Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:35:39 PM EST
EUobserver / Belgian ex-PM accuses commission of inaction in face of crisis

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Ex-Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt has strongly criticised the European Commission for failing to be more active in tackling the current economic crisis.

Mr Verhofstadt, who heads the Liberal list in Belgium's Flanders region for the June European elections, accused the commission of staying "silent" in the face of Europe's recession.

Guy Verhofstadt heads the Liberal list in Belgium's Flanders region for the June European elections

"It is the duty of the commission to take the initiative", said the politician, referring to the institution's right to propose laws.

Speaking in Brussels to promote his new book, Emerging from the crisis, how Europe can save the world, Mr Verhofstadt, a strong EU federalist, said the only way to bolster the EU is to massively increase it's spending, recapitalise banks, issue eurobonds, set up a European financial supervisor and a single European bank for bad assets.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:40:50 PM EST
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EUobserver / Liberals, Greens try to woo Socialists away from EU parliament right

With Europe's centre-right parties and some Socialist governments backing European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso for a second mandate, smaller factions have begun calling for a change and throwing some fresh names into the ring.

"I and my friends will do what we can so that there is change at the head of the European Commission," whose orientation is "too ultra-neo-liberal," Francois Bayrou, leader of the centrist MoDem party in France, said on French Europe 1 radio over the weekend.

Former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt is one of the EDP's candidates to succeed Mr Barroso

He added that two names were proposed during a meeting of the European Democrat Party (EDP) last week. The EDP is a centrist and Euro-federalist political party whose MEPs sit with the Liberals in the European Parliament.

The EDP's candidates are former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt and Mario Monti, an Italian economist and former commissioner responsible for internal market (1995-1999) and competition (1999-2004).

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:44:46 PM EST
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BBC - Mark Mardell's Euroblog
Sarko the Red

Mark Mardell | 09:16 UK time, Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Comments (0)


The rally for President Sarkozy's UMP party was stylish and smooth, but witnesses to this were thin on the seats. The well-groomed, middle-aged and older were scattered throughout a large and very smart auditorium.

Perhaps potential supporters had as much trouble finding it as we did. Although it is meant to be Lyon's biggest venue it wasn't showing up on the GPS.

A man getting out of his car for a jog round Lyon's lovely central park dismissed us rudely. "Don't disturb me," he grumbled as we asked for directions. A young man with a wispy beard was much more helpful when we interrupted a long kiss with his androgynous girlfriend, pressed against her bike. Perhaps he needed the air. Anyway my election slogan is: "Trust snoggers, not joggers".

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:48:16 PM EST
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Jon Worth » Is Anna Diamantopoulou going to be the PES Commission President candidate?

OK, I am putting 2+2 together and making 10, but if I get this one right then you heard it here first!

Andy Carling, a regular commenter on this blog, stated that he had heard Poul Nyrup Rasmussen say at a press conference that the PES does have a candidate for President of the Commission, but Rasmussen would not name that person.

At the same time my attention has been drawn to an interview to Sveriges Radio (här på svenska) given by social democrat Vice President of the European Commission Margot Wallström where she states that she would like to see former Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs Anna Diamantopoulou as successor to Barroso. This is followed up in Swedish by AiP and Byggnads (one of Sweden's largest trade unions), and in English by the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 03:08:18 PM EST
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Dumped by Sarkozy, Rachida Dati digs her heels in as she strides toward European parliament
* Ousted Muslim minister begins 'crucial' campaign
* Shambolic party meeting becomes an internet hit

By Angelique Chrisafis in Le Pecq, guardian.co.uk

In a leafy riverside suburb west of Paris, the gentle evening birdsong was punctured by a shiny people carrier screeching into a modest community centre car park. Doors opened and a pair of feet in impossibly high, dominatrix-style, designer spike heels swung out of the car. "Look at the shoes," gasped one business leader as dignitaries, teachers and sixth formers who had gathered for a small campaign meeting turned to gawp.

Rachida Dati, the beleaguered French justice minister, may have been lampooned for her devotion to wearing ostentatious catwalk fashion at inappropriate moments, but having been forced by Nicolas Sarkozy to run in the European elections as a way of sacking her from government, she remains defiant in her choice of footwear.

Once she was Sarkozy's handpicked symbol of change, hugely popular with the public as the first Muslim woman to hold a major government post. Now, after a spectacular fall from grace, Dati is using the European election campaign to fight back.

Despite trying to prove her commitment by returning to work five days after giving birth by caesarian section, Sarkozy ordered her to run in order to sack her after the 7 June vote. She felt "humiliated", according to the former prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

The European election campaign has now become another saga in the Dati soap opera, as she still refuses to reveal the name of the father of her baby daughter but has suggested she is keen for another child. Her allies have briefed that she is seeking "revenge" on the political class and is keen to run as mayor of Paris in four years' time.

by Magnifico on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 11:14:17 PM EST
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Foreign Correspondent Syndrome™ strikes again.

Once she was Sarkozy's handpicked symbol of change, hugely popular with the public as the first Muslim woman to hold a major government post.

Dati was just one of Sarkozy's "symbols of change". She was not "hugely popular with the public", though it's true she was more popular than she is now. The construction "as the first Muslim woman" suggests that she was "hugely popular" because of the attributes "Muslim" and "woman". She's undoubtedly a woman, and her family religious tradition is Muslim, but she has never made any public show of identification with Islam, and is not generally perceived as "Muslim" by most people - though certainly as a second-generation immigrant from an ethnic minority. "Arab" or "Maghrebine" or "North African" would be much closer to her perceived identity.

But so what, it's conventional in English-language journalism to call immigrants in France "Muslim", and Angelique Chrisafis is writing for her home readership, and the foreign correspondent game goes on.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:16:06 AM EST
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Little Excitement Among Voters for European Parliament Election - NYTimes.com

[...] The elections in early June are likely to be remembered for two things: how well fringe parties will do in an anxious period of economic recession, and how few Europeans will bother to vote.

Only 34 percent of the some 380 million eligible Europeans say they will probably vote, while 15 percent say they will not vote in any circumstances, according to the latest Eurobarometer poll. The numbers are worst where the extreme right is expected to do well, with only 22 percent of Britons admitting they will probably vote (while 30 percent say they won't) and only 13 percent of Poles. Even in Greece, where voting is mandatory, only 48 percent say they will probably cast ballots.

"The danger is that those who do bother, vote for the more radical elements," said Thomas Klau of the European Council on Foreign Relations. Given the economic crisis, he said, there is "a degree of voter indifference, which is a reflection of the lack of political leadership we have seen."

Europeans will choose a Parliament for the seventh time in 30 years, but turnout has fallen with each enlargement and each election, from 62 percent in 1979 to 48 percent in 2004 -- roughly 20 percent lower than in corresponding national parliamentary elections.

The reasons for the Euro-apathy are much debated. As the only directly elected European institution, the Parliament has real power and is likely to get more. It can amend or reject proposals for new laws from the European Commission, which runs the bureaucracy. Few Europeans realize it, but the bulk of their legislation on issues like the environment, consumer rights and transport is made in this way, rather than in national capitals.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:05:40 AM EST
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Beppe Grillo's Blog

"Good day to you all! The lists for the European elections are now complete and I have had a look at them, even because I had to do that for a long piece on the "unpresentables" for Micromega and thus, as we were saying when the lists were still provisional, we are devoting this edition of Passaparola to a kind of "voting guide", to advice for who not to vote for, that is advice on avoiding the ones that, according to me are people who need to be kept away from the institutions, especially from the European institutions. Then each person can decide as they want, but at least they will do so on the basis of solid information. Zoo PDL

Let's start with the Popolo delle Libertà (PDL) in alphabetical order: Lucio Barani, who is a former socialist and has been the Mayor of Aulla, and is famous for having made Aulla into a "dipietrizzato" town and for having actually named a square "Piazza Martiri di Tangentopoli" where the martyrs of Tangentopoli are not us who have been robbed, but those that did the thieving and in fact the square that was called Piazza Matteotti, became Piazza Martiri di Tangentopoli with a great monument to Craxi, even perhaps one on a horse. I'd say that this guy is perhaps best left alone.
Berlusconi. There's no point in my telling you why it would be better not to vote for him, apart from all the reasons that are ethical, political, conflict of interests and judicial etc., there's a fact: that Berlusconi being President of the Council, is not alone and like many other leaders who are putting themselves forward as candidates, will have to choose between the Italian Parliament and the European one. Given that he is the President of the Council, he can't go to the European Parliament, unless he decides to resign from the position of President of the Council, in that case we could even vote for him, but I don't believe he will do that.
Bonsignore Vito: Bonsignore Vito was in the UDC, he has convictions for attempted corruption for the contracts for the Asti hospital, the Turin Tangentopoli. He was with Casini and as soon as Berlusconi discovered that there was a convict who was not with himself, he immediately set about his acquisition campaign and he brought him into the Popolo delle Libertà. Attempted corruption because Bonsignore didn't have time to collect the bribes, as they caught him first: he was a "andreottiano", then a "casiniano" and now he has become a "berlusconiano". He is also under investigation for the banking takeovers, and for collaboration in rigging the markets. He is the person that D'Alema was speaking about when he said "I met up with him once to see about the destination of that package of BNL shares". Bonsignore had 2% of BNL shares, and that was what was so interesting to Consorte. He too is one that it may be better to keep well away from the European institutions.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:25:31 AM EST
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