Friday, October 13, 2006

Swedes in Schadenfreude Moment

Ooh, I like this, and it has led me to writing a post when I really shouldn't be doing.

According to Eur-activ,

Cecilia Malmström, the MEP who organised a petition to relocate the European Parliament permanently to Brussels, has been appointed European affairs minister in the new Swedish government.

This is known as the One Seat campaign. I signed it myself. Indeed.

Malmström collected one million signatures to end the monthly plenary sessions in Strasbourg. Upon handing in the petition she said that she hoped the matter would soon be dealt with as part of discussions on the EU's future institutional arrangements. The action was premised on the so-called ‘citizens initiative’, a provision on participatory democracy that was part of the proposed EU Constiutional Treaty. She and her supporters argued that the dispersion of Parliament's activities between three working places - Brussels for the daily Parliamentary work, Luxembourg for administration and Strasbourg for the plenary sessions - "has a negative impact on time and cost-effectiveness and the overall image of the European Union".

Now, Malmström's elevation looks like a, what's it called... Schadenfreude moment for the Swedes, because she got into lots of trouble with the current President of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, over the campaign. He suggested, perhaps a little unwisely,

'some Nordic country' did not suffer enough during World War II to understand the true meaning of the parliament's Strasbourg seat.

Whoops. He got into lots of trouble with other Nordic countries, notably Finland. But it did seem a bit of an undiplomatic thing to say.

Anyway, it seems to me such a shame that there won't be a Swedish Presidency during her likely tenure to bring her into direct contact with the European Parliament. The next Swedish Presidency is due in the latter half of 2009. That's a long time in politics.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Things to do on this blog

Note to self. Things to do on this blog. After all, there's been quite a lot of interesting stuff happening in the world of EU law and politics since I rather ran out of steam in the summer. Some interesting recent cases, such as Cadman on whether employers can pay long serving employees more just because they are longserving, and the judgments in the two cases about voting for the European Parliament, the ones where I had previously blogged a note about the (much more interesting) Advocate General's Opinion. The Azores case, in which the Court of Justice appears to have restricted (in the name of the state aid rules) the fiscal flexibility of states operating in favour of regions, a case which might have considerable long term consequences for Scotland. Another interesting case brought by the Commission against Ireland, in which the Court has concluded that Ireland cannot take its disputes relating to Sellafield, so far as they fall within the scope of Community and Euratom law, to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, but must deal with them within the framework of the EU. Some older case law which I think it might be helpful for me to have a think about, because I still find it really puzzling, such as the Mangold case. The whole business of the now anticipated accession of Romania and Bulgaria (ably summarised here), and what that will mean for the free movement of labour. On that score, I'd like to have a rant about a story told to me about a friend, who is having trouble bringing the Romanian member of her research team to the UK to work on an EU-funded project, because apparently he has been selected for enhanced visa-scrutiny by the UK bureaucrats, literally 3 months before Romania becomes a member of the EU and thus all visas are automatically ruled out...

Further note to self. Find time to do at least some of these things properly, even if you can't manage them all...