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),

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.

Ursula von der Leyen -Spitzenkandidate proxy

Anna van Densky OPINION Nine votes narrow victory of Ursula von der Leyen (60) reveals the fragility of the EU institutions, plagued by political fragmentation, and rise of Euroscepticism, the latter not without reason. The democratic deficit is becoming obvious, especially in crucial moments of appointing the EU top jobs candidates. The obscure procedure of election of the European Commission president, who is de facto ‘Prime Minister of Europe‘, does not inspire confidence neither of the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), no of their electorate. The former Europarl speaker compared it to the election of the Pope: the cardinals plotting behind closed doors, while congregation is awaiting for white smoke from the chimney.

After Manfred Weber (47) Spitzenkandidate (leading candidate) from the European People’s Party was rejected by East European member-states, the candidacy of von der Leyen emerged in contingency plan during crisis Summit of the EU leaders. Hardly known outside Germany, overnight she became the most powerful EU executive, the guardian of the EU Treaties, and the monopolist of the legislative initiative.

Among 733 votes cast (one void) 383 members voted in favor, 327 against, and 22 abstained, – with the slim majority of nine votes, von der Leyen became a sensation: first European Commission female president (born in Brussels, in family of a European Commission civil servant).

In spite an attractiveness of the perspective to appoint a woman, confirming European alignment with the gender equality principles,  the entire election process was on the brink, attacked by many MEPs for its Machiavellian engineering far from public eyes. It is obvious that the next time it might not pass, throwing the EU institutions in a protracted crisis.

Even von der Leyen –  the “jackpot winner” considered necessary ‘to respond to  the need for transparent  Spitzenkandidaten (leading candidate) system to be strengthened and the transnational lists to be reconsidered in future European elections.

With 383 votes in favour, the European Parliament elected Ursula von der Leyen President of the next European Commission in a secret paper ballot. Officially, she will enter office on 1 November 2019 for a five-year term.

Parliament currently comprises 747 MEPs as per the official notifications received by member state authorities, so the threshold needed to be elected was 374 votes, i.e. more than 50% of its component members. President Sassoli formally announced the requisite number before the results were revealed in plenary. The vote was held by secret paper ballot.

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EU Brexit charade

Anna van Densky from EP, Brussels. The Members of European Parliament (MEP) raise concerns about perspective of the UK remaining for upcoming European elections, being “one foot in, one foot out”, as Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, Belgium) said.

The perspective of electing even more Brexiteers is definitely not inspiring  MEPs, open to endorse additional political declarations, if necessary, however standing firmly by the EU Commission, and Council, refusing the revision of the endorsed deal.

While the attempting to convince Westminster to endorse the deal the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker repeated the UK can have one more extension on condition of the Article 50 Agreement (Withdrawal Agreement) endorsement, and proposing clear plans of moving forward with the implementation. The prolongation of uncertainty is not an option.

The tone of the EU top executive was dead, and while he was offering more political declarations. Juncker’s  glances were gloomy, while he switched to the part of speech, describing damages to EU, and even more so to British economy if the no-deal scenario takes place by default. He admitted to read the speech first time during his intervention in Europarliament, because “every word is important“.
If the UK is able to approve the withdrawal agreement with a viable majority by 12 April, then the European Union should accept an extension until 22 May“, Juncker concluded.

Responding to the worst fears of MEPs, Gerard Batten (UKIP, UK) called Britons to vote massively for UKIP in case the country participates in European elections in May.

 

#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.

 

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.