The European Ties that Bind Us

Thursday, November 26, 2015 | 0 comments »

Someone didn't get the "Big on Big Things" memo, as MEPs call for a 'European Cravat Day'

Must have been a quiet May this year. Just the burgeoning migrant crisis to deal with, a conflict minerals law to sign off on, loans to Ukraine, and an Emissions Trading System to reform.

So plenty of time for the European Parliament to think up a new Thing-That-Hasn't-Been-Europeanised-Yet.

And they came up with....


That's right, a European Parliament document from May now made public  "calls on the Commission to establish a European Cravat Day."

Europe, it explains, "is the birthplace of the cravat", and the tie has in time "become an indispensable item of clothing, gradually winning over Europe and the whole world."

Nnnnnno. Just.... No.
"For centuries the tie was characteristic of Europeans, namely people with a European spirit and values, and has gradually become a symbol of European fashion," the MEPs reason.

And as each EU presidency traditionally unveils its own tie, the accessory "is even considered a symbol of the EU," they say.

Establishing an EU Day of the Tie will contribute to "maintaining and strengthening interpersonal links between Europeans, as well as their links with the rest of the world."

One can only postulate that this particular group of MEPs may have been wearing theirs a little too tightly...

(And that the current Greek government will be unlikely to embrace the initiative...)


(& *Hat-Tip* to anonymous, who sent through the link to the document...)

A mucky blog hawking "naughty sex" and "adult chat sites" has been discovered among the 'useful links' listed on a European Commission website.

A keen-eyed reader - who wished to remain a 'cool anonymous source' (*hat-tip*) - spotted the link while perusing the EU's foreign-aid programs.

Seeking more information about the "Al-Invest" initiative to support SMEs in Latin America (ours is not to reason why), the individual clicked on what appeared to be the appropriate link.

But up popped a website (NB. LINK NSFW) with a URL citing "hookers want women horney member" and a blog entry under the curious headline "Married woman looking for sex Henderson".

At time of writing, the link is still there.*



*update two hours on: link now removed...

MEPs are putting more and more formal written questions to topcrats at the European Commission, with the cost of responding to them estimated to be more than 8 million euros this year.

In 2013 MEPs put 13 400 questions to the executive. Last year MEPs were distracted campaigning in the elections, and only scraped a meager 10 800 questions between them.

With one inquisitive type tabling 193 questions already this year, and many others not too far behind, this year the total is estimated to reach some 17 000.

The commission has said that replying to that many questions requires the equivalent of 76 people working full-time.

Per question, that works out at 490 euros per answer.

How do we know this?

It's all laid out in an answer to a written parliamentary question...

490 euros well-spent.


Here's how it works.

Word gets down to the commissioner in charge of Inland Waterways and Catering that it's his turn to do a Tweetchat.

It's the way Topcrats aim to show they're in touch with the citizen and on top of their dossier.

In fact it serves only to satiate the social-media twitch of a handful of lobbyists, leaving both them and the commission with the impression that some job has in some way been done with some degree of satisfaction.

1. The Official Announcement

 It starts with an uninspiring invitation from the European Commission.

2. The Commissioner mis-tweets

The commissioner in charge - or rather his cabinet member entrusted with his twitter account - then gets prompted into action.

The tweet goes out late at night on a Friday, and gets the hashtag wrong.

3. The Social-Media Acolyte

On the Monday morning, two days before the big day, some over-eager young social-media comms lackey gets in on the act.

He says he's excited.

He probably is.

4. The False Starters

At this stage a number of lobbyists jump the gun, and start tweeting the #AskBertie hashtag WAY too early.

5. The Social Media Acolyte has a friend. He's also excited.

A day later, Frederik is still excited. He and his colleague Piet have been collating inland-waterway statistics for the commissioner. This, they feel, must be brought to everyone's attention.

6. The Flak Attack

On the day itself, Frederik and Piet tweet selfies, and the spokeswoman finally gets involved. Depictions of the bustling Tweetchat Command Centre give the illusion of dynamism. Exclamation marks seek to underscore youthful enthusiasm for the social medium. When this tweet doesn't get the required pick-up, the head of the spokes service tries to add momentum with a tweet of his own.

7. The Man's a Natural

The commissioner himself dutifully christens the Tweetchat too, with a picture of him sitting by a computer equipped with Tweetdeck, as if to say "Hey, kids, I can use this".

He can't. 

Nor has he ever used the phrase "Fire away!". 

8. The Industry Twobby

At this point the assorted twakeholders unleash their unimaginative twobbying.

The catering industry association has another punt.

9. The NGO Twobby.

The swan-huggers make the most of the moment.

10. The PR Twobby.

Some PR person with a big hotellier client tries to capitalise.

11. The NGO Twobby Again.

And the swan people have another go with a more emotive line.

12. The Snarks Wake Up: Me.

The retweets will have been enough (barely, but enough) to bring the Tweetchat to the attention of others in the EU twattosphere.

At this point I'll probably have a snark.

13. The Snarks Wake Up: Parody accounts.

The better of the two commissioner parody accounts (yes, there's more than one) also tries to crowbar some semblance of humour from the twituation.

14. The Replies: Type A) Platitude

The commissioner's replies live up to the extremely low expectations.

They range from the platitudinous:

15. The Replies: Type B) Platitude

To the platitudinous again:

16. The Replies: Type C) 'I'm a Human Too'

To the 'look-I've-got-a-personality' replies, possibly drawing on the fact that he has a family, or something extraordinary like that:

17. The Replies: Type D) The Inveterate Joker

And the 'look-I've-got-a-sense-of-humour' ones.

Then after all that edification, there's the obligatory sign-off:

18. The Closing Selfie

19. The Post-Match Analysis.

And after it's all over, some freelance social-media 'guru' who can't get a proper job will tweet an 'engagement matrix' graphic for the Tweetchat, purporting to prove something or other.

The world continues inexorably and unaltered on its axis.