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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would appear that Josep Borrell has resorted to those classical arguments relating to culture, tradition and history, which any parliamentary or institutional official relies upon when they wish to maintain the status quo. Unfortunately, his comments, made in a Europe that has enjoyed 60 years of relative peace seem a little devoid of substance in 2006. Everyone is aware of the fact that the main founding principle of the ECSC was to promote peace between the central European States, it succeded in doing so. Now however we have to address more pragmatic issues, the European Union now has an inordinately larger remit of working issues - expansion beyond the fields of international trade and the creation of a Common Market have seen the introduction of a 'Social Chapter' to EU politics. In the 'Europe de vinght-cinq', Ms Malmstrom is entirely right in campaigning for a centralised European Parliament - this constant seat hopping throughout central Europe doesn't just project an image of the Parliament not being cost effective, it is indeed sound evidence that the Parliament isn't cost effective.

2:24 pm  
Blogger Una Ann Hardester said...

Change of plans: move it to Strasbourg permanently!

11:39 pm  

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