Europhrenia – Ryanair, masters of actually existing capitalism

May 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

The Irish Times has just reported that ex-Commissioner Charlie McCreevy has been appointed to the board of Ryanair. For a while the European Commission wrestled with its conscience as to whether this might be a conflict of interest, and won. McCreevy, with his oodles of insider knowledge of labyrinthine EU processes must surely not be without his uses to the low-cost airline much of whose profits are derived from EU regional funds. McCreevy is joining just as the Commish reopens seven inquiries into some of Ryanair’s allegedly dodgy contracts with European airports. His work, though, as a director is restricted “to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest.” All above board then, perceptions wise. To my utopian minded Central and Eastern European colleagues who are all devotees of the free market, I’m often compelled to draw their attention to such glowing examples of Actually Existing Capitalism.

Still on the subject of planes, over forty days after his death in the Katyn air disaster, French daily Libération reports that Kaczynski mère has been finally informed of her son Lech’s demise. This comes a week after Russian investigators confirmed that there were non-crew members in the cockpit at the time of the disaster. “The question of whether the crew were pressured to land remains unanswered,” an official said. Ouf, as they say in Paris. It’s still quite plausible, isn’t it, that the non-crew members were in the cockpit wondering whether it was a good idea to land. All that fog. The Libération headline for the above story runs “Goodbye Lenin with the Kaczynskis”. Ouf again.

Europhrenia – Lech Kaczynski, a counter-homage

April 15, 2010 § 1 Comment

A few weeks back I had a bone to pick, or as they say in German, a hen to pluck, with Libération’s Brussels correspondent Jean Quatremer after he had mounted one of his traditional hobby horses and bemoaned the excess of rosbifs speaking English at the European Commission. However, Monsieur Quatremer hits the nail on the head most days, calling spades spades, and, as the French say, cats cats; none more so this week with his welcome corrective to all the lachrymose homages to Polish president Lech Kaczynski following his death in Saturday’s Smolensk air disaster.

Promisingly entitled “Death of a Nationalist Reactionary”, Quatremer is amazed that death has transformed “this reactionary, bigoted, eurosceptic and brutal man, who was the worst president which Poland ever had, into a veritable icon… It was while his brother was prime-minister that he gave the true measure of himself. The two brother governed with the League of Families, a small anti-Semitic, xenophobic, violently reactionary party they protected. Authoritarian, little concerned with public liberties, they ruined the lives of hundreds of people throwing themselves into a fantasy witch-hunt of former communists.” Quatremer also quotes a European leader who described the Kaczynski twins as in need of some “good psychoanalysis.”

The article comes with a health warning, and regrets that the death of the legendary Anna Walentynowicz of Solidarity gave rise to fewer and less profuse hommages. “Let’s just hope that Lech’s death won’t mean that Jaroslaw gets elected in his place, the latter being even worse than his twin.” And so say some, though perhaps not all, of us.

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