Since February 2009 , this blog and Huib's 3 other Euroblogs are together at:

- In Europa Zu Hause [DE]
- L'Europe Chez Soi [FR]
- At Home in Europe [EN]
- In Europa Thuis [NL]

Saturday, January 28, 2006

EU Constitution: Dutch PM shuns responsability

Mark Beunderman, the EU Observer editor who is covering Dutch European policies, or the lack of it, got his scoop last Friday, when the Dutch Prime Minister, Balkenende, had his word to say at a Salzburg meeting under the Austrian EU presidency.
EUOBSERVER / SALZBURG - Dutch prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende has suggested that referendums on the EU constitution in the UK, Polandand Denmark would result in a "no" like in his own country, while shrugging off responsibility for the union's constitutional deadlock, Mr Balkenende made his remarks on Friday (27 January) at a high-profileconference on European identity, staged by the Austrian EU presidency in a bid to revive the debate on the EU constitution.
Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot earlier this month declared the constitution "dead," a remark which Mr Balkenende declined to repeat, but backed up by saying it is "unrealistic that the constitution willbe put to voters a second time."Mr Bot's remark drew strong criticism particularly from the European Parliament, with Hans-Gert Pottering, the leader of the centre-rightEPP faction, saying "I have no understanding at all for such statements. It should be his responsibility to propose ways how theconstitution can be transposed into legal and political reality." But The Hague has so far refused to take any political initiative, or even to provide a political assessment of what it thinks the deeper causes of the Dutch "no" are." It is too early to make statements," Mr Balkenende said, adding he wants to await results of ongoing government research into Dutch people's attitude to Europe, expected for the end of April.
And we know, that that assessment will be merely a superficial opinion-poll (commanded with a commercial opinion poll bureau), just serving as a cache-sexe for doing nothing, for a fear of stirring again public opinion. It is absolutely clear, for everybody who can read statistics, that the Dutch May 31, 2005 referendum vote was nothing less than a no-confidence-vote for Mr. Balkenende's government and its policies.

The Dutch government are saying: "Deepening, pursuing, the EU unification process is no more our job. We are just standing at the sidelines and watch what you are doing about it. We will comment, but do not take our comments seriously, they are for internal use."

This boorish attitude contrasts sharply with the engagements of other governments, like the French:
Dominique de Villepin, France's prime minister, indicated in a speech in Salzburg "The French people did not say no to Europe. They expressed fears and anxiety but also aspirations."
His comments indicate that Paris believes its citizens are particularly uneasy over EU enlargement, but want Europe to better protect them at the same time, creating the need for deeper integration. Referring to the bloc's previous expansion to ten new states in 2004, he stated "enlargement was not sufficiently prepared on the economic front," adding "we went ahead without deepening." On the ongoing EU accession talks with Turkey, he stated "the outcome of the process will remain open, and the last word will be with theFrench people," referring to Paris' pledge to hold a referendum onTurkish membership.
While the French government is keen to show its citizens it has taken enlargement fatigue seriously, it is at the same time taking initiatives to "deepen" integration in individual policy areas. Mr de Villepin singled out tax harmonisation, a common EU border police and an EU energy policy as examples of fresh European projects he has in mind.He also proposed a UNESCO-style "European heritage" trademark for European monuments. French president Jacques Chirac earlier this month said he wishes to see closer co-operation in "internal security and justice, external action and better involvement of national parliaments in the Europeandecision-making process."
© 2006 Printed from 28.01.2006

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And indeed, we have another approach here, that may work, in spite of doubts one may have as to the question if De Villepin will remain in power and not be soon replaced by a stooge of Nicolas Sarkozy. The latter wants the Turkey accession off the agendas, for instance.
The Dutch have all sorts of stakes in the shape the EU will get in the coming months. Staying aloof, will in no way be in the interest of the country.
But the more immediate interest for the Dutch government lies in "calming" public opinion and avert its debates to immigration, cultural sectariansm, etc.

There is a long and steep way to go here.
Technorati Tags: EU Constitution;Netherlands;France;Referendum;Dutch Treat

Friday, January 27, 2006

Dutch Afghanistan Mission: UK "not satisfied".

De Britten zullen de leiding hebben over de NATo-contingenten die in het kader van "ISAF" zijn voorzien in Uruzgan, Helmand en omgeving. Het was dus uitzien naar hun reactie op het Nederlandse geschuifel. Welnu, die is er gekomen. Engelsen begrijpen veel beter dan Amerikanen, wat er zo in de Nederlandse moerasdelta omgaat. Ze hebben daar sinds de zeventiende eeuw ervaring mee.
Ze laten zich dus niet zo gauw ontmoedigen en gaan niet snel over tot beledigende dreigingen, zoals gedaan door Amerikaanse vertegenwoordigers. Zo, met een variatie op het "not amused" van wijlen koningin Victoria, zegt de Financial Times van 25 januari: / Home UK - UK ‘not satisfied’ with configuration for Afghanistan. "Not satisfied" - wat een mooi understatement! Ze springen uit hun vel!! De 1.400 Nederlandse militairen kunnen moeilijk worden vervangen. Er is geen ander NATO-lid dat zich eraan wenst te wagen.

De "FT":
John Reid, British defence secretary, said on Wednesday he was “not satisfied” with the configuration of allied troops set to be deployed with a UK contingent of forces to southern Afghanistan this year, putting new pressure on the Netherlands, which is due to vote on whether to join the mission next week. Britain, Canada and the Netherlands have long been expected to be the core of a 6,000-troop Nato deployment to southern Afghanistan, but Dutch nervousness about increasing violence in the region has called into question whether its parliament will approve its deployment in a February 2 vote.
Het Britse ISAF-commando zal in Kaboel zitten, tegen de 2.000 (nieuwe) Britse militairen nemen de (gevaarlijke) provincie Helmand (ten Zuiden van Uruzgan) voor hun rekening, maar er zijn geen andere contingenten beloofd van een omvang die vergelijkbaar is met de Britse- en de Nederlandse. Zonder de Nederlanders, zal er vanuit Kaboel, weinig te commanderen vallen, want de Amerikanen doen hun eigen ding onder operatie 'Enduring Freedom' met daarbij al 'ingebedde' Fransen, Engelsen en Hollanders (enkele honderden).
Mr Reid’s statement raises the stakes in the Dutch vote and stands in stark contrast to statements by American diplomats and military officials who have said they believe Nato will be able to send a successful mission even if the Dutch withdraw.
Tot zover het leedvermaak. Nu even serieus. Zoals ik al eerder aangaf, is een humane benadering die op mensenrechten, zonder politieke discriminatie tussen taliban- en andere boeven, gebaseerd is, absoluut noodzakelijk in Afghanistan. Het land moet niet in de steek worden gelaten. Nederland zou dat heel goed kunnen, of een provincie nu "gevaarlijk" is of niet, mits een overkoepelende instantie (Europa, de EU, of een "geeuropeaniseerde" NAVO) daartoe het initiatief neemt, dat wil zeggen 'oplegt' aan de Amerikanen en hun 'willing' hulptroepen. Alleen gaat dat niet. Dat heeft Srebrenica wel bewezen. Maar de Nederlandse regering, in plaats van daartoe aktie te voeren binnen de gremia waar ze wat te zeggen heeft, wil van twee walletjes eten: Zich "humanitair" profileren bij de VN, tegenover de eigen bevolking, en tegelijkertijd een trouwe bondgenoot van de VS zijn.

Het ziet ernaar uit, dat via wollige taal, schijnconcessies en een afwachtende strategie, de Nederlandse missie in Uruzgan er op 2 februari zal komen. Een bijzonder slechte en zwakke basis voor een militaire interventie. Het Nederlandse leger zal het maar moeten uitzoeken. Ze krijgen te maken met een "not amused" Britse missie-leiding:

But he [Reid] said a final commitment was contingent on finalising Nato’s configuration, a thinly-veiled reference to the Dutch wavering. Nato officials insist they will be able to find additional troops from other allies if the Dutch withdraw, but such a move could delay the deployment.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


My "Skype-In" telephone number is: 00 44 121 288 0733. Every Brit who wants to call me, can do so now at a national rate. For Americans, calling to the UK is cheaper than calling to other European countries. I am living in Belgium, but, alas, Belgian connections are not yet available on Skype.
When you call, it will be me who pays the connection UK>Belgium, so, please, take care!
It is much easier, for both of us, of course, if you take a free Skype inscription. Calls from computer to computer are free at Skype, all over the world.
Thank you for calling!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

CIA-EU: Frustrations of an investigator

On January 22nd, a second report (PDF-file at the CoE website) on the CIA violations of international and national jurisdictions in Europe, was published by Council of Europe investigator and rapporteur Dick Marty. The German weekly Der Spiegel (in its online-edition dated January 25, 2006) provided a good summary of the findings. It explains the frustrations of the Swiss Liberal Democrat investigator, who, at first formally encouraged by all governments concerned, soon found himself to be rebuffed by the same, as soon as it came to handing over information (CIA-Affäre: Notizen eines frustrierten Ermittlers - SPIEGEL ONLINE).
In spite of all this, nongovernmental persons and institutions came spontaneously up with new information, confirming existing suspicions. In this second report, Marty uses a very candid idiom. Here are two of the more than hundred paragraphs:

a. Awareness of Council of Europe member states?

66. "Rendition" affecting Europe seems to have concerned more than a hundred persons in recent years13. Hundreds of CIA-chartered flights have passed through numerous European countries14. It is highly unlikely that European governments, or at least their intelligence services, were unaware. And a number of revelations have already been published by the press, especially in America, over the past few years. It is, to say the least, curious that media interest, especially in Europe, suddenly surged after the article in The Washington Post in early November 2005.

67. The statements made by Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, during and before her European visit of December 2005, and by her predecessor, Colin Powell, who said that the US had always respected the national sovereignty of its allies, are taken by some as both a reprimand and a warning: “stop being hypocritical”, and “do you really want us to say what happened?”.
In my latest comment on this affair in this Blog ("The embarrassment of Stitches", Jan. 17, 2006), I denounced what I think the American tactics are in this affair. In a way of exit-strategy and/or damage control, American Services "leak" intentionally facts and indications, that European Governments knew, even cooperated actively, so as to warn them what would happen, if they condone further attacking of American antiterrorist policies and practices.

That explains a good deal of the door-closing that is now going on. Another apparently intended effect is getting the governments to quarrel among each other and with the international European institutions that push forward the inquiries. From the US point of view, this is a welcome side-effect, for it may well generate new obstacles to European cooperation in the fields of foreign policy, military, justice and police.

I'm unable to see, how this might help to strengthen the international struggle against terrorism, the often declared "absolute priority" of the Bush policies.

There is a great risk, that the CoE investigation and the new European Parliament (a special 46-member commission) initiative will get stuck in a quagmire of unproven denunciations, manipulations from all sides, resulting in another proof of their irrelevance and impotency.

Friday, January 20, 2006

REGENERA Budapest: Social Renovation

Post-1989 Budapest saw a period of "raw capitalism", with, inevitably, a massive deterioriation of communal housing and urban environments. As was explained to us in REGENERA by our Budapest colleagues, a small, but hopeful new start is being made now in some of those areas. The Budapest Mayor's Office has been instrumental in bringing this about. Analysis of the developing unsustainable urban social rupture, imposed a new approach.

REGENERA is due to make a working visit to Budapest in six weeks from now.

In the web-based review Transitions Online (TOL), under the heading: On a Razor's Edge Gabor Miklos writes:
"A social experiment in one of Budapest's most deprived areas is breaking new ground with its goals, its philosophy, and its methods."

Map of Budapest and vicinity. Click on the map, and a bigger, readable version opens on a new page. Source: Geomaps, based on satellite observation. - Joszefváros (Joseph City) is ont the Pest side at the North-East. Csepel lies to the South between two arms of the river. Gellert Hill and the former royal palace (now National History Museum) are on the Buda side to the West.

It has been a tough learning process:

"Unlike the Corvin Promenade Project (an earlier renewal scheme in another poor part of Jozsefvaros), where the construction forced the relocation of many inhabitants, the aim of the current project in the area known as the Magdolna quarter is for the current 12,000 or so residents to remain as housing and infrastructure are improved around them. Until a few years ago, urban renewal in Jozsefvaros meant only repairs and renovations to those buildings the local council deemed worthy. These interventions frequently proved counterproductive. “Privatization pressure” was often at work, even in the selection of buildings to be renovated: those who could afford to bought their rented apartments in such buildings, and those who couldn't were gradually forced to move, leading to increased social and ethnic segregation in the area. Lighter repairs, on the other hand, proved a waste of money because residents had little sense of communal propriety, and the gates, entry phones, or staircases selected for renovation over the residents' heads were soon in disrepair again. "

As an occasional visitor to the city, I am in a position to confirm the above observations. More to the South, where the famous heavy industries of Csepel island used to be, whole former garden cities, built for the workers, are in a very derelict situation.
Another phenomenon: A considerable lump of the middle class cadres, whose relatively well-to-do position under Kadár depended heavily on collective services and subsidized goods, fell into poverty, as these disappeared and wages did not follow suit. So, poverty and dereliction begin to reign also in some parts of the green hills of Buda, where they used to live in one-family houses.

Traditional view of Budapest from Gellért Hill at the Buda (West) side of the Danube to the city-centre and Pest.

Due to a gaping lack of funds to invest and to an absence of private investors, willing to join into PPP's, the start of a new approach has to be modest, but firm in its objectives and methods. Gabor Miklos:
The solution could only be a change of heart: on the one hand, it had to be recognized that without consulting and involving the people living there, long-term results could not be achieved; on the other, it had to be acknowledged that it is pointless to renovate buildings when the problem is far more complex. After decades of deprivation that had only worsened in the past few years, Magdolna became the largest poor section of Jozsefvaros, itself a poverty-stricken section of Budapest. This past spring, 1,700 families living in the district received state housing support, one-quarter of them in Magdolna. The 13-block area did not grow organically: its boundaries were artificially drawn according to urbanistic criteria, turning it into one of the 11 “quarters” of Jozsefvaros a few years ago. Our experience, however, shows that local people are happy to have received a name, which — somewhat unexpectedly — has clearly helped nurture a sense of local identity, despite that the quarter embodies many of the problems a decayed inner city usually faces: deep poverty, high unemployment coupled with low education, poor living conditions, decaying public services, and poor public safety. Ethnic segregation has ensured that Roma make up a visibly high proportion of the population, though there has been no reliable study on the matter.
The only way to overcome these difficulties and the absence of powerful external actors, is: mobilisation of the local people, and work with them for the common interest, creating a "win-win" situation.
The Magdolna experiment's goal is to improve living conditions for local people. Complete renovation is out of the question, so the specific jobs to be done will be decided upon in cooperation with tenants. The more the residents are willing to participate in the work, the more support they can expect from the authorities. Potential conflicts will be mediated by social workers contracted to the project developer, a non-profit company administered by the Jozsefvaros and Budapest councils.
Leafing through the Internet, I see an impressing number of cheap real estate offers in Hungary and in Budapest. I believe, I saw a villa in Buda at sale for foreign acquirers, with photo, that is only some houses away from my family in law's house at Ursi Út (street). They are two medical specialists married to each other, but also financially unable now, to bear the costs of their simple one-family house.

Well, even if they are in danger, at the moment, I do not think that urgent structural help for them and people in their situation is needed.

However: Against the massive speculation and easy money gained with it, that is not reinvested in Hungarian property or innovation projects, I think that an EU initiative to support cities like Budapest in preserving their real estate and protecting it against speculation, is an urgent question, that could be raised by the urban networks in Brussels end eventually be argued in REGENERA's report.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Afoe: Going Dutch in Afghanistan

[AHIE: §NL+§INT] My preferred EuroBlog "A Fist Full of Euros" (Afoe) publishes at 17/01/06: The battle of Wobbly Knee: Dutch troops in Afghanistan.
Are the Americans, who badly want to shift well-trained troops from Afghanistan to Iraq, getting a "Dutch treat"? There is more to it, although the Dutch performance is skittish and lamentable.
On my blog in Dutch: "In Europa thuis", I went three times into this during the last week. But that is reserved to the few among you, who read and understand Dutch. I also posted two comments on "Afoe": one about the Washington background of the tragicomedy, and another on the role of Dutch parliamentary parties in the decision-making (expected at February 2).
This debate illustrates some fundamental points in the actual USA-EU relations, within or outside of NATO. And it reveals the measure of partisan infighting among conservatives in Washington, and how that affects Europe.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

CIA-EU: The Embarrassment of Stitches

It will stitch. It will hurt. The revelations about what individual European Governments knew, saw, concealed and tolerated. (Their Secret Services, to be more to the point; but what are Secret Services, if they do not share their secrets with their paymasters?)

The USA have deliberately chosen to embarrass their European allies at this point. The confirmations from non-American sources of the CIA-EU cooperation, seem traceable to CIA-manipulations, like the ones revealed in yesterday's Sueddeutsche Zeitung and in the Los Angeles Times.

There might be a defensive and a revengeful side to that: After the Washington Post revelations of November, the European locations had to be abandoned and the prisoners transferred to Egypt. That made the existing arrangements with individual European secret services redundant. Along the defensive line, implying the Europeans in the waterboarding practices, makes sense as regards the world public opinion. If there is also an element of backlash in it, it must have been calculated so as not to stand in the way of what the USA may have as their objective in budgeoning their allies in this way.

So, what can their objective be?

I would opt for: Splitting.

Splitting and dividing the European governments amongst themselves. Caught in the act, every Government will have to justify itself before its public opinion. We can expect ministers whitewashing themselves, pointing at scapegoats in their secret services. We can expect fingerpointing by one country to another and vice-versa. And at the end of the day, a common EU security policy will be farther away than ever. This is an imperial interest: "divide et impera".

A more practical outcome that the USA may hope for, is a further estrangement of (East-) European countries, the ones who are already up to above their knees in this mud, from the other ones. That may go up to the point, where they will dissociate completely from existing common EU-security and human rights conventions and decide to cooperate as "willing" accomplices with the USA, defying "Old Europe". The new Polish government is a fair candidate for that role.

This is the worst scenario, I can imagine. It is also the most credible, I fear.

I can imagine a dream-scenario, in which Xavier Solana succeeds, on the wave of the coming embarrassments, in making the EU adopt a common charter, that is strong in combating the new kind of non-state enemies and that puts also the necessary tools at his disposal. It would set a new standard, in compliance with human rights and Geneva Conventions, for the treatment of prisoners.

But that's not for now, my friends.

CIA-camps: EU Governments KNEW

Stitching truths from Switzerland (Vierwaldstättersee, Summer 2003)

Today, EU-Observer confirms from Switzerland that EU-governments must have known for at least 2 years about the illegal CIA-activities (renditions, secret flights, torture camps) in Europe.
Swiss Senator Dick Marty is leading a Council of Europe inquiry into the matter.

Speaking to journalists in Switzerland on Friday (13 January) Mr Marty accused European leaders of "shocking" passivity, arguing they knew about illegal detaining and transporting of prisoners taking place on their soil, media reports say.

"Since two, three years, the countries know what is happening. There are countries that have collaborated actively, and there are others who have tolerated. Others have simply looked the other way," Mr Marty told Swiss television channel TRS.
This confirms exactly what I said on December 7, 2005 in my blog Legal Alien @ NY ("Rice in Europe"):

If Europe, under the same danger, the same risks as the US, would have been able to take some responsability, it would have condemned, for sure, those actions, but, at the same time, it would have proposed a better procedure, under international responsability. But we failed to do so. We avoided the necessary interior debate, but tried to keep both sides quiet: At one side, the outraged population of our lands, saying to them, that we were not part of it (torture), and, at the other, telling the Americans, that they have nothing to fear, as long as they do not go public.
If that is not hypocritical, I do not know, what is.
Today, the hypocrites are being exposed. It will stitch. An indignant public reaction will not help us much. For our Governments and Parliaments do reflect our own hypocrisy and provincial narrowness in a dangerous, "global", world. It would be self-justification and hypocrisy to a second degree.

In order to live up to this situation, we'll have to look first at what is really happening before our eyes. Who are the hidden players? What may be their intentions?

That is for a second post, today: EU and CIA - The Embarrassment of Stitches.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

A Welsh Voice on Europe

Reading the "EU-Observer", in my opinion the best web-based daily about what is happening in and to the Eureopean Union, (save for its focusing on NORTHERN European issues exclusively), very often, I fall into subtle comments, written by a Mr. Peter Sain ley Berry (photo). Like the "EU-Observer", he is independent and not sold to Pfizer and Microsoft, as (another web-based EU-daily) "Euractiv" is. On the political spectrum, I locate him among "liberals" in the Dutch D'66 mood. In the UK, that would be the Liberal Democrats. But I may very well miss my point, for, as I discovered, he is a Welsh politician, and Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh people tend to have a more open attitude to continental Europe than home-bred English citizens. He features a website, devoted to international human rights and development issues (EuropaWorld). The EU is only a sideline for him, it seems.

His latest comment, featured by the EU-Observer, struck me as particularly to the point.
Mr. ley Berry claims that, in 2005, a European "demos" (people) has emerged. Not out of a common ideal, but out of common complaints. Complaints about the foggy criteria for EU enlargement, for common responsability and for social and security standards. Complaining together is not the same thing as striving together, but, at least, it is having something together. And this togetherness is new. It did not exist before.

That demos could become the basis for a new power (kratos) in Europe. Without demos, no democracy. The European Parliament could be reinforced and gain more power. Comparing the Chirac and the Merkel proposals for relaunching the dynamics of the European construction, Sain ley Berry opts for the Merkel approach. Chirac's suggestions boil down to "cherrypicking" some non-controversial elements from the Constitutional Treaty proposals, whereas Merkel's would preserve the construction as a whole, adding some explanations on the subject of the social values to be preserved and developed.

Essentially, this is also the way that is being proposed by EP-rapporteurs Duff (LibDem, UK, see also my previous post) and Johannes Voggenhuber (Green, Austria). Their "roadmap"-proposal includes an intensive EU-wide discussion in 2006-2007 and updates to the treaty about social issues. Mr. ley Berry submits two more proposals for constitutional updates: one about enlargement and another about transparency, i.e.: reinforcement of the central European administration (foreign and security policies) and a genuine democratic controlling system to accompany that.

In my opinion, these are essential elements of a renewed debate on the EU structure and role. Governments will not be happy with these elements, that is for sure. But they will have to choose: Either they take a genuine responsibility for Europe, including before their parliaments, or, they leave these overall European responsabilities to the European Parliament and/or an European Senate.

An Europe-wide referendum in 2009 could finally legitimate those changes and become a basis for the expression of the will of the newly emerged EuroDemos.

A dream? Yes. But a realistic one. More connected to reality, than the Dutch Government's decalation that the Constitutional Treaty is "dead". Pandora's box is open, and it cannot be closed by statement: a "demos" is born.

Legal Alien @ NY: Bush and Miers. Bush and Merkel.

In my American blog Legal Alien @ NY: Bush and Miers. Bush and Merkel., I made some remarks that may be of interest to you....

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Credit to Blair for a successful EU-presidency?

British MEP Andrew Duff joins the swelling chorus of EU-optimists after the last-minute 2007-2013 EU budget deal on December 20, in yesterday's article on / Home UK - "Credit to Blair for a successful presidency" (Financial Times, Home UK, January 9, 2006).

I have a weak spot for Tony Blair. In spite of everything: From Iraq to his latest proposals for a massive school-police, and including all his non-kept promises. He has touched in me some unconscious longing for decency and courage in politics. And even now, when I see or read him, I'm touched again.

So, you will understand that, at first, I am agreeably surprised, when (finally) I discover an appreciative note in a loud concert of loathing.

But here, I fear, a bad service is done to my hero.

Not only, in my view, all the jubilating about the December compromise is greatly overdone, but Duff's hapless effort to have Tony get his fair share of the sudden Merkel-mania ("she saved the budget!") makes things worse.

For Blair and for Europe.

It is no service to Europe, to sell the December compromise to a British public (the article is in het "Home UK" section of the paper, not in the "Europe" section) as the best of all worlds. Cynicism and uneasiness with that continental monster will be fed a little more, the moment people will feel the reality of the new EU policies that will result from the Compromise.

It is no service to Blair and his policies either. The focal point of the British EU-presidency of 2005 was a reform-agenda. It has been announced, loud and clear, in Blair's statement of July 2005 to the European Parliament. The agenda was certainly not another muddy compromise on a long term budget, that does not permit any substantial change of course for the EU. But this is, what the whole presidency has been able to deliver.

It is true: Duff points also out, that the other cabinet ministers have contributed next to nothing to the series of informal ministerial meetings that have been held inder the UK presidency. The culminating point, for me, in this respect, was the (blue) paper, Brown has submitted to his EU-colleagues. The whole glossy booklet can be summarised as: "Look how well we do. Look how badly you do." With no proposals, whatsoever, how this British model should be implemented on an EU-scale.

So, Duff's view boils down to: Tony had to do it alone. And, after a bad start, he was perfect as a tactician in secondary matters.

To me, the British Presidency produced very few matters to be credited for. The UK has indebted itself to Europe: Non-kept promises about streamlining of the constitutional treaty, about dynamising the structural funds for the Lisbon agenda, about a common security policy, etc., etc.

But: Moral debt is not a political issue: It does not exist in international policies.

Therefore, "credit" doesn't either.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

REGENERA: New developments around privatization

Within the city of The Hague, people who have no insurance, are relegated to a specific day-care centre, where they may be treated, if their problem is urgent. Thus, people with heart problems are advised to return to their country of origin, whereas prople with a heart attack may expect to be hospitalized.
Medical staff do not agree. They insist to remain rersonsible for decisions of this kind.
Non-medical staff of the cenre said that they will nevertheless apply this unheard-of policy.
The Parnassia Centre (visited by the European REGENERA delegation on December 1st), was at first appointed as the centre for treatment of uninsured psychological patients, but claimed afterwards that it would not apply these draconian rules.
In the Dutch press, it is expected, that The Hague patients who cannot be treated in their city, will take refuge in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Big hospitals from these cities issued statements, that they will continue to help non-insured patients, applying rules which apply to patients with an insurance.
At this day, it is not known, which private insurance company(companies) incited the The Hague City Government to establish these harsh rules.
No comment from the Health Minister is yet available.
The privatization of health care in The Netherlands, which has started on the 1st of January, will result in an estimated 10% or 900.000 uninsured people. Among them are: unlegalized immigrants, poor working people, people on welfare, drug-addicts, homeless and psychically disturbed persons.
The new Dutch system can be compared to the Swiss one, introduced in 1998, where private insurance companies have since raised fees with approximately 20% a year. Lower fees are conceded to patients who agree to be helped exclusively by company-appointed physicians and hospitals, which receive a bonus for every percentage they manage to spare on help to their clients.

Monday, January 02, 2006

New sister blog in French: L'Europe Chez Soi

A new sister blog started some days ago: L'Europe Chez Soi
It is maintained by the same team that publishes this blog, but it is in French. Main subjects is Urban policy in Europe. Other French issues remain in the other French blog at Le Monde: Toto Le Psycho.
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