L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

04 October 2006 Blog Home : October 2006 : Permalink

EU News

I was going to write a bit about events here in France - the usual selection of strikes, worries about loss of jobs, whining about the slightly politically incorrect and the usual theft* politicians posing and primping but then I decided I really couldn't be bothered as none of the items are any more than confirmation that the usual practices are occuring.

In Europe on the other hand the BBC has a bunch of stories that, while also being mostly confirmation are slightly more surprising.

To start with the least surprising France and Italy 'worst bribers':

French and Italian firms were named as the worst culprits for paying bribes in low-income countries.

TI said its survey showed that efforts to introduce anti-corruption laws had yet to slow the problem.

"It is hypocritical that OECD-based companies continue to bribe across the globe, while their governments pay lip-service to enforcing the law," said TI chief executive David Nussbaum.

"The enforcement record on international anti-bribery laws makes for short and disheartening reading."

French and Itlaina firms pay bribes back home in France and Italy too so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise to discover that they do the same abroad. This is news about as surprisng as the Pope admitting that he is a Catholic.

Then we have the fact that the EU has decided that it was completely OK for it to try and frame a journalist who thought EU curruption in Brussels was newsworthy:

A European Union court has rejected a claim for damages from a journalist who says he has been persecuted by the EU anti-fraud office, Olaf.

Hans-Martin Tillack was arrested by Belgian police and his files were seized after he exposed wrongdoing at the EU statistics agency, Eurostat.

He claimed damages from the European Commission, arguing that Olaf had triggered the Belgian police action.

But the court said there was no "causal link" between Olaf and his arrest.

Or, in other words, we managed to bury the papertrail well enough that he couldn't prove it. Neener Neener Neener

Next up is the wonderful news that the EU has decided that its wants to make its citizens pay more for shoes and keep the poor struggling European (primarily Italian) shoemakers in business.

Imports of leather shoes from China and Vietnam to Europe will continue to face steep punitive tariffs, under a deal reached by EU governments on Wednesday.

In future, imports from China will face tariffs of 16.5%, and imports from Vietnam will face a 10% levy.

The agreement is a triumph for Italy, which claims that unfair competition from manufacturers in both countries is driving its own shoe producers out of business.

But retailers have responded angrily, and claim that consumers will end up paying more for their footwear.

It seems that EU consumers - being disorganized - have far less clout and lobbying influence than manufacturers.

Finally, and in a shock blow for common sense, it seems that EU employers are entitled to pay longer serving staff more to reward their greater work experience:

Employers have welcomed a European Court of Justice ruling which they say will allow companies to continue to reward workers for long service.

The court rejected an appeal by health and safety inspector Bernadette Cadman that it was wrong to pay more to male staff who had been in the post longer.

Ms Cadman said that because women were more likely to have breaks from work, this amounted to sex discrimination.

But the court has left leeway to appeal in certain individual circumstances.

However in its general ruling the court said experience was an acceptable way of setting somebody's pay.

But you just have to love the final comment:

The president of the European Women Lawyers' Association, Leena Linnainmaa, said that the situation could only be more equal if men were encouraged to take paternity leave.

"The fact that women take maternity leave is a great burden on their careers," she told the Times.

*Following the "Pride of lions" and "Murder of crows" I think a "Theft of politicians" is pretty accurate - at least in Europe, in the US perhaps a "Legover of pols" would be more accurate given recent news.

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin