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Spectacular news from the European Commission (EC): buses can now be powered by water! Really? Yes! Well, no, of course not. Unless you work the EC twitter account. The tweet has a clip attached which explains that the bus is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. Hydrogen is not water, but hey.
On 23 April, the European Parliament think tank published an information sheet on Online disinformation and the EU’s response. And, as one has come to expect whenever the EU tries to be an authority on fake news and disinformation, it’s pretty bad. We are presented with a document that either states the obvious, states things like they are obvious, when it should argue them, or adds ‘supporting links’ to the text that do not actually support the narrative.
“Without a strong Europe, the populists win – and then there will be war. In Germany, it is up to the SPD [Social Democrats] to prevent that. We have, in the coalition agreement, decided on a [new] start for Europe, that [start] must come now. To that start, I want to contribute, in the future as well.”
Verhofstadt calls it “a weakness” that sovereign member states of the European Union can pursue their own foreign policy, separate from the EU. For whom? Not for the member states, so surely it is a weakness for the EU. Verhofstadt would rather have it be the EU that “shoots missiles” and is more than willing to take away member states’ sovereignty in order to be the one that does the shooting. One cannot accuse Verhofstadt of not being open about this.
The impression that is strongest, after reading the article, is that of one or two anonymous interns have been hit hard by things that happened to them. What happened to them, doesn’t become completely clear. What does become clear, is that Politico can’t really prove its – repeated – accusations of a ‘culture of sexual harassment’. It proves inappropriate behaviour took place, just as well as it proves that this behaviour wasn’t accepted.
So we have a supra-national organisation broadly claiming the accomplishments of its member states as its own. Using, it might be added, not its effectiveness, but spending as ‘claim to fame’, which is the worst possible measurement. Then we are confronted by a Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development who seems unsure about the meaning of a decrease in ODA. Who, in reaction to this, blindly insists “we need to do more”.
Last, but not least, there is an interesting case of “phrasing!” going on. Based on initiatives (PDF) dating back to 1994, the EU has engaged in “regular meetings” between EU institutions and “European churches, religious associations and non-confessional organisations.” However, “this time the inter-religious dialogue will focus on the issue of discrimination and around the world.”
In Brussels, the European Parliament is located at Wiertzstraat 60 less than 500 grueling meters removed from Brussels-Luxemburg Station. If we assume the MEP’s survive this five-minute walk, they are confronted by the fact that the NMBS, the Belgian Railways, operates only one direct train to Brussels Airport every hour, which takes them there in 21 minutes. Now, one train every hour isn’t a lot. But if you miss it, there is another train 8 minutes later, which takes you to Brussels Noord, where you transfer.
“whereas, because of terrorism and radicalisation, there is much stereotyping of religions, which in turn is bringing about renewed upsurges of hate crimes and hate speech motivated by racism, xenophobia or intolerance of opinions, beliefs or religions; whereas it must be pointed out that it is the perverse misuse of religion, and not religion per se, that is one of the causes of radicalisation.”
The clip also claims that MEP’s stress that EU taxpayers should not have to pay more. Instead, the EU needs to find new, own resources. The clip’s suggestions?
“a financial transaction tax, a digital sector tax, and a share of corporate tax revenue or environmental taxes.”
It is hard to see how more taxes are ‘own resources’, rather than, well, more taxes.
The delegation went to Slovakia for two days, which is not long for what is a complicated investigation. It then took time to go and visit the place where the bodies were found. Which just sounds like some sort of tourist-trip: hardly a place to go for a delegation investigating the political implications of the murder, especially when there isn’t much time.