What does it mean to be a citizen of the European Union?



“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” That is the question the British will answer in their referendum on 23 June. It is a rather abstract wording for the personal belonging of each and every citizen to the European Union. A more personal question would have been: “Do you want to continue to be a citizen of the European Union or not?” That is the real and personal essence of the vote on 23 June for each and every citizen in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. But what does that really mean? What does being a citizen of the European Union mean in the 21st century?

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Restoring trust – an answer to President Obama’s NSA speech



On January 17 President Obama started his speech about the NSA with remarks about the long history of US intelligence activities since the dawn of the American Revolution. He exemplified how intelligence has helped to secure the country and to support the military throughout American history.

History is often a good starting point for a speech, at least for a European citizen. However, in a discussion about the right balance between security and freedom the history of freedom should not be forgotten.

It is not easy to say where to start, but any deliberation of the matter should not neglect James Otis’ speech from 1761 against the writs of assistance. The writs were general warrants allowing officials of the British Crown to search for smuggled material within any suspected premises of the so called American colonies at that time. For James Otis one of the most essential branches of Liberty was the freedom of one’s house. In his speech he referred to Sir Edward Coke’s famous statement that “A man’s home is his castle – for where shall he be safe if it not be in his house?” This is much more modern than it sounds. In times of rapidly growing technological capabilities and of automatic industrial data collection the question is to whom personal data belongs and what government officials should be allowed to store? In Sir Edward Coke’s words: where does the house end in the twenty-first century? Is a smart phone with all its personal data and including the metadata of calls still part of a man’s house?

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Junker’s first priority: Keeping the Union together



Will Jean-Claude Juncker go down in history as the President of the European Commission under which the European Union will break up?

The European Council might have discussed and decided yesterday the strategic agenda for the next five years, for Jean-Claude Junker, the nominated President of the European Commission there is one first and foremost outstandingly important task: keeping the Union together. Assumed that David Cameron will be re-elected in 2015, there might be a British referendum by 2017 to leave the EU – or to continue to stay in it. With a publicly known No from David Cameron to support Junker’s nomination as the next President of the European Commission, the task did not become easier.

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In Flandern Fields – We shall keep the faith



In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

                       John McCrae

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Wanted: a new President of the European Commission – a job description and an agenda



If we look for a new President of the European Commission it is good to have a common understanding of his role and tasks. The second point is: which agenda should be driven forward?

First, the role and tasks of the President:

Representing the Union and Heading the European Commission

Representing the Union – especially together with the President of the Parliament and the President of the European Council. Lay down guidelines within which the Commission – as one of the seven ‘constitutional’ bodies of the Union – is to work, decide on the internal organisation of the Commission, ensuring that it acts consistently, efficiently and as a collegiate body; appoint Vice-Presidents from among the members of the Commission, other than the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (Art. 17,6 TEU).

Promoting the general interest of the European Union and taking appropriate initiatives

Driving the Union forward by delivering a future-oriented and lean legal framework for the welfare of all 28 Member states and its citizens. Executing the exclusive initiative right in matters where the community method applies. Providing political thought leadership for the European Union, e.g. through speeches and upon occurrences such as the State of the Union address. Initiate the Union’s annual and multiannual programming with a view to achieving interinstitutional agreements. Execute the budget and manage programmes. Exercise coordinating, executive and management functions, as laid down in the Treaties. (Art. 17,1 TEU).

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Remembering JFK – the peace speech



“I am talking about genuine peace – the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living – the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and build a better life for their children – not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women – not merely peace in our time but peace in all time. (…) I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary rational end of rational men.”

On June 10, 1963, John F. Kennedy made his remarks about peace.

It’s still worth listening to them…



A European Elections Manifesto



Un jour viendra…

To the citizens of the European Union:

In a few weeks we are called upon to elect a new European Parliament, the first under the rules set forth in the treaty of Lisbon.

Later this year our new Parliament will elect a new European Commission.

100 years after the beginning of World War I and 75 years after the beginning of World War II the subject speaks its own importance – comprehending in its consequences nothing less than further progress and development of our European Union or stagnation and mediocrity and – in the worst case – decomposition into its parts and perhaps finally a breakup.

How important it is to belong to a strong community can be witnessed in these days at our eastern border. The struggle of the Ukrainian people for inner peace and freedom, for the right of self-determination, democracy and prosperity reminds us of our own true values. They are precious and not to be taken for granted. Once more in history the Moscow Kremlin does not show any respect for these values. Read more