Friday, 16 September 2011

The EU travelling circus "among wild animals"

                        "Friends hold a summit among wild animals".

In June the Bureau of Investigative Journalism disclosed the lavish lifestyle of the top European Union executives:
Commissioners travelled in limousines, stayed in five star hotels and splashed out on lavish gifts including Tiffany jewellery as their member states faced savage budget cuts and rising EU taxes.
An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism into spending by the EU executive has shown that more than €7.5m (£6.6m) was spent on private jet travel for commissioners between 2006 and 2010.

Read the entire article here

In spite of the criticism after the disclosure and the growing financial crisis, there are no signs that the EU top executives are intent on changing anything in their way of doing things. On the contrary.

Last week Commission President José Manuel Barroso embarked on a global trek that took him (and a number of his colleagues) to such exotic places as Australia, New Zealand (where the Rugby World Cup opened) and Singapore.

Yesterday Barroso´s private jet took him to the Kruger National Park in South Africa, where according to Africa Intelligence "Friends hold a summit among wild animals". The haiku poet and EU "president" Herman van Rompuy was also spotted in the famous wilderness park, which boasts "the most diverse game viewing experience in Africa". The exotic environment clearly seems to have inspired the poet, who in his official press release was deeply grateful to the host:

"I would first like to warmly thank President Zuma for hosting our annual Summit in such
an enjoyable setting in the Kruger National Park".

Barroso - and probably also van Rompuy - can look forward to another exciting visit to South Africa soon again. The size of the EU delegation at the UN mega climate jamboree COP 17/MOP 7 in Durban is not yet known, but one thing is certain:  The EU fleet of high carbon foot print private jets will not suffice for the transportation needs.

The South African safari of the EU top brass was a well executed display of imperial style (after all, the EU is an empire according to Barroso). Neither did the high imperial envoys forget the old tradition of bringing gifts to the natives: They launched a Primary Health Care Programme, worth € 126 million and promised more gifts for other purposes.

But van Rompuy and Barroso must have noticed the cracks in the imperial splendour. Next week South Africa´s finance minister will discuss aid to the European Union together with his BRICS colleagues:

The emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) will discuss possible aid to the European Union amid its debt crisis, Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega says.
Mr Mantega and his counterparts will be in the US capital next week for the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

The story has a familiar ring to it: Barroso could be right about the empire - although it is of the type that is described in this fairy tale by the famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.

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