The Coming Week feature (haha, definitely need that tongue-in-cheek icon…) is suspended for the summer, as the official calendar won’t be published again until la rentrée in September. I know how much you will all miss it…
Monthly Archives: July 2010
It’s amazing what you find if you read everything in your inbox! An e-mail with the coalition’s reponse to comments on its programme has languished in there all day, and I just got round to reading it. Pretty interesting stuff! Of course my main interest was the Europe section and it’s good to see a pretty straight-down-the-line defense of our EU membership. Also glad to see it wasn’t with foreign affairs, but was a stand-alone issue. I’m looking around to digging about in some of the other sections. Haven’t watched the video yet, I must admit.
Here’s the full set of links (let me know if you have any problems making them work – it may not all have made it with the cut-and-paste!):
The Coalition: Our programme for government
We thank all of you who engaged with this historic Coalition agreement by taking the time to read and comment on our programme. We promised government departments would read and respond to all comments that fall within their policy areas, and they’ve now done so.
Below you can find a response to each section of The Coalition: our programme for government. These responses focus on the main themes raised in each section.
You can also watch a video of Oliver Letwin and Danny Alexander discussing your feedback on the homepage.
Links to responses
These links take you to the websites of different departments, where the responses have been published.
The Robert Schuman Foundation have recently published some research which compares the level of ministers and members of parliament across the EU and show how many are women. The UK comes in below the EU average on all three indicators that they use:
Women ministers – EU average: 25.75% // UK: 17.39%
Women in national parliament – EU average: 24.32% // UK: 21.88%
Women in European parliament – EU average: 34.92% // UK: 33.33%
Which countries came top? You won’t be surprised to hear it was Finland for ministers, Sweden for national parliamentarians and Finland for women in the EP. Bottom? Hungary for ministers, Malta for the national parliament and Malta again for the EP.
On the day that Catalonia bans bullfighting, I just thought I would make clear that whatever you might have heard, the EU doesn’t subsidise bullfighting, either directly (which it never did) or indirectly (through subsidies for raising bulls). Farm payments are no longer linked to production, so farmers don’t get money for the bulls they raise, but for respecting standards such as environmental legislation.
I went to a very interesting event about science journalism in the UK last year at the Royal Institution which I blogged about about the time. One of my conclusions was that many of the issues faced by science journalism reflect very closely issues faced on coverage of European issues. Science isn’t covered well by the general press. Neither is Europe, on the whole. So when you put the two together, as the Daily Mail did this morning, then you can imagine what comes out.
Needless to say, the Daily Mail over-simplified, if not to say ridiculed, the real situation. The project has found ways to improve fruit storage, reduce waste, cut pesticide use and encourage children to eat fruit instead of sweets. These are important things. An interesting fact: The EU produced 7.7 million tonnes of eating apples in 2008. So if research like this can cut costs so that apple prices fall by just one penny per kilo that will mean annual savings for consumers of £64 million – or more than five times the cost of the project. Never mind the health benefits of reduced pesticide use, and the suffering caused by allergies (I know alot about that one!) This was the first project to quantify the cholesterol-reducing properties of apples, which can have a direct effect in reducing medicines taken – saving health services money.
Of course, we could have told the Mail all of this if they had bothered to ask us…
I’ve been away on holiday for a week, so this is old news, and you’ll probably have seen that we have a new head of rep, Jonathan Scheele, who will take office on 1 August. I have known Jonathan since I moved to Brussels in 1995, as we were in the same theatre group, and I’m really pleased he will be my new boss. It really will be a new era for this office, because his first main task will be overseeing the office move to its new premises in Smith Square. So by the end of 2010, we’ll be in new shinier premises with much better public facilities, and with a new man at the helm. Let’s see what happens!
Update 11.30: Have just found out that our new head of office is a blogger!
PS: I did a course on writing for the web recently and there was a discussion on whether links should be embedded in the text, or listed at the end. Which do you prefer?