Daily Archives: March 12, 2008

An even more surreal session of the European parliament than usual in Strasbourg this week. The “highlight” was what is known in euroland as a “solemn ceremony” to mark 5o years since the assembly was born.  It seems an odd title for a celebration. At least there was a birthday cake – and plenty of fizz, of course.

Solemnity there was, with the Ode to Joy, the EU’s putative anthem played by the European Youth Orchestra, marked by many members getting to their feet. But jollity, too, with much backslapping and some wonderful music. See more here. Read more

Tony Barber

According to a joke doing the rounds in Brussels, two Eurocrats are discussing the EU’s Russia policy. “ I wonder what are things going to be like after President Putin,” says one. “Hard to say,” replies the other. “A lot will depend on the new prime minister.”The new prime minister will, of course, be none other than Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president for the past eight years.

To some, that suggests little immediate change in the truculent tone of Russia’s dealings with the EU over recent years. Putin himself told German chancellor Angela Merkel last Saturday that Dmitry Medvedev, his hand-picked successor, would defend Russia’s interests just as strongly as he has done. Read more