Monday, January 02, 2012

It hasn't gone away

So few Bills are going through the Westminster parliament these days that you wonder what our MPs find to do with their time. But not so the EU, which at the fag end of the year offered its plan for delivering European renewal, sneaked out on 27 December when the rest of Europe was on holiday.

This is the annual "roadmap", the EU equivalent of the Queen's speech – which The Boy currently has on hold – issued annually by the EU commission. The current 2012 edition amounts to 129 separate initiatives.

For those who thought the EU was just about trade, they may be a tad surprised to learn that one of these initiatives is a "Communication on the engagement with civil society and local authorities in development",

Amongst other joys, the Commission to concerned to find "a common understanding on the main issues related to Civil Society Organisation and Local Authorities involvement in EU development cooperation: their added value, mandates and synergies of different categories of new and emerging actors". Readers will be pleased to learn that:
… the Communication will integrate the results of the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness taking place in Busan in 2011 by building on the Forum outcome document. The forthcoming Busan milestone is expected to bring a stronger political perspective, building on intense dialogue among stakeholders on the implementation of the commitments taken in Accra. As an example, in recent years Civil Society has been more and more recognized as legitimate actor in international for a playing a key role in the aid effectiveness debate.
Some might think that anyone who utters such murky text should be subject instantly to ritual execution, but that would make for a heavy workload. There are 128 more of such tracts.

One thus needs to look at the forthcoming Commission Communication on a strategy for the internationalisation of higher education. However, it is difficult to get past the definition of the "political context", before the brain starts shrivelling under the assault.

This, we are told is the Europe 2020 Strategy "which sets ambitious objectives for smart, inclusive and sustainable growth, and which puts a strong focus on knowledge and innovation, sustainability, employment and social inclusion and calls for increasing the share of 30 – 34 years old having completed tertiary education".

As if they had not done enough damage already, the commission also has a proposal for "an initiative on enforcement of rights of EU migrant workers and members of their families in relation to the fundamental principle of free movement of workers".

One is thus pleased to know that the commission is considering "how to promote and enhance mechanisms for the effective implementation of the principle of equal treatment for EU workers and members of their families exercising their right to free movement".

Also on the stocks is a communication on renewable energy strategy. There are "gaps and shortcomings" in the commission's current policy regime post 2020, so we are to get a "2050 Energy Roadmap".

This will explore the need for actions to meet EU energy policy goals. The new communication will "dive deeper" to explore the issues and policy options surrounding the creation of a post 2020 renewable energy framework.

Lucky Europeans will also see a revision to the strategy on endocrine disruptors, alongside the 7th Environmental Action Programme and we are all throbbing in anticipation of the proposal for a regulation on "processes, standards and metadata for European statistics".

We may also be seeing a European Immigration Code, a regulation establishing the European Police Office (Europol) and a Council Regulation modifying Regulation 2001/2157/EC on the Statute for a European Company (SE).

Viewed alongside the establishment of a European Railway Agency and an initiative to create an arbitration mechanism for double taxation disputes and a communication on car taxation, there is thus no evidence that the commission feels the euro crisis is dragging it down.

The evil empire has not gone away. It is just as active as before and it clearly thinks it is going to live forever.