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 EUROPEAN ELECTIONS 

by Fran on Tue May 26th, 2009 at 03:20:58 PM EST
Germany's Martin Schulz on the EU's Democratic Deficit: 'Europe Has Become an Over-Intellectualized Affair for Specialists' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Martin Schulz, the chairman of the social democratic group in the European Parliament, talks to SPIEGEL about the forthcoming European elections, why the EU needs more democracy and his infamous spat with Silvio Berlusconi.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Schulz, do we need to introduce you to our readers?

Martin Schulz: According to surveys, a quarter of all Germans know who I am. There are some cabinet ministers or prime ministers who would be pleased with a figure like that.

Eurosceptic members of the European Parliament demonstrate after the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

SPIEGEL: Why did you become head of the social democratic group in the European Parliament and not a federal minister in Berlin?

Schulz: It has to do with my background. I grew up in the Aachen area, one of the most Europeanized regions on the continent. My parents were staunch pro-Europeans from the war generation. They were very proud when I went to France in 1971 on a student exchange program. In those days, the concept of Europe was mainly about values. Today, unfortunately, personal benefit has taken center stage. People ask: What can Europe do for me?

by Fran on Tue May 26th, 2009 at 03:23:52 PM EST
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Germany's Martin Schulz on the EU's Democratic Deficit: 'Europe Has Become an Over-Intellectualized Affair for Specialists' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

SPIEGEL: And the models?

Schulz: That has to do with Italy's shady prime minister, not Europe. What Silvio Berlusconi practices is only funny at first glance. This amalgamation of economic, media and political power in a single person is a threat to democracy. It isn't surprising that Italy has fallen behind on the Worldwide Press Freedom Index.

SPIEGEL: Models as a threat to the freedom of the press? Please explain what you mean.

Schulz: Berlusconi is systematically turning Italian domestic policy into tabloid news. To do so, he uses his entire media empire, which hypes issues at his orders. He uses the media to mobilize voters by placing his TV starlets on candidate lists.

by Nomad on Tue May 26th, 2009 at 06:05:12 PM EST
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Germany's Martin Schulz on the EU's Democratic Deficit: 'Europe Has Become an Over-Intellectualized Affair for Specialists' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

SPIEGEL: Let's discuss the power of this chamber. Who would become president of the European Commission if your Social Democrats won the election?

Schulz: I admit that you are addressing a democratic deficit. The election outcome ought to determine the makeup of the Commission, but in actual fact, the heads of state and government determine who the Commission president will be. We should start by resisting the efforts to approve a second term for current Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

SPIEGEL: So your goal is to get rid of Barroso?

Schulz: Unfortunately, at this point we can only try to obstruct Barroso, but we cannot elect our own candidate. For this reason, we should at least dictate political criteria by which we would judge the next president. Together with the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB), we have compiled a set of requirements for strengthening employee rights in Europe.

Wow, he at least understands and talks about the issue publicy.

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

by DoDo on Wed May 27th, 2009 at 03:17:43 AM EST
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EUobserver / Opponents accuse poll-climbing Ukip of expenses hypocrisy

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The major beneficiary of British voter disgust at the ongoing MP expenses scandal, the UK Independence Party, is attracting brickbats from left, right and far right, accusing the eurosceptic party of hypocrisy when it comes to fiddling expenses.

Meanwhile, the threat of a gaggle of hard-right MPs descending upon Strasbourg from Britain appears to have ebbed, as the far-right British National Party (BNP) lowers its expectations to just one seat.

Ukip are being targeted by opponents as they hoover up votes from disgruntled voters (Photo: Ian Dodds)

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The knives have come out for Ukip as it has begun to hoover up votes of disaffected voters revolted by a seemingly ever-widening expenses scandal in which dozens of MPs from all the mainline parties are revealed to have been using parliamentary expenses instead on second homes, food bills and, in the case of one deputy, having his moat cleaned.

Two recent polls have put Ukip, which favours a British exit from the European Union, on a level-pegging with the ruling Labour party. In one survey, Labour is pushed into fourth place behind the eurosceptic party.

by Fran on Tue May 26th, 2009 at 03:26:44 PM EST
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BBC NEWS | Europe | In search of Europe: Latvia

As for the elections, well, don't hold your breath waiting for debate on European issues. The vote in Latvia will be about nothing but domestic issues.

"Politicians don't care about these [European] elections," says Filips Rejevskis, a political analyst.

"People are thinking that this is an election not for representing them in the European Parliament but more we are choosing eight people who will have a good life for the next four years, very good, very well paid, very comfortable life."

by Fran on Tue May 26th, 2009 at 03:29:00 PM EST
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EUobserver / MEPs' perks under spotlight in EU elections

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The British tabloids have shifted their shrill focus from national politicians' perks to those enjoyed by MEPs, while events in Italy have taken a farcical turn.

After days of frenzied reporting on the expenses excesses employed by British politicians, UK tabloid the Sun reports that during the five-year term of the EU parliament, an MEP can clock-up over €2 million in expenses. The papers says that MEPs can claim five relaxing sessions of mudbaths, hydromassage, hydrotherapy and acupuncture every month with a doctor's note.

by Fran on Tue May 26th, 2009 at 03:33:31 PM EST
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The usual faux-populist attacks from the Eurosceptic UK press, pioneered by the Telegraph. But also by EUObserver, especially in its blogs.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed May 27th, 2009 at 03:01:16 AM EST
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BBC - Mark Mardell's Euroblog

The socialists have given notice that Jose Manuel Barroso, the current Commission president, will not hold onto Brussels' top job without something of a struggle.

The socialists' president in the European Parliament, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen - himself a likely contender for the job if it was in the gift of the Left - has signalled in a blog that Mr Barroso shouldn't consider it in the bag.

During this election period I find myself repeatedly trying to explain how and if these elections matter. This is but one illustration of how they do have a real impact. Just not a straightforward, simple-to-understand one.

by Fran on Tue May 26th, 2009 at 03:39:03 PM EST
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