Yulia Tymoshenko’s refusal to acknowledge Viktor Yanukovich as the legitimate winner of Ukraine’s presidential election is starting to embarrass her friends in the European Union. The White House, Nato and the EU have all congratulated Yanukovich on his victory. The longer Tymoshenko maintains her defiant stance, the more it will cost her in terms of prestige and contacts in Europe.
Only last December I saw the red carpet rolled out for Tymoshenko at a congress in Bonn of the centre-right European People’s Party, the biggest party in the European Parliament. Everyone was there – German chancellor Angela Merkel, EU president Herman Van Rompuy, French premier François Fillon, Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, etc. Tymoshenko was one of the star attractions from the “new” eastern Europe. Read more
There are some who say the forced withdrawal of Rumiana Jeleva as Bulgaria’s candidate for the European Commission on Tuesday was a blow to Commission president José Manuel Barroso. After all, didn’t Barroso make public a letter in support of Jeleva as late as last Friday, only two working days before she crashed in flames?
I disagree. The truth is, Barroso found himself in a very delicate situation and needed to extract himself from it without humiliating Jeleva, annoying the Bulgarian government and giving more excuses for the European Parliament to delay confirming his new Commission in office. By and large, Barroso has achieved these three objectives. He has handled the whole thing rather well. Read more
Say what you will about Rumiana Jeleva, Bulgaria’s nominee for the new European Commission, but she is one hell of a dancer. A Youtube clip shows her doing the rumba in what appears to be Bulgaria’s equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing – and there’s no question, it would be a severe injustice if she didn’t get 10 out of 10.
It would be less of an injustice, however, if the European Parliament refused to support her appointment as the EU commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis response. This is partly because, in her parliamentary hearing on Tuesday, she did not convincingly answer some of the many questions that MEPs asked her about her financial affairs. She denied allegations of impropriety, but she seemed remarkably hazy about the details of her involvement with a consultancy that specialised in privatisation matters. Read more
If it were not funny, it would be tragic. The UK Conservative party’s decision to quit the European People’s Party (EPP), the main centre-right political group in the European Parliament, is backfiring on the Tories in spectacular fashion. The decision was always daft – a bit like the right wing of the US Republican Party splitting off and forming a minority group in Congress – but it now looks more short-sighted than ever.
On Tuesday the Tories relinquished the leadership of their new “anti-federalist” faction, the so-called European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, to Michal Tomasz Kaminski, a Polish politician. They felt obliged to do so after Edward McMillan-Scott, a Tory MEP, refused to respect a deal in which Kaminski had been promised one of the parliament’s prestigious vice-presidency posts. Read more