Monday, 12 December 2011

Memos from Member States

France: Villepin to stand for president
The French former prime minister, Dominique de Villepin announced this week that he will stand for president in the 2012 election.

Villepin will only meet his long-time rival, the current French President, Nicolas Sarkozy , if the incumbent chooses to runs for re-election. Although recent opinion polls suggest that Mr Villepin is likely to get only 1 or 2% of the vote, his candidacy will nevertheless inconvenience the president by splitting the right-wing vote in the first round of the election.

Despite endeavours to present himself as a candidate above party politics, his new political movement, Republique solidaire, is populated with members of Sarkozy’s UMP.

Croatia: To join the EU in mid-2013
After seven years of talks, Croatia has signed a treaty to enter the European Union in mid-2013. Territorial disputes with Slovenia and demands for the arrest of war crimes suspects rendered the membership bid long and problematic.

Croatia will become the EU's second ex-Yugoslav member after Slovenia. Serbia, however, is unlikely to get official candidate status until March. While EU leaders praised Serbia for democratic reforms, they require further evidence of progress in relations with Kosovo before a final decision can be made on ascension to the EU.

Norway: Better butter up its neighbours
(Although Norway is also not a member state, I’ve snuck this story in because it was just too fun to leave out!)

Norway’s butter reserves are alarmingly low, partly as the result of a "low-carb" diet sweeping the Nordic nation which promotes a higher intake of fats. Sales have soared in the last months, up 20 per cent in October then 30 per cent in November.

In addition to increased demand, a wet summer reduced the quality of animal feed and cut milk output by 25 million litres.

Butter is selling like gold dust on Norway's auction websites, with a 250-gram piece starting at around $13, roughly four times its normal price.

In a tokenistic and surely mocking gesture, the Danes have offered the Norwegians a meagre 1,000 packets of butter.

By Sonia Jordan