actually come from?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 10:45:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's certainly not in Hayek's Road to Serfdom either. Maybe his other book and writings ... though he'd have to explicitly contradict himself.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 10:52:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, looking at Wikiquote it seems likely that as his paranoia about totalitarianism advanced so did his fundamentalism about "freedom". He's credited with influencing both Thatcher's and Reagan's little experiments.

The Constitution of Liberty is due to be republished in September. Maybe their secrets will be found there.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 11:07:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the name of the game is Anarcho-capitalism.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 11:13:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe not, exactly:

One social structure that is not permissible under anarcho-capitalism is one that attempts to claim greater sovereignty than the individuals that form it. The state is a prime example, but another is the modern corporation -- defined as a legal entity that exists under a different legal code than individuals as a means to shelter the individuals who own and run the corporation from possible legal consequences of acts by the corporation. It is worth noting that Rothbard allows a narrower definition of a corporation: "Corporations are not at all monopolistic privileges; they are free associations of individuals pooling their capital. On the purely free market, such men would simply announce to their creditors that their liability is limited to the capital specifically invested in the corporation ...."[9] However, this is a very narrow definition that only shelters owners from debt by creditors that specifically agree to the arrangement; it also does not shelter other liability, such as from malfeasance or other wrongdoing.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 11:17:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Minarchism, maybe?
Prominent minarchists include Benjamin Constant, Herbert Spencer, Leonard Read, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, James M. Buchanan, Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand, John Hospers, Robert Nozick, George Reisman.


Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 11:29:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Government should be just big enough to do what we want it to do."
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 11:33:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I could agree with that.

For me, it becomes a debate between left libertarianism and right libertarianism. Neither is free of the risk of degenerating into authoritarian versions in practice.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 11:37:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a historical diary waiting to be written here about how the oil-bust economic melt-down of the 70s combined with what many saw as excessive union power produced a right-wing freebooting capitalist-fundamentalist backlash.

Specifically - Thatcher and Reagan and their peculiar ideas about deregulation.

Once the media were deregulated, it was easy for Murdoch to start spreading his poison and acting as king maker, and for other corporate interests to follow suit. In the UK the miners' strike and the move to Wapping were two big battles in the subsequent class war.

There's also been a lot of influence in the US from frankly wacko billionaires such as Scaife and his Scaife Foundations which have effectively treated US government as a personal for-profit organisation.

There are two levels here. At the Scaife level it's deliberate manipulation of opinion and policy for personal gain. At the lower level there are numerous emotionally stunted chancers and wannabes who love the greed-is-good amorality of freebooting capitalism, and feel that paying taxes is a personal insult.

Under those two levels there's a majority of people who want a quiet life without lethal but stupid panto-wars and crusades, and with a reasonable standard of living offering basics such as education and health care.

The deeper social problem is that the most violently aggressive billionaires and promoters of corporate excellence really do have serious psychological problems. Scaife, Coors and Bush are all former or current alcoholics, and cocaine is the drug of choice among the executive class - so much so that it's considered part of the scenery.

Sane policies are impossible while these people continue to have any significant social influence.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 01:15:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is superb, Afew.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 06:07:35 PM EST
Thanks.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 02:25:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
TERRIFIC questionaire deconstruction! Now how do we get this to a larger audience?
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 06:09:42 PM EST
I'm thinking of jumping off the Eiffel Tower while reading it at the top of my voice. ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 03:33:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL! Please make sure you wear a fast opening parachute we want you to get to the bottom in one piece!
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Thu Aug 3rd, 2006 at 10:09:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm going to make a sweeping statement:

Those who go into government service are generally content with the status quo, but see some (slight) room for improvement.

Those who see grave defects with the system don't have the personality or patience to put up the compromises and glacially slow pace of change. Those with a great deal of energy become entrepreneurs. Those with a great deal of intellect become academics or similar. Those with a high degree of curiosity become scientists.

So the most conventional minds run the world, they, thus, can never take the bold steps needed to avoid disasters.

I've participated in two polls recently and both were flawed in the same way. The questions limited the choice of options. For example, one asked the best way to fund increased oil production in the US. There was no choice about not trying to expand production.

Mother nature doesn't follow the polls...

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 06:43:21 PM EST
Just want to make sure I understand the point of contention here:

It's not necessarily that European energy policy should be managed on the EU level -- i.e. that individual countries giving up some of their energy "sovereignty" to the European Union level -- but rather that this document is revealing a blatant bias among the EU upper ranks towards "free market" ideology.  Is that correct?

If so, what if this document showed a more "pro-regulation" slant, or even if it simply revealed a genuine interest in getting true feedback from EU citizens?  In that case, could letting Eureopean energy policy be managed on the EU level, rather than on an independent country level, be at least contemplated as an acceptable alternative?*

This, at least, is how I am interpreting Jerome's comment:

The EU could be the appropriate level to regulate the sector, but not for so long as it keeps its pure market ideology.

*Assuming of course that the EU Energy Regulator demonstrated a viable strategy to addressing the points that Jerome outlines:

renewables require subsidies and a supportive legal framework; energy efficiency requires public action on standards definition and enforcement, R&D, monetary incentives; security of supply requires long term commitments and diplomatic/commercial relations...  security of supply and the accounting of externalities require consistent policies over the long term, serious enforcement power, a lot of political support.


Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire
by marco on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 10:45:16 PM EST
contemplated as an acceptable alternative

Should have written,

     "contemplated as a possible alternative"

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire

by marco on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 10:48:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point of contention in my diary (you quote Jérôme extensively, and, if he can get online, perhaps he can answer for himself), is that this is a manipulative questionnaire that reveals no genuine interest in getting true feedback from EU citizens.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 02:17:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Got it.  I wish I had seen Jerome's diary on this earlier.

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire
by marco on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 02:35:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem in this consultation [and the entire EU approach, really] is that policy tools [a fully integrated market, an EU regulator] are presented as goals in themselves and not as solutions to problems, which are never stated.

The question that this "consultation" (and others we've seen) motivates is whether the EU is malicious or incompetent in the way it tries to involve people in decision-making.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 02:19:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why do they call it "Green Paper"? Couldn't they call it "Black Paper on Energy" instead? Or "Gold Paper" if they're feeling giddy.
by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 06:17:17 AM EST
Wikipedia is your friend. See here and here.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 08:31:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems to me that we need to:

  1. Set ourselves up as a formal think-tank, with a letter-head, postal address, and the whole deal.

  2. Start putting out energy policy press releases to the media, with a letter-head, postal address, and the whole deal.

  3. Start putting out press releases that skewer this kind of nonsense in public.

  4. Set up a sustainability lobby by building links between sustainable businesses and sympathetic MEPs across the EU.

(5. Have lunch. Take the rest of the day off.)

The good thing about think tanks is that all you need is an address, a letterhead, a website with some head and shoulders shots of people and some PR nonsense saying how wonderful you are, and you're ready to go. We have enough PhDs and other people who would qualify as experts here to make it happen and make it work.

The reason the freemarketmorons in the EU get away with this kind of thing is because they can. They know it's window dressing, and they also know that without political opposition they can do whatever they want.

I don't think individual letters provide opposition. An organised front with both business and political influence might just start to have an effect.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 07:08:33 AM EST
Now we have two topics for the London meetup: ThatBritBlog and the Think Tank personality of ET.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 07:10:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is not by way of disagreement, but note that, when I sent in the Biofuels Consultation text, I explained in a covering email (from my personal account) that it was the result of collective work on European Tribune (with URL) -- and they put our contribution in the NGO category.

What would be useful, at least, I think, is a European Tribune email account administered by gnomes and used for collective communications of this kind.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 07:24:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
INdeed, a post address and an e-mail and a formal e-mail account where the gnomes can send things if the gnomes think there is broad consensus int he community about the issue.

As any think tank, they will control the flow out...and we can control our support for the project.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 08:22:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A general note I could have added in my first reply (when I stated I didn't expect any better). I think to some extent we are facing the institutional problems of the EU (the balance [that word again...] aand roles of the three branches of the EU), not simply ideological biases and fake commitment to consulting the public.

The Commission is in practice not entirely free in making policy. It is bound by stuff agreed on by the Council. That in this questionnaire the aim is for a common 'free' makret, and alternatives aren't even asked about, also reflects that the Commission is obliged to push that damned "Lisbon process".

I emphasize this is only an observation. It doesn't change anything on the need to criticise this practise.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 08:29:42 AM EST
I entirely agree, and any discussion of the Green Paper itself should take this into account.

There's no doubt a problem of top-down market ideology, which is already apparent in the credos of the GP. But when that is crudely shifted over to the questionnaire, the result is disastrous.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 08:41:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
for atruly great diary, and a great thread. I'd love to participate more, but my internet options are getting steadily worse, andI am writing this against the clock on a computer with abroken space key...

Two quickthings:

  • I have found out recently that an old high school acquaintance works in the energy team ofthe competition directorate of the EC , so that might be a door t o sendfeedback there (he is pro free markets, but has interesting insights on the Commission vs governments dynamics);

  • we need to work on this individually and collectively. We need to get an "Energize Europe" paper out soon. I'll work on it on my side - i hope otherscanbdoso aswell and we discuss this out inthe nearfuture;

  • ifyou have any messagesto sendout in the short term, I'llbe happy to send themout under my email and ET byline, if youthink that's useful. Just send me over the stuff. I thinkthis  diary shoulddefinitely becirculated widely as it is.

sorry for the mangled spelling, and for probably not answering any further (this is pretty frustrating for me, as you can imagine...)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 09:22:07 AM EST
Jerôme, if I can still reach you: if you and Billmon know each other, methinks you should email him, about his usage of the term "Muslim riots" for what happened last year in France in a diary today, maybe just with links to diaries you and Alex and whoever else wrote back then.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 09:25:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think[ ]this diary should[ ]definitely be[ ]circulated widely as it is.

I thought The Independent might be interested in something like this, it's somewhat consistent with their editorial line.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 10:05:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a show currently running on the US PBS network about "smart buildings"

Here is a link to the web site for the series:
http://www.design-e2.com/

The most recent episode was on China. One of the comments was that China expects to build 400,000,000 units of housing in the next decade as people move from the country-side to the cities. The impact on raw material use (concrete in particular), energy, roads and transport is unprecedented.

It would see that if a good percentage of this comes to pass the efforts of the US and the EU to conserve will have slight global impact no matter how aggressive they may be.

The irreducible issue is overpopulation and there is no current solution to this. Apologists like to point out that the birth rate is falling (rapidly in some places), but they miss the point that the population as a whole is still growing.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 11:03:55 AM EST


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