Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 10th, 2009 at 11:32:51 AM EST
BBC News - Carwyn Jones sworn in as new Welsh first minister

The ceremony was administered by a senior judge at the Welsh Assembly Government offices in central Cardiff.

Mr Jones said he looked forward to fulfilling the coalition agreement with Plaid Cymru which he inherited from his predecessor Rhodri Morgan.

He is expected to announce his cabinet over the next few days, after submitting the names to the Queen.

Assembly Members nominated him to succeed Mr Morgan on Wednesday after he was elected Welsh Labour leader last week.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 10th, 2009 at 11:38:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rhodri Morgan stands down with call for further Welsh devolution | Politics | guardian.co.uk

Rhodri Morgan formally stood down as Welsh first minister today with a call for the Cardiff assembly to take the next step on the road of devolution.

Morgan tendered his resignation and departed for the backbenches after nearly a decade at the helm.

In a farewell statement in the Senedd chamber, the Labour veteran told AMs that Wales's model of devolution was very different to Scotland's and Northern Ireland's.

It was up to the people of Wales to decide whether to grant the assembly full law-making powers in a referendum.

His successor will inherit a coalition deal with Plaid Cymru that offers the prospect of holding a referendum before elections in 2011 if it looks winnable.

Morgan said: "It's a model based on the principle of: learn to walk before you run.

"The point is, when the people of Wales start to understand whether we have walked long enough, have we served our apprenticeship and are we in a position to say to them we are now ready to run? Of course, the choice is theirs."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 10th, 2009 at 11:40:25 AM EST
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WalesOnline - News - Wales News - House of Lords? Not on your nelly, insists Rhodri Morgan

RHODRI MORGAN has scotched speculation that he will head for the red benches of the House of Lords when he leaves the National Assembly for the last time.

Asked if he was en route for a peerage, Mr Morgan, who yesterday resigned as First Minister, replied: "Not on your nelly!"

Instead, the 70-year-old said he was looking forward to "standing on muddy touchlines cheering on my grandson playing rugby".

He also said he planned to spend time wood-carving and "working more with my hands" when he quits as Cardiff West AM in 2011.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 10th, 2009 at 11:42:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It demonstrates how far we have fallen when an honourable man refuses to cash in on his seniority and he's regarded as odd and exceptional.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 10th, 2009 at 04:35:29 PM EST
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Oh come on, he's not regarded as odd, and he's greatly liked in Wales.

Unless you want to say the Welsh are odd and exceptional, which...

Never mind.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 10th, 2009 at 04:52:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
She's saying newsies consider his move odd and exceptional.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 04:02:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Merkel proposes direct EU action on Greece

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested the European Union should play a greater role in tackling the embattled Greek economy.

She referred to a "common responsibility" towards the eurozone member following a meeting of centre-right EU leaders in Bonn on Thursday (10 December), in which she indicated pressure could be brought to bear on the national parliaments of countries in budgetary difficulties.

"If, for example, there are problems with the Stability and Growth Pact in one country and it can only be solved by having social reforms carried out in this country, then of course the question arises, what influence does Europe have on national parliaments to see to it that Europe is not stopped," said the leader of Europe's largest economy in a speech.

"This is going to be a very difficult task because of course national parliaments certainly don't wish to be told what to do. We must be aware of such problems in the next few years."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 10th, 2009 at 12:26:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is very close to using the EU as a tool of German economic imperialism. "Common responsibility towards Greece" means forcing the member's parliament to enact "social reforms" to save the Growth and Stability Pact? Is the Growth and Stability Pact the only thing guaranteeing that "Europe is not stopped"?

This is really saying that the responsibility of the EU is towards the Growth and Stability Pact, national parliaments and social safety nets notwithstanding.

The "Washington Consensus" would be replaced with a "Brussels Consensus" as neoliberal and destructive as the former. Especially because the neoclassical economic conventional wisdom behind the GSP and the current Hooverian fiscal tightening when the growth phase of the cycle still hasn't set in are utter bollocks.

But anyway, the EU has been forcing these kinds of IMF-style "structural adjustment" policies to "peripheral" (outside the Eurozone) economies for a year now, so why not force them on Greece?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Dec 10th, 2009 at 12:53:59 PM EST
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I imagine it might be regarded that when a country buys into a level of commonality that it retains fiscal obligations to the centre which, if it defaults, requires action from the centre towards rectifying that failure. Like you, I think there's a certain patronising attitude going on that will bode ill.

I think there are real problems with the relationship between the Greek political system and the voter/taxpayers with regard to a perceived democratic deficit that, while not unique to Greece, is perhaps more advanced than in other countries. It will be interesting how that evolves when the delegation from Brussels put their big feet in it. It will be a taste of things to come for all of us.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 10th, 2009 at 04:44:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Greece's budget deficit is forecast to exceed 12 percent of its GDP this year, with the country's total debt levels expected to reach 125 percent of GDP in 2010 - the highest in the EU.

Inflation fears vs. deflation period considerations notwithstanding, a debt explosion means an explosion of interest payments load on budgets in years to come; which in turn means an even stronger say of creditors in economic and fiscal policy in years to come. This is a trap I'm all too familiar with.

Meanwhile, from SPIEGEL's business paper subsidiary [and origin of the neoliberals currently dominating its economic section], what some other players said:

Regierungstreffen: Schuldenschock erschüttert EU-Gipfel - manager-magazin.deGovernments' meeting: debt shock eshakes EU summit - manager-magazin.de
Der luxemburgische Regierungschef und Chef der Eurogruppe, Jean-Claude Juncker, wies zugleich Befürchtungen zurück, dass Griechenland kurz vor dem Staatsbankrott stehe. "Das entspricht überhaupt nicht meiner Beobachtung." ...At the same time, Luxembourg PM and head of Eurogroup Jean-Claude Juncker dismissed fears that Greece was on the brink of national bankruptcy. "That's not at all consistent with my observations." ...
Finnland und Schweden wandten sich bereits gegen eine finanzielle Unterstützung Griechenlands. "Die EU kann nicht helfen, das ist Teil unserer Regeln. Sie wurden festgelegt, damit die Mitgliedstaaten sich selbst um finanzielle Stabilität bemühen", sagte der finnische Ministerpräsident Matti Vanhanen bei seiner Ankunft in Brüssel.Finland and Sweden have already spoken out against financial support for Greece. "The EU can not help, that's part of our rules. They have been adopted so that Member States themselves strive for financial stability," said Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, on his arrival in Brussels.

Cold shoulders all around, repeated in more diplomatic toney by Sweden's PM and Germany's finance minister. Even the sole voice for EU financial intervention implicitely suggests 'reforms':

Dessen ungeachtet erklärte der belgische Finanzminister Didier Reynders, im Notfall wäre eine europäische Hilfsaktion für Griechenland durchaus denkbar: "Das ist immer eine Möglichkeit gewesen", sagte Reynders am Rande eines Spitzentreffens der europäischen Liberalen. Zunächst aber sei die griechische Regierung selbst am Zug: "Wenn man durch Maßnahmen in dem betroffenen Land selbst zu einer Lösung kommen kann, ist das immer vorzuziehen."Nevertheless, Belgian finance minister Didier Reynders said that in case of an emergency, a European relief operation for Greece would be quite possible: "That has always been a possibility," Reynders said on the sidelines of a top level meeting of the European Liberals. First, however, the Greek government must move itself: "If you can come to a solution through measures in the affected country itself, that is always preferable."

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 03:54:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Norway and EU kick fishing boats out of each other's waters

Following weeks of talks between the EU and Norway, the two sides have ended up kicking each other out of their respective fishing waters.

"The commission deeply regrets that, despite all the efforts made to reach agreement with Norway, the respective approaches of the two parties at this stage have proved to be irreconcilable," European commissioner for fish Joe Borg said following the breakdown.

Talks in Bergen, Norway, hit the buffers over the issue of access to mackerel for 2010 in the North sea, stalling on the subject of Norwegian access to fish for a portion of its mackerel quota in EU waters.

According to the commission, Brussels offered increased access to Norway to fish for mackerel in EU waters, "without asking for compensation by Norway," but this was rejected.

A provisional rollover arrangement, which would have allowed the two sides to continue fishing in each others' waters in early 2010 while talks continued in the expectation that an agreement would eventually be reached, was also not acceptable to Oslo. The commission expressed "surprise" at the move.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 10th, 2009 at 02:12:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EurActiv.com - France, Germany ponder Iceland EU accession fallout | EU - European Information on Enlargement
Paris and Berlin are generally positive towards Iceland's EU membership bid but will give the country "no presents" in its accession process, a survey of EurActiv France and EurActiv Germany reveals.

As soon as the EU decides to formally launch accession negotiations with Iceland, probably in March 2010, France will heavily scrutinise the stakes for two sectors - fisheries and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), said Michel Sallé, a French expert on Iceland.

"Iceland is not ready to accept the invasion of its coasts by foreign fishing boats," Sallé said, adding that Reykjavik does not want EU fishing quotas either. Fisheries represent 10 to 15% of the Nordic country's GDP and a quarter of its exports. But France is also struggling to safeguard the interests of its fishermen, who have been hit hard by the economic crisis, the expert noted.

As for agriculture, Iceland's 3,000 farmers are staunch opponents of the CAP, Sallé said, as they estimate that its introduction to the island will bring about a drop in local agricultural production of 40 to 50%.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 10th, 2009 at 02:19:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Socialists are "reckless spenders" and Europe's political tricksters NEW EUROPE - The European News Source
What is the key to EPP's political success in the European Union?

European voters have greater confidence in the EPP and our member-parties. We inspire trust and security in European societies and in a moment  of  crisis, such as the current economic and financial one, we are viewed as the only steady hand that can  rapidly  lead Europe to renewed economic development and prosperity via effective and measured policies. The Socialists, on the other hand, have a reputation of being reckless public spenders, of over-inflating the state and civil service, of focusing on tactics and communication tricks at the expense of serious policy-making.

Antonio Lopez-Isturiz  is  the Secretary General of the European People's Party EPP-ED

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 10th, 2009 at 02:25:54 PM EST
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Myths over reality. Barroso in Portugal, the last right-wing Greek government, the right-wing French governments after Jospin, Berlusconi, and so on haven't been stellar examples of budget prudence...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 03:58:52 AM EST
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Or of serious policy-making at the expense of tactics and communication.

In fact, from a Spanish perspective I would say Antonio López-Istúriz is forgetting the beam in Aznar's eye in terms of governance-as-media-management.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 04:28:20 AM EST
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that the truth doesn't matter anymore? what matter is whether you say things loud enough, and whether the media mindlessly repeats them.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 05:26:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 08:00:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bogdan Aurescu pleaded at the ICJ against Kosovo's independence - Top News - HotNews.ro
Romania's agent and co-agent in the process from Hague last year, namely Bogdan Aurescu and Cosmin Dinescu, pleaded in the International Court of Justice on Thursday, supporting Romania's position regarding Kosovo's independence.

Aurescu argued the necessity for the Court in Hague to not limit itself strictly to the question raised by the General Assembly - whether or not the declaration of independence of the autonomous administration temporary institutions from Kosovo complies with the international law - and stressed that the real judicial problem the Court needs to solve was, in Romania's vision, to evaluate if the international law forbids or not the creation of a new state through unilateral secession, in the circumstances of the examined case.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 10th, 2009 at 02:38:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Arguments presented in Kosovo case at ICJ (SETimes.com)

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) continued to hear oral arguments this week concerning the independence of Kosovo. Debate centres on whether the fledging country's declaration of sovereignty falls under international law, whether Serbia's territorial integrity has been violated, and whether UN Resolution 1244 allowed for the possibility of independence.

On Wednesday (December 9th) Kosovo received support from France, Jordan and Norway, a day after the United States did so. Russia presented the opposing view.

Declaring independence did not violate the principle of territorial integrity, permanent UN Security Council member France said, because that principle applies only to relations between countries, and not between countries and entities.

Norway's representative, Rolf Einar Fife, reminded the court that his own country unilaterally dissolved its union with Sweden in 1905, and said declarations of independence are not, in themselves, "the object of regulation by public international law".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 10th, 2009 at 02:46:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So sad that neighbouring countries' positions on the matter are a simple consequence of their post-WWI situation. (Read: for Romania, fears about calls for autonomy in Transylvania; for Hungary, especially the right-wing opposition that is to take over in six months, support for the same.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 04:05:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the most shocking things about the Yugoslav wars was how quickly the WWI alliances were reconstituted - Germany with Croatia, France with Serbia, and so on...

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 04:29:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 04:36:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]

It appears WWII was a replay of WWI...

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 04:58:13 AM EST
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Are there immigrant groups to bootstrap/lobby for alliances?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 05:28:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Serbia told to take EU accession in steps (SETimes.com)

Encouraged by several recent breakthroughs in its relations with the EU, Serbia is now considering the best timing for submitting its official application for membership in the 27-nation bloc. But some senior EU officials indicated on Wednesday (December 9th) that Belgrade should hold off on that move for the time being.

"We should take one step at a time," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said during a conference on the Western Balkans in Brussels, two days after the EU decided to unblock the Interim Trade Agreement signed with Serbia in April 2008. Monday's approval followed UN war crimes chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz's positive assessment of Belgrade's co-operation with The Hague tribunal.

Enforcement of the trade pact, which is part of Serbia's Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU, came on the heels of another major breakthrough in the country's relations with the bloc. On November 30th, the EU interior ministers voted to allow Serbian citizens, along with those of Macedonia and Montenegro, to travel to most of Europe without visas, as of December 19th.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 10th, 2009 at 02:46:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bloggers: dark days for Croatian journalism (SETimes.com)

Human Rights Day will be observed around the world next week and Croatian journalists are working to demonstrate that their profession, in the words of Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) head Zdenko Duka, has reached "its lowest levels".

A roundtable discussion will be held on Friday (December 10th) to discuss the future of the industry.

Many journalists say they work under the pressure of censorship, and fear losing their jobs. Duka explains that the uncertain future of print newspapers and the financial crisis add another element, which is strategically used by media bosses to discourage investigative reporting.

The result is that journalists are often suspended or fired for investigating corruption and organised crime, both of which seem to plague Croatian society.

Some, like independent journalist Zeljko Peratovic, say they can't take the pressure. Peratovic has investigated corruption on his blog 45 lines, but said he is going to leave Croatia next month and move to Switzerland.

In mid-November, national broadcaster HTV editor-in-chief Hloverka Novak Srzic suspended Ana Jelinic -- editor of the popular TV show Dossier.hr -- after she interviewed a corruption expert who linked Croatian institutions and leading figures to organised crime.

The show was removed from HTV's portal, but not before someone transferred it to YouTube..

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 10th, 2009 at 02:52:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ILGA Europe: Austrian parliament adopts registered partnership law for same-sex partners
On 10 December 2009, the International Human Rights day, the Austrian parliament passed a law on registered partnerships for same-sex partners. ILGA-Europe welcomes this development which makes Austria the 18th country in Europe which provides legal recognition for same-sex partners. The law will come into effect on 1 January 2010.

The other 17 countries in Europe which have gender neutral marriage law or provide registered partnership schemes for same-sex partners or have both are: Andorra, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.

The law was prepared by the ruling coalition government between Social Democrats (SPÖ) and Christian Democrats (ÖVP - conservative People's Party) who have parliamentary majority.

Homosexuelle Initiative (HOSI) Wien, ILGA-Europe's member in Austria, has always been fighting for a modern alternative to marriage such as registered partnership based on the Scandinavian or Swiss models. "What we have got now is actually quite comparable with the law in Switzerland where access to adoption and artificial insemination has also been excluded from the partnership law", explains HOSI Wien president Jona Solomon. "That was again a categorical no-go for the Christian Democrats." However, both adoption and artificial insemination are not exclusively linked to marriage in Austria as adoption is possible by a single person, too, and artificial insemination is also possible for non-married opposite-sex couples living in a domestic partnership.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 10th, 2009 at 05:38:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even if Greens and SPÖ wanted more, this is really something, to have it passed with ÖVP support too. What's more, it seems the revelations about the late Jörg Haider had their effect on his far-right BZÖ, which didn't oppose it, some MPs even voted for it. Solely the FPÖ (from which BZÖ broke away years ago) remained to articulate homophobia and "defense of marriage".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 04:12:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
La Quadrature du Net: ACTA: A Global Threat to Freedoms (Open Letter)
A worldwide coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations, consumers unions and online service providers associations publish an open letter to the European institutions regarding the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) currently under negotiation. They call on the European Parliament and the EU negotiators to oppose any provision into the multilateral agreement that would undermine the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens in Europe and across the world.

By December 17th, 2009, European negotiators will submit their position regarding the proposal put forward by the U.S Trade Representative for the Internet chapter of the ACTA. It is now time for the European Union to firmly oppose the dangerous measures secretly being negotiated. They cover not only "three strikes" schemes, but also include Internet service providers liability that would result in Internet filtering, and dispositions undermining interoperability and usability of digitial music and films.

The first signatories of the open letter include: Consumers International (world federation of 220 consumer groups in 115 countries), EDRi (27 European civil rights and privacy NGOs), the Free Software Foundation (FSF), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), ASIC (French trade association for web2.0 companies), and civil liberties organizations from all around Europe (9 Member States so far...). The letter is open for signature by other organizations.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 10th, 2009 at 06:03:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.lemonde.fr/opinions/article/2009/12/08/m-sarkozy-respecter-ceux-qui-arrivent-respecter-ce ux-qui-accueillent_1277422_3232.html#ens_id=1258775


"I address my Muslim countrymen to say I will do everything to make them feel they are citizens like any other, enjoying the same rights as all the others to live their faith and practice their religion with the same liberty and dignity," he said. "I will combat any form of discrimination.

"But I also want to tell them," he continued, "that in our country, where Christian civilization has left such a deep trace, where republican values are an integral part of our national identity, everything that could be taken as a challenge to this heritage and its values would condemn to failure the necessary inauguration of a French Islam."
...Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner had said he was "a little scandalized" by the Swiss vote and suggested it "means a religion is being oppressed." Intellectuals in the Paris chattering class took their criticism further, suggesting the Swiss vote betrayed bigotry and isolationism.
...But Xavier Bertrand, head of Sarkozy's political coalition, the Union for a Popular Movement, seemed to indicate that a referendum like the one in Switzerland would be a good idea for France. In an appearance before reporters, he questioned whether French Muslims "necessarily need" minarets for their mosques.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 01:20:17 AM EST
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