Posts tagged ‘Sweden’
Now that many of the European domestic leagues have drawn to a close, some fans may be enjoying a bit of football respite. But for those who crave a little more there is a chance to combine an entertaining football match with supporting a good cause.
Sweden FC, a Brussels based amateur team that includes some current and former FH’ers, together with the Permanent Representation of Sweden to the EU and the Mission of Japan, will stage a special exhibition match on 18 June to raise money for the victims of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.
The match, with kick off scheduled for 14.30 at the Stade Communal d’Ixelles, will pit Sweden FC Brussels against a Japanese team; attendees will be able to donate money and all contributions going to the Japanese Red Cross.
We hope to see as many of you there as possible for an afternoon of fun!
What a frustrating time this must be for Sweden’s EU presidency! Stockholm’s ambitious plans to demonstrate its dynamic management of the Union are becalmed. Two days after confirming the Council’s candidacy of Barroso, prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt was obliged to announce that the European Parliament had postponed until mid-September its vote on renewing the Commission president’s mandate. Urgent decisions relating to climate change and the economic crisis could well be delayed. No institutional navel-gazing was the Swedish promise, but it’s not turning out like that.
To make matters more complicated, all institutional matters must await the outcome of the Irish referendum on the Lisbon treaty, now scheduled for October 2. “There is no plan B” commented Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt on the possibility of an Irish “no” vote.
All this delay must be especially galling for Bildt, a quintessential man of action who relishes the international stage – and one of the candidates for Lisbon’s new job as Council president.
Still, a pattern is beginning to emerge. On Bastille Day former Polish prime minister Jerzy Buzek is expected to be elected president of the Parliament for the next 2 ½ years on the understanding that the Socialist group will take over for the second half of the five year mandate in the person of Martin Schulz. ALDE’s Graham Watson has withdrawn his candidacy in return for an enquiry into the financial services crisis to be chaired by German liberal Wolf Klinz.
It now seems likely that this package will ensure EPP, Socialist, ALDE and Conservative support for Barroso in September, although the greens and others will seek a further postponement.
The MEPs are keeping up the pressure on Barroso: he must set out his own policy objectives to the Parliament in advance of the EP vote.
However, I see that Barroso is planning to use his spare time between now and mid-September to campaign for a “yes” vote in Ireland. Jerzy Buzek is also planning to go there. This is surely in marked contrast to the previous referendum, when foreign politicians were asked to stay away. The point will no doubt be made that without approval of the Lisbon Treaty, the Nice rules will apply, depriving Ireland of a commissioner, maybe for five years in every 15.
Back in the Parliament, chairs of the committees are being allocated. The Conservatives – that’s to say European Conservatives and Reformists – will be pleased that Malcolm Harbour is slotted to take over as chair of the Internal Market Committee. Harbour is much respected by the Commission, in particular because of the role he played in piloting the services directive through Parliament.
I reckon Harbour is someone in touch with the real world. Having just got a new mobile phone and yet another charger to add to my collection I’m glad to see his involvement in a voluntary scheme for setting a standard for these devices so you don’t get a new charger every time you have a new phone. Practical measures like that are especially welcome in the midst of all this institutional power play, or navel-gazing as they call it.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Why is the choice of EP President more interesting than choice of Commission President? (jonworth.eu)
- Barroso in for second term (telegraph.co.uk)
Sweden has launched its Council presidency website:
And the country renowned for the openness of its government has become the first Council Presidency to use Twitter. You can follow the press secretaries of both the prime minister and minister for financial markets as well as the Deputy Antici and the environment minister’s advisor.
Trust the Scandinavians to drag Council kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
In Sweden it’s also interesting to note the proliferation of the use of social media. All main candidates, irrespective of their political belonging, are using blogs, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to interact with potential voters on the Internet. The US presidential election campaign in 2008 is a source of inspiration and all Swedish candidates are eager to imitate Obama’s success in campaigning through social media.
Swedish MEPs’ willingness to embrace digital communication channels is a factor well worth bearing in mind for anyone wanting to engage with these MEPs in the next European Parliament. More about these trends soon in an FH report about how MEPs use digital tools.
Until a few weeks ago the Swedish Piracy Party was unknown among most Swedish voters. Likewise few Swedes were aware of the upcoming elections to the European Parliament. The Pirate Bay verdict and the Telecoms Package changed all that.
On 14 April the founders of Pirate Bay, an internet file-sharing service, were sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay about 3 million euros in damages to entertainment companies for having violated copyright law. The verdict led to massive mobilization among Pirate Bay supporters in Sweden and elsewhere, claiming that the verdict was a declaration of war on a whole generation.
A few weeks later a mobilization on a similar scale took place ahead of the European Parliament’s second plenary vote on the Telecoms Package. Named in Swedish newspapers as ‘The battle about Internet’s future’, Brussels’ plan to cut off illegal downloaders from the internet (or 3 strikes and you’re out) caused outcry among Pirate Bay supporters, Swedish politicians and open citizens rights groups. All of sudden the EU was hugging the media limelight in Sweden.
This combination of events played in to the hands of the Swedish Piracy Party. From having had less than 1% support from Swedish voters, current estimates are that the party will get a seat in the next European Parliament, perhaps even two! More importantly the debate about illegal downloading and the future of the internet has been acting as a catalyst, raising the interest of the European parliamentary elections among ordinary Swedes. It remains to be seen if this interest will still be there on election day!