The Daily Demarche
Thursday, April 28, 2005
A few EU tidbits.
I am working on a longer post, but here are a few smaller EU items to fill in until I am done:

EU Headquarters:Eurocrats in Brussels found themselves in the hot seat- literally- after news came out that two saunas have been installed in the EU HQ despite budget issues:

The European Commission was in a sweat on Tuesday after it emerged that two saunas -- one for the exclusive use of the 25 Commissioners -- had been installed in its renovated Brussels headquarters.

[snip]

The Commission moved back into the refurbished star-shaped Berlaymont building last year after being forced to evacuate the landmark in 1991 when it was found to be riddled with asbestos.

The renovation by the EU's Belgian hosts ran years behind schedule and tens of millions of euros over budget.

So why did they do it? They were "simply trying to make staff from Sweden and Finland feel at home" after they joined the EU. Now where are those prostitutes from the Netherlands?

The UK:
A British prisoner has filed suit to regain the right to vote, and the BBC has run a comparative piece on the suffrage of prisoners in the EU and the world:

The UK, it seems, has plenty of company in denying prisoners the vote. A total of eight European states - mainly from the former Eastern Bloc - have a similar blanket ban, according to the Prison Reform Trust.

In addition, five more countries have no provisions to allow prisoners to vote.

As this case could have an impact on EU common law it is not unreasonable to examine how other EU countries deal with the incarcerated and voting. Those scallywags at the BBC just couldn't resist this though:

Conviction rates among ethnic minorities in the US are much higher than rates among white people. As a result, a much higher proportion of black and Hispanic people are excluded from the vote.

This has prompted criticism and even several lawsuits claiming racial discrimination - particularly in Florida, where it is estimated almost one-third of black people are denied the vote.

The state was crucial in deciding the 2000 presidential election in favour of George W Bush and his Republican Party. Many in the defeated Democrat Party blamed the disqualification of ethnic minorities - traditional Democrat voters - for their loss.

Journalism at it's finest. Truly a shining moment for the Beeb.

FRANCE:
Faced with an ever increasing spread between the cost of labor and profitabilty one French firm has struck upon a novel solution: don't just send the jobs to Romania- send the employees too. One catch- those who relocate would be paid Romanian scale salaries:

A company in eastern France has sparked outrage by suggesting to nine workers who were made redundant that they accept jobs in Romania for a monthly wage of EUR 110 (USD 140), officials said.

[snip]

Local union leader Alain Brignon called the proposal "scandalous" but noted: "110 euros a month is still 30 euros more than Romania's minimum wage."

In France, minimum wage stands at about EUR 1,300 for a 35-hour week.


Not suprisingly none of the nine accepted- of course the unemployment benefits aren't too bad, in fact they beat the hell out of working in Romania!

I realize that everyday equally odd stories make it into the news in the US, but sometimes after a hard day in the salt mines of US-EU diplomacy I just need to chuckle at my counterparts and I just had to share those with you.

More to come tonight, hopefully.

(End of post).
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dé·marche 1) A course of action; a maneuver. 2) A diplomatic representation or protest 3) A statement or protest addressed by citizens to public authorities.

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