Zuckerberg promotes Facebook in Brussels

As bright as he his,  Mr. Zuckerberg appeared in the European Parliament Brussels for a short address, representing a mixture of advertising for his company and benefits it brings to the EU, and his intentions for future cooperation. Unlike any other CEO of a telecom company he has competences  to provide service and powers to decide if we are good enough to use it. A  very innovative approach, we have never experienced before: is post office allowed to inspect the content of our letters, before sending them? Are telecom operators encouraged to listen to our conversation and decide if we are entitled to remain the clients?…

But in case of the Facebook the MEPs encouraged Mr.Zuckerberg to filter content, banning the “fakenews” in spite of the absence of a legal definition, monitor the exchanges to define if it does not contain a threat.

Mr.Zuckerberg came to European Parliament with an aura of the Emperor of the World, who can make, and overthrow kings: he apologised for Analytica, but accepted the mission of filtering the Facebook content. Who is the judge? Mr.Zuckerberg himself?..

We do not expect the same people to construct the roads, maintain them and monitor those, who use them – ‘unbundling’ is the word for the policy requiring the division of powers. But in case of Mr.Zuckerberg it does not work: he is the one who provides the communication service, monitors the content, bans those, who he thinks are not entitled. Is the Facebook a modern service provider or an old-fashioned monopoly?

Imagine you are coming to a post office, where an agent is opening your envelope, reading a letter, and denying a further service, sending it into trash! That is what Mr.Zuckerberg does: he provides service, monitors the users, and bans those unwanted upon his own subjective criteria. The most striking  element of the entire endeavor is, that it is accepted by the otherwise democratic societies. Where is the division of powers? In case of Facebook, it goes a beggar.

#FutureofEurope: MEPs fail to show up

Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel received warm welcome from European Parliament’s President Antonio Tajani,  who stressed the importance of these debates on #FutureofEurope with European leaders, which ‘enable us to look ahead at what we can do together: member states, Commission and European Parliament”. However we did not receive any confirmation for the ‘importance of the debate’ from the behalf of the overwhelming  majority of MEPs, who simply failed to show up.

A few of Parliament’s group leaders praised Michel’s commitment to a strong Europe that delivers  added value to citizens, referring to the city of Brussels not only as the capital of Belgium, but also as the heart of the Europe. However, their compliments did not sound very convincing in a big void space.

One can question if the idea to give the PM speech of such a paramount significance in Brussels during mini-plenary was such a good idea, and wouldn’t it be better to follow the established format of presenting Belgium in Strasbourg? But this thought by no means diminishes criticism towards MEPs who regard their participation in mini-plenary as ‘benevolat‘. It is definitely not.

The nonchalant attitude is especially detrimental in view of upcoming European elections. In case the citizens will adopt the symmetrical attitude towards MEPs and ignore polling stations, the European Parliament would simply suffer lack of legitimacy, dramatically affecting the #FutureofEuope, at least its #EU dimension.

Europarl: Tajani in Salvini’s shadow…

With Matteo SALVINI, MEP, leaving the European Parliament (EP) to lead one of the key economies of the European Union as a prime minister, the EU Institutions face one more set back. However in this particular case with Lega Nord chair ascendance, an extra turmoil is left behind in the Europarliament. 

The incumbent president of the EP Antonio Tajani lost his bid for premiership in Italy, after a short involvement in election at the side of Silvio Berlusconi, his former boss and powerful friend. Many ask, if the EU institution head should demonstrate such a passionate involvement in national politics, ready to ditch his office in Brussels for a glimpse of hope to become a national leader, to succumb to magnetic powers of the Eternal City…

However one can’t step into the same waters twice, Tajani returned to Brussels ‘on his shield’. An initial concept to ‘civilize’ far right Lega Nord in alliance with Forza Italia is in tatters –  it is Salvini, who surfaced as a victor, returning to European Parliament “with his shield”.

And now… There is the ‘loser’ of EP president from a  party, which scored so low in the elections; roughly half of Italy is in Eurosceptic camp, and another congregation which he treated like a nuisance ascended to command. Tajani compromised himself, demonstrating his EU office is his ‘second to best choice’  to his own detriment, and what a disservice to declining European project! Vanitas vanitatum!

Juncker “melancholic” on the EU future

US-ECONOMY-IMF-WORLDBANK-SPRINGMEETINGS

Launching a debate on the future of the European Union, and subsequently the entire continent, Jean-Claude Juncker (pictured) – the president of the European Commission – has offered Five scenarios (5S), however none of them even hinted on a ‘catastrophic’ one – the  case of French or/and Dutch citizens would follow #Brexit way.

The front-runner for the presidency of France, the member of the European Parliament (MEP), the leader of Front National party – Marine Le Pen has integrated #Frexit – the referendum on France’s membership in the EU, – into her political project. So did her Dutch counterpart the leader of Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) Geert Wilders, who is enjoying high esteem of the electorate, foreseeing strong presence of his party in the Parliament in The Hague after the upcoming 15th of March general elections, opening the way to #Nexit referendum.
It is not that as press we want you to say “bad things” about MEP Le Pen, as you suggest, Mr.Juncker, it is about your readiness to continue to lead the #EU26, or even  #25, if Dutch and French follow #Brexit, preferring freedom to the EU institutional cage, prescribing everything from shape of cucumbers to open door migration policies, flooding streets of European cities with strangers from the violent cultures. The policy of open doors so dear to the institutions you are not going to give up at any cost, disguising it in ‘solidarity’ – the fundamental EU virtue. More migrants, less believers in cultural relativism, nostalgic about the times ante-Schengen with well-protected borders…
However, some things have changed already. Most probably, the European Commission mandarins understood that it would be better for everyone, if they concentrate on ‘important’ issues, leaving the details to the member states – the ‘efficiency’ option nr 4 among the 5S plan? They understood it or, they do  it is because the ‘instinct of life’ dictated them to do so, hoping to survive the period of low tight?..
Too much disappointment has accumulated into a toxic mass: with the south of Europe in lethargic misery under austerity policy, and the industrial north of ‘lenders’ unable to develop as fast as they wished to, obliged to level their pace with all the other EU members in a ‘solidarity’ name. Is Juncker’s nr.3 ‘mulitspeed’ Europe an answer? Hardly so, as the creation of the sub-unions would lead to ‘structured dismissal’ of the initial EU bankrupt project – promising prosperity it lead to poverty too many; promising peace, it set its neighbourhoods in blaze…
Finally the EU scenario nr 5 – ‘Doing Much More Together’, but after #Brexit it sounds even more fiction, that four previous ones all together. How many believes in  the EU ‘togetherness’ one can count in the beginning of 2017?.. How numbered will they be by the end of the year after the elections in the member states? The Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy…
Juncker’s striking ‘melancholy’ look replacing his personal warmhearted and extrovert style did not escape the MEPs, questionning his personal beliefs, but the president has every reason for melancholy – the l’époc d’oré of the European project is bygone, and discussing the EU obsucure future is not a euphoric exercise, especially knowing that the 6th scenario cenzored:  ‘no future’.
(Initailly published in @BrusselsDiplomatic)

Mogherini in US: ‘mission impossible’

 

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini at the State Department in Washington

 

Difficult to imagine less suitable personality to represent nowadays the EU diplomacy in the US, than an ardent promoter of political Islam in Europe, an Italian Socialist – Federica Mogherini, with both Socialism and Islam living winter in the EU.

However the gravity of the situation is beyond personal views and Mogherini’s political convictions: the whole disposition of the foreign policy in the EU makes her visit pretty useless a priori  as a result of an exaggerated loyalty to President Obama, and the US Democrats, the EU has mixed into the US presidential campaign supporting #Hillary, and undermining #Trump, demonstrating an astonishing myopia of the EU diplomacy, unable to anticipate the responsibly to work with any elected by Americans president.
Alas, after the US presidential elections, the EU diplomacy appeared not only to be myopic, but having as much flexibility as a gout patient, struck by multiple arthritis poor losers the EU protagonists continued opposition against President Trump, some as a policy, the others as a credo.
The leader of the European Parliament’s Socialists and Democrats, Gianni Pittella spit oil on fire accusing President Trump of manipulating the UK as a ‘Trojan horse’ to destroy the EU from within. The UK closeness with the US new President is ‘endangering worldwide democracy’,  he assumed, in an interview to anti-Trump TV news channel.
The EU Socialists were not in solitude to continuing the self-imposed ‘holy war’ against the US new administration – the appointed in an obscure procedure Pope Curia fume style, the president of the European Council Donald Trump threw his glove, publishing an open letter, naming President Trump among ‘threats’ to the EU unity. Although odd for a conservative liberal, the personal views of Tusk were also circulated in the world media, downgrading already hostile mood of the ‘Trump-era’ EU-US relations.
The head of the European Commission,  Jean-Claude Juncker did not stay aside, adding his share to ‘anti-Trump’ rhetoric, blaming him ‘populism’, and similarities with European raising nationals, very much appreciated by latest, already seeing inspiration in Trump’s anti-terroristic legislation.
So far the only head of the EU institutions, who showed a diplomatic attitude to the EU-US relations was the new Chair of the European Parliament, a compatriot of Mogherini – Antonio Tajani from the centre-right, although his moderate attitude can be explained by his rise after the US elections. Tajani restrained from confrontational remarks, explaining that in his position he will express the views of the EP as a collective body, but not of his own. A reasonable approach, but not a panacea, as there hardly any ‘collective’ views in the EU in foreign policy.
Within a growing schism among member states on all the major issues: Russia, Syria, Libya, Iran, Palestine – there is no one single big dossier evoking genuine unanimity.
Mogherini ‘sympathy’ visit to Tillerson, with no results and no perspectives, no common grounds and no common interests, reveals the naked truth of the profound crisis of the EU, reflected in the illusionary errands of its top diplomat. However one conclusion of this visit is definite: in gambling with the US elections, the EU lost it political capital, and Brussels, as de facto capital of the EU lost, as consequence,  its significance as the world’s diplomacy stage.

 

Published in @BrussselsDiplomatic

‘Five Stars’ MEPs to join Liberals

beppe-grillo

Today he Italian Five Star movement  launches negotiations over joining ALDE group in the European Parliament, meaning an enlargement of the EP Liberals by 17 MEPs. Certainly a hight tight for Guy Verhofstadt, who recently launched campaign #guy4president, wishing to chair the institution.

The decision of abandoning the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group appeared after on-line Five Star party vote concluding 80% of participants supportive of the idea of joining the European Liberals.

Apparently,  for Five Star leader and former Italian comedian Beppe’s Grillo ALDE is ‘second to best’ choice, because initially he attempted to join the Greens, but has not found reciprocity. The necessity of leaving of the EFDD group lead by #Brexit ideologist MEP Nigel Farage became obvious immediately after the UK referendum when the major political objective was attained, said Grillo, commenting the anticipated change. However the independent experts noticed , that at the moment there is no clarity how the Five Star will harmonise its political programme with the Liberals in view of many incompatible positions.

(Source: ‘5 Stars movement’)

 

 

 

MEP Tajani for European Parliament President

tajani-commissioner

The promotion of the former EU Industry top civil servant Antonio Tajani (Italy, EPP) from Barroso’s Commission to the position of the European Parliament president, once again demonstrates the failure of the institution to  renew. The civil servants becoming politicians and politicians styled into mandarins, surfing freely between  Schuman and Luxembourg squares, just hanging backdrop of the official photos, do not inspire confidence of the EU citizens, trying to figure out a raison d’être of the EU costly project, while getting increasingly confused between loyalties and separations of powers.

Nobody is going to held Antonio Tajani (63) responsable for a move of his former boss José-Manuel Barroso accepting a chairmanship at Goldman Sachs, however the maneuvering of Tajani as the Industry Commissioner to Member of the  European Parliament (MEP), with a view of ascending to the top of the latter, makes the whole intrigue look more as a part of a chess game, than a progressive political process, reflecting public interest.
Once the spokesperson of Silvio Berlusconi, Tajani made a spectacular career in the EU institutions, coming just as a replacement of a departing for a national appointment college. With zero chance to receive a second mandate as a civil servant to ‘reign’ over the EU industry while rival party gained power at home, he returned to active politics in European elections to mold into a Member of the European Parliament immediately after
the end of his mandate in the Commission.
At present a much-anticipated farewell of twice a president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz (61),(Germany, S&D) evoked European People’s Party (EPP) to claim its rights, indicating that the second mandate of Schulz was already against all the odds, because according to the  major agreement the five years Parliamentary term was divided between representatives of two biggest political groups EEP  and Socialists and Democrats.
However the double mandate of five years  of a Socialist did not become a window of opportunity to new political actors. No new generation, no new member-states, no new leaders, but the former Commission apparatchik from fading ‘Forza Italia’ party, claiming to be a brand new political group, led  by one of the most controversial figures of Italian politics, four times Prime Minister – Silvio Berlusconi (80), whose lucky star is at decline.
Reportedly Tajani is campaigning, looking for support at home and among the other political groups in the European Parliament. The situation should be clarified mid-January, because Social democrats leader Gianni Pittella (IT, S&D) does not accept EEP president bid, claiming it will ruin the fine balance among the EU institutions, leaving socialists in minority in position of leadership.
The beginning of this year a long standing leader of EP Liberals – Guy Verhofstadt (63) (ALDE, Belgium) entered the presidential race, in hope for tactical votes.
However the chances of Mr.Tajani to raise to the summit remain high, thanks to support of his own political group – the most representative in the EP.
Still it looks the idea of renewal remains foreign to the Europarl, along with the idea of gender equality  largely remaining a rhetoric exercise: since Simone Veil (1979-1982) no one women-politician ascended the president’s position, acutely no women before either.
The true impact of institutional stagnation expressed in reshuffling the very same people over and over again will be concluded at next Parliament elections, when the European citizens will come to drop their ballots, or will not come. So far last two decades the turnouts for European elections are in study decline.
#Anna van Densky