Opinion – Open Data Portal for the European Structural Investment Funds – European Commission

English: Main meeting room of the European Com...

English: Main meeting room of the European Commission in the Berlaymont building (13th Floor) on 2007 EU open day, tourists trying out Commissioner’s chairs. View from enterance towards far windows. Français : Le bâtiment du Berlaymont, siège de la Commission européenne. Salle de réunion principale. Nederlands: Het Berlaymontgebouw, de zetel van de Europese Commissie. Hoofd vergaderingsruimte binnen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This publication is an example of the European Commission at its best or perhaps its worst depending upon your viewpoint.

The graphical interface shows for example that Poland is the top beneficiary with Billion 86 Euro from the European Structural Investment Funds.

Source: Open Data Portal for the European Structural Investment Funds – European Commission

What the portal fails to explain is why Poland gets the big bucks and the UK , for example, gets just Billion 16 Euro.There are no links provided with explanations, just lots of cutting and dicing from statisticians.

For an explanation of what the European Structural Investment Funds is about  we need to look elsewhere. For answers to your questions, try opening this link.

I am a UK national, resident in Cyprus and am pro-Europe (open this link for my political bias). Despite being a trained researcher with a quantitative bias, given this publication, I’m highly suspicious of the European Commission’s process for allocations of these billions of Euros.

As I reflect on this publication, some open questions come readily to mind:

  1. How can Poland has say ‘no’ to refugees, and ‘yes’ to the investment billions?
  2. What about Southern Europe that has been savaged by the EU’s draconian austerity policies? Why can’t they get investment funding to kick start growth?
  3. The UK is currently an outstanding example of economic opportunity and growth, so why does it receive so little?

Are the European Commission’s bureaucrats bonkers?






Opinion – Saudi Arabia takes an unexpected lead in the Middle East | Tony Walker – Australian Financial Review

Coat of Arms of Saudi Arabia

Coat of Arms of Saudi Arabia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a powerful and important article from Tony Walker in the Australian Financial Review. It’s a must-read!

The article welcomes a newly assertive Saudi foreign policy in the shadow of a disintegrating Middle East.

Source: Saudi Arabia takes an unexpected lead in the Middle East | afr.com

Whilst I agree with some of the individual observations, I do not necessarily agree with the overall argument. For me, Tony Walker comes across an Arabist, with the associated bias in his writing.

Let me try to join the dots differently.

The change in Saudi Arabian foreign and military policy has been triggered by Obama‘s disastrous foreign and military policy in the Middle East. Obama’s premature withdrawal of troops from Iraq had two consequences. Firstly, there was a vacuum which was occupied by ISIS. Secondly, Iraq has come under the orbit of Iran as far as Saudi Arabia is concerned – and Iran is Saudi Arabia’s biggest threat strategically, in terms of religion, influence and foreign policy.

But Obama’s strategic disasters went deeper, as far as Saudi Arabia was concerned. Obama’s weak position with Iran was strongly questioned by two important allies in the Middle East, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Whilst Israel made most vocal objections, Saudi Arabia’s reaction triggered the current policy shift.

The article does not make enough reference to Saudi sponsoring of terrorist activities, including ISIS. Nor does the article consider Saudi Arabia in terms of personal freedoms. This is part of the context.

Meanwhile, America is desperate to find an army to take on ISIS, so it willingly steps up sale of armaments to Saudi Arabia, including smart bombs.

Let us turn to consider the Saudi military capability. So far, it is dependent upon a wealth of Western advisors and technological and maritime strength from the US. Also Saudi Arabia’s ability to hold together military and foreign policy interventions in the Middle East is not fully tested.

I also take exception to the assertion the Russia is the strategic loser in the Middle East.

What this article has highlighted is the dangerous confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which has been precipitated by Obama’s weak American policies. Indeed this week Russia has demonstrated its ability to convince America to change its position with regard to a political solution in Syria.