Dutch PM likes what he sees

Thursday, December 19, 2013 | 0 comments »

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the handsomest Liberal of all?

Dutch PM Mark Rutte, heading in to a meeting of other European Liberal leaders today, thought he'd have just one last check if he was, indeed, as dashing as he remembered.

Not a lash out of place, it seems.


As cunning stunts go...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 | 2 comments »

Snapped this evening, The Sun newspaper and UKIP projecting their message of tolerance and Christmas cheer up the side of the European Commission's HQ Berlaymont building. It was today's Sun front page, in case you missed it.



So when someone (@sanderwagner and @LorcanRK) on twitter sends around a photo of two Euro politicians and throws down the caption-contest AND photoshop gauntlet, 'ere's what 'appens:

"I hadda different type of bank job in mind"

"OK, I pass them on, but you know Borg will guess they from you?"


Bilbao Baggins

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 | 1 comments »

The European Commission got it in the neck this week for taking more than four years to getting round to investigating subsidies to certain Spanish football clubs.

The watchdog that keeps an eye on the EU institutions themselves, the Ombudsman, said the delay could "look like a conflict of interest" given that the commissioner in charge, Joaquin Almunia, is a big fan of one of the clubs, Athletic Bilbao

So, ever wondered what a conflict of interest could "look like"?

Maybe something like this:

Almunia, seen here explaining how many years it'll take to open an investigation


Wouldn't it be embarrassing if you'd been nominated for some lofty award for "enhancing mutual understanding and dialogue among diverse people" or whatever, and you'd been invited to the ceremony in Vienna, and Bill Clinton was going to be there, and that guy who jumped from space, and you got there, and there was a really long wait, because Clinton wasn't there yet, and eventually they went ahead without him, and you accepted the award, and made a worthy speech, and it turned out Clinton had at the last minute chosen not to turn up, because his advisers found out that the guy running the show had just been sentenced in Romania for eleven years for dodgy business dealings?

Wouldn't that just. Be. Awful?

"Bill Clinton bails on $275k ball over 'spy'" - New York Post
"Why Clinton didn't turn up" - Die Presse 
"Centre for Global Dialogue without Bill Clinton" - Kleinezeitung 
"Bill Clinton's dubious host in Vienna" - Kurier

Now put your cappuccino down, because you don't want to get milk froth all over your keyboard when you read the next bit (from the award organiser's website):

"This award recognizes H.E. Barroso’s remarkable ability to foster positive global trends, his great contribution to the dissemination of values such as honesty, and transparency, as well as his active efforts in strengthening cooperation between diverse people and cultures. Through his vision, outstanding commitment and expertise he inspires the next generation of world leaders, change-makers and citizens.
We are honored to present H.E. José Barroso with the CGDC Award 2013 for

Thought you'd like that.


Soit pas con, soit SantaCon...

Friday, December 06, 2013 | 0 comments »

A bar crawl of a crowd of people dressed as Santa.

What's not to like?

For those not acquainted with the concept, SantaCon is a worldwide phenomenon of crowds of otherwise perfectly sensible grown-ups dressing up as Santa Claus and cavorting around their nearby city centers "for no better reason than that it's huge fun."

In case you hadn't noticed, it's been a growing annual feature in Brussels in recent years. And it has BM's jingling, ringing endorsement.

Join in tomorrow, Saturday 7th from 16h, starting in Scott's Bar.

Sign up and find more details via the SantaCon Brussels facebook page.

Do it.



Les Gourmonstres

Thursday, December 05, 2013 | 1 comments »

Heartening to see that our long-suffering MEPs face the same dilemma of their austerity-stricken electorate: concern over where their next meal is coming from.

For your elected representative, the quandary is apparently which of Brussels' 18 Michelin-starred restaurants to go to while sojourning in the EU capital, and luckily the European Parliament's internal newsletter is there to help with an informative article entitled "Brussels, capital of what? Gastronomy, of course!" (the exclamation mark is the organ's own).

The "EP Newshound" notes to its readers that Brussels has more Michelin stars than Rome, Berlin or Milan. It then adds - its tongue lodged somewhat in its truffle-filled cheek - that this is "the very least one would expect from a city that is home to several EU institutions."

To underline that the gravy-train canine is being ironic, this is followed by an emoticon with a double chin:


... cute...

In a further self-effacing flourish, the newsletter's masthead bears this rousing quote:

EP Newshound - dining on something
other than paper, one assumes
"To reach the truth, you must waste time and stop working."

As if they needed encouragement.

(and yes, as cheap shots go, that one was a freebie...)

Bon ap.


Daily Express cartoonist Paul Thomas has cut the political world to the quick yet again with his vituperative quill.

In a recent vignette last week, he depicts a comely weather forecaster who warns us of "snow from the north, and immigrants from the east," as a front of dozens of little black cut-out people blows in from the continent.

It's here, so you can marvel at it in full.

Let's charitably overlook the deeply unpleasant overtones of the pictorial, and that on closer scrutiny, there isn't even a joke behind it.

Let's also disregard for a moment that during PT's three years at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts he clearly missed the class on noses and hands (hiding the right one only draws attention to the remaining poignée of fresh boudin blanc with which the meteorologist in question appears to be gesticulating at the map).

Let us focus instead on PT's cunning use of iconography to interweave his tableau with political references - and perhaps biographical hints too - much as the classical masters have executed over the centuries.

Notice how Mr Thomas has - almost imperceptably - included on his map the stylistic wolf that is the symbol for football club Wolverhampton Wanderers, so as, perhaps, to stress that this is a map at which we are looking, and that that is the spot on that map where Wolverhampton is.

The eye is then drawn to a similar icon hovering somewhere over where Amsterdam should be. It's, erm, possibly a very fat jumbo jet landing at Schipol, or a novelty bong.

But despite the ambiguity, the theme is set for geographic symbolism.

It is at that moment that the perceptive viewer of this oeuvre will notice another clin d'oeil from the artist.

It's daubed in black so as to set it apart from the other visual messages emanating from the canvas. 

The colour, too, is an optical echo of the black that characterises the wondering immigrants.

The two vertical bows - like a horizontal kiss - are accompanied by an exclamation point, and hover somewhere over where this particular cartographer may well have placed the Belgian and EU capital: Brussels.

At first thought the reader may conclude it is the footprint of a small deer wearing a stilleto heel, as if to depict the stumbling eurocrat as a clumsy and effete newborn beast of the wilds.

Then, perhaps, it is an alternative take on the incoming Greek EU presidency's stylised 'boat' logo, adapted to have two conflicting sails, to tell the tale of a country - and indeed an institutional role - that is torn between two opposing destinies.

And then, one concludes inescapably that it's probably just a badly drawn ladybum.

Because to the Daily Express, and to its cartoonist who revels in "being extremely rude about the people who are trying to tell us all what to do” and likes the letters "accusing me of bad taste," Brussels = c**nts and arses.


One wonders how he rendered it so anatomically accurately?


I've got tae do wha'?"
If Scotland leaves the UK, to get back into the EU Alex Salmond may have to jump across big red balls, unlock a crystal through a system of gears and levers, and answer "these riddles three." 

In lycra.

Brussels officials are preparing the tests to put an end to speculation as to how an independent Scotland would secure re-entry to the EU bloc.

To submit an application to re-join the European club, the incumbent leader would have to run an obstacle course which includes "jumping across three large inflatable bouncy balls suspended over water."

A further trial would entail Salmond trying to solve a puzzle which involves fixing differently-sized cogs and levers to a wall in such a configuration so on turning a handle, the mechanism lifts a small hatch to release a crystal down a ramp, while his cabinet yell advice at him through a door.

The final task would see the first-minister - by this stage "probably knackered" according to the EU text - facing a series of questions from a mystical beast with odd syntax. It'll "probably involve choosing a door. or something," the Brussels memo says.

"Yeah, and we could make him wear something embarrassing."

Meantime, eurocrats would just recalculate Scotland's membership fee based on a fairly easy extrapolation of GDP, and get a new flagpole made for the Berlaymont forecourt.

They'll then draw straws for the right to tell him he's not getting a commissioner any time soon.


Let's hope the trademark office doesn't find the name too rude.


When Schulz met Malala

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 | 0 comments »


No ficken trademark for you
When is a rude word a rude word?

When the EU court says it is.

EU judges had their minds in the gutter again last week, as they told a German company it can't trademark a schnapps "Ficken Liquor," because it contains a rude word.

The drink can bear the name, but can't have an EU trademark.

For the teutonically challenged, "ficken" means exactly what you instinctively think it means.

As the EU judgment late last week helpfully notes:

"the prime meaning of the German word "ficken" is, according to several German dictionaries ..., in a vulgar register, "to practice coitus" or "to have sexual relations with someone.""

In fact the legal text is littered with 32 mentions of this word so rude that it can't feature in a trademark.

The judges agreed with the EU's trademark office, which had refused to award the brand EU recognition. 

The trademark officials had taken particular issue with the association between getting laid and drinking the blood-red "josta berry" flavoured nail-varnish remover.

The link "created the impression that the drink could help lead to sex," they blustered.

The company marketing Ficken Liquor tried to argue that the word wasn't THAT bad, and even tried to play it down, saying that "ficken" in German "didn't have the same connotation or use as the word "fuck" in English."

This is all helpfully laid out, and quashed in full colourful language, by the judgment last week, in both French and German.

The trademark office "had merely indicated in a cursory manner that the vulgar and coarse character of the word "ficken" was confirmed by comparison with its translation into English."

The eurocrat IP lawyers said the German word "is only ever used in a very informal and vulgar context." By contrast the English equivalent is "an everyday swearword."

Is it fuck. Apparently daily life at the fucking Office for the Harmonisation of the Internal fucking Market is like an episode of the fucking Sopranos or The Thick of It.

Sign me up.

Meantime, of course, this whole confusion and costly litigation could have been avoided if the EU had implemented its Single European Swearword.

Before that happens though, I'm off to OHIM to put in a request to trademark my own brand of "Kuñardocz Gin" ...

Later, fickers.


European Mo-mission

Thursday, November 14, 2013 | 0 comments »

It's one of those questions to which the answer is invariably 'no' (or QTWTAINs, in line with Betteridge's Law):

"I wonder if I'd look good with a moustache?"

For those wondering about the predominance this month of gents wandering self-consciously around with adolescent follicle sproutings under their noses, it's for charity innit.

"Movember" aims to raise profile and money for men's health issues, in particular prostate and testicular cancer. For Brusselites, find a local Mo-Bro top-lip topiarist to sponsor via the Movember Belgium facebook page or via the Movember Belgium official portal.

To mark the mo-ment, here's some photoshop fun with some of our political masters. Just to show sometimes the answer to the question above can be: "oh, yes, yes indeed."

"I come for your current account surplus! MWAHAhahaa" Jose BarroMo

"Sho to shave..." Neelie Kroestache

Fracking hell - Hair Oettinger

Elle razor - Viviane Remington

High Lip - Baroness Tash-ton
Economic a-furs - Rehn Supreme

Mo' to come.


It's cartoon time again!

After the EU's chemicals industry decided we needed animated broccoli to explain F-gases, EUHQ itself has got its crayons out to illustrate how 'social funds' work.

Though for some reason it has chosen to use an array of animated running, dancing, smiling, working, learning tampons to make its point.

BM leaves it to the (even) less charitable and (even) more potty-minded to draw the (in-)appropriate link between the sanitary apparatus of the menstrual cycle, and the stuck-up c... personages who may or may not be the architects of Europe's socio-economic crumbling.

Th... th... th... th... th... th... th... th... th... th... that's all folks!


The Doorstep Challenge

Friday, October 25, 2013 | 1 comments »

For one British hack* at the EU summit this week, the challenge from his editor was to get an EU leader - any of them - to comment on David Cameron's wish to repatriate certain powers from Brussels.

As each one passed the entrance to the summit building, the journo yelled out variations on the theme of "Is David Cameron going to get any powers back?"

Few, if any, nibbled at the bait.

So it was perhaps not the most diplomatic for EU commission pomme-de-terre Barroso to respond with a chuckle.

But then who, just who is it who mutters an audible "no" as Barroso's chief of staff and former head of comms Johannes Laitenberger steams past the outstretched mic? Surely not ye'highness himself?

Judge for yourself below. (Headphones advised)


*update: *hat-tip* to Adam Fleming, off of that-there BBC, for it is he.

A lesson in dismissiveness from one Nora Dall'Aqua, not impressed with Jose Manuel Barroso's attempts to explain why Brussels hasn't done enough to save the EU steel industry.

From this vid...


Here's a few clips from the moment EU pomme de terre Barroso met some actual people, at an event in the Belgian town of Liege.

Taken from the latest in a series of 'Debates on the Future of Europe', where EU commissioners talk to the great unwashed, displaying the kind of communication skills and connection with the common folk that got them elected in the first pl...   oh, hold on ...

Maybe this is why EUHQ has been letting vice president Viviane Reding do most of these public appearances...


A pot and a kettle, yesterday
And in doing so, makes a case for its own demise

One of the EU's more arcane bodies has made a desperate bid for profile, with an announcement today that it wants to "ban" products that aren't made to last.

"Bulbs that burn out after a certain time, batteries that run out within a set period or clothes that quickly fall out of fashion are just a few examples" of what it calls "planned obsolescence," the EESC says.

It calls for a "total ban" on such goods.

And someone at the EESC clearly has it in for the rag trade.

The fashion industry "is built around consumer demand for new and different styles not the durability of individual garments. But even here, turnover is becoming faster and new models are often designed to make their predecessors look ugly or out-of-date," the institutionette notes.

Is this really one of those "Big Things" that Captain Bozo said merited "Big" EU action?

Or the febrile squawk of an institutional spare wheel that fears its own obsolescence if belt-tightening EU leaders crowbar open the EU's structures?


The complexities of the coolants industry are clearly beyond the comprehension of the average EU lawmaker.

A lobby group representing chemicals companies has decided to explain how groovy their refrigerants are through a cartoon campaign.

Watch as two cutesy animated stalks of broccoli, called ... erm ... "Brock, 'n' Ollie" (seriously), explain to the apparently stunted imaginations of eurocrats the virtues of F-Gases.

The likes of Arkema, DuPont, Honeywell, Mexichem Fluor and Solvay, the companies behind the lobby group, clearly are tired of coming up against MEPs who lack the capacity to understand anything that isn't accompanied by vibrant colourful moving shapes, anthropomorphised vegetables and a chirpy soundtrack.

See a sample of the campaign below, or in full here.

Is this a new trend in EU messaging, after the European Commission decided to explain the difference between BIG and small with this


The ink is barely dry on the European Commission's grand plan to review existing EU laws to instill "regulatory fitness," (ReFit) but already the strategy is generating employment.

*SING* "Love my tender..."
The executive's telecoms department - the jauntily titled "DG Connect" - is offering 20 million euros to the struggling consultancy sector for a range of contracts to:

- tell EU telecoms officials how to conduct policy evaluations


- do a load of policy evaluations for them.

Teach a man to fish, and then give him a big fish pie?

The tender dwarfs the €2 million contract the same EU telco department made available last year for "support services facilitating Strategic Decision Processes and Future Vision and Mission Statements."

On top of the telecoms policy reviews, the ReFit initiative promises 47 further legislative evaluations across the rest of the EU law book by the end of 2014.

The consultancy sector will be watching the EU's contract offers closely in the coming months for more such out-sourced morsels.

For jobs and growth, you understand.


As promised, BM's claws are now back from the sharpeners, so it is with some care that BM raises his hat to the European Commission's in-house turd-polisher.

Whoever the brainchild was behind the "refit" initiative to do away with EU red tape managed to make a bundle of frayed old rope look like a large spindle of finely spun silk.

And to aim the initiative at a tame British press during party conference season merits an extra tug of the forelock.

Bien joué.

Nine years ago, the EU's then industry commissioner Gunther Verheugen vainly promised a "bonfire of the regulations," only to be frustrated by recalcitrant eurocrats who found the initiative counter-intuitive.

EU unveils red-tape-cutting toolkit
Now the commission is having another go, dubbing it less ambitiously and more ambiguously "Refit", for "regulatory fitness and performance."

It's a nice bit of branding, which allows EUHQ to class all sorts of policy initiatives as part of this drive, whether they actually cut red tape or not.

Much of the measures listed are things the EU has already done. So no news there.

Some of them are measures already proposed and in the pipeline. Idem.

And they cover efforts such as "consolidation". This involves putting together related legal texts that may have been adopted over time into one document. That may make the laws easier to consult, but doesn't remove any of their effect.

It also includes numerous efforts to remove laws and proposals that are obsolete. This may clear the desk administratively, or as one twitterwit noted, "leave more room on the bookshelf." But Europeans and the businesses they work for won't feel any difference. In fact, in many cases the reason a law or proposal has become obsolete is that it has been superceded by another law or proposal.

And many of what the Refit communication promises are future "evaluations", are simply review initiatives the various policy departments had already penciled in. 

It just looks and smells like the commission has gone to each of its policy directorates and asked for everything, ANYTHING from the last ten years and in the near future that could be deemed to fall under some vague effort to make laws 'fitter'. 

Here's just a few examples.

  • The commission trumpets it's going to withdraw a proposal for a "soil framework directive."

Hurrah says the farming lobby, which clearly didn't read on. The commission says it “remains committed” to the objective of the proposal, and may “maintain” the proposal, or withdraw it “opening the way for an alternative initiative.” Hardly removing the threat of regulatory burden. 

  • A directive on the classification, packaging and labeling of dangerous preparations will be repealed, the communication pledges.

It doesn't note, however, that it was already foreseen in 2008 that the directive would be repealed from June 2015 and be replaced by a regulation. 

  • Two proposals "regarding information to the general public on medicinal products subject to medical prescription" are for the chop.

But on closer reading the two proposals in question were simply to amend existing laws. Their withdrawal doesn't head off the creation of new laws.

  • The commission will, it says, repeal a directive on the scientific examination of questions relating to food.

Would this be the directive that applies to the work of the Scientific Committee for Food, which has been inoperative since 1997? A directive that has been wholly redundant since the 2002 creation of the European Food Safety Authority? Good riddance to old, inapplicable law.

  • The commission will repeal a regulation on steel statistics, because figures "are now collected though different direct arrangements with steel companies. The legislation is therefore no longer necessary," says the commission.

Or, the legislation is no longer necessary because it ceased to apply from 2010. Its shredding will not, therefore, unshackle the steel industry from unnecessary number-crunching.

Enough yet? Here's some more.

  • The commission is withdrawing a proposal for a regulation on crime statistics.

It's a proposal rejected wholesale by the European Parliament in November 2012. No new initiative there, then. The proposal has already been sunk.

  • The commission says it will repeal 'arrangements for cooperation between financial intelligence units of the member states.'

An alternative law to be agreed in the meantime (anti-money laundering) will make it obsolete. One-in-one-out.

  • The commission is withdrawing a proposal for a regulation on the statute of a European private company.

But then the commission admits it's considering "a new proposal in this area."

All of this, however, is not to criticise the initiative in its political (as opposed to policy) intent. It was clearly not crafted to offer any great deregulatory substance, rather to be a bone to throw the three mainstream political parties in Britain as they have their annual bunfights and each try to fight off creeping  - nay galloping - euroscepticism.

Credit to a European Commission that is finally waking up to a media game that its detractors, particularly in Britain, have been playing to great effect: dress something up as news, feed it to an unquestioning press with a soundbite and some pretty colourful pictures, and Robert est votre oncle.

Just don't expect some of us not to read the small print or conduct a modicum of dilligence...


Looks like the European Commission's comms folk have been watching Sesame Street again.

Captain Bozo in his State Of The Union address (in French, 'l'etat des pognons') proudly intoned this soundbite:

"The EU needs to be big on the big things, and smaller on the small things."

The commish has bundled the line out again this week, announcing some kind of scheme to cut back red tape.

The flimsiness of what it claims to promise will have to undergo further polemic once the claws are back from the sharpeners.

In the meantime, EUHQ's comms people have got their crayons out, and decided to illustrate the "Big on Big" quote with this:

See what they did there?

The lion is the BIG scary binding EU regulation with teeth, while the iddle widdle puddy dat is the soft-law guideline, scorecard, or best-practice-benmark-strategy-green-paper-recommendation-document.

Once more:

Biiiiiig (lion)


Smaaaaaalll   (cat)

Only problem is...

ROOOAAAARGH... see how the big legally binding legislation, enforceable by the EU courts, rips the head off the puny soft-law mechanism... !



G.T. phone home

Thursday, October 03, 2013 | 0 comments »

UK satirical site The Poke has been collating UKIP-themed movie posters.

Here's BM's offering, based on a recent rhetorical slip by the party's spin doctor and aspirant MEP, Gawain Towler.

Tempting to call the scandalette 'Towlergate', but that just sounds like a posh village in Yorkshire...


Balls and drops

Monday, September 23, 2013 | 0 comments »

It can be hard sometimes to find an eloquent endorsement of European integration. The fervour that fires a sceptic can inspire a more inventive and alluring rhetoric more readily.

Trust, therefore, the consummate European and world citizen Peter Ustinov to be the one to utter effortlessly, more than forty years ago, this modest paean to what his interviewer calls "the whole thing."

"We have to decide now whether we're going to be one player or eight tennis balls," he tells Michael Parkinson, in an interview from January 1972.

"If two raindrops are going to join on a train window they're going to join, there's no way of keeping them apart."

Agree or disagree,  having to follow the debate would be a far less stultifying experience if some of the proponents of "the whole thing" displayed a modicum of the imagination and eloquence necessary to get their message across.

The record doesn't show what view of European integration was voiced by fellow guests footballer Jackie Charlton or trade unionist Jimmy Reid ...

See - a bit - more of Ustinov's politics here, 40m40s in. Or just watch the whole thing for - a lot - more of Ustinov's words and the order in which he put them.


The git that keeps on giving ...

Friday, September 20, 2013 | 0 comments »

Ah, Godfrey, source of lyrical diversion in the past, has been at it again.

"After two senior female Ukip members joked that they did not clean behind the fridge, as Bloom said it was where women belonged, he joyfully shouted: "This place is full of sluts.""

So I got my rhyming dictionary out again and had another bash:

There once was a fellow called Bloom,
Who'd bluster and chortle and fume,
It may seem alarming
That some find him charming.
As long as you haven't a womb.

Bon weekend, sluts.


Young person, anyone?

Friday, September 20, 2013 | 0 comments »

We all long suspected what Europe's trainee political class was up to.

BM got forwarded this from an actual young person ==>

This apparent new pressure group claims to "lobby for young people."

We all do that, just some of us are less successful than others at actually getting one.

At least we know the expectations are set low: just a quickie once a fortnight.


A top EU politician has said he'd accept "pretty much any VIP job going" when the bloc's decision-making institutions undergo a reshuffle next year.

The senior Brussels figure said he "wasn't bothered" if he got president of the EU Council, Parliament or Commission. "I'll take social affairs, multilingualism, whatever."

"Even High Rep."

The unidentified top-ranking politico remained unidentified, because we couldn't identify him. It's a quality that could stand him in good stead for nomination when the elite game if EU musical chairs gets underway next year.

As the plum-job bonanza looms, the high-placed political player has already embarked on a concerted campaign of mentioning "youth unemployment" in public while looking grave and kinda statesmanlike.

With a large number of names already in the hat for many of the seats at the EU's top tables, the bloc has announced proposals to invest in a bigger hat. And probably even more seats.


I done a speech

Thursday, September 12, 2013 | 0 comments »

Don't see what the fuss is all about European Commission president Barroso's annual State Of The Union speech. This stuff writes itself. Note, in particular, the use of the deontic modality coupled with the abstract first-person plural. Textbook.

"Honourable members. 

It's been a year since I stood before you last in this capacity. And before that, another year had passed in between the opportunity two years ago and the one of last year.

It's a pattern that has repeated itself for almost a decade.

And this achievement is not just about our success, together, but about completing that story. And you know, let me be honest, it's no easy task. We have come a long way. And let's make no mistake that there is further to go. But the opportunity this lends us for building that capacity for development, for innovation, in a globalised world, a world that's increasingly global, is an opportunity not to be missed.

And yes, it's a challenge. But only in taking up that challenge, can we hope to overcome those who tell us that it should never have happened, or could never prosper.

It was [insert clever person here] who once said [something clever].

And I firmly believe that that's as true now as it has ever been, and has never been truer. 

Although it has, as I say, been AS true as it is now. Then.

But it's precisely at that moment, when those words are as true as they are today, that we face a decisive opportunity.

An opportunity for courage, an opportunity to be courageous enough to seize that opportunity, and a courageousness to be opportune about that seizure.

We must do what is necessary. It's an imperative that must be addressed resolutely.

For history tells us, that unless we adapt to a dynamic transformation on a global scale, we risk missing that opportunity.

Which is why we must make that a priority in the run-up to the European elections.

The citizens expect it, and it's the only way we can meet those expectations, by implementing the concrete actions to make that a reality.

If I might quote [another clever person], who said [clever-sounding quote in another language] [recapitulate in English].

Make no mistake, these are challenging times, but..."


BM (pdt)

A Bloom With A View

Monday, August 19, 2013 | 1 comments »

I done a song. Somewhat belatedly.

Luckily, the target's episodes of foot-in-mouth disease appear frequent enough to render this current again at any moment, and at frequent occasions over the foreseeable future.

The terrible production values and lacklustrre pianistic miming, they come for free...

With apologies to N. Coward...

A Bloom with a view, that you,
Can say that foreign aid is there
For fancy cars and fashion wear
In some Bongo Land

He lives in a past, where ghastly
Views are acceptable
Buffoons are quite electable,
in his merry band.

He'd be so happy if our women were seen and never heard
And giving them employment's absurd.

For Bloom has a view, that you,
Can patronise your womenfolk
Comment on their tits and joke,
Like in times of yore,

An era when men, were men-
tally incontinent,
And now express astonishment
That we now deplore

Those old opinions once so current, but now have lost their vim,
Like empire and corduroy, and him,

He'll bluster and blow, but no enlightenment will ever come,
Enlightenment will never come to, the Bloom with a view.


The EU's body of 'commissioners' has put together a welcome message to Croatia, which joined the bloc today.

It's a heartwarming multilingual display of Europe's native tongues, except for Vivian Reding, the Luxembourger, who insisted on doing hers in English.

And Algirdas Šemeta, who does some 'acting' 45 seconds in [*important man gazes in to middle distance, as if pondering Europe's future, then notices camera*]

Most notable, however, is Germany's Guenther Oettinger, who delivers the creepiest welcome message ever. That man should not be instructed to smile. Ever.

Fast forward 23 seconds - if you dare - on the full version of the video here. Or see BM's edit below:



A senior Brussels EU lawmaker has railed at findings he has been completely overlooked by US spying campaigns.

The outrage from European Parliament leader Martin Schulz follows revelations that American secret services have been bugging EU offices. 

Just not his.

"This is unacceptable," Schulz said this weekend.

"I mean, I see stuff too. I get documents."

"I had a phone call the other day from someone really important. I did. I can't tell you who, but we spoke for several minutes. He then realised it was a wrong number, but that's not the point..."

Schulz added: "ask yourself this. Who was it they gave the Nobel medal to to hold? Me. Not the other two. Me."

An aide to the parliament leader said Schulz had tried all sorts to attract the attention of intelligence services.

His computer screen faces the window and he leaves it logged on over the weekend, the aide said.

He also regularly "loses" his briefcase - complete with all his ID and security clearance details and latest policy drafts - on casual strolls near the US, Chinese and Korean embassies in Brussels, but they keep returning it to him, unopened.

Schulz demanded US authorities install listening devices and hack into his emails "without delay" otherwise "something will happen. Something. You mark my words. Not sure what yet, but ... yeah."

He went on to casually mention his mother's maiden name and the name of his first pet.


A load of hot air

Monday, June 24, 2013 | 1 comments »

EU commission president Barroso and Arnie talk climate change ...


Spotted in Brussels #7

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 | 0 comments »

A conference on customs duties on prunes.

That's: a conference

               On customs duties

                                      On prunes....

Only in Brussels.


Thanks to a regular punter for the spot.

Regular, geddit? Prunes? 

An overlooked nugget of 'news' - and a minor triumph for the beleagured EU fraud office

An Italian politician owes the European Parliament almost half a million euros, after the EU courts this month ruled he mis-declared travel and office expenses during his time as an MEP.

Riccardo Nencini is a senator and secretary of Italy's socialist party. He worked as a member of the European Parliament (sorry, 'was' a member of the European Parliament) from 1994 to 1999.

There was an investigation in 2006 by the EU's anti-fraud office Olaf which found Nencini had declared travel expenses for living in Rome, whereas his 'domicile' was in Tuscany. That resulted in overcompensation of around €47 000 for his regular flights between home and his EU offices.

And Olaf found Nencini had spent another €410 000 of parliament funds on assistants he never declared.

And while the time it took for the parliament and Olaf to get around to censuring Nencini was not "beyond all criticism," legal niceties meant Nencini still owed the cash, the court ruled.

Not sure how this pleasing little ruling escaped general attention when it came out last week.

Could have been an opportunity for Olaf to claw back some credit.

The fraud office is somewhat bruised, after its high-profile investigation into former commissioner John Dalli resulted in no prosecution when the matter reached the Maltese authorities.

Perhaps pinning €60 million on a standing commissioner was over-reaching. €456 000 on an MEP seven years out of office is far more feasible...


"Sir, the letters seem to be in the wrong order."
US secret service officials sought to play down fears among privacy-loving Europeans that their internet and phone use was being spied on.

"We tried following your data, we really did," said one US official.

"But jeez you guys are boring."

Europeans spent most of their time on email, the internet, or on the phone, "talking about, or looking for, fuckin' CHEESE," said one senior American pentagon source.

"Probably," he added.

There remained some confusion as to some of the content, however. After 18 months of collection and analysis of Europeans' data, decryption experts at the NSA had concluded that much of Europe's electronic communications "were in some funny jibber-jabber lingo," the official added.

"I mean, what in the frikken name-of-high-school-football is a 'Geburtsdatum'?". American security boffins first thought it may be a code for a person's date of birth, "but we couldn't work out the logic of the numbers. They were in the wrong order," the senior official confided. 

"It's like they had up to 31 months and only 12 days a month. What's that shit all about?"

US officials tried consulting British counterparts, "but they were equally clueless," he said.


Spotted in Brussels #6

Monday, June 10, 2013 | 0 comments »

Seems there's a few ways of reading this. Most of them mucky.


Ah, so THAT'S what a "key lever" is
At least, not all of it.

Just marvel at its inanity.

In a speech by commission president Barroso yesterday to an industry lobby crowd, there are 97 references to "we" ("we need," "we must," "we face" etc). It's not entirely clear on whose behalf he is speaking. For the commission? For the EU institutions? For 'us' (heaven forfend)? It's a rhetorical tick that betrays ambiguity.

And then, oh, and then there's the litany of platitudes and clichés, a selection of which you'll find below.

Please do not read them all. I developed repetitive strain injury and a number of psychological illnesses picking these out. I would not wish that upon you.

easy solutions are not an option. We need a bold and comprehensive response

new key levers for growth and competitiveness

the needs and challenges

sustainable growth and job creation

driving the reform process

maintain the momentum

We will only go forward if we move together

working hand in hand

prepare this new ground for consensus

we need to keep rigour in our public finances

structural reforms for competitiveness

let's address these concerns in a systematic way

this is also critical for confidence

in very difficult times

our efforts are starting to bear fruit

great sacrifices in the short-term

an orientation debate

Completing the architecture

to underpin future sustainable growth

critically important for confidence

should not now relax our efforts

we need to build the necessary support for the reforms that are indispensable, politically and socially

a clear commitment to the real economy

I want to tell you very frankly

industry plays such an important role in our Europe 2020 growth and jobs strategy

welcome the input of the business community

the leadership that you have been providing

industry plays a major role in Europe

we have to address in a more resolute way.

We have a problem of transmission of the monitoring policies

we have to address this

Of course the stable solution for this can only come from the rebalancing of the economy, from the healthy reforms to be implemented.

there will be no quick fixes

Europe can 'put its money where its mouth is' and support its growth agenda with the investments needed to really kick-start that growth

focus the available resources on where it really matters

investments in research and development in particular are vital to guarantee and improve our industrial competitiveness.

Another issue is the skills for growth

Or better adapting our system of education to the real needs of our industry, addressing what it has now been recognised as the skills mismatch that exists in Europe.

I was proud to present some policy orientations that I can say that were broadly approved

there is much we can do if we act together as a Union

This is about our competitiveness, about our energy security and sustainability, and about our credibility in facing the challenges.

My message to the governments of Europe is therefore clear: we need to act boldly and consistently, implement the reforms we have signed up to, and target all available funds to make the necessary investments as much, as efficiently and a soon as possible, with a sense of urgency.

Free and fair trade should be the name of the game

we try to mainstream, to put this as a horizontal priority

I really believe that there is no way back to "business as usual"

We are in tremendous challenges in terms of global competition

the reality is that we will not always take the practical consequences of this

we are not in normal times. We are in fact in very transformational times

the time to take decisions now.

to find and consolidate a new consensus to avoid sterile debates

If you read this far, seek immediate medical attention.