Brussels Briefing

Europe correspondent, Ann Cahill, delivers her weekly briefing on Euro affairs from the European Parliament.

Brussels Briefing

Cameron confesses to EU confusion

Britain’s prime minister David Cameron said he gets confused about the three EU institutions — despite the fact that his party’s MEPs sit in one, he nominates a commissioner to the second, and he himself takes part in the third.

He threw in the “welcome to the club” remark when US president Barak Obama said that after five and a half years as president he’s “learned a thing or two about the European Parliament, Commission and Council and added “sometimes I get them mixed up”.

A sad revelation for both, but particularly sad for the British people who have been part of a club for the past 40 years and that the man who would take them out says he is confused about them.

One wonders are they both confused also about the Senate, the House of Representatives, the president, his cabinet and the Supreme Court that make up the administration in the US.

UEFA wants to keep the game beautiful

UEFA, the European soccer body, says it wants to make sure that the result of every match in the beautiful game is a surprise.

Many games apparently are not a surprise to some people who fix the outcomes with players and managers — and make millions of euro on placing sure-thing bets.

UEFA has linked up officially with Europol now to fight against match fixing with its president, Michel Platini, admitting that they don’t have the resources themselves to kill the crime.

Different perspectives on Irish terrorists

Europol’s terrorism situation and trend report 2014 says there were 84 failed, foiled or completed attacks and 180 ethno-nationalist and separatists were arrested last year.

The perpetrators are listed as Óglaigh na h’Éireann, translated as Warriors of Ireland, the Continuity IRA and the Real IRA, who are described as separatist groups, like the Basques.

Seeing them as separatists is to view them from the British perspective that their aim is to separate Northern Ireland from the UK. In the Republic their aim is understood to be that of unification. A different perspective.

Shoot-to-kill probe reminder to Britain

Britain has been reminded once again to do something about the investigations into the deaths of eight people in Northern Ireland, mostly victims of the shoot-to-kill policy of 30 or so years ago.

The reminder came from the Council of Europe (which is not part of the EU) that reviewed Britain’s compliance with a number of court judgments in cases brought to the European Court of Human Rights by the victims’ relatives.

Six of the judgments given in 2001 to 2003 found problems with the investigations into the deaths while the most recent two, in 2013, found there was an excessive delay in the inquests.

The council welcomed the various promises from Belfast and London, but added that further measures may be needed to address the causes of the excessive delay in carrying out the inquests.

Justice blow for French politicians

TOP VICTIMS: One of the biggest killers of French political careers is the French justice system.

Among its recent victims are former presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, and would be president Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

And now it may do for IMF head Christine Lagarde, seen as a strong contender for European Commission president and future French president.

There is an ongoing inquiry into whether the size of compensation paid to a businessman was linked to his political donation to Mr Sarkozy. Ms Lagarde was finance minister at the time.

Putin a ‘winner’

Despite or perhaps because of his proxy war with Ukraine, Russian president Vladimir Putin is winning the propaganda war at home.

A poll last month found that more than 70% of Russians don’t like the United States — the highest since such surveys began 24 years ago.

Anti-smoking move

While the Taoiseach Enda Kenny is under siege from US big-business lobbying to kill Minister for Health Dr James Reilly’s plan for cigarette plain packaging, France is getting on with it.

Next week its health minister Marisol Touraine will announce measures that will see all cigarettes in the same size and colour box with all brand names in the same font and size without logos.

They are following the Australian model where smokers are complaining that plain packet cigarettes just don’t taste right — this despite them being exactly the same as those in the old branded boxes.

Blackcurrants ‘help prevent Alzheimer’s’

Blackcurrants have a very special bioactive compound that can help prevent people getting Alzheimer’s disease, according to a breakthrough by EU-funded research carried out in Finland, Spain, Germany, Poland and Britain.

This is good news as the numbers afflicted with the ailment — currently at 10% of those over 65 in the EU — is expected to rise substantially and affect 80 million by 2040.

The scientists working on the EU’s Brain Health Food project have now developed a food supplement with SMEs and the next step is to get European companies to produce them for general sale.

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