Monthly Archives: November 2007

What has John Cleese ever done for the EU?

Just watch the following videos to find out!

(ok, it was not John Cleese alone and not really the EU…but this is also not supposed to be a serious post)

If you are not sure what that was all about watch these video:

in case you still have no idea what I am talking about, check out this video:

And sorry to everyone who got bored watching theses videos … I know that they are not really new…

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Kosmolinks #7

Some more commentary on the new Reform /Lisbon Treaty: “Here is what changes!”

A new Euro referendum is coming up: Denmark is to hold new euro vote

Educating Russia looks at the education reform in Russia: A new history book for example claims: “We see that practically every significant deed is connected with the name and activity of President V.V. Putin”

An interesting article about the civil society development in South Eastern Europe by Risto Karajkov : NGOs in the Balkans: Too Much of a Good Thing?

The debate about the reform of the European Commission continues: In defence of national interests

And now to something completely different: Jimi Hendrix: Live at Monterey!

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A Belgian Surprise

Today was a special day for my troubled relationship with Belgium. Belgium surprised me today, or more precisely the infamous national train company NMBS/SNCB did.

Around four weeks ago I was in Strasbourg. But the train strike in France forced me to make a detour through Germany. Consequently I could not use the train ticket (Strasbourg-Luxembourg-Brussels) I had bought before the trip.

So, a few days later I went to the train station, explained my little problem to some very friendly (!!) NMBS/SNCB employees, who gave me a rather short (!!) form to fill in. Three (!!) working days later I received a letter that stated that I would get reimbursed! And today, the money really arrived on my bank account!

It is actually amazing for a country that is normally known for its inefficiency and its notorious bureaucratic system.

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Kosmolinks #6

As expected, the recently held elections in Kosovo did not solve anything and Dec.10 is coming closer. At the same time, we are witnessing the last attempts of the international community to get its act together. At least the EU should speak with one voice! Whatever the outcome, a good overview about Kosovo’s contested future can be found on openDemocracy.

Normally, I do not post software links in this blog but this is an exception. I came across the Firefox extension Zotero – The Next-Generation Research Tool. Looks quite useful, has anyone tried to work with it? How are your experiences with this research tool? I would be very interested…please feel free to post a comment 😉

Apparently, Commissioner Reding is planning to make DRM interoperable. Indeed a great idea! Let’s hope she can resist the intense lobbying that has probably already started…

Unfortunately, I haven’t had the time to read this interesting paper, but it is definitely an interesting topic: “The Capacity of Central and East European Interest Groups to Participate in EU Governance”

These days there is a lot of talk in Russia about the idea of establishing a sort of ‘National Leader’. But we might need to wait until the results of the Duma elections are known to see what Putin plans to do… Talking about the upcoming Duma elections, Global Voices reports that the Russian blogosphere is debating whether To Vote, or Not to Vote? Moreover, Duma elections will be held without OSCE election observers.

And Joseph S. Nye tries to convince us about the Soft Power of the United Nations.

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Hasta la vista lista…and EP elections in Romania

Next Sunday, on Nov 25th, Romanians will go to the polls. Not only will they vote in the long-awaited European Parliament elections, but also in a referendum on a new voting system.

One might imagine that Romania, a new EU member, gives a relatively high degree of importance to the European Parliament elections. Well, it was not exactly the case. Postponed for more than half a year, they were not at all popular among politicians from across the political spectrum. An explanation could be found in the fact that the mandate they would run for is not a regular one but only one year and a half long, without yet enjoying the financial benefits foreseen in the EP reform due in 2009.


Moreover, being elected for the European Parliament would mean being “banned” from the Romanian political scene exactly in the important electoral year 2008 (with presidential and parliamentary elections in Romania). That is why the lists of the main political parties consist of many low profile candidates, mostly unknown to the public, along with a few well-known and even controversial names which have been included to attract more votes.

By contract with the rather apathetic electoral campaign and press coverage for the EP elections, the referendum for changing the voting system into a “first past the post” system became a long debated topic. It was initiated and strongly supported by the President Traian Basescu (see a campaign picture on the left). The reasons are not entirely clear, but one can assume that, given Basescu’s bad experiences with coalition partners, he is in favor of clear majorities and the reduction of small parties. Especially in the light of the upcoming parliamentary elections next year the change of the voting system might help PD to win the elections with a comfortable majority. The outcome of the referendum might be a success for the charismatic President mainly because of his popularity.

Having clear majorities is indeed desirable for the Romanian political system, but it is questionable whether the proposed electoral reform is enough to change the political landscape. What Romania really needs is a far-reaching constitutional reform that transforms the bicameral system into a unicameral one. Even the semi-presidential system as such should be revisited because clear majorities would even work better with clearly divided powers and responsibilities.

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Kosmolinks #5

Richard Corbett (MEP) complains about the depressing state of the press in the UK when it comes to EU topics.

Last week we heard two supposedly important EU speeches by Nicolas Sarkozy and David Miliband. Both speeches were rather uninspired and aimed at a home constituency in my opinion. The only interesting fact was that, before David Miliband said ‘no’ to a European superpower, apparently he had to water down his speech.

The anticipated unilateral declaration of independence in Kosovo is coming closer, so is it the beginning of the end for the Kosovo question? asks WSI Brussels Blog.

What are the consequences of the OSCE decision not to monitor the upcoming Russian parliamentary elections? – Crooked Timber – Russian election watch.

I recently discovered “The List Archive of Foreign Policy”! Check it out if you want to know who are the ‘Most Eligible World Leaders‘ or the longest serving ‘Presidents for Life.

Somehow that brings us to the best conspiracy theories, a very amusing overview at

And last but not least: The Berlaymonster reports about EU plans to harmonise conference organisation. Definitely, a milestone! 😉

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Kosmolinks #4

Italy and immigration – Disharmony and tension – “The recent hysteria over Romanian immigrants says much about Italy and the fragile state of its politics” says The Economist.

Back to the people at TOL Romania It would all be about Nov 25 in Romanian politics if the “Italian hysteria” had not been dominating the political debate in Romania. Anyway, elections for the European Parliament as well as a much debated referendum will be held on the same day – but apparently in different polling stations.

Belgium crisis: Does the tradition of compromise losing its force in Belgium asks the International Herald Tribune. Is it time to say Bye bye Belgium? (which by the way is a nice article, but the author forgets to mention the fact that the “BHV problem” also goes back to a ruling of the constitutional court…)

Colorado Springs and the Politics of Conformity | TPMCafe The phenomenon of political “group-think” and how it relates to the Internet. Is it the same in the “Euroblogosphere”?

Sarkozy and the EU – His image as a reformer is only an image and that is why Europe should be wary of France’s reformist president.

The surprise of vice-chancellor Müntefering’s resignation in Germany: Merkel loses ‘Mr. Grand Coalition’ Is that the beginning of the end of Merkel’s coalition government?

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