Vir Cantium

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Category Archives: Banging on about Europe

Human Rights Law Module 1: Fail

A parliament in a democratic country disagrees with a bunch of unelected judges. This, apparently, is the behaviour of a military dictatorship.

Only dictators defy European rights law, judge tells Britain
Europe’s most senior judge faced fierce criticism last night after suggesting that Britain would resemble a 1960s Greek dictatorship if it denied prisoners the vote and ignored human rights rulings.

From a failed law student, or reality-challenged ukuncut protester, you could dismiss this sort of idiocy. However, a qualified and experienced judge really ought to know the difference between a military junta and the one of the world’s oldest parliamentary democracies, don’t you think?

At least he doesn’t have to pass judgement on matters of human righ … oh.

Only dictators defy European rights law, judge tells Britain

Europe’s most senior judge faced fierce criticism last night after suggesting that Britain would resemble a 1960s Greek dictatorship if it denied prisoners the vote and ignored human rights rulings.

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Move Along EU Lot, Nothing To See Here

Michel Barnier

Michel Barnier: If it wasn't for those pesky auditors....

I know, it’s hard to believe that a story about auditing didn’t lead the news last Thursday, but in case you missed it:

LONDON, Feb 10 (Reuters) – Auditing firms in the European Union face more competition and curbs on their activities to restore their “tarnished” image, the bloc’s financial services chief said on Thursday.

“One can no longer say ‘move on, there is nothing to see’ on audit issues,” EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier told a webstreamed hearing on auditing in Brussels.

Policymakers also ask why auditors gave banks a clean bill of health when many of them had to be rescued by taxpayers as the financial crisis unfolded.

Ernst & Young is being probed in Britain and pursued in the U.S. courts over its role in signing off on the accounts of Lehman Brothers, the U.S. bank that collapsed in September 2008, sparking a near meltdown in the global financial system.

Of course, we do expect auditors to report where they have concerns. Equally important is doing something about those concerns. So what should people have done if the auditors of the failed and struggling banks had blown the whistle? Perhaps they could have been led by the EU’s own example, highlighted by George Osborne this week.

The British Government has put the Commission “on notice” that the accounts, which have not been signed off by auditors for 16 years because of apparent inconsistencies, are unacceptable.

16 years of qualified/unsigned accounts? As M. Barnier might put it, “move on, nothing to see”.

In The Shadow of Jacques Delors #cpc10

The EU may have taken over the old Conservative Central Office, but at least we have won back a small corner of … Birmingham. By the quayside entrance one learns that the ICC was opened (corr.) had a commemorative stone laid by one Jacques Delors…

The Race for EU Preszzzz…

Sometimes an issue comes up that you think you probably ought to care about, but you just can’t bring yourself to.

So it is with the campaign for unprompted media speculation about “Tony Blair for EU President”.

Am I excited about the prospect of a senior British political figure becoming the head of Europe? Err, no. (In fact, much as Iain Dale felt on Monday, I see.)

I think I feel as the majority of voters seem to, who shun the elections for the European Parliament: I would rather there wasn’t one, I see no need for, or advantage in, having one. In the case of the President, I would rather have “none of the above”. Since the chances are absolutely nil of someone appearing whose first act would be to abolish his own office and most of the pointless bureaucratic monolith that is the EU, I really couldn’t care less who is sitting in the middle of the motorcade.

But then again, when have any of the European political elite ever cared what the ordinary voter thinks?

The EU: Not A Place To Do Business

At least, certainly not if it involves employing people. Here is a legal ruling on a case brought, in part, by some HM Revenue & Customs employees:

Employees are entitled to accrue holiday pay while on sick leave and can carry that leave over into another year if they are too ill to take it, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled.

Okaaaay. Here’s the best bit though:

Individuals may also be able to claim for annual leave payments dating back more than 10 years, to when the Working Time Directive was first introduced, if their sickness absence had meant they were unable to take holiday, and hadn’t already claimed benefits from their employer.

Great! Well, great if your employer is, say, a large organisation that doesn’t have to worry much about having enough cash at the end of the month to pay the bills. Anywhere else, and either your employer will be pushed that bit closer to the edge, or you’ll find yourself strangely frustrated in your career path.

I will be fair here (maybe because I deal with them regularly): normally it’s not HMRC staff making life difficult for businesses, but the system they work in and their Whitehall and political masters. Therefore, this case might count as unusual in being a case of HMRC staff making like difficult for businesses entirely from their own initiative.

Trouble is, it does not seem that the principle cuts both ways, though. If one is sick during work time, can the employer dock the employees’ pay, or compel them to work unpaid overtime to make it up? Funnily enough, no. Now that would be equitable.

H/T: The Register

To Rest or Not To Rest?

So the people of Eire are to be asked again if they’ll accept the EU constitution Lisbon Treaty and the date has now been set for the 2nd October.

Which, from David Cameron’s point of view, makes for somewhat interesting timing, as it will be just days before the party conference starting on the 5th.

The Irish people might swallow the official line that although nothing’s changed since the last referendum, everything’s changed ‘cos those sweet people in Brussels have promised to be nice to Ireland this time. That will put the spotlight back on our policy of “not letting it rest there”. Hmm.

Or our Gaelic cousins might once again see sense and chuck it out yet again. A sense of relief will surely waft over central Manchester.

European Election Results in London

At the time of linking to the Euro results in London, the final totals were still to be confirmed, but the change in vote shares is interesting, particularly for UKIP:

Conservative 27.36% … up by 0.83% from 2004. Fine.

Labour 21.28% … down by 3.23%. Predictable.

Lib Dems 13.72% … down by 1.45%. The decline continues.

Greens 10.88% … up by 2.53%, the largest % increase. They’ll be happy.

UKIP 10.76% … DOWN by 1.46%. No doubt it’s all down to dodgy origami.

BNP 4.94% … up by 0.94%.

Not to be ignored, given the focus on the minor parties, is the absence of Respect this time – they took 4.79% last time.

Blairs Officially Invited to Join Tories

You know things are going badly for you when not only are the Lib Dems ahead of you in the polls, but your iconic former leader and saviour of your party’s electoral fortunes is being wooed by your main opponents.

News from Jean-Paul Floru, Conservative European candidate and (currently) Westminster Councillor is that his local branch has invited Tony and Cherie Blair, recent arrivals in his ward, to join the party. OK, so every new resident gets the letter, but one wonders whether relations between Cherie and Gordon have really thawed that much two years’ on.

Westminster Conservatives are awaiting your answer, Tony.

Is David Cameron glad that Daniel Hannan is inside the tent?

Sometimes a blogger tries to take a slightly different approach to a story or issue, or give a different but interesting angle as a point of view.

Yet with the expertly delivered verbal kicking that Daniel Hannan gave Gordon Brown this week, I can say little more than “hear hear”.

It’s not that the speech was a barnstormer – quite the opposite. It was possibly all the more effective for being a calm, measured and articulate demolition of the very foundation of Brown’s discredited approach to the recession. It’s not that what he was saying was new – many others had been saying the same thing – but here he had a chance to say it to Brown’s face. John Redwood has been prescient in his own regular dismantling of the government’s economic policy, but John, sadly, has an image problem (though I wouldn’t have thought that would stop him being on the team – Chief Sec to the Treasury perhaps?)

Famous speeches often have the benefit of good timing – and so does Hannan’s, and I’m not just referring to the digestible pop-single-length of the speech. Not only did it seem to catch a good wave on the internet, and comes just days before the G20 summit, but the attention it has drawn in the US comes just as the gloss has come off Obama’s presidency – yet before the fawning mainstream media have summoned up the guts to notice the sartorial deficiencies of The One. (Obama is less popular now than George W Bush was at the same point in his presidency.) Thus Hannan’s speech has acted as a surrogate for the frustrations and fears not only of the British public, but of many in the US too, who face near-identical problems and a leader with a near-identical blinkered and meek approach to tackling it.

If there’s one thought of my own that I’ll offer (and, such is life, it’s probably been asked already a thousand times across the blogosphere) is this:

Is David Cameron glad that Daniel Hannan is inside the tent?

Poor Jose Manuel Barroso

No, I’m not really feeling sorry for the unelected head of a “government” that seeks to control so much of my life – after all, Gordon Brown only has less than fourteen months until he’s out of No.10.

And I guess I don’t really feel that sorry for Mr Barroso (President of the European Commission) either, but does he really deserve the Curse of Jonah?

Gordon Brown has given his support for Jose Manuel Barroso to serve another term as European Commission president.

The prime minister met with the Brussels chief at Downing Street, and gave his public backing for the president to run for a second term in office.

Not that it makes much difference – I’m sure Barroso’s replacement will be straight out of the same well-worn statist Napoleonic mould.