The end of summertime?

29 Oct

 

Watch

Ticked off

An influential member of the European Parliament wants the practice of turning the clocks back and forward for summer and winter abolished.

Herbert Reul, the chairman of the parliament’s industry committee, says it’s a waste of time.

Many people will be surprised that the act of changing the clocks is actually governed by an EU directive.

One of the main reasons that Reul believes the practice should be done away with is that it doesn’t help Europe’s stated aim of saving gas and electricity.

It is likely that the European Commission would oppose any changes because they carried out a consultation into season time changes as recently as three years ago.

This argument has been lost, Herbert. Next!

Border-free Europe will cost more

5 Oct

The European Commission says it needs another €13 million to instigate its new hi-tech system of tracking people throughout the EU.

It will bring to €63 million the cost of the Schengen Information System II – brought in to help secure a continent no longer divided by border controls.

But the advantage of being able to travel from one country to the next without showing a passport comes at a cost. The SIS II system will consist of a database to help police share information such as car registration numbers and alert officials in other countries to people who have been arrested.

The system has been in force for seven years but with the enlargement of the Schengen area of countries (where there are little or no border controls at normal times – the area does not include the UK) better technology, using biometric data is needed.

It is hoped SIS II will be operational by the end of 2012.

Easy Rider (or how 15 existing EU directives are being replaced with five regulations)

4 Oct
Motorcycle

Riding on the crest of EU regulation

Motorbikes are going to have to meet tough new standards for safety and the environment under plans announced by the European Commission today.

Among the proposals is the requirement for bikes to have automatic braking systems.

And they will have to be fitted with equipment to turn the headlight on automatically whenever the bike is being ridden.
 
New limits for toxic emissions are also to be introduced under the proposals.
 
There is concern that while the number of accidents involving other means of private vehicles is slowly decreasing, there has been no significant fall in motorcycle crashes.

The move will also, hopefully, simplify legislation in this area. Currently there are 15 different EU directives governing safety and environmental standards. Under the proposals they would become five regulations.

Worth thinking about as you drive in the sunset tonight.

 
 

Here’s something to get your teeth into

16 Sep

Bad teeth

Sweet tooth


Here’s an interesting question. What is the involvement of one of the world’s biggest sweet and chocolate manufacturers in a bid to get the EU to do more to improve people’s teeth?

It all stems from a call yesterday by two Euro MPs who said they were concerned that Europe’s poorest citizens had the worst gnashers.

Less than half of Europeans have all their natural teeth, they said, and the MEPs want the EU to urge countries to do more to promote dental care.

They said people should be making use of “fluoride-containing toothpaste, flossing, chewing sugar-free gum and having regular dental check-ups.”

Interesting that sugar-free gum is mentioned in that list as the MEP’s call was signed by, among others, the Wrigley Oral Health Programme.

That’s Wrigley’s who sell millions of packets of chewing gum and sweets every year, including Skittles and Starburst and are now owned by chocolate manufacturer Mars.

EU pledges €32m to save the bees

14 Sep
Bee

A sting in the tail

The EU announced today that it is to increase the amount of money it is spending to subsidise the beekeeping sector.

Over the next three years the EU is to inject €32m (about £26m) per year into national programmes to try to reverse the alarming decline in bee numbers.

There are beehives in every European country, including 274,000 in the UK. Spain has the most, with nearly 2.5 million.

A good piece of buzz-ness!

*Breaking news* Commissioner “appalled”

14 Sep

“This is a situation I had thought Europe would not have to witness again after the Second World War.”

Viviane Reding, vice-president of the European Commission responsible for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, says the expulsion of groups of Roma from France is a “disgrace”.

It is an extraordinary statement which does away with usual diplomatic language.

You can read her statement here.

Joining the party

8 Sep

Party

But who will be invited?

Despite frustrations and apparent increasing scepticism within its own borders, EU membership still holds significant attractions for some.

  • On Sunday, Turkey holds a referendum on constitutional reform. The outcome could have a significant bearing on whether its bid to join the EU receives a major boost. As part of the reforms the country’s Prime Minister wants to restructure the judiciary and limit the power of the army – something that would go down well here in Brussels. Opinion polls put the result currently neck and neck.
  • And in Croatia, a country much further along the road to EU accession, the government has set about privatising its shipyards. At the moment, the state pays huge subsidies to the yards, which is contrary to EU competition rules.
  • Meanwhile Iceland, which seemed determined to join the EU at the height of the economic crisis, appears to be getting cold feet. Iceland wants to be able to catch more mackerel than EU quotas would allow and public opinion appears to be heading towards opposition to membership. Four Icelandic MPs this week called for a parliamentary vote against joining the EU.
  • Over in the UK this morning a Conservative MEP, Daniel Hannan, has launched his bid for a referendum in Britain on a straight-forward question about the EU: In or Out?

It’s a question being asked by some on the inside looking out and on the outside looking in.

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