Monday, November 28, 2005

EU Press Briefing on Car -Burning Regulations

Recently I wrote a little satire on the EU and the car-burning incidents during the French riots. Then I started wondering if we might be able to take the satire one step further. Therefore, in consultation with some blog friends, I give you the following: the EU bureaucracy's response to my "news report." Enjoy!

PS: Somehow it makes me think of Kafka's bureaucratic nightmares...What do you think?

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Press Briefing by N.N. (an EU commission spokesman)
EU Headquarters
Brussels, Belgium
2:55 P.M. (Local)

SPOKESMAN: Good afternoon. No statement from me today. I'm willing to take your questions. Yes, please.

Q: The Citroen News Network claims that the EU has decided to pursue a three-pronged approach on car burning. Is that true?

A: No, absolutely not. The "events" in France occured only four weeks ago, so there is no need for immediate action. Rome wasn't built in aday - and Paris won't be distroyed in a day. *laughs*

Q: So you deny any approach on the car burning issue?

A: I didn't say that. What I wanted to say was: "There is no three-pronged approach yet."

Q: So is there any approach on that issue?

A: Well...err...yes, there is. But this approach is not a three-pronged, but a five-pronged one. At least five-pronged. And the jury is still out on it...

Q: What do you mean - the jury is still out on it?

A: Um...the EU Council has agreed to establish a task force to deal with the car burning matter. After their first meeting, the task force came up with a five-pronged approach. But it was only the first meeting. They won't present their findings until next Monday, as far as I know.

Q: CNN mentioned a "multinational committee dedicated to studying EU car burning trends over the next 10 years"...

A: First of all, all EU committees are multinational by nature. That'swhat makes the EU so thrilling exciting! *laughs* Second, the "EU study on car burning trends" has already been completed. It will be released next Monday.

Q: You confirm the existence of a EU study on car burning trends?

A: Yes. As you know, the EU founding members have a long and successful history in burning and blasting cars. Not only France, butespecially Germany, Italy and Spain, to name a few, were doing a heck of a job on this. So, this trend is not new to us.

Q: On a related note, CNN says, that "yearly findings will be published in the form of obscure French poetry, courtesy of Dominique de Villepin". If this committee already exists, why weren't any findings published so far?

A: Um...Okay, the first findings are from 1998. But the translation from the original French version into the other official languages isn't accomplished yet. We were about to release the findings in 2004- but then, there was the EU enlargement, as you know...and we have still some difficulties with the translation into Estonian. Plus, the only translator for Slovakian is on strike...

Q: Would you like to comment on the Sarkozy remarks?

A: Oh, thank you for this question! It gives me the opportunity to clarify, that the whole Sarkozy issue is a hoax. He didn't comment onEU affairs and will never do so. As one of his advisers told me, commenting on EU affairs would ruin his chances to ever replace good old demented Jacques....errrr....I'm sorry...that was OFF THE RECORD! OFF THE RECORD!...Next question, please!

Q: Is it true, that the EU will issue a EU-wide slate of legislation to regulate the burning of cars?

A: Yes, that's correct. As you know, the EU is iconic for regulations. And the burning of cars is most certainly something that should be regulated. Yes, please?

Q: As for the regulations' details: "Each EU member nation will be allotted a different number; these national quotas will be based on population, number of cars available in the nation, and insurance rates..."

A: No, this information is incorrect. That would be against the EU core principles. The EU wasn't founded "to allot" something, but to equalize the living conditions of EU citizens by regulating and restricting national policies. Plus, as we all know, national quotas within the EU aren't based on reasonable parameters like "population","numbers" and "rates", but on the aggressiveness of the member state's leaders and unions.

Q: And what about this proposal: "All EU states will be allowed to burn 25% more cars on weekends and holidays."?

A: On the contrary! Admittedly, one member of the task force proposed something like that, but after he received a threatening letter from an Italian union with a cover letter demanding: "No work on weekends! Hands off our holidays!", he withdrew his suggestion. Plus, as I just said, the EU states won't be"allowed" to do something. As we're at it: The European Council is working on new versions of the EU treaties to erase verbs beginningwith "allo" like "allot" and "allow".

Q: What about the "lex Ramadan"?

A: I'm sorry?

Q: The part of the regulation concerning burning cars during Ramadan. "Cars will be allowed to burn only after sundown."

A: Ahhh. Um, Ramadan is...like, Islam, right? No comment. But anyway, matters of religion are still up to the EU states. Thank God they are.

Q: "All EU members must submit to Brussels daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly tallies for torched vehicles". Correct?

A: Correct...Yes, please?

Q: Is it true, that the numbers of torched vehicles will be certified by the EU accounting office and placed into archives?

A: Kind of, yes. We are working on a system to collect all the handwritten numbers on paper, then microfiche them and finally place them into an EU-wide online archive. But as far as I'm informed, we still have some software problems. Please, contact our software partner for details. His name is Bill...eh, forgot his family name, sorry. Yes, please!

Q: Is it right, that "No action will be taken to reduce the car burnings nor to discover or correct the root causes of these incidents."

A: Yes, absolutely. Moreover, the EU will try to increase the car burnings and probably expand it to other goods like grain, corn, Chinese textiles and other EU surpluses. As for the root causes: They are so crystal clear that any investigations on that would be a waste of time. The main cause is the ongoing good performance of the US economy. That's what frustrates people in the EU. I mean, c'mon, US economists like Paul Krugman have been promising us the big downturn of the US economy for years and years now -but the Americans still outperform us quarter after quarter. That is simply outrageous! No wonder that the EU is in danger of missing the Lisbon Strategy's objectives.

Q: Now, for the consequences of car burning in regard to the environment. Has the EU commissioned a scientific study of greenhouse emissions that result from the burning of cars, such as fumes from combustible fuels and rubber tires?

A: No. Since the EU greenhouse emissions are neglegible in comparison to the USA and China, there is no need for a commission like this. On the other hand, it's always nice to have a new commission. Perhaps, the EU authorities will consider this point.

Q: Won't the car burnings hinder the EU's adherence to the Kyoto Treaty?

A: Excuse me. That's just ridiculous. It has always been EU policy to sign international treaties of all kind as they come. Adherence is a completely different matter. But, since the USA and China didn't sign the Kyoto Treaty - who cares about adherence?Then again, the task force already set up a commission to combine car burning with energy saving. For example, if the burning cars areplaced nearer to buildings, that might reduce our dependence on fossil fuels used for heating.

Q: Will any EU member which exceeds its Kyoto emissions limit because of unrestricted incineration of autos be fined, as Citroen NewsNetwork says?

A: Kyoto isn't a hot topic, as I just pointed out. And it is likely that EU authorities will encourage EU states to incinerate more autos and other goods. So, it would be counterproductive to fine them for incinerating, wouldn't it? But most certainly, at the end of the day, there will be lots of fines, since fining member states is one of theEU success stories as the fining of Germany, Italy and Greece for offending the Euro Maastricht Treaty shows clearly. Then again, you know, the EU states are very clever in coming up with excuses - and they simply refuse to pay the fine! Anyhow...Next question, please!

Q: Will repeated offenses by a state result in the banning of cars in the offending state?

A: That was a proposal launched by the outgoing German red-green government, yes. But since the new German government seems to be less tree-hugging, this proposal is finished. Banning cars does not belong to the core assets of EU policy.

Q: That means, Brussels won't negotiate an exclusive contract withChina to supply bicycles to the nations offending car burning regulations, as the CNN news story states?

A: In fact, we are in negotiations with China on an exclusive contract to supply cars, not bicycles. For numerous reasons: Chinese cars are much cheaper, their thermal properties are better. Plus, it's always fun to negotiate with Chinese officials. EU officials certainly won't miss one of those official binge drinking events. The Chinese call it"banquet". Ah, Chinese...funny people. Two more questions, please. Gotta go soon; I have an appointment with my hairdresser. Yes, please?

Q: Reportedly, the public response to this Brussels declaration has been mixed. French car makers hailed the decision as a way for them to anticipate production levels...

A: Oh, yes. Good point. That brings us to the main problems of the whole thing. As the EU wants to establish the burning of goods as a powerful strategy to accomplish its main objectives, it is essential to observe the EU law. So far, the French only incinerate French cars. That needs to be changed. They should also burn German and Italian cars, otherwise it would be a violation of EU trade law. Another problem is, that so far only France, Germany and the UK already went ahead with burning car, whereas especially the new EU members like Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states are extremely reluctant on that issue. The EU commission will send out a delegation to these states to encourage them to burn at least some of their cars, as a sign of goodwill. Yet another problem is, that to date, there are no plans for new subsidies. But you simply can't start a new EU strategy without inventing some new subsidies. And it's not that there's no need for new subsidies: the car makers, the car owners, EU states which don't have a national car manufacturing industry yet - they all need to be subsidized.

Q: There were also reports about several unnamed Belgian youths of foreign extraction who set Mannekin Pis on fire last night in protest against what they called the EU's unfair limitation of their freedom of expression. Said one: "We protest against this censorship and discrimination by Brussels. We must fight for our right to torch as many cars as we see fit!"

A: Yes, that's exactly my point. That's why the EU has decided to give Belgium a boost in establishing their own national car industry...Well, okay, that's all for now. Thank you very much.

Q: Good to see you again.

A: Nice to see you, too. Good to be with you. Take care.

END 3:28 P.M. (Local)

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