May 30, 2004

Euro Fun

1. No Bones to Dogs
Butchers are being threatened with fines if they give bones away to dog owners.

They are being sent letters telling them that a new European directive bans the traditional practice

2. French Need More Sleep (via Tim Blair)
FRENCH intellectuals have taken up a new cause, which they describe as a defining issue for modern society. They are calling for more sleep.

Philosophers, authors and scientists have joined forces to campaign for the right to nod off, arguing that tiredness is one of the greatest threats to the developed world, particularly France.

The French are turning into insomniacs who have forgotten the joy of snoozing as they strive to lead what they mistakenly believe to be fulfilling, dynamic lives, they say.

Fatigue, loss of concentration, irascibility, depression and an inability to have fun are among the consequences.

The intellectuals blame the problem on the spread of an Anglo-Saxon work-hard, play-hard culture, which leaves people too stressed to sleep, even when they try.

They say the syndrome is exacerbated in France by widespread anguish over globalisation, with people worrying their way through the night

3. Rules Don't Apply to Everyone
LONDON, England (CNN) -- Germany and France have avoided the threat of sanctions from the European Commission, despite breaching strict rules on budget deficits.

Both countries look set to break deficit limits for the third year in a row in 2004. Under the agreed rules, this should result in European Commission recommendations on budget management and heavy fines if the terms are not met.

But eurozone finance ministers have reached a compromise which requires Germany and France to give a political commitment to bring their budgets in line. Ministers also laid out budget cutting targets for both countries but these are below the cuts the Commission had wanted in place.

The EU executive is responsible for enforcing the pact, designed to promote confidence in eurozone finances and protect the credibility of the euro.

"The Commission deeply regrets that these proposals are not following the spirit and the rules of the stability and growth pact that was agreed to unanimously by the member states", said EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pedro Solbes.

Several smaller countries are angered that two of the eurozone's biggest members have been allowed to sidestep rules they were instrumental in setting up.

"Portugal made strenuous efforts to abide by the terms of the pact and obviously that's one of the reasons why there's been as much pressure on Germany and France to comply as there has been... still the bottom line is, you end up with a bit of slippage," John Driffill at the Centre for Economic Policy Research told CNN.

4. Eurostat Scandal
Eurostat is accused of using a double accounting system and siphoning off large amounts of money into secret bank accounts outside the scrutiny of auditors.

Investigators discovered that the value of some contracts issued by Eurostat was artificially increased and others did not exist at all.

and it's still going on:
The EU's internal auditor, Jules Muis, told members of the European Parliament of his conclusion that there were still "pretty big problems" in the management of Eurostat.

His team of auditors had ascertained that Eurostat officials had held slush funds in so-called black accounts relating to hundreds of contracts.

But because records had been destroyed it had not been possible to assess the scale of the abuses.

5. Becoming a Giant DisneyLand (again..Tim Blair)
Member nations of the European Union have announced plans to discontinue their status as individual countries in order to merge into one giant theme park!

The new park will be called EuroWorld and will cover the entire continent of what is now known as Europe. The decision was made by the EU countries in response to their collective realization that no one in Europe has had an innovative idea in well over a century.