Thursday, November 02, 2006

It died of boredom

Feeling a little guilty about the relatively sparse coverage of the EU on the blog – slightly fatal given its title – I snuck a look at David Rennie's blog on The Daily Telegraph. He is, after all their Brussels correspondent. It was some consolation, therefore, to find that he is writing about Paris and many of his recent posts have been about anything other than the European Union.

If you really want a story throbbing with excitement though, go here to read about how the EU on Wednesday lifted a two-year ban on South African ostrich meat imposed after bird flu fears. The interesting thing there is the sudden thought: whatever happened to bird 'flu? Weren't we all going to die, or something?

With no bodies in the streets, even Open Europe is struggling to find something interesting to report in its summary. One of the really exciting stories (irony alert) is a row between Margaret Beckett, the foreign secretary, and Geoff Hoon, the Europe minister, over who answers questions on Europe. The Times had it that "Beckett gags her deputy after row over Europe role", reporting that, "A Cabinet rift has opened up…".


Far more interesting, and significant in the longer term, Al Jazeera has announced that it is going to launch its English-language service on 15 November. If its website is any guide, it will be giving the BBC a run for its money and will certainly be a more reliable source of news.

Interestingly, it turns out that the editor-in-chief, Ahmad al-Sheikh, is BBC-trained. He sums up his channel's journalistic ethos in this way: "Be accurate, factual, be there first - that's not necessarily most important - and be with the human being all the time. You don't stay at the top getting the views of politicians and diplomats."

Returning to the EU, the big news is going to be – but not just yet- a collapse of Turkey's bid to join the EU. Ankara, we are told, faces scathing criticism over its record on civil rights which, with a failure to resolve the Cyprus situation, looks pretty terminal. But then, as you read on this blog, the Turkish government has already written off any prospect of joining the EU.

With riots in Paris, but not as big as last year, the real news focus shifts to Naples, where Prodi is considering sending in the Army to restore order after a bloody, Mafia-related crime spree has claimed seven lives since Friday.

As for the European Union, it really is hard to conclude anything else other than this is an organisation that is going nowhere. It may be years before it collapses but around it there is already the stench of death. But when they get to do the post mortem, they will find it died of boredom.


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