M.E. Synon

Why you can’t live in a ‘country’ in the eyes of the EU

Here is a lesson from today’s European Commission midday press conference on how EU propaganda works, and works at all times and at every opportunity. Whenever a commissioner appears on the podium to make a statement, a specially-designed slide is projected onto the giant screen over his head. Today Commissioner Johannes Hahn (an Austrian, you’ve

Is José Manuel Barroso after the top job at Nato?

José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, put on a suspiciously big-time press conference today to launch what were really no more than some modest proposals to standardise the European defence industry. On the podium with him at the Berlaymont, and you’d have to ask why, since they ended up looking like backing singers,

Why William Hague’s ‘red card’ plan won’t work

Alas, now we know William Hague has joined the list – and it’s a long list – of British government ministers who do not understand how the European Union works. His idea that national parliaments should demand a ‘red card’ system so they can block unwanted EU legislation is muddled in several ways. First is

The EU’s cut-out-and-keep economic timetable

This morning two European Commission technocrats and a spokesman held an off-the-record press briefing to explain the EU’s economic ‘governance.’ (Governance is the word eurocrats use instead of the more precise word ‘government’, because that word panics the Anglo-Saxons.) They gave it an hour. That’s called optimism, but an hour is about the maximum level

The euro-elite responds to Nigel Lawson’s ‘dinosaur argument’

I’ve just come from a briefing with a European Union official. He was asked whether Lord Lawson’s call for Britain to leave the EU was a ‘dinosaur argument.’ In response, the official paused. He smiled in an indulgent way. He tilted his head: ‘Mrs Thatcher’s finance minister, who is the father of such a good cookbook

Olli Rehn bosses George Osborne around

Olli Rehn, the European Commissioner who is in charge of economic affairs, called in the Brussels press corps this afternoon to announce the conclusion of his ‘in-depth review of the macroeconomic imbalances in 13 member states.’ I sat through the launch, and the questions and answers, noting that at no time did Rehn or any

Cyprus: This isn’t a tax, it’s a bank raid

You know this levy on Cyprus bank deposits? It’s not a levy. A levy is a kind of tax, and what is happening to the people with bank deposits in Cyprus is no kind of tax, although today the European Commission spokesmen have been insisting it is. How can it be a tax when the

EU Budget: Beware the European Parliament’s veto power

James Forsyth seems as happy as any Tory today, cheered by David Cameron’s prowess in the EU Budget negotiations. Even better for Cameron, he says, is the idea that the European Parliament might veto the deal in a secret vote: this is ‘absurd,’ just a rumour. Even if it does happen, it will only point

Abraham Lincoln, the ‘specious humbug’

This post by M.E. Synon is the first in a series about Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln. A counter-argument will be published tomorrow, followed by a comparison of screen and literary adaptations of the last months of Abraham Lincoln’s life. Last week in Dublin there was the European premiere of Spielberg’s film on Lincoln. Why Dublin? Because the star

The EU renegotiation pantomime

Today’s midday press briefing at the European Commission was of course dominated by questions about the Cameron speech. This was despite efforts by Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, Barroso’s spokesman-in-chief. First she tried to downplay the implications of the speech by making an anodyne statement welcoming democratic debate in member states. Then she announced that questions on