Daily Archives: June 19, 2007

It is hardly a secret that the European Parliament’s formal powers fall short of those accorded to a "proper" national legislature. One of the more tiring consequences of this situation is the Parliament’s lingering inferiority complex, which expresses itself all too often in grandstanding, overblown rhetoric and a deep desire to be constantly consulted, informed and patted on the back by the Brussels big boys – the Commission and Council.

Given the unique nature of the Union’s constitutional set-up, the Parliament will almost certainly remain a somewhat stunted creature for a long time to come. Member states will never give up their de-facto veto over lawmaking and their exclusive rights in many other areas, not least foreign policy.

Yet all this has not stopped the Parliament from emerging as an increasingly powerful player in the past few years. The latest example of the chamber’s growing clout may well have surfaced this week, when the Parliament’s transport committee voted on an ambitious plan to fully liberalise the Union’s €90bn postal services market.

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Another update from the frontline of the vodka wars, and the battlefield in Strasbourg is strewn with empty shot glasses, rotten fruit and animal parts. Actually, they are pictures of animal parts, distributed by Polish vodka makers who fear that .

In fact, given that vodka made from offal probably would not sell well, it is unlikely that Tuesday’s vote of the European parliament would lead to such an end. Vodka made from anything other than grain and potatoes will have to say so on the label, though in rather small print on the back.

While this is only the first, rather than decisive second, reading of the directive governments have already reached agreement along the same lines and should rubber-stamp it at this stage.

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