Tuesday, 1 March 2011

A day in the life of an EU commissioner

Being an EU commissioner must be one of the better job opportunities for retired European politicians. The salary is decent (In 2009 the basic salary for a commissioner was €230,000 + a lavish entertainment allowance + a residency allowance and a lot of other perks that come with the job. Of course, after 2009 there must have been a considerable adjustment upwards. Just as a comparison, in 2009 the British PM earned only a scant £187,000 - 20.000 less than a commissioner), and you do not have to worry about facing the voters, because you are an unelected bureaucrat. And when you finally quit the job, your ever generous employer makes sure, that you are in a position to enjoy the good life also during the years of retirement or whatever other later occupation. What more could one ask for?

The duties of the members of this exlusive, taxpayer financed elite group are of course varied. Just as an example, let´s have a look at what one of them, the Commissioner for development, Latvian Andris Pielbags is doing today, March 2, 2011:

Unless there has been a last minute change of schedule, the Commissioner will wake up in the capital of the tiny Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, where he, according to his website is on an "official" visit (commissioners like to think that they are on the same level as ministers of independent nations on official visits).

The "official" visit to Vanuatu is just one leg of the Commissioner´s grand tour also including the French Pacific paradise islands of New Caledonia in the South Pacific and East Timor in Southeast Asia. (The Commissioner should be congratulated for the excellent timing of the tour - who would not like to spend a couple of weeks on exotic Pacific islands this time of the year, when cold winter winds are blowing in Europe?)

While in Vanuatu, our Commissioner is ably assisted by his entourage from Brussels and the new EU "embassy" (or delegation) in Vanuatu headed by EU diplomat Robert De Raeve, Chargé d'Affaires. (Yes, the Europan Union´s External Action Service now has an embassy in this nation of 243.000 people. It sure must be one of the most challenging  jobs to be an EU diplomat over there. No wonder there are no vacancies at the embassy right now, according to its website).

And what is the Commissioner´s schedule in Vanuatu today ? The background notes from the Commission´s Spokespersons’ service for journalists give us some useful information:

Wednesday 2
 – Friday 4 March: EU’s help to Pacific Islands to fight climate change effects: Commissioner Piebalgs in Vanuatu to launch €50.4 million worth projectsThe news:
Between 3 and 4 March, 2011, European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, will participate in Conference on Climate Change in Vanuatu and sign an Action Plan to enhance Pacific-EU cooperation on climate change.

Some of the small Pacific islands are under the threat to disappear. They dramatically need increased aid.which, Commissioner Piebalgs will call EU member states and other international partners and donors to engage politically and financially in addressing climate change challenges faced by Pacific Countries and Territories.
The Commissioner will also sign four programmes which show EU determination to combat climate change and poverty in the Pacific for €50.4 million in total. Two of them cover specifically Vanuatu and Solomon Islands climate resilience specific needs. One will support strategic actions on adaptation in 9 Pacific Small Island states and prepare those countries to absorb efficiently the expected international climate fast start funds. The second regional project, to be implemented by the University of South Pacific, seeks to strengthen capacity building, community engagement and adaptive actions along with applied research.
The background:
Pacific islands are very isolated developing countries which have already suffered from regular natural disasters. In the worse case scenario, some islands could disappear due to rising sea levels and increasing erosion occurring from intense storms. All these changes infringe on hunting, fishing and the quality water resources therefore contribute to increased poverty in the region. In order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals on time the poverty must be also addressed in the Pacific region.

The European Commission provides development aid to the Pacific, which amounts €600 million for 2008-2013. It has reached a 60% increase between the 9th European Development Fund (2002-2007) and the 10th EDF (2007-2013).. A specific support needed to be devoted to address the negative impact of climate change in the Pacific. The Commission is politically and financially leading this EU effort. Together with Pacific partners, the Commission is actively engaged in financial terms, with €90 million in ongoing and already planned development cooperation projects and programmes at country and regional level for the period 2008-2013.
The event:
Building on the Cancun Climate Change Conference, the High Level conference on Climate Change in the Pacific will be hosted by Vanuatu on 4 March and is organised by the European Commission. Commissioner Piebalgs will make the introductory speech and Prime Minister of Vanuatu will do the closing remarks. An action plan will be presented for endorsement by the Conference.
A press conference will be organised on site.
Commissioner Piebalgs will visit a first wind farm implemented in the Vanuatu archipelago, designed to help meet the country’s growing energy needs. He will also visit the National Disaster Centre and Meteorological Services to assess local capacities deployed at the forefront of disaster risk management.

In the Commissioner´s own blog from last year we find out that:

A long-term vision to combat climate change is worth nothing if it does not involve future generations. That is why the Commission has provided € 8 million of financial support to the University of South Pacific, part of which will be used to train students in the science of climate change (since when is climate change a science? -NNoN) and also to provide 300 certified trainers to work with communities on climate change adaptation (The EU is financing the "education" of 300 climate change progaganda officers for these tiny islands!)

In other words, what the Commissioner is busy doing is showering millions of EU taxpayers´ money on a small group of Pacific islands, which according to official EU propaganda "are under the threat to disappear"

But is there really such a threat? Not according to the latest study by the University of Auckland, featured in the magazine New Scientist:

In recent times, the inhabitants of many low-lying Pacific islands have come to fear their homelands being wiped off the map because of rising sea levels. But this study of 27 islands over the last 60 years suggests that most have remained stable, while some have actually grown
Associate Professor Paul Kench of Auckland University, who took part in the study, published in the journal Global and Planetary Change says the islands are not in immediate danger of extinction.
"That rather gloomy prognosis for these nations is incorrect, " he told the BBC.
We have now got the evidence to suggest that the physical foundation of these countries will stillbe theere in 100 years, so they perhaps do not need to flee their country."

Other experts, like Swedish professor Nils-Axel Mörner have already long ago come to the same conclusion. Vanuatu is not going to "disappear" anywhere - although it may experience all other kinds of problems, like most places.

One can only wonder, why the European Union is spending millions of EU taxpayers´ money on non-existent "climate change"/global warming problems in a number of Pacific island states. Why is nobody protesting when commissioner Pielbags and his entourage are travelling around the globe (at the expense of us, the taxpayers) in order to spread unsubstantiated climate change propaganda? And, by the way, why should the European Union have an "embassy" in the tiny island state Vanuatu at a time when ordinary European citizens are facing deep financial austerity measures?

Bon voyage, Mr. Commissioner!

New Caledonia - one of the exotic places in the Commissioner´s grand tour.

(image by wikipedia)

1 comment:

princess said...

Hope you are enjoying your work in Vanuatu Bob? Kind regards.

Elsie Hudson
FCT - Nigeria