Farewell to Juncker era

Anna van Densky OPINION President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker concluded his mandate in his unique ‘cool‘ style in an informal PR event, with a lot of applause and a few mediocre questions from Brussels press corps, which is definitely not his fault.

I have always said that me and euro are the only survivors of the Maastricht Treaty, but after my departure only euro (currency) will stay, Juncker said with a good dose of humour in exchange with journalists. “I am happy to leave the “most difficult job in the world””, he confessed , mentioning successes and regrets, he did not specify.

From the behalf of the Brussels International Press Association (API-IPA) Italian ANSA correspondent read a short thank you speech, without any assessment of the Juncker Commission achievements, explaining there would be a broad divergence of opinions on the subject.

However there was a sadness in the air from saying good-bye to a generation of European politicians – the dreamers of a grand project of the United States of Europe, conceived by Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet, the believers in European Union as a family of nations. Looking back on five years of Juncker Commission, one can recognise his attempt to create an informal atmosphere of friendliness, togetherness, and genuine multiculutralism in spite of multiple systemic crises, eroding the EU project.

Juncker era is definitely over…

His heiress, German Ursula von der Leyen has already imosed the style of her upcoming mandate, taking the decision to stay in Berlaymont building at all times, using permanently the adjacent 25 square meter appartement designed as “personal retreat” in the same building on the 13th floor.

Her main residence remains in Hannover, Germany, where her husband lives and works. Does she expect everyone to follow, introducing Japanese sleeping at work place culture INEMURI in European Commission, when in absence of adjacent appartements the European civil servants will spend long hours in offices, falling asleep at their tables?

However this von der Leyen decision has further reaching consequences, ending the story of Brussels as modern “melting pot”, and reducing it to headquaters of EU management, shaped by staunchly tribalismafter the intense week of work inemuri style, everyone will return to the relevant national communities. Good-bye, Brussels Babylon tower dream…

Brexit extension “flex”

The length of Brexit extension is a priority subject in the EU, considering how long should be a new timetable for the UK departure from the bloc.

There are three major suggestions in the air: three months, six months and one year, the last one is propelled by those who hope for the second referendum and derailing Brexit as such.

However Brexit Party leader and Member of the European Parliament Nigel Farage insists on six month extension, explaining that winter months are interrupted by holidays, and six month extension give sufficient time to organise general elections – the only way out of parliamentary Brexit crisis.

Foreign minister of the Republic of Ireland Simon Coveney said that Britain will be offered a flexible extension that could trigger Brexit well ahead of the new deadline but that the opinions of all EU member states were first needed.

“I think that extension will be a flexible one, that will allow the United Kingdom to leave the EU – if they can get a deal done – well in advance of the end of that extension period which looks like it will be the end of January,Simon Coveney told an audience in Belfast on Wednesday.

Brexit Deal II fate in hands of Westminster

While British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president JeanClaude Juncker consider the agreed Brexit deal “fair” outcome. There is no need to extend the Brexit deadline EU top executive added.

‘We have a deal so why should we have a prolongation?” Juncker raised a rhetoric question. However the biggest challenge is ahead in Westminster, where the the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland declared its opposition to the reached Article 50 Agreement.

Prime Minister Johnson called Members of the Parliament to “come together” and “get this excellent deal over the line”.

Now is the moment for us to get Brexit done and then together work on building our future partnership, which I think can be incredibly positive both for the UK and for the EU” he underlined.

In spite of the enthusiasm of the EU leadership about the new deal, the experts consider the chances it is endorsed by Westminster on Saturday are slim because of opposition of Labor and DUP parties, who consider the deal to be even worse than Prime Minister May previous Agreement.

Jutta URPILAINEN: EU future Santa-Claus?

Undoubtedly Jutta URPILAINEN is exceptionally kind, generous and honest, and above it all sensitive to other people’s grievances. Mother of two adopted Colombian children, she is certainly an exceptional human-being. However are they the qualities to carry on the job of the EU Commissioner on International Partnerships? (Previously International Cooperation and Development led by CroatiaNeven Mimica #DEVCO).

During the October 1 hearing with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Urpilainen has successfully avoided all the burning problems of Africa – the major recipient of the EU development funds: CORRUPTION, TERRORISM, ETHNIC CONFLICTS, CHINA EXPANSION, DEMOGRAPHIC EXPLOSION, – none of them were addressed. Even Ebola!

The entire debate she stayed in shallow waters of wooden language of the EU politically correct: important ‘‘improvement”, “empowerment”, “transparency”, “equality”, “listen to people”, and the other “meaningful” cliches, favored by the EU Mandarines, dramatically lacking vision and imagination.

From time to time she was making a nod to MEPs, flattering them with reminding of her “unelected” status vis-à-vis their elected superiority. However these calculated maneuvers could not take away an impression of a dramatic lack of knowledge of the development portfolio.

At most ambivalent impression made Urpilainen  “asymmetric” answers to MEPs questions, clearly prepared in advance, and used without adaptation.

Finally, she promised to “learn”,  “listen”, and to “improve“, however the question remains if the EU needs an “apprentice-Commissioner”?

CONCLUSION: One can’t become pilot over night taking off plane w/ 300 passengers over Atlantic, but one can become aid Commissioner with  €20 000 a  month salary without a clue of international politics. What a soap!

October 1, European Parliament, Brussels Jutta URPILAINEN for International Partnerships Commissioner.

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Brexit paradoxes continue

Anna van Densky OPINION Next week the European Parliament starts the series of hearings to endorse the team of Ursula von der Leyen Commissioners-designate. In one of paradoxes of protracted Brexit the British Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will participate and vote for the candidates, influencing the EU politics in spite of the fact that they did not propose a Commissioner themselves for apparent reasons.

Roughly 10% of votes, 73 UK departing MEPs will influence decisions shaping future composition of the top executives of the Commission – the guardian of EU Treaties, and the initiator of new laws.

However it is not the end of the road. In case there will be one more extension of Brexit beyond October 31, British government has to appoint a Commissioner to Brussels. Will Lord Hill come back? (Joke). Will Sir Julian King stay? If ‘yes’, it will be to the greatest joy of the Remainers,  assessing his marriage to the top EU civil servant Dane Lotte Knudsen (Germany, EEAS) as an ultimate sign of this loyalty to Brussels. Conflict of interests? One can hardly blame it to any UK national amid total confusion the protracted Brexit is causing. (Continuation follows),

Brexit forever!

Nothing is so permanent as temporary. From now onward this wisdom can be fully applied to Brexit process. The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court ruled on September 24 that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision for Parliament prorogation while approaching Brexit was unlawful.

The Court decision will certainly influence the departure process, blocking the way to leave without the Withdrawal Agreement, widely known as “the deal”. The prediction of Theresa May is coming true: it may be that referendum result will be never honoured, and Brexit will not be delivered at all.

From today the EU has two special candidats: one, Turkey, is “eternally” attempting to enter, while the other is permanently at the threshold, intending to leave. As Pisa Tower – forever falling, and still there. Brexit Forever!

G7: Tusk waywardness in Juncker absence

Anna van Densky OPINION The clumsy attempts of the president of the European Council Donald Tusk to influence the decision of British Prime minister Boris Johnson determined to depart from the EU on time with or without agreement, dabbing him “Mr.No-Deal”, look like an agony of the bloc, paying high price for its rusty mechanics unable to adapt to changing context. Teasing has never been an effective method in international politics.

G7 Summit in Biarritz (France) opens an opportunity to built bridges, however the representative of the EU prefers to burn them with provocative information war style public pressure, attempting to challenge Boris Johnson, instead of engaging in dialog with him. War of words with the UK is not what the European citizens wish, concerned by economic consequences of ‘no-deal’.

While American President Trump is actively using G7 platform for rapprochement with the UK, promising mutually beneficial trade deal, the EU has no other message, that insisting of the document that is already ‘dead’. The useless promotion of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA), which was the EU miscarriage, is aggravated by the contrasting surrealist proposal of Tusk to invite heavily indebted and plagued by ongoing armed conflict Ukraine to G7 ranks. While the oldest European democracy, and second net contributor to the EU purse is abandoning the EU, Tusk has nothing better to offer instead than to promote rapprochement with Ukraine one of 10 most corrupt nations in the world.

Just a week ago President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker was hospitalized saving the EU from one more embarrassment, caused by his physical condition. However in comparison with Tusk intellectual inability, and primitive ways of conducting international politics, varying from schoolboy teasing, to lobbying of Polish regional interests promoting Ukraine in a blunt gesture of tribalism, – all of those, evoke nostaliga for Juncker‘s clarity of thinking. Cogito, ergo sum!