Jazz concerts in the heart of Europe

by Aris Heru Utomo

On 25-27 May 2007, more than 400 musicians took part in the 12th edition of the Brussels Jazz marathon. They showed in open air stages on the Grand Place, Petit Sablon, Place St. Catherine, Place Fernand Cocq and Place d’Espagne as well as in numerous clubs and venues. For 3 days they showed a colorful and broad program, from jazz in its purest form, to latino, funk, rock and blues. All concerts were totally free.

This is the third time for me to attend and enjoy the annual jazz activities in the city of Europe. Not like the two previous editions, this time I could enjoy the performances, not only in clubs or venues, but of course in open air stages. I remembered that in the last two years, the weather was not so conducive. The rain kept on coming in spurts the whole day. This time, even the sun and clouds seemingly fighting over who should gain control over the skies above Brussels, in general it is very friendly.

Knowing that there are so many concerts, I decided to see the concert in Grand Place only. Grand Place is a historic square, lined with exuberantly ornate guild houses and focuses on the Gothic heights of the Hotel de Ville, is widely held to be one of Europe’s finest.

In this area, I have a chance to look at Daniel Romeo Band and Marc Lelangue on Saturday, 26 May 2007. While on Sunday evening there were trio Rassinfosse and quartet Manuel Hermia in the stages.

Daniel Romeo Band, a fusion band with jazz and funk element. (left to right) Oliver Bodson, Laurent Doumont, Bert Gielen, Nicolas Fiszman, Daniel Romeo, Rosario Guiliani, Michel Bisceglia.

Marc Lelangue and his band, Marc Lelangue "Tribute to Ray Charles". He is faithful to blues singing and has created a parallel repertoire, of songs that he wrote in French.

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by Aris Heru Utomo

Do you have intention to export your products to the European Unions (EU) but you don’t know the information related to import requirements, trade data, a market place as well as practical trade operations and trade promotion? Don’t worry. Just simply click EXPORT HELPDESK, an online service provided by the European Commission (EC), you can find all information you need to access market in the EU’s member countries. In this site the EC provides relevant information required by exporters from developing country which interested in supplying the EU market.

There are seven menus in this site, namely:
1. Requirements and taxes. Under this menu you can find information concerning EU and Member States’ import requirements and internal taxes.
2. Import tariffs, provides information to take full advantages of the EU’s preferential trade regimes.
3. Custom documents which related to documents to be produced in order to qualify for preferential duty treatment.
4. Rules of origin: This section provides information concerning preferential origin rules. It lays down the specific conditions that need to be met if goods are to qualify for advantageous tariff treatment; otherwise the full duties are applicable.
5. Trade statistic; contain trade data (exports and imports) for the EU and its individual Member States.
6. Market Place is a platform where exporters in developing countries can establish contacts with importers from the EU.
7. Links: this section provides information concerning EU and Member State authorities and international organisations involved in trade operations and trade promotion.

By providing all these menus as well as user guide, which can be downloaded in this site, the EC hopes that exporters from developing countries could develop their knowledge and have some background information on the procedures of exports to the EU’s market. But off course, it is not an easy matter for the beginners to fill all the complete form in this site. For example, the user should know firsts the codes of each product before fill up the form.

In order to enhance the capability of developing countries exporters, it is better if the EC could also conduct training for them and put this programmes under National Indicative Programme in the individual EU’s partner countries.

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News: Veto and Voting on EU Constitution Discussion

By Honor Mahony and Mark Beunderman

The voting system and where member states should have a right to a veto are shaping up to be the two biggest issues at the treaty summit next month in Brussels with diplomats already gearing themselves up for a long meeting.The German EU presidency has finished the technical consultations with member state officials - a last gathering of all of these technocrats will occur next week on Wednesday - and is now expected to enter the political phase.

According to diplomats close to the talks, member states are heading towards a "consensus" to abandon the idea of substituting all the previous treaties by one constitutional treaty.

Instead the draft constitution, rejected by Dutch and French voters in 2005, will take the form of an amendment to current treaties.

Discussions are ongoing about attaching part one of the constitutional treaty containing the institutional innovations to the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht and attaching part three containing the policies of the EU to the original 1957 Treaty of Rome.

Getting as much cleared as possible at the June summit
According to one diplomat, Germany, using its political weight as a large country as well as holding the current presidency of the EU, will try to get as much of the political issues cleared up at the 21-22 June summit so that the following intergovernmental conference on the treaty "is as technical as possible."

This stance has led diplomats in Brussels to assume that the summit is going to be long and contentious, with some looking back to the Nice Treaty summit, a bad-tempered political bout that lasted several days.

"There is talk of a lengthy council ... I have noticed it creeping into the language of other diplomats," one EU diplomat remarked.

This talk reflects the list of controversial points that need to be agreed - including two fundamental issues on voting weights among member states and the extension of qualified majority voting.

For Germany, the voting system contained in the draft constitution is something not to be touched. "Whoever touches this [issue] has to know that he will not reach a compromise," state secretary Georg Boomgaarden said on Thursday in the Netherlands.

But Berlin still has to reckon with an increasingly tough-talking Poland.

Sticking points
Speaking to French daily Le Monde, Polish prime minister Lech Kaczynski said "we will not accept the voting system proposed in the current project. For Poland this is a crucial question."

The current Nice Treaty is extremely favourable to Warsaw in terms of voting weights, a privilege it loses under the draft constitution where a re-jigged voting system takes into account population size, making it much more favourable to Germany.

Britain's wish to cut down the amount of areas that can be agreed by qualified majority voting is another brewing, and potentially even tougher, fight.

The draft constitution, already largely ratified by 18 member states, extends the rights of the parliament to co-legislate, thus reducing the right of veto, in 49 new areas - mainly in freedom, security and justice.

London is looking to claw some of this back to make the treaty an easier sell to a sceptical public and largely anti-Europe press.

But this is strongly opposed in several countries, including Spain and Italy, while Paris has also signalled it will not compromise on this topic.

Alain Lamassoure, an advisor to French president-elect Nicolas Sarkozy told the EUobserver that while the "UK might be tempted to revisit the list of issues that should be decided by qualified majority vote rather than unanimity (...) for the rest of member states this is not negotiable."

Other sticking points include the Charter of Fundamental Rights with member states bickering over how to incorporate it into the treaty. Currently it is in there as a whole, but some capitals are pushing for it to be referred to only in one article which says that it will only be applicable to EU law and giving member states the right to adapt it to their own traditions and legislation.

Enlargement is another controversial factor. While enlargement criteria are likely to make it into the treaty, sources are already predicting a quarrel over whether the EU's own capacity to take on new member states should be put into the treaty.

Meanwhile, the German presidency is already working on additional protocols on climate change, social Europe and energy solidarity.

Remarking on the difficulties facing chancellor Merkel to balance the wishes of those already having ratified and the nine countries that have not, one diplomat noted that she has a "big stick" to beat member states with - that they all signed up to the contents of the constitution in 2004.

"It's a very dangerous tactic" to sign up to something at heads of state and government level and then try and "wiggle" out of it, said an official adding "especially when there is a big presidency in town."

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News: EU launch digital encyclopaedic project on living species

From Bulletin Quotidien Europe No.9423, 10 May 2007

In the interest of biodiversity, for which there is an urgent need to stem the decline, the EU will be contributing to the global effort to create in the next ten years, a global scientific information system on species of fauna and flora that live on earth’s surface.

At the official launch in Washington on 9 may, the European Commission announced that this digital encyclopaedic project on living species aimed to include, in around 300 million pages, all known species, and to update available data on how they live, how they grow, their fertility, their tolerance to the environment, their interaction, their genetic characteristic etc.

“The Earth’s biodiversity is a fragile resource. The more we know about it, the better we can protect it. Linking up with researchers within Europe and across the world will increase our understanding of the species with which we share the Earth and, hopefully, improve our management of it,” said European Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik in a press release.

The EU will work on this global project with American, Australian, Brazilian, Indian and South African scientists. European funs will be used to bring together data and create a common information system, called SpeciesBase. Data, which are available to the public, will be supplemented with photos and maps. The German Leibnitz Institute IFM-GEOMAR will coordinate the project. The European contribution will be built on the successful experience of the Fishbase database: The Catalogue of Life (www.sp200.org), The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (www.gbif.org), Fauna Europea (www.faunaeur.org) and Euro+Med Plantbase (www.euromed.org.uk).

The project for a global digital encyclopaedia of living species follows on from the G8 Environemnt Ministers meeting in Potsdam in march, which focused its discussions on the proctetion of biodiversity by 2010. The Commission highlights the importance of this biodiversity conservation tool for researchers, political decision makers, land managers, farmers and conservationists and the public in general.

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Review: Europe Day

by Aris Heru Utomo

The 9 May is Europe Day, the anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome in 1957, when the original European Community was launched by its six founding countries namely Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Today, the 9th of May has become an European symbol (Europe Day) which, along with the flag, the anthem, the motto and the single currency (the euro), identifies the political entity of the EU.

Fifty years since the Treaties of Rome were signed on 27 March 1957, the EU has grown from six original member countries in 1957 to 27 today, expending its original role promoting economic cooperation into an integrated bloc which share currency, common borders and cooperation on areas ranging from the environment and immigration to defence and foreign policy. It shows the achievement of the evolution process of the European integration from the start to the various stages of the integration project: Coal and Steel Community, Economic Community, European Community, European Union.

Then why the EU adopted 9 March as Europe Day instead of the signatory date of the Treaty of Rome on 27 March? Historically, the adoption of 9 May as “Europe Day” was decided at the EU Summit in Milan in 1985. The day is celebrated in commemoration of the proposal by Robert Schuman on the creation of an organised Europe, indispensable to maintenance of peaceful relations on 9 May 1950. The Schuman’s proposal or known as Schuman’s declaration is considered by many to be the beginning of the creation of what is now the EU.

Considering the achievement of the European Union integration, we should take notice that those process of integration obviously involved Eastern Europe countries and Balkan which were belong to Communist bloc during the cold war. At that moment, it was difficult to construct cooperation with those countries under the same common position.

With regard to the EU’s achievement on the process of integration, we are also seeing that at this time the EU are challenged by internal issues such as streamlining the economic differentiation in each member countries; particularly refer to the 12 new member countries which joined to the EU since 1 May 2004 and 1 January 2007.

In the political and security cooperation, it’s seem that the EU is trying to enhance its profile in international fora. In this context we can see the EU involvement into conflicts in Middle East, Iran, Darfur as well as monitoring the general election in Aceh. With its modalities, the EU could maintain its role in maintaining political and security issues.

In this regard we should consider the revival of the EU power to influence the development of other regions which will cover issues among other are economic and trade as well as political and economic issues, principally for the developing countries.

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