Its Eurovision week!!! Its just two days to the First Semi-Final on Tuesday followed by the Second Semi-Final on Thursday. So I am a tad excited! (That may be an understatement). Check out my previews of Semi-Final 1 and Semi-Final 2
So its time to look at the automatic qualifiers for the Grand Final which takes place on Saturday 14th of May. They will be joined by 10 acts from each of the Semi Finals. So who are the automatic finalists? They are our Host’s Sweden and the Big Five contributors to the European Broadcasting Union, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. Only Sweden’s place in the show is known and it will be Friday before the running order for the Final will be known. Sweden will perform 9th on the night.
So lets take a look at the songs we will definitely be seeing next Saturday.
Nine Eurozone members want the Danish Presidency of the EU to speed up its work on a directive on a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT). While there is much opposition within the Eurozone and wider EU to such a tax, the nine countries intend to use the community method to allow them to use the EU institutions to set up and administer the tax and allow other countries to join while not holding them back.
The nine countries are:
The inclusion of Greece and Portugal is interesting as they are in receipt of an IMF/ECB/EU Bailout while Italy and Spain haver been teetering on the edge for some time.
There is opposition to an EU wide tax mainly from the UK and Sweden with Poland and Ireland also voicing unease about the plans, so do not expect these countries to join up any time soon.
The letter comes at a time during the French Presidential Election where Nicolas Sarkozy has placed a lot of faith in such a tax to win votes at home and is of course implementing the tax in France with or without the other eight countries.
Taxation remains an unanimous decision at the Council of Ministers under the Treaty of Lisbon, so even if one country opposes there will not be an EU wide tax on financial transactions.
The Telegraph have an excellent article on the latest IMF report – “Will It Hurt? Macroeconomic Effects of Fiscal Consolidation” – and what it means for countries trying to make cuts.
In Ireland we cut to quickly. We forgot to bring in a stimulus like other countries. Cuts in budgets mean growth cuts, which will lead to a longer depression.
According to the report Southern Europe (Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece) and Ireland could be in for an extended recession. With bug cuts coming in Germany and France, they could be joining them, as well as making it less likely for Southern Europe to recover as no demand for goods.
Has the article states:
We are seeing a pattern – first in Ireland, now in Greece and Portugal – where cuts are failing to close the deficit as fast as hoped. Austerity itself is eroding tax revenues. Countries are chasing their own tail.
So what are Governments doing? Cutting more. It doesn’t bode well for the future. We need something to encourage spending, we need something to get other countries to buy our goods. How will we do that? I am not sure, but by leaving out the stimulus we cut too hard and fast. We could be stuck for awhile. This is not good for our government as,
The lesson of the 1930s is that politics can turn ugly as slumps drag into a third year, and voters lose faith in the promised recovery.
Most of the country has already lost faith in the Government and the other political parties are having varying support levels, (see here).
We have no choice but to cut. The deficit is too high. Its that or leave Anglo fall. Maybe that would mean the cuts would not have to be so deep and therefore we would have a fighting chance of recovery. I some how doubt our government will take that chance.
The Spanish Presidency of the European Union on Wednesday will begin an Intergovernmental Conference to amend the Governing Treaties of the European Union to allow 18 MEPs to take their seats in the European Parliament under the Lisbon Treaty as elections took place under Nice Treaty rules.
This new treaty will not greatly effect Ireland unless they decide to go changing other things.
The following countries will gain MEP’s under the new Treaty:
* Bulgaria 1
* Netherlands 1
* Spain 4
* Austria 2
* France 2
* Poland 1
* Italy 1
* Latvia 1
* Sweden 2
* Malta 1
* United Kingdom 1
We may not have to have a referendum if the treaty in Ireland if the Treaty does not transfer powers to the EU. That would respect the Crotty Judgement.
It will be interesting to see what emerges in the next few months.
So it is time to have a look at the final five entries in this years Eurovision Song Contest. It is time to look at the big 4 and last years winner. I will be marking these out of ten, as there is no prediction to make!
There has been some comparisons between Norway and Ireland this year and I think that is misplaced as Niamh’s song is so much better. I find this to be a very boring ballad. But ballads are everywhere this year so it will pick up a few points. and more fiddles at the end… hmmm… 4/10
France went all experimental for a while and then went back to basics. This year they are entering a fast paced dance song, that will be heard at the world cup I would say! (no handball grudge here btw) Its a cool song. 8/10
All I can say is this is in my top two songs this year (Denmark is the other one). This is an amazing entry from Germany, and Lena is an amazing singer. This song has already gone platinum in Germany. I love it, its catchy and has a good chance of winning this year! 10/10
So that is all the songs looked at. I can go back to concentrating on politics and other issues here until 22nd of May when the Semi-finals begin. In the mean time if you are a eurovision fan, head over to ESCIreland.com where you will find lots more Eurovision news and opinion.
Good afternoon from a warm Barcelona. I have reached my destination (unlike my luggage) and I am ensconced in my hotel room waiting for things to start across the road at the CCIB.
I may have neglected to inform you why I’m actually here. Well apart from blogging over on Conference Blog (shhh its not live yet! 😉 ) I will be giving my thoughts on the blogger trainer i did last year.
From the Programme
Intercultural Dialogue 2.0.
Xavier Baro (ALF Bloggers Network)
Room (127) – 5 March at 18:00
The session will focus on the presentation of the new Intercultural Dialogue Tool Kit developed by the ALF for training bloggers. The main aim of the Tool Kit is to engage social media as innovative tool to promote Intercultural dialogue in the Euro-Mediterranean area. The workshop will
introduce the manual, have a short practical phase and
present some results of the first training course. Other four
bloggers who participated in the pilot training course will
attend the workshop and give a vision from their side:
Carmel Vaisman (Israel), Ahmed Youssry (Egypt), Stephen
Spillane (Ireland), Majd Beltaji (Palestine).
It should be fun.
Its now time to head for the Opening Ceremony which will be happening in half an hour!
This weekend Armenia and Poland selected their representatives for the Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo this weekend. Its getting closer and each weekend now will see a good few chosen.
Armenia selected “Apricot Stone” which is sung by Eva Rivas. This to me is a very typical Armenian entry! Its not standing out from previous entries and the chorus is just random, then again she is singing about apricots….
Poland has chosen “Legenda” by Marcin Mrozinski. It is a traditional eurovision song in my mind, but Marcin is a powerful singer. It could do well.
Next weekend sees Malta, Macedonia, Slovenia and Spain pick there representatives
The Swedish Presidency starts today and on the same day their EU Minister Cecilia Malmström starts a blog. The Swedish are really showing the rest of the member states how to engage degitally, thats for sure. I wonder will Spain, who are due to hold the Presidency of the European Council from January next year.
She says in her blog that she will use the blog
to tell readers about the work of the Swedish presidency and to comment on debates, meetings and other current developments within the European Union
Im looking forward keeping up with her blog.
Sweden will be representing the EU at all international events, including the climate change conference in Copenhagen in the Autumn.
Sweden will focus its programme on the following:
Economy and employment
The Stockholm Program
EU and outside world
and the New Parliament, Commission and the Treaty of Lisbon