Eurovision 2016 – Semi-Final 1 Results

semiqualifiersLast night the first Semi-Final of the 61st Eurovision Song Contest took place at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden. The show was opened with a performance of last’s years winning entry “Hero’s” by Måns Zelmerlöw who is also one of the hosts this year. He was joined in hosting duties by Petra Mede who also hosted the contest in Malmö in 2013. They did a great job of hosting the show. They kept it funny and moving along.

After 18 great entries, a thoughtful interval act, called the “Grey People” choreographed by Benke Rydman on the Migrant Crisis in the Middle East, The Mediterranean and around the world was perfromed and it is worth a viewing if you missed it. It will make you stop and think

After the interval act, we did get to see shots of the rehearsals for the three other countries voting tonight, France, Spain and Sweden. An interesting change to just seeing music videos.

The results were then announced. It is worth noting that the vote of one Russian Juror was disqualified after she periscoped part of the Jury Semi-Final

The qualifiers who join hosts Sweden, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom are

  • Azerbaijan
  • Russia
  • The Netherlands
  • Hungary
  • Croatia
  • Austria
  • Armenia
  • Czech Republic
  • Cyprus
  • Malta

The eagle eyed among you will notice I got 9/10 in terms of my predictions with Estonia the only one missing, Cyprus qualifying instead.

So we say goodbye to Finland, Greece, Moldova, San Marino, Estonia, Montenegro, Iceland and Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is the first year that Greece has failed to qualify for the final since the introduction of the Semi-Finals in 2004.

After the show at the winners press conference as draw took place to determine which half of the show the performers would appear on Saturday. The grand final is shaping up like this:

First Half

  • Sweden (who perform 9th)
  • Azerbaijan
  • Czech Republic
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Netherlands

Second Half

  • Armenia
  • Austria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Malta
  • Russia
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom

It looks like a great show on Saturday night.

Don’t forget the Second Semi-Final will be on Thursday night at 8pm on RTÉ and BBC 4. Ireland’s Nicky Bryne will be flying the flag for Ireland and we get to vote! I’ll be on the UCC Express twitter account @UCCExpress again so do join me!


Eurovision 2016 – Semi Final 1 Preview

Its that time of year again. Eurovision is less then a month away. Its been some time since I have done a Eurovision Preview so it’s time to get back into it, especially since I got the 2016 Album on Friday and have been listening to it since!

Now I posted about the new voting system already and this will also apply to the Semi Finals, but we wont know the actual result until after the Grand Final. We will only find out the names of the 10 qualifiers who will join Sweden, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom in the Grand Final on May 14th.

So on with the show

Semi Final One takes place on Tuesday May 10th in the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm. 18 Countries will be hoping for one of the 10 qualification places for the Grand Final. Voting AND performing in this Semi will be France, Spain and Sweden. So lets look at the participants. Continue reading “Eurovision 2016 – Semi Final 1 Preview”

Portugal Approves Fiscal Compact

BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 01:  Portuguese Pr...

Portugal today became the first state to approve the Fiscal Compact. 25 of the 27 EU Member states signed up to the tightened budget rules. The United Kingdom and the Czech Republic are the only two not to sign up. It is interesting that Portugal were first to approve the treaty as they were the third country to get a bailout of the EU/ECB/IMF after Ireland and Greece.

The Portuguese Government were supported by the opposition Socialists in passing the pact which was approved by 204 votes to 24, with two abstentions.

Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho told parliament that the pact represented a “moment of confirmation of the European consensus”

Antonio José Seguro, the Socialist leader, said: “This treaty is vital to Portugal staying in the euro.”

Mr Seguro said: “This treaty may be a response to markets, but it is not a response to the crisis and to the problems of Portuguese, to unemployment. It is an unbalanced treaty.”

Mr Seguro raises some valid points as the Pact also does not deal with issues of Bank Debt but it is part of a number of initiatives to try and fix the Crisis in the Eurozone.

Ireland will be voting on the Fiscal Compact on May 31st. Ireland will be the only country to hold a referendum on the pact.

Don’t forget you can read the Fiscal Compact here

The End of the ECR Grouping?

European Conservatives and Reformists
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Michael Heaver is reporting that 11 members of the European Conservatives and Reformists, those MEPs of the Polish Law and Justice, are set to leave the ECR and join the Europe of Freedom and Democracy grouping in the Parliament.

This casts the survival of the the grouping into doubt as for a group to exist it must have 25 MEPs from across seven member states to be a grouping. If the Polish MEPs leave that would leave only six member states represented in the Grouping (The UK, Netherlands, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Czech Republic and Hungary). While the group will still have 39 members, they will no longer be considered a group by the Parliament.

This is on top of the turmoil by the ECR leader Kaminski resigning from the Law and Justice Party. He was joined by two other MEPs Marek Migalski MEP and Adam Bielan MEP vice chair of the ECR.

If of course those MEPs stay with the ECR, then it will survive.

Interesting times ahead for the ECR.

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The 17th Member of the Eurozone: Estonia

Symbol of the currency Euro, Black. Exact math...
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Estonia is set to join the Eurozone on the 1st of January 2011 according to the Irish Times. Estonia was given the all clear by the European Commission. Estonia will be the fifth of the 2004 intake to join the common currency following Slovenia in 2007, Malta and Cyprus in 2008 and Slovakia in 2009.

Plans by Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are still not on track, so they will not be joining the currency any time soon.

It is interesting considering the current state of the eurozone that it is willing to continue to expand.

The Commission stated that “None of the other eight countries assessed in the report is found to meet all the convergence criteria for adopting the euro” Those countries are: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Sweden.

The Council of Ministers will have to approve this.

Hattip: European Movement Ireland

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Lisbon Treaty: German Court Suspends Ratification

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The German Constitutional Court has ruled that the Lisbon Treaty is compatible with the German Constition (or Basic Law). But the Court has still suspended ratification until domestic law in relation to the EU is beefed up.

The Court stated according to The Local:

“The ratification document of the Federal Republic of Germany may not be adopted until the sufficient legal groundwork for parliamentary participation as foreseen in the constitution has been laid,”

“If one wanted to summarise this result, one could say: the constitution says ‘yes’ to the Lisbon Treaty but demands that parliament’s right to participation be strengthened at the national level,”

“The court is confident that the last barrier for adopting the ratification document will be cleared.”

I personally don’t think this is bad idea. Under the Lisbon Treaty National Parliaments are given more power. As it is  in a lot of member states there is complaints that EU legislation is not been given enough scrutiny.So I think beefing up national legislation and procedures in relation to the EU is something that every member state should do.

According to Der Spiegel:

The German parliament is to gather for a special sitting on August 26 for a first reading of the new law, a spokesperson for the Social Democrats parliamentary party announced on Tuesday. The vote would then take place on Sept. 8, weeks before Germany’s national election.

With this to be cleared it loos increasingly likely that the Lisbon Treaty will come into force in 2010, of depending on Referendum results in Ireland and Court rulings in the Czech Republic.

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“The EU Presidency Is Too Big for Small Nations”

The above is the title of an article in the German Magazine Der Spiegel by Ulrike Guérot. The opening paragraph states the following:

The Czech Republic proved that small EU states are not up to running the EU Council Presidency. Leadership on such a scale is simply beyond their means. Nevertheless, Sweden hopes to see the Lisbon Treaty ratified. Then it wants to lay the foundations for a real European foreign policy.

I disagree completely that statement and the other assertions made throughout the rest of the article. While the Czech Presidency might not have been the most successful Presidency, it had a number of drawbacks.

  1. The Czechs followed the French and Sarkozy tried to extend the French Presidency by leading trips that coincided with EU trips to the likes of Palestine, thereby undermining the Czech Presidency.
  2. The Government collapsed in the middle of the Presidency. A country can take all the time in the world to prepare for a Presidency but when domestic issues raise their heads and cause the Government to collapse its not easy to keep going, but the Czechs managed it.
  3. A eurosceptic President doesnt help! There is nothing the Czechs could have done about their President Vaclav Klaus, but he certainly didnt help the image of the Czech Presidency.

Previous small countries who have held the EU’s rotating have had very successful presidency and large countries have held unsuccessful presidencys. It is a matter of  outside events that can sometimes make or break a presidency which has nothing to do with how big or small a country is.

Ireland, as one of the smaller member states has always been praised for its Presidencys, including its last one in 2004 which over say the enlargement of the EU from 15 to 25 member states and getting agreement on the Draft Constitution Treaty.

The Czechs were unlucky in terms of outside (and internal) events, hopefully the Swedes will be more lucky!

Do check out the Swedish Presidency Website and the tweeters of the Presidency

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“Lisbon treaty now in Irish hands.”

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The above is according to Elmar Brok MEP (CDU/EPP). This because today the Czech Senate today approved the Treaty of Lisbon, leaving Ireland as the only EU member state not to have passed it.

From the press release:

“Now the Lisbon  treaty lies in the hands of Ireland  , because there is no alternative to the Lisbon treaty. The people in Ireland have made it clear that they want the European Union to be more democratic, transparent and efficient. This can only be achieved with the Lisbon treaty” Brok said.

The EU summit in June has to set the conditions for a new referendum in Ireland  . “The Irish government should submit a timetable for the ratification of the Lisbon  treaty in the entire European Union, in order to make Europe fit for the future”, he emphasised.

That said summit in June will be interesting as it will be chaired by Václav Klaus, the Lisbon-hating President of the Czech Republic.

Brok continues

“Many concerns of Irish citizens regarding the Lisbon  treaty are unfounded and can be met by declarations of the European Council, which will later become legally binding. The Lisbon  treaty makes the EU more democratic, because it strengthens the European Parliament and the national parliaments. Decision-making will become more efficient under Lisbon, for example by the expansion of majority decisions in the Council. Overall, the work of the European Union becomes more democratic, more efficient, and more transparent”.

Of course we still have to see these declarations and see will they actually mean some of the valid concerns that people have. Of course there won’t be a referendum on the Treaty until October which means hopefully the Government will be a bit more prepared for it.

If you are wondering the vote in the Czech Senate was 54 in favour to 20 against with 5 abstensions.
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Which Party Should You Vote For?

A new website launched recently to show people which national party you should vote for. Its called EU Profiler. I had a go off it.

It presents to you 30 statements and say whether you agree or disagree. Then you rate their importance and then say who you would be willing to vote for. The results are close enough. I come out right wing and pro-Europe which fits the me perfectly I think!

Its recommendations for me are:

  1. Fine Gael: 53.9%
  2. Labour: 50.9%
  3. Fianna Fail: 50%
  4. Greens: 37%
  5. Socialist: 30.9%
  6. Sinn Fein: 23.1%
  7. Libertas: 20.3%

Just for fun you can see the top ten parties you mach with across Europe. My top ten are:

  1. Venstre, Liberal Party of Denmark (ELDR): 81.7%
  2. Liberal People’s Party of Sweden  (ELDR): 81.5%
  3. Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania: 81.3%
  4. Centrolew (Centre-left) of Poland: 78.6%
  5. Green Party of Czech Republic (European Green Party): 77.7%
  6. Slovak Democratic and Christian Union – Democratic Party (EPP): 77.1%
  7. SNK European Democrats of Czech Republic (EPP-ED): 76%
  8. Centre Party of Sweden (ELDR): 76%
  9. Croatian Democratic Union (EPP): 75.8%
  10. Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People’s Party of Czech Republic (EPP): 75.4%

A strange mix but interesting none the less.

I think it is fairly accurate and its interesting to see what party you are most aligned with in other countrues. Well it is for politics nerds like me!

Does EU Profiler get it right for you?

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Slovakia to Join Eurozone on January 1st

Image via WikipediaOn January 1st the Slovak koruna will join the French Franc, the German Deutschmark and the Irish Punt in the history of Currencies as Slovakia will officially join the eurozone and begin to use the notes and coins as of January 1st. The fixed exchange rate is €1 = 30.1260SKK.

With Slovakia joining it will increase the Eurozone to 16 members of the EU. The number of people using the euro will increase by over 5 million. This will make travel and business between Slovakia and the other Eurozone members easier.

Under the accession treaties for Countries who acceded to the EU in 2004 and 2007 are compelled to join the Euro. Of the post 2004 member states, Slovenia was the first to join in 2007 with Malta and Cyprus following at the start of this year.

2010 will see no countries joining the Euro, but Estonia is aiming for a 2011 changeover. Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Poland are all aiming for a 2012 date for joining the Euro. Poland will have a long road to the Euro as it must hold a referendum and change its Constitution and join ERM II in the first quarter of next year, it is looking unlikely.

Lithuania was hoping to join the Euro in 2007 but high inflation forced the Government to change its plans. Lithuania is currently hoping to join the Euro in 2013.

Previous Articles:
# Ditching The Euro
# 6 days to E-Day for Slovenia and Bulgaria’s and Romania’s Big Day

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