Category Archives: European news

Le jour est arrivé!

Finalement, on y est: la journée du blogging multilingue. Une idée qui m’est venue après une discussion sur Twitter si l’Euroblogosphere est trop anglophone. Il m’était clair que même si la plupart des Euroblogs sont écrits en Anglais, les écrivains eux-mêmes sont de plusieurs nationalités et langues maternelles: Ralf Grahn étant finlandais, Europasionaria espagnole, Julien Frisch allemand etc. Et aussi, ceux qui sont bien britanniques ou anglophone, comme moi, sont pas necessairement incapable d’écrire dans une autre langue (ou langues!).

Je suis impressionée par le succes qu’on a connu jusqu’ici, étant donné que cette initiative a été lancé un peu “bouche à l’oreille”. De ce point de vue, il s’agit aussi d’une experimentation des pouvoirs des médias sociaux.

Ich hoffe, wie können diesen Initiativ im nächsten Jahr nochmals machen, mit viel mehr Mitmachern/innen. Ohne zu “offiziel” zu werden : wir sind nach wie vor bloggers! Und ich werde versuchen zu Hause oder im Büro zu sein: ich bin im Moment in Manchester bei dem Parteiconferenz der britischen Partei der Arbeit, und ich muß alles auf ein iPad schreiben – nicht einfach, kann ich euch sagen!

Claro, lo que escribo no es perfecto. Pero es importante que communicamos. Y las lenguas son muy importante para communicar. Hablar con una persona en su lengua muestra cómo estamos abierto a las nuevas experiencias, nuevos modos de hacer, nuevas amistades!

Slechts een klein beetje op een ander taal te kunnen zeggen of schrijfen is beter als niets, denk je niet?!

*This post is part of the Day of Multilingual Blogging on 26 September, to mark the European Day of Languages.*


Filed under European news, Languages

Women in UK politics

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.

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Filed under European news, UK politics

Congratulations Charlemagne!

I was at the UACES/ThomsonReuters award for Reporting Europe last night. A nice event for several reasons. Firstly because I got to see several people I like who were over from Brussels, including Oana Lungescu and Stephen Castle, both of whom were nominated. Secondly, it’s good to recognise quality reporting on Europe when it occurs, backing up my constant assertion that good reporting doesn’t mean positive, it means accurate, which is the least the public have the right to expect. And thirdly because the winner was very worthy – the Charlemagne blog written by David Rennie at the Economist. There’s pretty universal agreement among EU geeks that his coverage of the issue is just about the best around. A shame he is moving on.

If you go to the UACES award site, you’ll see a video of the shortlisted prizes put together by students at Kent University. It gave a nice impetus to the ceremony and gave a good flavour of the various candidates.

As a bit of a social media geek (as well as an EU one) I really enjoyed this piece by Mark Pack on the whole #nickcleggsfault thing on Twitter. Though this isn’t perhaps THE internet election, the role of social media has I believe made differences to how issues are discussed. It’s made it easier to find, connect to and discuss with people who are interested in the same things (even if coming at it from different perspectives and viewpoints). That is surely a good thing.

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Commission statement:air passenger rights apply in light of volcanic ash cloud

Update 28 April: Here’s the latest statement on this from the Commission.

Air travel: volcanic ash cloud – EU passenger rights continue to apply

 Speaking today following the closure of airspace and airports in more than 8 EU counties including Ireland, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, due the volcanic eruption in Iceland, European Commission Vice President Siim Kallas responsible for Transport said:

 “The volcanic ash cloud is a very significant threat to air safety. National authorities are required to take decisions to ensure safety under international law, such as closure of airspace and airports, without discrimination between airlines.

 In this case, the airports and those responsible for air traffic control have taken very swift and appropriate action to safeguard the public.  And there is excellent co-ordination and co-operation at European level, notably within Eurocontrol.

 But even in exceptional circumstances EU passenger rights continue to apply and air travellers should speak up to claim their rights.”

 With regard to passenger rights, the Vice President added:

 “This is a situation which is causing immense difficulties for passengers travelling throughout Europe.  It can be considered a very exceptional circumstance.  Nevertheless, it is important to remind passengers and airlines that EU passenger rights do apply in this situation”:

 –       the right to receive information from airlines (e.g. on your rights, on the situation as it evolves, cancellations and length of delays)

 –       the right to care (refreshments, meals, accommodation as appropriate)

 –       the right to chose between reimbursement of fares or be re-routed to final destination

 In an exceptional circumstance such as this, passengers are not however entitled to additional financial compensation that would be the case where delays or cancellations are the fault of the airline.


 These rights are established by the EU Directive on air passenger rights (Regulation 261/2004)

 For more information on your rights see:

 The EU Top12 Recommendations for Passengers

 Passengers are advised to contact their airlines, and in case of problems the national enforcement bodies (see list: )

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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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In among concerns all the heavy stories we have to deal with  – eurozone, Lisbon Treaty, MEP’s outbursts – there is sometimes light relief. See today’s story coming from the Joint Research Centre (declaration of interest – I used to be their Spokesperson) on using neutron beams to learn more about a Bronze Age sword.

 The story showcases quite well the various applications of science, even nuclear technologies (and don’t get me started on Boron Neutron Capture Therapy), though I have to admit to having had a schoolboy snigger about the name of the village where the sword was found…

The (ahem) Buggenum sword

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Thinking about you

It’s time for round 3 of the think about it blogging competition, which this time is on development issues, something close to my heart, giving my years living in developing countries and working in that area at one point in my Commission career. Anyway, I think the competition is quite interesting, as it seems to be at the core of the burgeoning Euroblogosphere, which, while pretty small, is (arguably) mch more identifiable than any sort of European press. So, give it a go!

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Getting some glamour in our lives

Well I never! Glamour magazine, from the Condé Nast stable and aimed at the fashion-concious young woman has a piece this month on “The EU in 60 seconds”.  Quotes the European Movement, UKIP and Maurice Fraser of the LSE, which seems to cover all the bases. Great stuff!

The EP approved the Barroso II Commission today, so we get started tomorrow. Glad the inter-regnum is over and we can get on with getting on with things!

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Milk and honey

I’m sure today’s Express article (strap on front page, article page 3, opinion page 12) had the good burghers of the UK spitting out their Earl Grey in disgust, where it broke the story that the EU was planning to ban milk jugs in the good old British tea shop. Needless to say it’s rubbish. And it’s an interesting look at how these stories come about. We’ve seen the copy that was filed, which was about the discovery by some Spanish researchers that a lot of milk in coffee shops etc didn’t meet hygiene standards. The leap from there to an EU ban was purely in the mind of some sub at the Express. Purely. I would link to the story, but it was taken down pretty quickly and replaced with something nearer the original when this was pointed out to them. But how will the 700,000 people who bought a copy of the Express know that?

Even as other issues displace Haiti at the top of the news ladder, the relief effort there continues. The Commission’s humanitarian department is supporting NGOs on the ground and has a team out there. Their letters make interesting reading. The latest is on our website. Those from before, in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake can be found on the Facebook Page of ECHO, the humanitarian aid department.


Filed under Euromyths, European news

Moving on up

Just had a discussion on Twitter with @npanayotopoulos and @kosmopolit about the problems faced when someone moved from one European country to another. Moving to the UK, you are often required to provide referees to rent – how do you get those if you lived in your own home, or your landlord doesn’t speak English? I have had my own problems getting credit because I haven’t got 3 years of addresses in the UK. Would really like to hear what else has come up. These are the nitty gritty issues of being in the EU and are in their way far more important to many people than the intricacies of the co-decision procedure as amended by Lisbon!


Filed under European news, Living in London