Monthly Archives: June 2008

Austria and the EU – The SPÖ perspective

Better than any political commentary …. By the way: The original title of the cartoon is “Popo-lismus”…

(Hat tip: weltbeobachterin)

© Thomas Wizany

Update: For a more detailed analysis of the SPÖ’s new EU strategy check out the newly launched Euroblog Austria.

Marianne Mikko and the Blogs – Reloaded

Does anyone remember this story? The European Parliament was accused of trying to regulate blogs… of course this was not really the case. Basically Marianne Mikko (MEP) did not understand blogging and made some strange recommendation in a EP resolution (which has no legal weight whatsoever!).

Anyway, today the EUobserver reports that this story has also arrived in Sweden:

Swedish media have erroneously reported that the EU plans to register and bill all bloggers, setting off a firestorm of reaction in the country.

Politicians of all political stripes and most major media outlets have since furiously attacked the idea as another example of Big Brother snooping into people’s daily lives, while the MEP at the heart of the controversy has been compared to Romanian dictator Nikolae Ceausescu.

The article makes some good reading if you are interested in

a) How long it takes for a topic to spread across Europe… The whole issue came up more than a month ago! Another interesting thing is how the story was transformed … the ‘first’ debate a month ago was about a “quality mark and some disclosure remarks”; now the Swedish debate was about EU  plans to “register and bill all bloggers”.

b) How national and European debates mix. The new surveillance legislation in Sweden is of course a good context for the blog topic, although both originated within different policy areas. However, it seems to me that the bigger scandal is indeed the new Swedish law…

c) A bold political statement: “She has a hole in her head”

d) More proofs that blogging and presumably the Internet are not properly understood … In the words of Ms Mikko: “The Economist is a valuable brand, its articles are trusted by readers without contributors having to reveal their names,” she said. “If there is a way to validate the best bloggers the same way that publishing in the Economist validates its writers, it should be done.”

A Northern Perspective offers an explanation why we see this kind of debate in Sweden:

A combination of  a lack knowledge of how the EU works, British type tabloid sensationalism and the hidden agenda of a certain group of so-called liberals can make wonders in influencing the public opinion, a very useful thing in these days when the future of the Union is very much at stake.

Kosmolinks #17

  • The referendum: populism vs democracy

    The idea of the referendum as an instrument of the people’s will rests on pre-democratic foundations, says George Schöpflin. I certainly agree!

  • A better way with referendums

    Interesting idea: Is it possible to introduce a more deliberative approach when holding a referendum? Does “deliberative polling” make citizens more knowledgeable?

  • Instead of bullying the Irish, Europe should be working on plan D – and E

    Timothy Garton Ash actually favours the “Nice plus” arrangement.

  • Yes, they could

    What went wrong for the German Social Democrats? And how can they recover? – Although the article could focus more on the second question it makes a few good points. However, it seems to me that Kurt Beck is the wrong person to deliver “change”… unfortunately the same can be said for a large part of the SPD leadership!

  • WIA Report » Blogger Arrests

    Quite a shocking report: “Unfortunately, one way to assess the political importance of blogging around the world is through the growing number of blogger arrests. Since 2003, 64 citizens unaffiliated with news organizations have been arrested for their blogging activities.”

  • Centre for European Reform: Tough choices to avoid euro-paralysis

    Hugo Brady proposes the most likely outcome of the “EU crisis” after the ‘No’ in Ireland. And he mentiones one interesting point: “Many voters do not see the continuity between EU treaties and think that old guarantees are over-written by new texts.”

The mindset of EU Journalists

Here are the results of an intereting survey (pdf) on “Media relations and  Europe – from the journalist’s perspective”.  It was carried out by APCO, a public affairs consultancy in partnership with Journalists at Your Service (J@YS).  Although the sample was relatively small (121 respondents = 10% of Brussels press corps) there are quite some interesting facts to be found (Please note that this is just a personal selection, I recommend you to have a look at the survey results!):

  • Half of the reporters covering European affairs have been doing it for less than 5 years.
  • Only 10% read EU blogs
  • Many journalists say their audiences are interested in the EU but not well informed about it, and that journalists’ bosses are hardly any better informed than their readers, viewers and listeners.
  • 43% of the polled journalists would like to learn more about “The balance of  power between EU institutions”, only 13% want to learn more about the Single Market, the budget and trade issues.
  • A relative minority of journalists cover issues related to business regulation, fisheries, development and humanitarian aid.
  • Almost half of the journalists produce one or more stories a day.
  • What are the most important sources for story ideas? Blogs are seen by  3% as “very important”, by 4% as “often important”, 30% say Blogs are “sometimes important” and the majority of 63% say they are “not important”.
  • European Institutions get quite good grades for the quality of the information they provide.
  • Webcasts and podcasts as well as conference calls are relatively unimportant for EU journalists.
  • The best communicator of European affairs is… the European Commission, but at the same time a solid majority of journalists surveyed feel it does a poor job of communicating with the public.

Click here for more results of the survey (pdf).

Cameron vs. Brown

Interesting how Gordon Brown defends the EU and the Lisbon Treaty: Conviction or tactics?

Wise words…

Juncker

Jean-Claude Juncker, PM of Luxembourg made a few interesting comments at a conference that took place in Brussels just one day before the European Council:

“Politicians give the impression that Europe is being built against their will. Governments always try to explain in their countries that they have won against Europe”

And asked about a possible Plan B…

“In fact the Lisbon Treaty was the Plan B of the project for a European Constitution. If we still change the text, it will be a very small B”

And he goes on explaining the reasons for the mess we are in:

“Europe is not sufficiently proud of what it does (…) and the reason is that no government in particular can claim the merits from these achievements. Since governments like to attract the public’s attention only on their own achievements and not on common achievements, nobody speaks about common achievements.”

Let’s hope he will also have a word with his collegues at the European Council! Oh yes, and he seems to be a reader of this blog…

Kosmolinks #16

  • Joschka Fischer has no hope anymore…

  • Wolfgang Munchau – Europe’s hardball plan B for the Lisbon treaty

    “An alternative would be a referendum with a differently worded question, such as: “Do you want to remain in the EU on the basis of the Lisbon treaty?” Of course, this bundles two questions many people would like to answer separately. Yes, stay in the EU, No to Lisbon. But folding the two into a single question is politically more honest because it is Ireland’s only real-world choice.”

  • Robert Kagan – In Europe, a Slide Toward Irrelevance

    Robert Kagan’s take on the Irish ‘NO’ – basically what you would expect from him, but also with a few good points.

  • The fear factory devastated Ireland’s flaccid political class

    “You forgot us in Shannon.” — “Our sons are too good-looking for the army” –“right-wing Catholics” — “leftwing anti-militarists” — “a mysterious group that emerged from nowhere with a great deal of money to spend” — “Imported British Euroscepticism” — “a very efficient factory of fears” — “an extensive menu of anxieties” — “the scattergun of negativity only had to hit one sensitive spot”

  • Will Hutton: Europe must not be derailed by lies and disinformation

    “On top of these there is the political problem that the treaty can’t be rewritten to accommodate specific Irish concerns because it already does; Ireland’s ‘no’ campaigners told lies. The voters’ great concerns had been met. There is a specific protocol that guarantees Ireland’s neutrality and excuses it from membership of any joint European defence effort, if any surfaces. There is no possibility of Ireland being told to enforce abortion. And all states have autonomy over tax policy.”

  • “The Irish ‘no’ – like the 2005 French ‘non’ – shows a clear poor/rich and urban/rural divide. Working-class and rural voters are systematically voting against further European integration. European leaders should take note.”

  • A handy round-up about the Irish ‘No’ in the blogosphere…