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Belgium or bust!

When starting a blog about Europe and its cultures, what better place to start than Belgium? After all, it is the self-proclaimed capital of Europe. I’ve been living here for 40 years. We are always told to keep out of other people’s politics but, as an admirer and a long-standing resident of this country, I… » read more

Will America awake from its long climate sleep and become the new world leader for sustainable energy policies? It certainly looks like it judging from the fervour with which the Democrat presidential candidates are positioning themselves on this issue. The latest bold plans for a green US energy future come from Hillary Clinton and some… » read more

A bit of a different story today. Yesterday I had to defend the new internet-based journalism in the “Stand up for journalism” debate organised by three journalists’ unions in Brussels. The discussion focused on the commercialisation of media and its negative impact on journalists’ jobs. Speakers and union leaders Aidan White (International Federation of Journalists… » read more

One striking observation is the distribution of budget commitments by DG relatve to staff. For even though External Relations (taken here to include External Relations, Trade, Development, Enlargement, and, Humanitarian Aid) has 18% of Commission staff it garners just 5% of the Euro 124bn budget. While in contrast the 3% of staff in Agriculture control… » read more

The current term of the European Commission expires 31 October 2009 when a fresh President and commissioners will be appointed. There are 40 Directorates-General (DG) in the Commission and can be found at the following link. […]

Tomorrow, Tuesday, two hot topics will be on the EU agenda: The yearly progress report about EU enlargement (Turkey and Western Balkans) and a proposal to strengthen EU anti-terror laws including US-style storage and sharing of passenger name records. Which topic will be taken up by the majority of European press? […]

Some good news for a start on Monday morning. BBC News reports that four out of five people would be willing to change their lifestyle and make “green sacrifices” to tackle global warming. The BBC poll of 22,000 people in 21 countries also found that three-quarters would back energy taxes if they were sure the… » read more

In another post I have already pointed to the symbolic irony of calling the new recently approved EU Treaty the “Lisbon Treaty”. As Lisbon has become synonymous with the over-optimistic, neo-liberal “competitiveness first” drive (the “Lisbon agenda”) of the last two Commission Presidents, the LisbonTreaty will be no more and no less than the final… » read more

The Economist suggests that the EU leaders should sign the new EU treaty in Brussels and “just call it the Treaty of Lisbon” in order to avoid a travel circus from Lisbon to Brussels where the regular EU summit takes place. But the question is not that simple. Also Peter Sain ley Berry from EuropaWorld… » read more

The integrated energy-climate programme which the Merkel government is likely to approve in December could bring Germany 5 billion euros in energy savings. The 29-points package (”Eckpunkte für einintegriertes Energie- und Klimaprogramm“) was evaluated by the German Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt) in a special study presented on 31 October 2007. With its climate plan the… » read more

True to its Treaties the Union’s budget continues to be in surplus. In the year to September 30, 2007 the Union has received E88bn in revenue compared to payments made of E81bn and giving rise to a surplus of E7bn. That surplus compares to E4bn in each of the fiscal years of 2006 and 2005.… » read more

Just as noted in The Open Europe blog reconciling head count by different parts of the European Union is not easy. As at 23 August 2007 from the European Union’s official website Europa (Annex Part C) the draft 2008 general budget projects a 2.3% rise in staff head count from 42,545 in 2007 to 43,564.… » read more

Technorati Tags: climate change, European Union German economics professor Hans-Werner Sinn has an eye-opening article on the Vox-EU-blog. According to the well-known economist, the EU’s policies to reduce fossil fuels consumption are insufficient as they forget about the supply-side of the energy market: “The European Union’s consumption-reducing measures will be in vain if oil sheiks… » read more

For us West Europeans, unless we are on our vacations, the Aegean sea seems to be pretty far away, tucked away in one of the most remote parts of Europe. We prefer to think of it in terms of dream islands swimming on a warm sea. The truth is much more brutal than that: […]

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