It's that time of year when periodicals of varying quality conduct retrospectives of the year past, assessing in some instances how the leading personalities in any given field have fared.
As an online periodical of variable quality, the 'Monster is pleased to follow suit.
Although, operating as the 'Monster does in the EU sphere, we're hard pressed to find any leading personalities, so a prod at the shower of has-beens and never-will-bes that inhabit our world will have to do.
BM is launching a gong-fest of its own, inspired in part by the European Voice's tired 'EV50' awards in which MEPs and commissioners take it in turns to receive awards one year after the next.
It's an award ceremony that prompted one BM reader to call into question the alleged high desert of some of the recipients. Why, it was posited, was “raddled Austro-bag” Benita Ferrero-Waldner pinned with 'diplomat of the year'?
“Real diplomats” our correspondent notes “have been heard to describe her handling of the Lebanon crisis as "stunningly bad". She also made a fist of Palestinan funding talks. In the medics affair thare are still persistent stories that she played a role in arm-twisting the Bulgarian victims to drop any litigation based on the fact they were tortured.”
Other readers sprayed cappuccino incredulously from their nostrils on seeing Viviane Reding receive 'commissioner of the year' for interventionist telecoms market regulation beyond the call of duty.
Nominations are therefore now open for the first ever annual 'Monsters.
We look forward to your suggestions for the awards themselves and their proposed recipients.
The Awards Committee 'Monsters '07
It's that time of year when periodicals of varying quality conduct retrospectives of the year past, assessing in some instances how the leading personalities in any given field have fared.
The European Commission has adopted a new and very welcome PR policy: if there's nothing going on, say nothing.
Except this week the commission decided to say nothing in a press release.
To regular users (victims) of the commission's press output, this may seem nothing new.
What was remarkable with this week's example was the ultimate brevity with which they said nothing.
The blank press release was even left out on the commission's document distribution table outside its press room, for journalists to pick up and peruse.
And helpfully, should the reader of the blank press release want to know more about nothing, the reverse side bears the contact details of someone in the press department who, presumably, is well briefed in nothing.
He puts Tolstoy and the Duracell bunnies to shame.
Friso Roscam-Abbing, European Commission spokesman for justice commissioner Franco Frattini, seems to think that as 'speaking' is in his job title, he needs to do it all day every day.
There is barely a European Commission press briefing goes by (and they are every day, mind), without an intervention by the verbose Dutchman, keen to hawk his commissioner's wares on detention centres, police cooperation, immigation and the like.
Worthy subjects indeed, but not of universal appeal, it must be noted. And of even less allure when briefed with such relentless attrition.
His exasperated senior colleagues do their best. He has been instructed in in-house meetings to try and cut back on the verbiage. And frequently on the briefing platform the head spoke will introduce Roscam-Abbing's spots with a pointed reminder that it is to be a 'brief' one.
Not a word in Friso's vocabulary.
At one particular midday press meeting this week, Roscam-Abbing - yet again - wanted to 'bring something to the attention' of the assembled hacks, and once again was reminded to be 'brief'.
Fifteen minutes later only came the respite as he returned, purple with exhaustion, to his seat.
It almost makes one pine for the days when commission spokesmen didn't want to do their job at all.
BM says - apologies to our contributor for the late posting of this, but if you wondered why things have been a little slow in Brussels this past week, you need look no further ...
Brussels politics was left paralysed this morning after trade unions and social NGOs expressed “extreme disappointment” at developments in the European Union. The severe emotional state was sparked by the Commission’s rejection of calls for an EU law defining public services and the ways to protect them from internal market rules.
Utilising the highly successful ‘mother-in-law’ lobbying strategy, social partners have invoked levels of distress amongst officials not seen since last Boxing Day. “They’ve been miffed before but never sulked on this scale.” noted one diplomat. “We went round with chocolates, but they still expressed a wonder that we turned out like this, just like they knew we would the day they first met us.”
The emotional blackmailing tactic is often used in meetings, and can range from passive-aggressively knitting in the corner of the room, to frequent and disruptive harrumphing. In some cases, trade unions have been known to offer sweets to everyone in the room except the organisers, to great effect.
Mediators, in the form of Commission spouses, are attempting to relax the stand-off with sympathetic murmurings. It is hoped that work on the policy area may be resumed by this afternoon if the Social NGOs can be talked down to “mild displeasure”.
However, those who remember the Services Directive “Black Tuesday” are sceptical as to the likelihood of a quick resolution. “World-weary bitterness may sound less intense, but when combined with the collective throwing up of hands, it incurred a terrible sense of guilt. It took us months to get back to normal, just sniping across the table.”
Original source: http://euobserver.com/9/25173/
Responding to concerns over the vast disparities in quality and content of conferences, workshops, forums and symposia across the EU bloc, the Commission today unveiled a proposal for promoting a harmonised approach to organising conferences. This aims to take the best each Member State has to offer in hosting terms, and transpose it to the EU level. Given the lack of formal competence the EU has in this area, the harmonisation will take the form of a delicately balanced points system, which recipients of EU funding will have to implement in any project-related meetings. It is thought that at least 85% of conferences in Europe receive some form of European funding.
The premise is simple. Conference-organisers will have to reach a 25 point threshold, or risk financing the conference themselves. Points are added for using the best Europe has to offer, and deducted for gross misuse of expertise. For example, using Italian venues, cuisine and general lavishness (when using an EU budget line) would add 5 points to the total, but any use of Italian workshop planning would immediately incur a deduction of 10 points.
“It makes sense” commented an exhausted official on the plane back from Milan. “Italians should never, ever, be allowed to host workshops. Not unless you want eight minor officials competing with each other over whose statistics are more detailed, leaving two minutes for questions. And, kuñardocz, did we have questions.”
Points may be given for using any of the following:
- German implementation: 10
- British debating techniques: 5
- Swedish furniture and/or teleconferencing: 5/5
- Spanish/Portuguese post-conference social organisation: 10
- Italian catering: 5
- Dutch audience participation: 5
- Polish chairing/bluntness: 5
Points may be deducted for dogmatic Austrian interventions during discussion periods.
Points available for Belgian biscuits during coffee breaks on a sliding scale according to chocolatey-ness.
It is hoped that this harmonisation will end years of frustrating, circular dialogue on the conference circuit. However, critics of the proposal have highlighted that if circular, pointless, dialogue were to be eradicated then many EU conferences would no longer have a reason to exist. Responding to this criticism the Commission overseeing the proposal stated “Well that goes to the heart of one of the major elements of the proposal. Never, under any circumstances, allow the French to determine content and topics for discussion. Immediate disqualification.”
Eurobrats tend to the ambivalent about political goings-on in their adopted home. But they're not alone.
The natives are hardly any more exercised, it seems, judging by the limp reaction so far to a rallying cry to march for a united Belgium this weekend.
As the national political structure crumbles separatists from the Flemish and Walloon halves of the country, both alike in dignity, have received something of a fillip to their respective causes, and from ancient grudge break to new mutiny.
In reaction, unionists have organised a demonstration in Brussels to show the separatists are not the dominant voice.
And no-one can fault them for embracing modern means of spreading their message - more than six thousand inhabitants have received an invitation via a Facebook group for the 'Verzameling voor België - Rassemblement pour la Belgique'
The response, however, bodes ill for the future of Belgium as we know it.
Not a single invitee has confirmed attendance to date.
942 respondents 'may be attending' at least, but another 1300 definitely aren't.
And almost four thousand haven't replied at all.
If a mouse-button is such a hassle to deploy in the name of one's country, little hope then to pursuade patriots to risk breaking into a sweat.
Inhabitants of what is soon to become the Free Democratic Principality of Brussels: get your passport applications in now.
First recorded usage of new pan-EU profanity spotted
BM is proud, nay, smug even to announce that the new pan-European swearword, unveiled by our own esteemed virtual organ , has registered its first independent usage.
The expletive 'kuñardocz' has been spotted on an Irish blog in what the 'Monster is extra pleased to note is an exemplary exploitation of the word.
The author has delivered a textbook invocation of kuñardocz in its use as an ejaculation of anger or frustration.
BM readers are encouraged to follow suit, and slip the imprecation at random into your missives, e-mails, memos, Green Papers, press releases, job applications etc.
To paraphrase Spike Milligan:
Say kuñardocz every day
That's what my grandma used to say
It keeps at bay the Asian Flu'
And both your elbows free from glue.
So say kuñardocz every day
(That's what my grandma used to say)
To help with spoken usage, here is a phonetic representation of the word:
[ kʊnjaːrdɔʒ ]
Last one to use it is a wanker.
New proposals for a Blue Card system - designed to attract the most highly skilled workers to Europe – are sparking heated debate across Europe. Traditionally a politically sensitive topic for Member States, the EU institutions are preparing for a long and delicate journey towards adoption in the Council.
The central dispute, initial reports confirm, is the exact shade of blue which will be used for the system.
Despite a high likelihood of opting out, the UK is adamant that only a “nice Bristol blue, almost iridescent in nature” will convey the attractiveness of the scheme to those with tertiary education. Germany, ever cautious towards the harmonisation process, is partial to a dark navy. Immigration officials from both sides are working to a rapprochement, probably indigo.
To the south, Mediterranean countries have once more formed a regional bloc, and are lobbying for a metallic aquamarine “in commemoration of all those migrants who tragically perished attempting to reach the shores of Europe”. Northern states have variously condemned this proposal as “sick,” “ghoulish”, and “tacky, we’re not a strip club you know”.
Suggestions from the smaller Member States include Chimay, Delft, and the colour of the curtains in the Ministry for Education. Meanwhile, a number of others – notably France, Romania, and Estonia - are promoting their national flags.
While the Commission remains convinced that the solution lies within the EU’s own flag (with possible incorporation of a shiny gold star), technical officials have noted that, as usual, the Member States have missed the point of the legislative proposal.
“You know that green cards aren’t actually green, don’t you?” one asked, on condition of anonymity. “They can talk all they like, but we’re sticking with white, possibly beige.”
Shocked staff at the Council of the European Union received the following email this afternoon:
"Watch out for mice!
A infestation of mice has been observed on certain floors, undoubtedly caused by the major alteration work in progress on floors 01 and 02. Measures have been put in place to thwart this infestation, but in order that these measures may work efficiently, it is important to not leave any edible products in the offices."
It's understood that the ladies who work at the Council may be allowed time off work to stand on chairs and scream.
From the wonderful Manneken Pics:
Somebody in Brussels, ostensibly from DG Installation Art and Scaffolding, commissioned a large waterfall that you spells out words to sit on Schuman roundabout and advertise something.
On careful examination, we think it spells "Maritime". To purchase your next maritime, please contact fisheries commissioner Joe Borg.
Suggestions are being voiced in the Berlaymont about the relationship between Joe Borg and commissioner for the environment, Stavros Dimas. Things are looking rocky.
When asked by a Christmas Islander (obviously) whether he "coordinate[s] with Joe Borg on issues" and if he sees "the importance of closer links with Joe Borg?", Stavros Dimas replied with a terse "the communication is good," leaving everybody to suspect otherwise.
Perhaps we'll see the commission's most follicaly challenged men go head to shiny head sometime soon?
And the biggest thanks this week goes to Eliab at England Expects for drawing our attention to a young President Barroso proclaiming "This act is the symptom of the crisis of the bourgeois Education System!"
“I believe that the proposal approved today, in this plenary, on the applicants to the first year [in university] and presented by the revolutionary students’ commission, is an entirely fair proposal. It is a proposal aiming on the right direction of the combat, made within a revolutionary structure. It demands to the governmental authorities the immediate admission of the students and stresses the lawfulness of this admission. We have to take into consideration that the issue of the “students’civic service” had already been discussed last year . The Education and Research Ministery, lets call it as such, is supporting the “students’ civic service” act. This act is the symptom of the crisis of the bourgeois Education System! This act is entirely wrong, anti-proletarian and anti-popular! It throws students against workers and workers against students.”
BRUSSELS – The average European Commission press release takes days to absorb, and requires a cognitive process longer and more complicated than any literature pre-dating the commission's existence.
A recently-published thesis by a now-certifiable, Swedish academic shows that the style of the thousands of press releases churned out every year - 1,907 last year alone – is reducing the will to live, and read, amongst citizens across Europe.
Through a combined use of language and tense, the commission's press releases are "sometimes openly nonsensical" and are occasionally tweaked to remove any last vestiges of clarity or content.
"The commission ostensibly uses press releases for informative purposes but actually to confuse and obfuscate," says the study, adding that it often goes out of its way to repeat words and phrases with identical meaning – such as confuse and obfuscate - to deter non-native English speakers.
A commission spokesperson responded that the executive is very conscious of wording in legal and technical areas where "there is a possibility that anyone might understand what our policy is" and so must use carelessly irrelevant language.
DG EAC will be using the results of the study to promote new literacy programmes across the continent, but have yet to release a statement. Its press peer review board – three leading linguistics professors and a numerologist – were able to decipher the most recent draft, and work on a new algorithmic Sanskrit version is ongoing.
BM adds: We know it's true ... we read it in the Observer
EU lawmongers have approved draft plans for a Single European Swearword, in order to allow grievances to be aired in a harmonised fashion across the bloc's borders.
The 'euxpletive' eventually settled on is 'kuñardocz'.
It has been hailed by EU governments as "the ejaculation European citizens deserve."
But one experienced pottymouth called the new unified imprecation "unmitigated fucking bilge."
"It lacks plosive satisfaction, and any traditional link with scatological or sexual connotations. Nor even does it summon an invocation of a blasphemous nature."
"In short, it's shit."
Kuñardocz has been foreseen as pretty much a 'catch all' swearword for any occasion.
It can be used in isolation to describe someone as a 'kuñardocz' (a kind of 'twit' or 'wholesale brazen fuckstick').
In other contexts, users should place the word at the end of a sentence to express anger or frustration, such as:
"Why won't this door open, kuñardocz."
"Wo sind meine Brille, kuñardocz."
"Mais c'est quoi ce bordel, putain, J'ai essayé toutes sortes de crèmes et pommades de merde mais il ne se guérit toujours pas, kuñardocz."
The SES is to enter into force formally next March.
Berlaymonster learns from sources inside DG DIGIT, the commission's IT department, that some EU civil servants are spending up to five hours a day on "social" networking website, Facebook.
"It's a serious issue," says our whistleblower. "Staff are poking each other when you'd expect them to be drinking coffee."
Facebook allows users to communicate, rather like the telephone, only without any sounds. You can also join "groups" and send "messages".
One such group is called "I heart EU Commission spokespersons". One adherent of the group fwubs:
"It's in Michael Mann's occasional irreverent courtside glance and Oliver Drewes's slightly queer half-German, half-Irish accent, and Stefaan de Rynck's floppy, foppish public school boy hair. Or perhaps, it's in Emma Udwin's stern yet powerfully seductive enunciations. Whatever it is, we're captivated, they're dreamy, and there's nothing we want more than for them to whisper sweet nothings about farm subsidies and a unified european sky to our eagerly awaiting ears."
In an effort to demonstrate solidarity with the plight of hundreds of parliamentary assistants, Commission stagiares and other poorly-paid interns across the Schuman square mile, one Facebook group has garnered literally tens of people in membership.
This group hopes to raise the profile of the brutal abuse of young EU employees. Those not left permanently disabled by the green flashes of the photocopier are forced to endure interminable think-tank panel discussions, taking notes that will never see the light of day.
Survivors - rehabilitated with a regular salary and compensated through a range of so-called ‘perks’- are often unable to retrieve their memories this period. Activists say this is a direct result of hangovers they experienced during their internment ('internship' shurely? ed).
The broad demographic of the group membership demonstrates the depth of support: the age span of the white, middle class, tertiary educated membership spans from precocious teenagers all the way to mid-twenties professionals.
A recent post on the group page suggested that a public demonstration or march might do more to highlight the issue, though one ‘officer’ noted that ‘we’ll probably just meet in Place Luxembourg as usual’.
The commission group "Place Lux Regulars" counts 1,114 members at the time of going to press.
Westmonster has been launched and Nosemonkey has the gentillesse to tip his hat to yours truly. He says that we are "entertaining".
We have nothing to do with Westmonster. But we like the name. We are also for sale, if you're interested.
Meanwhile, Reflections on cognitive interdependencies in policy making (why-oh-why didn't we think of that?) sees "this blog as one of the best examples of the cyberspace part of this [EU] ecosystem " [link]
Jon Worth says we're "amusing". Then he says we're "patchy".
Jon Worth is a communications consultant. Clearly of the highest calibre.
A fawning, poo-stained-nose piece from Brussels Comment describes us variously as "irreverent", "humorous", "great stuff" and asks the very pertinent "how can you not love Berlaymonster"?
... how indeed?
From a reader:
SO you think you’ve got it bad? Whenever you are tempted to moan about your sorry professional sort, think of the poor European commission official whose job consists of travelling around the EU ensuring that sheep are castrated. This is no joke, folks: the castrations are some weird requirement for the handing out of Common Agricultural Fund cash.
But how does one check a castration, I hear you ask? Well yes, you have to sneak up behind the poor animal and slip your gloved hand between his legs. Nice!
This from the people who brought you olive tree counters: officials who used to whiz around the EU making sure farmers had not claimed subsidy on non-existent trees, by counting them (though sadly out of a job since the introduction of satellite technology).
A written question to the Council in June wanted to know why the castration
without anasthesia of piglets was still permitted in the EU despite it being flagged up as barbaric more than ten years ago.
The Council's answer?
"... the responsibility [...] lies with the Commission."
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso is to appear on billboards across the continent in a new campaign by Benetton.
A spokesman for the company said the advert was intended not only to bang the drum for racial diversity, but also to represent a wider spectrum of income.
"It's a way of bringing to the fore the hitherto underrepresented overpaid minority" said the spokesman.
The move to take on Barroso to publicise its wares is a bold one, given the slump in baseball cap sales following an unsuccessful guerrilla marketing campaign involving commission vice-president Guenther Verheugen last year... (that's more than enough Verheugen. ed.)
(photo spotted by a BM peruser on the website of Brussels Ethiopian restaurant Kokob www.kokob.be following a visit by Bozo and his entourage)
The 'Monster's extended estivation is over, folks.
Behold its regulatory wrath as it rises from its summer rest.
Stand in fear and awe as it bares its gums at governments, businesses and citizens alike, ready to start anew its rapacious legislatory rampage.
But lemme have a coffee wi' me chums and check me emails first.
During the holiday period, at a time when it is hard to the point of impossible to squeeze an intelligible comment out of the European Commission on policy issues due to galloping absenteeism, the body seems only too happy to haemorage PR on other matters in which it has little or no competence whatsoever.
In two back-to-back press releases today, commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has issued his cut-and-paste condolences on the passing of Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni.
Bergman's family will be no doubt touched by Barroso's "great saddness [sic]", while 'Michelangleo' [again, sic] Antonioni's "family and friends" (as Bergman had no friends?) will take great comfort in their time of grief of the commission president's "considerable sorrow".
And all expressed in the utmost sincerity in that most personal of forms: a misspelt press release issued remotely while on holiday.
And the reason why he felt the need to spout forth? Well, er, they were both leading lights in 'European' cinema and, er, he is head of the, er, 'European' Commission...
Industry calls for concrete proposals for lunch
This just caught the eye of one BM reader from an industry grouping calling itself the Cement Sustainability Initiative.
In a recent brochure, the CSI, lauding how good for the environment it can be to concrete over vast tracts of woodland and greenbelt land for supermarkets etc, had this extraordinary claim to make:
"Concrete is the second most consumed product on the planet after water."
BM's priorities are clearly out of kilter, prefering, as it does, a slug of Chimay or a cheeky Crozes Hermitage over water anyday.
Concrete comes only a close fourth.
Whilst strolling among the happy crowds on National Day, a BM reader was visiting the EU's stands and admiring their snappy motto 'Europe Cares' on bags, hats and various publications.
Sadly there was no further explanation of what Europe cared about.
Presumably not referendums.
But what really caught his eye was DG Development's "Afrika's on the move" tour-bus. It wasn't the non-specific spelling of "Afrika" that surprised him, rather the larger-than-life cartoon cut-out of a larger-than-life "Afrikan".
With comedy staring eyes, oversized red lips, a raised eyebrow and stupid arm-gesture, our reader was sure he'd seen this racial stereotype somewhere before ...
One vexed BM reader has sent in this headline from a Tory MEP's press release today:
"Girl told to return to Spain in tug of love case can stay in UK"
Quite apart from the tortured grammar, what can Edward McMillan-Scott possibly mean by a 'tug of love'?
One shudders at the image...
So here's a more innocent interpretation:
The European Union is entering a new era of policy-making, with the passing of the seasons the latest object of the bloc's slavish law-mongering.
Summer has already been catered for, with mobile roaming charges falling below new price caps agreed in time for the holidays. And new standardised labels are to start appearing on sunscreen bottles too, thanks to timely intervention from the EU's regulators.
With autumn round the corner, the commission is to unveil a brown paper on leaf safety in early September and pan-European standards for mellow fruitfulness.
Proposals for voluntary coniferous reafforestation will come into force shortly before Christmas.
And early March next year should see the European Parliament seeking to clamp down on the trade on cute widdle bunny wabbit fur.
The initiatives are all to be set out in the commission's 'Vivaldi Strategy' to be adopted next week.
- In parallel the commission is to launch infringement proceedings against summer for poor implementation and breach of obligations ...
(under the Nice Weather Treaty? Er, no. ed.)
EU-phemisms on the rise
The EU's audiovisual service Europe By Satellite already shares airspace on its new satellite provider with such niche gentlemen's services as Playboy TV and Spice Platinum (see previous BM coverage).
But now the European Commission has gone a step further.
For those who somehow missed the media flurry over this, the commission has launched its own channel on YouTube called EUtube.
And one of its inaugural videos is a montage of sex scenes from European films to celebrate, somehow, the continent's rich cinematic heritage. The clip, Film lovers will love this!, has attracted controversy.
But it also presents BM with a priceless opportunity to open the floor to EU-related porn puns.
Simply reach for your Penguin book of EU jargon, pick a random page, and see if you can find something feebly torturable into a smutty reference of sorts.
While BM perused the aforementioned clip, for example (research purposes only), a few sprang to mind:
"I always wondered what Ever Closer Union meant. That's pretty close."
"Aha, United in Perversity."
"Oof, he's no candidate for enlargement is he..."
"Well SHE clearly met the entry requirements."
"Is that what you call a horizontal strategy?"
The prize of a copy of Debbie Does the EU and the highlights of European Erections 2004 to the best submissions.
Tony Blair, minutes away from handing over the
reigns reins of the horse that is Great Britain to an unelected premier, has been informally invited to be the Club of Madrid's newest member.
It's understood that Barcelona couldn't afford the transfer fee.
A representative from the Club, an old boys network promoting democracy, transition and self-interest, is quoted as saying that "our members are very excited about a man of his qualities joining us".
It's understood that the Club, which counts Mikhail Gorbachev, Helmut Kohl, Wim Kok and John Major as members, will use its informal networks to support Blair's projects as Middle East envoy for the US, Russia, the UN and the EU.
The invitation is understood to be issued formally within the next few hours. It is unlikely that he'll be allowed to bring a friend.
Ryanair boss Michael 'Lary' O'Leary has been at it again, loud-hailing his way into the headlines by being rude about Brussels.
On the eve of the European Commission's anticipated veto of his planned merger with fellow Irish airline Aer Lingus, O'Leary buttered up the hacks with rich rhetorical pickings, accusing Brussels of being politically motivated and of having leaked the decision in advance (which it hadn't - Ryanair itself had got there first weeks ago...).
He even said that EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes 'wouldn't even even be impressed if he was standing on his hat, nude'.
Kroes today concurred with the cantankerous County Cork man, saying:
"He's right, I wouldn't be impressed."
If he were, say, to attempt naked unicycling, however, that might be a different matter.
Next time, Mike.
Following the success of our Political Sudoku feature last week (see below), make the most of the reams of inconsequential jargon-ridden coverage to come out of the EU Summit this week to join fellow BM readers in a game of:
As EU leaders meet to trot out the same old bilge about qualified majority voting et al, the 'F-Key' coverage is already starting to hit the newstand.
Pick any article about the EU Summit from any of your favourite, or least favourite, news media in the next few days, and simply tot up the Summit coverage cliches.
The submission with the most of the following words or phrases wins a disappointing set of Council Conclusions.
-Face off over
-Late into the night
-Heels, dug in
*Journo-Lingo-Bingo isn't a trademark of Berlaymonster Ltd.
That was the question on the lips of many a hack leaving a recent European Commission press briefing.
Head commish spoke Johannes Laitenberger declined to speculate in response to a question, and uttered "we are not here to play political sudoku".
Politicians, used to playing 'political football', have clearly become more sedentary.
And this was not one of Laitenberger's occasional malaproprisms...
He once spent a whole week briefing about EU issues with "Ukrainia" and is known to decline to draw parallels with the phrase "this is comparing apples and peers" (a kind of fruit of an all too different ilk).
No, political sudoku is an actual game, and here, on BM, is an explanation.
You have nine political cliches. Fit all nine into one large square (such as Laitenberger, for example). Every press briefing and commissioner's speech must contain all nine cliches.
Here's a grid to get you started (level: C-grade)
Lewis Crofts, Brussels-based journo for high-brow news agency MLex, and formerly of EUPolitix and GPlus, has published his first novel and called it The Pornographer of Vienna.
Which will ensure he shifts a couple of copies.
So far so controversial. But his page-turner, presumably written during the midday press-briefings where he's a regular face, has been "incensing browsers", according to The Telegraph.
It seems that Crofts has emblazoned a lady's "private parts" all over the spine of the book, causing one book-buyer to claim it's "disgusting!" and should be kept out of the reach of children.
And Telegraph readers, presumably.
Austrian news agency, ORF, reported yesterday that VP of European Commission, Günther Verheugen, acknowledged his defeat in the Belgian elections.
While the Belgian electorate expressed surprise that German Mr. Verheugen was running, incognito, for these elections, Mr. Verheugen said only, ""I consider that the question of where and with whom I choose to spend my June weekends is a purely private matter which does not concern anyone other than my wife, who was informed about it.”"
The European Union has responded to Russia's threat to point its missiles towards its western neighbours with a stern warning it will be pointing its fingers back at Moscow.
With Russia's nuclear missiles soon to be trained upon Europe's capitals, EU leaders are expected to respond in kind, deploying their finger-pointing in Putin's direction as G8 talks get underway in Heiligendamm*, Germany this week.
In a sign Europe is toughening its line with Russia, EU representatives are to adopt a more rigorous digital indication policy, with its prior finger-pointing strategy now likely to be accompanied by a narrowing of the eyes, a jabbing motion, and a bit of accusatory but barely audible tutting.
*In English "Holy Damn!"
Jacques Barrot this morning pronounced the European Intergalactic Satellite Commission's decision to outsource "Galileo", its navigational satellite projects, to a Sino-Korean consortium "a great success".
Plagued by disagreement and difficulty since its inception, the European plans to launch satellites to rival the USA's GPS systems weren't going anywhere fast, until a man identified only as "Uncle Hau" stepped forward with a cut-price offer to get the work done in a few months.
Said Mr. Barrot: "it's one enormement leaping forward for the mankind, and a littlest step in the right direction for the European Union."
The Chinese group will begin work on the satellites this afternoon and will be available for new projects from November.
To celebrate the decision, Margot Wällstrom will be hosting a Brussels celebrity edition of "Stars in their Eyes" and Patrick Moore, famous British astronomist and misogynist, will be proposing a motion to the European Parliament to free women from the chains of suffrage.
I just received a press release entitled:
"Sharing police records: Conference discusses German presidency proposal"
It was only after I had unearthed my gatefold sleeve original of Brimstone and Black, and 'Every Breath You Take' picture disk, that I bothered to read further.
Thereupon, imagine how foolish I felt on discovering the statement was about enhanced cross-border cooperation on access to national DNA databases, and not an institutional vinyl collectors' club for fans of the Sting's former 80's combo!
Hackette puts 'Speedy' in a spin
Nicolas Sarkozy piled on the charm in spades at his maiden Brussels press conference as French President this week, taking a rather embarassingly obvious shining to the perky editor of eurovillage rag the European Voice.
Dana Spinant hit the hyperactive mini-Frenchman hard with a probing Pulitzer-winning question on whether his ambitions for enhanced cooperation might not create a two-speed Europe ... or something.
Gesticulating his way through a protracted response on his right as a politician to pass comment on the Euro, he suddenly pulled up short:
"All of a sudden, such was my enthusiasm, I forget the other part of your question, what was it?" he asked.
"It must be your red headband that distracted me" he added, flashing that winning knee-high grin Spinant's way.
She put her question once more, successfully unshaken by the Sarko smarm.
But he was not to be put off, prefacing his answer with a twinkle, a pout, and a "you have such a wonderful way of putting your questions..."
Journalists gagged in nauseous dismay, while the large audience of non-hacks who had muscled in to see the great little man tittered jealously like adoring schoolgirls.
And for any journalists who had somehow not noticed the preponderation of visitors and civil servants who had meandered in to the press room for a gawp, the telltale sign came at the end when the assembled throng applauded the whole emetic display.
Shout it from the solar-panelled rooftops...
The following is an actual press release. No, it is. BM hereby hangs up hat.
Press release fromn the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation follows:
Secretary General of ESTIF has married, changed name to Uwe Trenkner
Brussels, 07. May 2007. Uwe Brechlin, Secretary General of the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF), has announced his marriage to Ms Tanja Trenkner. In keeping with the dynamic changes in the solar thermal sector, he also announced that he will take on her family name. Uwe Brechlin thus turned into Uwe Trenkner during the wedding ceremony on Saturday the 28 April.
"After 2,5 years of long distance relationship, Tanja gave up her job in Germany and joined me in Brussels - which allowed me to stay with ESTIF. By taking on her family name, I am able to give a little something back to her", says Uwe Trenkner.
After having met at an Amnesty International conference in Wuppertal, Germany in 2003, Tanja and Uwe quickly realised that they had more in common than an interest in human rights. In January 2006, the two moved together in Schaerbeek, one of the 19 municipalities of the Brussels region.
"The solar thermal market is booming throughout Europe, the industry is growing, and so is its voice in Brussels, ESTIF. And with the newly elected president Gerhard Rabensteiner, everyone will quickly get used to two new names at ESTIF." adds Uwe Trenkner.
"..............." - (the sound of BM lost for words...)
Berlaymonster recently reported on some peculiar goings on at the Asia Institute Europe, responsible, or possibly not responsible, for the Sen Lecture Series on Sustainable Development.
Invitees to tomorrow's event were invited by a new, unknown host: the Asia Institute Europe. Police are currently investigating claims about this group.
Lord Browne of BP was to give the second in the series of lectures.
And now it seems, the esteemed Lord Browne of Madingley, Group Chief Executive of BP, is no longer Group Chief Executive.
It is unknown if the lecture will go ahead as foreseen.
Incidentally, the Berlaymonster hears that a flunky at BP passed on this message to one of the organisers of the lecture. Lord Browne, apparently, "does not like waiting around at entrances!".
We're sure he's got used to the exit by now.
Eurocrats comfortably ensconced in a load of bullshit.
If only we were making this up ...
So it seems that a "Written declaration on greenhouse gas emissions by the livestock sector" has been issued by a couple of Members of the European Parliament. Jan Christian Ehler and Romana Cizelj, both elected members of the club and neither idiots, have called "on the Commission to look again at the livestock question in direct connection with global warming and to take appropriate action".
Whilst the Commission is understandably excited to get the opportunity to legitimately investigate keeping cow farts in jam jars, it's understood that an irritable electorate is starting to feel uneasy about the fucking monumental farce that is the role of an MEP.
Next week - some pratt fields a motion about Liverpool football club. Oh wait ... it's already been done.
Thanks to Elaib
Brussels Airlines, the bastard lovechild of Virgin Express and SN Brussels, conceived after one night of "drunken stupidity" on the tarmac in Zaventem has employed an expensive team of consultants to launch their new "light" tariffs.
They came up with this:
It's understood that the same team of designers got an "honourable mention" for their contribution to the EU's 50th anniversary logo competition.
Expats on the alert after honey-pots turn sour
Concern is mounting that wealthy, middle-aged men and women working for the European institutions in Brussels are being taken advantage of by money-hungry slappers and toyboys of Belgian extraction. It must be true, it's in the papers.
Eurocrats are famous in the capital for their propensity to spend money on overpriced drinks, hookers and decorators, but this is the first time suggestions have been made over the willful manipulation of lonely-hearts at the painful expense of their "hard-earned" salaries.
Said one young lady from Vilvoorde, who preferred not to be named, "My friends and I always hang out in the European district after the close of work on Thursday and Friday. We're guaranteed to find a fat Swede only too happy to spend his tax-free euros on keeping us bubbly. When it's time to go home we kick him in the balls and call a cab."
But Berlaymonster has heard of more sinister goings on the corridors of the European Parliament. Which right-leaning MEP is being blackmailed for more than a thousand euros a month by a former cleaner after he decided he didn't need his knob polishing any more ???
Answers on a postcard. Winner gets a night out in Vilvoorde.
A BM reader wonders out loud why a series of lectures hosted by the prestigious European Institute for Asia Studies now seems mysteriously to be run by a completely new body.
The EIAS think tank, in association with the Harvard Society, the Cambridge Society and Oxford society, began the lecture series last year under the auspices of renowned development guru Professor Amartya Sen.
An invitation to the next in the series, with the esteemed Lord Browne - soon to be ex-Chair of BP - was sent curiously on a Saturday, and not from the erstwhile hosts.
Instead, it came from an unknown bunch called the Asia Institute Europe, a new think tank so fresh it has no perceptible web presence bar the homepage of the new-look Sen lectures themselves, and a couple of articles by AIE's CEO Willem van der Geest.
But wait, is this the Willem van der Geest who, at least until very recently, was Director of EIAS?
Our reader hopes and trusts that a man of Mr van der Geest's profile will have made sure that his departure, seemingly to set up this new competing think tank, was entirely above board and that there's no question of him having cheekily plundered EIAS' mailing lists one quiet March weekend ...
European Commissioner for telecoms Vivian Reding has been exposed as a champers-swilling lush, who'll pop a cork at the drop of a hat.
Her spokesman Martin Selmayr told hacks today that Reding, currently on a trip to China, had cracked open a bottle of champagne on hearing her proposals to cap mobile roaming rates had been voted through a European Parliament committee (number seven on the 'You know you've been in Brussels too long when ...' list).
Asked if she had genuinely indulged in a slug of bubbly, the soon-to-be-ex-spin doctor replied:
"If you knew commissioner Reding, you'd know she would never miss such an opportunity."
BM is looking forward to the invite to the party when the proposals go to a decisive vote later this year.
And if it all goes pear-shaped, will she turn to gin instead?
Heather Mills, Paul McCartney's rancid ex-wife, on the tabloid press:
"I sue them, I generally win, I get a two-line apology. My next campaign is going to go to the European Parliament to create a law of not misinforming the public and the size of the lie that they say should be the size of the apology."
So that's how you get things done? Any laws you need creating? Call Ms Mills.
Has there been another monumental fuck-up?
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - European Commission officials were being interrogated by Belgian police on Tuesday afternoon (27 March) following surprise raids by police on commission buildings. Far be it from the Berlaymonster to suggest a solution ... but we think that the good people at OLAF would be best equipped to
Jos Colpin at the Brussels prosecutor's office told EUobserver the officials arrested on Tuesday are suspected of "passive corruption," or taking "bribes" from real estate and security firms.
The officials being interrogated - the number of which is not being made public - possibly "circumvented normal tendering procedures" involving the commission's representation premises in Luxembourg, France and Italy.
bury deal with this issue, shirley?
Full story at the EUobserver
Celebrating a half-century of "all-washed-up-ness"
Fifty years of EU bungling was marked yesterday by a huge tidal wave across Belgium, which went largely unnoticed by Brussels residents.
A representative from the European Climate Change Program said it represented "a stark warning [which will] open our eyes to the dangers of global warming, carbon emissions and bureaucracy".
Commission officials are understood to be working flat out to repair damage caused to inter-institutional decision-making procedures, which have never really recovered since the catastrophic Treaty of Rome in 1957.
The Council is working on the removal of a boat (pictured) which is understood to have been carried on a flood of paperwork from Germany.
For more information, please call 1-800-EU-FLOODED and ask for Jim.
A story of romantic nibblings from reader "TW":
A mole was attending the mutual masturbation session that is the European Business Summit where hordes of identical white middle class men in identical suits gather to flirt with the girls hosting the mind-blowingly pompous and self-regarding stands, whilst holding mobile phone
conversations with people fortunate enough not to have spunked out 300 Euro to attend.
There were a lot of 'workshops' where people said very little of substance, but management bollocks featured heavily. Am I the only person who thinks the word 'workshop' should only be used to refer to places where light engineering is performed?
Naturally in the atmosphere of mutual admiration and mutual ego-stroking, there were Commissioners galore. One of them was Mandy, who spoke during the not-very-good-English-titled workshop 'Globilisation: from stand on to trade off.
What fuckwit came up with that? Anyway, Attendees were treated to a bizarre sight. Throughout the whole session Mandy and the Moderator, Dr Adrian van den Hoven, of Business Europe, kept constantly passing notes to each other. What made this stand out was that Mandy tried to keep stony faced, mostly, but Dr van den Hoven kept bursting into the biggest grin seen since Stephen Twigg toppled Portillo, each time he received another line on the notepad they were passing to and fro.
It was like being at the back of the class in Junior school. Perhaps they were playing 'consequences' or arranging a private debriefing session, but to many present the message was clear; "Peter, you've pulled".
Perhaps intoxicated by this drama, Mandy showed his comic talents when he announced, in response to a question, "Of course I have no independent view of my own", that was met by discrete chuckles from the audience.
Press reports have suggested that current Save-The-World Commissioner Louis Michel is to cease activities in his post in charge of development policy at the European Commission in order to “run” for the Belgian national elections.
The idea that this man could “run” for anything other than down the pie-shop is quite preposterous. This is a man who would never “run” for election, it has therefore been suggested he might possibly “stand” as a candidate, but many commentators have suggested that even that is unlikely.
According to a preliminary copy of the ballot sheet, submitted anonymously to Berlaymonster, the Belgian authorities are allowing Michel to “squat” for election.
In what looks to be a promising series of photographs, one reader modified the sack-clad Everyman we wrote about last month. He said "he added a post-modern comment ... by sticking a Coke can on its foot."
What does this say to us? The European institutions kicking multinationalism and corporate irresponsibility into touch. This is symbolic of the Commission's battle against the monsters of business, a soulignement of the Microsoft Wars.
The 'Monster thus invites all readers to submit photos of their modifications to this and other well-known EU embellishments. Only genuine, real-life modifications accepted. No image-editing.
The winner will get a can of spraypaint, a big bag of gak and a hug from David Cameron.
Press Association and The Times today have reported on an EU cake-off by the German Presidency, with a bakery specialty to be chosen from each EU member state.
Eccles Cakes and Hot Cross Buns have been chosen to represent Britain. Could this mean an ignominious end to Geoff Hoon's tenure as Europe minister? Usurped by a jumped-up biscuit?
It's last year's news, and perhaps a little too easy, but our puerile minds could not resist it...
Er, 'whipping out his tool' ... um ... 'screwing' ... er ... and is that a cabinet he's drilling?... Notice he's not wearing protection ... etc.
Previously on this story:
BM campaign - keep Verheugen nude snaps under wraps
BM apology: season of missed puns
VP Verheugen denies favouritism
Euro politician man Len Passo today expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to speak in a word debate over initiatives.
Lawmonger Passo, 53, told committee chairman Tess Larrop-Hansen he would be "brief" as he realised "time is tight and we're runing behind schedule" and literally "thanked" her for the chance to intervene, in what he said had been an "interesting and constructive" exchange of views.
He also "congratulated" her for the "excellent" initiative to hold an ad hoc debate on initiatives, and "extended his gratitude" to the three visiting officials "for having taken the time" to speak to the chamber, and for what he dubbed their "instructive and insightful contributions."
It was "vital" according to Passo that such dialogues take place "if Europe is to face the pressures of globalisationing in an ever changing climate world place and step up to the Lisbon plate of economic and social goodness in a spirit of decromomacy and transparents."
He said he "hoped" the "key" debate would lead to a "more enlightened and informed" review of the initiatives in force.
This, he added, "leads me on to my first point."
It was at this moment that Chairman Larrop-Hansen cut Passo off for running over his allotted speaking time.
Berlaymonster, 4th January 2007:
"the Commission itself has outsourced its cleaning contracts to IRIS, a group who seem to employ almost exclusively folk of North African origin"
The Guardian, 14th February, 2007:
"You walk out of this place and there is complete ethnic diversity in Brussels - from Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Come here and that's all over, unless you arrive at 5am when the cleaners are in."
Thanks to Quarsan
Weekly round-up of some nonsense you might have missed:
- Mandelson asks for a Maserati - This one is a stretch of the imagination even for the 'Monster. With his predilection for fast cars, Six Jeunes Hommes and Bikram Yoga, shirley it's only a matter of time before somebody suggests he might ... you know ... be a poof?
-via the Open Europe Blog
- Naked MEPs - Apparently for a fiver you'll be able to corrupt a security guard at the Parliament for a look at Europe's finest without any clothes on.
- via England Expects
- DIY European Constitution - The Adam Smith Institute is offering a grand to anybody who can write a better EU constitution. The competition means compressing 76000 words into under 2000. Sounds like too much hard work for us, but if there's a reader out there who takes part, let us see a copy of your entry and we'll publish the first 100 words and something witty/caustic/lame about it on this blog, to be seen by thousands.
- European Parliament smoking ban banned - With just about everybody having something to say about it. So we'll say nothing. We're off for a fag.
It seemed for a brief moment today that EU commissioner Viviane Reding had discovered a sense of humility.
Listed in today's running order for press documents made available to journalists at the commission's daily briefing was an item from the Luxembourgeoise, seemingly accepting a wooden spoon from the UK Internet Industry Awards:
'Speech by Viviane Reding UK internet association awards "Internet villain of the year" to the European Commission' the daily missive promised.
But sadly no such speech was to be found.
It was, BM learns, a clerical error. It should instead have read:
'Speech by Viviane Reding: How Accessible Should Publicly Funded Research Be?
Conference on Scientific Publishing in the European Research Area Access, Dissemination and Preservation in the Digital Age'
So, close then.
Reding was awarded the prize of 'Internet Villain of the Year' last week (see here) by the Internet Service Providers' Association for:
"foisting the most arcane set of rules yet seen for prior registration of .eu domains, requiring UK registered companies to submit legal affidavits to justify the authenticity of their business."
BM now looks forward to the wooden spoon nominations from the European mobile phone operators, the TV broadcasters association, the EU hairdressers lobby and the Pan-European Sartorial Standards Council ...
The European Commission is planning to roll a massive spliff to celebrate 50 years of mind-numbing policy-making. It will be rolled in waste paper created by the culling of fourteen directives, planned for next month. The Joint-EU-Treaty as it is affectionately known will measure 24.7 metres and will be propped against the side of the Berlaymont for all to toke on to their heart’s content. Last week, Commissioner Kovacs visited a specially created indoor farm in Finland where the weed is being grown (see picture).
It will be lit by Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs at a special ceremony which the commission’s press service is calling “Get Off Your Tits for Europe Day”.
Martin Scorsese, famous film director and multi-millionaire was left reeling after a savage attack from EU Commissioner and part-time film-buff Margot "Barry Norman" Wallström.
In an unprovoked outburst, Wallström savaged "The Departed", Scorsese's remake of the Asian classic "Infernal Affairs".
Writing on her blög, Margot starts off with a token apology ("I am sorry, Martin Scorsese") before launching into fierce criticism ("the dialogue never moved from the level of shouting “fuck you“ louder and louder…").
She goes on to compare it unfavourably to Babel, an award-winning film about multilingualism in an enlarged Europe, and invites the director to compare his own work with it in order to "see the difference in screen dramatising and filmmaking" (sic).
A spokesman for the director said "Wolstroom? Who the fuck is that? A politican you say? What was she elected for? She wasn't elected? What the fuck does she want? She's a fucking what? Fuck you! FUCK YOU!!"
Enlarged members etc etc ...
Moves are afoot at EU level to allow the stimulation of cross-border erections, after several throbbing members were turned back by customs officers. The sale of Viagra had been banned in the eastern regions of Stetin after several well-endowed Poles had crossed borders with their stimulated manhoods and infuriated prudish German guards. Now the Commission is looking to lift the ban and allow the free movement of erections.
“It has long been the commission’s position that all goods should be able to be traded across borders and Class B7 stimulants are clearly part of that programme,” said an official. “One of the commissioners – who shall remain nameless – was recently very disappointed to find that after a mouthful of the knob-drug he could not cross from Austria into Slovakia to buy some cheap love.”
“I don’t see the point,” countered one political aide. “Commissioners have had passports for ages, so there’s always been the free movement of cocks around Europe.”
BM adds: see here for more on this story. No, really.
"Some have accused us of trying to square the circle. We are in fact constructing a virtuous triangle" uttered European Commission head spokesman Johannes Laitenberger this week, no stranger to geometry being a bit of a square himself.
And while the commission constructs 'virtuous triangles' out of car emissions policy, the German Presidency has installed its own 'Circle of Pretention' in the middle of the EU village.
The installation 'More Light!' is, we learn from co-sponsors the Goethe Institut, a "seismograph of urban mobility and interaction."
is it just a big flashy ring and another apt demonstration of a waste of energy blazing away throughout Sustainable Energy Week and indeed right under a 100ft high poster advertising the event? (see also below). Note too, that the installation is part-sponsored by German energy giant E.ON...
Geometrical fanatics can also visit the European Parliament's 'Hemicycle of Vapidity' and the Council of Ministers' 'Cuboid of Tedium' where similar wastes of energy can be encountered at close quarters.
BM adds (belatedly): Oh-hoooooo peachy. Click here for 'live' coverage of the installation in action. 'Ooooooh, aaaaaah'.
Below is a genuine notice posted in a kitchen at DG REGIO, courtesy of The Witloof
Subject: FOR THE ATTENTION OF THOSE USING THE SMALL FREEZER OF OUR FLOOR
All of us who use the small freezer which is placed in the small room in the middle of our floor remember very well that it was in an inadmissible state of dirtiness.
I have found different kind of food which was perished, mouldy or had a bad odour caused by bacteria as the best-before date had expired for more than six months ago.
As you know there is no cleaning service foreseen for this freezer and it has to be kept clean by the people who use it.
Last Wednesday, I had to summon up all my courage and decided to clean it myself hoping that from now on everybody who uses it will make an effort to keep it clean and empty the food before it gets rotten.
Last but not least, the lady who has forgotten her vaginal cream in the freezer, is kindly asked to take it as soon as possible.
Thank you for your understanding and have a nice week.
The European Commission upsets some polar bears and fibs to its staff.
On Thursday 1st February I sat in the dark at 19h50 and looked out across St Josse to the Berlaymont, waiting for the great monolith to be plunged into darkness at 19h55, as part of the Europe-wide "Lights Out" campaign against global warming."
And - nothing happened. This despite Commission employees having reportedly received a message from none other than Siim Kallas himself that he fully supported the initiative. The good ship Berlaymont blazed on into the night. I know it is already a "smart" building, but if the Eiffel Tower can do it ... the polar bears should be told.
And wouldn't it be a terrible irony if a faux pas like this happened during, I don't know, let's say "Sustainable Energy Week" or something.
We bet it looks great floodlit every night ...
The European Commission-hosted TV service 'Europe By Satellite' is changing to a new broadcast satellite provider that boasts not only the 'God Europe' channel among its stations, but also adult stations 'Playboy TV UK' and the fruitily-named 'Spice Platinum', Berlaymonster can reveal.
Swedish-based Sirius has been chosen by the commission's communications department (run by Commission Vice-President Margot Wallstrom from ... er ... Sweden) to broadcast EBS programming, changing from perhaps the more aptly named Eutelsat 'Hotbird' satellite.
To see the full list of what you'll be able to switch over to when live coverage of the European Parliament debate on exposure to artificial forms of optical radiation becomes too steamy to handle, click here.
Budget commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite is set to propose an EU lottery to plug the cash gap in Europe’s coffers. Know as “Dalia’s Honey Pot” it will guarantee a weekly jackpot of 14 million euros, as well as a night with the commissioner in a hotel of the winner’s choice. The jackpot, to be called “The Money Shot” according to drafts leaked to Berlaymonster, will also consist of all the euros left down the back of the high-backed chairs of senior ranking officials. “I love the idea of the Money Shot,” Commissioner Grybauskaite was overheard saying in the corridors of the Berlaymont.
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Berlaymonster - helping the Commission with equal opportunities ...
Recently the European Commission audited a small asbl (association sans but lucrative - not-for-profit organisation). The audit uncovered massive incompetence and mismanagement by the Director.
The completed audit outlined this. One copy was sent to the Director of the organisation concerned.
He did what we'd all do: sat on it and didn't show it to anybody.
The story has a happy ending. Nothing happened. The Director got off scot-free whilst the Board, Governors and Trustees remain completely in the dark.
Can anyone spot the flaw in this procedure?