Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

A letter to Private Eye

(I’ll copy the offending article below the fold, for those who are interested. And for non-UK readers who don’t know what Private Eye is, it’s the UK’s best satirical political magazine – and also one of the few publications to still bother with proper investigative journalism. I’ve been reading it pretty much every issue since the early 90s, and can safely say that it’s far and away my favourite magazine, and probably the prime thing that inspired me to start blogging.)

Come on, Strobes – your EU coverage is becoming laughably bad. In Brussels Sprouts in Eye 1227 you quote the “director” of “The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre” (later just “the EU Research Centre”), who has supposedly “exposed” yet more devious details of the Lisbon Treaty as Ireland looks set to vote again on the damned thing.

Aside from the fact that what is supposedly “exposed” is actually just re-hashed, unproven speculative analysis that did the rounds of the Euroblogs well over a year ago, what’s most shocking is that had you bothered to look it up on Google you’d find that the impressive-sounding National Platform EU Research and Information Centre is actually nothing more than one man and his blog, most of the content of which consists of cut and pasted newspaper reports. Not only that, but judging by blog search engine Technorati, it’s a singularly unknown blog (only six inbound links) – probably why I’d never heard of it.

I’ve been running a well-regarded blog on EU affairs for nearly six years now (shortlisted for Best UK Blog in the 2008 Weblog Awards and given the Jury’s Commendation in the UACES-Reuters Reporting Europe Awards 2008, among various other accolades). But now I see where I’m going wrong – I should start referring to myself as the director of some grandiose-sounding institute and start spamming people with “press releases” to make people assume that I’m from a thinktank.

Seriously – if you need a fact-checker for your EU stuff, let me know. Brussels Sprouts has always had a tendency to believe the worst of the eurosceptic conspiracy theories, but now it’s getting silly.

As for the rest, keep up the (mostly) good work!


J Clive Matthews (aka Nosemonkey)
Nosemonkey’s EUtopia
(henceforward to be known as The European Institute for EU Insight and Objectivity – E.I.E.I.O.)


Yet more phoney guarantees by Brussels to the Irish have been exposed – this time by The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre.

In their desperation to get the Irish to vote again for the same constitutional treaty they rejected (now renamed Lisbon), Eu leaderss have deluded the irish into believing the new treaty would guarantee them an EU commissioner in Brussels (Eye 1226) who, they claimed, would have been taken away under the old Nice treaty.

But the EU Research Centre’s director, Anthony Coughlan, reveals that it is actually the new Lisbon Treaty that plans to take away the commissioners from member states. Says Coughlan: “It is the Lisbon Treaty which proposes a reduction of one third from 2014. What Nice provides for is a reduction in the size of the Ccommission by an unspecified number from 2009… to be agreed unanimously.” However, he explained that since such unanimity was unlikely, the current situation would remain if Lisbon were not ratified and all member states would keep their commissioners.

The centre also exposed false claims that the Irish could choose their commissioner under the Lisbon Treaty, when in fact the decision would be made by the commission’s president, with the help of larger member states. “What is the value of every EU state continuing to have one of its nationals on the EU Commission under Lisbon… if member state governments can no longer decide who that person will be?” asks Coughlan.

Have our leaders forgotten how to read, or are they simply lying?

There are so many misunderstandings, misinterpretations, factual inaccuracies and weak semantic pedantry there that any proper fisking would end up far longer than the article itself. And it’s hardly worthy of that.

Poor show, Private Eye – poor show.