Friday, June 23, 2006

Patriotism, French-style

FE has got hold of the breakdown of signatures on Written Declaration 33 which is doing the rounds asking for the insanity of the Strasbourg trip to be abolished.

So, leading the way are Swedish MEPs, with an impressive 57.9% signing the declaration; Britain is a close second with 56.4% (although, given how f****** impossible it is to get to Strasbourg from anywhere in the UK, one wonders who are the 42.9 who HAVEN'T signed??).

Anyway, the real story is who has been whipped by their governments not to sign. Let's see: France 0.0% of MEPs have signed. What a shock. Also, they got to their neighbours pretty quick: Luxembourg 0.0%; Spain 1.9% and Belgium 8.9% are all amongst the lowest signatories.

As a quick aside, if anyone from Slovakia, Malta or Greece reads this: what have the French offered you in exchange for none of your MEPs signing this? Answers on a postcard (or in the comments box)...

Mannekin Pis

UPDATE: FE now knows why Slovakia are siding with the French: they just feel sorry for them!

'Super Regulators' are here to save us

Why does the Commission exist if not to create regulation? It is certainly not there to get rid of it, if that were so then the cafés and restaurants in the EU Quarter in Brussels would all be out of business.

According to the European Voice, the Commission are proposing a new 'Super Regulator' that would iron out differences in the single market. Apparently this will not lead to the dissolution of national regulators, however, Fortress EU is suspicious - so many times have we seen a moderate idea put into the EU sphere only to see the regulators take the ball and run with it taking it too far.

This idea was rejected by the Member States a few years ago as it was rightly felt that Member States' own regulators were more in tune with the needs of their own citizens. The Commission believes that regulation is now needed with the arrival of barrier-breaking broadband. What the Commission doesn't seem to recognise is that the internet is the ultimate regulation breaker as companies can, and will, simply move outside the EU. We will be left with a level playing field with no European players

The Grapevine

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Career opportunity

FE knows that the Labour Party is in trouble, what with the TBs not talking to the GBs and no-one at all talking to John Prescott, but we thought that the Labour MEPs had escaped all of that internal bickering and childish sulking.

Well, apparently not, as the Labour Party are hiring someone to teach MEPs and MPs how to talk to each other.

Didn't realise things had got that bad...

Mannekin Pis

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Boring invitation of the week...

This has to be a contender for most boring event of 2006 - a "Dinner Invitation from the Packaging Federation", including such highlights as "a presentation from the EU steel packaging association", a chance to "assess the impact of deposit systems on beverage containers" and an update on a study undertaken for the DTI - Packaging in the Third Millennium.

Mouth-watering stuff - FE's place has been reserved already!

(Note: in deference to both the Packaging Industry and Caroline Jackson MEP who is hosting the event, it seems only fair to point out that the packaging Industry are known to lay on some of the best free food and booze around. They know their industry is boring as s***, and they make up for it with spectacular drunken jollies. We salute them!)

Mannekin Pis

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Lib Dems get web savvy - at a price

Some Parliamentary staff obviously have far too much time on their hands.

Tory staffer, and all-round techno-geek, Mike Wood seems to have found the flaw in the Bromley Liberal Democrats' cunning plan to buy Google Ads for searches done on the name of their opponents.
If you click on the Ben4Bromley advert that comes up when you search for Bromley, it will cost the Lib Dem campaign 39p, but if you click on the advert that comes up when you search for Bob Neill, the Liberals have to cough up a painful 92p per click.
A few of those and they'll have to find another £2.4m donor (if the FBI doesn't find them first).

Fat Boy

Constitution: the rise of the undead

Communication from the European Commission to the European Council, June 2006, with the heading "Europe in the World" was sent around today. That title alone makes FE nervous.

But it's ok. The Commission makes it very clear that the document "is not intended to re-open a debate on the future of the
Constitutional Treaty or to redefine the respective responsibilities of the different institutional actors"
. Phew, that's settled my nerves.

As you are all very busy, high-powered people with better things to do than read this gumf, FE has provided a few juicy extracts, which clearly are nothing to do with the Commission forcing the Constitution through using the back door:

"Proposes that Member States and the EU work together to address...how to develop and implement a European external policy" (Hmm, wasn't there something in the rejected Constitution about a European Foreign Policy and Foreign Minister...?)

"We have however yet to resolve the question of EU representation in international economic and monetary institutions."

"The completion of the European area of freedom, security and justice, together with the fight against terrorism, are vital to our internal security" (Hmm, that sounds a lot like a demand for a European Police Force. Wasn't there something about that in the rejected Constitution...?)

"the governments of the Member States must consider what is more usefully achieved at the level of the EU" (I won't even bother with a sarcastic remark. I think we all know the answer to this one.)

"Appropriate arrangements should be further developed for EU Special Representatives" (Aha, the EU diplomatic corps we are all so fond of...)

And then, near the end, finally, we get some honesty about what this document is all about: The objectives of the Constitutional Treaty remain valid and would increase the scope to address the challenges for the EU’s external policy.

Yep, they were hoping you'd got bored and had stopped reading before you got to that bit. The back-door Constitutional movement is alive and kicking, and they're winning.

Mannekin Pis
fortresseu@gmail.com

Friday, June 09, 2006

Whodunnit?

The FE boys and girls were out in Place Luxembourg last night, and from what we hear the Conservative Assistants are very keen to find out the real identities of the FE bloggers. I'm afraid they're going to have to continue what I was told was a "witch-hunt" around the Parliament's corridors yesterday, but it's nice to know that people have been reading.

Sadly, FE's sources in the Lib Dem delegation report that there wasn't quite the same level of interest amongst the Liberal assistants. But then they were probably too busy helping their bosses ruin the country...

Mannekin Pis

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Westminster Vacancy

In case any of you Euro Parliament staffers out there are bored with Brussels and fancy a change, FE has found a fantastic job opportunity going in Westminster.

Just make sure you don't take any shit from your new boss...

Mannekin Pis

Breaking booze news

Ever willing to break the REAL big news on the day Al-Zarqawi died, FE has discovered that the Commission want us to stop drinking!

It's true - not content with depressing smokers using messages about their sperm and their lungs, the Commission now want to depress innocent binge-drinkers with the same on alcohol bottles (though it will probably be less about sperm counts).

Health warnings on beer: that's going to be unpopular in, let's see, Germany, Britain, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, and well that's enough to ensure that this will never happen. Have the Commission gone mad?

Or are they just trying to put Place Luxembourg out of business?

Mannekin Pis

Nationalism Alive and well in the Parliament!

What joy to see all the virtues of nationalism at work in the recent European Parliamentary football tournament!

National stereotypes abounded as the Germans arrived ridiculously early, complete with a mini marquee, the Italians refused to play the Cypriots with a Greek referee, the Irish got disqualified for having too many foreigners and the English forgot to turn up for their Quarter Final because they were all in the pub watching the real England game!

It was great to see that parliamentary staff forgot about all this pan european identity claptrap and wear their national shirts with pride! Arguments abounded, insults were thrown and at least once, blows exchanged!

Ah, the joys of European integration! Well at least we can rely on sport to bring us all together!

Hairy Canary

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Britain: crap

A dashing young Swedish MEP called Cecilia Malmström has started a campaign to get rid of the Strasbourg Parliament.

The idea, apparently, is to get 1 million signatures from across Europe who are in favour of scrapping the monthly trip to the Alsatian city, and then present it to the Commission, whilst reminding them that 1 million signatures equalled a "citizens initiative" according to their beloved yet (alas) dead constitution. So, a citizens initative to get rid of part of the EU - these pesky voters just don't know what's good for them.

Anyway, Fortress has discovered that Britain is lagging way behind the rest of Europe in signatures on this petition - pretty shocking given that we're probably the most Eurosceptic nation out there. So, FE issues a call to arms: get yourself down to oneseat.eu and sign up - don't let the Germans beat us at this!

Mannekin Pis
fortresseu@gmail.com

He's alive!

FE is hearing unconfirmed reports that Robert Kilroy-Silk actually turned up to the European Parliament last week. And a quick glance at the Written Questions page on the Parliament website confirms that he has even been asking some Parliamentary Questions!

Is Kilroy actually thinking of doing some work - such as cutting down on the Brussels champagne and limousine MEP lifestyle like he promised to? Or, alternatively, judging by the content of the questions:

To ask the President of the Commission: "Which national leader was he referring to when he claimed that they 'don’t give the EU institutions the means to achieve' the goals agreed at summits?"

...is he just turning up to collect his paycheck, and indulging in some Blair-bashing by proxy?

Mannekin Pis
fortresseu@gmail.com

Monday, June 05, 2006

La vie est belle for some

Q. What do Belgians and the European Union have in common?
A. Both seem to take every available opportunity not to work.

Over the last 5 or so weeks, there have been a total of 5 bank holidays. Some are just Belgian holidays, which the Parliament follows, but others are European ones that they add on top.

On one occasion a couple of weeks ago, one holiday happened to fall on a Thursday, and as I turned up to work in the Parliament on the following day, I found all the lights off. The Parliament decided to get one up on the rest of Belgium by making a long weekend of it.

On top of this, much of the European Parliament and Commission civil service don't have to work Friday afternoons, they pay minimal income tax of around 6%, take long paid holiays and have a job for life. One doesn't have to think too hard as to why those who manage to get a job and make all the regulations are institutionalised and love the project, yet can't understand why there is a problem of communication between the EU and joe Public.

The Grapevine
fortresseu@gmail.com

Vote Blue, Go Greenow!

According to FE's sources, Emma Greenow, assistant to Welsh MEP Jonathan Evans, has made it onto the candidates list for Bridgend.

Whilst the last candidate Alun Cairns was beaten by Labour in 2003, Greenow will be hoping to make the most of the current surge in popularity of the Tories and the mayhem that seems to be occurring in the Labour Party.

At 23 years of age she is making the most of Cameron's policy to encourage young women in the Tory party. She obviously made an impression on the local Tory association, the question now is whether or not the locals will be immune to her pink charm.

The Grapevine
fortresseu@gmail.com

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Priestley gets tough!

Finally, the European Parliament has decided to start trying to solve the genuine problems experienced by ordinary folk during their day-to-day working lives. This Communication from the Secretary General lays down the law for those low-life reprobates who abuse freedom of speech, force others to take notice of them, and generally leave a bad taste in the mouth. That's right: spammers.

The S-G is going to get the bastards! No more will you have "Babysitter Needed for My Goldfish"; "Train ticket Brussels-Addis Abbaba for Sale"; Written Declaration on the treatment of political prisoners by the Queen of Hearts"; or "Appartment to rent in unknown Brussels s***hole miles away from the Parliament".

From today, no more of that, the S-G says. Well, we at Fortress Europe commend the man. He has our wholehearted, unreserved support. Except it won't work. One of the many examples that got through today (supposedly the first day of the new regime):

"Hello everybody,
sorry for spamming, I really am sorry, but I lost my wonderful earring today, thus if anyone has found it, please let me know!
It is in the shape of the butterfly, not too big, full of coloured crystals.

thanks for help,
Have a nice day everybody
Ivana K."

Sigh.

Mannekin Pis
fortresseu@gmail.com