The Parliament Magazine's week that was

PMHQ's take on what really mattered this week in Brussels and beyond.


23 Jan 2015

Endearingly informal Twitter offering of the week

Latvian presidency Twitter feed hacked by excitable tween? Keep your eyes peeled for mobilisation of screaming #Latviliebers.


Diplomatic suggestion of the week

Serbian president Tomislav Nikolic tells BBC News that EU and Russian leaders should be "locked up in a room until they come up with a solution" to their current diplomatic impasse. "It's like having two children - you can't disown one of them," he adds.

Unfortunately, Nikolic's cunning plan runs counter to the decision of member states to shun official interaction with Russia by holding no "bilateral regular summits for the time being".

Ever the maverick though, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán welcomes Vladimir Putin to Budapest next month. Perhaps if Moscow were to lend every member state €10bn - as it did to Hungary in 2014 for the expansion of the country's only nuclear power plant - then Putin could expect a more effusive welcome from other EU leaders?

€urope's last stand?

ECB president Mario Draghi                                                                         Source: Press Association

To QE or not to QE, that was the question. Five years into the worst economic crisis since the great depression, 25 million people unemployed later, plus 120 million at risk of poverty, falling wages and lower living standards, the ECB has sprung into action.

As Super Mario [an ironic nickname] oils up his printing press and finally loosens the purse strings for quantitative easing, the markets reacted to what economists have called 'shock and awe tactics' with their usual level of enthusiasm.

Following Draghi's announcement, the euro ended the day at its lowest level against the dollar in 11 years. QE2 - the countdown begins now…

Note to self: prepare shipping related puns and deck chair euphemisms for forthcoming QE2, for example ‘Draghi’s titanic effort to save eurozone all at sea’, etc.




Davos special report: Democracy in action?

In the week when the charity Oxfam revealed that 85 individuals will shortly have accumulated more wealth than the poorest half of the world's population, EU leaders have promised that this outrageous imbalance will be corrected.

                               Latvian prime minister Laimdota Straujuma                                                                                                      Source: Press Association
Oh no, sorry our mistake, in fact, our dear elected representatives have taken to the slopes and are gathered in Davos, Switzerland for a 'forum' with the 'one per cent' to tell us we must continue on the path to fiscal rectitude. There was plenty of tut tutting reserved for the people of Greece who may elect Syriza this weekend, a left-wing party that doesn’t seem to quite share the multi-millionaire elites' fetish for austerity.

As 1700 private jets landed in the Swiss ski resort for a meeting of high flyers, there was a (very) brief break from telling people what they ought to think and that they need to suffer more, or as billionaire Jeff Greene told the gathering "have less things", to discuss how the renewable energy sector will be adversely affected by falling oil prices.

At least on the plus side, the price of keeping a private jet in the air should be cheaper. You can’t quite have it all! Although if you have accumulated a net worth of over $2bn from betting against subprime mortgage securities like Greene, you could get quite close.


Qatar 2022: Champagne socialism?

A migrant worker in Qatar                                                                                                           Source: Press Association

Speaking in the European parliament at a summit on reform of football's international governing body, Fifa presidential hopeful Jérôme Champagne reassured MEPs concerned over human rights in Qatar by saying that, "unfortunately a World Cup means revamping and building new stadiums, and accidents can happen". Seems reasonable.

  • Number of migrant workers currently involved in World Cup preparations: 1.4 million (no word yet on how many have had their passports 'accidentally' confiscated)
  • Number of workers unable to leave Qatar without permission from their employer: 1.4 million
  • Fatal 'accidents' between 2012 and 2013: 964
  • Predicted fatal 'accidents' for the duration of the World Cup preparations: up to 4000
  • Probable number of football players intentionally attending the World Cup: 736


DG Wells? Team Juncker messing with space-time continuum

This week featured a PMHQ exclusive as our eagle-eyed team uncovered evidence that the European commission may have developed time-travel capabilities allowing EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini to travel back to 1970s Ukraine.

Mogherini was reportedly well prepared for Ukraine in the 70s which was a UN member and separate subject of international law but whose sovereign territory featured some control from Russia, under a Kremlin that was expanding its military capabilities and experiencing the beginnings of serious economic stagnation. Plus ça change.

The date of the video has since been amended, but this screenshot is irrefutable proof that the commission has capabilities beyond contemporary science's understanding.




Last orders for Britain in the EU?

Al Murray Source: Avalaon entertainment / Pete Dadds

  Al Murray - the Pub Landlord                                  Source: Avalon entertainment / Pete Dadds

The Parliament Magazine also caught up with UK election hopeful Al Murray ahead of his trip to Brussels this weekend. The controversial Pub Landlord character is standing in the same constituency as EFDD co-chair Nigel Farage and gives us his views on issues ranging from a solution to the eurozone crisis to answering the eternal question: 'Who are the best drinkers in Europe?'.


Read the most recent articles written by PMHQ - The Parliament Magazine's week that was - pre-Easter edition