Winter/Spring 2005

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Letter from the Publisher

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Beyond the Laughter

Jacqueline GrapinThe sight of Presidents George W. Bush and Jacques Chirac sharing a laugh in front of the cameras in Brussels in February was a long awaited pleasure for the Transatlantic community. It was a moment to savor, regardless of the fact that it was prompted by a question from a journalist asking whether relations between France and the United States had improved enough to warrant an invitation to the French leader to visit the famous presidential ranch in Crawford, Texas. Mr. Bush provoked universal mirth by responding, “I’m looking for a good cowboy.”

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Is EU Media Coverage Biased?

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The British Broadcasting Corporation’s long-standing reputation for impartiality has recently taken some hard knocks. The chairman resigned in 2004 after a BBC reporter falsely accused the British government of “sexing up” intelligence reports before the Iraq War. During the war, at least among conservatives, the BBC was widely dubbed the “Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation” because of its perceived bias against the U.S.-led coalition.

 

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The Commission Wants More Transparency in Brussels

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The notion of transparency has moved to the front-line of public debate and is now high on the European political agenda. This is first and foremost because public institutions with good transparency practices perform better and are more highly valued. Transparency is an essential prerequisite for the integrity and credibility of our political institutions - local, national or international.

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Europe’s East-West Pay Gap is Narrowing

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One of the wisest British thinkers of the 19th century, Thomas Carlyle, wrote that the progress of human society consists in the“better and better apportioning of wages to work.” Many generations later, Europe has still not progressed very far in that direction. The amounts people are paid are among the fundamental dynamics of any society and should be very easy to justify. In a market economy, revenues from the sale of a successful company’s products and services, minus material and other external costs, generate an operating surplus. After allowances for profit and charges such as social security and pension contributions, the remaining funds may be allocated to individual wages and salaries. In a well-run enterprise, some funds will be set aside for performance bonuses and the rest distributed on the basis of know-how, responsibility, competence and hours worked.

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What Will Happen If Some EU States Reject the Constitution?

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Dana SpinantRatification of Europe’s new constitution, solemnly signed in Rome on October 29 2004, is turning into a long drawn-out moment of truth for the recently expanded 25-member European Union. For some countries, rejection of the treaty establishing the constitution could even call into question their continued EU membership.

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