European elections : when ?
I've got Europe in my home. In my cupboard, in my mobile phone, in my fridge, in my bed... well just about everywhere in my life.
I am talking about directives orginiating from the EU, and they can amount to suprising numbers in the day of an ordinary citizen. So I am collecting facts about regulations met by an ordinary citizen in an ordinary day. More to follow here on Café Babel Stockholm, but you can help me out. Give me some of your more interesting and curious rules and regulations in the comments and they will be illustrated in the upcoming article.
In the Italian Café Babel I write about the first part of Stieg Larsson's triology Millenium al cinema, ma senza “suspense svedese”. Not my favourite film, but I was not a fan to begin with. What do you think?
Update now you can read Cinema: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo lacks Swedish suspense in English
Nasty YouTube video clip about the Common Agricultural Policy CAP with chef Jamie Oliveoil.
Jamie Oliveoil recipe for EU Agriculture Fudge
The British Tax Payers' Alliance are making fun of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver (that will be the responsible chef for the G20 meeting in London). But the question brought up the Jamie Oliveoil video clip about the fudge on agriculture policy are serious and worth considering. How did we end up in the EU agriculture fudge and how can we get out of it?
How do you dismantle a system that like the CAP has outlived its initial objectives? The EU's farm subsidies are now handed out to rich and large farms. The CAP thus now also works against smaller farms in less affluent areas.
It's not future oriented to go for the CAP, a policy... that is connected with the Second World War - Former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson
Problems test the friendship, and in these adverse time financial crisis, many find it difficult to think about further enlargement. Fredrik Segerfeldt from Sweden argues in the article that there is No reason to stop at 27. Segerfeldt has written a report for the European Enterprise Institute about it. The best case to continue is not the economy but political and social in order to open up Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey for democracy and free markets.
The single institution that works as a drivning force for European integration today is the European Court of Justice. That is irony for you. So, what should the European parliamentary election in June be about? How about really investing in a political union? Or should the European Union become more driven by experts and less political?
We are at a crossroad, as it is hardly an option to just move on at the same pace as before. A number of member countries are really in dire straits in the economic crisis. Who guarantee that they will receive the needed assistance?
It would be difficult to use the Union as it stands, as the present treaty explicitly prohibits this. A member state cannot forward its budgetary problems to other members. The organisation that could do that would be the IMF- the International Monetary Fund.
Recently, Joschka Fischer, the former German foreign minister discussed that the European Central Bank ECB should start issuing EU bonds. Those bonds would create a debt for the EU, in order to get funds for relief. Fischer is proposing a huge step towards establishing a supernational government. If a political body can raise a debt, it is also close to being able to institute taxes to service its debts.
Besides the problems for governments bonds at the moment, one of the few potential buyers would be the Russian Federation. Russia has its fair share of problems of its' own, but the forceful expansion of Russian interests could mean that they would buy those EU bonds. Would this be a good development, particularly for the new member states?
So what is the solution? Leaving the euro and currency union? Not that probable. Will there be national bankruptcies? That would break the union in pieces.
There is a more difficult solution. More difficult because it requires reform of the European Union. The bureaucratic organisation of today, where the member countries confirm what the national authorities already have agreed upon is at a dead end. The only ones that could be charged with that authority would be the members of the European Parliament. This would mean that they would have to treat the upcoming election with a much more controversial stance, giving the understanding to the voters that European decision also require a heated debate.
In the end the ones that should increase their attendence at the elections are the politicians, especially at period in time when the nature of the European Union could be significantly changed.
Interestingly, there could be an issue that vitalises the elections to the European Parliament no one ever though of; the issue of Internet policy and intellectual property. In EU Debate of Café Babel, I write about the Swedish Pirate Party and the question of Internet piracy. In Intellectual property, Sweden and the battle of The Pirate Bay of March 5th, you can read more about how this issue is reaching the top level of European policy with the creation of national pirate parties.
Wille Fahler at the Ministryoftruth gives an interesting take on the economic crisis in On Money & Recessions - Recessions are not the problem. The difficult question is if this could mean that the many large programmes enacted by governments all over Europe are in fact bad investments? What do you think?
It is very interesting to read about the La Bola de Cristal TV-programme on post-Franco dictatorship Spanish TV. As a representative of La Movida, it seemed to tackle difficult topics with a particular punk rock style.
Of course, it was the aftermath of dictatorship that opened the door to pent up creativity. But there was a similar spirit of the times in Sweden in the 80's too. Perhaps less distinct, and certainly without the striking moniker, there was a large shift in Swedish culture. Government controlled TV and radio were gradually opened up for competition
Det bästa och värsta ur Diskutabelt. Del 5 - 24
One of most controversial programmes were Robert Aschberg's "Diskutabelt" that opened for a frank and sometimes bellicose interview style, previously unseen. The flourishing of TV and radio also gave energy and space to people working in the music industry with a wave of Swedish bands starting to spread their music all over the world. The deregulation of the telecom industry opened up for establishing a Swedish IT industry. The art scene opened up for postmodernism introducing artists like som Dan Wolgers, Annika von Hausswollf and Ernst Billgren.
Carnival- the cardigans
The parallells between La Movida and the spirit of the late 80's in Sweden may be said to be experimentation but also new space won from a stifling cultural climate. Seen in retrospect it may not have been a huge shift, but there certainly are some parts that are not possible to replicate on commercial TV today.
Last time Sweden had the presidency was under Prime Minister Göran Persson in 2001, will the new government of Fredrik Reinfeldt be better at the helm?
Göran Persson’s government was not really interested in the European Union. Certainly, it saw the benefits of the inner market and parts of the legal harmonisation, but it did succeed in the EU’s big bang enlargement in 2004, of building the Lisbon Agenda, and consolidating the Kyoto treatment for climate change.
No small feats, but Sweden received the help from the Romano Prodi-commission, a benign European Parliament, and the massive support of the United Kingdom and Tony Blair. PM Reinfeldt’s government will see a new commission take form in November, perhaps a Barroso 2.
For the European Parliament election. Sweden’s political parties seem to field candidates focusing on being critical to the EU. Being critical to the EU is good thing, but without an agenda to begin with it will create problems. Possibly Swedes will elect EU-sceptical parties
There will be difficulties to find to partners in pushing an agenda. France has previously showed its disapproval for the Czech and Swedish presidencies. Germany will have an election in September, with a Bundeskanslerin Merkel that is weaker than before. The presidency will be shorter and when Sweden takes over the presidency in July it will be in the middle of the vacations, with the European holidays starting in August. The Swedish presidency will be short of time.
With a more active Russia, some would even say expansionist after the war with Georgia, it could become a problem that Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt is not that welcome in Moscow after speaking up against the Kremlin’s policies.
Sweden’s agenda will probably not be a great surprise, building on the priorities of the Lisbon Agenda, of the post- Kyoto agreement in Copenhagen. Enlargement sees a great deal of fatigue in Europe, so seeing Croatia as member in 2009 or 2010 will not be possible.
Keep up for further updates and analysis on the Swedish presidency!
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