Monthly Archives: July 2008

Kids should know their rights


We’re launching a campaign today for children to design a poster to that depicts their rights.

The right of the child to protection” competition is open to children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 18 and asks them to design a poster on the right of children to protection in the European Union. These rights are enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental rights and the UN Charter on the Rights of the Child and include:

  • such protection and care as is necessary for their well-being.
  • expressing their views freely.
  • Having the child’s best interests as a primary consideration.
  • maintaining on a regular basis a personal relationship and direct contact with both his or her parents, unless that is contrary to his or her interests.


The deadline for submitting posters is 31 October of this year and winners will be announced on 20 November, the International Day of the Rights of the Child.


If you’re interested in getting involved, then send an e-mail to


[Sorry about the illegibility of the home page of the website!]


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Filed under The General Public, Youth

Loving the science

As the very few of you that read this probably know, I used to be Commission Spokesperson for Science and so am really passionate about the role of the EU in helping bring scientists together, within Europe and also around the world. A big event was recently held in Barcelona called the EuroScience Open Forum, which showcased the best of European science and provided a forum for scientists to get together and talk. (I should point out that though we supported the event, EuroScience are a separate organisation.)

I was chatting with my friend Aris last night on Facebook – he’s a former colleague from DG Research and now working in Barcelona (lucky beggar) doing communications at the Fusion4energy organisation, which is the European agency for the ITER project. ITER is about finding a new way to produce energy, based on the reaction that takes place in the sun as hydrogen and helium atoms collide, fuse and release energy. In ITER, this process takes place within a doughnut-shaped (toroid) chamber, called a tokamak. So they gave out doughnuts with “Tokamak” written on them! Here’s a pic – very inventive I thought. Even got a mention in Science!

Aris shows us what a torus looks like.

Aris shows us what a torus looks like.


So that was a fun way of making a point, and here’s another one from ESOF. EUFIC, the European Food Information Council, launched an internet tool to help us balance our food intake and our activity. I guess we all know that at the end of the day, the best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle is to eat less and exercise more, but sometimes it’s difficult to know how to quantify that. This website helps – you can get it to tell you how much walking you need to do to walk off a bag of Tooty Frooties ( a terrifying 38 minutes – that’s the sweets relegated to the drawer for a while!). A really great initiative, I thought.

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Filed under Personal

Our woman in London

I’m sitting in my office with the fan on, feeling like something from a Graham Greene novel! I lolve the warm weather, don’t get me wrong, but I do prefer it when I can lie in a garden overlooking the valley of the Neste river, or lie by a pool in Ibiza. It’s just not the same sitting in an office in Westminster!

Had a lovely weekend, with my first party at the house. Just a casual lunch thing on Saturday, with about 20 of us. No-one had met before, but everyone seemed to get on, and there were quite a few kids running around, from 7 months to 10. All great fun. A schoolfriend I hadn’t seen for nigh on 20 years turned up, which was delightful! Sunday I went to Clapham Farmer’s Market. Here’s a weird coincidence – Nafees who was on the Eisenhower Fellowship with me went to the Bonneville Primary School (where the market is held) for a short while when he was little. It’s a very small world…

It’s much more clear this week that the holiday season has started in Brussels – today has been very quiet. Still, gives me a chance to get on with some of the more long-term things we have to deal with, like helping a university that would like to give its journalism students a taste of “Brussels”, and tenders for this and that.

Also having some admin nightmares, not only on the personal front, with no-one having come back to me yet about my move, but also as I’m trying to recruit some new staff and have to wait until September for someone from Brussels to OK my choice. Given that I can only recruit people off a list drawn up after a recruitment procedure, I’m having difficulty seeing the logic in that…

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Filed under Living in London, Management, Personal

Green cities

Are you living in a “green” city? Then this might be of interest to you:

The European Green Capital Award (EGCA) promotes and rewards the efforts of local authorities in improving the environment. It is to be given each year to a European city with a population of more than 200,000 that is leading the way with environmentally friendly urban living. Four out of five Europeans now live in towns and cities so their environmental performance is becoming more and more important. Most of the environmental challenges facing our society originate from urban areas but it is also these urban areas that bring together the commitment and innovation needed to resolve them. The deadline for submitting applications for the 2010 and 2011 awards is 1st October 2008.  If your city qualifies, then you can get more information on:

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Filed under The General Public

It’s raining Euromyths

*sigh* a few days out of the office having a blast at the samba festival and I get back to find the office is euromyth central. For the general information of the world out there – we are not banning the acre, we are just not extending the use of a derogation that the UK government doesn’t make use of any more. The same legislation secures the status of the mile and the pint, so they’re not going anywhere either. Equally, we have nothing against Peking Duck, but some ovens used to make it have been found to be dangerous and so rightly removed from use – I don’t think anyone wants crispy skin so much they are willing for someone to get carbon monoxide poisoning. Let’s just recap: the EU is NOT banning the acre and the EU is NOT banning Peking Duck.

Another NOT in my life at the moment is I am NOT flying anywhere on EasyJet any time soon. We were left at Toulouse airport for more than 2 hours yesterday, so by the time we got through passport control and customs, it was too late for me to get a train back to Balham. Len and Bev very kindly let me stay at their house, but I’m really looking forward to getting back to Balham tonight and sleeping in my own bed!

The festival itself was ace though, indeed much more fun than I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be all samba dancing and women with big headresses and little bikinis, but actually it was predominantly percussion baterias and I can confirm that the rhythm IS going to get you… There was also some fantastic street art – from a troupe of musicians with bombards and drums singing in minority languages like provencal and languedocien, to a street magician, and Ens’batucada who were just outstanding – stuff for Watch This Space next year?. Plus I did stuff I love like going to French markets (3 in 5 days!) and I saw my house, which I’m so happy about. Just need to get some furniture into it now.


Filed under Culture, Euromyths, Living in London, Personal

A few days off

Just heading out the door for the European Language awards, where the Arsenal Languages Double Club is winning an award. Then I’m off for a few days to attend the Samba festival in my parent’s village in France (yes, you read that right!) Anyway, thought I would leave you with something special for the cat-lovers among you. It’s pure genius.

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Filed under Personal, Sports, Youth

It’s oh so quiet…shh…shh

Sorry I’ve been off air for a few days. Crazy days…

The weekend saw the move into the new house. Well, I already live there, but I had to move rooms and the new guy arrived and Rob and Amanda left, so it was all go. My brother arrived in the middle of it alland I met him and his friends in the evening. So a nice, but knackering day and I slept like a baby. Sunday was very low-key, which was more than made up for by Monday!

We have a really busy week, with several big stories coming out, including the drive to reduce the price of text roaming that will be announced today. We’ve been answering questions, setting up interviews and so on. It’s good to have announcements like this, which prove that we’re not all about arguing over institutional issues – mostly what we’re about is getting on with using our combined strength as a single market to benefit consumers.

Another story that cropped (hoho) up today was about tobacco and the agricultural subsidies that go to it while at the same time we are spending money on combatting smoking. It’s an irony that is not lost on the Commission, which is why we have pushed through proposals to stop the subsidies from 2010. Of course they can’t just be stopped one day, as it’s about livelihoods, and they need time to adjust their farming to a different crop. But from 2010 there will be no EU budget support for tobacco growing, in spite of attempts by some in the European Parliament to extend that deadline.

I had a really interesting meeting yesterday with a woman who does communication for a variety of EU research projects. It was nice to have that link back to my old subject, which still tugs at my heartstrings, and also to hear about how the projects are working with each other to address their communication needs. She works in the field of health and nutrition, so really relevant to today’s world and something that can really resonate. I was speaking to a health journalist a few days ago  and she said that when a press release comes from the European Commission about scientific results, they are more likely to take it seriously, as it demonstrates an objectivity (ie not funded by food or pharma companies).

One of the funny sides of this job is being a “diplomat” in your own country. No, don’t worry, I don’t get diplomatic immunity or anything like that, but I am part of a community here in London, with invites to the embassies, working with them on initiatives, taking part in cultural events. It’s a really nice side to the job, and makes it feel less like I’ve “come back” to London, and more like I’m in a different place to last time.

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Filed under Living in London, Media, Personal