Thursday, December 29, 2005

New Food and Feed Rules in the EU as of January 1, 2006

In the EU, new food and feed legislation goes into effect on January 1, 2006. As written at the Brussels CTA Weblog on December 23, 2005:

"The first of January 2006 marks a significant milestone for food safety in the EU, with the entry into application of a large updated body of food and feed legislation. The Food “Hygiene Package”, the Regulation on microbiological criteria for foodstuffs, the Regulation on official feed and food controls, and the Feed Hygiene Regulation, constitute a complementary set of rules to tighten and harmonise EU food safety measures. These laws will apply at every point in the food chain, in line with the EU’s “farm to fork” approach. A key aspect of the new legislation is that all food and feed operators, from farmers and processors to retailers and caterers, will have primary responsibility for ensuring that food put on the EU market meets the required safety standards."

Questions and Answers on the new EU rules on food and feed hygiene and controls at the EU website here.
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Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

EU Pundit Christmas 2005

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New Ajax Technology - EU Law as an Example Page

Via CaryGEE, who always has his finger on the trigger of tomorrow, this is a vestige of things to come....

Take a look at ProtoPage.com which offers "Free AJAX start pages now with RSS news feeds, sticky notes and bookmarks".

The user need not register, but if no registration is made, the created page expires in 48 hours. Registration is free, so it is definitely worth the experiment.

We have created an AJAX page for links and RSS to the law of the European Union at http://www.protopage.com/orcimtfos. This kind of a page can be created in a very short period of time for almost any topic - the applications are immense.

AJAX viz. Ajax is the acronym for Asynchronous JavaScript + XML.

As written by Jesse James Garrett on February 18, 2005 in Ajax: A New Approach to Web Application, Ajax "represents a fundamental shift in what’s possible on the Web".

Garrett writes further that:

"An Ajax application eliminates the start-stop-start-stop nature of interaction on the Web by introducing an intermediary — an Ajax engine — between the user and the server. It seems like adding a layer to the application would make it less responsive, but the opposite is true.

Instead of loading a webpage, at the start of the session, the browser loads an Ajax engine — written in JavaScript and usually tucked away in a hidden frame. This engine is responsible for both rendering the interface the user sees and communicating with the server on the user’s behalf. The Ajax engine allows the user’s interaction with the application to happen asynchronously — independent of communication with the server. So the user is never staring at a blank browser window and an hourglass icon, waiting around for the server to do something....
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No more waiting around? Terrific. The promise of this technology is immense, and that is why Google is using it. Garrett writes further:

"Google is making a huge investment in developing the Ajax approach.... Others are following ... Flickr ... Amazon’s A9.com search ...."

AJAX is going to be a blockbuster. Take a look at Garrett's Q&A.

Crossposted to LawPundit.
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Thursday, December 22, 2005

European Union Realities - Baltic, Ireland, United Kingdom

Did you know that the world's first decorated Christmas tree was made in Riga, Latvia? in the year 1510.

And what about now? As stated at InspirationRiga.com: "Today Riga is one of Europe’s most dynamic and rapidly developing cities."

What about the rest of Latvia and the Modern Baltic?

Mark Landler in Tallinn, Estonia, (hat tip to CaryGEE) sends us a December 21, 2005 Letter From Estonia to the New York Times titled A Land of Northern Lights, Cybercafes and the Flat Tax which touches upon many of the difficult issues currently facing the Baltic, and also the European Union.

As Landler writes about neighboring Estonia: "Estonia, one realizes after a few days in the abiding twilight of a Baltic winter, is not like other European countries".

Landler writes further that "Estonia's economic growth was nearly 11 percent in the last quarter - the second fastest in Europe, after Latvia, and an increase more reminiscent of China or India than Germany or France."

The Old Europe vs. The New Europe

In Europe, we sometimes find two previously opposed worlds, the now increasingly dynamic "New Europe" of the East (predominantly in urban areas) and the sometimes all too encrusted "Old Europe" of the West (often in rural areas).

Part of the problem in the European Union is that some of the established nations of Western Europe do not want to move forward, whereas the economic demands of the times, driven by the globalization of the world, really give them no choice. In the longer term, they must move forward if they want to survive. This is a basic rule of life, "grow or die".

The Model of Ireland

The country of Ireland is the outstanding example of a country which is adapting well to the ever-changing demands of the world. A December 20, 2005 article by Teresa Küchler at EUobserver.com is titled "Irish most happy, Brits most unhappy with EU" and reports on a recent "Eurobarometer" poll taken by the European Commission, in which 86% of the Irish think that they have benefitted from EU membership, as compared to only 37% in Britain.

Ireland and the UK

So what distinguishes Ireland from the United Kingdom as far as the EU is concerned? Are these differences real - or merely differences in the way things are viewed?

Ireland, as far as we have been able to determine from news reports and analyses, has moved unfailingly toward modernity and toward European integration. See e.g. The Celtic Tiger. Take a look at Ireland's ComReg website. Fast, Comprehensive, Intuitive. Remarkably good. There you find an immediate link, e.g. to the "New EU Framework". Ireland is on the move.

By comparison, when I went to the UK telecommunications site, I was confronted with the statement that "The Oftel website is now closed" and was redirected, but not automatically, from Oftel to Ofcom. Try to find something at that website about the telecommunications framework of the European Union.

Indeed, compare both websites for the amount of informational content contained on all kinds of issues. The Irish website wins hands down, both in content and design. Why is that?

In November 2004, according to the BBC, the Economist judged Ireland the best country in the world to live in, followed by Switzerland, Norway, Luxembourg, Sweden, Australia, Iceland, Italy, Denmark and Spain. The United Kingdom ranked 29th. As the BBC writes:

"The researchers said although the UK achieved high income per head, it had high levels of social and family breakdown."

Does anyone really think that this high level of social and family breakdown has anything to do with the European Union? Or are there other factors of the past which have not been satisfactorily resolved? There is surely no sense in blaming the EU for these problems, which would exist even if the UK were not a member of the EU. Indeed, it might be suggested here that eurosceptics in the UK try to remove such non-EU-related problems from their political equation. Perhaps the role of the EU might then look different in their eyes.

Insularity is No Solution

One common denominator for those unhappy with the EU seems to be the desire for insularity, i.e. the attempt to reject the economic and political realities of the modern world and to live in the past, a past long gone. As suggested by Phil Kirk: "Forget the past and look to the future."

The possibility that EU problems are more ones of attitude and less problems of substance is manifested by two nations at opposite geographic ends of the EU, the United Kingdom and Latvia. The citizens of both nations are among the unhappiest with the EU (this in spite of the fact that Latvia currently has the fastest growing economy in Europe).

Latvian Rural Areas Emptying

In order not to offend the people in the UK, I will talk about my own ancestral nation. I was in Latvia last month and was again - as I was last year - as amazed at the dynamism in Riga as I was amazed at the lack of dynamism in rural areas, and, it is precisely from these rural areas that most of the opposition to the EU comes, just as in the French "no" vote to the Constitution, which was centered around farmers and workers.

Yet, while the eurosceptics in Latvia laud the good old days and the blessings of rural life, the younger generations continue to stream to Riga and elsewhere (particularly as workers to Ireland) to seek the blessings and wages of "modern life", leaving behind an impoverished "rural paradise" populated by the elderly. As my father (otherwise a great patriot who married on the Latvian Day of Independence) used to say about the good old days in Latvia, his teeth hurt down on the farm when he was a boy in Latvia and there were no dentists around to correct the problem nor money to pay them had they been there. Romanticism should not replace reality in politics.

My father left the Latvian countryside for Riga as a boy to support his family and ultimately emigrated to the United States after WWII to - rightly - seek his fortune. What has changed? Apparently very little.

See e.g.:
OECD Agriculture and Rural Development in Baltic Countries: Seminar held in Tallinn, Estonia, 10-12 June 2003
Basic skills in Latvia - A pessimistic outlook
Baltic Blacks among Celts (this title is provocative because "Balt" in Latvian means "white" and there is some indication that the "Baltic" name derived from that appellation)
Dan Bilefsky, Migration's flip side: All roads lead out, International Herald Tribune

As Slugger O'Toole writes:

"While there has been much talk about how Ireland has had to adjust to the more than 130,000 East Europeans from the new EU member states who registered to work here from May 2004 to date, Dan Bilefsky in the International Herald Tribune (paper copy only) reports how Latvia is emptying, where now “there is hardly a family left who hasn’t lost a son or daughter or mother or father to the mushroom farms of Ireland”."

That is the reality. Those who wish to perpetuate an antiquated traditional rural culture which is being abandonded by those who live there simply do not see the writing on the wall.

The Great Divide

The problems facing the UK are of course different, but, as in Latvia, there is still a great divide between economic realities and the utopian politico-economic theories of the eurosceptics and traditionalists, who long for some romantic perfect world in the past, which never existed.

The European Union may have its faults, but it is far better than any alternative that otherwise exists to guarantee the economic and political survival of Europe and its nations. Without the EU, the future of Europe would be fairly bleak, because relatively small, independent and individually weak nations would face global competition at all levels - and, more significantly - from bigger and stronger competitors. Indeed, the political dominance of large political unions such as the United States, Russia or China is comparable to the economic dominance exerted on the world economy by large multi-national corporations. One can either be dominated - or not wishing to be dominated - can form competing dominant political and economic unions. There is no other alternative in the long term.
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Sunday, December 18, 2005

On Selling the European Union to the Public

We have been thinking about the future of the supranational European Union (see also Oxford Scholarship Online).

Let us apply some Madison Avenue thinking along the lines of ("We are the World") to that question.

The European Union is a Political Product for a Multicultural Audience in a Supranational Setting

In many ways, the European Union is a political product which has to be "sold" to its multicultural, supranational consumers of 25 nations. It is a political union which has to be made both understandable and palatable to its constituents, otherwise, as the German proverb states "Was der Bauer nicht kennt, das isst er nicht" (What the farmer doesn't know, he doesn't eat). As noted concerning the French "no" vote on the EU Constitution by the World Socialist Web Site:

"The division between the camps was along social lines. Three-quarters of blue-collar and two-thirds of white-collar workers, as well as the majority of small farmers and rural workers, voted “no.” "

Obviously, the farmers and those of the same mentality were rejecting that which they did not know. In France, one must clearly make the politics as palatable as the food, no easy task.

Although not everyone likes to look at this matter as a non-political issue, all political groupings, even nations, are consumer products to be accepted or rejected by the voters. Pure democracy is politically capitalistic, culminating in the philosophy of "one man, one vote". Each voter in a democracy is in a position to vote for the political product he chooses.

What makes a political product desirable? and why is the European Union having so much trouble keeping their flock of sheep together, or is even failing at achieving such an objective as the ratification of a European Constitution which more or less codifies laws already in force. Obviously, the EU is doing something wrong. What should they be doing right?

Google Worldwide as an Example for Successful Supranational Marketing

Here, as an example, we thought of Google (started by Stanford students), which in the last analysis, is also "a product" to be consumed. After all, there are many alternative search engines. What makes Google so successful?

In many ways, Google's success was highly improbable. Before Google came on the market, there were already some very good search engines available, e.g. AlltheWeb, originally powered by Fast, which we still have installed at InternetLawWeb, and which still gives excellent search results. Prior to that the web had and in some part still has Excite (started by Stanford students), Yahoo (started by Stanford students), WebCrawler, GoTo (later Overture, purchased by Yahoo), Lycos, HotBot, Ask Jeeves, and AltaVista (we still use their translator). And there are also many newbies such as MSN Search, LookSmart, Teoma, Clusty, and IceRocket.

So how did Google, which was only started in 1999, become such a powerhouse in only six years? By Madison Avenue standards, where successful - and always risky - new product placement requires millions of dollars of advertising, this achievement was awesome.

Kim Peterson, Seattle Times technology reporter, has a superb article "How 'search' is redefining the Web — and our lives" in which he writes:

"Clean, simple, inviting

Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., hit the $1 billion quarterly sales mark in 2004, just five years after its official launch. Its search engine won fans immediately upon debut because it served up relevant results in fractions of a second and had the minimalist appeal of white hotel sheets — clean, simple and inviting. Google's vault into the spotlight was perfectly timed to two important events: Mainstream users began discovering search, and competitors, distracted by the dot-com bust, lost their focus on quality.

Other search engines stopped improving their results, and the blinking and sparkling banner ads on their Web sites screamed for too much attention. Google produced answers fast, showing some unobtrusive ads along the way. That wasn't a bad tradeoff for users.

"We were finding things before Google came along, but they definitely raised the bar and raised the expectations of what we could get out of search," said Sullivan at Search Engine Watch. "They made it more manageable."

Google is the most popular engine today, home to 35 percent of Web searches. It receives hundreds of millions of requests every day, and studies them so thoroughly that it puts out a regular update of user patterns....
"

Clean, simple, inviting

If we look carefully at Peterson's article, we see his description of Google's success as based on making their product "clean, simple and inviting" to everyone (at last count, 116 different language interfaces).

In contrast, the European Union is not viewed as clean, simple, and inviting but is rather viewed as formidable and complex, precisely the opposite of the image that it needs to have in order to win over its constituents.

This is doable, since the prevailing image of the EU held by the ordinary citizen is absolutely false. The European Union bureaucracy is in fact quite modest in size.

The total employees of the European Commission - the main EU employer - number about 24000.

This is much less than the student body of many college campuses at universities in the United States, e.g. Arizona State University(38117), University of Texas (36473), Ohio State University (36097), University of Florida (33094), Purdue (30391), UCLA (24946), University of Michigan (24677). These are just the number of undergraduate students, not even including the graduate students.

Consider also that the German Pension Insurance Association (Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund) has 53000 employees, more than twice as many as the entire European Commission.

The Department of Work and Pensions in the United Kingdom numbers more than 100000, many of those in the Pension Service, more than four times the number of persons employed by the European Commission.

The French pension authority employs 35900 persons (La Caisse des Dépôts emploie 35 900 personnes), about 10000 more than the European Commission.

As written in Newsweek some years ago:

"Brussels's budget is just more than 1 percent of the EU's total GNP. Moravcsik points out that once you exclude translators and clerical workers, the European Commission employs 2,500 officials, "fewer than any moderately sized European city and less than 1 percent of the number employed by the French state alone." Any new law it wishes to pass needs more than 71 percent of weighted national-government votes--"a larger proportion than that required to amend the American Constitution." "

Not only is the budget of the European Union smaller than most persons imagine, but a majority of that budget goes right back into the pockets of European citizens, for example, through agricultural subsidies, which have historically made up about 50% of the EU budget.

As can be seen from the chart at page 34 of European Public Finances: Much Ado About Nothing?, by Lars P. Feld of the University of Marburg, net budget-induced gains or losses, as judged by each EU country, are next to negligible.

In the same vein, it is disturbing to read misleading news reports about, for example, a "massive" translation department which in fact consists only of an overworked 1600 Brussels-based translators, and outside agencies, who, rather than being a burden to Europe, are actually playing a significant role in maintaining the importance of the languages of the countries of Europe. Perhaps those who criticize the translation expense in the EU should be the first to volunteer "their" language to be excluded from EU translation....

How could this exaggeratedly false view of European Union institutions have come about?

Understandably, the institutions of the European Union have worked hard in the past to project themselves as big and powerful. Although this image projection was perhaps necessary in initial years to establish EU institutions, especially since Member States retain a great deal of their sovereignty, perhaps these institutions have been too successful in projecting this big image. What is now perhaps required is the creation of a more positive image in the minds of European citizens that the EU is not going to steamroller them by means of a giant bureaucracy, a giant bureaucracy that simply does not exist.

The reality is that the European Commission, which does the brunt of the work of the European Union, is smaller than the student enrollment at many an American university and smaller than the government pension services in each of France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Lastly, a false image about the European Union is created by a European Constitution which is simply too verbose, inclusive and unnecessarily complex. The original US Constitution was 4 pages of written text including only the most essential elements of government, whereas the EU Constitution runs 485 pages in the official .pdf version, including masses of detail having no place in such a document.

Clean, simple and inviting. These are perhaps the major characteristics which should mark a re-marketing of the European Union to its constituents.

Crossposted to LawPundit.
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Saturday, December 17, 2005

EU Treaty Links at EUR-Lex and EULegal.Org Link Updates

The URLs of websites of the European Union and its institutions are in a constant state of flux, which has required us to substantially update our European Union links at EULegal.Org, our website on "European Law, Policy and Institutions." These links should now all be operational, but please inform us in the future if you find a dead link at the EULegal.Org website.

We might also note that the EUR-Lex link page for EU treaties is currently unsatisfactory in our view because some references are not to the commonly used names for the treaties. These commonly used names usually include the place at which a treaty was signed, e.g. Maastricht Treaty. The EUR-Lex links give official names of treaties only, i.e. rather than Maastricht Treaty they use Treaty on European Union, a linking practice which makes finding and use of the treaties difficult for anyone not thoroughly familiar with the subject matter, especially since the press generally uses "Maastricht Treaty".

Hence, in addition to linking to the EU treaty link page, we also link at EULegal.Org to the MCE European NAvigator ENA, which lists treaty links both by their official names as well as their place of signing. Hence, ENA lists "Treaty on European Union (Maastricht, 7 February 1992)" whereas EUR-Lex has only "Treaty on European Union (consolidated text) Official Journal C 325 of 24 December 2002".

Moreover, the Official Journal date above applies to the consolidated version of the treaty, which has no force of law because no one has signed these consolidations as treaties. It is the original - unconsolidated and signed - treaty per se, which is the actual "legislation in force". The Official Journal date in the link to the consolidated version of the treaty could thus be misleading to users, since the original Maastricht Treaty was already published earlier in the Official Journal on July 29, 1992, a fact which one discovers at the EU site only by clicking further to the website page on "Founding Treaties". We think it would be advisable for the EU to list all of these treaties on one page and with complete identifying information for each treaty to avoid this kind of potential confusion. The current way of linking presumes knowledge of the treaties on the part of the user, but this knowledge may often be lacking.

Moreover, the operative dates for treaties are not the dates at which they appear in the Official Journal but rather the dates on which they were signed and on which they took effect. When one clicks to a particular treaty in ENA, these dates are then appropriately given at the bottom of the page, for example, in the instant case:

"Caption
The Treaty on European Union is signed on 7 February 1992 in Maastricht and enters into force on 1 November 1993.
Source
"Treaty on European Union", dans Official Journal of the European Communities (OJEC). 29.07.1992, n° C 191, p. 1."

To access the links to these European treaties at ENA, click on "European Union" in the left menu column of the ENA website home page. A list of the treaties then appears under "Synopsis".

Crossposted to LawPundit.
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Thursday, December 08, 2005

.eu Domain Launches and Raises Questions

The European Union's new .eu domain launched on December 7, 2005. As reported by Lucia Kubosova at EUobserver, EURid reported that 40,500 applications were received in the first 15 minutes of launch and over 100,000 had been received by evening of the first day.

Business applications were highest for internet names such as hotels.eu, tickets.eu and job.eu although over 200 applicants also filed for the domain sex.eu.

The assignment of these types of generically named domains is tantamount to a license to print money and we think it would actually be more sensible for the EU to retain these domains for use by non-profits or for EU government use.

Generic names such as hotel.eu, hotels.eu or travel.eu, which cover an entire business field and to which no private business should actually have any priority of access, should be awarded to the major non-profit associations or consumer protection organizations dealing with these subjects in Europe.

sex.eu should be used as a site for sex education or should be awarded to a consumer protection organization dealing with sex sites on the internet, rather than to give it to some private sex website who will make millions just because of having this domain name.

Indeed, the EU has the power to set some new sensible precedents here in the assignment of domain names, especially for those generic "business" domains which are claimed by multiple parties.

We would adopt an internal rule at EURid that generically named sites which are claimed in the "sunrise periods" by more than one party and to which no unique EU trademark priority exists would automatically be reserved for official EU or non-profit use.

Of course, once the "sunrise periods" are over, domains should be assigned on a first come, first served basis, as long as trademarks are not violated, but that is a different question.

Cross-posted to LawPundit.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

European Voice EV50 Europeans of the Year Awards 2005

EV50, the Annual Awards of the European Voice (a publication of the Economist Group) were announced on November 29, 2005 at a gala dinner in Brussels.

The 2005 Winners as EV50 Europeans of the Year are:

Commissioner of the Year: Dalia Grybauskaite
[Lithuanian Head of the EU Budget]
For her unrelenting efforts to shift EU spending towards areas that would enhance competitiveness such as research and development

MEP of the Year: Michel Rocard
[French Socialist MEP]
For turning the software patent directive into a fascinating debate about the future of technological innovation

Statesman of the Year: Aleksander Kwasniewski
[President of Poland]
For his role in ensuring that Ukraine’s Orange revolution remained peaceful

Diplomat of the Year: Martti Ahtisaari
[Former President of Finland]
For mediating talks between the government and rebels in Indonesia, which brought about a ceasefire after 30 years of conflict

Campaigner of the Year: Florian Müller
[Nosoftwarepatents.com]
For leading a campaign against the software patents directive, killing off the proposal
(Mueller afterwards declined the award)

He said: "My greatest concern was that by declining the EU Campaigner of the the Year award, I would disappoint the many who have supported our tremendously impactful Internet campaign for votes."

I supported Mueller and I think that this was not the right thing for him to do. If he intended not to accept his reward, he should have stated so in advance, not after the fact. You have to work within the system as much as possible to make desired changes. Perhaps he was disappointed at not being voted "European of the Year". Sometimes victories are not complete, but they are better than losses. And when you win, you act like a winner, not as a loser. Still, we thank Mueller for his campaigning efforts.

Business Leader of the Year: Carlos Ghosn
[CEO of Renault]
For his success at Nissan which has brought him the top job at Renault

Journalist of the Year: Anna Marszalek
[Rzeczpospolita]
For her persistent investigations, which have exposed huge corruption scandals in Poland

Achiever of the Year: Ian Tomlinson
[Cancer Research UK]
For the Cancergenes project to identify genes that reveal a predisposition to types of cancer

Non-EU citizen of the Year: Viktor Yushchenko
[President of the Ukraine]
For turning Ukraine towards the West and fighting to stem out corruption to stay faithful to the country’s Orange revolution
see also Ukraine

European of the Year: Jean-Claude Juncker
[Prime Minister of Luxembourg]
For securing a 'yes' vote from his citizens after voters in France and the Netherlands had rejected the EU constitution

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Angela Merkel - The New German Chancellor

Germany suffered tremendously under past German Chancellor Schröder's inept administration. Schröder's anti-capitalist and anti-Anglo-Saxon foreign policy led not only to a greatly diminished significance of Germany on the international scene but also severely damaged the German economy. Schröder's relationship to the European Commission was also icy.

Schroeder made many enemies, and few allies. German-American relations are at an all time low and German unemployment is at an all time high. Schröder's flawed policies are contributorily responsible for these - closely related - developments. We can think of nothing that is better in Germany due to the Red/Green Schroeder era - quite the contrary, everything is worse. "Goodbye Schröder" is great news.

His replacement is new German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the first female Chancellor in German history, who takes office supported by an emergency "grand coalition" of Germany's two largest political parties, the conservative CDU/CSU and the socialist SPD.

Whereas Schroeder was a man who possessed many of the talents necessary to be elected Chancellor and almost none of the talents required to actually be Chancellor effectively, Merkel is nearly the exact opposite. Schröder was what the Germans call a "Blender" (all show but no go, i.e. someone who "blinds" to the realities), whereas Merkel is definitely more understatement. However, she probably possesses the leadership qualities necessary to exercise her office with great competence, which Schröder did not. That at least is our assessment of her qualifications. But she is not and can not be a German Maggie Thatcher (read Clay Risen at Slate for a superb background article). Her impact will be strong, but different.

Wolfgang Munchau of the Free Republic, November 21, 2005, has perspicaciously analyzed recent developments under the title "Schröder's legacy will haunt Merkel".

We are not as pessimistic as Munchau, who writes that Merkel may not make a big difference. Rather, we see signs of dynamic change in the offing for Germany.

As reported by Dan Bilefsky and Judy Dempsey in the November 24, 2005, International Herald Tribune, Merkel made two initial visits in her first 24 hours as Chancellor, to Paris and to Brussels. Her visit to Paris was made to emphasize the necessity of pragmatic German-French relations in Europe. On her visit to Brussels, her first stop was NATO headquarters, where Merkel assured NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer that German foreign policy would again be based on a firm transatlantic relationship, a transatlantic relationship nearly destroyed by Schröder.

Merkel then visited the European Parliament to be greeted by hundreds shouting "Angie". Thereafter she went to the offices of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt of Belgium and afterwards talked with José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, surely attempting to mend fences. As Munchau writes:

"Domestic [German] politicians such as Mr Schröder have often portrayed the European Commission as an institution infested with Anglo-Saxon libertarian zealots who are out to destroy German industry."

Under Merkel, it is quite clear that German relations to the powerful European Commission will be normalized. The IHT quotes Merkel as reaffirming her position that Europe must focus on economic reform:

"so that in a globalized world we can keep up and be competitive."

Merkel also called on the EU to revive the EU Constitution.

As for French-German relations, Chirac is quoted as saying that "Europe is a bit like a car with a broken part".

The IHT writes on the Franco-German relationship:

"Merkel's advisers said the relationship between Berlin and Paris was no longer serving the interests of European integration and instead was becoming a relic of historical reminiscences and symbols."

In this regard, Karl-Heinz Kamp of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation is quoted as saying that:

"Merkel is not into symbols for the sake of symbols that characterized the Franco-German relationship. She wants it to be based on the issues."

A Chancellor who bases her policy on the issues is going to be successful. That is what successful leadership is all about - because leaders set the direction of movement. If the direction is correct, success will inevitably follow.

Clay Risen at Slate quotes Götz Aly at the online Opinion Journal of the Wall Street Journal:

"If Angela Merkel succeeds … the Federal Republic should see changes more radical than any since 1949."

Germany must change significantly to meet the demands of the modern age and that change can only be initiated at the top.

As Aly writes:

"A state that spends 48% of its budget on social-welfare entitlements and 14% on interest payments on a growing mountain of debt, and can only invest 11% in modernizing infrastructure, has long since lost its ability to act. It is bankrupt. Any company that behaved this way would rightly be liable for fraudulent avoidance of bankruptcy under German law. An economy that requires at least half the hourly wage to be paid over to the government in the form of taxes and entitlements, and on top of that significant consumer and corporate taxes, is no longer competitive."

Now we can put the previous quoted sentence into perspective as Aly writes further:

"If Angela Merkel succeeds in winning office at the September elections and, against great resistance in her own party, in remaining true to herself, the Federal Republic should see changes more radical than any since 1949. As a physicist, she knows that the relationship between cause and effect cannot be simply wished away. Her most formative experiences came during communist East Germany's collapse. She has seen what happens when a country uses up its material basis, when it sinks into social and national stagnation while a regime of lies plays on, like the band on the Titanic. Most influential German politicians spent their youth, student years and early careers in the fat boom years of the old republic on the Rhine. Ms. Merkel likes to tell them, even those in her own [very conservative] party, "You have no idea how socialist you are.""

In the end, the most socialistic position is still "survival for everyone". To achieve that end, Germany will have to change and we think it will change significantly, even though Merkel must function in a coalition government with the normally opposition socialists. The fact that the socialists have entered into this coalition at all clearly evidences their "will for survival". If that same will for survival is applied to the Germany which they lead, then their policies must also change.

That is why we think that significant reforms will now be made under the Merkel administration, coalition government notwithstanding.
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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Who Should Get an .EU ( .eu ) Domain ?

We posted previously on the fact that launch dates for .eu domains have been announced and that EURid will be the domain registry (see the EURid site here). As a technical matter for IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority of ICANN), the .eu domain is listed there as the equivalent of a country-code TLD (ccTLD).

As written by the EU Commission:

"Why have a .eu Top Level Domain?
The .eu TLD will be a new Top level Domain, introduced for use by individuals, organisations and companies in the European Union. It will not replace the existing national ccTLDs in the EU, but will complement them and give users the additional option of having a pan-European Internet identity for their web sites and e-mail addresses.

"The EU is one of the biggest users of the Internet in the world and the introduction of a .eu TLD will create even more opportunities to exploit this exciting technology."

Struan Robertson, Editor of OUT-LAW.COM, has an insightful article on "Why you should register a .eu domain name" even if your organization already has the domain it wants as a generic TLD (.com, .net, .org) or as a country-coded top level domain in Europe. The country codes for the current 25 EU Member States are:

.at - Austria
.be - Belgium
.cy - Cyprus
.cz - Czech Republic
.de - Germany (.de is for Deutschland)
.dk - Denmark
.ee - Estonia (.ee because .es was already assigned to Spain)
.es - Spain ( .es because of Spanish España = Spain)
.fi - Finland
.fr - France
.gr - Greece
.hu - Hungary
.ie - Ireland
.it - Italy
.lt - Lithuania
.lu - Luxembourg
.lv - Latvia
.mt - Malta
.nl - The Netherlands
.pl - Poland
.pt - Portugal
.se - Sweden
.si - Slovenia (this is .SI and not .SL, because .sl was assigned to Sierra Leone)
.sk - Slovak Republic
.uk - United Kingdom (.gb is also reserved by IANA but not used)

Commission Regulation (EC) No 874/2004 provides:

"Candidate countries that are not due to join the European Union in May 2004 and member countries of the European Economic Area that are not Member States may request that their official name and the name under which they are commonly known in their own language and in any of the official languages as from May 2004 shall not be registered directly under the .eu TLD. To that end, those countries may send the Commission, within two months following entry into force of this Regulation, a list of those names which are not to be registered."

The EEA countries and their country codes are:

.is - Iceland
.no - Norway
.li - Liechtenstein

The EU Candidate Countries are:

Acceding Countries
.bg - Bulgaria
.ro - Romania
Candidate Countries
.tr - Turkey
.hr - Croatia (Hrvatska)
Potential Candidate Countries
.al - Albania
.ba - Bosnia and Herzegovina
.mk - The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
.cs - Serbia and Montenegro
?? - Kosovo under UN Security Council Resolution 1244

Applicable to all registrations by all countries is the following provision regarding the country codes:

"Alpha-2 codes representing countries shall not be used to register domain names directly under the .eu TLD."

There is no question that the introduction of the .eu top level domain will diminish the importance of the European country codes in the long term, although the short-term impact may be less pronounced, because many of the country coded websites are tied to language differences. However, multilingual sites now resident at the country-coded pages will most certainly ultimately migrate to the .eu domain, leaving the country-code pages in only the language of origin of the website. A good example here would be the many travel sites. Someone looking for city information in English concerning a European city will almost certainly gravitate toward .eu domains rather than to the country-code websites. One country that is bound to suffer under this system in the long term is Switzerland, which is neither an EU Member State nor a member of EEA, nor is it an EU candidate. (Switzerland [Confoederatio Helvetica, whence the "ch"] has .ch as its ccTLD).

Robertson states clearly that the main reason to register .eu domains now is to save money and avoid trouble down the road.

Organizations which do not get .eu domains now may find that someone else will take the respective .eu domain names. Later, this may involve legal squabbles and arbitration, events which are guaranteed to be extremely expensive.

It would thus seem to be much simpler and cheaper to just register the appropriate .eu domains.

As written by the EU Commission:

"How much will it cost?
The basic fee for the registration of a domain name during the first year will be of €10. However, applications have to be filed through registrars that will add their own costs to that fee. Different registrars may offer different services. Prices thus vary."


This assumes of course that one is entitled to register an .eu domain in the first place, which is explained here. Essentially, if your organization does not have a business in the European Union, then you are not entitled to register an .eu domain unless you are an EU resident.

Some useful Links are:
The EU Regulations for the .eu top level domain
and also Public Policy Rules (PPR) for .eu

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

HyperThinker Workshop on Disruptive Innovators - Today in Brussels

If you are in the Brussels area and have the time, ZN.be (Zeitgest Net) has a workshop from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (16:00-19:00) today, November 24, 2005 titled the "Mental Toolkit for Disruptive Innovators". Location @ ING, Avenue Marnix 24, 1000 Brussels, Belgium.

The workshop intends that the participants:

  • Be exposed to beyond the box approaches which inspire
  • Receive practical tools to affect innovational change which motivates
  • See how the experts have applied HyperThinking with results – case studies – which provides context
  • Experience the confidence hands-on exercise provides to put theory into practice during the workshop – which energizes action

Although apparently intended only for business people, this looks like the kind of workshop that decisionmakers from all quarters could profit by.

Happy Thanksgiving!

.eu domain registrations start December 7, 2005

If your company or organization does business in Europe, this may be important.

The launch dates for the newly established European .eu top level domain pursuant to European Commission Regulation (EC) No 874/2004 have been announced by EURid, the European Registry of Internet Domain Names. FAQs are available in English (en), German (de), Spanish (es), French (fr) and Italian (it).

Who is eligible for an .eu domain?

Eligible for an .eu domain according to Article 4(2)(b) EC Regulation 733/2002 is any:
"(i) undertaking having its registered office, central administration
or principal place of business within the
[European] Community, or
(ii) organisation established within the [European] Community
without prejudice to the application of national law, or
(iii) natural person resident within the [European] Community...."


This announcement is especially important for established persons, companies or organizations who already have "prior rights" to certain names and want to take advantage of early .eu domain registration in the Phase I and II Sunrise periods, as explained below.

Prior rights entitle early .eu domain registration.

THE PRIOR "SUNRISE-ENTITLED" RIGHTS ARE:

1. trade marks registered in the EU (e.g. Coca-Cola, Sony, Windows, ThinkPad, iPod, Pentium, Ferrari, etc.) Here is an IBM "Legal Information for the ThinkPad" to show some trademark coverage, just in connection with the ThinkPad:
"IBM, the IBM logo, EasyServ, HelpCenter, OS/2, ServicePac, ThinkLight, ThinkPad, ThinkPad Proven, the ThinkPad Proven logo, TrackPoint, Ultrabay, UM Services, Update Connector, WorkPad and the WorkPad Proven logo are trademarks of IBM Corporation in the US and other countries. Bluetooth is a trademark owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. and licensed to IBM. Intel and Pentium are registered trademarks and SpeedStep is a trademark of Intel Corporation. Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds. Lotus and SmartSuite are registered trademarks of Lotus Development Corporation. Microsoft, Windows, Windows NT and the Microsoft logo are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others."

2. geographical indications or designations of origin in the EU (e.g. Champagne, Roquefort cheese)

3. unregistered trademarks used in the EU (e.g. LawPundit, EUPundit)

4. trade names in the EU (e.g. "John Doe's Printing Company" [non-existent at Google 23/11/2005], "your company name")

5. business identifiers in the EU (e.g. Ronald McDonald (McDonald's), Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck (Walt Disney Company); WIPO writes on business identifiers:
"Business identifiers” are signs which identify businesses as such, and not the products or services offered by the business, the latter feature constituting a pure trademark function. Signs that may constitute business identifiers are, for example, trade names, business symbols, emblems or logos. Some confusion as regards the functions of marks and business identifiers stems from the fact that, sometimes, the name of a company, i.e., its business identifier, is identical with one of the company’s trademarks."

6. company names in the EU (General Motors, General Electric, Microsoft Corporation, Intel, IBM, Google, Yahoo, etc.)

7. distinctive titles of protected literary or artistic works in the EU (e.g. the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, Star Wars, Indiana Jones)

It is absolutely NOT POSSIBLE to get pre-validation advice about a domain name from the registration validation company (PWC, see below) so do not waste your or anyone else's time trying to get such advice from them. Rather, for Phases I and II below, one must FIRST submit a domain registration claiming the "prior right" to a name together with the documentation required and then let the validation process take its course. See in this regard the EURid pages linked below as well as the Public Policy Rules in EC Regulation 874/2004.

The .EU domain registrations will proceed in three phases:

SUNRISE PERIOD - PHASE I - starts December 7, 2005
SUNRISE PERIOD - PHASE II - starts February 7, 2006
LAND RUSH PERIOD - starts April 7, 2006 - .EU domain registration is open to everyone

Registrations in Phases I and II are for persons or organizations which claim a prior right to a name (e.g. trademarks (trade marks), company names, etc.). Registration during Phases I and II will require documentation of any claim made and that documentation validation will be carried out by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC).

When can one register an .eu domain? (see detailed instruction here on Launch):

Phase of Registration is Dependent on the Type of Prior Right Which Can be Documented

Phase 1 & 2 - Registered National and Community Trade Marks
Phase 1& 2 - Geographical Indications or Designations of Origin
Phase 2 - Unregistered Trade Marks
Phase 2 - Trade Names
Phase 2 - Business identifiers
Phase 2 - Company Names
Phase 2 - Distinctive Titles of Protected Literary and Artistic Works
Land Rush - Everybody else can register a domain

In the event of conflict between two or more registrants who have legitimate "prior right" claims to a name (Omega Watches and Omega Engineering, Inc. e. g. could in our view both claim the omega.eu domain), the domains will be registered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please note that EURid is the REGISTRY for .eu domain names but they do NOT do the registering of domains. This is done only by ACCREDITED REGISTRARS, a list of which is HERE.

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Crossposted to Law Pundit.
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Thursday, November 10, 2005

EU Parliament - Political Groups

The lack of knowledge in Europe and elsewhere about the European Union is immense. Let's take a sample question. Can you name offhand the political groupings in the EU Parliament? Hardly anyone can. There are seven (eight if you count the independents):

Political groups in the list below are based on the European Parliament list of MEPs [Members of the European Parliament] by Member State and political group in the sixth parliamentary term:

1. EPP-ED - Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats
(266 members)
These are the conservatives. This is the center-right (centre-right) party. We might compare this group to the Republicans in the USA or the Conservatives in the UK (the Tories) or the CDU/CSU in Germany.

2. PES - Socialist Group in the European Parliament
(201 members)
These are the social democrats. This is the center-left (centre-left) party. This group includes representatives from the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Labour Party in the UK, who define themselves as "democratic socialists". We might compare them to the Democratic Party in the USA.

3. ALDE - Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
(89 members)
In Germany, the liberals (FDP) are the group between the right and the left. This group corresponds to the Liberal Democratic Party in the UK.

4. Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance
(42 members)
These are the environmentalists.

5. Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left
(41 members)
This group includes the Communists and the German "Linkspartei" PDS (successor to the former East German political party SED), recently renamed "die Linkspartei" (Left Party).

6. Independence/Democracy Group
(36 members)
This group consists of members who are eurosceptics. They hope to reject the EU Constitution and they oppose all forms of centralization, some even supporting their country's withdrawal from the EU.

7. UEN - Union for Europe of the Nations Group
(27 members)
This is a group which opposes strong federalism in the EU.

8. Non-Attached Members (29 members)

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Crossposted to LawPundit.
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Monday, November 07, 2005

EU Agricultural Subsidies [CAP] Under Fire

In view of the WTO Doha round of global trade talks and the significant role of European Union (EU) agricultural subsidies [CAP] in those talks, especially the large and controversial subsidies to France, the question must be asked:

Who actually gets the greatly disputed EU farm subsidies which make up ca. 40% of the EU budget?

A November 7, 2005 press release from the NGO Oxfam reports that agricultural subsidies in the European Union show tremendous inequalities of distribution (as already shown for the UK previously, see here and here) . The more land that is owned, the more subsidies the owner is entitled to obtain. The result is that the rich, the biggest farms and large multinational corporations who own large tracts of farmland are the biggest recipients of EU agricultural subsidies. We excerpt the 7 November 2005 Oxfam press release below which was titled "Lid comes off French farm subsidies":

"Europe must face up to the need to reform its Common Agricultural Policy [CAP] following new revelations of inequality from another of its member states this week, said international agency Oxfam today.

French newspaper La Tribune has published figures that show the biggest French farming businesses swallow up the vast majority of its EU agricultural subsidies....

The revelations come as EU Foreign Ministers meet today (Nov 7) in Brussels to discuss the EU budget and trade negotiators from the EU, US, India and Brazil meet in London to try to unblock WTO negotiations.

CAP reform will be on top of the agenda in Brussels....,” said Celine Charveriat, head of Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair campaign.

France is leading an aggressive defense of the CAP at the WTO. France gets around 9.4 billion Euros from the 44 billion Euro CAP budget....


The CAP is a gravy train for Europe’s biggest, richest farmers,” she said....“

Oxfam has been instrumental in helping to expose the huge inequalities in farm spending that exist in the UK, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Slovakia and now France....

Crossposted to LawPundit.
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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Europa Newsletter of the European Commission Issue 68, November 4, 2005

The Europa Newsletter is issued every two weeks by the European Commission and can be subscribed to here.

The latest issue of the Europa Newsletter, Issue 68, 4 November 2005, reports that:

"On 25 October the European Commission presented a three-year programme to simplify thousands of pages of EU legislation adopted since 1957.....

The Commission proposes to repeal, codify, recast or modify 222 basic legislations – all in all more than 1400 legal acts – in the next three years".

Günter Verheugen, Commission Vice-President, is quoted as saying that this is not deregulation but rather "better regulation".
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Friday, November 04, 2005

Biometric Passports in the USA and the EU - Germany Leads the Way

Biometric Passports in the EU

As reported at the EU Observer, Germany has become the first of the EU Member States to comply with US requirements which mandate biometric passports (or plans for such) from visa waiver program (VWP) countries as of the end of October, 2005. The rules are:

"According to recent U.S. Department of Homeland Security press briefings and documents, the requirements for travelers wanting to enter the United States without a visa under the VWP are as follows:

- June 26 [2005]: Travelers from VWP countries must present passports that are machine-readable for visa-free entry into the United States.
- October 26 [2005]: Travelers from VWP countries with passports issued on or after this date must present passports with a digital photograph; VWP countries are required to produce passports with digital photographs and present an “acceptable plan” to issue passports with integrated circuit chips, or e-passports within one year.
- October 26, 2006: Travelers from VWP countries with a passport issued on or after this date must present a passport with an integrated circuit chip, also known as e-passport, capable of storing biographic information from the passport’s data page, a digitized photograph and other biometric information.


The three requirements stem from legislation passed in 2002 by the U.S. Congress. The Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 (a U.S. law also known as the Border Security Act) originally required that the government of each VWP country certify it had a program to produce tamper-resistant, machine-readable passports that incorporate a biometric identifier that complies with International Civil Aviation Organization standards by October 26, 2004. In mid-2004, Congress extended the deadline one year. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in recent months, has clarified requirements for continued participation in the VWP. "


Citizens of countries which do not implement the new biometric passports by October 26, 2006 will lose their visa waiver privileges and have to apply for a visa.

See the German Federal Ministry of the Interior (Bundesministerium des Innern, BMI) for information in German about the new German electronic biometric passport, the ePass.

The German ePass [electronic Passport] is being issued pursuant to the European Union (EU)
COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 2252/2004 of 13 December 2004 on standards for security features and biometrics in passports and travel documents issued by Member States

(and see also here) .

Netzpolitik.org refers to a German government hotline for citizens with questions about the new ePass. The information is also found at the BMI:

"Im Oktober werden die Passbehörden mit Plakaten und Flyern zur Information der Bürgerinnen und Bürger ausgestattet. Das BSI bietet bereits seit dem 1. Juni 2005 einen Bürger-Service zu technischen Fragen zum ePass an über die E-Mail-Adresse ePass@bsi.bund.de sowie eine ePass-Hotline. Die Hotline ist von 8 bis 17 Uhr unter der Nummer 01805-274 300 erreichbar (12 ct/min)."

As reported by EU Observer:

"The updated German passport comes with a concealed radio frequency identification (RFID) chip that stores personal information such as name and date of birth, as well as a digital facial image of the holder."

As shown by this biometric passport, modern Germany has many faults and problems, but this land of engineers and scientists is still ahead of most countries in the Western world when it comes to putting certain aspects of modern technology and science into action.

U.S. Electronic Passports

The February 18, 2005 US proposed rule for its own electronic passports had already been issued as a final rule in part, excepting the electronic passport sections, which were just now finalized in the final rule issued by the US State Department on October 25, 2005. See Tech Law Prof Blog and also The U.S. Electronic Passport.

The Final Rule provides:

"The Department intends to begin the electronic passport program in December 2005. The first stage will be a pilot program in which the electronic passports will be issued to U.S. Government employees who use Official or Diplomatic passports for government travel. This pilot program will permit a limited number of passports to be issued and field tested prior to the first issuance to the American traveling public, slated for early 2006. By October 2006, all U.S. passports, with the exception of a small number of emergency passports issued by U.S. embassies or consulates, will be electronic passports."

The RFID chip to be used for passports should not be confused by privacy advocates with RFID chips used to mark products for inventory or sale:

"The ICAO specification for use of contactless chip technology requires a minimum capacity of 32 kilobytes (KB). The U.S. has decided to use a 64KB chip to permit adequate storage room in case additional data, or biometric indicators such as fingerprints or iris scans, are included in the future. Before modifying the definition of "electronic passport" to add a new or additional biometric identifier other than a digitized photograph, we will seek public comment through a new rule making process.

The contactless smart chip that is being used in the electronic passport is a "passive chip" that derives its power from the reader that communicates with it. It cannot broadcast personal information because it does not have its own source of power. Readers that are on the open market, designed to read Type A or Type B contactless chips complying with International Standards Organization (ISO) 14443 and ISO 7816 specifications, will be able to communicate with the chip. This is necessary to permit nations to procure readers from a variety of vendors, facilitate global interoperability and ensure that the electronic passports are readable at all ports of entry.

The proximity chip technology utilized in the electronic passport is designed to be read with chip readers at ports of entry only when the document is placed within inches of such readers. It uses RFID technology. The ISO 14443 RFID specification permits chips to be read when the electronic passport is placed within approximately ten centimeters of the reader. The reader provides the power to the chip and then an electronic communication between the chip and reader occurs via a transmission of radio waves. The technology is not the same as the vicinity chip RFID technology used for inventory tracking of items from distances at retail stores and warehouses. It will not permit "tracking" of individuals. It will only permit governmental authorities to know that an individual has arrived at a port of entry--which governmental authorities already know from presentation of non-electronic passports--with greater assurance that the person who presents the passport is the legitimate holder of the passport.

The personal information that will be contained in the chip is the information on the data page of the passport--the name, nationality, sex, date of birth, place of birth, and digitized photograph of the passport holder. The chip will also contain information about the passport itself--the passport number, issue date, expiration date, and type of passport. Finally, the chip will contain coding to prevent any digital data from being altered or removed as well as the chip's unique ID number. This coding will be in the form of a high strength digital signature. The contents of the data page of the traditional passport have been established by international usage and by ICAO. The chip will not contain home addresses, social security numbers, or other information that might facilitate identity theft."

For blog postings on this and related topics see:

Tech Law Prof Blog on the US Final Rule on Electronic Passports
Freedom to Tinker on RFID
neuer-reisepass.de on the new ePass (in German)
PrawfsBlawg on RFID Tags
eLegal Canton on "Bring on the Biometrics"
Surpriv on RFID
NearWalden on RFID Privacy Cases with a link to the EFF
Bruce Schneier on Security with an article that appeared on the IHT
Ryan Singel at Wired News and "American Passports to Get Chipped" suggesting that privacy concerns are overblown.

Crossposted to LawPundit.

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Monday, October 31, 2005

European Voice - European News, Views and Facts

One source that we would like to recommend as a basic resource for news, views and facts about the European Union is the publication European Voice ("EV") by The Economist Newspaper Limited.

The European Voice describes itself as "an independent view of the EU". Its main rubrics are Current News (News in Brief), Business & Industry (Business Brief), Special Report, Features, Analysis, Opinion (Viewpoints, Europa, What the papers say, Different Voices, Wilder Europe, Voice from the North, Europe Inside Out), Profile, Letters, Entre Nous [(Just) Between Us], EV Crossword, Diary, and Archive). In addition there are EU Services for EU Jobs, EU Studies, Conference, Seminars & Publication, Accommodation & Property in Brussels. There is also a Forum.
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European Voice - Europeans of the Year Awards - Vote Florian Mueller No Software Patents

I just received the posting found below from the FFII [Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure], and pass it on to those readers who wish to vote in the EV50 poll. Your vote will contribute to the battle against software patents [in our view, software is sufficiently protected by copyright law].
The categories to be voted on are:

Commissioner of the Year
MEP of the Year
Statesman of the Year
Diplomat of the Year
Campaigner of the Year
Business Leader of the Year
Journalist of the Year
Achiever of the Year
Non-EU Citizen of the Year
European of the Year

Please note that we support the vote for Florian Mueller but that we expressley do not support many of the other recommendations for voting made at NoSoftwarePatents.com - but you have to vote in every category to make your vote count, so we recommend you follow your own opinions as to who deserves the other awards. Here is the FFII e-mail message:

Dear supporter of the FFII,

The FFII has kindly enabled me to contact you with this campaign message on my own behalf. You are soon going to receive an email from the Board of the FFII. The FFII will announce this year's General Assembly, which is going to take place in Brussels on 29 November. If you plan to attend, please make a note in your calendar!

In the meantime, please consider voting for me (and other candidates who I recommend) in the public Internet poll for the "EV50 Europeans of the Year" awards, the most prestigious series of awards in EU politics. It would send a strong message to politicians, the press and the public if a vocal opponent of software patents were elected as the new "European of the Year". We can simultaneously ensure that a couple of our political allies, especially Michel Rocard MEP, also receive awards, while the proponents of unlimited software patentability (such as commissioner McCreevy) should come away empty-handed.

The poll is open to the worldwide public (including non-Europeans), and the idea is explained on this page: http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/en/m/ev50/index.html
Specific voting recommendations are available on this page:
http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/en/m/ev50/vote.html
Those pages are available in 14 languages. You will also find an email form on that site, which makes it quick and easy to inform others of this campaign, and banners for your website.

Richard Stallman (President of the Free Software Foundation), Tim O'Reilly(book publisher and conference organizer), Alan Cox (Linux kernel maintainer), Rasmus Lerdorf (PHP) and Monty Widenius (MySQL) have endorsed our voting recommendations in a press release: http://www.ag-ip-news.com/GetArticle.asp?Art_ID=2254&lang=en

Should I win, the FFII will receive the prize money, and will be duly credited in my acceptance speech and a subsequent press release.

In addition to the general information that you find on the website, let me also say a few things about the unique relationship between the FFII and myself.

By participating in an FFII conference in April of last year, I became more aware of the political controversy over software patents. By subsequently participating in various FFII activities, I realized that citizens like us can indeed influence a political debate. With the financial support of three corporate sponsors (1&1, Red Hat, MySQL), I then founded the NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign as a complement to the FFII's own website and lobbying. From the conceptual stage on, I cooperated closely with the FFII. Without the FFII, I would not have become involved, let alone been impactful or successful, in the fight against an ill-conceived piece of patent legislation.

About six months ago, I handed the NoSoftwarePatents.com site to the FFII, and if you look at the voting form for the EV50 awards, then you will notice that the NoSoftwarePatents.com name is right next to my name. I'm running on the NoSoftwarePatents ticket, and in the name of a website that will, hopefully, be a cornerstone of future FFII campaigns in the software patent context.

The FFII and I jointly received this year's CNET Networks UK Technology Award in the Outstanding Contribution to Software Development category. It would only have been fair if we had always been jointly nominated for such awards and honors, but even where that is not formally the case, it's still the way I view it in practice.

For your convenience, here is another link to the voting recommendations: http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/en/m/ev50/vote.html

Thank you for considering to lend me your support, and once again, thanks to the FFII for everything! Best regards, Florian Mueller

Crossposted to LawPundit.
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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Digital Libraries Initiative of the European Union

We have been asked to join EUNews as a contributor and have made our first posting on the topic of:

EU Commission Advances Digital Libraries Initiative.

We refer also to our LawPundit posting on this same topic, which contains longer excerpts of the text of the referenced Commssion Communication.

Our postings to EUNews will relate to our selection of important news in the European Union and will involve little or no opinion.

By contrast, here on EUPundit, some of our postings are more in the nature of OP-EDs (opinion editorials).
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Saturday, October 01, 2005

Foreign Investment in the European Union (EU)

EUobserver.com reports that investment in the new European Union members states increased by 70 percent whereas investment in the old EU member states dropped by 36 percent in the year 2004.

It should be noted for the world as a whole that, on average, foreign direct investment (FDI) in developed countries decreased at the same time that FDI in underdeveloped countries increased. FDI is dominated - on average - to 2/3 by equity investment, with intra-company loans accounting for 23% (on average) and reinvested earnings for 12% (on average). The top spot in the world in terms of total amount of investment increase was occupied by Hong Kong (China), or 46% by percent increase.

The figures come from the World Investment Report 2005, 29 September 2005, prepared annually by UNCTAD, which can be downloaded directly from the UNCTAD website.

The report is 366 pages and there is also an overview of 50 pages available. The report is available in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.

Crossposted to LawPundit.

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