Media snubs EU birthday

Article published on May 15, 2008
Article published on May 15, 2008

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

Europe celebrates its birthday, its citizens surf online for plane ticket scams and Burmese victims await humanitarian aid - the latest news from Brussels

Europe's birthday snubbed by the media

For the most part, the media did not cover Europe's birthday on 9 May. A key date in the establishment of the EU thanks to the ‘Schuman declaration’, this day is symbolic for the EU and regarded as a holiday for the institutions in Brussels. Yet how many of Europe's half a billion citizens were aware of the celebrations? Announcements of some event or other in honour of Europe were few and far between. Even the member states' permanent representatives to the European Commission failed to promote the occasion. However, 58 years ago Robert Schuman, the French minister of foreign affairs of the time, proposed that the countries that had killed each other during the first and second world wars work together to manage coal and steel production

Daylight robbery on the web

One out of every three consumers is misled, or even swindled, when buying an aeroplane ticket online, according to Meglena Kunev, the commissioner for consumer protection. The statement comes seven months after airline companies and online travel agents were forced to clean up their act. As a general rule, the consumer is duped on the price, the terms of the contract (the print being too small) and on the availability of advertised offers. Almost 50% of internet sites were declared to contravene consumer law last September; they now conform to European regulations. However, these standards are still not adhered to sufficiently with regard to cross-border travel

Two million euros for Burma

The European commission very swiftly decided to make two million euros' worth of humanitarian aid available for the survivors of cyclone Nargis that struck Myanmar (Burma) at the start of May. Louis Michel, the European commissioner for humanitarian aid and development, said that this sum could easily reach 30 million euros if Myanmar's military junta opened up its borders more to NGOs. The commissioner intends to travel to Myanmar himself to ensure that the money, which is designed to ensure the provision of water and sanitation, is not turned away by the Myanma authorities but is passed on to victims via aid organisations. Nearly 25, 000 people have died and 41, 000 have been reported missing.

Pro-European Serbia

With president Boris Tadic having won 39% of the votes, Serbia has become pro-European once more, following a two-month political crisis after Kosovo's declaration of independence on 17 February. Tomislav Nikolic's ultranationalist party attained only 28% of the votes. More than 60% of Serbs from both Serbia and Kosovo voted in the legislative elections; however, Serbia's European future is far from secure. Having failed to obtain an absolute majority, Tadic's democratic party must find partners to form a coalition government and is likely to have its work cut out doing so