Thursday, December 04, 2008
European Union Court of First Instance finds EU Senior Position Job Vacancy Adverts are Discriminatory if Published Only in English, French and German
The court decision nullified a European Commission policy, adopted in the year 2004, to publish job vacancy notices for senior positions in English, French and German languages only. The court held that such a selective language policy is discriminatory.
Read the details at EU Law Blog.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Not everything is as easy as it looks. On November 20, 2008 the European Union Digital Libraries Initiative launched Europeana, a multimillion-euro digital library intended as a friendly and cooperative European competitor to things like Google Book Search.As written by Leigh Phillips at EUobserver, here is the idea:
"Websurfers can access some 2 million books, maps, recordings, photographs, archival documents, paintings and films from national libraries and cultural institutions of the EU's 27 member states.
"Europeana is much more than a library, it is a veritable dynamo to inspire 21st century Europeans to emulate the creativity of innovative forbears like the drivers of the Renaissance," said commission president Jose Manuel Barroso at the launch."
But the launch hit a serious snag, again as Leigh Phillips writes at EUobserver:
When one now goes to the Europeana website, one is greeted with the following message - our scan of the current page there:
(CLICK HERE FOR THAT SUBSEQUENT LINK TO FURTHER INFORMATION)
Rome was not built in a day.
The New York Times Stephen Castle reports in
Europeana Goes Online and Is Then Overwhelmed
Thursday, November 20, 2008
EQLS : The Second European Quality of Life Survey – First Findings viz. Deuxième enquête européenne sur la qualité de vie - Premiers résultats
The EQLS Survey will be published in full only in the year 2009, but as of November 18, 2008 we do now already have the first results of that survey in an English-language .pdf and a French-language .pdf, respectively titled Second European Quality of Life Survey – First Findings viz. Deuxième enquête européenne sur la qualité de vie - Premiers résultats.
The results confirm the sentiment of the Bob Hope cinema film of the year 1965 whose title I'll take Sweden might just as well represent the primarily Nordic winners of this Eurofound survey, as the Nordic nations dominate in "happiness", as shown by the following graphics from the EQLS First Results:
The Life Satisfaction and Happiness Index for the European Union Member States and Candidate Countries gives the following rankings, from most happy and satisfied to least happy and least satisfied:
10. United Kingdom
19. Czech Republic
29. FYR Macedonia
The First Findings of the Survey cover:
- General parameters
- Subjective well-being
Income and Deprivation
- Household essentials and deprivation
- Dealing with lack of income
Health and health care
- Mental health
- Health care services
Housing, environment and quality of society
- Quality of housing
- Local environment
Quality of society
- Trust in other people and Institutions
- Tension between societal groups
For further information we refer to the contact data found at the end of the First Findings publication:
Teresa Renehan, Information Liaison Officer:
European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working
Wyattville Road, Loughlinstown, Dublin 18, Ireland
Telephone: (+353 1) 204 31 00
Crossposted to LawPundit.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
What Do Europeans Care About? Google Searches as Measured in the Individual Member Countries by the EU Observer Monthly Top 10
The top ten so weighted searches in October, 2008 in the EU were:
- HALLOWEEN: American style "trick or treating" swept Europe on 31 October.
- VAALIKONE: Finns searched election website in municipal elections on 26 October.
- ICESAVE: UK subsidiary of Iceland's Landisbanki declared bankruptcy.
- SUPRENALOTTO: Italy's lottery site swept when Sicilian suburb won €100 million.
- KENZA FARAH: The French R&B singer was hurt in a car accident on 13 October.
- FALLOUT 3: This nuclear simulation game was launched on 16 October.
- PES 2009: The Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 video game was released.
- X FACTOR: The UK's hit reality show drew record audiences in October.
- AC DC: The Australian band released its new album Black Ice on 20 October.
- MAM TALENT: The Polish version of the television show "I Have Talent!".
Crossposted to LawPundit.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Paris Summit Approves the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) as composed of EU Member States and Mediterranean States
On July 13, 2008 Barcelona Process : Union for the Mediterranean (Union pour la Méditerranée) was approved at the Paris Summit of the leaders of the member countries. The organization, though in somewhat different form, was originally the brainchild of French President Nicolas Sarkozy "who said its aim was to ensure the region's people could love each other instead of making war."
The Union for the Mediterranean is a 43-member community, encompassing 750 million people (ca. 25% from Arab States), and comprised of the Member States of the European Union plus the "states" bordering on the Mediterranean Sea and participating in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (the so-called "Barcelona Process").
The goal of the Union for the Mediterranean is to improve relations between the EU, North Africa and the Middle East and to tackle common problems such as immigration, pollution and political unrest.
But already one day after approval of the Union there are signs that the leadership of the non-EU countries will have to struggle to muster up the maturity and the discipline needed to carry out such an ambitious project, which has been cautiously supported by the USA in the hopes of "spurring on Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations."
There is also negative opinion that the Union for the Mediterranean could serve to accelerate general devolution in the European Union.
Nevertheless, in spite of the obvious political problems involved, main areas of focus of the Union for the Mediterranean will be:
- improving energy supply
- fighting pollution in the Mediterranean
- strengthening the surveillance of maritime traffic and "civil security cooperation"
- setting up a Mediterranean Erasmus exchange programme for students, and
- creating a scientific community between Europe and its southern neighbours.
Crossposted from LawPundit.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
"European Digital Rights was founded in June 2002. Currently 28 privacy and civil rights organisations have EDRI membership. They are based or have offices in 17 different countries in Europe....
Statutory membership is restricted to not-for-profit, non-governmental organisations whose goals include the defence and promotion of civil rights in the field of information- and communication technology."
EDRI produces EDRI-gram, a bi-weekly newsletter about digital civil rights in Europe.
Subscribe here to EDRI-gram.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
New Urgent Preliminary Ruling Procedure is Applicable in the European Union (EU) Starting March 1, 2008
"The Treaty of Amsterdam on the European Union (EU) which came into force on 1 May 1999 states that the EU:
- must be maintained and developed as an area of freedom, security and justice;
- (an area) in which the free movement of persons is assured;
- in conjunction with appropriate measures with respect to external border controls, asylum, immigration and the prevention and combating of crime."
- Free movement of persons
- Visa policy
- EU external borders policy
- Schengen area
- Judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters
- Drugs policy coordination
- EU citizenship
- Data protection
- Fundamental rights
- Racism and xenophobia
- Police and customs cooperation
- Crime prevention
- Fight against organised crime
- External relations
- Enlargement from a justice and home affairs perspective
"This procedure is applicable as from 1 March 2008 and should enable the Court to deal far more quickly with the most sensitive issues relating to the area of freedom, security and justice, such as those which may arise, for example, in certain situations where a person is deprived of his liberty and the answer to the question raised is decisive as to the assessment of the legal situation of the person detained or deprived of his liberty, or, in proceedings concerning parental authority or custody of children, where the jurisdiction under Community law of the court hearing the case depends on the answer to the question referred for a preliminary ruling."
Hat tip to EU Law Blog, where there is more discussion of this development in detail, including a supplemental information note.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
The links are divided into two major categories:
1. GATEWAY AND MAJOR INSTITUTIONAL WEBSITES
- in the United States
- in Europe
2. ATABASE WEBSITES VIA EUROPA at
Monday, February 04, 2008
GDP Growth in the EU : Latvia Leads the European Union (EU) in the Dynamics of Economies of the Member States
We have converted that graph to a list showing the relative rank of the EU countries by GDP growth and have appended the approximate growth rate:
1. Latvia (ca. 12% growth)
2. Estonia (over 11%)
3. Slovakia (over 8%)
4. Romania (nearly 8%)
5. Lithuania (over 6%)
6. Luxembourg (just over 6%)
7. Bulgaria (about 6%)
8. Czech Republik (about 6%)
9. Ireland (about 6%)
10. Poland (between 5% and 6%)
11. Finland (between 5% and 6%)
12. Slovenia (between 5% and 6%)
13. Greece (between 4% and 5%)
14. Sweden (just over 4%)
15. Hungary (about 4%)
16. Spain (about 4%)
17. Cyprus (about 4%)
18. Belgium (about 3%)
19. Denmark (about 3%)
20. Austria (about 3%)
21. Netherlands (about 3%)
22. Malta (about 3%)
23. Germany (just under 3%)
24. United Kingdom (just under 3%)
25. France (about 2%)
26. Italy (about 2%)
27. Portugal (over 1%)
Sunday, January 06, 2008
More than 500000 children are underway as "star singers" (Sternsinger) at this time of year (predominantly today, January 6, Epiphany) in the German-speaking nations of Europe, i.e. not only (but predominantly) in Germany, as also in Austria and Switzerland.
Epiphany as a Christian religious feast most certainly first marked the nativity or baptism of Christ, although the tradition may go back to even more ancient astronomical celebrations.
The star singers are sponsored by the local Catholic churches and this year in Germany are underway under the motto "Sternsinger für die Eine Welt" (star singers for one world).
The star singers ring doorbells at households all across the land (primarily in Catholic areas), and when those doors are opened - it is considered bad luck to send the star singers away without opening doors for them - the star singers then sing songs of faith at those doorsteps in order by collection to raise money for needy children around the world. Below are some photos of the star singers:
A 2004 AP photo from Deutsche Welle
A photo of star singers in 2007 at the doorstep of the Parliament
of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous State
A blessing is written in chalk by the star singers on the front door of the household, marking the current year, together with the initials of the three Biblical kings (or wise men):
See the blessing to the left, wirtten in chalk on a door this year 2008.
It is also possible in the course of development of this custom that the initials CMB - always in that order - either initially or subsequently meant Christus mansionem benedicat, which translates generally as "may Christ bless this house".
Saturday, January 05, 2008
Europe's Shared Values are the Values of the West : Heinrich August Winkler in Die Welt : European Union Urgently Needs to Develop a "We-Feeling"
As written about Professor Winkler by the German Historical Institute:
"Prof. Winkler has been a Kennedy Memorial Fellow at Harvard University; a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C., and a fellow of Berlin’s Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg)."
Winkler is also the author of:
Auf ewig in Hitlers Schatten? Über die Deutschen und ihre Geschichte (Forever In Hitler’s Shadow? Concerning the Germans and Their History, a seminal work unfortunately available only in German);
Germany: The Long Road West (in English by Oxford University Press, 2006) in which author Winkler:
"follows the West’s long path to the division of power, the inalienable rights of humankind, and pluralistic democracy. At the end is a plea to the listener to understand the political culture of the West as “Streitkultur,” as a culture of conflict. Transatlantic controversies about political conclusions, a result of western values, are necessary again and again. It’s really a matter of the interpretation of values that both sides understand as obligatory."
In his "Die Welt" article, which we translate as The Values of Europe are the Values of the West: Why the European Union Urgently Needs to Develop a "We-Feeling", Winkler identifies some of the cardinal problems facing the EU and of Europe generally.
- Among these problems, and above all is the current lack of a feeling of togetherness in Europe, the lack of a "we-feeling", which is fundamentally necessary for what Winkler calls "Project Europe" to succeed in the long term.
- Moreover, this lack of a "we-feeling" is being exacerbated by a - too hasty - territorial expansion of the European Union which is proceeding at a faster pace than a corresponding - and absolutely essential - understanding of that expansion by European citizens, not only from a historical perspective, but also in terms of contemporary events and foreseeable (and unforeseeable) future developments. Winkler urges further necessary consolidation of the EU already formed, before any further expansion takes place, since this would only counteract such a consolidation at the present time (see in this regard euro|topics).
- Winkler also points to the power of the executive in the Europe Union as "taking on a life of its own" as institutions such as the European Commission and the Council of the European Union increasingly dominate EU affairs, to the detriment of the European Parliament and the EU's judicial organs, a phenomenon which Winkler compares to Karl Marx's characterization of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (later Napoleon III), under whose rule, as written in the Wikipedia:
"New constitutional statutes were passed which officially maintained an elected Parliament and reestablished universal male suffrage. However, the Parliament now became irrelevant as real power was completely concentrated in the hands of Louis-Napoléon and his bureaucracy."
Winkler's primary thesis in his Die Welt article is that Europe alone is not "the West", as used in common parlance, but that "the West" transcends Europe and includes not only and especially the transatlantic connection to the United States of America and its modern-era concepts of "representative government", "checks and balances" and "the rule of law", but also extends to lands of the Occident which historically share the West European legal tradition, but who must battle the burden of their periods of previous Byzantine and Osmanic oppression.
Winkler says that the job of "Project Europe" can not be built by the "political class" alone, but that European consolidation can only be achieved if the civil population, the intellectuals, the scientists and the writers/commentators all understand Europe to be their project as well. Indeed, this posting at LawPundit is one small contribution to this effort.
Winkler asks all of those named groups to work to create "a commonly shared European public sphere," which has been identified as follows by publisher Routledge in describing a book edited by John Erik Fossum and Philip R Schlesinger, The European Union and the Public Sphere:
"The European Union is often attacked for its ‘democratic deficit’, namely its deficiencies in representation, transparency and accountability, as well as its lack of popular support. Can these shortcomings be counteracted by the development of a viable European public sphere?
This book assesses the possible formation of a communicative space that might enable and engender the creation of a transnational or a supranational public. The contributors consider the EU’s democratic credentials and how well it communicates, and they also evaluate the major institutions and their links to general publics.
The European Union and the Public Sphere emphasizes a ‘deliberative democratic’ perspective on the public sphere, addressing some key questions:
• What are the prospects for a European public sphere?
• Should we think in terms of the EU having a single public sphere, or are overlapping public spheres a more viable option?
• What do this book’s findings on the question of the public sphere tell us about the EU as a political entity?
Students and scholars of European democracy, political communication, and the politics of institutions will all be greatly interested by this book."
Winkler sees the "shared value system" of "the West" as the primary common ground for the Member States of the European Union. In the last analysis, that is most certainly the glue required to establish a more unified Europe in the long-term. Shared values -- and their effective communication in the European public sphere -- are the key to the future consolidation of Europe. Those shared values also mark the limits of European Union expansion.
Cross-posted to LawPundit.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
"Back in 1945 my mother swam the Elbe to escape the oncoming Soviet army and find refuge in British held territory. Europe was a place of fear.
At midnight today (20 December 2007) the Schengen agreement that allows for free passage –without need of passports- across national frontiers within most of the European Union is extended to include her native Lithuania (and eight other countries including Latvia and Estonia). What an extraordinary contrast in 60-odd years."
As Deutsche Welle and other news sources reported in the second half of December, expanded open borders in Europe in the Schengen Zone have become a reality as nine EU countries became Schengen Zone members on December 21, 2007: Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, joining previous Schengen Zone members Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden, so that there are now 24 Schengen Zone members. In addition, Monaco honors the Schengen Agreement but is not a signatory to it.
This expansion moves the controlled Eastern border of Europe to non-Schengen Zonecountries further East, as shown below in a map linked from Telegraph.co.uk (see there for more info), where visas will now become more expensive at the border for the non-EU countries:
When Bulgaria and Romania join the EU and the Schengen Zone, the natural axis of power between East and West will be re-esatablished as the line running at the land bottleneck between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. This natural axis of power was recognized as one of the world's most important borders historically by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr., editor, The Dynamics of World Power: A Documentary History of United States Foreign Policy 1945-1973, a five-volume compendium later reprinted in paperback in 10 volumes and available through AbeBooks.
The United Kingdom and Ireland, although they are EU members, are not members of the Schengen Zone, whereas Norway and Iceland are members of the Schengen Zone, but are not members of the EU. The Schengen countries are shown at the following map linked from BBC News Europe:
That results in an interlinked Schengen Zone which looks like the following map, linked from Wikipedia, which has an extensive article on the Schengen Agreement (in the map below, the green areas are Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Bulgaria and Romania, who are not Schengen Zone members yet, but who are scheduled to join in the near future:
Not only EU citizens or travelers from Norway or Iceland but also non-EU travelers can travel freely within the Schengen countries if they obtain a Schengen Visa.
Such a Schengen Visa (issued in various categories) among other thinigs are not required for visitors from North America, Japan, most of South America, Australia, New Zealand. See the European Union visa lists at Wikipedia.
The map below linked from Wikipedia shows the Schengen Visa requirement worldwide:
Dark Blue - EU member states
Light Blue - Special visa-free provisions (Schengen Agreement, OCT or other)
Red - Visa required to enter the EU - annex I countries (negative list)
Green - Visa-free access to the EU for 90 days - annex II countries (positive list)
Grey - Visa-status unknown
For some comments about the Schengen expansion, see the blogosphere at:
- Jon Worth's Euroblog - Schengen: it's bad both ways according to the UK media and
Schengen enlargement - let’s start the debate in the UK too and take his EU test at Know the EU the Facebook way
- Colin Ross - Schengen Zone gets bigger (greetinigs to the Midlands)
- Edis Bevan - MKNE political information
- Blog - Richard Corbett MEP - The Tories and Schengen (greetings to Yorkshire)
- Slugger O'Toole - So sign up to Schengen...
- Ordovicius - Schengen Expands (with map)
- Forum Flyer Talk - Issues regarding Issuance of Visas
- CIPE Development Blog - Border-free Europe expands
- No More Passport - Just Pass the Port
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
HAPPY New Year 2008 from EU Pundit : But What is Happiness Around the Globe? Money, Culture, Social Relationships and the Science of Well-Being
"... the Dalai Lama said, "I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we are all seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is toward happiness...""
If we are to believe Daniel Kahneman, via Marginal Revolution, Nobel Prize winner in Economics in 2002, writing at Edge, then there is a very strong correlation between happiness and wealth (material prosperity), quite contrary to the old saw that money will not make you happy:
"Humans everywhere, from Norway to Sierra Leone, apparently evaluate their life by a common standard of material prosperity, which changes as GDP increases. The implied conclusion, that citizens of different countries do not adapt to their level of prosperity, flies against everything we thought we knew ten years ago. We have been wrong and now we know it. I suppose this means that there is a science of well-being, even if we are not doing it very well."
Seen on a very broad scale, material prosperity is of course important to happiness. People on the brink of starvation or suffering from serious health problems are not going to be as happy as if they were healthy. This is shown by Adrian White's Satisfaction with Life Index (shown at Wikipedia):
"The concept of happiness, or satisfaction with life, is currently a major area of research in economics and psychology, most closely associated with new developments in positive psychology. It has also become a feature in the current political discourse in the UK."
International Ranking (2006)
|13||Costa Rica||250||102||South Korea||193.33|
|16||Antigua and Barbuda||246.67||105||Republic of the Congo||190|
|21||Saint Kitts and Nevis||246.67||110||Cambodia||186.67|
|22||United Arab Emirates||246.67||111||Ecuador||186.67|
|40||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||240||129||Slovakia||180|
|48||Belize||230||137||Bosnia and Herzegovina||170|
|54||Solomon Islands||230||143||Sierra Leone||166.67|
|55||Trinidad and Tobago||230||144||Azerbaijan||163.33|
|56||Argentina||226.67||145||Central African Republic||163.33|
|60||São Tomé and Príncipe||223.33||149||Angola||160|
|63||Hong Kong||220||152||Burkina Faso||156.67|
|86||Papua New Guinea||210||175||Moldova||116.67|
|87||Uruguay||210||176||Democratic Republic of the Congo||110|
Nevertheless, Kahneman's remarks surely oversimplify the issue in thinking that happiness can all be narrowed down to facts and figures, or that happiness would be the same everywhere if everyone had the same material prosperity, which flies in the face of the experience of all of us, that there are many happy people of modest means and many unhappy people of great means.
As Ed Diener and Shigehiro Oishi write in The Nonobvious Social Psychology of Happiness:
"Bradburn (1969), in his classic seminal work on well-being, found that social relationships were one of the strongest correlates of positive emotions.... Newer evidence now suggests that close social relationships are not simply correlates of well-being, but may have causal force.... Many people focus on wealth when they pursue happiness, but research on social relationships suggests that they can be more important than material prosperity to subjective well-being. The word needs to be spread – it is important to work on social skills, close interpersonal ties, and social support in order to be happy. It is a mistake to value money over social relationships. For instance, we found that students who value money more than love are dissatisfied with their lives...."
Take a look at the happiness quotes found at many pages on the Internet, e.g. Wisdom Quotes.
Our own favorite quotation in this regard is from Abraham Lincoln, because we think that expectations determine happiness on a day to day basis. Abe said (quoted here from Quote World):
"People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be."
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