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Friday, May 30, 2008

EIT your heart out

The FT blogs that various cities around Europe are vying to host the European Institute of Technology (EIT).

The EIT is a good example of how the EU is not just the sum of its intergovernmental parts.

The motivation is one thing. As the various Governments pointed out when Barroso first proposed it, the EU already has some perfectly good universities - why not concentrate on improving them?

But the EIT is not really about technology at all. The point is really all about trying to mirror the United States, and create a common identity - "a European equivalent of MIT", as it is always described.

Having failed to stop it going ahead in the first place, the UK bleated on and on about how the EIT had to be a virtual network, rather than a physical institute in a particular place. But this was missing the point - the whole point is to have a physical institute with a little EU flag on top.

Now all that remains is a battle over the location. In recent years, as the number of EU agencies has proliferated, member states have been furiously trying to grab as much EU spending as possible - from the "Food Safety Agency" to the "European Institute for Gender Equality", pretty much everyone has a slice of the cake. For instance:


* European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)


* Community Fisheries Control Agency (CFCA)
* Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA)
* European Defence Agency (EDA)
* European GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA)
* Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI)
* Research Executive Agency (REA)
* European Research Council Executive Agency (ERC)
* Trans-European Transport Network Executive Agency (TEN-T EA)


* European Environment Agency (EEA)


* European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)


* Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO)
* European Railway Agency (ERA)
* European Union Institute for Security Studies (ISS)


* European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)


* European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop)
* European Agency for Reconstruction (EAR)
* European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA)


* European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (EUROFOUND)


* European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
* European Training Foundation (ETF)


* European Institute for Gender Equality (under preparation)


* Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union (CdT)
* Executive Agency for the Public Health Programme (PHEA)

The Netherlands

* The European Union’s Judicial Cooperation Unit (EUROJUST)
* European Police Office (EUROPOL)


* European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders (FRONTEX)


* European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)
* European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA)


* Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market – Trade Marks and Designs (OHIM)
* European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (OSHA)
* European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy (Fusion for Energy)
* European Union Satellite Centre (EUSC)


* European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)

United Kingdom

* European Medicines Agency (EMEA)
* European Police College (CEPOL)

Quite what the point of all these institutes is another question... still, it all helps "build" Europe. Doubtless in a few years time the Foreign Office will be saying that they were in favour of it all along, and that it is further proof that "Europe is reforming and coming our way" (as it always supposedly is).


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