Briefing Note: 001
Appearance: The creepy chemistry teacher you had at school.
Beliefs: In his early career he was nicknamed “baby Thatcher” for his liberalising ways, but it’s a rubbish comparison. He’s exactly the kind of “but poor people have feelings too” wet blanket she couldn’t stand. Most of important of all, he is the European federalist’s federalist. He can’t get through a sentence with uttering the magic words “More Europe!” He was the front-runner for Commission President in 2004 but Tony Blair vetoed him for being an annoying federalist.
Position: Prime Minister of Belgium from 1999 to 2008 (an impressive feat), current leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament, now their candidate for Commission President with 80% of the vote of party members.
Wow! He must be really popular then? Probably has more to do with the fact that his only competitor was Commission austerity-monger in chief Olli Rehn.
Say no more. Well quite. Although being the everyone’s-a-winner bunch ALDE are, Guy and Olli did a deal. He’s not popular with his own party but ALDE still designated Rehn as “lead candidate for another important job” (President of the European Council, Foreign Policy Supremo). Olli’s going to campaign in Northern Europe and Guy in Southern Europe.
Genius! What could possibly go wrong? Those pesky voters are at it again. Unfortunately, most Europeans don’t think that more Europe is the answer. Most importantly, domestic strife for the two biggest players in the ALDE group, the British Libdems and the German FDP, is set to ensure that the group comes back with only around 65 MEPs in June.
Chances of becoming Commission President? Worse than last time.
Do say: “More Europe will solve all your problems!”
Don’t say: “Thank God it's not Olli Rehn.”
After mentoring former aide Huma Abedin on how to handle the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal, it looks like Hillary is at it again. A spokesperson confirmed on Monday that Hillary Clinton sent a large Edible Arrangements package to former French First Lady Valerie Trierweiler in the light of the recent "shoe scandal" that exposed French President Hollande and his non-extramarital, extramarital affair(s).
Reportedly the arrangement included tropical fruits such as pineapple and kiwi in lieu of a more romantic option like chocolate covered strawberries in order to prevent unwanted outbursts of tears. Inside the gift was a hand-written ticket that simply said, "Consider this a promotion."
When asked in a press conference to explain the cryptic message Hillary said, "Bill getting caught with the intern was frankly one of the best things that happened to me. It got the men feeling bad, the women sympathizing and, ultimately, the electorate to move in my favor. Never has a political career shot up so quickly (no pun intended), especially for a women. I think she should take that as a lesson to learn from."
It appears the message got through as members of Ms. Trierweiler's inner circle say she is considering a seat at the European Parliament, which is scheduled to hold elections in May of this year. Chocolatier's in the European Quarter are already prepping themselves in anticipation of a large order from Hillary in the case that Ms. Trierweiler wins.
Few days ago, new Italian Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi unveiled a legislative proposal to reform the outdated Italian labour law. The bill, which foresees extremely high expenditures for the treasury coupled with more flexibility for companies to fire workers, is supposed to fuck up people without a job even in the remote case that they will manage to get one. EU Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor already gave his thumbs up to the package.
Renzi, who was recently appointed as the new Secretary of the Italian Democratic Party (PD) and thus, starting from the next elections, should hold a seat in the Parliament for the next, oh, 20 years or so, explained the basis of his nonsensical proposal to the press: “I was a little worried before the party elections, I am not gonna lie to you.” he admitted. “My mandate as a Mayor of Florence was about to expire. And everyone knows what that means. I am 39 already, with no significant previous working experiences, living in a country where unemployment rate is skyrocketing. Then this Secretary of the PD opportunity came up and all of my troubles got sorted out overnight. So I figured, hey, this is the right opportunity to start messing things up for all the others.”
When asked by reporters what problems his proposal is likely to generate for the country’s budget and the stability of future generations, Renzi replied: “people were always mean to me when I was a child. I mean, can you imagine how it is like to grow up in Florence when you have a lisp? I wanted to send a strong signal to those bullies, who I am sure now have sons and daughters looking for a job.” Renzi then went on to explain that, even if he is aware that with the bill people will get fired everyday, the public debt will be out of control and the country will probably be forced to go back to the lira at a certain point, he really doesn’t care anymore because now he has a job.
Prominent personalities from the right wing parties immediately backed the proposal. In a joint press release, MPs Renato Brunetta and Deputy PM Angelino Alfano, who are reported to have suffered analogous treatments during their childhood, recognized Renzi’s proposal as “a brilliant strategy to tackle once and for all the hideous issue of child bullying” and a “perfect demonstration that, when common interests are at stake, right and left wing parties can still mutually support each other.”
The EU has managed to set off what are typically known to be some of Europe's most helpful, trusting and reserved citizens. What for this time? Messing with Danish pastries.
Kanelsnegel, better known as cinnamon buns/rolls, are traditional Scandinavian pastries enjoyed in countriessuch as Denmark, whose version of the pastry was the recent target of EU bullying. The European Commission published a conclusion last week that the buns contained "too much cinnamon-y goodness."
While available legally in other Scandinavian countries, it is only considered legal outside of Denmark under EU law because it is listed as "traditional and seasonal bakery", being consumed mostly around Christmas. Kanelsnegel apasionado Arend Larsen said, "Is it so wrong to want to have the Christmas spirit all year long? Christmas means happyness. Therefore, they are banning our right to happyness. I see this as a major violation of our freedoms as European citizens."
As a result of the EC's ruling, improvised street protests have erupted across the country's capital. One protestor said, "The EU can tell the southern European countries what to do. To me it's no matter. But this, this is personal", as he took a heaping bite of cinnamon sugary bliss. It's estimated that an additional 500 kilos of the pastry are being made by local bakeries in solidarity with protestors and also to simply keep them fed. "Don't forget the coffee!" said protestor Andrea Beck "It's cold out here..."
This Sunday evening Radio Free Europe and BBC interrupted their regular evening programming to report on the decision of the three Ex-Yugoslav countries not to take part in the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest scheduled for May in Copenhagen. A wave of shock, disbelief and fear spread like a tsunami throughout Europe. Citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia spontaneously gathered in front of their respective public broadcasters.
The crowd of angry citizen demanded their basic European right to be represented in the single biggest and most European event in the world. "If our politicians have the right to sit in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament, then we artists have right to take part in our version of kitschy sessions", said one of dozens of 'winners' of the Eurovision Song Contest. Several concerts in support of protestors were held with the main message being that the Eurovision Song contest is about feeling European and belonging to Europe.
On Monday morning an EU diplomatic delegation visited Zagreb, Sarajevo and Belgrade to negotiate a reasonable way out. A tweet posted by one Austrian diplomat shows how serious and emotional the situation is: “Is this 1914 or 2014? This is a clear & painful bullet of #BiH, #Croatia & #Serbia directed towards #EuropeanValues”.
If citizens protests don’t bring expected reaction on the part of public broadcasters the Danish prime minister will cancel all scheduled selfies and join rightfully angry protestors. One source from within the Danish foreign ministry told More Europe that the prime minister will give a heartwarming speech to protesters and send a clear message to governments concerned that taking part in the Eurovision Song contest on a regular basis is part of the so-called Copenhagen EU membership criteria. Members of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee are expected to meet in camera and exert extra pressure on countries concerned.
In the UK this decision provoked only a reaction of the member of the UKIP who said to media late on Monday that the Eurovision Song Contest without the three Balkan countries is not worth British taxpayers' money. The Greek Ambassador to the EU said for European Voice that this decision might make FYROM skip this competition because they will have no neighbours to give them points.
Prime ministers of the three Balkan countries will meet later this week to discuss possible steps. As a source from inside the Serbian government told More Europe one should not expect much. Prime ministers will adopt common conclusions giving support for decisions of public broadcasters, and remind everyone that independent and depoliticised public broadcasters are part of European standards. Furthermore they will call on Lady Ashton to use her mediatory skills and once again save a day and win a Nobel peace prize.
The academic community is divided on the impact that decision of the three countries will have on nature of the competition. While one part of the community is worried about the impact it will have on credibility of the project as a European one, the other part is rightfully asking if this means that Eurovision song contest is definitely passé.