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Europe - More rewards for failure?

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  • Details of MEPs’ €4,416-a-month expenses to remain secret.

    One of the biggest bones of contention I have as a Eurosceptic is the poor accounting of monies within the European Union's administration. There have been many years during which official auditors have been unable to sign off EU budget accounts due to being unable to reconcile of balances. I have been critical of EU politicians high wages and expenses during those years when official EU policy has been one requiring the maintenance of austerity on their member states. I have also been critical about the poorly administered EU development grants going to the member states that have been creamed off by their politicians for personal enrichment.

    Transparency International, that globally respected anti corruption organisation has been disappointed by the the EU's Luxembourg court by their refusal to pass a law requiring European Parliament MEPs to provide invoices and receipts for their constituency office costs, or provide the public with details of travel expenses. The reason for the EU court refusal was on the basis that to do so "would undermine their privacy". British Parliament MPs are required to make known all such expenditure to the parliamentary administrators.


    • Recently a journalist in Malta, Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed. She was investigating corruption within the Maltese government and Maltese big business. Part of her investigation was connected to the misappropriation of EU funds. Now another journalist has been killed whilst investigating Bulgarian government politicians and officials regarding the same misappropriation of EU funds. A picture of European taxpayers funding the EU are now seeing a proportion of their hard earned cash being sent back to their home nations, but because of the convoluted way the monies are being received facilitates corrupt individuals to cream of a percentage for their families/cronies enrichment.
      So as my country (Britain) approaches the intended 29th March 2019 of leaving this dysfunctional EU, I understand that it will involve some disturbance and initial problems, but the longer term endeavour is a wise one.


      • Out of reach
        A Brexit deal is closer in Brussels than in Westminster

        The talks stall again, as doubts rise about whether any agreement can make it through Parliament
        THE ECONOMIST Britain Oct 20th 2018

        IN THE END the crunch became an anti-climax. Days before this weeks EU summit, hopes for a Brexit deal were high. But on October 14th Theresa May sent her Brexit secretary to Brussels to block a backstop solution guaranteeing that there would be no hard border in Ireland. When EU leaders met before dinner on October 17th to ask her for fresh proposals, Mrs May could promise only that progress was being made towards reaching a deal in the next few weeks. Plans for a November summit were put on hold, so an agreement may have to wait until December.

        What went wrong? Many focus on the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up Mrs Mays government. It is against any backstop implying regulatory controls between the province and the mainland (which the EU sees as preferable to controls on the land border with Ireland). Attacks on Mrs Mays deal by hardline Tory MPs have also grown, including on the idea of extending the planned transition period.

        Two new interventions tipped the balance. One was a call on the cabinet from David Davis, who quit as Brexit secretary in July over Mrs Mays Chequers compromise, to rebel against her. The second was a revolt by Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tories leader, and David Mundell, the Scottish secretary. They said special treatment for Northern Ireland, which under Mrs Mays plan would stay aligned with the EUs single market as well as in a customs union, would be seized on by nationalists wanting the same for Scotland. The United Kingdom would be threatened on two fronts.

        The Brexit negotiations have been educational for both sides. Mrs May has learnt that laying down red lines is unwise and that her negotiating position is weak. She has become expert on such arcana as the customs union and the Irish border. She has realised that Brexit is a process that could take years, not a single event next March. And she has accepted that leaving with no deal would be a terrible outcome.

        But EU leaders have learnt things, too. Their initial hopes that Brexit would simply not happen have been dashed. And like Mrs May, EU leaders want a deal: no deal would be bad for the continent as well. Above all, they have been educated in British politics, discovering the DUPs existence and understanding the pressure on Mrs May from the press and her own party.

        For although the weeks drama played mainly in Brussels, the real action now is in London. A deal on a Brexit withdrawal agreement, including an Irish backstop, and a political declaration about future relations is within reach. The obstacle is not the stubbornness of Mrs May, the intransigence of the EU or the obstreperousness of the French. It is doubts about whether Parliament will endorse the deal in the meaningful vote it has been promised.

        The doubts start with the DUP. Arlene Foster, the party leader, insists she would rather bring down Mrs Mays government than accept controls in the Irish Sea. Mrs Foster is seen in Belfast as a poor negotiator, unable to restore the provinces power-sharing executive with Sinn Fein that fell apart two years ago amid a spending scandal over a heating subsidy. In reality the DUP wants neither a no-deal Brexit nor an election that could lead to a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn, a Sinn Fein sympathiser. But Mrs Fosters very weakness will make it harder for her to cross her blood-red line against the Irish backstop.

        Next are Tory MPs. The hardline European Research Group noisily opposes Mrs Mays planned deal. It claims the allegiance of 80 MPs, though insiders say just 40 would vote against. Another handful of MPs would prefer a softer Brexit or even no Brexit at all to Mrs Mays compromise. In facing down potential rebels, the Fixed-term Parliaments Act constrains Mrs May. She can no longer repeat the tactic, used by John Major to ram through the EUs Maastricht treaty in the 1990s, of turning votes into issues of confidence that, if lost, would trigger an election.

        Then there are the opposition parties. The smaller ones will all vote against Mrs Mays deal. So will the official Labour opposition. The shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, has set six tests that any plausible agreement will certainly fail. A clutch of pro-Brexit Labour MPs have been voting with the government. But with the DUP and plenty of hardline Tories threatening to vote the other way, they are too few in number to deliver victory for Mrs May.

        That is why her advisers have been focusing on pro-European Labour MPs. To be sure of success, the government may need to win over as many as 20. At least that number are disillusioned with Mr Corbyns leadership and considering walking out of the party next year. Yet the pressure to defeat the government and maybe force an election will be strong. And the precedent of 1972, when Edward Heath needed the support of Jenkinsite Labour MPs to pass the European Communities Act, is not entirely happy. Less than a decade later, Roy Jenkins split from the party, leaving the Tories in power for 18 years.

        The big question is: what happens if MPS vote down a deal? Mrs May used to insist it would mean leaving with no deal. She may try to bounce the Commons, by making a motion on the deal hard to amend. And she has rejected calls for a new referendum. But on the prospect of no deal, she said this week that we would see what position the House would take in the circumstances of the time. And she did not demur when one Tory MP declared that the House would refuse to back a no-deal Brexit and would have to step into the negotiations.

        A final, unhelpful point is that politics happens elsewhere, too. The European Parliament threatens to veto any Brexit deal without a legally watertight Irish backstop. EU leaders have other problems, including migration, the euro, Italy and illiberal central Europe. Germanys Angela Merkel and Frances Emmanuel Macron are newly weak at home. As Mrs May knows only too well, weakness often makes compromises even harder to agree.

        æ, !

        Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


        • Jean Claude Juncker, drunk once again!

          Isn't it ironic that the EU, an overpriced, underperforming, inept, remote gang of career politicians, being superfluous and often damaging to the well being of its funding tax payers are lead by such a clown as @JunckerEU
          #EUexit now!


          • THE ECONOMIST Dec 22nd 2018 Bagehot
            The elite that failed
            Britains political crisis exposes the inadequacy of its leaders

            In the past year the British body politic has endured an astonishing list of maladies. The cabinet has lost a foreign secretary and two Brexit secretaries, not to mention lots of lesser fry. Parliament has voted to hold the government in contempt. The Conservative Party has held a vote of no confidence in the prime minister and left her badly wounded. And it is going to get worse. There is no parliamentary majority for any Brexit deal, and no way out of the impasse that wont break promisesand possibly heads.

            There are two popular explanations for this mayhem. One is that Europe was always destined to tear Britain apart, since too many Britons loathe the evolution of the common market into a European Union. A second is that Brexit has provided a catalyst for a long-simmering civil war between successful Britain (which is metropolitan and liberal) and left-behind Britain (which is provincial and conservative). Both explanations have merit. But there is also a third: that the countrys model of leadership is disintegrating. Britain is governed by a self-involved clique that rewards group membership above competence and self-confidence above expertise. This chumocracy has finally met its Waterloo.

            Consider the decision that unleashed the current disaster. David Cameron gambled the future of the country on a simple referendum51% and youre outwhereas other countries, confronted with less momentous decisions, opt for two-stage votes and super-majorities. He made the gamble only in order to see off a challenge from the Europhobic wing of his Tory party and the defection of voters to the uk Independence Party. He set great store by his ability to sell the eu at home and to win reforms in Brussels, despite the fact that he had spent much of his career grumbling about Europe and antagonising the eu bureaucracy (including removing Tory meps from their broad right-wing coalition). His resignation ignited a civil war between his former Oxford chums Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, whose mutual destruction paved the way for Theresa May. Mr Cameron then rewarded other pals for losing an unlosable referendum, with peerages, knighthoods and, in the case of Ed Llewellyn, his Eton mucker and chief of staff, a seat in the Lords and the ambassadorship to France.

            Or consider the current race for the Tory leadership that Mrs May launched last week when she was forced to promise her party that she would not lead it into the next election. The Tories are in turmoil not just because they are divided, but because the various candidates are inadequate. Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, lacks principle; Sajid Javid, the home secretary, lacks charisma; and Mr Johnson, the rights champion, is an embarrassment who this week declared that Britain shouldnt balk at leaving the eu without a deal, on the grounds that it might produce only a temporary shortage of Mars bars.

            Britains leadership crisis is rooted in the evolution of the old establishment into a new political class. This evolution has been widely hailed as a triumph of meritocracy over privilege, and professionalism over amateurism. In fact, the new political class has preserved many of the failures of the old establishment. It is introverted and self-regarding, sending its members straight from university to jobs in the Westminster village, where they marry others of their kind. It relies on bluff rather than expertise, selecting those trained in blaggers subjects like ppe and slippery professions like public relations and journalism (Mr Cameron worked in pr before going into politics, whereas Mr Gove and Mr Johnson, along with his brother, another Tory mp, were hacks).

            At the same time, the political class has abandoned one of the virtues of the old establishment. The old ruling class preserved a degree of gentlemanly self-restraint. Senior politicians left office to cultivate their gardens and open village fetes. The new political class, by contrast, is devoid of self-restraint, precisely because it thinks it owes its position to personal merit rather than the luck of birth. Thus meritocracy morphs into crony capitalism. Tony Blair has amassed a fortune since leaving office and George Osborne, Mr Camerons former chancellor of the exchequer, is following eagerly in his footsteps.

            The triumph of the new elite coincided with the erosion of other paths into the leadership class. The Labour Party traditionally recruited working-class talent through the trade unions and local government. Its 1945-51 government was successful in part because it boasted big figures like Ernest Bevin, who honed his leadership skills in the unions, and Herbert Morrison, who ran the London County Council. The Conservatives recruited from a broad range of constituencies, from the squirearchy to the armed forces and the business world (both Joe Chamberlain and Stanley Baldwin came from highly successful Midlands-based companies).

            A national bluff, called
            There are some welcome signs that the political system is beginning to develop antibodies to the rule of the chumocracy. The Labour Party has broken with the Blairite habit of dropping metropolitan mps into regional constituencies and has begun promoting first-rate local talent such as Angela Rayner (who left school at 16 with no qualifications and a child on the way). The Tory party has succeeded in recruiting impressive former soldiers such as Tom Tugendhat, as well as members of ethnic minorities such as Mr Javid, the son of an immigrant bus driver. The creation of powerful local mayors is devolving decision-making from London and creating new avenues into the national political elite.

            Unfortunately, this self-correction comes too late. The failure of Britains political class not only opened the way to the Brexit vote. It also opened the way to the capture of the Labour Party by Jeremy Corbyn and his far-left clique. Many Britons despair that they face a choice between Brexit and chaos under the Tories and socialism and chaos under Labour. If next year goes as badly as this one, they may end up with both.

            æ, !

            Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


            • The problems arising from EU's Free Movement of Labor

              Foreign posted workers are both exploited and blamed for undercutting wages. EU governments must crack down:-



              • More Abuse of EU Funding
                A Billionaire, a Coder and a Probe Into EU Funds:



                  KAL'S CARTOON The world this week THE ECONOMIST Jan 24th 2019

                  æ, !

                  Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                  • Trouble Ahead for the European Union?

                    EU polls will determine the continents fate. With votes to be cast in four months, the danger is clear:-



                    • European Union, a conduit for tax evasion, corruption and money laundering.
                      The second-smallest EU state after Malta in terms of both size and population is a magnet for money. Working cheek by jowl, 137 banks from 28 countries do business here, and its investment funds manage assets worth 4.2 trillion almost four times Spains GDP:-



                      • Eurosceptics 'on course to win more than a third of seats in EU Parliament'

                        Anti-EU and Eurosceptic forces are set to make up a chunky bloc of the next European Parliament after Mays EU elections, according to the European Council on Foreign Relations:



                        • ATLANTIC COUNCIL John M. Roberts April 4, 2019
                          Brexit Breaks Britains Parties

                          Britains political structures are falling apart and, ironically, nothing illustrates this better than the fact that the leaders of its two biggest political parties are supposedly seeking to cooperate to deliver something that they once campaigned to oppose: Britains withdrawal from the European Union.

                          Prime Minister Theresa May leads a Conservative Party whose members of parliament overwhelmingly oppose any Brexit deal she might be able to strike with opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. As for Corbyn, while most of his MPs might just support a May-Corbyn Brexit deal if it guaranteed continued membership of a customs union with the EU, a rump element remains fiercely opposed to any such outcome.

                          And in the background are splits within both parties concerning the idea of a second referendum that would let the UK electorate determine the outcome of Britains three-year long attempt to leave the European Union.

                          Curiously, while it is not possible to calculate just what will be the immediate outcome of the current Brexit imbroglio, it is already possible to gauge some of the longer-term consequences.

                          The first is the revival of the power of Parliament to impose its will on a minority government, and particularly on a supposedly ruling party in which the toughest challenges to its most important policy have come from within its own ranks.

                          This manifested itself on April 3 when the House of Commons approved, by just a single vote, a highly unusual bill that calls for an extension to the Brexit negotiating process with the European Commission and ensures that it is Parliament, not the Government, that has the ultimate right to determine just how long such an extension should last. This bill, which the Government fiercely opposed, has still to pass Britains upper house, the House of Lords, but its passage there should be assured.

                          The second is that both the main political parties are so deeply split that whatever Brexit outcome finally emerges will force major changes in party policy that will likely result in major quits and resignations amongst both MPs and, more importantly, party members and voters. Under almost all circumstances, the Conservative Party will be steadily taken over by a wing of the party that really does want to have as little to do with the EU as possible.

                          What the partys Remainer faction will do is far from clear. Since it includes many of its most experienced MPs, including a number of current and former government ministers, it is quite conceivable that they will simply retire from active party politics rather than constituting a pro-European faction in their own party or quitting altogether to join other parliamentary groupings, such as the new Independent Group.

                          In Labour, much depends on the outcome of the May-Corbyn process. Corbyn is insisting that the UK should remain in a customs union with the EU, and he has broad support from his own MPs for this approach. But there is also broad support amongst Labour MPs for a confirmatory referendum on any Brexit agreement to which Labour might accede, and on this Corbyn is far more ambiguous. On the one hand, his party chairman, Ian Lavery, is ferociously against such an idea, reflecting the view of perhaps twenty or so MPs representing seats whose populations voted Leave in the 2016 referendum. On the other, Labours foreign affairs spokesman, Emily Thornberry, wrote to Labour MPs on April 3 saying that Corbyn should not conclude a deal with May unless it included a new referendum.

                          Perhaps reflecting the fact that Labours party members, supporters, and voters overwhelmingly support staying in the European Union, Thornberry used some very blunt phrasing: Yes, any deal agreed by Parliament must be subject to a confirmatory public vote, and yes, the other option on the ballot must be Remain. Whats more, at least one senior Remainer in Mays cabinet, Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) Philip Hammond, has broken cover to declare publicly that a referendum is a credible option.

                          The third is that by initially holding a referendum, and then squabbling over how to interpret the pro-Brexit victory in that referendum, politicians in general have lost ground. The 2016 popular vote to leave the EU was, in great part, a reflection by the disadvantaged of a division in the UK that has seen some regions prosper greatly in the last thirty years or so while others have seen little or no improvement in their standards.

                          Those left behind were more persuaded by the emotional argument that it was time for Britain to take back control over its own affairs than by the Remainers calculations that Brexit would diminish Britains economic prospects with a knock-on impact on household living standards.

                          And even though it is quite possible that the balance of opinion in the UK has changed, so that a second referendum could quite conceivably result in a call for Britain to remain within the EU, its reasonable to expect that the Leave losers this time would feel twice as aggrieved as the Remain losers three years ago. In effect, frustration over being left behind for so long would be compounded by the fact then when they did a find a way to raise their voice in 2016, three years later, the British establishment somehow found a way to ignore them.

                          This would not necessarily reflect the reality of the tortured debates both between and within Britains political parties as to how they should respond to the 2016 referendum result and the ongoing debate concerning any post-Brexit relationship with the EU, but thats not the point. What counts is the sense of betrayal so many voters would feel if Britain remained in the EU.

                          The first indication of the scale of any such backlash could come as early as May 23, since that is the date set for the next European parliamentary elections. Right now, it looks increasingly likely that a prolongation of Britains three-year effort to leave the EU will indeed result in the UK being forced to take part in this poll. And the election will be conducted on a proportional representation and list basis, which unlike the first-past-the-post system used in British general elections favors parties with tightly-focused or extreme views.

                          There has been and will continue to be considerable speculation that May might seek to resolve the impasse by holding a general election. But at a time when the splits in the Conservatives appear to run deeper than those in Labour, such a development cannot be taken for granted. Moreover, the Conservative Party is currently very low on funds for fighting an election and, as a result of the Brexit tumult, it can no longer expect to receive as much cash from business as it usually does.

                          So Britain and its political parties stumble on towards an unknown destination. The next few days should bring some clarity, not least concerning whether May and Corbyn will find it possible to achieve at least a minimum of cooperation. But the future of Britains membership of the European Union may yet come back to the people for a final decision. And, given the tumult in the political parties and popular frustration with how politicians have addressed the issue, who really knows just what they will decide?

                          æ, !

                          Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                          • More evidence that too many EU politicians really don't know what they are doing.

                            MEPs accidentally vote wrong way on copyright law

                            Shortly after vote on amendments, 13 MEPs asked for vote to be recorded differently
                            Several MEPs have said they accidentally voted the wrong way on a key amendment of a new European copyright directive, meaning the most controversial aspects of the law might have been removed had they not erred.
                            The directive, which passed 348 to 274 on Tuesday, brings sweeping changes to copyright legislation across Europe, and will have an effect on the internet comparable in scope to 2018s General Data Protection Regulation.
                            But the most controversial aspects of the law are two provisions, originally known as articles 11 and 13 and referred to as the link tax and upload filter respectively by opponents.

                            As passed, article 11 strengthens the copyright protections for news publishers against the re-use of their stories by internet companies, while article 13 greatly increases the responsibility internet companies have to prevent their platforms being used for copyright infringement.
                            Before the final vote on the directive, MEPs had a vote on whether to allow one last batch of amendments. If that vote had passed, a separate vote on articles 11 and 13 would have been allowed, in which MEPs could potentially have voted to remove the controversial clauses from the final directive.
                            The vote on whether to allow the batch of amendments failed by five votes, 312 to 317. But shortly after, in the European parliaments official voting record, 13 MEPs asked for their vote to be recorded differently: 10 said they meant to support it, two meant to oppose it, and one meant to not vote at all. If those were counted, the result would have gone the other way. Despite the updated record of votes, however, the initial result still stands.
                            What do major copyright changes mean for internet freedom?
                            Since no vote was held on the specific amendments, there is no way to know whether MEPs would have removed the controversial provisions if they had had the chance to. But opponents of the copyright directive, and of articles 11 and 13, are angered by the error. The vote they clicked on is the vote they got, wrote Mike Masnick, of the tech culture site TechDirt. It is frustrating beyond all belief that we ended up killing the open internet through tricking a bunch of MEPs by switching the voting order.

                            Supporters argue that the laws even the playing field between large internet firms and traditional publishers, while opponents warn that the legislation risks creating an unfeasibly high barrier to publishing anything online, which will ultimately harm freedom of expression on the internet.

                            Courtesy of the Guardian newspaper


                            • Quality of today's Politicians at an all time low.
                              As readers may have noted from my previous posts, along with miliions of other Europeans, I am not enamoured with the politicians of the European Union. However, I am not impressed with the parliamentarians of my country the United Kingdom either. Indeed, I can't recall that at anytime in my 75 years has malcontent and loathing by the average man in the street to his ruling politicians been so apparent. This years May Day celebrations has seen a swathe of political protests accross Europe from Paris to St Petersberg. As the years go by in Europe we have seen a rise in capital transfer pass increasingly into the pockets of a concentrating number oiligarchic type mulit national corporates and hedge fund owners. Meanwhile the costs of all fuels, gas, electricity, petroleum along with foodstuffs results in lower living standards, particularly for the lesser skilled. Many can rightly say that in actual terms they now have less spending power than they had more than 10 years ago.

                              The view that I and millions of us share is that the politicians have increasingly lost power. The huge wealth owning power that lies with these multi nationals, international banks and business oligarchs has increasingly diminished the power of individual state governments. Furthermore, I believe that the EU instead of using their greater power to resist these circumstances, that by creating free movement of goods and capital they have actually enhanced this situation.
                              I'm concerned that unless the societal change that I have referred to is halted, along with signs of reversal, the political future will continue to be turbulent and if not remedied will produce variations of dysfunction and social disintegration.



                              • Lux Leaks Confession: Jean-Claude Juncker Admits He Made Major Mistake

                                Speaking before a meeting of European leaders in Romania, Juncker, who previously served as prime minister of low-tax microstate Luxembourg for almost twenty years, said he was wrong not to have acted sooner.