Vive l’European Parliament
September 20, 2010 2 Comments
“The European Union currently has 27 member countries which have transferred some of their sovereignty – or law making authority – to the EU. Three more countries have applied for EU membership: Croatia, Turkey and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.”
(Taken from Europa, the official website of the EU)
The European Parliament (EP) is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the EU, and is composed of 736 (due to rise to 751) democratically elected MEPs (Member of the European Parliament), who are elected every five years. The two major political parties are the European Peoples Party and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats. The official seat is in Strasbourg, where they have just twelve 4-day plenary sessions per year. The complementary plenary sessions, as well as committee meetings and political groups, take place in Brussels, which has become the larger of the two locations.
One of my first “retirement” jobs was to chair an EU sponsored work group in Brussels on intellectual property rights, as there had been an attempt by the far left to bring in legislation to ban patents on software. It meant that I had to spend 2 days per week over 3 months locked in a room with about 20 patent attorneys, who if allowed could have argued about the meaning of a single word for an entire day, and have still felt that it had been time well spent. In the main, they were a great bunch of dedicated and hard working professionals, and we did manage to stop this insane legislation from becoming a reality, however for someone who had spent his working life in a fast moving, exciting and ever changing industry, I could not dismiss the feeling that if this was going to be the flavour of my retirement, I was ready to visit Jack Kevorkian (Doctor Death).
The project meant that over the 3 month period, I got to meet a large number of MEPs, to test their views on software patents and the proposed legislation. My impression is that they were in the main, a very unimpressive group, and it appeared to me that many of them were people who had failed to gain seats in their National Assemblies, but as they were good “party apparatchiks”, had been rewarded with a seat in the EP.
This however did explain to me the reasons why whilst Europe was imploding economically, losing in business competition against China and India, struggling with ageing populations and the assimilation of countries like Romania and Bulgaria, the European Parliament had busied itself on major pieces of legislation for the EU like banning dogs in hotels, bars and restaurants, banning cheese being made from unpasteurised milk, and not allowing hotels in the countryside to have livestock close by just to be able to serve things like fresh farm eggs to their guests.
Beyond this I have found that in the EU there is a law on the straightness of cucumbers and the bendiness of bananas before they can be legally sold, three separate directives on the loudness of lawnmowers, regulations on the “green-ness” of the little man on the pedestrian crossing, and even laws on what legally constitutes an island … for example, anything with a bridge to it cannot be legally considered an island.
We now have all these wonderful life enhancing directives and for this we pay MEPs about € 84,000 per year plus generous expenses. The actual annual budget for the running of the European Parliament in 2009 was € 1,529,970,930 or roughly € 2 million per MEP.
France currently has 72 MEPs including such luminaries as Jean-Marie Le Pen and Bruno Gollnisch of the National Front (Front National) of the extreme right. Le Pen who has led the FN since he founded it in 1972 has been criticised and fined by the French Government for “…apology of war crimes, apology of crimes against humanity and of trivialising the holocaust …”.
In 2005 Le Pen declared that the German occupation of France “… hadn’t been so inhumane … “.
In 1987 he had already described the Nazi gas chambers as “… a point of detail of the Second World War …”. On immigration Le Pen had this to say “When Joan of Arc was asked why as a Christian she did not love the British, she answered that she did love the British, but in their own country. In the same way, we do not hate the Turks, we love them, but in their own country”.
Not to be left out, Gollnisch in 2004 had declared “I do not question the existence of concentration camps but historians could discuss the number of deaths. As to the existence of gas chambers, it is up to historians to make up their minds.” On the Roma problems in France he said “… perhaps the Roma could all move to St. Peter’s Square … “ (translated from the French).
I am so pleased that my tax euros are supporting such intelligent world citizens, with such astute minds, to control the future of Europe. I await the next round of legislation that will make the European Union an even better place to live for the next generation, like maybe declaring an ashtray and a pillow as being deadly weapons, or making it illegal to call a pig Napoleon.
Whoops … too late … they are already laws here. … I will just have to keep waiting for the next round of world shattering pronouncements from these great leaders of the 21st Century.