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),

Dutch Fauna party leads largest Europarl Intergroup

In the framework of the September Strasbourg Plenary the Animal welfare Intergroup of the European Parliament has elected Anja Hazecamp, Dutch MEP as president of the biggest cross party congregation.

Anja Hazekamp (51) is a prominent Dutch politician, a member of the Party for Animals (PvdD), and a member of the group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left (@GUENGL).

The PvdD is the first political party across the  world to gain parliamentary seats, including three seats for Senate, with an agenda focused primarily on animal rights, and animal welfare. At her election Hazekamp said she expects from Ursula von der Leyen ‘real change” in animal welfare issues.

Hazekamp was elected unanimously as the only candidate put forward by the MEPs. The former president of the group Sirpa Petikainen has been elected as an Honorary president.

The Intergroup is providing a forum for debate, and initiating actions for animal welfare-related issues in the European Parliament.  An entire spectrum of activities as issuing  reports, resolutions or amendments, formally asking parliamentary questions and sending letters to authorities, organising public awareness events, – all of them resulted in graduate improvements in the animal welfare situation in the EU.

 Next meeting of the Intergroup will take place in Strasbourg during October Plenary to discuss problems of exotic pet trade in the EU (Thursday 24 October, 10:00 – 11:00).

Memorial to Strasbourg Grand Synagogue

Modern IT technologies will help to give a second life to a destroyed by Nazi Grand Synagogue, this time in a form of a bronze monument, established at the original place at Quai Kléber. The Jewish community, IT scientists, historians, and lovers of history have  collected a significant amount of information, allowing to restore the exact model of the demolished building.

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IT reconstruction model of Grand Synagogue Quai Kléber
On 18th of September, during the European Parliament Plenary week the Jewish Consistory of Bas-Rhin invited to the Synagogue of Peace  Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and Strasbourg politicians to celebrate in a cultural event the upcoming Rosh Hashana (New Year) festivities. The excursion in the building of New Synagogue preceded the assembly.

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Rabbin Mendel Samama (right) and Thierry Roos of Consistoire israélite du Bas-Rhin (left)
The collection of the artefacts and historic objects exposed as precious pieces of mosaic restore the picture of the spiritual past of the  Jewish Community in Alsace  – one of the most ancient in Europe, traced to the Middle Ages.

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Grand Synagogue de la Paix historic objects collection on display

After the World War II  the Jews who survived the Holocaust, reformed the Jewish community of Strasbourg, meeting in the Holiday Palace until 1948, because the Grand Synagogue, situated at Place Klèber was destroyed.

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Rosh Hashana sound of Shoffar Image: courtesy of Levi Matusof (pictured).

Following the talks with the city of Strasbourg in 1948, the Jewish community agreed to exchange the grounds of the old Synagogue against the site of Contades area, where the new monumental building was erected, by the  architect Claude Meyer-Lévy. The synagogue, called “Peace” replicating its location Rue de la Paix,, and was inaugurated in March 1958.

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The new synagogue also includes the Judaica radio headquarters, a youth center, and the headquarters of several movements, in addition to the four oratories.

Europarl: Ann Widdecombe furore

Anna van Densky OPINION The passionate speech of British MEP Ann Widdecombe had a highly unpleasant  novelty for the European Union: the doyen of Brexit party political group associated the protracted process of exiting from the EU with national liberation movement. She openly threw into face of Guy Verhofstad – the European Parliament representative for Brexit talks – the accusation of treating the UK as “colony“.

Guy Verhofstadt answered in via his Twitter micro blog, regarding Widdecombe as a “clown”. It means he failed again to understand souverainist’s influence on public opinion, and the interaction between Brexit party (former UKIP) and larger groups of electorate, initially perceived as “marginal“, but in reality numerous enough to impose Brexit referendum, and win its outcome. Verhofstadt did not answer to in a meaningful way to Widdecombe criticism of democratic deficit in EU procedures either. He also didn’t answer to her criticism of protracted withdrawal process, comparing Brussels to metropole, reluctant to give away rip on its rich colony.  However the strategy of brushing off criticism of Brexiteers is in essence myopic because it allows their vision to hover high, and spread around engaging new groups, and not only from UK electorate, but the other old EU member states.

The feeble attempt of BBC journalist to argue Ms.Widdecombe’s point of  view through pointing at her high MEP salary incomparable with “slave” status looked like faux pas.

BBC did not manage to address the issue, and attempt, dabbed by the MEP as “silly”, just re-enforcing her speech, demonstrating absence of meaningful counter-argument.

 

 

EU elections 2019 final day

Anna van Densky On Sunday May 26 Europeans vote in an election expected to further erode traditional Eurocentric parties and boost the nationalist movements across the continent, resulting in a drastically different and difficult composition of the European Parliament – once a champion of compromise, – effecting the entire range of politics. (Image above: European Parliament, Strasbourg).

Polls opened at 7 A.M. (0400 GMT) in the east of Europe and will finally close at 11 P.M. (2100 GMT) in Italy. Seven states have already voted, with 21 joining in on Sunday in what is the world’s biggest democratic exercise after India.

Many feel it is odd, that three years after the referendum, Britons are back to the European Parliament, and there are certain fears, that the entire EU political agenda will be “hijacked” by Brexit.

However it is universally understood, that after Brexit the EU project will never be the same. Departure of the oldest European parliamentary democracy feels like an amputation.

EU in transit. Tempora mutantur – times are changed, we also are changed with them.

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European Parliament, PHS building, Brussels

 

#Brexit: pessimism reigns in Europarl

Anna van Densky OPINION The European Parliament Brexit negotiator Guy VERHOFSTADT (Belgium, ALDE) cancelled his press-conference, so did his major ally – Esteban GONZALES-PONS (Spain EPP). There are no traces of optimism in the corridors of power in spite of British Prime Minister Theresa MAY the last minute spontaneous visit to Strasbourg, attempting to obtain compromises on the Article 50 Agreement.

However the legally-binding interpretations of Brexit deal will be hardly enough to convince the Westminster to accept it in tonight’s vote.

In case of voting down the Article 50 Agreement the relations between the EU and UK will be entering the uncharted waters, as Prime Minister May has stated already. The extension of the deadline (March 29) is possible in the framework of the agreed Brexit only to avoid legal vacuum. The Remainers already threaten to sue their government in the European Court (CURIA) for breaching the Article 50, which clearly describes the timetable, and does not foresee any prolongations.

Originally there were two fixed deadlines: Brexit date on March 29, and the latest date of its possible extension on May 24 (European elections), before which the UK should leave, or it is obliged to participate, according to the Treaties to ensure the right of the citizens to elect their representatives to the European Parliament. In any case the status of the incumbent MEPs could not be extended beyond July 2, when the newly elected Parliament will be constituted.

However there are very few politicians eager to model possible developments in case tonight of House of Commons will vote down the deal. It will be not only the downfall for Theresa May, and her government, but also considered as a major failure for the EU27 to secure orderly Brexit, preserving from blow economies, jobs, and citizens rights. The  failure will certainly reflect on upcoming European elections disfavoring predominant political forces, unable to preserve mutually beneficial relations with one of major European economies.