Happy Christmas, and HELP

Thursday, December 16, 2010 | 2 comments »

If your office is on fire, don't call the fire brigade, send a nice card...

Someone might need to check on the poor souls at Hill & Knowlton's Brussels office.

Have a look at their Christmas e-card...

Do those people on the top floor look as though they're wishing us all the best for the festive season, or roasting alive in a terrifying inferno?

The original 'flash' animated version is even creepier, with a laid-back xylophone jazz trio drowning out the bloodcurdling screams of the incinerated account executives and accompanying them to a premature, involuntary cremation.

They clearly didn't heed this warning from the European Commission this time last year, about the dangers of badly-wired tree lights.

Makes you feel all festive.

As Nat King Cole might have sung it: "Lobbyists roasting on an open fire..."

Happy Chanukah,


(any other shocking corporate Christmas cards? Feel free to email them to the 'Monster)

Google, whacked

Wednesday, December 01, 2010 | 0 comments »

In BM's inbox this week:

The EU giveth ....

11:42 Munich/Paris, 30 November 2010 - European Patent Office and Google sign memorandum on translation of patents

And the EU taketh away ...

11:45 Brussels, 30 November 2010 11:45 Antitrust: Commission probes allegations of antitrust violations by Google

Brussels gets window cleaners in

Thursday, November 11, 2010 | 4 comments »

Heralds new transparency drive (windows, transparent, geddit?)

Dear World, the European Commission is having its windows cleaned. Did everyone get that?
Almost everyone did.

A memo was sent today to around 50 officials in one of the commission's Brussels buildings alerting them to prepare their offices for the arrival of the crack squeegee team, as "it's not just a matter of a squirt of Windolene."

But it was also sent to over 1000 journalists in the accredited euro press pack.

This may be the commission taking transparency to an extreme. Can we look forward to press announcements on changes in bin collection days at EUHQ? Or that the new chairs have arrived for the seventh-floor meeting room?

Perhaps it depends on tomorrow's headlines...



"One Eurocrat, he's made a gaffe,
Every time I have to laugh,
I'll see him de-brief with his staff,
When I'm cleaning windows..."

The European Commission clearly didn't have high expectations of the cerebral calibre of attendees to a 'stakeholder day' on the EU's telcoms and internet policies this week.

In an agenda circulated in the run-up to the event, invitees were given a visual representation as to what a group of workshops - to be conducted throughout the day - might look like.

Most of us, you'd have thought, would know what a 'workshop' looks like, and may be able to arrange ourselves accordingly if there were more than one in any one room.

But if you were to make a diagram for a group of telecoms, media and internet industry types, to show them how to arrange themselves around a flipchart, wouldn't you ask someone more qualified than your 5 year old son to do it?

This is a part of the commission's official event diagram. You can guess the rest of it (it even helpfully says 'etc' in several places):

See it in full here.

BM suspects the offending artist may well be the same one who designed a pisspoor commemorative euro coin a couple of years ago (see here), and maybe even was also responsible for the naughty stickmen (or 'naughty-stick men') canvas formerly on display in the commission's HQ (see here).

BM, however, notes that if the 'Digital Agenda' stakeholders need stickmen instructions for how to stand around a whiteboard, maybe they need help with the rest of the day's activities. To remedy that situation, here are some skilled illustrations from the 'Monster's own easel:

For the panel discussion:

The coffee break:

And the ad hoc drink in Kitty O'Shea's afterwards which someone had suggested, and started out rather stilted, warmed up after a couple of pints, but then trailed off again after it turned out that the attractive young lobbyiste from Telecom Italia perhaps wasn't going to show up after all:


On the occasion of...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | 1 comments »

Found on the floor of the Justus Lipsius building late last week:
(click on image to enlarge)

Officials close to the Council President report that he is closely monitoring the outcomes of Strictly Come Dancing, The Apprentice, X-Factor, So You Think You Can Dance, Masterchef, and Qui Veut Épouser Mon Fils.

(In)Famous at last ...

Monday, September 20, 2010 | 2 comments »

Finnish police are trying to track down a small-time conman said to resemble EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

BM's Finnish is sadly wanting, but the fraud in question appears to involve the exchange of money in return for clothing purportedly left over from a fashion show (see Helsingin Sanomat's coverage here).

The Barroso double offloaded four 'leather-effect' jackets, four men's shirts, two ties and two belts, all for 200 euros.

The story raises all sorts of questions. Among the less obvious and less crudely satirical: has Bozo really garnered such profile that he is recognised in the provinces of Finland?

Can we expect more criminal sightings of this ilk?

"The suspect had the unmistakable gait of Janez Potočnik "

"I detected behind the balaclava a twinkle in the eye and a smirk redolent of Algirdas Šemeta."

"He stank of Tajani."

France deports second-home Brits

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 | 0 comments »

The French government has attracted the ire of Brussels and London, with a targeted campaign to repatriate hundreds of Brits with second homes in Provence, the Dordogne and beyond.

Reacting to mounting political pressure, Paris has been shipping the occasional residents back to Britain, amid claims they have been gentrifying the countryside and patronising the locals a bit.

European Commissioner for Herself, Viviane Reding, made matters worse this week, when she compared the situation to Napoleon's 1793 evacuation of the British from Toulon.

Her comments fomented post-Trafalgar resentment, prompting a tirade from an improbably-named French minister.

The ousted Brits, returning with a bootful of an absolutely darling white from a little vineyard down the road and a 'distressed' antique chest from a chap in the village, were heard to be muttering something about 'the Algarve.'

Mickey Mouse lobbyists

Thursday, July 01, 2010 | 4 comments »

It's a childish prank, but it made 'Monster chortle.

Some wag this week has lodged 'Mickey Mouse Entrprises' [sic] as an organisation in the European Commission's public register of lobbyists (click on the image on the right to see a screengrab of the entry).

The company, apparently, is a one-man operation with a 300 thousand euro budget and a stated goal "to make money."

The honesty would be laudable if it wasn't completely made up.

It's a damn sight better than the Obama-esque vision set out by Mickey Mouse Entrprises' rival Hill & Knowlton in its public register entry:

"We believe that communication has the power to create change and that real change only occurs with effective, powerful communication."

[rousing orchestral backing strikes up]

"Communication is the heart of what makes us human, what makes the world go round, and what we at Hill & Knowlton do day in and day out in 81 offices in 43 countries around the globe."

[trumpets blare]

"Powerful communications that make a difference, that go beyond the ordinary, that can transform, inspire, move and educate is why we exist."

[crescendo, triumphant cadence to standing ovation, as Europe elects its first ever lobbyist president]

Honestly, it's enough to make 'Monster want to join the French angry bikers' federation (no, really. See here).


Iceland's government is to call on British Petroleum to help block the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.
Following BP's resounding success in stemming the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, Iceland is hoping the company will act to stem the flow of volcanic ash.
BP is already drawing up plans for a giant metal collander which it will drop over the spewing crater.
If that fails, the petrol giant aims to stuff the fissure with cricket balls, socks and celebrity autobiographies.
In a parallel effort, the European Free Trade Authority appears to be taking a different tack, threatening Iceland with legal action for 'failure to implement the single European sky.'

Killing bears while they're sitting ducks is like shooting fish in a barrel.

Hunters in Russia, according to MEP Fiona Hall, "use dogs to dig and rouse bears from hibernation in their den and then kill them."

The cubs are then left to die or sold to zoos and circuses, she says, in a memo asking for the European Commission's position.

Environment commissioner Janez Potočnik replied this week that the commission was "aware of the practice to hunt brown bear in the den during hibernation."

And his verdict?

"This practice as such does not seem be in line with a sustainable use of this species.”

Does not 'seem' to be a sustainable 'use' of the bear?

That's one way of putting it, Janez...

Libertas leftovers anyone?

Thursday, April 29, 2010 | 4 comments »

Lisbon nay-sayers and failed euro-election contenders Libertas left behind a veritable treasure trove of hi-tech hardware in their abandoned Brussels offices when they jumped ship last year.

The multi-thousand euro stash of goodies is just sat gathering dust in their vast, ghostly seventh-floor euro-HQ, which has been empty now for almost a year.

The Ireland-based campaigners simply upped sticks in early June last year, and 'just left their toys behind', in the words of one agent trying to find someone to take over the 760 meter square, 200,000 euro-a-year property.

Among the items strewn across this graveyard of Libertas's obsolete cause are a handful of enormous flatscreen televisions, two ceiling-mounted projectors, a 5000 euro colour printer/copier, and six Sky decoders (yes, SIX).

That's without counting the proliferation of phones, brand new (a year ago, and in any case barely used) desks and chairs, storage units, and all the telecoms and internet wiring necessary to run an office of upwards of 20 people.

"Most decisions that affect Europe are taken within a block of the property" boasts the developer's blurb, describing the building as "just one block away from the European Commission Headquarters and the Council of Ministers."

Maybe Libertas simply didn't get on with the neighbours...

"President Basescu and Romania have already a good track record of support to the European Union"

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, 22 April 2010.

"European Union officials in Kosovo are investigating claims Romanian justice workers [members of the EU's rule of law mission in Kosovo] were caught smuggling tobacco and alcohol on their way home for leave."

Associated Press, 21 April 2010

You can all stop trying to find them.

The revealing photos of a senior commission official BM reported on last week (see below) have been removed from the social networking site in question.

It took a day or so, but BM news clearly travels. Over the weekend the offending gallery magically disappeared. It now seems the whole profile has also been wiped from the interweb altogether.

So you can now all stop furiously googling names you think it may be in the hope of stumbling across the images.

And BM's lips are sealed. So stop asking...

In the week that the European Commission spread the message to young internet users to 'Think before you post', it emerges one older internaut within the commission itself could have done with the same advice.

Fast starting to do the rounds of European Commission email inboxes, BM's included, is the publicly-accessible profile of one high-placed Brussels aide on a well-known social networking site.

While the senior official has not used his own name, the person on the profile is identifiably him, and hosts a startling gallery of shots depicting him in various stages of undress, baring the physique of which he is clearly quite proud.

Most distressing is the photo of the commission advisor sporting nothing but a strategically-placed baseball cap and a wry grin.

For reasons of taste, BM has chosen not to republish the images or identify the cabinet official in question.
Indeed, you could say that the 'Monster 'thought before it posted'...

How apt, however, that this Tuesday, on the occasion of Safer Internet Day, EU commissioner Viviane Reding was preaching of the risks of uploading ill-advised images.

Publishing personal information or pictures, she warned, "may lead to embarrassing or even traumatic situations."

"Young people do not always realize the risk that online images and videos may circulate beyond their control and knowledge."

Nor, it seems, do older people.

And as the incoming team of commissioners heralds a shake-up in the teams of cabinet advisors that work for them, this final warning note from Reding carries extra piquancy for at least one internet user in the uppest echelons of Eurocracy:

"Posting photos from what may have been an unforgettably fun moment may have future unintended consequences such as the way a potential employer will consider job applications."

(That said, the publication of revealing photos never did Verheugen any harm...)

Europe's new climate change commissioner appears to engaging in one-upwomanship with scandal-stricken Iris Robinson.

One toyboy was all the northern Irish MP would consider.

But then Denmark's Connie Hedegaard went before euro-MPs late last week in a committee hearing about her appointment to the European Commission.

Asked about her eco-credentials, the incoming commissioner said her criteria for buying a new fuel-efficient car was one in which it was "possible you can have two teenage boys in the back." (No, really. See here and ffw to 1h37m)

These Danes, so disconcertingly frank.

Neelie Kroes has garnered a reputation over five years as a tough European antitrust regulator, taking on big companies for running cartels or for stomping on smaller rivals.

She also, however, is known for her often tortured public speaking (see one fine typical example here).

Today she did little to dispell that reputation, in a three-hour Q&A with euro-MPs over her new job as telecoms commissioner.

Her answers sounded often as though a box of magnetic telecoms and political buzzwords had been thrown at a fridge, along with another box made up exclusively of tiles bearing the meaningless "so-to-say" (or 'sho-to-shay' in her trademark Dutch drawl).

As if to cement this reknown for speaking in riddles, she also chose to sport a large sparkling brooch in the form of a question mark.

Telecoms companies beware, there's somebody new drafting your regulations - and you may not understand them ...

Gordon Brown w*****

Thursday, January 07, 2010 | 0 comments »

From today's Metrotime, which makes a lot more sense if you don't speak Dutch:

Plus an exclusive bonus for Berlaymonster readers:

When the 'Monster noted in disparaging terms the European Commission's cringeworthy campaign to get more women into IT jobs , we had no idea quite the lengths of misjudgement Brussels would go to.

The project, launched in March 2008, sought - in the kind of jaunty, cutesy terms the commission assumed would appeal to women - to attract "IT Girls."

The early rumblings from De Beauvoir's grave were already audible, even over the eager chunterings of anticipation from the IT fraternity.

But now there's a poster...

A computer-generated Barbie-esque doll has been chosen as the avatar to which women seeking a job in IT should aspire. And look, she's hip too, because she's wearing a t-shirt, and a baseball cap at a terribly fashionable angle.

The 'textspeak' (because that's how young women all communicate ye know) for the slogan also misfires, with the tech-savvyless commission officials who designed it spelling 'great' as 'gre@t.'

:-O WTF!!! LOL [etc]

Had any of them bothered to ask their teenage daughters they'd have known its correct contemporary abbreviation in the digital world is 'gr8'.

And just one more thing: nice job on adopting the term 'Cyberella' to depict these pert and presumably plastic 'IT Girls' they're trying to attract.

Had they been IT-literate enough themselves they might have entered the name into Google and changed their minds rather promptly.

After all, what self-respecting tech sector high-flying career woman would care to be associated with 'Mara, a lithe young Virtual Reality progammer' who is 'transformed into a stunningly gorgeous cyber-seductress' in tawdry 1990's soft porn flick "Cyberella: Forbidden Passions."

No, really. Maybe they were simply inspired by the film's strapline: 'The wildest fantasies become reality'...