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
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.
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