Posts Tagged ‘Brussels’

Here we go again! Islamic terrorists strike Brussels airport — 11 reported dead

March 22, 2016

There was shouting in Arabic and then two explosions in the departure lounge at Zaventem Airport in Brussels. No doubt it is in retaliation for the capture of the Paris terrorists. Another explosion and shots are reported from an underground train station (Molenbeek?).

Some reports say that 11 are dead.

The vast majority of terrorist activities in Europe (not forgetting Anders Behring Breivik) are by Muslim fanatics.

It is not entirely coincidence.

Only a few Muslims are terrorists, and all religions generate their fanatics, but Islam seems to allow for a greater glorification of jihad and the indiscriminate killing of infidels than most. And Islam has more of its priests exhorting its followers down the terrorist path than other religions.

Denying that in the name of political correctness serves no one.


 

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EU Corruption Report: Brussels bureaucrats kill chapter on corruption in EU Institutions

February 3, 2014

The EU corruption report is out today and is getting a lot of media attention. It has no big surprises and estimates the cost of corruption directly in the member states to be about 120 billion € which is about the same size as the EU budget and is about 1% of the total EU GDP at about 12 trillion €.

But – in a major victory for the faceless bureaucrats of Brussels – the report does not consider corruption within EU Institutions as it was supposed to. My perception is that the corruption level within the EU Institutions is as bad as in the worst member state. In Brussels where the bureaucrats are drawn from member countries, the practices they employ are imported from what they are used to in their home countries. And Brussels – in my little experience and in my opinion – is perfectly suited to levelling-down and to the spreading of the worst practices available.

EU Observer: The European Commission has decided not to include a chapter on EU institutions in a report on corruption in member states …. The original plan, announced in 2011, was to assess corruption across the member states and within the EU institutions. EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom is set to release the first bi-annual report on Monday (3 February), around six months later than originally planned.

Malmstrom’s spokesperson Michael Cercone told this website in an email that the commission had considered assessing the anti-corruption efforts of the EU’s own institutions but “realised that this is something we will have to come back to in a future EU anti-corruption report – to be sure that the evaluation would be satisfactory and objective.”

And when this part of the report does come out – if it is ever completed – it will ensure that the analysis is set so far in the past that no current bureaucrats/politicians will be implicated.

But the size of the corruption suggests that while petty corruption is much lower than in some developing countries, the extent of large sophisticated contract scams is not insignificant. It takes a few thousands of petty corruption events to come up to the level of a single large contract scam. The Report points out that:

The individual country analyses revealed a wide variety of corruption-related problems, as well as of corruption control mechanisms, some of which have proved effective and others have failed to produce results. Nevertheless, some common features can be noted either across the EU or within clusters of Member States. The country analyses show that public procurement is particularly prone to corruption in the Member States, …..

Of course the EU countries exhibit a wide variety of behaviour and some member states view the payment of “fees” or the exchange of “favours” to get an advantage as a normal activity. As the report states “However, the long-standing absence of comprehensive anti-corruption strategies in some Member States which are facing systemic corruption problems turned out to be an issue of concern, ..”.  There is a political dimension as well Provoked by the crisis, social protests have targeted not only economic and social policies, but also the integrity and accountability of political elites. High-profile scandals associated with corruption, misuse of public funds or unethical behaviour by politicians have contributed to public discontent and mistrust of the political system. Integrity in politics is a serious issue for many Member States….”.

Oh well! Business will continue as usual in Brussels.

Corruption is in the genes of the EU

October 20, 2013

In the developing world venality is often a matter of survival. In Europe venal behaviour is a matter of choice. The EU bureaucracy in Brussels has corruption in its genes and tax-payer’s money running through its veins. It is remarkable that so many ostensibly democratic countries (at least in name) have so easily surrendered their powers to a bloated and corrupt group in Brussels.

It is not Best in Class that applies. The Least Common Factor applies in Europe. Brussels is as corrupt and as wasteful and as inefficient as the worst country in Europe. In this case the corruption and the condoning of corruption in Brussels is as bad as in Greece. And corruption in Greece was not a small contributor to their financial problems.

Der Spiegel writes:

Anti-corruption officials in Brussels have failed to investigate reports of squandered EU funds at a training institute in Greece, a German paper reported Friday. Well-connected teachers were allegedly paid up to €610 per hour for up to 225 work hours per month.

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has reportedly ignored repeated tip-offs about squandered European Union funds in Greece, according to an article in the Friday edition of the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The German daily reports that a Greek civil servant uncovered multiple cases of nepotism and vastly inflated salaries while inspecting the finances of a vocational training institute. Officials in Brussels have apparently not acted on any of the whistleblower’s suspicions, which he communicated in several letters, the paper added.

According to the newspaper report, Giorgos Boutos, a government finance official in Athens, began auditing the books of the Organization for Vocation Education and Training (OEEK) in 2006. The institute receives and distributes EU funds earmarked for vocational training in Greece. Boutros repeatedly stumbled upon irregularities and documented the cases in numerous letters to OLAF.

…. The case involves at least €6 million ($8.2 million). It’s not an excessive sum of money, but it is well documented. Boutos was able to substantiate the irregularities in his letters to the EU with contracts, hotel bills and bank statements. He reportedly found that 75 percent of the misappropriated money had come from the EU.

The details provided by the Süddeutsche Zeitung are sure to raise eyebrows. Some of the instructors are said to have been paid for up to 225 hours per month, even during periods when they were abroad. Hourly wages for teachers were reportedly as high as €610. The alleged corruption was compounded by apparent instances of nepotism: The son of a cabinet member taught a course on silver-plating watches, the wife of a Socialist politician led classes on both dentistry and geography, and relatives of the institute’s leader held jobs there.

….. It wasn’t until seven months — and several more inquiries — later that Boutos received fresh news about the case. Still, that letter merely stated that OLAF was in the process of “a comprehensive reorganization,” and asked him to be patient. 

Meanwhile, Boutos told the newspaper, many similar cases of misspent EU funds now fall under the statute of limitations because the EU took too long to address them. Exactly €516,000 of misappropriated EU funds have been repaid. But Boutros stressed that the EU could demand that all such funds be paid back — that is, if it really wanted to.

Boutos also questioned whether investigations had been delayed because some suspected fraud cases involved relatives of government and party officials — or whether Brussels even cared at all about such instances.

Sarkozy attacks Cameron – much to Cameron’s delight

October 24, 2011

While European leaders are struggling to put together a rescue package for Greece which will not have a domino effect for Italy and Spain or drown too many European banks, David Cameron is facing renewed opposition to membership in the EU from within his own party. But it is not only in the UK that opposition to the growing exercise of powers by Brussels is increasing. Almost every EU member which has not adopted the Euro (Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the UK along with some of the newer members) has rising voices calling for the limitation of European power and a return of powers to the country parliaments. Voices against the Euro can even be heard in Germany where there is a widespread feeling ( not entirely wrong) that German taxpayers are paying twice for the spendthrift ways of Southern Europe; first directly by subsiding these countries and secondly by the devaluation of their savings in Euro. The Swiss are just thankful that they were never a part of this experiment.

In hindsight, what has become obvious is that the Euro-zone has few built in sanctions to prevent the profligacy of some countries which has to be paid for by others. What is also becoming clear is that without a fiscal uniformity – which would seem like being taxed from Brussels – the possibility of  “bad” members being spendthrift will always remain.

France has always seen the Euro as part of a long-term move towards a European political and fiscal uniformity in which France would be the centre of political power. A return to the glory days of the Holy Roman Empire which lasted over 800 years, except of course that the centre would be in France rather than in what today is Germany. Sarkozy could certainly see himself as the first Emperor.

Yesterday, as the Telegraph reports:

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