A Coalition Of The Willing?

Thursday’s edition of the International Herald Tribune features an interesting article concerning the recent European rows about state interference in favour of so-called national champions.

Quoting Elie Cohen, the Tribune’s authors – Katrin Bennhold and Graham Bowley – suggest that both the French government’s allegedly new/refound role as M&A consultant in the Suez and Gaz de France deal (to avoid a bid from Italy’s ENEL) as well as the Spanish government’s attempt to thwart a takeover of Endesa, a Spanish utilty by E.ON, the German power corporation, are indicative of a resurgence “nation state” as a political concept in the Europe of the 21st century.
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Saving The Euro

Do you want to save the Euro? Well one idea for how to do it has been proposed by University of Missouri-St Louis history professor John Gillingham: reissuing the 12 national currencies that were replaced with just one, while at the same time retaining the euro as a parallel currency that finds its market value in competition to reissued national currencies (podcast here).
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Oh We Are The Champions

Yes we are really, aren’t we. Especially if we are called Arcelor, or Danone, or Endesa, or Eni, or Enel, or Banca Antonveneta or Pekao. And what these champions have in common, and it is this which sets them so much apart from their footballing equivalents, is not the ability to win anything, but rather their capacity to lose, especially in a take-over battle from a foreign pretender. And just for this very reason it is, it seems, ok for you to include the referee in your line-up. Indeed such is the sporting prowess of these ‘champions’ that it is deemed that what they are most in need of is not the cold harsh wind of competition, but rather protection, and indeed protectionism, anything rather than face outright competition from would-be global rivals. A rare breed of champions these.

I think before I go further, I would like to draw attention to one idea which holds us all together here at Afoe:

Purity of race does not exist. Europe is a continent of energetic mongrels. – H.A.L. Fisher
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The Colour of Steel

First of all many thanks to the kind folk of Afoe offering me the possibility of expressing my views on some European reactions to the Mittal Steel bid for the European steel giant Arcelor. By now most of you must have heard about this sitation. Mittal Steel is the world’s largest steelmaker and was founded (and is still currently run) by the Indian-born steel maker Lakshmi Nivas Mittal, the third richest man in the world.
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EURES: one million job offers within the EU

The EU launched a new website today, EURES where one million jobs within the EU will be on offer. From the EURES-site:

EURES (EURopean Employment Services) brings together the European Commission and the public employment services of the countries belonging to the European Economic Area and Switzerland. Other regional and national bodies concerned with employment issues are also included, such as trade unions, employers’ organisations, as well as local and regional authorities. (…) EURES is playing an increasing role in identifying the surpluses and deficits of manpower in different sectors, and in overcoming qualification bottlenecks. The network also helps improve employability, particularly that of young people, through the acquisition of professional experience abroad. EURES also contributes to the creation of a common European labour market, as well as, in certain border regions, to the establishment of an integrated regional labour market.

Currently, only 2 percent of 450 million Europeans work legally in another member state. (source: De Telegraaf)

Winners of the 2nd Satin Pajama Awards

Here are the winners of the 2nd Annual European Weblog Awards, also known as the Satin Pajamas:

Most Underappreciated Weblog: Metamorphism by Mig
Best Central European Weblog: All About Latvia by Aleks
Best Expat Weblog: Petite Anglaise by Petite
Best Personal Weblog: Petite Anglaise by Petite
Best French Weblog: Journal d’un avocat by Eolas
Best German Weblog: Atlantic Review by various
Best UK Weblog: A Welsh View by Robert Gale
Best CIS Blog: Neeka’s Backlog by Veronica Khokhlova
Best Southeastern European Blog: Argumente by Dragos Novac
Best Culture Weblog: Amateur d’art by Lunettes Rouges
Best Writing: Bric a blog by the widow Tarquine
Best New Weblog: La Poulette by Poulette
Best Humor Weblog: My Boyfriend Is A Twat by Zoe
Best Non-European Weblog: 3 Quarks Daily by various
Best Expert or Scholar Weblog: Early Modern Notes by Sharon Howard
Best Political Weblog: European Tribune by various
Life Time Achievement Award: Neil Gaiman

and finally (drumroll) …

Best Weblog: Neil Gaiman’s Journal by Neil Gaiman

You can still see all the finalists and their share of votes on the award page. They’re all worth a visit. Last years winners are here.

Congratulations, everyone!

Update (by Tobias) – here’s a little badge for the winning blogs to display their success at the polls. Congrats, you got yourself a Satin Pajama!

Winner 2006 AFOE Satin Pajama

Satin Pajamas

I’m finally done, about three weeks too late. Go vote.

Btw, we lost the page for last years awards, but you can look at it here.

…The polls will close on Friday.

…20:00.

Update (by Tobias, 23:43 CET) – I’ve seen some nominees use screenshots of our lovely satin pajama wearing teddy bear in order to visually enhance a post about their nomination, but that’s clearly not overly convenient. So I’ve made three banners in different sizes. I hope that one of them fits your needs. You can find the banners below the fold.
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Katja Gelinsky’s Peculiar America

The German newspaper whose web site is now marginally better organized has two reporters based in the United States for its main news section. One, Matthias Rueb, is said to be one of the paper’s heavy hitters. They post him where they want to have an impact, certainly within German debate, and if possible at a European level or in the host country. (The paper has several such correspondents.) This is not his story.
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The liberalism of fools?

I cannot recommend highly enough Ken Macleod’s post (found via Crooked Timber) on how the “socialism of fools” – Engels’ description of anti-semitism – was accompanied by a sort of “liberalism of fools”, to wit, the anti-Catholicism of the pre-WWII era. Macleod, acknowledging that anti-Catholicism is rather passé these days, wonders if hatred of something else, perhaps another sect, might fill the roll as a modern liberalism of fools.

And, on a not entirely separate topic, French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo (no website, not that kind of paper) is republishing the images, along with one on its cover of Mohammed crying “It’s hard to be loved by fools”. An effort by the Conseil français du culte musulman to stop publication through the French courts was rejected on a technicality.

Chirac, however, has demonstrated that he is not, contrary to widespread belief, the biggest fool in Europe. Unlike the Danish Prime Minister, he has “condemned all manifest provocations that are liable to dangerously arouse passions.” Alas, he has only retreated to the number two slot in European political idiocy. He also said, “Anything susceptible to harm the convictions of others, particularly religious convictions, should be avoided. Freedom of expression should be exercised with a sense of responsibility.” Right on count two, wrong on count one. Responsible freedom of expression means that when you go out to offend people, you can’t claim to be surprised when they are offended. But there is little point in free speech if it is forbidden from trying to change convictions.

And round and round this totally avoidable fiasco goes.
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The Second Annual Satin Pajama Awards

…The Satin Pajamas have been delayed because of the webhost migration and some other unforeseen things. The voting will begin soon, within a week at least, so I’ll bump this post again.

‘Tis the season of blog awards, among them our own European Weblog Awards or Satin Pajamas.

Last year I wrote: The purpose of the awards is to recognize the efforts and contributions of Europe’s many talented bloggers, to maybe help build a sense of community among us, and, more than anything, it’s a chance for people to discover lots of new good blogs.

Last year’s awards did just that, and they were great fun. I’m sure this year will be no different.

…I really should clarify the rules. A blog is eligible if it’s written by Europeans or has a European (Czech, Catalan…) theme. Our own blogs aren’t eligible. Finalists are chosen based on the number of nominations as well as editorial discretion. So you want to nominate your favored blog even if someone else already mentioned it.

…Bumped.

Nominees for Best Southeastern European Weblog
Nominees for Best CIS blog
Nominees for Best Writing
Nominate Best Culture Weblog
Nominees for Best Personal Weblog
Nominate Best New Weblog
Nominees for Best European Weblog Overall
Nominate Best Political Weblog
Nominate Most Underappreciated Weblog
Nominees for Best German Blog
Nominees for Best French Weblog
Nominate Best UK Blog
Nominees for Best Expat Blog
Nominate Best Academic Weblog