As of tomorrow, my role in this office will change. I will no longer be the head of media, dealing with the press, TV, radio, agencies and online journalists that I have dealt with in the last 3 and a bit years. Instead I will be responsible for our publications, websites and digitial media, relations with NGOs and the voluntary sector, foreign languages, information networks and parts of England outside London. I hope this new post will give me a bit more time (and, to be honest, some renewed enthusiasm) for this blog. Time will tell…
Category Archives: EC in UK
”I welcome the ambitious goal announced by the United Kingdom’s government today to reduce emissions 50 per cent under 1990 levels by 2025. This is an outstanding example of strong willingness to act despite difficult economic times. It also confirms that clever climate policies are not only about climate alone; they are also about improving energy security, stimulating innovation, raising competitiveness, and creating economic growth and jobs. With this decision, the UK seizes a huge economic and innovation opportunity that will make its economy more competitive in the future”
One of the things we do a lot of in this office, and more so since the new government came into power, is talking to people about what they could expect from a career working for an EU organisation. I’ve written about some recent events such as the FCO’s launch event in October last year, our Q&A webchat on the Guardian site, the language careers event in June 2010, and a week of several events in March. Last week I was filmed for a site that the FCO are creating and will be launched in early February – I’ll blog about that when it goes live. Now Boris Johnson’s economics adviser, who I knew when he was a correspondent in Brussels, plows in to the debate with a piece in City AM. And then I come across this from the Europe Minister and European Commissioner Sefcovic, which I do like.
Here’s the text of a note we sent to newsdesks at the end of last year, which bears repeating:
Information note to Newsdesks: European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is not part of the European Union (EU)
Newsdesks and subeditors are asked to note that decisions of the European Court of Human Rights should not be referred to as EU decisions, and the judgements should not be attributed to “EU judges”, or any similar language. The European Court of Human Rights is part of the Council of Europe, a completely separate organisation to the European Union. The UK is a founding member of the Council of Europe, which was created in 1949 by the Treaty of London.
Council of Europe website: http://www.coe.int
Membership of the Council of Europe is now a precondition of EU membership, but the UK was a member of the CoE long before it joined the Common Market/ECC/EU and if it left the EU, I very very much doubt it would leave the CoE, and certainly wouldn’t do so automatically.
Our monitoring of Parliamentary Questions spat this one up today. Self-explanatory really.
Mr Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the letter from the Minister for Europe of 11 November 2010, on the European Union Bill, for what reasons his Department believes that the present terms of UK membership of the EU are in the national interest. 
Mr Lidington: There are many things about the EU we would like to change. However, membership of the EU gives UK business full access to the world’s most important trading zone, comprising 500 million consumers without the barriers of customs or tariffs. This is of great importance to the UK’s prosperity. 10% (3.5 million) of UK jobs are reliant on exports to EU member states, the beneficial effect of EU trade on UK households is estimated at between £1,100 and £3,300 per year, UK exports to member states are worth more than £200 billion, and EU Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) comprises 49% of overall FDI to the UK. Under the present terms of membership the UK plays a strong and active role in influencing and shaping developments within the EU, allowing us to further goals essential to the national interest, such as strengthening and expanding the single market, delivering growth, and promoting a resource efficient, low carbon EU economy. The European economic area (EEA) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members, in contrast, have to contribute to the EU budget without being able to negotiate the detail and content of EU legislation, and without receiving benefits such as the exemption from customs requirements and costs.
In addition, EU membership gives the UK better leverage and negotiating power on the global stage, allowing us to better achieve our international objectives on issues such as freer international trade, conflict prevention, stabilisation, climate change, human rights and development. There are also wide-ranging benefits for UK individuals, such as the right to study and work within the EU, and to receive free or reduced cost health care on temporary visits within EU member states.
How’s this for a great position for some lucky Eurogeek that likes Rugby League? As a former season ticket holder at Quins RL, I’d jump at it if it were compatible with my current functions.
The Board of the Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) is seeking to appoint an Independent Director to assist the Board in the delivery of its Strategic Plan 2011 – 2017.
The RLEF has recently launched its eight-year strategy which is based upon the values of Empowerment, Dynamism and developing a Rugby League Culture. The strategy can be summed up in the phrase “getting more people, playing more Rugby League, more of the time”. Behind that phrase are significant operational plans which are being delivered by a 10-strong team of consultants placed across Europe.
The Board would like to receive applications from candidates with a strong background in any or all of the following disciplines:
• Public Relations
• European Government
Successful candidates will be expected to attend Board Meetings, normally three per year, where they will provide help, guidance, advice and support to the Executive team, which is charged with the delivery of the strategy.
It would be an advantage to be able to speak more than one European language.
The position is a voluntary post but reasonable expenses will be met to assist in undertaking the duties. The successful candidate will be appointed initially until August 2012.
Applications should be made in writing, including a letter of application and a current CV, to the RLEF General Manager [if you’re interested, ask me for the contact details].
Closing date for applications is January 10th 2011
I was in Leeds yesterday for a conference on the European Year of Volunteering, organised by Leeds City Council. I was invited to give a presentation about the European aspects of the year. But it was just really interesting to be at the event, hearing what Leeds is doing. They had a local year of volunteering in 2010, which is why they are so enthusiastic about the European Year in 2011 and why they did the event. A nice aspect was that they had invited people from the voluntary sector and local administrations of their partner cities, Dortmund, Siegen (both Germany), Lille (France), Brasov (Romania) and Brno (Czech Republic), so it was possible to exchange experiences. One great idea that we heard about in a workshop on corporate volunteering was a website in the Czech republic where companies that would like to donate time can see what NGOs are looking for assistance, say with redecorating their premises. There are some similar services in some areas of the UK, such as Leeds Ahead who were at the conference, but it’s not obvious where to find them. I’d like this office to get into doing something, particularly given the theme of the next European year, but I have no idea how to go about finding an organisation that would like us to help out. If anyone has any pointers for me, that would be great!