Monday 2 March 2015

Currently browsing 'EU Citizens and Media'

A section examining the question of media freedom, EU media coverage and citizens in the EU.


Varoufakis: Musky armpitted sex god

Posted by on 01/03/15

They used to say the EU lacks a narrative. The crisis has remedied that. The high stakes poker game being played out by Angela “cool-hand” Merkel and Yanis “motherfucker” Varoufakis has unleashed a colourful social media storm, which continues to throw up surprises, the latest being a successful German attempt at humour.

Featuring self-parodying stereotypes: blitzkrieg, parents slapping children, slapping generally, and the observation that “We started two world wars and almost won them both,” a video from Neo, a programme created by national broadcaster Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), is the latest to enter the fray.

The video – called “V for Varoufakis” – fuels the celebrity death match being played out on social media between between Mutti Merkel and her leather-jacketed, game-theorising Marxist opponent.

Shaven-headed Varoufakis is described as “the Greek minister of awesome” and “the walking debt”, depicted licking a motorbike seat and described as having musky tasting armpits.

The lost son of Zeus smells of sex and puts the hell in Hellenic, according to the video.

All of which will come as little surprise to Varoufakis presumably, since the social media storm has already seen him as Dr Spock, Bruce Willis in the action film Die Hard and the Terminator.

In a spoof image inspired by Star Trek, Mr Varoufakis was portrayed as Dr Spock, trying to read Merkel’s mind. Varoufakis now boasts 315,000 Twitter followers. Not bad for a New Left Review-reading economics professor.

Varoufakis would doubtless welcome the storm, given that he is known disciple of twisty neo-Marxist German philosopher Jürgen Habermas, whose ideas – insofar as anyone understands them – push for simple media narratives within the political demos. Indeed, the German Noam Chomsky has thrown his Frankfurt School weight behind Greece in the debate.

Nevertheless the latest video is quite a coup for Merkel’s side. Tackling head-on some of the darker noises coming from Greece about Nazi-era crimes through humourous allusions to German gold reserves (“Don’t ask where it came from”) and comparing rock star Varoufakis with Germany’s own finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble (“Our finance minister doesn’t even have legs”) is quite disarming.

The EU’s black boxes are Council and trilogue

Posted by on 01/03/15
By Joop Hazenberg The Commission is an open house; the European Parliament a chaotic place but not a fortress. The real transparency threats are Black Boxes 1 & 2: the Council and trilogue bodies.

PR challenges in a changing EU

Posted by on 26/02/15
By Stavros Papagianneas “Accuracy, Authenticity and Interest” was the slogan of Ivy Lee, one of the founding fathers of public relations. Almost 100 years later, Europe faces challenges to meet these in their communication strategy.

“EU Constitution belongs to citizen” – Andrew Duff

Posted by on 25/02/15


Prior to the 2014 elections the EU’s leading federalist and constitution specialist, Andrew Duff, oversaw the writing and drafting of the Fundamental Law Treaty to amend the Lisbon Treaty. The aim is for the EU to form a federal government to help it function more efficiently and eliminate many of the problems the EU has been encountering. The recent crisis’s have threatened the EU edifices, which were launched to help European citizens achieve greater prosperity.

Andrew Duff, is currently helping to prompt the initiation of an intergovernmental conference, which is the first official step for a treaty revision. His latest book, “Penelope, Pandora and Polity: How to Save the European Union, details the need for a federal government for the EU to overcome its structural problems. He is currently speaking throughout the EU to educate EU citizens on his proposals.

EU architect’s like Andrew Duff aim for a Europe that is united similar to a United States of Europe. According to EU critics, men like Andrew Duff are faceless bureaucrats out of touch with the citizens of the European Union. This is not the case with Andrew Duff. He makes continuous efforts to draw close to the citizen.  In his books he invites EU citizens to his twitter account to comment on his proposals.  Andrew Duff also contributes to several blog sites and writes letters to the editor, which is unheard of from a man who is lumped in with the political elite. Andrew Duff even appeared in the comment section of an article correcting the journalist who wrote it.

In one particular interview, Andrew Duff was questioned by a youth who suffered a disability from Speak Up, an award winning charity for the disabled. According to Speak Up’s website, Andrew Duff stopped in to see them.

Andrew Duff is helping write the EU’s future and while pressing for the initiation of the Fundamental Law he makes every attempt to get as close to the people as possible.  This is reflected in his affirmation that “the Constitution belongs to the citizen.” Andrew Duff’s actions mirror his words.

While this interview provides a view into the EU’s move forward, and takes an in-depth look at the Fundamental Law, while getting a glimpse into the mind of the man who wrote it, we see Mr. Duff’s emphasis on the preeminent Member State within the EU and the role of the citizen.

Erika Grey

Europa lists seven Treaties and one act that make up the European Union, but you list many more in your book on Pandora, Penelope and Polity, How to Change the European Union.  How many actual Treaties make up the Union and how many Acts?


The Treaties process- the founding Treaties, which go back to the Treaty in Paris in 1951 and all those things that have happened throughout that period, comprise a corpus of constitutional law, which is the statute of the European Union.

The pile of these Treaties- when you pile them up on a table, is very tall and very heavy.  The drafting hasn’t always been very good.  In fact [it has] frequently been drafted so that the outcomes and figutes have sort of disguised the purpose of changing the Treaties- the [Member] States have clouded in ambiguity- when they drafted these things.

It is not a surprise that the public is uncertain as to their meaning. It’s very difficult. It is very hard to oblige the citizen to be interested in constitutional law. The American people think they have this great thing the constitution, but they’ve never read it. They have no idea how much its grown with amendment after amendment and how complex it is has become…this idea that it is a simple concise clear thing like the Magna Carta for instance.

Erika Grey

I have certain questions regarding the Fundamental Law. The Member States play a significant role in the EU’s political evolution and have derailed its momentum and progress at times, does this change with the Fundamental Law?


Yes, the Fundamental Law displays or it illustrates what a federal union would be like. The States are still there.  They still play and important part especially as the component of the second chamber of the legislature- in critical issues of global strategy for instance the Ukrainian crisis. The States and especially the Prime Ministers and Presidents of the larger States have a important part to play in such a global crisis. But, they aren’t in the federal prospectus that I’ve put forward. As it were the masters of the Treaties; the Treaties become a Constitution and the Constitution belongs to the citizen, which has popular sovereignty- to own the Treaty construct, which at present it does not. It’s not up to lawyers and diplomats. We want to bring the exercise closer to the people so that there is a sense of identity with the government of the union that at present people just don’t have.

Erika Grey

I want to ask you some questions about what I see as inconsistencies in the Fundamental Law. The Fundamental Law or “the Law of the Union.” reclassifies Member States as States and its aim is to establish full-fledged Federal Union. Yet, in several areas it reverts back to the nation state having preeminence such as in the UN.

Article 414, it states:

States which are also members of the United Nations Security Council will concert and keep the other States and the Foreign Minister fully informed. States which are members of the Security Council will in the execution of their functions, defend the positions and the interests of the Union, without prejudice to their responsibilities under the provisions of the United Nations Charter.

Once the Fundamental Law establishes the EU as a United States of Europe and it is a federal union, wouldn’t the States that hold seats in the Security Council cease to exist as sovereign nations and have to withdraw from the Security Council, such as West Germany, Czechoslovakia? The follow up question to that is, once the Fundamental Law is established and the EU achieves political union wouldn’t the federalized EU need to submit a new application to the UN and apply as a member because it will be an actual government for the people?


Yes, I think that one’s not to preempt or preclude from anything happening in the years to come. The problem in the present treaties is it is very prohibited to what you can’t do, what you mustn’t do.

What I want to do is to create a treaty- constitutional treaty -that is more permissive that will permit the development of a common foreign security and defense policy in its time and as circumstances permit.

If I had sought at this stage to prescribe the abolition of the permanent seats of France and the UK in the Security Council of the UN- in the absence of any larger reform of the UN, incidentally, which is a different issue but an associated one- I think that would have been considered to be rather absurd. One has to be pragmatic.  One can have aspirations.  One can have clear objectives, but I think that in the means to achieve a common international policy, one has to recognize it’s going to take time. It’s going to take process.  There is going to be a process of integration as simulation of building trust between the States of the EU in each other’s diplomacy-sharing intelligence’s-but treatment is a very sensitive issue.

Erika Grey

Yes, it’s very delicate, and to try to balance that as well.


So one I think can’t be too naive about this.

Erika Grey

So that was deliberate then, that was deliberate to not take that step because that would be too offensive?




For more from Andrew Duff follow him on twitter @AndrewDuffEU, and be sure to purchase a copy of his book. Penelope, Pandora and Polity: How To Change The European Union. Also be on the lookout for the next interview in this series, which continues to take a deep look into the Fundamental Law and Europe’s move forward.


Journalists on the lookout for data tools

Posted by on 25/02/15

“Don’t ask what you can do for data”…

People gathering at the News Impact Summit Brussels on Tuesday (24 February) were wondering what new tools and approaches exist to innovate in today’s EU affairs media landscape.

EU Community was invited to present their approach: how can data work to our benefit, increasing our day-to-day understanding of EU policy-making?

EU Community is building applications on top of the EU’s open data sources and all kinds of other data flying around, we told the audience: “It’s combining data analytics with crowdsourcing tools and user input, to make sense of the day-to-day EU affairs process.”

A lot of people working in EU affairs – whether they’re a journalist, lobbyist, politician or citizen – still get lost in the big pile of data and information.

The EU institutions, hacktivists, transparency activists and many others have helped to open up EU data over the past years. The datasets are out there: here, here, here or here.

This data has the potential to change the public debate on the European Union, making it more evidence-based, accurate, relevant and efficient. It can contain answers to the questions policy-makers are asking themselves, EU professionals are putting on the table and European society as a whole is looking to solve.

EU Community is working to pioneer this field. We aim to develop the tools that will allow EU experts to connect the dots.

Perhaps it can inspire answers – and new questions - for the next News Impact Summit?


You can have a look at the Twitter conversation that happened during the event, here.

The event’s agenda is to be found here.

We’ll follow up soon with more information and links to the conference’s presentations and ideas.

#Media4EU: Who on High Level Group on healthy EU Media sector?

Posted by on 24/02/15
Last month, Fondation EurActiv released its ‘Yellow Overview’ with 6 recommendations for independent and sustainable media in Europe at an event gathering 120+ policy-makers, stakeholders and media representatives in the European Parliament. (You can read more on this here and here, and in my previous #Media4EU blog posts.) Call for a High Level Group for a [...]

Technology: boosting the impact of news

Posted by on 22/02/15
Guest blogpost by Wilfried Ruetten, director of the European Journalism Centre, ahead of the News Impact Summit Brussels discussing new tools and approaches to cover the European Union. It is the business of journalism to generate and distribute relevant information, and its future depends on how well we manage to launch new journalistic products and [...]

París, Copenhague… y todas las miradas sobre los judíos

Posted by on 22/02/15

2015 ha empezado francamente mal. No es que 2014 fuera un camino de rosas, pero queda claro que la escalada de violencia contra los judíos ha entrado en una nueva fase. El 20 de enero redacté una entrada en el blog de The Jerusalem Post indicando que “parece que hemos alcanzado un momento crítico, y debemos actuar con rapidez y determinación”.

No hemos tardado en recibir otra llamada de atención que nos recuerda que estamos viviendo una especie de tiempo de prórroga, y que todos navegamos en un mismo barco. Francia se sumerge en el antisemitismo y no es un caso aislado. Tampoco lo fue Bélgica en su momento, ni lo es Dinamarca ahora. Podemos comprobar cómo el antisemitismo se extiende velozmente por toda Europa, y la posibilidad de que cruce el Atlántico no es descabellada.

A decir verdad, no creo que los judíos vayan a encontrar mucho sosiego en la Europa de hoy. Es un continente amenazado por el Islam radical, y los europeos carecen de fortaleza interna para defender sus valores. La guerra que el Islam extremista libra contra los judíos no viene motivada por un territorio, su gobierno, o la vida de los palestinos en Gaza. Se trata de una Yihad con un solo propósito: acabar con los infieles. Y el primer objetivo son los judíos.

No obstante, debemos entender que esta postura antisemita no es exclusivamente musulmana. El rechazo a los judíos está extendido por todo el viejo continente. Quizá los musulmanes lo demuestran de una forma más explícita y agresiva, pero hemos visto en numerosas ocasiones que los oriundos europeos, simpatizantes de todos los colores políticos, no tienen inconveniente en sumarse a las sacudidas antisemitas. Siendo esta la situación, pienso que si los judíos quieren sentirse a salvo, harían bien en considerar la posibilidad de residir en otro lugar.

Hoy por hoy, Israel y Norteamérica parecen los dos lugares más seguros para los judíos. Pero sería un craso error pensar que pueden establecerse allí y resguardarse de este temporal antisemita para luego retornar a sus hogares en Europa. El antisemitismo se propaga como un fuego descontrolado y pronto devorará al mundo entero.

De modo que huir no servirá de mucho. Es preciso hacer una profunda introspección para entender de dónde procede este tsunami de odio. Hasta ahora, los argumentos tradicionales recordando nuestras aportaciones a la ciencia, la economía, la cultura y la ética han resultado probadamente ineficaces, y por lo tanto, debemos buscar respuestas en otro lado.

El único factor por el que los judíos han sido siempre odiados y envidiados es su solidaridad, la unión de su comunidad. No obstante, los antisemitas esgrimen que hemos usado siempre esta cualidad en beneficio propio y en contra del resto del mundo. Creo que es ahí donde tenemos que buscar el porqué del antisemitismo, ya que el mundo, subconscientemente, está esperando que extendamos esta solidaridad y la compartamos con ellos. Esa es nuestra verdadera aportación al mundo. Y a menudo quedo asombrado de que las personas que menos podría imaginar entiendan sumamente bien esta naturaleza especial de los judíos.

Una vez coincidí en un debate televisivo con el ruso Alexander Projanov, antisemita declarado y editor jefe del periódico de extrema derecha Zavtra (Mañana). Projanov dijo explícitamente: “Me da la sensación de que los judíos ya han conseguido unir a toda la humanidad. La globalización fue generada en primera instancia por los judíos, con su pasión por el dinero, la opulencia y el poder… La humanidad ya está unida, pero ¿cuál es la base de esa unión?… Podemos decir que ya se ha completado la primera parte del trabajo (unir a la humanidad), así que no sea usted tan duro con su pueblo”. Me sorprendió que me reprochara mi actitud crítica hacia mi propio pueblo. “Lo que ahora hace falta”, continuó diciendo, “es rellenar esa interconexión con algo diferente, extraer de ese conglomerado todos los aspectos negativos que ahora lo rellenan (la avaricia y las luchas de poder)… De hecho, su pueblo (los judíos) ya ha completado parte del trabajo”.

Es demasiado tiempo el que hemos estado esparciendo la discordia. No se trata de que ahora tengamos que estar de acuerdo en todo; simplemente debemos aprender a estar unidos por encima de nuestras diferencias. Los sabios judíos siempre nos recordaron que esa es precisamente la salvación de Israel: su unidad. Y unión es lo que ahora necesitamos.

Estamos enfrentados, tanto en Israel como en cualquier otra parte del mundo, poniendo de manifiesto una clara desunión entre nosotros. Sabemos que el mundo observa detenidamente cada uno de nuestros movimientos. Ningún otro país ha sido “galardonado” con un delegado de Naciones Unidas dedicado exclusivamente a estudiar esos movimientos. Ninguna otra nación ha sido acusada de provocar todas las guerras y todos los sufrimientos del mundo, incluso en países donde es prácticamente imposible encontrar judíos (Corea del Sur).

Ser culpados de todas las desgracias es una auténtica pesadilla, pero si jugamos bien las cartas, puede convertirse en una bendición. Ser el foco de atención nos permite estar en la mejor posición para influenciar un cambio positivo. Actualmente, somos un modelo de fragmentación social; y yo me pregunto, ¿qué ocurriría si nos convirtiéramos en lo contrario? ¿Cómo reaccionaría el mundo si mostrásemos nuestra unión –no una unión sectaria, sino una unión abierta a incluir en su seno a todas las naciones?

Henry Ford, fundador de la Ford Motor Company, además de un innovador empresario industrial fue un sagaz y elocuente antisemita. Su libro El judío internacional – Un problema del mundo, me dio mucho que pensar acerca de lo preparado que está el mundo para comprender el mensaje de unidad y el rol de los judíos en este proceso. Ford tenía en alta consideración los valores y preceptos judíos, y creía que ponerlos en práctica traería grandes beneficios a la humanidad. Citando sus propias palabras: “Los reformadores contemporáneos, que se dedican a construir modelos sociales sobre el papel, harían bien en observar el sistema social bajo el que se organizaron los primeros judíos”.

Ford no solo pensaba que esos valores eran admirables, sino que era tarea del judío transmitirlos a toda la humanidad. Afirmó que “La religión judía es la que proporciona estructura moral a las otras dos grandes religiones”, y solicitaba que la compartiéramos: “Parece que todo el cometido profético de Israel ha sido ilustrar moralmente al mundo mediante su actuación”.

Durante un momento, deberíamos abrir los ojos y mirarnos en el espejo, aunque no resulte agradable. E inmediatamente después comenzar a asentar una nueva sociedad, esta vez basada en la unión y el apoyo mutuo.

Todos los miembros del pueblo judío deberían esforzarse en ello, y cuanto antes, mejor. Es cierto que, en estos momentos, debemos emigrar allá donde nos sintamos más seguros. Pero no debemos olvidar que en ningún lugar estaremos a salvo; no hasta que nuestra unión sea una realidad y la compartamos con todo el mundo, como nos exigen los antisemitas más acérrimos. Ese es el escenario en el que todos saldremos ganando, pero tenemos que estar dispuestos a dar el primer paso. Un solo paso hacia nuestra unión para compartirla con el mundo, y diez pasos más dará el mundo para hermanarse con nosotros.


Michael Laitman es Profesor en Ontología, Doctor en Filosofía y Cabalá, y Máster en Biocibernética Médica. Fue el primer estudiante y asistente personal del Rabí Baruj Ashlag (el RABASH). El Profesor Laitman ha escrito más de 40 libros que han sido traducidos a decenas de idiomas y es un solicitado conferenciante. Más información sobre Michael Laitman en la página:

Zijn er nog moedige politieke leiders in Europa?

Posted by on 22/02/15

De Roemeense dictator Nicolae Ceausescu verplichte zijn burgers om de winters in de vrieskou door te brengen. Hij sloot de fabrieken door de werking van de elektriciteitscentrales te onderbreken om zo de nationale schuld van 9 miljard dollar terug te kunnen betalen aan buitenlandse banken. Deze maatregelen bleken niet te werken en na de volksopstand van 1989 werd hij gefusilleerd . In landen van de eurozone zie ik zoiets brutaals niet gauw gebeuren. De Roemeense, en andere, geschiedenis toont ons echter dat politieke carrières en politieke stabiliteit grotendeels afhankelijk zijn van de economische resultaten.

De Griekse schuldencrisis die eind jaren 2000 losbarstte, begint meer en meer op een langdurige TV adaptie van Victos Hugo’s “Les Miserables” te lijken. Het was het gevolg van drie factoren. Ten eerste, een extreem clientelisme, ontwikkeld door de twee grote partijen die de laatste decennia afwisselend hebben geregeerd. Ten tweede, de overdreven leningsdrang van Athene in de periode 2000-2010 en de roekeloze leningen toegestaan vooral afkomstig van Franse en Duitse banken. Ten derde, de rigide en punitieve Europese aanpak van de crisis onder leiding van Berlijn.

Deze laatste factor heeft geleid tot de verschuiving van de oorspronkelijke Griekse schuld aan privé banken naar landen van de eurozone en dit rechtevenredig met de verschuldigde bedragen aan lokale banken. Het was de keuze van Europa om de schuld door te schuiven naar de Griekse bevolking. Met de sociale gevolgen is echter geen rekening gehouden.

De onmenselijke crisis heeft tot de verpaupering van de bevolking, protectionisme en extreme polarisatie geleid. De grote centrumpartijen zijn verdrongen door een golf van populisme en nationalisme. Een fenomeen dat niet alleen Griekenland eigen is. Het lijkt het er steeds meer op dat anti-EU partijen aan de winnende hand zijn in verschillende perifere landen. De kloof tussen een kern rond Duitsland en de periferie wordt steeds dieper.

De euro die dertien jaar geleden als een steunpilaar van de Europese eenmaking is geïntroduceerd, dreigt de ondergang van hetzelfde huis te worden. Het is een verstrakte munt dat teveel en tegelijkertijd verschillende economieën onder hetzelfde dak heeft gebracht. De ettelijke nationale economische culturen kunnen geen harmonische huwelijk leiden zonder een werkelijke eenmakingspolitiek die het hele Europese continent betrekt . De hegemonische rol van Duitsland in niet productief.

Moet Griekenland de geleende bedragen terugbetalen? Ja . Kan Athene dat doen zonder dat zowel locale als Europese politici door de burgers als nieuwe Ceausescus beschouwd worden? Neen.

Het laatste voorstel van de nieuwe Griekse regering i.v.m. het steunprogramma komt grotendeels tegemoet aan de eisen van de schuldeisers en geeft aan iedereen meer tijd om een leefbare oplossing te zoeken. De Griekse schuld is immers niet leefbaar, zelfs een economische agnosticus kan dat zien. Vandaag is 25% van de Griekse bevolking werkloos. Bij jongeren onder de 24 jaar is het zelfs 60%. Het BNP is met 25% gedaald en het aantal zelfmoorden is met 55% gestegen.

Hopelijk begrijpt Europa dat wat goed is voor de Grieken is ook goed voor de euro en omgekeerd. Een meer pragmatische en minder stroeve aanpak van de zaak door de protagonisten in het drama zal verlossend werken voor heel Europa. Athene heeft een open hand uitgestoken. Zijn er nog moedige politieke leiders in Europa die deze opportuniteit kunnen aangrijpen om verder te bouwen, of worden we allen geregeerd door boekhoudkundige software?

Yale’s Historic Launch- Where was the WSJ, POLITICO & NYT?

Posted by on 16/02/15


The EU officially came to Yale this weekend via the European Student Conference who obtained funding from the European Commission’s ERASMUS program for higher education students. The European Student Conference brought to the United States members of the EU Commission and Parliament and other EU heavyweights to officially launch their think -tank European Horizons.  Yale via the European Student Conference now takes the lead as the first US university, which aims to make its mark on EU affairs and the future of the European Union.

This event was a journalist’s dream, but surprisingly there were no journalists representing any of the US news organizations.

Among the speakers was chief EU political architect Andrew Duff, a leading EU federalist and figure in the under-reported European Movement.  Mr. Duff wrote the outline and oversaw the drafting of the Fundamental Law treaty to revise the Lisbon treaty, which he also took part in writing.

When I read the Andrew Duff was going to be attending this conference I could not believe that a chief EU architect was coming to the United States to speak at Yale and I immediately sought to book an interview with him. He is currently speaking on his recently published book Pandora, Penelope and Polity: How to Change the European Union. His book is a call to action in light of the EU’s recent problems and deals with the need for an intergovernmental conference to move the EU towards federal union and the treaty revision, which he drafted.  Mr. Duff is an EU constitutional specialist among his many accolades. During my interview with Andrew Duff I asked him questions about certain articles in the Fundamental Law for a clearer picture on where this treaty will take the EU.  In addition, I have Mr, Duff’s contact info and he agreed to answer any future inquiries that I might have.  I now have an open door with a man who is both one of the EU’s chief architects and an EU insider. He is one of the “elite.” At the moment Andrew Duff handed me his card I went to journalist heaven.

If this was not enough I had a conversation with Pascal Lamy, a two time director of the World Trade Organization and our chatting while walking toward the reception area about the TTIP only added to my journalistic heavenly bliss.  There were more notables and discussions and email exchanges. I had a great discussion about the euro, the UK and Greece with Richard Tufft, the Managing Director of Global Investment Research for Goldman Sachs.  Then there was the conference itself which was unprecedented and put Yale on the map as the 1st US University to take a lead in an endeavor to influence EU policy. Yale brought  EU heavyweights to the US in its historic launch.  Need I mention again that there were no journalists present from the major US news rags at this newsworthy event?

If the WSJ or NYT offered any real EU news they would have covered the European Student Conference. If they had any knowledge of the European Union and it affairs they would know of  Andrew Duff and of the Spinelli group he helped found. They would have been at the conference stampeding over me to interview him. He was within an hour and a half’s hour drive from their headquarters in New York City. If they didn’t want to drive they could have gone to Grand Central and hopped a Metro North Train east of the Hudson to New Haven.

The US Media ought to be walking with their tail between their legs. NBC’s leading anchor Brian Williams made up stories while reporting.    Other major news outlets do not make up stories but fail to report newsworthy news. When it comes to the European Union the US media misleads the public with continuous headlines of the EU and euro falling apart.  Overall their EU reporting is not in-depth and riddled with misconceptions. I contacted the owner and editor of a conservative news outlet for their lack of EU coverage even though they state they are providing world news and the response was essentially that the EU was not newsworthy of any coverage in world news.  I will not provide the name of that news outfit because they are not worth a mention even in a negative context with that opinion of European Union news.

In one corner we have NBC whose anchor makes up stories and on the other the US media outlets whose reporting on the EU is scant, relaying shallow and misleading information while the European Project is one of the most news worthy endeavors of men and women in our times.  It is far from boring and I can think of many headlines that would have grabbed a reader’s attention while also informing the public. As Meagan Trainer sings, “Its all about that bass,” in the US media today its all about page hits. How many times did CNN overuse Breaking News on insignificant stories to get viewer’s attention, which by the way would have been a great article in itself, listing the meaningless stories CNN headed with “Breaking News”. CNN’s EU coverage ranks abysmally with the other US news outlets. In Nina dos Santos commentary, “The EU Needs a New Vision,” she claims the original vision unraveled with the fall of the Berlin wall. With a statement that erroneous, untrue and misleading she ranks along with Brian Williams.

This lack of EU reporting or the reporting of inaccurate misleading facts has occurred because the editors who work for these US publications do not have any real knowledge of the European Union. Sending their writers to Brussels or hiring someone from within the EU who does not have a good grasp of EU affairs does not guarantee the US media will be able to provide good EU coverage.   I recently read an article in the New York Times on the EU that was absolute junk, which I call junk journalism. This is a piece written by someone with the skill to write, and it will have an attention grabbing headline, but the writer does not have any real knowledge of the topic and the topic misleads in the pursuit of page hits. On the totem pole of  bad journalism  the rung lower than junk journalism is taken by those who make up stories or facts such as the Brian William’s and Nino dos Santos who wrote that the Monnet’s vision for the EU ended with the collapse of the Berlin wall.  The lowest on the totem pole are the conspiracy theorists because their articles border on delusion. I have been written by conspiracy theorists and they are a belligerent bunch as well.

The US news rags while they are at least are a rung above Brian Williams should feel ashamed for producing junk as they pursue the almighty page hit.

Meanwhile since I was not stampeded over and I entered the cruise ship the US news rags missed, while this event took place on their soil, I have articles forthcoming that will provide you with information on the EU that is not being reported by any of the mainstream US media. The articles that will come from my interview with chief EU architect Andrew Duff will provide insight into EU federalism and the EU’s move forward.  You will also want to see my article, which will follow this one  on the Yale conference itself which was at a fever pitch and learn about Yale’s historic launch to influence EU affairs.


Les sanctions pénales en Europe : premières leçons des statistiques du Conseil de l’Europe.

Posted by on 16/02/15

La crise économique empêche d’améliorer les conditions dans les prisons, telle est la première leçon à retenir de ce rapport annuel 2013 qui vient d’être publié. Le second enseignement est la profonde disparité entre les pays qu’il s’agisse de 47 pays membres du Conseil de l’Europe ou des 28 pays membres de l’Union européenne. Ces disparités justifient à elle seule l’existence d’une instance comme celle du Conseil de l’Europe chargée de faire respecter des normes agrées en commun. Des ensembles aussi importants ne peuvent coexister et se développer harmonieusement avec des situations aussi disparates. Il en va du socle commun des droits fondamentaux comme de l’Union économique et monétaire : les évènements de ces dernières années l’ont démontré amplement des disparités trop importantes conduisent à directement à l’échec. C’est toute la crédibilité du discours de l’UE qui est en jeu et tout particulièrement vis-à vis des pays tiers si soupçonneux et si prompts à dénoncer la moindre dérive de l’UE.

Les dépenses par détenu dans les prisons d´Europe diminuent depuis le début de la crise économique, ce qui a vraisemblablement impacté la qualité de la vie des détenus. La crise n’a pas eu d’effet significatif sur le nombre de personnes incarcérées, même si une faible diminution du surpeuplement des prisons a été constatée. Telles sont quelques-unes des conclusions qui ressortent de l’édition 2013 des Statistiques pénales annuelles du Conseil de l’Europe (enquêtes SPACE I et SPACE II publiées le 11 février 2015)

En 2012, les administrations carcérales d’Europe ont dépensé une moyenne de 97 € par détenu et par jour, soit 2€ de plus qu’en 2011, avec de fortes disparités d’une administration à l’autre. Si l’on considère la période allant de 2007 – qui marque le début de la crise économique – à 2012, les dépenses par détenu ont diminué (passant d’une moyenne de 99,1 € à 96,7€ par personne, et d’une médiane passant de 53,4€ à 41,6€ par personne). Très peu de pays font état d’une augmentation. En 2012, les 45 administrations pénitentiaires qui ont communiqué des données pour l’enquête ont dépensé plus de 26 milliards d’euros.

Par ailleurs, le taux d’incarcération – ou nombre de personnes incarcérées sur 100 000 habitants – a augmenté de 2,7% entre 2007 et 2012. Toutefois, cette évolution a aussi fortement varié d’un pays à l’autre, de fortes augmentations ou de nettes diminutions étant observées dans bon nombre d’entre eux.

En 2013, le problème du surpeuplement est resté aigu dans 21 administrations carcérales d’Europe sur 50, la même proportion que l’année précédente. Une certaine amélioration a cependant été constatée : en 2013, les prisons hébergeaient en moyenne 96 détenus pour 100 places, contre 98 en 2012 et 99,5 en 2011. L’Italie (qui a fortement réduit sa population carcérale en 2014), la Hongrie, Chypre, la Belgique, “l’ex-République yougoslave de Macédoine”, le Portugal, la France, la Roumanie, la Croatie et l’Albanie ont affiché les taux de surpeuplement les plus sérieux.

La part des personnes purgeant une peine de moins d’un an était relativement élevée, même si elle a diminué, passant de 15% en 2012 à 13 % en 2013. Une mise en oeuvre des recommandations du Conseil de l’Europe permettrait souvent de remplacer ces peines par des mesures de substitution à l’incarcération afin de réduire le surpeuplement et de faciliter la réinsertion des auteurs d’infractions dans la société. La durée la plus courante des peines de privation de liberté reste la catégorie des peines de 1 à 3 ans (23% des détenus), tandis que la part des peines de plus de 10 ans a légèrement augmenté, passant de 10,2% des détenus en 2012 à 11% en 2013. Alors qu’une augmentation a été constatée dans le nombre de personnes placées sous la surveillance ou prises en charge par les services de probation, cela n’a que légèrement contribué à réduire le surpeuplement des prisons. Ainsi, en 2013, seules 7,8% des personnes surveillées par les services de probation étaient en attente de jugement (contre 7% en 2012). Dans de nombreux pays, un surpeuplement est constaté dans les centres de détention provisoire où sont détenues les personnes non encore condamnées.

En 2013, les infractions les plus courantes étaient, une fois de plus, celles concernant les stupéfiants et les vols. Sur 100 détenus condamnés, 18 purgeaient une peine pour infraction à la législation sur les stupéfiants (contre 17 en 2012). Le vol qui, traditionnellement, était la cause d’incarcération la plus courante, constituait l’infraction principale pour 16% des détenus, contre 17% 2012.

Une légère augmentation a été constatée dans le pourcentage total des ressortissants étrangers parmi les détenus (14,1% du total en 2013, contre 13% en 2012). Ce chiffre était supérieur à 30% dans plusieurs pays d’Europe occidentale, contre environ 2% dans les pays d’Europe orientale. Une augmentation de la proportion des détenus originaires d’Etats membres de l’UE a également été constatée (de 34% à 37%).

En 2012, l’âge médian de la population européenne était de 34 ans, et la répartition entre les femmes (4,7%) et les hommes (95,3%) est restée stable. La mortalité a augmenté (en 2012, on a dénombré 28 décès pour 10 000 détenus, contre 25 pour 10 000 en 2010). Le taux moyen de suicides dans les prisons était de 11,2 décès pour 10 000 détenus alors que le nombre médian, qui est considéré comme plus fiable d’un point de vue statistique, était de 5,4 suicides pour 10 000 détenus.

***L’enquête SPACE est menée pour le compte du Conseil de l’Europe par l’Ecole des Sciences criminelles de l’Université de Lausanne. L’édition 2013 de l’enquête SPACE I réunit des informations de 50 des 52administrations pénitentiaires des 47 Etats membres du Conseil de l’Europe, tandis que SPACE II faitla synthèse d’informations communiquées par 47 services de probation.

Pour en savoir plus:

-. Rapport Space I 2013

-. Rapport Space II 2013

-. Executive Summary

-. Résumé Space 2013


Classé dans:COOPERATION JUDICIAIRE PENALE, Lutte contre la criminalité

Is unity cracking inside the EPP?

Posted by on 15/02/15
By EurActiv's Newsroom Tension is growing inside the EPP group of the EU Parliament over LuxLeaks. A petition was started to investigate the scandal. Juncker didn't like it. He complained to Angela Merkel. She reportedly yelled at Manfred Weber. What's next?

7 European countries in danger zone on religious freedom

Posted by on 15/02/15

 The international Catholic charity and Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) published a report entitled Religious Freedom in the World Report 2014, which was first presented on November 5th, 2014. The Observatory provided data for the European region to the report. Find here a summary of the key findings, including information on the seven countries, ACN finds worrying in Europe.

 The report, which is published every two years, covers the period from the October 2012 to June 2014. It desribes the degree to which religious freedom is granted in 196 countries of the world and covers all faith groups. The publication is considered as the most comprehensive report on religious freedom delivered by a Catholic charity. Its presentation was accompanied by a video message of His royal highness Prince Charles.

 Key points of the report summary:

 41 % of the countries are identified as places where religious freedom is impaired, classified as “high” or “medium” or where religious freedom is in decline.

18 % of the countries – were classified as having some religious freedom issues that are “of concern”, but with no deterioration in their status.

The remaining 41 % of the countries – indicated no concerns regarding religious freedom, meaning that the report found no regular or systemic religious freedom violations in these nations.

 28% of the countries – recorded deteriorating conditions, 3% of the countries – recorded a change for better.

 Even in the six countries where some improvements have been noted, four – Iran, United Arab Emirates, Cuba and Qatar – remain classified as places of “high” or “medium” persecution. Zimbabwe and Taiwan are classified “of concern” and “low” respectively.

 In total, in twenty countries persecution is listed as “high” with regard to lack of religious freedom:

 Fourteen contries experienced religious persecution linked to extremist Islam -Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Maldives, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

  1. Six countries, religious persecution is linked to authoritarian regimes – Burma (Myanmar), China, Eritrea, North Korea, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.

 Religiously-inspired terror is not only widespread but is on the increase.

 The mayority of changes have been for the worse – sometimes the deterioration is caused by legal or constitutional discrimination or to sectarian hostility, often linked to racial or tribal tensions. In some cases one religious group is oppressing another, partly to the point of trying to eliminate other groups.

 In Western countries, religious tension is rising, provoked by ‘aggressive atheism’, liberal secularism and the rapid influx of economic migrants and refugees with a faith and culture markedly different from the host country. The United Kingdom, Germany, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway are among the countries where the state of religious freedom is mentioned as “worrying” and at the same time “worsening” by the report.

The Report explains its concerns regarding Netherlands, France and Germany in detail.

 Regarding the United Kingdom, the report states: « Hate Speech Laws have been used to arrest Christians preachers ». « An official Scottish Government report showed an increase of 26% in religiously aggravated offences over the period 2011-12, with 876 charges being made. Catholicism and Protestantism were the target of abuse most often. » « Members of religious groups have experienced conflict between their beliefs and Equality Legislation ».

 Regarding Norway, the report deplores that « acting in accordance with one’s own convictions can prove to be damaging to one’s professional life and working career. As from October 2011, doctors who object in conscience to certain practices have been subject to political pressure from the government. The authorities effectively prevent those who refuse to be involved in abortions from being in the medical profession ».

 Regarding Denmark: « In June 2012 there was a breakdown in cooperation between the State and the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELC) when Parliament approved a law obliging ministers of this religion to celebrate weddings in church between persons of the same sex. » « Other alarming cases, this time directed against Christians, included an act of vandalism by a young man who on 26th May 2013 smashed the legs of the figure of Jesus on a crucifix in the Catholic church of Esbjerg, in Jutland. The crucifix had already been damaged; at Easter 2012, the figure of Jesus had been broken away from the cross ».

 Regarding Sweden: „Four people were in fact punished, following a long legal wrangle that began in 2004. They had attempted to initiate a debate on the lack of objectivity in the Swedish school system and had handed out flyers about an alleged “homosexual agenda”. The Supreme Court, while recognising people’s right to express their opinions, took the view that their claims had been “pointlessly offensive.” « As to the freedom of parents to provide an appropriate education to their own children, this has been severely restricted since the passing of the education act in 2010, which has made homeschooling illegal. It is argued that the Swedish state has trampled on the right of families to make their own choices regarding the human and spiritual formation of their children. As a result, a number of Christian families have left Sweden and moved to Finland ».

 Pour en savoir plus:

      -. Link to the full report:

Full report shown on a map to choose individual countries: content/uploads/2014/10/executive_summary.pdf


      -. Links mentioning the ‘Observatory’ and the European situation in particular:


      -. Other interesting links about the report:;

Times (p.14)

 Telegraph (p.11)

 Daily Mail (p.13)

 Daily Express (p.8)

 Guardian (p.4) The story was top story on the Guardian website at one point and an additional piece appears on the Guardian website:





Classé dans:DIGNITE HUMAINE, Droit à la liberté et à la sûreté, DROITS FONDAMENTAUX, Liberté de pensée, d'expression, de religion


Posted by on 15/02/15

Die EU verstößt im Umgang mit Flüchtlingen an den Außengrenzen im Osten gegen internationales Recht. Das sagte ein Experte des UN-Flüchtlingshilfswerks UNHCR im Interview mit dem ARD-Magazin “Report Mainz” und dem Nachrichtenmagazin DER SPIEGEL. Nach Recherchen der beiden Magazine finden seit Jahren regelmäßig so genannte “Pushbacks” von Flüchtlingen statt. Das bedeutet, dass Flüchtlinge vom EU-Hoheitsgebiet – etwa aus Ungarn oder der Slowakei – ohne die Chance auf ein Asylverfahren in die Ukraine zurückgeschoben werden. Der UNHCR bestätigt, dass ihm entsprechende Berichte ebenso vorliegen. Die zurückgeschobenen Flüchtlinge werden in der Ukraine dann bis zu einem Jahr lang inhaftiert – in speziellen Haftanstalten, die von der EU mitfinanziert werden. Derzeit befindet sich eine weitere solche Haftanstalt für Migranten im ukrainischen Martynivske kurz vor der Eröffnung.

Ilja Todorovic vom Ukraine-Büro des UN-Flüchtlingshilfswerks UNHCR sagte im Interview mit “Report Mainz” und SPIEGEL: “Solche Rückführungen sind ein Verstoß gegen internationales Recht. Auch die Haftzeiten in den Internierungslagern müssen deutlich niedriger bzw. wenn möglich ganz abgeschafft werden. Die EU verlagert das Flüchtlingsproblem definitiv nach außen.” Die Ukraine ist Teil der so genannten Ostroute für Flüchtlinge in die EU. Sie gilt als weniger bekannte Alternative zur Seeroute über das Mittelmeer. Jedes Jahr versuchen hunderte Flüchtlinge über die Ukraine in die Europäische Union zu gelangen. Viele von ihnen stammen aus Somalia und Afghanistan. Das Bundesinnenministerium bestätigt auf Anfrage, dass es innerhalb der vergangenen Monate zu mehreren größeren Schleusungen unter anderem afghanischer Staatsbürger über die ukrainische Grenze in die Slowakei gekommen sei. Der UNHCR weist in einer aktuellen Lageeinschätzung vom Januar 2015 darauf hin, dass sich diese Zahl aufgrund des Krieges in der Ukraine noch weiter erhöhen könnte, da die dort festsitzenden Flüchtlinge vermehrt versuchen könnten, aus dem Land in Richtung EU zu fliehen.

Mehrere Flüchtlinge berichten “Report Mainz” und SPIEGEL, wie sie selbst mitten in der Nacht von EU-Hoheitsgebiet in die Ukraine zurückverbracht worden seien. Ein somalischer Flüchtling, der mittlerweile in Deutschland wohnt, hat nach eigenen Aussagen selbst drei so genannte “Pushbacks” erlebt und insgesamt mehrere Jahre in Haftanstalten in der Ukraine verbracht. “Ich verzweifelte. Sie haben mich aus der EU einfach in die Ukraine zurückgebracht. Ich hatte keine Hoffnung mehr. Die Ukraine ist ein schrecklicher Ort für Flüchtlinge. Sie können dich foltern, dich schlagen. Es war wirklich schrecklich.” Im Jahr 2012 kam es zu einem Hungerstreik somalischer Häftlinge gegen die mutmaßlich willkürliche Haftpraxis. An der Haftdauer hat sich – obwohl die EU als Geldgeber von dieser Praxis Kenntnis hat – bislang nichts geändert.

Die Europäische Union hat in den vergangenen Jahren einen höheren zweistelligen Millionenbetrag in den Auf- und Ausbau von derartigen Haftanstalten sowie Schulungen des dortigen Personals und Beratungen der ukrainischen Regierung investiert. Seit dem Jahr 2010 gilt ein Rückübernahmeabkommen zwischen EU und Ukraine. Es erlaubt den EU-Mitgliedsstaaten, Migranten in die Ukraine abzuschieben – ein Asylantrag muss laut Asylverfahrensrichtlinie dennoch zuvor geprüft werden. Die EU-Kommission teilt auf Anfrage mit, dass ihr auf Basis der vorliegenden Informationen “keine Fälle von spezifischen oder umfassenden Pushbacks” bekannt seien. Das finanzielle Engagement in der Ukraine diene der Anpassung der Bedingungen von Flüchtlingen in der Ukraine an europäische Standards.

Mehrere Flüchtlinge, die sich noch in der Ukraine aufhalten, berichten “Report Mainz” und SPIEGEL von untragbaren Zuständen. Flüchtlinge bekommen in der Ukraine Nahrungsmittel im Wert von weniger als einem Euro pro Tag. Mehrere Betroffene beschweren sich über Hunger und mangelnde medizinische Versorgung. Aus Angst vor Pushbacks und Verhaftungen trauen sich viele nicht mehr, die Flucht in die Europäische Union zu versuchen. Ein somalischer Flüchtlinge, der sich in der Nähe der ukrainischen Stadt Uzhgorod aufhält, sagte: “Ich habe jetzt zwei Kinder. Zweimal habe ich es versucht, in die EU zu kommen. Einmal haben sie mich in der Slowakei geschnappt und nachts einfach zurückgeschoben. Das zweite Mal wurde ich schon in der Ukraine gefasst. Jedes Mal musste ich ins Gefängnis. Ich traue mich nicht mehr zu fliehen, ich habe Angst vor dem Gefängnis. Ich wünsche mir nur, dass mich jemand in ein sicheres Land bringt. Aber keiner hilft mir.”


Charlie: Avoiding a big confusion of feelings

Posted by on 12/02/15
Guest blogpost by Philippe Juvin, member of the European Parliament (EPP), spokesman for French deputies. A few months ago, the French cartoonist Cabu was in La Garenne-Colombes, a town close to Paris where I am the mayor. He was presenting a collection of original cartoons on jazz and was signing his book on this same [...]