Brussels: where’s Waris?

Article published on March 13, 2008
Article published on March 13, 2008

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

What with missing Somali supermodel-cum-UN ambassadors, the Spring European Council and naughty pupil Britain, ‘twas a hot climate this week in Brussels

Best public consumer campaign of the year

On 10 March, Meglena Kuneva, the Bulgarian commissioner for consumer protection, awarded ‘European consumer champion’ awards to Finland, the UK and Ireland amongst others. Participants included member states supporting consumer rights such as financial service abuses, text message prices and lack of information in online stores. We need to defend our consumers; certain data suggests that there are sectors which certainly do not play clean. As Kuneva says, ‘in Belgium a fixed landline is 20% more expensive than neighbouring Holland, whilst in Italy electricity is three times more expensive than in Greece or Finland.’

Sarkozy stresses Merkel

The Spring European Council takes place in Brussels on 13 and 14 March, and heads of member states and governments are heading to the capital to discuss, amongst others, climate change and state security. French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German chancellor Angela Merkel had already planned to welcome the joint announcement about their agreement on creating a Mediterreanean Union/ Union of the Mediterranean. Nevertheless, Sarkozy made his German counterpart look ridiculous when he revealed the main points of their agreement in an exclusive interview with French newspaper Le Figaro on 28 February. One more strike on the board called 'diplomacy' for a tactless, hyperactive Sarkozy

Waris Daris’s vanishing act

The famous model of Somali origins and Austrian nationality, 43, was due to speak in two conferences on female genital mutiliation organised by the EU in the framework of Woman’s Day, participants including fellow Austrian and EU commissioner for external relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice, in Brussels on 5 March. She disappeared on the same night on her way to her hotel. After a nationwide search, she reappeared three days later after. No explanations offered, as the Belgian police prefer not to interfere in her private life

London won’t hold a referendum to ratify the Lisbon treaty

The House of Lords and Commons met on 12 March to talk about their decision to not hold a referendum to ratify Europe’s new version of a constitution, the Lisbon treaty. There are big frustrations of those who demand a referendum, but who insist that the Lisbon treaty is practically identical to the constitution that was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005. Ex- French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and constitution-founder added oil to the fire when he agreed with this. The ratification in the UK could have been the key opening the rest of EU’s ratifying doors

In-text photos : Merkel and Sarkozy (cgomelnowipernitycomhomcgommel & Guillaume Paumier /Flickr), Waris Dirie (Amartz n VA/ Flickr), debate in the House of Commons (liberal democrats/ Flickr)