Monthly Archives: March 2008

The new Eiffel Tower!?

I was quite surprised when I came across the plans to build an extension on top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The aim is obvious: To enlarge the capacity for the visitor platform at the top level! There are some more pictures on the website of the architects. It is not quite clear whether this is the final and approved design of the extension. But if you know more about this project feel free to leave a comment! I was also not aware of any public discussion about this rather significant change of one of the most known European landmarks! Has there been any public discourse on this issue in France?

I must admit I don’t like the new extension. It somewhat changes and thus destroys the whole structure and architectural concept of the original tower design. What is your opinion?

http://www.serero.com/projects/eiffel/text/eiffel_notes_en.htm

Update: The architects posted a clarification on their website:  “Our project for a the temporary extension of the Eiffel tower is an unsolicited proposal to the Eiffel Tower management company. We are confirming that the SETE did not organized a competition on this topic, in contrary with what was announced in the press.” (read more here)

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Dysfunctional Romania

The Financial Times has a very accurate analysis of the state of politics in Romania:

One word probably best describes the political process in Romania, little more than a year after the country joined the European Union. It is dysfunctional.

A minority government is forced to scrape together a spendthrift budget with the erratic support of its sworn opponents. A venal parliament votes to protect its members from any investigation for corruption. Political parties baulk at obeying the orders of their elected leaders. A populist president blocks the prime minister’s decisions and appointments, but lacks the power to sack him. The bureaucracy itself is paralysed by fear of taking any initiative, lest it be accused of the very corruption its political masters refuse to acknowledge. All seem to conspire to undermine any hope of coherent decision-making.

“Who rules Romania?” is a perfectly valid question to ask. No one can give a clear answer. The government has been effectively hamstrung for the past year, ever since the ruling coalition fell apart bitterly in March last year just 90 days after the heady celebrations that marked EU accession.

(…)

It is unclear whether the real problem lies with the personalities, or the ambiguous constitution they inherited as part of the erratic post-Communist transition that Romania has pursued since the violent overthrow and execution of Nicolae Ceausescu, the country’s dictator, in 1989. (read the rest of the article here)

Unfortunately the article does not elaborate on the institutional shortcomings that are in my opinion the major underlying problem of the constant political crisis in Romania.

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One President of the EU

It is campaign time again! (the euro-blogoshpere seems to get into online campaigns…) “Who do I call if I want to call Europe?” is one of the best known quotes by Henri Kissinger. Now Jon Worth and Jan Seifert want to answer this question and launched the whodoicall.eu campaign that calls for one president of the EU.whodoicall The idea is that one person should be President of the European Commission and, at the same time, President of the European Council (the position which is newly created under the Lisbon treaty). Read the arguments here.

Although I am not completely convinced about this idea, I signed the petition because I think that this new position of a European Council president is somewhat unnecessary. It will only create more confusion among citizens that already today are not too familiar with EU institutions. I am also not too convinced that EU policy making becomes more coherent with a permanent European Council president as well as rotating presidencies in the Council of Ministers. It just makes things more complicated!

But one critical remark regarding Kissinger’s quote. He was Secretary of State so his “natural” EU counterpart is actually the High Representative of Foreign Affairs. So he should call Mr Solana and none of the presidents! So, instead of talking about the presidents, one should rather give the High Representative more power (or introduce more QMV in EU foreign policy) to ‘please’ Mr Kissinger.

(I don’t know if I want to please Mr Kissinger though, and anyway I doubt that Kissinger would ever refrain from negotiating with national counterparts…but that is a different story…)

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