EU’s first earth observation satellite put into orbit

sentinel 1a

The European Union’s Earth observation satellite was put into orbit on Friday after a successful launch from Europe’s spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana.

The successful launch of Sentinel 1A, the first satellite dedicated to EU’s Earth observation program – Copernicus, was described by the European Commission as a significant achievement, not just for the Copernicus program, but also for European Space Policy and the involvement of the European Union in space activities.

Sentinel 1A is the first satellite of the first of six families of dedicated satellite missions, which will be launched between 2014 and 2021.

Copernicus will ensure the regular observation and monitoring of Earth sub-systems, the atmosphere, oceans, and continental surfaces, and will provide reliable, validated and guaranteed information in support of a broad range of environmental and security applications and decisions.

European Commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship, AntonioTajani said Sentinel 1A’s “brand new eyes will observe our living Earth as never before and these eyes will be European!” “The data provided by this satellite will enable considerable progress in improving maritime security, climate change monitoring and providing support in emergency and crisis situations. Multiplying, in this way, the benefits that European citizens will reap from our space programs,” he added.

This post appeared in thEUnit Digest, Monday 7th April

Britain must quit the EU to win back its self-confidence, says Lord Lawson

nigel lawson

Quitting the European Union will allow Britain to win back the self-confidence it lost after Margaret Thatcher quit as Prime Minister, Lord Lawson has said.

Lord Lawson of Blaby suggested that Britain was hanging onto its EU membership as a form of comfort blanket, and would prosper by being able to stand alone in the world, outside the EU.

The Tories have pledged a referendum by 2017 if they win next year’s general election, while Labour has suggested it might hold one under certain conditions.

Speaking at a private dinner organised by the Institute for Economic Affairs, Lord Lawson – who as Nigel Lawson was Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1983 to 1989 – said: “We do need a revival of self-confidence. In 1979 we inherited a country that lacks self-confidence.

“One of the most important things that a Thatcher government did was change the mood of the nation to give it back its confidence. This clutching hold of the EU is a sign of a lack of national self-confidence – which is not healthy.”

Lord Lawson chaired the £82,000 Brexit prize, organised by the Institute for Economic Affairs, which looked at the opportunities for Britain if the UK left the EU. It was won by Iain Mansfield, a foreign office diplomat, who entered in a personal capacity.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has hinted that he is likely to fight for the UK to remain part of a reformed EU if changes have been made ahead of any referendum.

Mr Cameron has previously warned that quitting the EU would leave Britain with the same status as Norway – trading with the EU but no influence of how it is run.

But Lord Lawson said these comparisons were wrong-headed. He pointed out that the Norwegian and Swiss economies were not doing badly and had benefited from being outside the EU.

Britain was well placed because it was a large country which would see its influence grown as its population rises for the next 15 years.

In contrast’s the populations in Germany and in France are forecast to fall and remain static respectively over the same period.

Last month, writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Cameron said: “If I am Prime Minister after the election, I will negotiate a new settlement for Britain in Europe, and then ask the British people: do you wish to stay in the EU on this basis, or leave?

“I will hold that referendum before the end of 2017, and respect the decision.”

This article first appeared in thEUnit Digest, Tuesday 22nd April

Official Government Vocative

A prominent German jurist has sharply criticized the German government’s anti-Russian declarations concerning the Crimea Crisis. As Reinhard Merkel, a law professor at the University of Hamburg, explains, the allegation of Russia having “annexed” the Crimea or having made a “land grab” must be unambiguously refuted. These allegations are not only false, from the standpoint of international law; they are also extremely dangerous, because annexation usually engenders war as a response. Merkel explicitly advocates being very skeptical of “official government vocatives insisted on from Berlin to Washington” concerning the Crimea Crisis. Simultaneously, the situation in Ukraine has further escalated. The government that illegally seized power has begun a “lustration” (“purge”), with the objective of removing all supporters of the party of the overthrown President Yanukovych from public office. This is said to affect “thousands.” At the same time, Ukrainian oligarchs, against whose methods of reign the earlier Maidan demonstrations had been protesting, are being given new posts. The ex-boxer Vitaly Klitschko’s, “Made in Germany,” UDAR party has chosen a billionaire as its presidential candidate, rather than its hopeless leader. Fascist forces are positioning themselves to move against the increasingly marginalized pro-Russian segments of the population. The Berlin-supported Maidan opposition had effectively used the fascists’ potential for violence to overthrow Yanukovych.

No Annexation

The jurist Reinhard Merkel, professor of Criminal Law and Philosophy of Law at the University of Hamburg, is sharply criticizing the German government’s declarations on the Crimea Crisis. As Reinhard Merkel writes in a recent newspaper article, the first thing that must be clear is that the Crimea’s integration into the Russian Federation had not constituted an “annexation” and no “land grab.” It was more in line with “secession,” … “confirmed by a referendum”; … “which was followed by a demand for admission to the Russian Federation, which Moscow accepted.” None of this was in violation of international law; the secession had merely been forbidden under Ukrainian law. To make this affirmation is in no way splitting hairs, but rather of great significance. Ultimately, an annexation, a “theft of land by force,” is nothing less than an “act of war.” Only two aspects, of what took place in the Crimea, were in violation of international law. On the one hand, the presence of Russian soldiers outside of their military installations, however, this has no effect on the referendum’s validity. The soldiers did not “guard polling stations,” only secured the possibility of the referendum and the secession occurring, by preventing “the Ukrainian military from intervening under government orders to prohibit secession.”

“Look at Own Record”

Reinhard Merkel also points out that the West can hardly criticize the second violation of international law, i.e. recognition of secession after only two days. Admittedly, it is out of the question that this rapid recognition is in violation of “Ukraine’s right to respect for its territorial integrity.” However, the major Western powers, themselves, recognized the secession of Kosovo in February 2008, just as quickly – even though this, unlike the secession of the Crimea, actually had been a violation of (concrete) international law, “namely, the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 of June 1999,” which had guaranteed “the inviolability of Serbia’s borders.” Therefore, “those angry Western governments” should, “now take a look at their own record.” According to Reinhard Merkel, even though Russia had “violated international law,” it had done so “in a modestly dramatic way and not at all with the politics of a gambling gangster.” On the contrary, the integration of the Crimea has possibly “with all its unpleasantness, prevented a more serious conflict. Already in 2011, Reinhard Merkel had criticized NATO’s war on Libya as a clear violation of international law. That breach of international law had led to innumerable war casualties and destroyed the Libyan government. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.)

“Lustration” 

Whereas Reinhard Merkel is explicitly advocating “being very skeptical of official government vocatives insisted on from Berlin to Washington,” the situation in the Ukraine is escalating. The government, which had illegally seized power, thanks to Western support, and is still dependent on the West, is about to conduct an extensive “lustration” throughout the country. On Tuesday, the Ukrainian parliament adopted a law to that effect. According to Maidan activist Yegor Sobolev, Chair of the “Lustration Committee,” the “lustration” will start with a “life-long prohibition” of the overthrown Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych “and his closest officials from holding or running for office.” The complete judicial system will be “purged,” from the top-levels all the way down to district courts. Not only “the key officials coming from the soviet KGB system” must be removed from public office, but also “officials who served during Yanukovych’s presidency,” from the top officials down to those at the district level. “The Ministry of Justice is currently preparing to open the register of persons” for the “lustration.” Sobolev adds that “thousands” could be fired.

Oligarchs in Power 

Lustration should not be confused with ousting Ukrainian oligarchs, as was originally demanded at the Maidan, as the personnel-list of the West’s Ukrainian partisans indicates. Apart from the amnesty for oligarch Yulia Tymoshenko, the current government has designated central posts in eastern Ukraine to several oligarchs. The German Foreign Minister is included in negotiations with them. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[5]) UDAR, the Party led by Vitaly Klitschko, “Germany’s man” in Kiev, has just named the oligarch Petro Poroshenko as its presidential candidate. The reason is obvious: Klitschko “made in Berlin” [6] may be popular in Germany, but he cannot hope to win more than 10 percent of the Ukrainian vote. Poroshenko, however, is one of the richest men in the country. He owns a TV station (“Channel 5”) and several news magazines, which had systematically provided support for the Maidan protests. Owner of a multi-billion dollar candy company, Poroshenko is one of the few Ukrainian oligarchs, who would profit from the EU Association Agreement. He not only is a member of the “Advisory Council” of the EU think tank “European Policy Centre,” whose cooperation partners include the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP); he had served also as Minister of Economics in the Yanukovych government. However, because of his pro-Western orientation, it is out of the question that the “Lustration” will prevent him from running for president.

Fascist Combat Squadrons 

Whereas the unrelenting political marginalization of large sectors of the eastern and southern Ukrainian populations has intensified pro-Russian protests over the past few days, fascist forces are increasingly mobilizing for a counter offensive. Already on Monday, a “Ukrainian People’s Self-Defense” unit broke up a peaceful pro-Russian demonstration in southern Ukrainian Nikolayev, wounding ten.[7] In Donetsk, the “Pravy Sektor” (Right Sector) tried – in vain – to suppress the protests. According to several reports, activists of diverse fascist organizations are on their way to eastern and southern Ukraine to confront the demonstrations taking place there. Igor Krivoruchko, a speaker of the “Social-National Assembly” was recently quoted saying, that fascist activists want to dispatch “Combat Squadrons” to eastern Ukraine.[8] The “Social-National Assembly” is often described as “neo-Nazi.” If these “Combat Squadrons” would actually be dispatched, it would be the second time that fascist militia find themselves at the side of Berlin and Brussels – after combat on the Maidan to overthrow President Yanukovych – now in the fight against the forces, refusing to submit to the rule of a Western-installed government.

Published on GermanForeign Policy.com and reproduced with the editor’s approval

Poking the Russian Bear

by Roger Helmer

Roger Helmer

 

UKIP has criticised EU actions in Ukraine, and has immediately been branded “Apologists for Putin” by the press. We are, of course, no such thing. Russia has behaved reprehensibly and is clearly in breach of international law (though sadly there are too many precedents when the West has also intervened in third countries, on questionable grounds and with doubtful legality). Nevertheless I do blame the EU for creating a problem where there was no need to do so. President Roosevelt’s advice was “Tread softly and carry a big stick”. In Ukraine, the EU has talked loudly and made extravagant promises and raised improbable expectations, while wielding no stick at all — so much for “influence”. Imagine if the situation were reversed, and Russia had made enerous offers implying very close links – and maybe membership of the CIS – to, say, Austria. How would the Germans feel about that? Or to Ireland? What would be the UK reaction? The Ukraine is in the Russians’ “Near Abroad”, their historic sphere of influence. For decades, Ukraine was governed from Moscow. The Crimea (bizarrely) was handed over as a gift from Russia to the Ukraine, but with the clear expectation that Ukraine, now including Crimea, would remain part of the USSR. Khrushchev would never have dreamed that Ukraine might join Western Europe, taking Crimea with it. So I am not justifying Russia’s action. But I am condemning the EU’s approach to Ukraine, which was bound to infuriate and humiliate Moscow, and was always very likely to provoke a hostile reaction – as indeed it did.

Another EU threat to national sovereignty

There was an excellent article in the THE DAILY TELEGRAPH today which is reproduced below:

One of the few “successes” of the British negotiations over the Lisbon Treaty, which came into force in 2009, was a partial opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights. This political agreement was proclaimed by EU institutions some 14 years ago to replicate the European Convention on Human Rights. The difference is that while the convention comes under the auspices of the Council of Europe, an organisation of more than 40 countries -including Russia and Turkey – the charter is an EU document. The distinction is significant.

Whereas the convention is administered through the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, the charter is enforced by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg. The former, at least in theory, has no direct jurisdiction over our courts; but the latter is the supreme judicial body, whose decisions are binding. This is because EU law has a direct effect under the European Communities Act 1972 and therefore overrides British courts and Parliament.Increasingly, these rights are being transferred to the EU.

Vivienne RedingViviane Reding, the vice-president of the European Commission, says she wants the charter to be the EU’s “very own” Bill of Rights, which would apply to all member states and have legally binding force. The UK’s so-called exemption would effectively be null and void.

In fact, the ECJ is already attempting to impose charter rights on Britain, much to the alarm of senior judges and MPs.Lord Mance, a justice of the Supreme Court, recently warned of the EU “steamrolling” national courts into imposing European human rights rules on the UK. He echoed comments by Mr Justice Mostyn, a High Court judge, suggesting that many of the rights in the charter have already taken effect in the UK despite the opt-outs.

At a time when Britain’s future in Europe is such a controversial political issue, Commissioner Reding’s intervention could hardly have come at a worse time for David Cameron. He wants to renegotiate the terms of membership yet finds that plans are afoot to water down national sovereignty even further.

Moreover, the Conservatives also want sweeping reforms of the human rights convention and the Strasbourg court. But these will be meaningless if the powers are simply taken on by the EU, since they would then trump anything that MPs decide.

This sort of statement from the Commission is grist to Ukip’s mill ahead of European elections on May 22 – and the possible in/out referendum. If Commissioner Reding and her colleagues want Britain to remain in the EU, then they have a funny way of showing it

The EU’s Political Subversion of European Churches

DR ANTHONY COUGHLAN of the Irish National Platform is a long-standing friend of the British Eurosceptic movement.  It was his cogent précis of the constitutional effects of the Lisbon Treaty which inspired to compilation of our CIB booklet “A HOUSE DIVIDED – Can Parliament serve two masters, the nation and the European Union?”.

 He has kindly given his permission for the following letter to be circulated to British colleagues who may find this overview of the EU’s involvement with the Churches of Europe useful.

The EU is an organisation which works through other organisations – as with member states, so with Churches.  If it can capture the political leadership of a state of a Church to advance its project, it really does not need to bother much about the citizens of the member state or the individual members of a Church or other organisations which it subverts.  It is a corporatist organisation, dealing with other corporate groups.

So, to those who say we should not mix politics and religion, we have to reply that the EU has already done so.  It wants its client Churches to provide “a soul for Europe”.  Many Church members may not be aware of the political espousal of the EU by their Church’s leaders.

Unless those Church members campaigning for national independence are content to leave the EU in control of collaborationist Church leaderships (supported by their own donations and Sunday collections), they have to start speaking up and asking questions.

Dr Coughlan’s comments give a very good point from which to start.

Dear Edward,

Thank you very much for sending me those interesting documents on the Christian Churches and particularly on the Church of England.  I have printed these out and they contain some illuminating stuff.

I remember Jens-Peter Bonde introducing me to an EU critical Lutheran Clergyman in Denmark some time in the early 1990s, who described how the EU Commission and the European Movement at that time were making a particular effort to co-opt the Christian Churches into supporting the EU project.

They seemingly set this objective as a key political goal following the Danish and Irish Maastricht Treaty referendums in the early 1990s when the Lutheran clergy in Denmark, for instance, tended to be on the No side.

Traditionally, it seems, the Lutheran Churches of Scandinavia, which are all State Churches as you know, tended to be EU critical, as they stood by the sovereignty of their respective Crowns/Monarchs, representing the national State sovereignty.

As regards the Church of England, you have heard the old wisecrack, I am sure, that the Church of England is the Tory party at a prayer! So I expect that the evolution of opinion in the C of E over the years has mirrored that within Conservative circles as a whole.

I don’t know how successful the EU’s co-option exercise has proved with the Lutheran Churches, but it certainly been hugely successful as regards to the Roman Catholic Church, which is my own background, especially in the 1990s/early 2000s…I expect that the post 2008 financial crisis has brought new issues into play – the growth of poverty, unemployment etc. – which perhaps reduces the Europhilia of various Church hierarchies, as they have to pay attention to such developments and deplore them from a Christian prospective.

The Catholic Church in Ireland, influential through it was, did not involve itself officially in any way in the 1987 Single European Act, 1992 Maastricht and 1998 Amsterdam Treaty referendums.

However in the 2001 Nice Treaty referendum, the newly formed European and International Affairs Committee of the Irish Catholic hierarchy caused consternation among the many Catholic traditionalists on the No-side by coming out with a statement shortly before the referendum which implicitly pointed towards the desirability of Catholics voting Yes.  Frantic efforts by some of the Catholic No-side people persuaded two of the bishops to say or imply that they supported the No side, but a lot of damage was done.

Similar interventions occurred in subsequent Irish referendums – in the aborted one on the proposed EU Constitution in 2005 and the 2008 and 2009 Lisbon Treaty referendums.

Sometime in the 1990s the Committee of the Catholic Hierarchies of the European Community/Union was established – known by its French initials and COMICE.  It had a full-time office in Brussels, whose full time secretary was for years Monsignor Noel Traynor, who was promoted to the Bishopric of Down and Connor – i.e. Belfast – a few year ago.  The current Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, is also a strong Europhile. You can “google” COMICE on the internet and find various further items of information there.

Traditionally in the RC Church each Bishop was, as the old saying put it, Pope in his own diocese.  Each one did his own thing, so to speak.  But in recent decades Bishops speak on political issues through the committees of their respective national hierarchies.  So that when it comes to an EU issue, they ask themselves: what does our European or International Affairs Committee or sub-committee think.  These subcommittees of half a dozen or so people are usually strongly Europhile, having been wined and dined for years in Brussels and gone symposiums on such matters as “Christian Ethics and the EU” etc. in castles in Germany and so on.

These committees sometimes include lay people who are Euro fanatics.  For example the European Affairs sub-committee which advised the Irish Catholic Hierarchy on its 2001 statement on the Nice Treaty included amongst its members a former Irish EU Commissioner (Richard Burke), plus a woman (by name Kahn-Carroll) who worked full time in the EU office in Dublin.

A relevant consideration for the Catholic Church may be that the German Hierarchy, where citizens as you know pay annual Church tax, is one of the principal funders of the Vatican and through the Vatican of the RC Church as a whole.

The last but one Pope, John Paul ( the Pole Karol Wojytala), was very anti communist and had some kind of vision of the EU replicating the Europe of the Middle Ages, when the Roman Catholic has such influence, which made him strongly Europhile.

The last pope, Benedict, was a German, which may also be relevant. The Roman Catholic Church, being a world-wide body with over a thousand million members, does not have a uniform view on many non-religious matters of course.  Even Catholic religious orders will have different traditions.  My own impression is  that  the Jesuits, for instance – an order of which the present Pope is a member – is traditionally very Europhile, whereas Opus Dei, another influential religious order, is said to be EU-critical… But within each order there will of course be diverse views held by individual members.

The CIB conference is clearly important and I hope it goes well. It reminds us EU – critics here in the Republic of Ireland that we should pay more attention to the current state of play regarding the Catholic Church and the EUI am not going to the TEAM meeting either, but it was nice to meet you again at the TEAM meeting in Riga last September. I trust that your political work and that of your colleagues goes well in the months ahead.

All the best for now, as ever

TONY