Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Dear Nigel Farage...

Adevărul publică nota de blog a lui Vlad Epurescu...şi crede că
istoria poartă la brâu un bumerang. Europa de Est a fost întotdeauna o paria. Ultimul măr stricat, din coş. Aderarea în Uniunea Europeană a fost şi şansa talentelor de a nu se mai irosi într-un loc întunecat pe care Occidentul l-a abandonat demult şi de care s-a folosit după cum i-au fost interesele. Domnule Farage, din câte ştiu, încă sunteţi în Uniunea Europeană. Şi cât timp veţi fi în Uniunea Europeană, va trebui să vă supuneţi legilor europene.  
Scrisoarea adresată europarlamentarului britanic nu va ajunge, probabil, să îi fie citită. Poate că, în fond, nici nu îi pasă prea mult de ceea ce cred românii... Textul reprezintă însă reacţia de saturaţie nu a unui ziarist, ci a unei categorii întregi a populaţiei României: cea care s-a cam săturat să fie arătată cu degetul, marginalizată, respinsă întruna pe considerente absurde. Nefondate.
Ştim că, pentru voi, România a fost, este, şi va fi, doar o pată de cerneală pe un petic de şerveţel. O spune istoria. Suntem săraci, corupţi şi, din păcate, blazaţi. Ne-am săturat să mai luptăm, aşa că, preferăm umilinţa pe care o îndurăm în căutarea unui loc de muncă peste hotare.
Scrisoarea lui Vlad Epurescu, în eter, este o reacţie la textele publicate cândva de Presseurop, la schimbul de scrisori dintre Nigel Farage şi bulgăroaica Ralitsa.

De mâine, românii şi bulgarii au în sfârşit drepturi egale pe piaţa muncii europene. Nu pot să nu mă bucur, Europa va avea doar de câştigat, o mare nedreptate ia sfârşit. Nu pot să nu-mi pară rău...ar fi fost un text superb pentru Presseurop. Am fi putut începe anul cu el... De aceea, măcar atât, am decis să scriu acest blog în limba română. Maniera mea de a mă bucura...
P.S.:  Dragă domnule Nigel Farage, toate lucrurile au un început. M-am gândit să scriu acest text după ce am citit scrisorile pe care le-aţi schimbat cu Ralitsa, colega mea de suferinţă din Bulgaria. Nici noi nu suntem, ca români, mai prejos. Doar că, din păcate, nu avem nici politicieni care să ia poziţie, nici oameni politici care să ne reprezinte sau să vă răspundă. Şi, noi, cei de rând, aşteptăm de regulă să se umple paharul. Este cazul, deci, hai să ciocnim: La Mulţi Ani!

Monday, 30 December 2013

France: Antisemite “comedian” tests freedom of speech’s limits

Should the French government "censor or not" the controversial comedian Deieudonné for his repeated alleged anti-Semite statements and gestures?

The question, Libération's headline today, has risen after French Interior minister Manuel Valls said he was considering banning the anti-semitic humorist's shows for "disturbing public order". Valls' announcement came after the "quenelle", an obscene gesture deemed to be a modern nazi salute and initiated by Dieudonné, became viral.

But forbidding Dieudonne's shows "looks complicated", writes Libération:

many local authorities have already tried […], in vain. Administrative courts […] always considered that censoring freedom of speech a priori, even if public order could be at risk, is not justified.[…] Dieudonné has been convicted seven times for "defamation", "insults" and "provocation into racial hatred", but this has not stopped the buzz surrounding him. Manuel Valls' initiative is also political: he wants to set up a limit to what could be said, as Dieudonné hasn't got any more. […] Vall's opponents believe that this latest controversy will serve the "comedian"'s interests.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

European Commission’s presidency: Angela Merkel’s picks

The new European Commission — and thus its president — will be nominated next autumn. But discussions about who is going to be the next president of the EU's executive branch — and thus one of the Union's most exposed characters — are already underway.

The European Socialists (PES) have already chosen the current president of the European parliament, Martin Schulz, as their official candidate for the Commission presidency, should the PES win May 2014's European elections.

But what about the European People's Party (EPP), the continent's conservatives? There are huge speculations about who is going to be their frontrunner. Will it be the French EU Commissioner Michel Barnier? Or the former Prime minister of Luxembourg and long-time Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker? The latter, who doesn't seem to be keen to stay away from power, said shortly before Christmas that he was ready to run for the Commission's presidency on behalf of the EPP.

None of them, according to Spiegel Online. No one could hope to get to Brussels' top job without the assent of Berlin. And Berlin — meaning chancellor Angela Merkel — would prefer Juncker to "stay away from the European front of the stage", writes the German news site. Ms. Merkel, reveals Spiegel Online, would rather have Irish Prime minister Enda Kenny or his Polish counterpart Donald Tusk to sit in the biggest office at the Berlaymont building.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Londres veut “empêcher l’introduction de nouveaux droits humains de l’UE”

"Des ministres visent à bloquer le 'droit au mariage'' dans une réplique à l'UE", titre The Times ce 28 décembre, après que le ministre de la Justice Chris Grayling, a qualifié d'"absurde" le projet de la Commission européenne d'intégrer la Charte des droits fondamentaux de l'UE au droit britannique. Parmi les doits contenus dans la Charte figure celui au mariage et celui à la négociation collective.

Selon le quotidien londonien,
Le plan avait été révélé dans un document de la Commission européenne le mois dernier. Le dernier gouvernement travailliste avait affirmé avoir prévu, au moment de la signature du Traité de Lisbonne, en 2007, un droit d'exemption [pour le Royaume-Uni] par rapport à la Charte, qui introduit 54 "droits" dans le corpus juridique européen. Toutefois, il y a des doutes croissants quant à la validité de l'exemption britannique, alors que les efforts pour étendre les droits de l'homme de l'UE s'intensifient.

Friday, 27 December 2013

L’UE face à une année... Malraux

L’année 2014 sera l’année de l’Europe ou elle ne sera pas du tout. Malraux aurait pu le dire, tambien, finalement. Et Vlad Epurescu, sur son blog pro-européen, europolitics.ro, le souligne aussi, de manière tranchante :
L’Union européenne pourrait faire face à une crise institutionnelle sans précèdent, si les leaders européens refusaient la validation du candidat du Parlement européen à la tête de la Commission européenne,
Ou en roumain:
Daca liderii europeni vor refuza sa îl valideze pe candidatul Parlamentului la sefia Comisiei, atunci Uniunea Europeana ar putea intra într-o criza institutionala fara precedent. 
D' où un seul souhait, pour 2014, direction Bruxelles : plus de sagesse, plus d'anticipation, plus de démocratie et de partage ! Sinon...

Belgian minister pillories foreign diplomats for unpaid fines

Any resolutions for the next year? Foreign diplomats living in Brussels won't take long to come up with some... What about paying their traffic fines once and for all? Thanks to the naming and shaming by the Belgian authorities, diplomats might finally respect the law in Brussels.

Belgian minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders is fed up with all those diplomats driving like madmen, parking in Brussels wherever they wish, and ignoring their fines by calling upon their immunity (stated in the treaty of Vienna). He has decided to publish the nationalities of diplomats who have the most unpaid fines, reports Flemish daily De Morgen.

So who are these diplomats who think they are above the law? Among EU-embassies, the most unpaid fines are attributed to diplomats of the embassies of Greece and Cyprus (how surprising), but also Malta, Hungary, Slovenia, and... Germany, believe it or not ! (some Disziplin, please, German neighbors!)

Romanian and Bulgarian workers – ‘Dutch politicians shouldn’t complain’

Western-European politicians shouldn't accuse 'Europe' of opening the EU-borders to Romanian and Bulgarian workers on January 1st, because they decided this themselves! This is what a Dutch researcher says in an opinion piece in Dutch daily De Volkskrant today. He refers to the Dutch deputy prime minister Lodewijk Asscher, who, just like British PM David Cameron, is heavily opposed to the measure.

The author, Maarten Hillebrand, reminds us of the fact that last Summer, the European Parliament and the European Council (including Asscher himself, who now warns for a 'flood' of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants in The Netherlands) revised the Schengen rules and re-confirmed that free circulation is a fundamental right... Therefore, the current Dutch resistance against the opening of the borders is "late" and "incompatible with the deals the Dutch government signed in the past within the EU". Moreover, "towards the 'new' European citizens (Romanians, Bulgarians), this sounds unfair and not quite honorable" Conclusion: "complaining about decisions that The Netherlands have approved of themselves, is not done"!

P.S.: a recent survey published by daily De Telegraaf shows that 80% of the Dutch people are against the complete opening of the borders for Eastern-European workers...how welcoming we are!

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Romanian Parliament gets prize “for hard work to promote crime and corruption”

RO: Parlamentul României, premiat pentru "aducerea corupţiei la un alt nivel, legalizând-o"! In materie de recunoaştere a meritelor, cred că nici nu se putea mai mult. Dacă cineva are nevoie acum de Monica Macovei, ştie unde să o găsească...Banuiesc că vestea a cauzat un puternic hohot de râs la Bruxelles! Silenzio stampa la Bucureşti. Deh, sic transit gloria mundi...Se tem ei acum de Monica? Are they now afraid of Monica Macovei? Dar mâine?

EN: “Every year”, says the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), this organisation “acknowledges the efforts of those who work tirelessly to promote crime and corruption”. For 2013, the OCCRP has given this “dubious distinction” to the Romanian Parliament. The reason, says the OCCRP, is that
Early this December, the Romanian parliament approved amendments to the criminal code that would give its members, as well as other elected government officials, immunity from corruption charges.The amendments, which were voted on without debate, declared that the Romanian president, senators, lawyers, and members of the lower chamber are no longer “public officials.” Therefore, they could no longer be indicted for bribery, abuse of office, conflict of interest, and other corruption-related charges. Government officials already convicted of corruption could be exonerated.
“The Romanian Parliament has taken corruption to a new level in Europe by making it legal. Why now? It’s probably because they know what they have been doing and it’s not good,” said Drew Sullivan, editor of OCCRP.

Read more on this topic on Presseurop:

Turkey: “Three daddies ousted”

Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, Interior Minister Muammer Güler and Environment and Urbanization Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar resigned on December 25, after facing face bribery and corruption allegations, reports Hürriyet in Istanbul.

Their sons were arrested on December 17, in a vast anti-corruption operation by Istanbul police.

Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reshuffled his government on the same day. According to the daily, he formed a "war cabinet":

Güler has been replaced by Prime Ministry Undersecretary Efkan Ala, who is one of Erdoğan’s closest aides. Nihat Zeybekçi assumed the ministerial position left vacant by Çağlayan while İdris Güllüce was appointed as the new Environment and Urban Planning minister.

Seven other ministers have switched places in yesterday's reshuffle.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

In Bulgaria, change takes a long time

Despite the protests against the allegedly corrupt government have been going on since February in Bulgaria, the situation seems to have come to a deadlock, reports today The New York Times from the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. A reading suggested by Bulgarian journalist Dimitar Kenarov.
"Bulgaria’s demonstrators have discovered just how difficult it can be to bring change, even in a country that has been a member of the European Union for six years", writes the American daily —

The endless political deadlock here has fueled deep disillusionment among frustrated Bulgarians who had hoped European membership would mean an open road toward a more prosperous, equitable and transparent system. And it has given them a more realistic sense of what membership in the union […] can bring.

It has also underscored the seeming powerlessness of the European bloc, despite sharp rebukes from Brussels and its diplomats and the suspension of some aid, to leverage its influence in Bulgaria for change. […]

Virtually nobody in Bulgaria thinks that the European Union membership has not brought many benefits or that it was a mistake. […] Unlike in Western Europe, there are no noisy euroskeptics clamoring for exit. […]But Bulgaria has consistently remained at the bottom of the European Union’s poverty tables. In December, Transparency International, a Berlin-based advocacy group that monitors corruption, ranked Bulgaria as Europe’s most corrupt country after Greece. […]

“Society is very disillusioned,” Nikolay Staykov, the boss of a small tech company in Sofia who has set up a website, noresharski.com, a reference to Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski, to help organize protests and provide an alternative source of information to pro-government news outlets. “There were lots of unrealistic expectations. We no longer expect that a magic European wand will change everything.” […]
Read the full article on The New York Times (en) here.

Articles from Presseurop on the situation in Bulgaria:

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Barbara Spinelli on the "next EU"

In today's issue of La Repubblica, Presseurop's much appreciated Italian columnist Barbara Spinelli praises what She calls the "insubordinate Europhiles": those who "want to change the Union now and radically, because the crisis is not financial, but political."

Here are some excerpts, from the original Italian version. You can use the translation tool on the right.
I veri rivoluzionari sono gli ultimi, perché vogliono scalzare il potere delle inette oligarchie che l'hanno guastata e crearne un altro, non oligarchico. La questione della sovranità sequestrata non viene affatto negata, ma posta in altro modo: esigendo accanto alle malridotte sovranità statali una sovranità europea effettiva, solidale e quindi federale, dotata di una Banca centrale prestatrice di ultima istanza. […]

Sono gli unici in grado di adottare l'antica, nobile filosofia scettica: la realtà costituita è apparenza, e il compito colossale consiste nel confutarla col pensiero e gli atti. A ogni tesi corrisponde un'antitesi: il mondo non è senza alternative. Quest'ultimo è insensato oltre che menzognero, ragion per cui i rivoluzionari sono avversari dell'immobilismo, che professa l'Europa a parole. Quando sentono parlare di bicchiere mezzo pieno s'impazientano, perché un pochetto di vino va bene per i tempi tiepidi, non per i bollenti. Non a caso la parola greca skepsis significa ricerca, indagine: gli scettici si dissero "ricercatori", visto che tutte le questioni erano aperte. […]

La lotta non è tra europeisti e antieuropeisti (i poli sono tre, non due). È tra chi si compiace in pigri rinvii, chi fugge, e chi vuol scompigliare l'Unione disunita.
C'è una cosa che abbiamo capito, in questi anni: l'Europa così com'è - e forse le democrazie - non sono attrezzate per pensare e affrontare le crisi, se per crisi s'intende non un'effimera rottura di continuità ma un punto di svolta, un'occasione che ci trasforma. Crisi simili sono temute, perché minano oligarchie dominanti e ricette fondate su vecchie nozioni di Pil, oggi molto contestate. […]

Se la crisi è paragonabile a una peste, se sconvolge costituzioni e democrazia, se secerne rabbie tanto vaste (la Lega parla di "euro criminale"), non bastano più i piccoli progressi di cui si felicitano i governanti. Esemplare è l'Unione Bancaria concordata il 18 dicembre a Bruxelles dai leader europei. È stata descritta come un "risultato storico". In realtà è un inganno. […] L'unione delle banche vedrà la luce solo fra 10 anni, come se la crisi non esistesse già adesso, e le somme che saranno allora a disposizione delle banche in difficoltà sono ridicole: appena 55 miliardi di euro. […] Non è la prima volta che l'Europa si trincera nell'ottusità, davanti a scosse gravi.

A bilingual blog post by Actupol 3.0 – Un billet de blog bilingue, par Actupol 3.0

Writing about Presseurop's suspension on December 20, political scientist and blogger Gilles Johnson says that —
The end of Presseurop is a very bad signal sent by the Commission, at the eve of very important European elections for the European integration and at the moment Europe is less and less understood by our citizens. On this point, one of the causes of this misunderstanding is probably the lack or the quasi-absence of a European media and public sphere easily findable and in which anyone can identify himself. Admittedly, there are some media which do that as Euronews for instance but Presseurop wanted to be more ambitious. […]

Not giving subventions to Presseurop anymore, the European Commission did not end to an encouraging journalistic experience, the Commission shot itself in the foot surprisingly. Indeed, at the moment the European integration is more and more questioned, it seems important to know it better, which also supposes to know the point of view of the another, what he thinks. Presseurop had the merit to propose a large portal of what was going in our neighbours’ in original version and translated in ten languages. […]

This was Presseurop, a webmagazine which gathered the best of the European press in ten languages, outcome of an ambitious challenges and an beautiful adventure and the closure of this media is like the image of our current leaders: sad and tragic.
Au sujet de la cessation des publication de Presseurop, le 20 décembre, le politologue et blogueur Gilles Johnson écrit que
L’arrêt de Presseurop est un très mauvais signal envoyé par la Commission européenne, à la veille d’élections européennes très importantes pour la construction européenne et à l’heure où l’Europe est de moins en moins comprise par nos concitoyens. A ce titre, l’une des causes de cette incompréhension réside sans doute dans le manque ou la quasi-absence d’un espace public et médiatique européen facilement repérable et dans lequel tout le monde peut s’identifier. Certes, il existe certains médias qui remplissent cette fonction tel que Euronews par exemple mais Presseurop se voulait davantage ambitieuse. […]

En supprimant les subventions de Presseurop, la Commission européenne n’a pas seulement mis fin à une expérience journalistique prometteuse, elle s’est également tirée une balle dans le pied de manière inouie. En effet, à l’heure où la construction européenne est de plus en plus remise en question, il paraît primordial de la connaître davantage, ce qui suppose aussi de connaître le point de vue de l’autre, ce qu’il pense. Presseurop avait le mérite de proposer un éventail complet de ce qui se passait chez nos voisins, en version originale traduite en dix langues. […]

C’était donc cela Presseurop, un webmagazine qui regroupait le meilleur de la presse européenne en une dizaine de langues, résultat d’un pari ambitieux et une belle aventure et la fin de ce média est à l’image de nos dirigeants actuels : triste et tragique.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Une interview aux Inrockuptibles sur la fermeture de Presseurop

Ce matin, nous avons été approchés par le magazine Les Inrockuptibles pour donner notre vision de la fermeture de Presseurop :
Presseurop est un site internet d’information sur l’Union européenne qui appartient à un consortium de quatre médias piloté par Courier international. Il a cessé toute activité hier, dimanche 22 décembre, après cinq ans d’existence. Le titre est victime d’une réduction du budget communication de la Commission européenne et peut être de sa trop grande indépendance, nous explique Gian Paolo Accardo, rédacteur en chef adjoint à Presseurop.
Update: Here is a Google-translated version of this article, explaining some of the background to the Presseurop closure.

Quel avenir dans l’Espagne des conservateurs?

“L’Espagne de Franco plus dure que la Roumanie de Ceausescu. Le drame de femmes espagnoles a été ravivé le 20 décembre”, écrit à Bucarest Adevărul. Le gouvernement conservateur de Mariano Rajoy a adopté un projet de loi qui prévoit une autorisation d’avortement pour seulement deux cas: si une interruption de grossesse est nécessaire en raison d’un grave danger pour la vie ou la santé physique ou psychologique de la femme, ou si la grossesse est une conséquence d’un délit contre la liberté ou l’intégrité sexuelle de la femme.

Le quotidien bucarestois rappelle que le passé des droits civils des femmes en Espagne a été marqué par des interdictions constantes, qui semblaient être arrivées à leur fin en 1975 (date de la mort du général Francisco Franco). Mais le 20 décembre, le gouvernement espagnol a enlevé un droit fondamental des femmes : celui de décider sur leur propre corps, en interdisant les avortements.
Après la mort de Franco, les réformes ont été mises en œuvre pas à pas. [..] Pensant à ce triste chapitre, qui a sa place quelque part dans l’histoire, mais non dans le présent que l’Europe revendique comme un étalon de l’égalité en droit, la décision de vendredi du gouvernement conservateur espagnol d’interdire les avortements mérite d’être considérée un regrettable retour dans le temps.
A son tour, le quotidien espagnol El País explique que dans la majorité des pays européens “l’avortement est un droit”. En 20 des 28 états de l’UE, la femme peut décider interrompre sa grossesse librement, sans donner des raisons, jusqu'à une certaine limite de temps. Le journal espagnol souligne que dans d’autres pays, comme l’Irlande ou la Pologne, où les lois concernant les avortements supposent des limitations, les femmes voyagent pour pouvoir faire des interruptions.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Is a wave of east Europeans migrants about to submerge Britain?

On January 1, the British labour market will be opened to Romanian and Bulgarian workers.

As David Cameron's government is poised to push for new restrictions to benefits for new immigrants, Bulgarian president Rossend Plevneliev issued a fierce rebuke to British prime minister. In an interview given to The Observer he said that —
In the past 20 years immigrants in Great Britain contributed heavily to its prosperity, and that is a fact. The only thing that is important is not to listen to populist politicians who play on people's fears but to listen to the wise men in Great Britain.
The issue is a big debate in the UK. In The Guardian Alp Mehmet (vice chair of MigrationWatch UK and former British ambassador to Iceland) and Jonathan Portes (director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research) put forward their opposing views on immigration

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Désarmante Europe

"L'Europe se désarme et elle a tort", récite l'éditorial du Monde daté du 22 décembre, au lendemain du Conseil européen de Bruxelles, consacré en partie à la défense européenne. Pour le quotidien parisien,
Pour la première fois depuis 2008, les Européens ont discuté d'affaires de défense, alors qu'ils sont censés être dotés d'une politique de sécurité commune depuis la fin des années 1990. Il faut croire que le sujet les préoccupe peu. […] Dès lors, il ne faut pas s'étonner si le chapitre défense, à l'ordre du jour du Conseil européen des 19 et 20 décembre à Bruxelles, n'a guère inspiré les Vingt-Huit. […]

La version réaliste de l'événement est que les Européens sont toujours aussi divisés en matière de défense. Entre intérêts économiques nationaux et protection traditionnelle de leur souveraineté, la coopération, pour ne pas parler de mutualisation des moyens, est des plus limitées dans la fabrication d'armements. De vision stratégique commune, il n'y a pas non plus. Comme si le fait que la Centrafrique puisse devenir le champ clos de massacres de grande ampleur ne concernait pas les pays européens, pas plus que la nécessité d'empêcher la prolifération djihadiste dans le Sahel, pour ne rien dire d'une éventuelle action commune au Proche-Orient.

Tout est lié. Il n'y a pas de programme d'équipements militaires communs à long terme parce qu'il n'y a pas de vision stratégique commune correspondante – au-delà de vagues déclarations d'intention. […]

Dans le monde d'aujourd'hui, tout le monde réarme – Chine et Russie en tête – ou maintient un budget de défense important – comme les Etats-Unis. L'Europe, elle, désarme. En budget cumulé, les Vingt-Huit représentent encore, ensemble, la deuxième dépense militaire du globe. Mais plus pour longtemps : depuis 2008, les Européens ont, en moyenne, diminué de 10 % les budgets qu'ils consacrent à la défense.
Bref, conclut le journal, "on en revient toujours à cette absence de perception commune des besoins stratégiques de l'Europe. Ou plutôt à cette opinion majoritaire au sein des Vingt-Huit qu'il n'y a pas de vraie menace sur l'Europe." Une idée jugée "fausse, absurde et irresponsable."

Keep it afloat

We've just received this cartoon from Lebanese-iraqi cartoonist Hassan Bleibel. Thanks, Hassan! Let's keep Presseurop afloat.



Friday, 20 December 2013

Welcome to Friends of Presseurop

Friends:

As you all know, Presseurop.eu stopped operating on 20 December. Our contract with the European Commission, which financed the website, ended on this date.

Presseurop's team has created this blog to keep in touch with you, our valued readers, and also as a space for you to continue the discussion that made the website unique. Inevitably it will be a resource with far less content than the site we have had to leave behind, and much inferior functionality.

We plan to post the usual links to interesting articles, along with updates on our progress towards launching a new version of Presseurop.eu. We will of course be delighted to read your suggestions and proposals, and to share them here for discussion.

The Presseurop team