"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Friday, 7 January 2011

WHEDFU - To Infinity & Beyond

I'm still not 100% and one of the cats insists on trying my patience by continually squatting in my suitcase rather than his litter tray - I'm afraid you won't find much, if any, humour in the following post. If anyone knows some good jokes, send them my way.

Setting & monitoring their own rules Where have we heard this one before? 1,962 senior EU officials, earning between £104k and £185k pa, were entitled to three months time off work on full pay last year. They're also 'entitled' to an extra 24 days off pa if they work an extra forty-five minutes a day as part of a flexi-time scheme originally introduced for lower paid secretarial staff.
The cost of the 3 new financial quangos Critics fear the new institutions, which officially came into being on January 1, will increase EU meddling in British business and swamp the City of London with a tide of regulation. Details released yesterday show the three watchdogs will cost EU taxpayers £35million this year, rising to around £58million in three years’ time. The bodies will employ 150 staff split between headquarters in London, Paris and Frankfurt this year, with the total payroll rising to around 300 by 2014.
On Portugal and Belgium: "Everyone is expecting the International Monetary Fund to enter the country now." "Portugal is likely to access the European Financial Stability Facility soon."
Israel tells EU to put its troops where its mouth is "If you want to bring about a lifting of the closure around Gaza you should take responsibility and establish a strong, real and effective force to prevent smuggling there ... I can promise you that the minute the smuggling of arms into Gaza stops, the closure will be lifted," Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a communique to press after meeting EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton.
The EU & the banking system Banks must fear overregulation from Brussels, particularly political decisions and a lack of skilled regulators in the EU’s new financial supervisors. That more than 1000 hedge fund managers have left the UK for Switzerland, is bearable, but that big institutions such as HSBC, Standard Chartered and Barclays are threatening to leave the City if future regulations harm them, is a big hit.
Ashton has worst attendance record of all EU Commissioners. Ashton has also been absent from 40% of 42 meetings of the commission "college" in the past year, gatherings at which the EU's 27 commissioners – one for each member state – take critical legislative decisions on issues such as European regulation of the City of London.
A new wave of nationalism  An interesting article on African & European fragmentation and "the quest for identity that is causing some states to fragment is pushing others to envision neo-imperial vistas."
From building walls to building bridges and building confidence  Addressing each other as "dear friend", the two spoke at a televised conference of senior Turkish diplomats in the eastern city of Erzurum, which Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou attended as a guest.
Barroso criticises lack of progress on energy 'efficiency' The EU's 2020 targets are for a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 20% increase in the proportion of renewables in the energy supply, a minimum use of 10% biofuels and a 20% improvement in energy efficiency, all compared with 1990 levels. However, the energy efficiency target is the only one of these that is not binding. On 15 December 2010, the European Parliament passed a motion demanding that it be made so.
Joker of the week "Freedom of the press is a "sacred principle" that the European Commission will raise in Budapest in the wake of the introduction of a controversial media law, Jose Manuel Barroso said on Wednesday."
The European Polar Board "The board suggests that if European research efforts in polar regions – integral to the Earth's climate and the oceans – are bolstered by more than €300m per year, the EU could benefit from the changing face of the poles." Aka 'wants more money'.
EU to decide on Kosovan organ 'harvesting' An international panel of the European rule of law mission (EULEX) has been looking into the case against seven suspects who face charges of "trafficking human organs, organised crime and the unlawful exercise of medical activity...will in 15 days take the final decision on the indictment, whether it will be confirmed, refused or turned back to the prosecution for additional investigation. As for now the indictment is still not in force. Only if the indictment is confirmed, the trial could begin."
Thos.Cook takeover 'threatens competition' The EC said its preliminary investigation found that competition could be significantly affected by Thomas Cook's acquisition of holiday units of the Co-operative Group and of Midlands Co-operative Society.
On the road to a downgraded dollar Sarkozy wants to use the G20 platform to urge a rethinking of the international monetary system.... Key to Sarkozy's goal is re-examining the role of the U.S. dollar and the Chinese yuan.

One other thing, in all the pages of press criticism of the 20% VAT rate and union demands to lower it again as soon as possible, nowhere have I seen mentioned that national governments can hike VAT as high as they like but must have the approval of the EU if they want to lower it again.

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