Following a recent post 'Democracy in Europe Explained,' is seems the explanation may not have been quite clear enough, as there are still some who mistakenly defend the 'democratic' legitimacy of Europe's pomme de terres to represent its people (c.f. Nobel). 

Politically and legally legitimate they may be, but as noted in September:

"when the person that is chosen by the people who were chosen by the people who were chosen by the people wasn't even chosen by the people nor even by or from among the people who were chosen by the people, that kind of takes the biscuit."

Here's a handy diagram to explain the situation more clearly:

Happy Christmas, voters.


EU leaders meeting in Brussels this week are considering fresh impetus into cross-Europe deployment of a single European swearword (SES), which has been slow to catch on since its adoption in 2007.

In a draft report of the initiative seen by BM ('Towards an SES - a Mid-Term Review - lessons learnt') the EU sets out its "disappointment" at the lack of progress.

EU governments five years ago settled on the expletive "kuñardocz" as a way for citizens to air grievances in a harmonised fashion across the bloc's borders.

But take-up has been sluggish, the draft summit conclusions find.

"At a time of financial crisis, with protests and anger at austerity measures now a genuinely 'European' phenomenon, it is regretable that national differences in expression are hampering the process towards catharsis" the document states.

Setting out a Strategy for a Roadmap towards a Scoreboard for SES Implementation, the report suggests funding one of those snazzy promotional videos, for which the EU institutions have such a great reputation.

Souvenirs bearing witty slogans in all the EU's languages are also to be made available, showcasing uses of kuñardocz.

These will include t-shirts and reinforced baseball caps saying "Keep Calm, Kuñardocz!" in Greek, and a toy 'tickle-me Barroso'. If you rub his belly, he'll reply with a limited vocabulary of 'Jobs' 'Growth' 'Stability' 'kuñardocz' and 'I got a Nobel, do you?'.

Extra cultural funding will also be made available to dub existing national swearwords out of films and TV shows.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012 | 1 comments »

Oh it's so easy to be critical isn't it.

So here we go.

Just noticed, on the 20-meter high banner on EUHQ celebrating (humbly) the EU's Nobel Peace Prize, the EU's slogan of 'United in Diversity' may have been overlooked.

The EU institutions commissioned the roll-up fresco off of Le Monde's signature cartoonist, Jean Plantureux ('Plantu'). You can even add the central 'dove' motif to your twitter or facebook profile pic.

Amid the clamouring dozens of adoring (white) European faces, there is one lone non-white character, lovingly depicted thusly:

Perhaps Plantu was taking inspiration from his former patron Hergé, after a Belgian court found the  characterisations of Africans in Tintin in the Congo weren't 'racist'

[or is he wearing a balaclava??]


Nobelesse Oblige

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 | 0 comments »

Pomme de terre Barroso, still flushed with smuggery after picking up the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the 500 million people he represents, must have allowed himself an extra grin of limelight absorption as he was interviewed by the host of this evening's Nobel prize concert, Sarah Jessica Parker, off of the telly and a handful of potboiler romcoms.

Footage of the interview itself is not yet available. But here's an exclusive photo of SJP spilling the beans afterwards:


Leading EU institutional figures pledged late on Monday not to bang on and on about getting the Nobel Peace Prize this year.

"I mean, it's not like its a big deal or anything," said one.

"We're not going to like throw it back in your face or anything every time something doesn't go our way."

The award, they insisted, was "not for us, but for the European people. You know, the people."

The continent of 500 million deserved this recognition for not having killed each other for a while, they said.

And if national governments refused to grant a bigger centralised EU budget or more centralised powers of financial supervision, "far be it for us to start bandying around the 'P' word," said one EU chief.

"It would be beneath us to seek to use this prize, which is for the people, as some kind of underpinning justification for the European project as a whole including all other initiatives unrelated directly to stopping people killing each other."

"You won't hear another word about this from us. No sir."

"Not us."

"This peace prize, highly esteemed and merited as it may be, will not come up again."

"Humility is the watchword."

"Not another mention of it."

"This peace prize."

"Nobel, peace prize."

"That we, you know, well, effectively 'won'."

"Not a peep more."

"We'll just put it, modestly and humbly, in a new 100-million-euro museum."

"And some are getting replicas and t-shirts made."

"And there's a 20 meter banner on the side of our building."

"But apart from that, schtum."

"Forget about it."

"In fact, already forgotten."

"This Nobel Peace Prize."

"For the EU."

"Nobel Peace Prize."

"Previously won by Nelson Mandela"

"And Mother Therersa."

"Yeah you can eat my Nobel Peace Prize ..................................... fuckers"


Nobel Prize for Poetry

Monday, December 10, 2012 | 0 comments »

HvR and Barroso unveil their
palette range of blushers
Some lines on a gong:

There once were some men from Bruxelles,
Who accepted the Prix de Nobel,
They picked up the prize,
To some rolling of eyes,
But they kept Martin Schulz quiet as well.


McVeto's Disjunctives, Taking the Biscuit since 1973. 

Good for dunking - in the mid-Atlantic...

(Concede, could probably could have come up with a better name than Disjunctives. But didn't).


Season of economic metaphor

Monday, November 26, 2012 | 0 comments »

Haiku black-belt Herman van Rompuy has been waxing lyrical again.

His latest 17-syllable masterpiece is entitled 'Autumn end November':

"The night has fallen
The bare branches can be seen
Even more lonely."

For poems on autumn, the likes of Keats and Prevert are a tough act to follow .

And thanks to serendipitous timing, this is how pomme de terre @euHvR's effort appeared in BM's twitter feed, right next to some perhaps appropriate further reading from Prospect Magazine:


It was a quiet Sunday

Thursday, November 22, 2012 | 0 comments »

Bruno 'Bruiser' Waterfield off of the Telegraph had just filed a desk-thumping treatise on wasteful expenditure in the European Parliament.

Predictably, our MEP friends had served up yet more counter-austerity spending plans, of the kind that make it all the more difficult for the profligate EU commission and parliament to defend European budget plans before the EU governments that have to pay for them.

The flagship cash-vacuum attracting Herr Wasserfeld's ire on this occasion was parliamentary plans for a multimillion-euro History of Europe museum, or something.

One of the attractions was cited as "a 2.5 hour role-play game for secondary school pupils using the latest computer technology and contributions from over 400 actors to create a virtual world experience of life as an MEP."

The serious issues of wasteful self-aggrandisement in a time of belt-tightening aside, that-there twitter resorted to a bout of e-badinage on names of video games apt for MEPs.

The hashtag #MEPvideogames thus combined the dual geek worlds of euroville and gamesters - a Venn diagram with an admittedly limited overlap, but which nevertheless kept a handful of thumbs busy of an otherwise quiet Sunday morning.

Here, courtesy of @BrunoBrussels, @quarsan, @spignal and @ronpatz is a brief rundown of the submissions. Feel free to make more via the aforementioned #MEPvideogames on the twitter:

  • Grand Theft Euro
  • Cost of Duty
  • Call of Gravy
  • Alsace 'n' Greed
  • World of Lawcraft
  • Angry Birds (ft Viviane Reding)
  • Gloom
  • Super Mario Draghi Kart

*note to self - must get out more*


EU budget talks: a guide

Thursday, November 22, 2012 | 0 comments »

As EU leaders meet to trade tired old horses for their respective glue factories, here's a guide to how it works:


David Cameron has been standing in front of the mirror pulling his 'Churchill' face again, imagining somehow that his patronising faux-familiar rhetoric compares favourably with the rousing words of Britain's famous wartime PM.

He has told the Confederation of British Industries that the country is "at war" economically.

So I done another limerick.

When it comes to expressing things verbally,
Our PM is prone to hyperbole,
You'd think its a bore
To mention the war,
But it panders to idiots superbly

That'll learn 'im.


UKIP leader Nigel Farage has delivered a barnstorming speech, announcing the Europe "really is brilliant".

In a video leaked onto the interwebs (see below), the usually purple-faced ranti-EU dyspeptic euroseptic [sic] appears to have soften his tone (if rather disjointedly).

Gone is the disfaraging rhetoric of old.

Even the bloc's glorious leaders come in for some long-overdue praise.

European Commission pomme de terre Barroso is "genius", Farridge blurts.

And as for council pomme de terre Herman van Rompuy, "better!" is the verdict.

View the uncharacteristic outburst here:

But then withdraws.

EU commissioner for whatever Antonio Tajani, off of that there Italy, had a 'twoops' moment this morning.

He inadvertently let slip, in a one-word tweet, his preference for a certain brand of rum favoured for over 300 years by sailors the world over.

Tajani, or a member of his staff, quickly deleted the message, presumably fearing it would be wildly misinterpreted.

But not before the enterprising @jonworth off of that there twitter, and yours truly, had taken a screengrab for keepies.

No follow-up as to whether he prefers white rum or a nice bit of dark rum.

Dalli v Pele

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 | 0 comments »

There's an exciting new addition to the blogosphere.

Departed EU commissioner John Dalli appears to have surfaced on the internet in a blog bearing his own name , with only the one, inaugural, post since it was set up six days ago.

In it, he rather grandly quotes Brazilian football legend Pele as saying:

"I've come to accept that the life of a frontrunner is a hard one, that he will suffer more injuries than most men and that many of these injuries will not be accidental."

Maybe it's true that the qualified accountant and C-list politician shares many, many similarities with the three-time world-cup winner, multiple world-record goal scorer, holder of several athlete and player of the century awards, and decorated UN ambassador.

For the moment, those parallels escape BM, but we look forward to reading all about them on the blog, which remains curiously dormant for now.



It looks like it took Tory MEP Marina Yannakoudakis around 17 minutes to realise she'd sent out the wrong statement.

The European Parliament this week held up the appointment over a new European Central Bank board member because he lacked the apparently-requisite other X chromosome.

At 12.20 today Yannakoudakis fired out a press release "praising" the EP's decision "to approve" his appointment.

Realising the error, 17 minutes later our inboxes rang with her raging "condemnation" of the gender politicking.

Marina, indicating how many
press releases she had pre-prepared


aaand one more Dallimerick...

Thursday, October 25, 2012 | 0 comments »

There once was a man, Silvio,
Who said he would lobby, for dough.
When asked for his price,
He said in a trice,

See previous efforts here and here.


Another Dallimerick

Thursday, October 25, 2012 | 0 comments »

After yesterday's effort, here's another few lines on the Dalli affair:

There once was a chancer from Malta,
Who promised a firm he could alter,
A measure impedin'
Tobacco from Sweden,
Who'd think such an offer could falter?

My pleasure.


A return to whimsy

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 | 0 comments »

Following (justified) accusations of 'getting a bit serious' (from @hughbs on that-there twitter), here's something less weighty:

The former commissioner Dalli
Was said to be getting too pally,
With a maker of snus
So Barroso let loose
And he bowed out without a finale.


Falling on dumb ears...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 | 0 comments »

There's not an awful lot of point in the UK government conducting 32 reports into aspects of EU membership if its not going to heed the advice it already gets on matters European.

Britain's foreign secretary William Hague announced the initiative yesterday. The first six reports are to look at the implications for the UK economy of Britain's membership of the single market, the effect of EU membership on UK taxation policy, health policy, foreign policy and external relations, according to the FT.

The result of those studies, we are to believe, will inform how the UK engages with the EU in the future or even seeks to renegotiate British membership of the bloc.

Perhaps the exercise is long overdue, and - if conducted objectively and thoroughly - could finally put an end to the wild salvoes of propaganda that get fired back and forth (though mainly forth).

But recent evidence suggests the government, when offered such advice, will plug its fingers in its ears and go "LA LA LA LA I'M NOT LISTENING I'M GOING AHEAD WITH WHATEVER I WANT AND YOU CAN'T STOP ME LA LA LA LA."

Witness: Home secretary Theresa May last week restated the government's wish to "opt out of all pre-Lisbon Police and Criminal Justice measures and then negotiate with the member states and the Commission those individual measures that it is our national interests to rejoin [sic]."

This has been in the pipeline for a while, and in fact was an issue the House of Lords' own EU select committee looked into.

Its findings slipped onto the internet unnoticed in April this year, full of headline grabbing quotes which contradict the government line, but unfortunately at the time grabbed no headlines whatsoever.

"There is ... likely to be a significant body of subsisting EU mutual recognition legislation which will be involved. Opting out of this legislation would have significant repercussions on UK criminal enforcement" the committee - headed by a Conservative peer - concluded.

"We share the scepticism that it will be possible for the UK to "pick and mix" by opting out of all the subsisting pre-Lisbon legislation and immediately opting back in to some only," it continued.

Among the experts invited to testify before the committee, University of Cambridge criminal law specialist Professor John R Spencer warned of an "unthinkable mess" that would follow in relation to extradition if the UK were to opt out of the European Arrest Warrant.

University of Essex European law Professor Steve Peers meanwhile "cautioned that this [opt-out] could not only cause political problems but would also leave a gap that could cause a number of legal problems."

And yet, and yet, six months later the government is still insisting that the opposite must SURELY be true.



*N.B. this po-faced rant also appears as a guest post on the site of think-tank Nucleus.

Naughty David. Naughty.

Friday, October 19, 2012 | 0 comments »

It could be he was just checking her badge several times. 'Helle Thorning-Schmidt' isn't the easiest of names.

Talk to the face David

The glances are furtive and very quick. Almost unnoticeable. Unless, of course, you have good eyes, a pervy mind, and a decent freeze-frame function on your video-editing software:

DAVIIIID, TO THE F. oh nevermind.

Further to the caption competition flagged up yesterday, here's one...

Ho ho.


Dalli may claim his rights of defence were breached, while Barroso's lawyers could argue the toss over whether those rights applied. It's potentially a political ousting that wouldn't be out of place in an episode of The Thick Of It.

EU commissioner John Dalli may well be considering whether his rights of defence were circumvented when he was summoned to be told of the result of a fraud inquiry: a meeting that prompted his resignation.

The 'facts' of the case, at least those scraps communicated publicly, have left many scratching their heads over why someone would fall on their sword over 'circumstantial evidence', but that's clearly a matter for the EU's fraud office OLAF to wrestle with - and now in the hands of the Maltese authorities.

No matter the extent of Dalli's knowledge of the effort to extort in his name, there's a curious perfunctoriness over the commission's handling of his departure - and if that reflects procedural failings, it wouldn't be the first time the commission and OLAF had screwed up a fraud probe on such technicalities.

In 2009 the EU courts found OLAF hadn't told a number of Italian EU officials that an investigation into their invalidity claims had been passed on to the Italian authorities.

The snafu resulted in the EU courts overturning OLAF's decision to refer the matter to Italy, and even awarded damages to the officials, who themselves had been suspected in the OLAF probe of having already defrauded the EU of thousands of euros in health payments.

The rules for commissioners themselves are not so prescriptive as for staff officials, but a June 1999 decision by the European Commission itself on internal investigations will be providing the now ex-commissioner Dalli some food for thought.

In an interview with Dalli this week with the New Europe paper, a day after his resignation, the Malteser was asked whether he thought the commission had followed normal procedure in informing him of the results of the OLAF investigation into the Maltese businessman who had made a cash-for-influence offer to a Swedish tobacco company, claiming he could use his relationship with Dalli to sway regulation.

"No it was not followed," Dalli told the newspaper. In the meeting with EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso "I was read a covering letter of a report, by the president in our discussion. He also stated the report was confidential. I have not yet as of today received this report."

The June 1999 decision says of fraud investigations that "conclusions referring by name to a Member ... of the Commission may not be drawn once the investigation has been completed without the interested party's having been enabled to express his views on all the facts which concern him."

By some stretch, if someone only read out the cover letter of the OLAF report to Dalli before cornering him into a resignation, that - a highly-paid lawyer for Dalli could argue - is by no means an opportunity to respond to 'all the facts.'

But Barroso, too, has highly paid lawyers. None so lawyerly and highly paid as his own chief of staff Johannes Laitenberger.

One might - might - expect that the commission's top potato and his accompanying bouquet de legumes would have made sure that the legality surrounding the fraud probe and Dalli's departure was tighter than a gnat's chuff.

There's an exception to the 1999 decision, a Laitenberger may note. In cases requiring 'absolute secrecy' and the use of investigative procedures of a national authority there can be a waiver to the right to reply. That waiver is accorded by - oh, look: by the commission president Jose Manuel Barroso (or the commission's secretary general).

But once the OLAF investigation was over, Dalli's lawyer may reply, there was no need for 'absolute secrecy', and there had been no recourse as yet to national judicial powers.

Or, a Laitenberger says, the commission itself drew no 'conclusions' - Dalli resigned of his own accord.

Then Dalli's account of the meeting with Barroso will become relevant in which, according to New Europe's recounting of Dalli's recollections, Dalli was told to resign or face dismissal within the hour.

It's a potentially rebuttable account of the meeting, and all that actually happened was Dalli's resignation which in legal terms will be seen as an act of Dalli's will.

Without the tight coverage that the commission's Staff Regulations afford, that leaves Dalli fighting his corner on these interpretations of 'conclusions', 'enabled to express views', 'all the facts', whether Barroso or the sec gen applied the waiver to the rights of reply, and if they did, whether they were within their rights to do so (i.e. if 'absolute secrecy' or national authorities were in play).

It may also leave him fundamentally struggling to have a possible judicial appeal accepted as admissible in the first place. Without a 'decision' by the commission to dismiss him, he has little to contest.

If he actually did do something wrong, then who really gives a toss. If - as he affirms - he knew nothing of the nefarious activities of the Maltese chancer, and it turns out he's powerless to counter the way his departure was handled, then he's simply been bullied out of office for fear of bad public perception of the Barroso commission, or even for darker, smokier reasons usually best left to speculation by the anti-Big Business conspiracy theorists.

*Removes po-face*


BM caption competition

Thursday, October 18, 2012 | 0 comments »

Dalli and Bozo in happier times:


Put that in yer pipe...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 | 0 comments »

Amid the blah de blah over EU health commissioner John Dalli's resignation and a cash-for-influence probe over tobacco legislation, has no-one thought to look further into the links between the European Commission and Big Tobacco?

A trawl through them internets for names of commissioners and 'tobacco' comes up with the following company "Ashton Pipes & Cigars"

We should be told.

Though it'd be a sad irony for Cathy Ashton, who's had such a rough ride of it in the media (not least on these hallowed pixels) to be marketing a contemplative 'pleasurably palatable' blend called 'Smooth Sailing'.

And the 'Ashton Cabinet Selection' is a humidor that's been restocked a few times over...

B *cough* M

A self-adminstered pat-on-the-back

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 | 0 comments »

Congratulations to the Dutch/Flemish association of investigative journalists, the VVOJ, who emerge in a European Parliament report today as the champions of truth and light, bestrid their noble charger of probity, spearing with their lance of virtue all corruption, fraud and general naughtiness.

The report 'Deterrence of fraud with EU funds through investigative journalism in EU-27' took five and half months to write, and concludes that there "are clear examples" of the contribution journalists have made in this regard.

The scale of the contribution, however, "cannot be made, due to the complexity of the matters."

Somewhat easier to assess, however, is the contribution a certain organisation has made to the Good Fight.

"Since 2002, the Dutch-Flemish Vereniging van Onderzoeksjournalisten VVOJ has played an important role in the professionalization of the investigative craft" the report says.

"VVOJ is a driving force behind internationalization, cooperation and creating a networking investigative community," it gushes further.

"VVOJ at its annual conferences created an environment of sharing experience and training in the latest (investigative) techniques, to the level where many Dutch (national and regional) newsrooms now have reporters capable of taking on (data) searches and number crunching," the European Parliament report continues.

"Data journalism, however, is ‘hot’ for its innovative possibilities, ... including initiatives by VVOJ to raise the professional level of investigative journalism."

In fact, the organisation gets 79 name-checks throughout the document! An extraordinary feat, outshining references to many of the journalists themselves listed in the annex, some of whom profess never to have heard of the VVOJ.

You know, the VVOJ, the organisation headed by Margo Smit, who authored for the European Parliament the recent report on investigative journalis.... oh.

Thanks to @BrunoBrussels for the spot on that there twitter. For the record, he gets 20 mentions...


After European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi this week inadvertently confessed on-mic that his press conference was 'boring,' BM has launched a video campaign for the now-overlooked eurozone chairman Jean-Claude Juncker. Who isn't boring.

And for those struggling with the pre-Carolingian Frankish dialect:

I wake up every day it's a drama
In my euro-themed pyjama
I wake to give Berlin a call
But sometimes they don't answer at all

And all I care about is that I have an itch
To run something bigger than a football pitch
As you roll out the powers of the ECB
Please don't forget about little old me.

Some people think I'm boring
I say well that's not true.
I've been prime minister now
Since 1872

I chair the monthly meetings
To have a little chat
About the eurozone
There's nothing boring 'bout that...


(please also consider this shoddy vlog as a de facto petite annonce for an a/v editor who'll work in exchange for gin).

Next Tuesday, 9 October, EU council president Herman van Rompuy is meeting U2 frontman Bono.

I trust Bono's lyrics will improve as a result of his meeting the renowned poet, while Herman may benefit from the rencontre by ... erm ... 

(thanks to @grimmse for the tip-off on that-there twitter)

A joke

Friday, September 28, 2012 | 2 comments »

(a rework of an old favourite, first overheard several EU reforms ago)

David Cameron is trying to renegotiate Britain's membership of the EU. François Hollande and Angela Merkel are getting increasingly infuriated with their British counterpart.

Suddenly, a genie appears and gives them one wish each.

Hollande, in frustration, says "block ze channel tunnel."

So sure enough, the genie blocks the channel tunnel.

Cameron, in defiance, says "build a wall around the UK."

So sure enough, the genie builds a wall around the UK.

Merkel says to the genie, "what's this wall like?"

The genie says, "it's about five meters high, five meters wide, and nothing can get through it."

Merkel says,

"fill it with water."


Joe's Big Balloon

Thursday, September 27, 2012 | 0 comments »

A moral tale

Joe loved balloons. Until one day he made a really big balloon, and inflated it so much that he got carried away.

Joe's Big Balloon

Joe liked balloons.

He liked balloons so much that every month or so he got a new one.

But every time he got a new balloon, it withered or blew away with the wind.

Then one day, Joe decided to get himself a really big balloon.

So he gathered bits of old balloons and stapled them together, and painted it to look like new.

And then he blew,

And huffed,

And he puffed,

And he filled that balloon with so much air,

That it grew,

And it grew,

Until everyone could see his big, shiny, new balloon.

He inflated his balloon so much that he got carried away with it.

That was until some other character in this tortured allegory shot the big balloon down, or the metaphorical paint cracked and the symbolic staples gave way,

Bringing Joe crashing down to earth with a figurative



Don't have dreams.


Crisis-era rendition of EU anthem

Thursday, September 27, 2012 | 0 comments »

Frustration with Brussels is clearly spreading.

Witness this rendition of the EU anthem 'Ode to Joy', in which one young youtuber finds catharsis through abreaction in musical expression.

A sentiment shared across the continent this week, one feels.


Democracy in Europe explained

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 | 0 comments »

The ultimate model is the people choose.

Sometimes the people chosen by the people choose.

Sometimes the people chosen by the people choose who the people get to choose between.

Most of the time - and this is key - the people the people chosen by the people choose have to have been chosen by the people in the first place.

But when the person that is chosen by the people who were chosen by the people who were chosen by the people wasn't even chosen by the people nor even by or from among the people who were chosen by the people, that kind of takes the biscuit.

Hope that's clear.

Next week: cricket.


When your ducts are outdated, the increase in content can create blockages.

The solution? More fibre, natch.

Europe's commissioner for telecoms stuff passed that message on this week over that there twitter, giving momentum to an "I WANT FIBRE" campaign.

Neelie Kroes (@NeelieKroesEU)
13/09/12 12:30
Pls RT what a good idea: if you want #fibre - start demanding it ... "I want fibre" campaign… #FTTH cc@FTTHCouncilEU

Fibre enables fast and instant streaming.


There must be more related telco networks bum gags. Any takers?


What the EU needs in this time of crisis is more speeches.

So here is BM's reply to pomme de terre Barroso's grand 2012 State of the European Union cut-n-paste job address to MEPs this week.

The accent, as you ask, is from a pre-Carolingian Low-Frankish dialect.

Full text below. No embargo...

My fellow Europeans.

What a year huh?

Only a year ago, our currency was teetering on the brink. Greece's position in the euro was in question.

Our very institutional make-up as a union was showing more cracks than a European Parliament ceiling.

Now here we are a whole year later, just as far up the fecal river and still no sign of a paddle.

And the problem with spending too long knee deep in liquid excrement is you start to get used the smell.

The initial gag reflex of several years ago when we were first hurled unwittingly into the mire has worn off.

We can't even muster the disgust anymore to shake a pooey fist at the people who got us here in the first place, as they stand on the riverbank endlessly dithering over whether to throw us something that might float or something that probably won't.

It strikes me there are two dangers for the year ahead.

The first is that there'll be an ultimate casualty. The balsawood raft that drifts out to us won't take the weight, and someone will drown.

Only then will those on the riverbank put together a proper rescue operation, build new sturdy bridges, put up a decent fence to stop us falling in again, and do something to stop people shitting in the river in the first place.

And yes, I'm aware this metaphor is under some considerable strain right now, but I'm pushing on.

The other danger is that, just maybe it'll turn out that one of the few somethings they throw us will turn out to have an element of buoyancy to it.

Sure, we may go temporarily under as we all pile on. We may even swallow a bit of raw sewage and suffer a bout of diphtherea for a while afterwards.

But maybe, just maybe, everthing's going to turn out kind of OK in the longer run.

You know, like with ALL the other EU crises.

So then, there'll be no ultimate casualties disappearing into the feculent depths. But there'll also be no proper rethink. Those who made the flimsy raft that by some fluke saw us to shore will take the credit, and tell us everything will be all right from now on if we just hold hands a little firmer.

And we'll continue as before. Lead by the same people, along the same slippery riverbank, armed with nothing but a misguided sense of optimism, and a bottle of Febreze.

Parce que ca, je crains, c'est l'ordure des choses.

Til next year.


It lives. It breathes

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 | 0 comments »

Here's a brief video message welcoming BM's co-tenants - Eurocrats, MEPs, stagiaires, lobbyists n all - back to Brussels for a new semester of frenetic benchmarking and strategising.

You were warned... twice...


Jobs for life

Wednesday, September 05, 2012 | 0 comments »

So EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding has made a case for her boss, commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, to have yet another term, in an interview with Brussels EU info site Euractiv.

That would put him at the helm for 15 years.

More importantly, it could secure her an incredible fourth term at the commission's top table, having first been nominated to Brussels by her native Luxembourg in 1999.

A put-up job between them?

Surely not.

Reding gets her instructions ahead of her Euractiv interview
The 'jobs for life' perk in the EU institutions is supposed to apply to the eurocrat staffers. Their political masters are supposed to be flushed out every five years to better reflect the prevailing political make-up and will of the national capitals.

Does the first-class carriage on the gravy train now have a lock on the inside?


It didn't take long after the 'news' broke that the European Parliament's Brussels HQ ceiling is falling in  for French factions of the institution to propose decamping wholesale to Strasbourg, as they do every month at ever increasing cost, and with ever decreasing rationale.

Not sure that's what the 'Single Seat' campaign had in mind.

Wonder what the boss thinks?

Chief Fauxsocialix has only one fear: that the sky may fall on his head tomorrow.

(With unreserved apologies to Uderzo).


Even the Berlaymonster, a 1600 year old relic born in the dying days of the Roman Empire, has been on Twitter since the beginning of this year.

But it took until now to finally lure the European Commission's president, or 'pdt' ('pomme de terre') Jose Manuel Barroso into the world of online comms.

The 'news' was announced at the EU journalists' daily briefing. In fact, it was the only announcement of any substance. It was also tweeted vigorously by pdt Bozo's team of twokespeople.

He got thousands of followers within minutes.

And he rewarded them with this pearl of 140-character wisdom:

"I am delighted to join all of you on Twitter. Let's build Europe together! JMB"

BM rather hopes there'll be an improvement. Perhaps whimsical updates on the lack of sandwich options around the HQ Berlaymont building. Or 'LOLZ' about visiting dignitaries' halitosis.

Follow pdt Bozo on @BarrosoEU.
Or follow BM on @Berlaymonster and rest assured, BM'll will pass on anything he says worth recounting.

"140 characters? That's more than in the whole commission! Oops, was that to everyone?"


Britain's vociferous army of ranti-EU figures is making large, fresh, fragrant mountains of hay in this glorious summer sunshine.

You can barely turn a page in the Mail, Express or Telegraph in recent weeks without seeing the pate of UKIP's the Tories' eurosceptic-in-chief Daniel Hannan glinting at you.

And leading Ukippers, Tories, and their spin doctors are making the most of the summer lull to feed the indignation with quotes to add credence to each latest 'barmy eurocrat' story to hit the pages.

The Express alone numbers around 15 ranti-EU items in August.

And they range from the run-of-the-mill fulminatory desk-thumper to the several, ahem, 'news' items with a questionable grasp on fact.

But then, it wasted all its EU facts in its "60 reasons to loathe the EU" two weeks ago.

The way the list is couched is somewhat predictable, and whether some or indeed any of the items are reasons to 'loathe' the EU depends on your predisposition. Also, the paper can’t take the credit for any exercise of journalistic rigour in compiling the list, as it’s basically a distillation from – and advert for – a book on the EU by another leading Tory Eurosceptic.

But what it usefully does is lay bare, in most cases, some of the costs of the EU.

It's absolutely right that these figures should be put into the mix. Not, however, to be presented as a prima facie case against the EU institutions: nothing is intrinsically 'wrong' by dint of its price tag.

But to have a proper reasoned chat about the whole sorry affair.

One of the biggest failings of the EU institutions is their inability to make their case.

Too often it boils down to 'mobile roaming' (change the record), and 'peace' (‘Oh peace?! Shut up!’).

What the eurosceptics do well is specificity. They have numbers. Some of them true. Some of them stretching the norms of statistical interpretation (see a recent dissection of some of the eurosceptic claims here). But specific numbers and claims nonetheless.

The folks, both elected and anointed, running the EU have nothing prepared in return.

In part, they view their constructs as inviolable. The costly monthly trek to Strasbourg happens because it does. Fonctionnaire payrises happen because they do.

There's a paucity of creative, substantive reflection on what might be done better which leaves the European Commission, in particular, reverse engineering somewhat hazy justifications for the status quo.

But the woolly half-arsed reasoning for some of the weaker aspects of the EU's work spills over into woolly half-arsed reasoning across the board.

There's no one even trying to match or counter the work of the EU bashers, unless you count a lonely rear-guard action by former Labour Europe minister Denis MacShane.

Other Labour figures are unwilling to come forward, perhaps conscious of the prevailing view in the UK, and many also aware that during their time in government, the Labour administration's take on Europe - say it ever so softly - *was practically identical to that of the Tories.*

The ranks of other commentators, bloggers and tweeps who grind a broadly pro-EU axe are barely into the double figures, and are medium-sized fish only in their own pond (a pond in which BM also swims, a tadpole by comparison and hardly a defender of the cause).

And none of these figures are actually in the EU institutions.

The commission's UK office maintains a 'Euromyths' site, which makes a passing effort to put right tabloid wrongs. 

But it's hardly the most robust rebuttal machine, and struggles to keep up, particularly now with the ranti-europeans in overdrive and the commission itself largely on holiday.

Why is there no one standing by to shame the Express for its 'news' that "The European Union has tried to claim Britain's entire Olympics medal haul for itself", ready with a response that says, "No, no it hasn't, that's a lie, kuñardocz."

Why, when the world's focus is on whether the European institutions have the guile to get the bloc out of its economic crisis, does the European Commission wheel out a spokesman - albeit a good one - to defend its policies on the UK's flagship Newsnight program? 

Where are the political masters and architects?

Where's the man who put his name to the policies, Olli Rehn? 

Where's the man who last month made such a spirited defence of the EU in the face of yet another UKIP/Tory sneering in the European Parliament, commission pomme de terre Jose Manuel Barroso?

There seems to be an attitude in Brussels that the, particularly, British EU critics will 'always be like that', and that it's best just to take the blows on the chin. It may be, too, that officials fear it doesn't wash well with UK viewers to put an unelected foreigner who is already a Telegraph/Mail/Express bogeyman in front of the cameras, with his funny accent and euro-jargon peppered syntax.

That may be true, but without any such effort, the facts, stats and opinions currently being uttered forth with such conviction - and mingling everything from truth to lie via ingenious and disingenuous misinterpretation - will stand as a matter of record, and become the incumbent national view on the matter.

With a possible referendum in the UK's EU membership coming up, the eurosceptics' hay bales are mounting, while those who should be defending the EU doze.

The 'Monster is no alien to attempts to depict the EU village through the prosodic arts. Previous efforts by BM and readers have managed, variously through sonnets, haikus and limericks, to sneer poetically at our political masters and mistresses over the years.

And the masterful 'Instapoet' (blog and twitter) has also pricked the Brussels bubble with his occasional quill.

But what on earth does the 'poetry' department of the European Commission do?

And why are they in such a hurry?

The 'Rapid/Poetry' unit appears to be part of the commission's communications outfit (No, really).

There's been not much evidence of their creative output as yet, rapid or otherwise.

And it's not entirely clear either why they need someone who is dedicated to the 'triple-X domain'.

Here's BM's effort at versifying today's competition announcement on Rio Tinto Alcan with a sprinkling of requisite smut:

                   Brussels probed 
                   The dominant position
                   That Alcan wielded.

                   Alcan, smelting,
                   And removed the vertical restraints.