Category Archives: EU politics

European election party in London

logoelections2009_enOn Thursday people will (not) vote for the European Parliament in the United Kingdom. Interested people like me might wonder if there is any “election party” organised (as I know it from elsewhere). So I enquired at the EP’s London office. The answer is that there is no party organised. But:

The European Parliament has information for media about their own coverage via webTV from Brussels.

Moreover for those interested, BBC2 is showing two programmes on Sunday, one at 19.30h and then a longer one from 22h.

I am still talking to friends to set up a small “party” somewhere, so if you are interested to join, let me know.

If you wonder why UK results are only going public on Sunday, keep in mind that no country is allowed to issue any results until Sunday evening when the last (and majority of) countries have closed the ballot boxes.

New anti-Barroso campaign – for new Commission President

Apparently a few PES activists have launched a good new Website ““. It has a similar message to the initiative Jon and me started about two years ago.

Its main element is the petition (I have also signed):

The European Parliament will elect the next European Commission. We, the voters on June 7 do not only decide the composition of the European Parliament, we also decide upon the driving seat of the EU: The European Commission. The composition of the executive EU body – the European Commission – has to reflect the vote of us EU citizens on June 7.

We call for the PES to build a new progressive majority with a strong Commission President.

We demand respect for our democratic rights! We demand that the Presidency of the European Council makes sure that the European Governments nominate a Commission President that reflects the majority in the European Parliament.

Besides the petition the activists put up relevant information on the building up of the Commission and speculations about Barroso’s replacement. Continue reading

Zumutung Barroso

Commission President Barroso

Die FAZ schreibt heute über ein Interview, das Kommissionspräsident Barroso mehreren europäischen Zeitungen gegeben hat. Darin erklärt Barroso zu seinen Ambitionen auf ein erneutes Mandat als Kommissionspräsident:

Der Respekt vor dem Parlament, das vom 4. bis 7. Juni neu gewählt wird, gebiete es jedoch sich nicht schon jetzt zu einer Kandidatur zu äußern.

Wie bitte?! – Man stelle sich einmal vor, Angela Merkel würde erklären, dass sie ja noch nicht sagen kann, ob sie wieder Kanzlerin werden will, weil sie erst die Bundestagswahl abwarten möchte. Ja, was soll ich denn dann als Wähler machen? Erst die Wahl abwarten und dann wählen?! Es geht doch auch bei dieser Wahl natürlich nicht nur um die Wahlprogramme der Parteien sondern auch darum wer sie umsetzt. Aber wer denkt, dass er die zukünftigen Verantwortlichen für eben diese Umsetzung vor den Wählern verstecken muss, der darf sich auch nicht wundern, warum so wenige zur Wahl gehen.

Stefan Kornelius greift in seinem heutigen Kommentar in der Süddeutschen Zeitung noch einen anderen wichtigen Punkt auf: Nach 30 Jahren direkt gewähltest Parlament sollten die Parteien und “Eliten” endlich aufhören, Europa zu rechtfertigen. Sie sollen endlich mit dem Wahlkampf anfangen und ihre Inhalte in den Vordergrund stellen.

Übrigens: Es ärgert mich, Continue reading

The PES can’t hide their lack of leadership anymore

Poul Nyrup RasmussenAdmittedly, the PES is running a fairly good internet campaign. They have relaunched their web presence way ahead of the European elections and maybe even more importantly they have made a good effort to reach out to (EU) bloggers. They have even included me in their blogger email target list – so that I get updates whenever key blog posts from the party leader Nyrup Rasmussen come out or they hold key events.

I wish the European Greens (EGP) would have been able to run an equally good campaign.

There are two reasons why I am writing this blog entry – and why I am writing it on my blog.

The other day I have received an email from Jeremy Cliffe, the PES’s focal point for bloggers. He was linking up to a recent blog entry by Nyrup Rasmussen in which he declares that the PES is working towards a new majority to stop Barroso. – What a surprise I thought… as if this is not the logic of pluralist political party systems in which parties actually compete for leadership. However, this logic has not really got through to the PES leaders who have been incapable of agreeing on a candidate for the job of Commission President. Given that the PES is (still?) by far the second biggest grouping in EU politics, such a lack of responsibility is the biggest farce in democratic politics Continue reading

Moravcsik on the European Constitutional Settlement

Andrea MoravcsikOne of the greatest benefits of studying at LSE has been to attend public lectures by world leaders and academics. So far my highlight had been the 3-day “tour de growth” with Philippe Aghion. After last night I feel that the most (academically) stimulating experience has been Andrew Moravcsik’s lecture on the “European Constitutional Settlement”.
As a committed federalist I have often found it difficult to agree with Moravcsik’s analysis of the process of European integration. Since his landmark studies in the early 1990s he has long been the defender of the intergovernmental method – acknowledging continuing control in the hand of EU member states. My experience working in and around EU politics over the last 9 years has been different but I have always valued Moravcsik’s contribution as a valid intellectual and academic challenge to any federalist.

With this blog entry I will try to sum up Andrew’s speech Continue reading

Andrew Moravcsik on China (and Europe)

Yesterday’s speech of Andrew Moravcsik at the LSE was in many ways interesting and inspiring. I shall blog more about the substance in the forthcoming entry but thought I share his final remarks first.
When the chair Damien Chalmers intended to close the debate, Moravcsik asked to make a final statement. As a regular professor of politics and international relations at Stanford University he had spent his last year researching in China. As much as he loved the country and was inspired by its politics, he pointed to us, students of Europe, and made this really interesting statement:
After having talked to a Chinese leader for five minutes, he will acknowledge that China is still very far away from a global super power. At this moment, China is at most a middle power like Britain and will remain to be one at least for our generation. Therefore, studying the US and Europe, the two only global super-power, is as fascinating as it can be to study international relations these days.
Now this was warm words in everybody’s ears I guess. And it is so different from “Prof” Joschka Fischer who claims that the real balance of power is quickly shifting towards the US, India and China.

Watch your MEP… but how?

VoteWatch.euI am currently participating in the European Open Data Summit in Brussels. You can follow us via twitter #eods09 and I am also publishing further observations on

The event was kicked-off yesterday with a presentation of EU Vote Watch. – is going to be launched next week. Its aim is to present the voting record and behaviour of Members of the European Parliament (EP). To publish voting records, the website draws on Roll-Call Vote (RCV) data from the European Parliament. The registration of RCVs can be requested by groups in the European Parliament on more or less any vote (and amendment) they like. A few hours after any vote, the record can be seen on the EP’s website. The sponsors of the project aim to have the data inside their own website just a few hours after Parliament publishes them. Prior to this new website, there had been a very similar project by the Romanian Institute of Public Policy (IPP). Now, Doru Frontescu, the main protagonist of this previous project has joined but unfortunately their old website is not publicly available anymore. Another angle at things is the German project Abgeordnetenwatch, where you can publish questions to national MPs but also MEPs and some kind of peer pressure is bringing most MPs to answer these publicly.

The challenge: translating information into action

After the presentation Continue reading

Don’t kill my fish – time for a radical change

Fisheries88% of European fish stocks are overfished. Most of my favourite fish like (mediterranean) red tuna and ocean perch are about to be extinguished within a generation unless extreme measures are taken. But these problems are common knowledge.

The EU Commission and key member states have for too long resisted a reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). While most northern countries including Germany have long given up on wide-scale fishing, southern member states like Spain, Portugal, France and Italy (and maybe Scotland) have preserved strong and extremely vocal fishing industries. Together these member states have long managed to serve their fishermen’s (short-term) interests by continuously oversubscribing on the annual fishing quotes.

Unfortunately, neither the non-fishing member states have engaged the “fish mafia” in a serious dialogue to tackle the problem with a long-term vision, nor have these fishing nations shown any leadership in facing fishermen and working towards a reform of the sector. The lowest-common denominator in this failed policy is that the tax-payer makes up for this lack of political leadership. In 2009 EU tax-payers foot the annual bill of 630 mio Euro. Annual Continue reading

DDR Fahne auf EU-Preisverleihung

DDR FahneIch dachte immer, ich wäre der einzige, der als einzige deutsche Flagge im Hausstand die Fahne der DDR hätte… Aber vor wenigen Tagen wurde ich eines besseren belehrt. Da hat doch eine dieser lahmen Agenturen aus dem EU-Umfeld bewiesen, dass sie im Gegensatz zu mir nicht nur eine DDR Flagge besitzen sondern diese auch für zeitgemäß halten. Anlässlich der aktuellen Wirtschaftspolitik könnte man von Zeit zu Zeit tatsächlich auf diese Idee kommen, der Anlass der Beflaggung war aber ein anderer.

Was passierte also?

Am 23. Februar wurden in der Brüsseler Bibliotheque Solvay die Preise an die European Green Capitals Hamburg (für 2011) und Stockholm (für 2010) vergeben. Die Grüne Hamburger Umweltsenatorin nahm den Preis für ihre Stadt entgegen und im Hintergrund hängt neben der EU Flagge die DDR Fahne (s. BILD Bericht oder Hamburger Abendblatt). Continue reading

France and the holocaust

France’s Council of State (its highest court) has ruled yesterday about the involvement of France in the holocaust. According to the BBC coverage

The Council of State said the state had permitted or facilitated deportations that led to anti-Semitic persecution without being coerced by the occupiers.

But the council also found reparations had since been made “as much as was possible, for all the losses suffered”.

KZ StruthofIt is obviously not ideal that court cases have to alter our (or France’s) understanding of history and therefore it was right of Jacques Chirac to offer an apology in 1995. However, sad enough, it took a president so long to. Remember that his predecessor Francois Mitterrand for all his glory received abroad had until the end kept an ambigious relationship to collaborateurs with the Vichy regime and his own role during occupation has never really been full scrutinised. As little respect as I have for Chirac, I admit Continue reading