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EUROTRASH - The latest from Brussels


In the trough...
MEPs have been voting on financial matters. They voted to cover up a report showing widespread abuse of allowances. They rejected calls from the European Ombudsman and others, to publish the names of over 400 MEPs who are believed to illegally pay their pension contributions from office allowances.

Chris Davies, a Liberal Democrat MEP, attacked this attitude. He said, "Far from cleaning up their act, a majority of MEPs seem intent on allowing greed and self-interest to triumph over the proper financial management of public money."

MEPs also approved the EU's budget for 2009, including a pay increase for themselves – although the Court of Auditors failed to sign off the EU's accounts for the thirteenth year running.

Great expectations
The European Union has plans for its own embassies, according to the Daily Telegraph on 3 May. This is the first indication that full EU embassies have been seriously considered. They would be controlled by the new EU diplomatic service established in the Lisbon Treaty.

The proposals are for over 100 EU offices around the world to become embassies and for EU ambassadors to be accountable to the European parliament.

Finnish Foreign Minister Alex Stubb said, "All over the world there will be EU embassies...if we play our cards right, we'll become one of the world's great actors. We are already a superpower in trade, a superpower in aid, but in foreign and security policy we haven't reached the level we should be at."

Food thoughts
EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel has her own views on the recent global surge in food prices and its causes. She said, "Isn't that great! Do you know what, prices have fallen for 20 years straight. In Denmark, the average family spends 10 per cent of their income on food – they spend more money on their kitchens. So yes, I'm really happy that prices are going up."

Commissioner Boel "completely discards" the idea that biofuels are behind the increase: "The most important factor is the climate", she said.