Monthly Archives: March 2010

Statement by European Commissioner Potocnik on bluefin tuna

We are disappointed with the outcome of the CITES meeting as regards the EU proposal for a listing in Appendix I of bluefin tuna. The EU proposal was a strong commitment towards a sustainable future for the bluefin tuna and for fishermen. We regret that other Parties were not convinced with the merits of such a listing. We remain convinced that stringent measures are needed to ensure the recovery of Atlantic bluefin tuna. The European Union remains committed to the objective of safeguarding bluefin tuna stocks and we look to ICCAT to take its responsibility to ensure that stocks are managed in a sustainable way. If action is not taken, there is a very serious danger that the bluefin tuna will no longer exist.

Update: I put this here as I wasn’t sure it was available on the internet, but it is now, and you can find it here.

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Links 18 March 2010

Is this going to be the Internet election? Or is it going to be the election where everyone talks about it being the Internet election? Here’s some evidence that seems to suggest the former, while not ruling out the latter!

There is a pressing need for open debates in which ordinary voters can test candidates’ views and characters. Hustings in dusty churches and echoey halls may now seem consigned to the past, but that is all the more reason to cheer ingenious schemes to fill the gap by electronic means.

The Independent on civil service purdah

The solution is a sharper codification of purdah (on precisely when it applies and which institutions are bound by it) and a move to fixed-term parliaments. The concept of civil service neutrality is too precious for it to be abused in this fashion by unscrupulous politicians.

The story about someone trying to poison the soup at Stowe school has added piquancy for me (much like the soup, boom, boom) as my brother works there. Like the Independent though, I did have a wry smile at the idea of carrot and coriander soup being served at a boarding school. Good on the school and its systems though for catching it before it could do anyone any harm.

The Big thinkers blog at the CoI reports on an interesting project using mobile phones to support literacy.

I can’t help wondering if the discussion about a hung parliament is a little bit like the discussion about an “internet election”. But this leader in the Independent is quite interesting, not just  for what it says, but also the discussion after it, which for a newspaper comments discussion seems to be quite sensible! I do wish they had linked to the survey they refer to though, so we could have seen for ourselves. Comment is Free over at the Guardian seems to have got that element of online comment a bit more sorted.

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Links 17 March 2010

I know this has been around a while, but it truly is a genius idea. A folding plug.

I liked this article about Macedonia for the author’s example of what makes him feel English 

Having been in England since the age of 11, I have a foot in both camps – or, more accurately, find myself foreign in both places. I used to speak no English, then accented English, then accented Macedonian, and now I struggle to remember Macedonian words. This duality is no hardship to me – I’m equally happy to apologise when someone steps on my foot as I am to go around the house closing windows to avoid promaja.

Reminds me of a time when I stepped on a woman’s foot putting my bag on the overhead rack on a Eurostar. As she was British she said “Oh, I’m so sorry”. I said, “I stepped on your foot, I’m the one who is sorry”. “No, no” she insisted, “I should have made a noise.”

An interesting issue, whether to take your husband’s name when you get married, that is slightly on my radar at the moment. I think I’d have bothered less if I’d got married at 24, say, than now. Then, I didn’t really have a sense who Antonia Mochan was. Now, I’ve really got used to being her, and would find it really difficult to relate to Antonia Boyle. Having said that, I’m not going to get all upset if someone does call me Mrs Boyle once I’m married, but I don’t think I’ll change it.

Some ammunition to counter those that say that Britian is historically a white place – evidence that Roman York’s highest social strata were multiracial.

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Coming week to 19 March

I thought I’d experiement with putting information here about which Commissioners are coming to town, events organised by us and so on. It’ll usually be updated on a Friday or a Monday, when the Calendar comes out. It will be unashamedly UK-centric, and bringing together publicly available information. Please let me know if you find it useful.

All week – European Ombusdman visits UK, speeches in various cities.

16 March – Conservative shadow justice and home affairs team visits Commissioner Reding in Brussels

18 March – David Lammy, UK Minister for higher education and intellectual property meet Commissioner Barnier in Brussels

19 March – Commissioner Ashton is in Moscow for the Quartet meeting. Commissioner Andor is in Brussels at a conference of the GINI (Growing Inequalites’ Impact) project. Conference at BFI Southbank on using European cinema as a learning aid

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Wonderful World

We had a briefing today in the office with members of the Foreign Press Association which brings together the non-UK media based in London. It goes quite well with today’s Charlemagne blog-post about journalists in Brussels (see also today’s links). The reason we organised the briefing was a feeling, borne out by discussions with the FPA, that more and more foreign (read mainly extra-EU) correspondents are covering EU issues from London and withdrawing full-time correspondents from Brussels, and they need someone to explain a bit how thigns work and who to talk to. We had several Japanese outlets, Canadian, Nigerian, Chinese, Indian, but also Greek and French It’s interesting for us here, because it means that we need to consider the international and non-UK angle of stories much more than colleagues in other EU capitals. It also means that Commissioners’ media teams should see a visit to London as an opportunity to reach out beyond the UK media scene. It’s not going to be easy, but I hope that we will be able to provide a service to that group as well as the traditional UK media that we work with.

Added 16.19 on 16 March: Just to be 100% clear. I worked as a Spokesperson in Brussels for years and know how important the press corps there is to getting quality coverage of the EU into the media here. I am certainly not advocating people moving their correspondents from Brussels. Having said that, such decisions once taken, for whatever reason, will have a consequence for my work here and I am happy to do what I can to make the connections with those in Brussels and elsewhere in the EU set-up that can help people working out of London understand the issues in their entirety.

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Links 16 March 2010

Neelie Kroes encourages you to contribute to two public consultations

Two important consultations are now live. First, we are asking citizens and businesses and other interested parties consultation on how can we guarantee access to communications services in the digital era. The key question is: are our rules appropriate for the digital age? Should they be expanded to cover broadband access, for example?  The consultation will run until 7 May 2010. Separately the Commission is asking for views on use of Radio Spectrum 2010-2015, between now and 9 April.

A comment is free post on the new ECR grouping in the European Parliament

It’s also obvious that a fair few of the Tories eastern allies are rather keener than they are, for instance, on the redistribution of money from richer to poorer countries, on the CAP, and even on the euro. As the leader of a parliamentary party that is shortly likely to become more rather than less Eurosceptic, that could prove awkward for Cameron.

Charlemagne on the issue of journalists leaving the Brussels press corps and why.

It is mostly economic pressures that are shrinking the Brussels press corps. But there is a political problem too, as Jean Quatremer and others admit. The malaise gripping Brussels has its echo in a growing sense that the EU project is just not where the action is.

Charlie Brooker says it right on the climate change debate:

Hey, I’m no scientist. I’m not an engineer either, but if I asked 100 engineers whether it was safe to cross a bridge, and 99 said no, I’d probably try to find another way over the ravine rather than loudly siding with the underdog and arguing about what constitutes a consensus while trundling across in my Hummer.

And to make you smile, a fabulous picture from CuteOverload

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Links 09-03-2010

Charlie Beckett on which media will matter in the 2010 General Election

But here’s the headline news for election 2010: Mainstream Media is Back.

As a political sciences graduate, with a terrorism studies postgrad student in the house, I found Dave Wearing’s article on political sciences quite interesting. Should it even have the word science in it – the debate re-ignites…

I have yet to be convinced by the idea that the study of politics can be apolitical and value-neutral. Our choice of research topics will inevitably reflect our own political and moral priorities, and the way in which that research is framed and conducted is bound to reflect assumptions which – whether held consciously, semi-consciously or unconsciously – remain of a moral and political nature.

Charlemagne  – one of the best blogs on European issues, even if I don’t always agree with him – gets to grip with Greece

EMPATHY is always in short supply in recessions, even within the European Union where we are all supposed to understand each other instinctively. But really, the cross-border debate on Greece is depressingly simplistic.

Will Hutton talks some sense on the position of the VP/HR.

Ashton’s problem is not her power, but her lack of it. Before the meeting in Córdoba, she badly needed the letter David Miliband and Swedish foreign secretary Carl Bildt co-wrote saying that EU foreign ministers should get behind her. The world, and EU member states, needed more of the European Union, not less.

Charlie Brooker takes on the leaders’ debates:

if Nick Clegg spends the first 50 minutes rousing the audience with his fiery, lyrical rhetoric – as per usual – only to sneeze unexpectedly five minutes before the end, leaving a giant pendulum of mucus dangling off the end of his conk, the unfortunate mishap would be looped and repeated ad nauseam on every rolling news bulletin for weeks to come. He’d be Mr Snot. And do you want to vote for Mr Snot? No way. What if he sneezed on the nuclear button?

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