Wednesday, August 30, 2006

EU minimum wage

The French Europe minister was quoted yesterday saying “We must achieve real coordination of our economic policies, notably within the eurogroup” and also proposed the creation of a minimum European salary.

If I were a Pole whose average recent wage was €6,000 I wouldn't mind a bit, but I am not sure I would if I were a Dane with an average of €44,000 in the same year.

The Grapevine

The only thing worse than being talked about...

It's nice to know that Fortress hasn't been forgotten. Both the Tories and the UKIP staffers are still intrigued as to the identity of your host, our sources tell us. In fact, in the last few days, certain Tories have been naming their prime suspects.

Fortress learns from recent discussions in the canteen that Mike Wood - now a Conservative candidate for Assembly elections in Wales - and James Holtum, the erstwhile press guru, are top of the hit list.
Nope, it's not them...

Also accused were Emma McClarkin, long-time Assistant to Roger Helmer MEP, Keith Newman, the new Assistant for Chris Heaton-Harris MEP, Emma Greenow, fellow Welsh Assembly candidate, and UKIP press officer Gawain Towler.
Wrong again...

But it's nice that we're making an impression.

Fortress EU

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Helmer TV

Roger Helmer MEP, he of the Reinstate Roger campaign, has today launched a DVD to promote his work in the Parliament. Fortress hasn't managed to get hold of a copy yet, but we reckon there must be a real contender for Understatement of the Year in the disclaimer:

"The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the European Parliament"

You don't say...

Mannekin Pis

Monday, August 28, 2006

Frogs and bicycles

Fortress was in a meeting today, with several MEPs present and a Commission official who was making a presentation. The Commission official almosr made Fortress choke on his coffee when he said the following:

"incentives need to be put in place to make countries think more 'European'. Countries need to put narrow self-interest aside and work together"

That would be like the unelected, unaccountable Commission that is callously ignoring democracy and forcing through an unwanted European Constitution against the wishes of the people of France and Holland

Anyway, the official in question was clearly a bit crazy as he spent half the time talking about boiling frogs, the merits of panda bears, adn why British bicycles are crap. Fortress isn't kidding: these are the sort of meetings that happen every day in the European Union...

Mannekin Pis

Friday, August 25, 2006

A tip for avoiding police suspicion

A second suspect has turned himself in for questioning in Tripoli in connection with the attempted bombing of two German trains by Islamic extremists in July.

The man's name is Jihad Hamed. Perhaps a trip to the Deed Poll office would have been a good idea, maybe round about June...?

Mannekin Pis

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Immigration...again

The news recently (particularly in the Red Tops) has been all about immigration mainly from Eastern Europe, including the spectre of Bulgaria and Romania. Britain is one of the few countries to have opened its borders to the rest of Europe (cf my rant on Euro-loving sceptics) and has therefore taken the lion's share of immigrants from Eastern Europe. If the other EU countries were to be good European citizens like the Brits and the Irish, then this 'problem' would be dissipated.

However, this is to assume that it is a problem in the first place. Most of the EU immigrants (migrants?) that have come from Eastern Europe have generally filled gaps in Britain's Labour market. I don't hear many complaints from people who have actually been on the receiving end of services being provided by skilled labourers from Poland. If anything, they say that the services are cheaper, more reliable and better quality than what the local population can provide.

This is not to say that the issue should not be addressed. For example, according to the Express, new immigrants could be elligable to up to £10,000 in tax credits, depending what their previous salary was (which being in Romania or Bulgaria would be on average considerably lower than the UK's).

Fortress is looking forward to accession in January, pushing the belief in a wider and shallower European Union.

The Grapevine

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

UPDATE

After Fortress moaned about security yesterday, it actually turns out that the EU are doing somthing about it. A source tells me that in the Commission's Draft Budget for 2007 there is a specific undertaking to 'reinforce the security in the buildings of the Commission in Brussels'.

Well, at least the bureaucrats are well protected...

Mannekin Pis

Monday, August 21, 2006

Welcome Back

Fortress managed a wry (if slightly nervous) smile today when discovering that, in these times of heightened security the European Parliament are clearly very serious about protecting their MEPs and staff. Any would-be terrorists still have to contend with one sleepy security guard and an open gate (which means you don't even need a pass to get in), as witnessed by Fortress as we walked through this morning.

Whatever happened to the European Area of Freedom, Security and Justice?

Mannekin Pis

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Brussels Bad Sports

Kate Hoey warns of Brussels Bad Sports

Kate Hoey, the former Sports minister, has criticised Brussels for moving into the world of sport. A report by Commissioner Jan Figel has looked at the possibilities of using sport as a method for economic and cultural integration (I didn't realise that sport was an exclusively EU affair. Come to think of it, I am not sure that any culture is). Unfortunately this is nothing new - Romano Prodi, after Britain's success in the Olympics, claimed a victory for the EU and suggested that all athletes carry the EU flag alongside thier own national flag.

Hoey has put forward good arguments, such as the successes of Wimbledon and the World Cup in Germany which both managed to do perfectly well without EU assistance. Fortress would welcome sharing of best practice for sport promotion, and schemes to help the disadvantaged (not through legislation, but again through best practice and information sharing), but is dubious about the real motives behind this white paper.

The EU should beware - the general public maybe disinterested in politics, but they are certainly not disinterested in the politics of sport and any action will be noticed this time.

The Grapevine