Archive for November, 2005

Polish bigotry – why bother?

27 November 2005

Reacting to the criticism raised by myself and others on the result of the Polish elections and cabinet formation, some people wondered why this should be of any concern to us non-citizens and non-residents. Here are my considerations:

  1. Universal values are at stake
  2. We are in the same boat together
  3. Poland could be committing a breach of contract


Court of Auditors lambasts member states on EU spending

15 November 2005

The European Court of Auditors today published its annual report on EU spending in the year 2004. This is the first full budget year of the enlarged EU reviewed by the Court in its new, post-enlargement, composition, and the positive effects are already visible: The Court is much more outspoken than previous years in its criticism of the EU member states.

And rightly so! After all, no less than 80% of the EU budget is spent directly by the administrations of member states, not by the European Commission. And the only reason why the Court has refused, for the eleventh year in a row, to deliver a Statement of Assurance (Déclaration d’Assurance, DAS) on the 2004 budget, is that it finds it impossible to check whether spending by the member state administrations, not the Commission, is done in accordance with the rules. (more…)

Bigotry is back in Europe’s East

4 November 2005

Most Western European news reports on the outcome of the Polish elections qualified president-elect Lech Kaczy?ski as a “conservative”, and the new prime minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz of the same Law and Justice party (PiS) as a “technocrat”. My impression is that they are worse, and that the new leadership of Poland – which has equally many votes in the Council of Ministers as Spain and almost as many as France, Germany, the UK and Italy – is at worst a bunch of conspiring bigots, and at best another provincialist pain in the European ass. This is not a good thing – be it for Poland or for Europe (at least if you consider modernisation of Europe’s economy along Blairite lines as an improvement compared to the current situation). It is not a good thing either for those who would like to see Eastern Europe shed the remnants of its totalitarian past today rather than tomorrow: The PiS election victory sets a bad example in a region where bigotry and blame tactics often serve as red herrings allowing societies to avoid confronting itself with some painful truths and memories.

The only positive note directly after the elections was that defeated candidate Tusk’s party Civic Platform (PO) would become the voice of relative reason in the government coalition. By now we know that PO has dropped out of the talks, as a result of which the new government will depend on several smaller even-further-right parties for its support. Among these maverick Andrzej Lepper, who has become deputy Speaker of the Sejm. This is not going well…