Boycott Hungary?

Logo of the EU-ACP Joint AssemblyAn interesting possibility has arisen from ALDE MEP’s. They want to move a meeting of the EU-African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Joint Parliamentary Assembly to Brussels according to Euractiv (original in French and English) thereby boycotting Hunagary. This is seen as a democratic protest against the recent media law in Hungary. This law has met with opposition from within and without Hungary.

The idea of this boycott came after Belgian MEP Louis Michel, co-chair of the EU-ACP assembly, called a special meeting after receiving a letter from Luxembourg colleague Charles Goerens MEP, who wrote that the law ”violates democratic principles recognised by EU member states”.

The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly brings together MEPs and elected representatives from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries that have signed the Cotonou Agreement.

MPs from the ACP states meet their European counterparts for two plenary sessions a year, focusing on democracy and human rights. The 2011 meetings are scheduled for 16-18 May in Budapest and 21-23 November in Sierra Leone.

This is an interesting tactic by the liberal MEPs and is a constructive way to voice criticism of Hungary’s media. If the meeting is moved it will mean some loss of face for the Hungarian Government.

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Hungarian Media Law Translated

P icon with a newspaper
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The National Media and Infocommunications Authority Hungary (Nmhh) have published the Act on Media Services and Mass Media on their website in PDF format.

It is nearly 200 pages long and is a tough read.

Article 187 is what sets out the fines which has a lot of people worried

(3) The Media Council and the Agency — with due heed to paragraph (7) — shall have the right to impose the following legal consequences:
a) it may exclude the infringer from the opportunity to participate in the tenders put out by the Fund for a definite period of time;
b) it may impose a fine on the infringer in line with the following limits:
ba) in case of infringement by a JBE media service provider and the media service provider under the regulations on the limitation of media market concentration, the fine shall be of an amount not exceeding HUF 200,000,000;
bb) in case of infringement by a media service provider falling beyond the scope of item (ba), the fine shall be of an amount not exceeding HUF 50,000,000;
bc) in case of a newspaper of nationwide distribution, the fine shall be of an amount not exceeding HUF 25,000,000;
bd) in case of a weekly periodical of nationwide distribution, the fine shall be of an amount not exceeding HUF 10,000,000;
be) in case of other newspaper or weekly newspaper or periodical, the fine shall be of an amount not exceeding HUF 5,000,000;
bf) in case of an online media product, the fine shall be of an amount not exceeding HUF 25,000,000;
bg) in case of a broadcaster, the fine shall be an amount not exceeding HUF 5,000,000;
bh) in case of an intermediary service provider, the fine shall be of an amount not exceeding HUF 3,000,000;

Do read the full text! Now the Commission have something to work on.

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Presidency won’t hold back the Commission

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EUBusiness is reporting that the fact that Hungary is the current holder of the rotating EU Presidency will not hold them back from launching proceedings if the new media law is found to be in breach of Community Law.

“If there’s an infringement of community law, the Commission will launch proceedings and the fact Hungary presides the European Union will have no bearing,” Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly said.

Bailly said EU legal experts would scrutinise the media law once they had received the translation.

“At this stage we are in talks with the Hungarian government and following clear procedures,” he said.

“But either it is in compliance with community law or there are doubts on its compliance and the Commission meets to decide to launch proceedings with a letter of warning,” he added

The entire Commission will be in Budapest on Thursday to meet with the Hungarian government, and more then likely these new media laws will come up either during the meeting or on the side of it.

It will be interesting to see where this will lead. It could definitely drag on through the entire 6 month presidency!

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YFG Conference Coverage – Irish Indo

Continuing my search through the papers from yesterday for coverage of the YFG Conference at the weekend, the only paper with articles about the conference is the Irish Independent and they have two articles.

The first article is on Simon Coveney’s speech and his promise to give up his ministerial car if he is appointed a Minister.

“If I become a minister, I will not accept a state car. I’m telling you that now. You can quote me on it,” he said at the Young Fine Gael national conference in Charleville, Co Cork.

The second is a wide ranging article on many of the motions and speeches at the Conference. I like that they picked up Eric Keane’s comment’s about Labour and I think he does have a point.

… a perception existed in Fine Gael that the party “can’t touch Labour”, according to Young Fine Gael’s new president Eric Keane, from Clare.”Yet they get up on every occasion and criticise us. The Labour Party claims to be more pious and principled than the Pope,” he said.

Mr Keane said two interviews with Mr Gilmore revealed he was in favour of “not cutting anything, spending everything”.

“Lies and deception and hypocrisy,” he said to rapturous applause.

They also cover some of the criticism of senior party policy, namely NewERA

Fine Gael’s much-vaunted job-creation policy also came in for criticism. Tadhg O’Donovan, from University College Cork, questioned why the party was proposing to sell state assets in a depressed market.”The price you get for something like the ESB will be less than five years ago or in five years time,” he said.

They also covered the motion on cancelling mortgage debt.

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Should Bloggers get Accreditation to EU Institutions?

My Press Badge and Blogger Name Badge from Th!nk1

M van den Broeke on Twitter asked this question,

Should serious EU bloggers get some sort of accreditation to EU institutions? But on what criteria?

Firstly I say fair play to her for bringing up the question. Its one that should be asked more, and not just by the EU. I must say Irish political parties have been good at facilitating bloggers, so maybe other institutions should start soon?

But back to the question at hand. As pointed out by Charlemange of the Economist and Jean Quatremer of Liberation (French) the press corp in Brussels is shrinking. There are now only 752 journalists with accreditation compared with 1,300 back in 2005.

Newspapers depend more now on wire-content for EU stories and they consistently make mistakes ( eg, Saying the ECHR is part of the EU!!!) Can bloggers bridge the gap?

Much of the original content about the EU is now written by bloggers. Simply because there is not enough journalists to cover everything the EU does. But of course bloggers have a number of hold backs, day jobs, time, and money. But some bloggers are excellent specialists at subjects and having accreditation may allow them to build on their expertise and get more informed stories out there.

But how do you define a serious EU Blogger?

  • Is it someone who only follows EU Politics?
  • Is it someone who the majority of their content is about the EU?
  • Is it someone who knows a lot about the EU?
  • Is it someone who lives in Brussels?
  • Should be limited to someone with a high number of visits?

That is the hard part of deciding whether of not bloggers should be accredited.

Personally I think they should be. But who should be left into the Brussels bubble is the question?

Should a separate list be maintained for those bloggers outside of Brussels?

Its time we had this conversation.

What do you think?

Hattip to Julien Frisch for the topic

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Should Politicians Use Twitter?

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Two recent events should be highlighted to any politician thinking of using twitter to further their electoral prospects. These two stories do serve as maybe a warning, before the commit.

Case 1: Dale v McCarthy.

This case surrounds allegations made by the Hon. Kerry McCarthy, MP for  Bristol East, about the political magazine Total Politics, which is run by tory supporting blogger Iain Dale. I shall leave it to each of them to tell their story.

As you can see, politicians have to be careful with what they say and do online! Is one over reacting? Or are both responses justified? You be the jury.

Case 2: Limburg v Schüneman

This case from the Lower Saxon State Parliament. After a debate on Aslyum Seekers, Green MP Helge Limburg called Lower Saxony’s state Interior Minister Uwe Schünemann (CDU) an “insufferable agitator” who was “shamelessly on the right-wing fringe.” (Full Story)

This when it came to light in the Lower Saxon Parliament caused uproar and discussions over the budget had to be postponed.

Is that what twitter should be used for?

So its over to you, after these anticas would you recommend that politicans use twitter?

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“The Government took the finger off the pulse by managing treatment rather than risk”

The above is a quite from Dr Fiona Mulcahy, consultant at St James’s department of genito-urinary medicine and infectious diseases. It is her view on how the Government is tackling the HIV/AIDS issue in Ireland. This year will see Ireland’s rate of infection increase by 20%. This is all reported in the Irish Times.

Dublin’s St James’s Hospital has reported the highest number of new HIV cases in one year since records began, with a 20 per cent increase in positive diagnoses.

It projected 242 people would be diagnosed with HIV in the hospital by the end of the year, compared to 208 people in 2008.

The number of new cases of infections among men who have sex with men doubled over the year. Most of them were under the age of 30.

Most people don’t know they are infected, until they go for routine tests. Women mostly find out during antenatal screenings and men find out during tests for other STI’s.

At-risk groups are being ignored by the Government and they needed to be targeted in a “national sexual health strategy” as called for by the Gay and Lesbian Equity Network (GLEN).

I also agree with Fine Gael’s Dr James Reilly TD who called for a “national education campaign on HIV prevention”.

These two ideas would work hand and hand and need to be implemented if we are to make a difference here.

Of course the Government is not alone on this. A lot of current HIV/AIDS campaigns are focused now on living with disease rather then prevention. While this is needed, the old adage, “Prevention is Better then Cure” is hugely important when it comes to HIV/AIDS. As the Irish Times article highlights, “the majority of new patients did not have health insurance due to their age and antiretroviral treatments cost up to €2,000 per person per year.”

Its time we took stock. Its time we woke up. Its time we educated ourselves and others.

So look at Spunout.ie’s pages on STI’s, know how to use a Condom. Be aware.

So Protect yourself. Protect others. Wear a Condom.

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Cabinet Meetings: Under Water and on top of Mountains

A post from the Thinkaboutit.eu Blog!

Last month the Maldives Government held a Cabinet meeting under waterto highlight the threat of global warming to the island nation. This month Nepal’s Government will hold a Cabinet meeting at the Mount Everest base-camp to highlight the threat to glaciers. While both of these events are being reported around the world, will they do anything in the lead up to the talks in Copenhagen?

While both events can be used to place moral pressure on other states to do something at the COP15 summit, I don’t very much if it will be a clincher to a deal. These events have great media potential and both Governments have created a brilliant media event around these meetings and have gotten headlines. But whats the point if they don’t produce a deal in December?

The Maldives will still be at risk of flooding and Nepal’s glaciers will still be in danger of melting even faster.

There is a lot of razzmatazz and drama being built up around the COP15 conference, for the benefit of the World’s media. Some of it is by poor countries, and more of it is by NGO’s in various countries. While in some cases this media around the conference us good as it raises the awareness around the conference and things we can do to lessen our impact on the environment. Will it have any effect on the Governments that represent us?

Will Merkel, Obama, Brown and Cowen become converted to the cause of what is actually needed due to the actions of the Maldives and Nepal Governments? I frankly don’t think so.

Something more needs to be done to convince them of the right path. But I fear it will take an environmental catastrophe for them to be convinced. I fear it will be too late then.

Jan Moir

I wasn’t actually going to blog about that Jan Moir article in the UK Daily Mail (they had more sense not to publish in the Irish version) but a statement released by Jan Moir claims that we are all over reacting and there is a ‘heavily orchestrated internet campaign‘ against her. (Link via @Glinner)

It is amazing that someone with views like that are allowed print them. It is crazy and it is offensive.

To be honest, I wasn’t too much bothered by Stephen Gately’s death. Yes, I did think it was sad and a tragedy for the family, his partner and his friends, but it didn’t really effect me personnally. This on the other hand has incensed me.

She dosen’t think she has done anything wrong and there in lies the problem. How can you write something that flies in the face of the facts and invent a story around what happened and then wonder why people are angry and claim it is ‘orchestrated’ and ‘mischevious’? That is just absurd! It’s mind boggling!

Its not very often you see mass outrage among friends online. My friends on twitter and facebook have been giving out about her, both gay and straight. Its impossible that this is orchestrated!

I hope the Press Complaints Commission come down heavily on the Daily Mail (if they can).

Anton Vowl has a brilliant fisking of the article and Charlie Brooker has an excellent article in Comment is Free on it.

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