Democracy, EU Style

I’ve blogged about the European Citizen’s Initiative before, Bloggers4UKIP has a good piece here on how it works (or doesn’t) in practice:

So what do I do? I need to save up enough money to finance a multinational petition covering at least three EU countries with at least 300,000 (yes, three-hundred-thousand) signatures.

And that’s not even half way there. The European Commission then decides whether the interests of those 300,000 people from a minimum of three EU countries is worth their time or own interests shutting it down immediately, or giving it the thumbs up for phase two. Phase two can’t be that big a deal can it? After all we’ve convinced 300,000 people from more than 3 EU countries to sign a petition and then we’ve convinced the EU Commission that all 300,000 people’s interests are worthy of their attention. So what more?

After the thumbs up, we need a total of 700,000 more signatures from a minimum of a total of nine EU countries. Oh and that’s not the only thing. You know those signatures I’ve been banging on about? I slipped up. I need to go back to those 1 million people and convince them to also give me their national identification number, in the form of their social security numbers or passport numbers.

Not only that, due to data protection laws I have to also invest in security measures to protect the information of over 1 million people with a minimum of 7 million pieces of information. The costs of all of this would be a minimum of half a million pounds. That’s assuming I get the bare minimum of requirements fulfilled.

And even after following all that successfully, it’s still not enough. The EU then turns round and says it still doesn’t count:

The entry into force of the EU’s new citizens’ initiative (ECI) – a petition procedure under the Lisbon Treaty allowing European citizens to demand action in a particular area – is likely to be welcomed by a legal battle between Greenpeace and the EU institutions.

A legal battle? Why? After all…

The environmental NGO has successfully collected the required 1 million signatories in a petition calling on the EU to ban GMOs

Job done surely?

…but officials from both the European Commission and the European Parliament say the move is premature.

Oh FFS!

“We’ve always said that we take their opinion very seriously but it’s not an ECI as the legislation is not yet in place,” [said] Michael Mann, the commission’s administration spokesman.

So what about those one million signatures already collected?

“Strictly speaking, they would have to do it all over again,” he added.

It’s almost like they’re making the process as difficult as possible. Surely that’s unthinkable? Still, at least more taxpayers money will get wasted spent in the meantime:

A European Parliament official concurred. “We may end up going to court on this,” the contact said.

The New Dictator Of Ireland

Barely has the signature ink dried on Ireland’s bailout agreement and this unelected tosser aka the EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs, Olli Rehn has waded in with his orders:

“The EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs, Olli Rehn, has said that it would not be advisable for any new government in Ireland to attempt to renegotiate either the interest rate on the EU/IMF loan or the use of the National Pension Reserve Fund in repairing the banking sector.”

It won’t be advisable to any new Government which has an elected mandate? So if the majority of the Irish vote to default, then tough? Why not do away with elections altogether then Mr Rehn?

In an interview with RTÉ News, Commissioner Rehn said it did not want to involve himself in democratic politics in Ireland.

Of course not, democratic politics is an alien concept to you, much better to remain above it all, directing operations but out of the grasp of accountability.

He said he ‘fully understood’ the frustration and anger of the Irish people about the banking sector, which he said had made big mistakes in the past.

Ahhh ‘fully understood’? How sympathetic, however…

‘…we have to move on and the essential thing is to complete the repair, implying both the restructuring and downsizing of the banking system,’ he said.

In other words, the people, their jobs, their lives, their concerns are irrelevant.

Mr Rehn said he did not see any tensions or reservations in other member states approving the loan. ‘I trust there is the same sense of responsibility and solidarity both for Ireland and Europe as a whole,’ he stated.

Not from where I’m standing there isn’t. If Mr Rehn comes anywhere near this country with such statements then he’s going to promptly receive an oversized, ticking, Jiffy bag with the letters ACME stamped on it.

UK Will Bail Out Portugal

Osborne confirms, what we already knew, in the Commons today (my emphasis in the text):

Mr Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth East) (Con): What will happen if another eurozone country requires a bail-out? Will Britain’s involvement be kept to a minimum?

Mr Osborne: I say this about any future action that we may or may not have to take. On the bilateral loan, I said last week that there were some very specific—I stress the words “very specific”—circumstances that would lead us to support Ireland because of the interconnectedness of our economies. I also said that the European financial stability mechanism, the EU fund, was something that the previous Government had signed up to, and that the UK could not block its use because it operated under qualified majority voting.

…and Spain and Italy and Belgium.

Can we leave yet please?

Another Day, Another Opt In

From Open Europe, quoting the paywalled Sunday Times:

UK likely to opt in to EU cross-border traffic fines

The EU is to agree on a new directive on Thursday, which would enforce cross-border road traffic penalties in Europe, the Sunday Times reports. Under new rules, British motorists could face six-figure fines if they are captured exceeding the speed limit in other EU countries. Sources close to negotiations have said that the new proposal, for which the UK has an opt-out, is expected to be endorsed by UK officials.

Oh and Cameron’s happiness index nonsense is somewhat similar to other proposals (my emphasis):

David Cameron has said “From April next year we will start measuring our progress as a country not just by how our economy is growing, but by how our lives are improving, not just by our standard of living, but by our quality of life. … We’ll continue to measure GDP as we’ve always done, but it is high time we admitted that, taken on its own, GDP is an incomplete way of measuring a country’s progress.” The PM asked the Office for National Statistics to develop subjective measures. It seems that potential indicators will include health, levels of education, inequalities in income and the environment. David Cameron’s ideas seem overwhelmingly similar to proposals by the European Commission on measuring GDP.

The Commission has pointed out that GDP and unemployment figures are published on a timely basis but not environmental and social data. They will therefore endeavour to produce environmental and social data more rapidly. The Commission wants to put in place a more accurate reporting on distribution and inequalities in order to allow a better definition of policies on social and economic cohesion.

Obviously in practice the EU ‘happiness index’ survey will go something like this:

  • EU: “Are you happy?”
  • Me: “No”.
  • EU: “Wrong answer, try again”.

Update: The Telegraph is spinning the opt-in as “Britain is set to block EU moves to allow speeding fines to be imposed across international borders.”

But when you look at the money quote, it’s a liiittle bit different. The Tory Government agrees in principle it just has concerns with some of the logistics:

“While I support greater cooperation between member states over the issue of road safety, we feel there is still more work to be done on these proposals to address a number of important issues,” said Mike Penning, the road safety minister.

So that’s a yes we’ll be opting in then

The Longest Ransom Note In History

The Irish bailout unsurprisingly isn’t working to calm Euro fears, and the details are making the Irish distinctly unhappy:

This is not a rescue plan. It is the longest ransom note in history: do what we tell you and you may, in time, get your country back.

The extent of the abandonment of Irish national interests is clear from three aspects of the deal.

The interest rate, at almost 6 per cent, is viciously extortionate.

The National Pension Reserve Fund, which is all we’ve got left for strategic investment to rebuild our economy, is to handed over – in a brazen example of “demanding money with menaces” – to failed banks.

The disastrous banking strategy is to be continued: “an intensification of the measures already adopted by the Government” is the Government’s own phrase. And a savage attack on low-paid workers, in the form of a huge reduction in the minimum wage, is to be written into a binding agreement.

Would the Irish people, if asked, vote for any of these measures as decent solutions to our very real dilemmas? That the answer is so obviously “no” tells us the brutal truth: Irish democracy has been abandoned by a zombie government.

No, Irish democracy was abandoned by its very own people who agreed to further EU integration.