Monday 30 January 2012

ACTA text in 22 languages - Soon a million protesting online

The Anti-Counterfeiting (and much else) Trade Agreement #ACTA is a hot subject on Twitter and the online public sphere in general. Different campaigns aim at defeating the treaty. A short while ago @Avaaz had reached 963,079 online signatures on a global petition for the European Parliament to reject the treaty negotiated between the European Union and the governments of a number of states. (Thousands were added during the writing of this blog entry.)

In the United States a petition to submit ACTA to the Senate for approval had gathered 4,699 signatures, but a total of citizens 25,000 are needed by 21 February 2012 to qualify for an official response.

Some of the assertions made about ACTA, the final text signed and open for signatures, are pretty wild. On the other hand, governments stubbornly excluded the public and built a vast pool of distrust and resentment. Official information has tended to be one-sided, highlighting only positive effects.

Yesterday I collected links to a number of my blog posts in Finnish, Swedish and English about information society legislation issues, including ACTA and copyright, in one Grahnlaw entry. ACTA raises fundamental questions about the relationships between (democratic) governments and the governed.

If you wade through the #ACTA Twitter stream you can find useful assessments, even real gems, regarding the content and effects among the more hyperbolic assertions.

ACTA text in 22 languages

Getting the facts straight would be a good start for those who are still open to reasoned arguments. Beacause of the international character of the debate, one helpful place to go to is Eur-Lex, the legal portal of the EU, where you find 22 language versions of the ACTA proposal and treaty.

Here is the English version:

Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION on the conclusion of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, Australia, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Mexican States, the Kingdom of Morocco, New Zealand, the Republic of Singapore, the Swiss Confederation and the United States of America

As the depository, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan offers a note on the signatories to date, as well as other information about its efforts to protect intellectual property internationally.

Through the Legislative Observatory of the European Parliament Oeil you can follow the procedure 2011/0167(NLE) at European level.

The IPEX register with national procedures in EU member states is not very helpful, so here other information sources are needed: media, activists and official.

Ralf Grahn

P.S., the multilingual aggregator of euroblogs, is the hub for the national and thematical blogospheres at the European level, including issues about the information society and online media.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Information society, ACTA and copyright legislation

Here they are, in all their glory, the 22 language versions of ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. But, as we soon find out, the European Union and its Member States, Australia, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Mexican States, the Kingdom of Morocco, New Zealand, the Republic of Singapore, the Swiss Confederation and the United States of America did not limit their ambitions to anti-counterfeiting.

If you look at the proposal, you soon find out that the aim of ACTA is ”to effectively combat the infringement of intellectual property rights (IPR)” in general, including by ”provisions on civil, criminal, border and digital environment enforcement measures, robust cooperation mechanisms among ACTA Parties to assist in their enforcement efforts, and the establishment of best practices for effective IPR enforcement”.

Intellectual property in ACTA refers to all categories of intellectual property that are the subject of Sections 1 through 7 of Part II of the TRIPS Agreement, including copyright.

Troubling questions

How should governments and parliaments legislate for the information society, where they easily seem to end up defending outdated models and particular interests against the digital natives (who are also citizens) and, perhaps, the general interest?

How important is trust and interaction between governments and the governed? Legitimacy?

When does legislation drive innovation, and when does it drive it away?

Infosoc roundup

These questions have cropped up in my latest blog posts, written in Finnish (FI), Swedish (SV) and English (EN).

Grahnlaw (EN): ACTA update (in part)

Grahnlaw (EN): ACTA in European Parliament committees: International Trade and Development

Grahnlaw (EN): ACTA in European Parliament committees: Legal Affairs (JURI)

Grahnblawg (SV): Framtiden online i Riksdagen

Eurooppaoikeus (FI): Tekijänoikeustoimikunta verkkopiratismia vastaan

Grahnlaw (EN): Information society, online media and

Grahnlblawg (SV): Upphovsrättskommissionen i Finland angriper nätpiratismen

Grahnlaw (EN): A communication disaster called ACTA

Grahnlaw (EN): ACTA signatures and content

Eurooppaoikeus (FI): ACTA ja fakta

Grahnblawg (SV): Lagstifta för den digitala världen, inte gårdagen – ACTA?


Getting the facts straight and the arguments based on evidence would help meeting the challenges of our common digital agenda.

Ralf Grahn

P.S., the multilingual aggregator of euroblogs, joins the national and thematical blogospheres at the European level.

Friday 27 January 2012

ACTA signatures and content

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan has published a note on the signing of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, Australia, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Mexican States, the Kingdom of Morocco, New Zealand, the Republic of Singapore, the Swiss Confederation and the United States of America (ACTA) by the European Union and its member states.

At the first signing ceremony, 1 October 2011, ACTA was signed by Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States.

Yesterday, 26 January 2012, ACTA was signed for the EU (Council or Commission) and 22 of the 27 member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

In other words, Mexico and Switzerland have not signed yet. The EU member states which did not sign the agreement yesterday are expected to do so on the completion of respective domestic procedures. They are: Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands and Slovakia.

ACTA contents

The ACTA negotiations were conducted as a master class in undermining trust by and in governments and the European Union, but many of the public comments, for instance on Twitter #ACTA, give an impression that the contents of the agreement should be better known before being understood.

The proposal for a Council decision COM(2011) 380 exists in 22 official EU languages, with the agreement annexed. The English version is here.

INTA rapporteur and events

The ACTA rapporteur in the EP Committee on International Trade (INTA), Kader Arif, renounced his preparatory task as a protest move against the process (in French).

The Pirate MEP Christian Engström offers an orderly view of a chaotic situation. The text of the blog post is in Swedish, but the links lead to items in the original languages.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Follow events on, the multilingual aggregator of euroblogs.

A communication disaster called ACTA

During the negotiations of ACTA the participating states did their best to undermine public trust by secrecy and obstinate refusal to publish various documents (Techdirt). When the first batch of countries signed ACTA in October 2011, the EU Commission and Council ignored the occasion (Grahnlaw).

The going is still pretty wild on Twitter under the hashtag #ACTA after the new signing ceremony yesterday for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, Australia, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Mexican States, the Kingdom of Morocco, New Zealand, the Republic of Singapore, the Swiss Confederation and the United States of America.

The web pages of the European Parliament are accessible again. Actually it was ironic that Anonymous took down the EP pages (New Europe and European Voice), when ACTA was signed for the Council of the European Union and 22 member states (The Register).

How did the European Union inform about the signing?

DG Trade offers us a news archive with the latest items from the past two months – empty. Trade commissioner Karel De Gucht has nothing new on ACTA.

The signing of ACTA has not made it to the front page of the European External Action Service (EEAS), with the Delegation of the European Union to Japan equally dismal.

The Council of the European Union did not deem the ACTA signing in Tokyo worth a press release.

In other words, the EU Commission (DG Trade) and the Council have learnt nothing from their continuing communication disaster among internauts. As incompetent and insensitive as before, the EU institutions seem to act on the presumption that a majority in the European Parliament is (once more) going to do what the governments of the member states want it to do. Public trust is not essential.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Follow events on, the multilingual aggregator of euroblogs.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Information society, online media and

What can you expect from a three year old? I decided to see if the new posts on are good for other people than those interested in how many EU institutions can dance on the head of a pin.

Instead I opted for one or more policy areas related to the European information society (tag: infosoc) and online media (tag: media) during the last 24 hours or so.

Here is what I registered:

Eurooppaoikeus: Tekijänoikeustoimikunta verkkopiratismia vastaan

Grahnblawg: Framtiden online i Riksdagen

The IPKat: Congress 1, Public 0 – the U.S. Supreme Court's Big Decision in Golan v. Holder

The IPKat: Gambling on appeal? Seeing Red over 32

Europolice: EU surveillance

Mathew Lowry's Tagsmanian Devil: Dear Sony, so much for .eu

FT Brussles blog, Stanley Pignal: Steelie Neelie takes on the Hungarians

Google, European Public Policy Blog: Promoting small businesses and economic growth in Europe

TheIPKat: When reporting ”trumps” copyright: the sad case of Declan Hainey

Waltzing Matilda: Tools Tuesday: The Archivist

Groenlinks: ACTA rampzalig voor ontwikkelingslanden

Erkan's Field Diary: anti France imagery after the genocide bill in Turkish twittersphere

Eva en Europa: Hungría y el liberticidio se topan con la Unión Europea

Netzpolitik: ACTA: Kontaktiert den EU-Entwicklungsausschuss

Recent developments in European consumer law: EU data protection reform

Public Service Europe, Sabine Wils: Electronic waste – Europe living beyond its means

Rhein on Energy and Climate, Eberhard Rhein: EU is going ahead with stricter recycling of electric and electronic Waste


Not bad, I would say, for a day and a night. Theoretically has 904 euroblogs listed, but blogs come and go, so some are now inactive. However, during the last seven days close to 250 blogs have published one or more blog posts, which is quite impressive.

If I look at the information society themes, such as copyright, e-commerce, piracy, entrepreneurship, data protection etc., as well as matters related to online media, I feel that you can keep fairly well up to date by following all new posts on, not only the editors' choice (front page).

However, many of the best European tech and policy blogs have not yet found their way to, even if the EU is an important hub for the ITC issues debated both at global and at national level.

You can propose both individual articles and new blogs to Perhaps you have a few policy oriented examples you could share, because the future of Europe is online.

Ralf Grahn

Tuesday 24 January 2012

ACTA in European Parliament committees: Legal Affairs (JURI)

After the roundup of ACTA blog posts in Finnish, Swedish or English on Grahnlaw Suomi Finland, IPR trade protection: ACTA controversy, I have published two recent updates about the agreement in the European Union:

Grahnlaw (EN): ACTA update (in part) (22 January 2012)

Grahnlaw (EN): ACTA in European Parliament committees: International Trade and Development (23 January 2012)

The Development Committee (DEVE) draft opinion by Jan Zahradil enthusiastically brushed aside all doubts regarding the anti-counterfeiting agreement.

Is it really this simple? Yesterday I found two new items to update my blog post. For your convenience, here they are again, with slight modifications:

La Quadrature du Net sees ACTA as the international counterpart of the SOPA and PIPA copyright bills in the USA. La Quadrature blogged about ACTA in the European Parliament both in English and in French.

European Digital Rights (EDRi) published a critical paragraph-by-paragraph assessment of what must be the DEVE committee draft opinion regarding ACTA.

Even if you do not buy the counter-arguments lock, stock and barrel, there are enough questions and references to merit serious thought.


The Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) is preparing an opinion for the committee responsible in the European Parliament, the Committee on International Trade (INTA), which offered us the timetable. If we look at the JURI minutes 19-20 December 2011, we find the following:

24. Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement between the EU and its Member States, Australia, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the USA

*** 2011/0167(NLE) COM(2011)0380

The following spoke: Marielle Gallo (rapporteur), Christian Engström, Alexandra Thein, Eva Lichtenberger, Antonio Caiola (Parliament Legal Service)

There is nothing specific about ACTA on the JURI draft agenda 25 and 26 January 2012.

Marielle Gallo MEP

Somehow the JURI committee, too, has managed to select a gung ho rapporteur. Marielle Gallo MEP is known for her unwavering support for holders of intellectual property rights.

The IP Policy Committee blog offers a background picture about the rapporteur in the previous committee discussion, as well as the legal and political doubts expressed by other participants: Shoving ACTA down the throat of the European Parliament.

There is a Spanish version of the article, published by the Asociación de internautas: Haciendo tragar con el ACTA al Parlamento Europeo.

Erich Moechel, on FM4, discussed the proposals of Marielle Gallo with regard to the customs enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR): ACTA wirft seine Schatten voraus.

Christian Engström, the Green (Pirate) MEP, wants the European Union Court of Justice (EUCJ) to scrutinise if ACTA is compatible with fundamental rights. He has blogged about the JURI discussion, as well as on several previous occasions about the anti-counterfeiting agreement both Swedish and English.

When discusses the imminent signing of ACTA by Austria, the worries of internet service providers (ISPs) are highlighted, and these concerns are shared by the Green MEP Eva Lichtenberger.


The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) remains controversial, but the two rapporteurs we have looked at this far seem to be on auto-pilot to bulldoze through the agreement.

Ralf Grahn

Monday 23 January 2012

ACTA in European Parliament committees: International Trade and Development

Yesterday I offered some information about the state of ACTA in the institutions of the European Union: ACTA update (in part). Now for some complementary information.


The Committee on International Trade (INTA) is the responsible committee in the European Parliament.

The INTA minutes 20 December 2011 (INTA_PV(2011)1220_1) offer us this decision by the coordinators (page 2/13) about the EP timetable during the committee stage:

- To ask the INTA rapporteur for ACTA to fix the timetable so that the first exchange of views takes place in February and the vote in committee takes place in April or May 2012.

The draft agenda for the INTA meeting 25 and 26 January 2012 makes no specific additions regarding ACTA.


According to the draft agenda (item 6), the Committee on Development (DEVE) 24 and 25 January 2012 is going to have an exchange of views Tuesday about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement between the EU and its Member States, Australia, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the USA (procedure 2011/0167(NLE), based on COM(2011)0380).

While INTA is the committee responsible (Kader Arif S&D rapporteur), the rapporteur for the DEVE opinion is Jan Zahradil (ECR).

The DEVE draft opinion PA – PE478.666v01-00, dated 6 January 2012, is strongly supportive of measures to protect intellectual property and welcomes the conclusion of ACTA, commending the Commission for ”having ensured that ACTA provisions comply with the Union acquis and that nothing in ACTA contradicts the obligations between parties under existing agreements, including the TRIPS Agreement”.

After four paragraphs of vigorous endorsement (and one other), the last two paragraphs of the DEVE draft fittingly note development concerns regarding the legitimate trade in generic medicines and access to medicines.

Update 23 January 2012: La Quadrature du Net has now blogged about ACTA in the European Parliament both in English and in French.

Update 2, 23 January 2012: European Digital Rights (EDRi) has published a critical assessment of the (DEVE committee) draft opinion regarding ACTA.

Ralf Grahn

Sunday 22 January 2012

ACTA update (in part)

In October 2011 I wrote a blog post Greens challenge ACTA legality. The two proposals from the Commission (DG Trade) had been published in June. They are:

Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION on the signing, on behalf of the European Union of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, Australia, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Mexican States, the Kingdom of Morocco, New Zealand, the Republic of Singapore, the Swiss Confederation and the United States of America; Brussels, 24.6.2011 COM(2011) 379 final; procedure 2011/0166 (NLE)

Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION on the conclusion of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, Australia, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Mexican States, the Kingdom of Morocco, New Zealand, the Republic of Singapore, the Swiss Confederation and the United States of America; Brussels, 24.6.2011 COM(2011) 380 final; procedure 2011/0167 (NLE)

COM(2011) 380 is available in 22 official EU languages. Thus, the text of the annexed agreement is available in most of the European languages.

Formal adoption

As an 'A item', without discussion, the Council (Agriculture and Fisheries, 15 December 2011) adopted a decision to authorise the signing of ACTA:

3137th Council meeting Agriculture and Fisheries; Brussels, 15-16 December 2011 (document 18708/11)

You find the text on page 43, under the headline TRADE POLICY:

Anti-counterfeiting trade agreement

The Council adopted a decision authorising the signing of an anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (ACTA) with Australia, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States.

ACTA is aimed at establishing an international framework to improve the enforcement of intellectual property right laws and create improved international standards for actions against large-scale infringements of intellectual property. Negotiations were concluded in November 2010.

According to the Legislative Observatory Oeil, the issue of approval of ACTA by the European Parliament is still at a preparatory stage (although for a while the Oeil and committee pages have been impossible to access).

Ralf Grahn

Thursday 19 January 2012

Norway almost as deeply integrated in the EU as the UK

When we think about Norway and the European Union, Britain tends to surface. But what is Norway's EU relationship in reality?

Media shortcut

EurActiv alerted me to the publication of the study on future EU relations of Norway. The article presents the current position of Norway as a member of the European Economic Area (and member of the European Free Trade Associaiton EFTA), as well as the main findings and quotes from Norwegian experts.

When Kirsty Hughes offers the main points on BBC News, Britain crops up early on:

"We are almost as deeply integrated as the UK," says report committee chairman Prof Fredrik Sejersted.

Views and News from Norway contribute with an assessment of the opinion climate in the country, and predict that the current relationship will continue with little change.

Official information

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs offers a press release about the review of Norway's agreements with the European Union. The study forms the basis for a white paper on EU relations to be published later this year, says foreign minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

Chapter 1 (17 pages) of the massive report Outside and Inside – Norway's agreements with the European Union (Official Norwegian Reports 2012:2) is available in English. It offers and introduction, the main messages and an overview.

Readers of Norwegian are able to find the relationship explored in painstaking detail in the original, which runs to 911 pages including the annexes:

Utenfor og innenfor – Norges avtaler med EU (NOU Norges offentlige utredninger 2012:2, 17. januar 2012)

Some thoughts

In the wake of the national leaders' inability to solve the crisis in the eurozone, between seven and eight Norwegians out of ten are now opposed to EU membership. Thus, Norway seems set to continue the necessary ties with a huge democratic deficit.

The EU accession of Norway's EEA companion Iceland (some EU views here) would strain the agreement on the European Economic Area, but I would be astonished if the population of Iceland actually decided to join in the upcoming referendum even if the negotiations lead to an agreement.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Those of you who are interested in the European online public space, as well the issues of information and propaganda from the institutions of the European Union, should read Mathew Lowry's blog article about an alternative overaching EU communication strategy.

Monday 16 January 2012

EU Council: Evaluating the Danish presidency programme

For friends of melodrama we suggest Public Service Europe's take on the Council of the European Union, but let us return to bumbling through the primary sources about the Danish presidency. Our roadmap is the programme presented by the government of Denmark:

Europe at work: Programme of the Danish Presidency of the European Union 2012, 1 January to 30 June 2012 (61 pages)

Since our readers come from many countries, there is reason to mention the language options. The presidency web pages offer you the programme in

Danish: Europa i arbejde

French: Europe au travail

German: Europa bei der Arbeit

Council configurations

After the introduction and the four priorities (discussed in earlier blog posts), the presidency programme presents the main issues for the different Council configurations (from page 23): General Affairs (23-25), External Affairs (24-29), Economic and Financial Affairs (30-33), Competitiveness (34-37), Transport, Telecommunications and Energy (38-41), Justice and Home Affairs (42-45), Agriculture and Fisheries (46-49), Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (50-53), Environment (54-57) and Education, Youth, Culture and Sport (58-61).


Following the introduction and the four priorities, about two thirds of the Danish presidency programme deal with ongoing policy issues sorted under the different Council configurations.

The policy area of each configuration and the current priority issues are clearly described. The main questions are then discussed with some detail added about proposals and the aims for the near future.

The presentations are fairly readable and could be suited for politicians and officials addressing general audiences, as well as for students and other interested readers who want a quick overview of a certain policy area in the European Union.

Mostly the matters are covered in the neutral[ish] fashion of an honest broker, although the attentive reader finds points which reflect viewpoints specific to Denmark (and likeminded countries).

The programmes and proposals are often mentioned exactly enough to enable a reader to do a general web search (Google) to find additional material, but in most cases the presentation is quite general.

It is a light-touch presidency programme, but not really a heavy-duty work programme.

It is often far from clear if the papers referred to are existing or forthcoming proposals, or how far the process of preparation and decision making has advanced.

Would exact references and links to documents have spoiled the programme? It would have become less pleasing to the eye, but more helpful for serious readers.

Ralf Grahn

Saturday 14 January 2012

EU Council presidency of Denmark in the media 2/2

Jon Worth's earlier as well as his two latest blog posts (here and here) about his press trip to Denmark and the launch of the Danish presidency of the Council of the European Union offer both his personal impressions and references to media. He has also actively taken part in the Twitter discussion under the hashtag #eu2012dk (although many tagged tweets seem to disappear into a black hole, here as elsewhere).

In the first part I limited my references to the blogs of Worth, the Copenhagen British Embassy and myself, but here I am going to widen the scope with regard to the Danish presidency.

EU Council presidency

Commission and official

Officially the presidency was kicked off by festivities in the host country, where the European Commission met the government in customary fashion to discuss the priorities for the next six months. Commission president José Manuel Barroso issued a press statement where he emphasised fiscal consolidation, growth reforms such as in the single market and the next long term budget (Multiannual Financial Framework).

Barroso did not volunteer a single word on the fascinating Danish paradox between four priorities and four opt-outs from the EU treaties (the paradox I discussed in a Finnish entry).

Those interested can see the press conference of prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Barroso through the presidency pages, which offer the presidency programme in four languages (English here).

The home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmström blogged briefly about her discussions in Copenhagen (in Swedish here and English translation here). She has just become active on Twitter: @MalmstromEU.

The European Parliament published short comments from the Danish MEPs Bendt Bendtsen (EPP),
Dan Jørgensen (S&D), Morten Løkkegaard (ALDE), Margrete Auken (Greens) and Anne Rosbach (ECR), as well as Morten Messerschmidt (EFD) who only answered the second question, about the greatest challenge for the EU as a whole and for the Danish presidency.

According to set patterns, the European Parliament is going to hear and debate the Danish priorities at the first 2012 plenary session in Strasbourg next week.

For people interested on what happens at Council level, the agenda shows the high level events during the next two weeks.

Presidency communication

The communication expert Michael Malherbe saw the invitation of the euroblogger Jon Worth to participate in the press tour as a step towards recognition of bloggers. He also discussed how Denmark profiled itself as a low-cost presidency and made interesting comparisons between how the new and seven previous Council presidencies positioned themselves.

A number of observers (I included) have remarked on the tap water presidency, where the government of Denmark created a symbol for both economic and ecological thinking by announcing that it would replace bottled water with tap water at the meetings it chairs. One of those to notice was EUobserver.

Georgi Gotev saw the less flamboyant and more frugal Danish style as a message to president Nicolas Sarkozy.


Here is an assortment of articles in EU media, including euroblogs.

Encarna Hernández, on Más Europa, emphasised the green agenda of the Danish presidency in a pedagocical blog post where she presented the essentials of the four priorities. She also discussed the Maastricht Treaty and the resulting Danish opt-outs (in Spanish).

Recent developments in European consumer law presented the Danish programme priorities.

Gli Euros (the Italian version of The Euros) saw the Danish programme as ambitious and farsighted, in the short article: Danesi in cattedra. discussed the background and the aims of the Danish presidency, but also mentioned Romanian interests and finally tried to assess the chances for a small country during the severe crisis (in Romanian).

The defence blog Bruxelles2 reported that Denmark intends to scrap its defence opt-out and to reduce its opt-out concerning justice and home affairs (JHA) to an opt-in. The other French defence blog EGEA took this as its starting point for a short discussion about Denmark in Europe.

Bruxelles2 has also discussed Denmark's desire to strengthen the international influence of the European Union in international affairs, as well as the loss of 27 consular service points managed by other EU countries (due to the security policies of the previous government).

Green hiccup

Quite a few observers noted the uncannily timed layoffs announced by the Danish wind power company Vestas during the launch of the green presidency.

The FT Brussels blog commented on an awkward start, EurActiv spoke of sidewinds blowing the Danish presidency off course and noted the disappearance of green jobs.


Hopefully these examples help to give you some indications of politics and policies during the Danish presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Ralf Grahn

EU Council presidency of Denmark in the media 1/2

After a look at media reporting about the Danish presidency of the Council of the European Union, the euroblogger Jon Worth pronounced ”perhaps not stellar, but at least there is some online discussion about the Press Trip and the launch of the Presidency”.

UK official blogging (FCO Blogs)

You can check Worth's blog for several entries about the press trip and the Danish presidency. He proceeded to give sound blogging advice to the presidency blog launched by the Copenhagen British Embassy (FCO Blogs), based on the post by the UK ambassador Nick Archer about the beginning of the Danish presidency.

According to the ambassador, the prime minister and the deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom are passionate enough about some of the (thirty plus) policies of the European Union to abstain from heading for the exit, namely growth, jobs, Single Market and free trade.

Linking and engaging

I am not going to start providing photos, but let us take Jon Worth's blogging lesson about linking and engaging (discussing) seriously, just adding that substance and sources have a role in political and legal affairs.

It may be somewhat self-centred to start by linking to myself before beginning the wider media tour, but my blog posts present and discuss the Danish priorities and make references to primary sources, while occasionally linking to news reports and media comments, including blog entries.

Grahnblawg (SV): Ekonomisk politik under pågående kris: Danmark ordförande i EU:s råd

Grahnlaw (EN): Growth and jobs: Denmark's EU Council presidency

Eurooppaoikeus (FI): Tanska vesijohtovedellä maineeseen: Painotukset EU:n neuvoston puheenjohtajana

Grahnblawg (SV): Danmark första gröna ordförandeskapet för EU:s råd?

Grahnlaw (EN): A safe Europe a priority Denmark has opted out of

Grahnlaw (EN): EU Council presidency with opt-outs

Grahnlaw (EN): Thorny questions for Denmark and EU Council

Eurooppaoikeus (FI): Tanska: neljän prioriteetin ja poikkeuksen paradoksi EU:ssa


Far from stellar, but an introduction to the next six months of monitoring. In part 2/2 I am going to look at some of the news and opinion I have noticed and gathered for my readers with regard to the EU Council presidency of Denmark.

Ralf Grahn

Thursday 12 January 2012

Thorny questions for Denmark and EU Council

Each EU Council presidency has to confront a number of difficult issues. Denmark is no exception. Here I am going to name but two thorny issues, both relating to the area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ), or justice and home affairs (JHA).

Schengen entry: Bulgaria and Romania

Wikipedia offers an overview of the Schengen Area covering 26 countries and 400 million people, with common external border controls, but free travel within.

The challenge for the Danish presidency is the Schengen entry of Bulgaria and Romania, approved by the European Parliament but still not clear of the Council.

On 9 December 2011 the European Council concluded (document EUCO 139/11, paragraph 15, page 6):

15. Recalling its discussions of June and October 2011, the European Council notes that all legal conditions have been met for the decision on Bulgaria's and Romania's accession to the Schengen area to be taken. It calls on the Council to adopt this decision as soon as possible. If necessary, the European Council will return to this issue at its March 2012 meeting.

Finland had dropped its resistance, but the entry was still vetoed by the Netherlands. The Danish Council presidency tries to find a way to clear the last obstacle (

Can anything be done between now and 1 March 2012?


The Fidezs government in Hungary has energetically legislated and governed away an astonishing number of European founding values, fundamental rights and legal rules.

Essentially, when an EU member state starts taking leave of the Copenhagen criteria, the crisis is political, and the responses should be political and principled, while the legal remedies are more limited. Primarily, the Europarties and the governments of the member states should react, but we have seen worrying lacunae and minimalistic approaches.

The Commission has now stated that Hungary has not taken effective action to curb its budget deficit. The Commission is also investigating the compatibility of new Hungarian laws with EU legislation regarding the independence of the national central bank, measures concerning the judiciary and in particular mandatory early retirement of judges and prosecutors at the age of 62 instead of 70 and the independence of the national data protection authority.

Liberal and centre-left parliamentarians in Denmark voiced serious concerns about core values of the European Union being threatened (EurActiv), but leaders of the EU member states have been awkwardly silent and the European People's Party has been legalistic and minimalistic in its belated response.

News and activities

You can follow events through the web pages of the Danish presidency, or subscribe to news by different channels. You can find and participate in Twitter discussion under the hashtag #eu2012dk, as well as follow the presidency @eu2012dk and its spokespersons in Brussels @SpoxBrx_DK.

Ralf Grahn

Denmark: EU Council presidency with opt-outs

The previous Grahnlaw post mentioned three of the Danish EU opt-outs. Let us take a brief look at all of them.

Danish opt-outs

At least on paper, Denmark looks like Britain, having four opt-outs from European co-operation. These opt-outs concern defence policy, justice and home affairs, the euro and union citizenship, the Folketinget (parliament) mentions in its presentation.

Earlier governments as well as the current one, led by Helle Thorning-Schmidt, have toyed with the idea to scrap one or more of the opt-outs. It would be in the national interest according to the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), but the politicians have not yet braved the uncertain outcome of a national referendum.

The atmosphere in Denmark is much more cooperative, constructive and positive than in the United Kingdom, where obstructionism, vetoes, repatriation of powers and calls for secession compete for the top spot, interspersed by occasional reminders about the importance of the internal market for British jobs and businesses.

Fiscal pacts and Schengen

Denmark participates in the Euro Plus Pact and in the negotiations aiming at a new, intergovernmental fiscal compact. The UK remains outside the first and has forced the intergovernmental route for the second.

Denmark is also a part of the Schengen Area with common external borders and free travel inside.


The NYT IHT offers a description of Denmark's position at the beginning of the Council presidency.

Ralf Grahn

A safe Europe a priority Denmark has opted out of

The government of Denmark offers four wide headings as its priorities for the first six months of Council life in the European Union 2012:

A responsible Europe (see Grahnblawg in Swedish and Eurooppaoikeus in Finnish)

A dynamic Europe (see Grahnlaw in English and Eurooppaoikeus in Finnish)

A green Europe (see Grahnblawg in Swedish)

A safe Europe

As we see, A safe Europe is one of the four priorities of the Danish presidency of the Council of the European Union, and the one we have not looked at yet. The programme:

Europe at work: Programme of the Danish Presidency of the European Union 2012, 1 January to 30 June 2012 (61 pages)

The programme is available in Danish, French and German as well, through the presidency web pages.

A safe Europe

The presidency programme dedicates the pages 19-22 to the security theme. Many of the concrete issues are within three of the Danish opt-outs, namely defence policy, justice and home affairs and EU citizenship.

With only slight exaggeration we can say that a safe Europe is a Danish priority Denmark has opted out of.

Here are the questions covered by the safety priority:

Both wide and complex are the issues related to area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ), or often justice and home affairs (JHA) in British parlance, including cross-border crime, external security threats (terrorism), criminal proceedings, support for victims of crime, migration policy (integration), asylum (EASO), external borders (Frontex) and free movement across internal borders.

This section deals with food safety and cross-border health threats as well.

The risk of natural and man-made disasters requires both prevention and civil protection responses.

At the macro level EU enlargement (Copenhagen criteria plus absorption capacity mentioned) and the implementation of the neighbourhood policy of the union both in the east and the south are recalled in this respect.

Denmark wants to strengthen common representation of the EU internationally by the president of the European Council (Herman Van Rompuy) and the high representative (Catherine Ashton).

The programme wants to improve the link between the EU's humanitarian aid and long-term development programmes, striving to move towards a more global sustainable economy.

If there was anything about the need for a European defence, I must have missed it.


After the general part with the priorities, the presidency programme becomes more detailed when it turns to the main tasks of the different Council configurations (from page 23). Recommended reading for those who want to dig deeper in a specific area.

Ralf Grahn

Monday 9 January 2012

Growth and jobs: Denmark's EU Council presidency

Prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and the rest of the Danish government presented the presidency programme Friday:

Europe at work: Programme of the Danish Presidency of the European Union 2012, 1 January to 30 June 2012 (61 pages)

The programme is available in Danish, French and German as well through the presidency web pages.


The government of Denmark offers four wide headings as its priorities for the first six months of 2012:

* A responsible Europe
* A dynamic Europe
* A green Europe
* A safe Europe

The introduction presents the themes in a nutshell (pages 4-6), with more detail added for each of them in the general part of the programme (pages 7-22).

I already commented in Swedish (Grahnblawg) on A responsible Europe facing the financial and economic crises in the euro area.

After the macroeconomic section, in this blog post I turn to the second prioroity A dynamic Europe, on pages 10-14.

A dynamic Europe

The catchwords are growth and jobs, and the means include revitalising the single market (the Single Market Act). The reform of the European patent system is mentioned as a concrete measure. A digital single market requires a number of actions.

The Danish government underlines the social dimension(s) of the single market. Simplified rules for public procurement, effective standardisation, as well as better framework conditions for companies and consumers are outlined, together with an internal market for energy.

The next generation of EU programmes for education, research and innovation is treated under the headline A competitive single market for knowledge, which includes the programme Horizon 2020.

Social aspects regarding mobile workers and eHealth have already brought some Danish nuances to the fore, and the same can be seen in relation to the subheading Sustainable growth and development throughout the EU, which gravitates around cohesion policy as an important part of the next long term budget (Multiannual Financial Framework).

The programme takes account of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (2012), discussing the health of older people as well as their participation in the labour market. Gender equality and labour market flexibility can be seen as Danish highlights.

Denmark wants to see fewer boys dropping out of school and more young women enrolling in education programmes in growth areas. Legal immigration of qualified labour is seen as essential for the future, as is freer movement for services and workers within the EU.

The programme aims at promoting external trade with the EU neighbourhood and other countries.


The Danish presidency programme is very much in line with the purposes of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth (although the EU2020 strategy is explicitly named just a few times).

Most Council presidencies have mentioned knowledge, social aspects, labour market flexibility, gender equality, sustainable growth etc., but my feeling is that these are among the areas where the government of Denmark wants to export some of its ideas, solutions and experiences to the European Union as a whole.

Denmark's combination of competitiveness, equality and functioning institutions make it one of the success stories in the light of international comparisons, so most EU countries could profit.

All in all, despite some emphasis with country colouring, the Danish presidency programme gives the impression of being quite mainstream: an honest broker diligently carrying the torch for a period of six months.


Perhaps the next priority, A green Europe, goes a bit beyond that, as the Espacio de Ideas blog by Pau Solanilla comments (in Spanish).

The CTA Brussels Office Blog has reported briefly on the priorities and the Open Europe blog has compared the (slim) presidency budget with others.

On the European Voice, Simon Taylor offered some background to the Danish EU Council presidency: a country outside the eurozone and a government from the left.

If we believe that ”no news is good news”, we can conclude that the Danish presidency has caused few ripples in media dedicated to European affairs. Perhaps Danish design evokes sinister plots much less than it does sleek form and function.

Ralf Grahn

Saturday 7 January 2012

Military: Yankees go while European leaders sleep

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from president Barack Obama that private Ryan and his comrades should redeploy to Asia, where the action is going to be.

The strategy document Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense tells us that in keeping with this evolving strategic landscape, our (US) posture in Europe must also evolve (meaning far less men and weapons in Europe). This can hardly come as a surprise to even the most casual of news followers.

While both sides want to maintain the NATO alliance, this long expected move leaves European leaders naked with regard to the state of EU foreign, security and defence policy, especially their inability to even begin the construction of a common European defence.

Since a press statements on every mishap in the world seems to be the extent of EU foreign policy, perhaps the high representative Catherine Ashton could crank out a few lines to let the heads of state or government continue sleeping on the job(?)

Update 11 January 2012: Analysis from Reuters on the state of European thinking and action on common defence.

Ralf Grahn

Eurotroll Cameron

UK prime minister David Cameron ”has promised to do "everything possible" to stop other EU states discussing the single market without the UK” (BBC News UK Politics).

According to the Open Europe blog the EU institutions are ”all over the draft proposal” for an international treaty for a reinforced economic union. The signatories of the treaty will work towards "deeper integration in the internal market".

The EUobserver tells us that ”British PM David Cameron on Friday (6 January) vowed to do "everything possible" to prevent EU institutions from being used in a new fiscal treaty the UK has refused to join, but admitted there were legal difficulties in pursuing that path”.

It looks as if Cameron's strategy and tactics aim at driving as many of the non-eurozone member states as possible towards the euro core. With or without the EU institutions – where Britain has both the voice and the vote – the governments, or most of them, are bound to begin laying the groundwork concerning all aspects of economic policy, including competition, the internal market, tax issues etc. intergovernmentally.

Previous UK governments laid the foundations for Britain's obstructionist position in the European Union, but Cameron's policy of Eurotrolling is achieving a qualitative shift towards irrelevance in all matters except his country's potential for sabotage in Europe on (many fundamental) issues requiring unanimity.

The draft international treaty will do little to remedy the fundamental flaws of the European Union or the euro currency, but the government of the United Kingdom seems dead set on retaining as few allies among the EU members as possible, when they are forced to choose between the European Union and Britain.

I am waiting for how the English tabloids are going to construct Cameron's isolation as splendid.

Update 8 January 2012: Via @EuroCelt David Garrahy I noticed an op-ed piece on, where Paul Gillespie discusses how Ireland should handle Britain's self-marginalisation in Europe. - The UK seems to have set in motion a process of alignment by EU members with the eurozone core.

Ralf Grahn

Tuesday 3 January 2012

EU2020 stands for 20 missing languages

What does the Commission's Europe 2020 web page Annual Growth Surveys have in common with Economic and Financial Affairs (Ecfin) page EU economic governance and president José Manuel Barroso's own res gestae on New action for growth, governance and stability?

They all offer access to the Annual Growth Survey 2012 and its four annexes in three of the 23 official languages of the European Union: English, French and German.

In my humble opinion it might be easier to inspire politicians and officials at local, regional and national level, people engaged with EU funds and civil society players, as well as the public in most member states, if the Commission cared enough to inform them in their own language.

It is not really that hard, since the Annual Growth Survey 2012 proper seems to exist in 22 of the EU languages, with Irish Gaelic the only exception. (Contrary to normal practice the English, French and German versions were not posted on Eur-Lex where the 19 other language versions were tucked away, but without links to the important annexes.)

Even the four annexes exist (ADD 1, 2, 3 and 4), if you search for Council document 17229/11 in all languages (or the language of your choice).

In other words, the Commission could easily remedy its omission with regard to 19 of the missing languages. After all, the Annual Growth Survey with its annexes is where the Commission wants to show its leadership.

Ralf Grahn

Update: For some reason, after posting, the link to the Annual Growth Survey 2012 on Eur-Lex turned up the Draft Joint Employment Report instead, but without links to the AGS or the other annexes. Mysterious.

Update 2, 6 January 2012: When the Commission seemingly added the English, French and German versions of the Annual Growth Survey 2012 (AGS) to the 19 existing language versions, it linked to one of the annexes instead, so the number of correct versions is still 19 on Eur-Lex. The annexes in national languages are still missing on the EU2020 pages.

Monday 2 January 2012

Any hope for Europe?

My article Any hope for Europe? has now been published by New Europe (Our World In 2012).

Ralf Grahn