On the usefulness of Akoma Ntoso
There's been very few laws that I followed closely, but all of them had a direct impact on my life, so I took this seriously. I didn't actually follow laws, but rather legislative processes because I either wanted a change or I was averse to it. In both cases, the object of interest was not a law itself, but its evolution.
You should already know that most laws are hand-crafted patches applied to previous laws. There are virtually no laws that are written from scratch, one notable exception is the constitution. Other laws refer to past laws.
For example, today's law that extends the powers of the Belgian intelligence service is a patch applied to the law that created the service in 1996, and it says literally this:
- Go the the article 3 of the past law and append this extra paragraph
- commit your changes in the legislative branch
- push to the executive branch
If you go and search for the original law, you won't find it that easily, because laws were digitized back to 1998, while the original law dates from 1996. If you are lucky, you'll have free online access to the so-called 'consolidated' version of the law. That is, a version with all the patches applied. However:
3 disruptive technologies that will change policymaking
Here's a EurActiv article that gives a bird's eye view of the subject of version control systems applied to legislation.
End-to-end verifiable anonymous voting
This one is better explained by Wikipedia. Here's the description of the simplest of such voting systems.
Here's the best implementation of inline comments until now.
When EU institutions write about opensource… it reads like a good joke
Here is an excerpt of the Legal aspects of free and open source software workshop notes. Every phrase is a masterpiece.
"When the public agency has decided that open source requirements are particularly important for a specific software acquisition case, the process described in this section can be followed. This process would end in the agency downloading open source software itself, with no fee paid whatsoever. Separately, commercially provided services and support, if required, may be acquired by publishing calls for tender. Note that this process can be abandoned at any point - for instance, if the software cannot be found easily, or evaluated, or once downloaded is found unsuitable for any reason. At that point, the other approach described in the next section can be followed, namely, publishing a call for tender for open source software."
How the European Commission disrespects its own cookies directive
The most popular interpretation of the cookies directive is that websites should warn about cookies that are not essential for the operation of the websites. For instance, a cookie set to keep the items in your shopping cart is essential for the operation of an online shop and users should not be warned. If the cookie is set to track user activity for marketing purposes (e.g. by Google Analytics for targeting ads) — that's not essential, and the user should be warned.
The main website of the European Commission sets cookies to store information on surveys. This is not essential to the operation of the website, so technically they should warn about it. Bit they do not. OK. that's a small problem, they are almost clean… on sufrace.
If you look a little bit further, you'll see that parts of ec.europa.eu set Google Analytics cookies for the whole ec.europa.eu domain. For instance, EURES homepage sets Google Analytics cookies
__utmz for everything at ec.europa.eu, as well as a couple of other cookies for itself, such as
piwiki_visitor, as well as a
Yes, she did!
Remember my story about Neelie Kroes hacking EU-Azerbaijan relations? I made a Freedom of Information request to DG Connect, and they replied that there is no forensic report whatsoever that studied this "hacking" attempt. We may thus safely assume that there was no hacking whatsoever. See the attached reply below.
Headcount of EU institutions: the Commission beats them all!
European Parliament 5540 European Council and Council 3117 European Commission 24617 Court of Justice of the European Union 1547 Court of Auditors 752 European Economic and Social Committee 689 Committee of the Regions 488 European Ombudsman 22 European Data Protection Supervisor 43 European External Action Service 1667
What EU officials are the best paid? The ombudsman office really stands out!
Average salary per EU institutions, 2012 budget.
European Parliament 109,354.29 EUR European Council and Council 98,659.59 EUR European Commission 133,042.28 EUR Court of Justice of the European Union 120,409.29 EUR Court of Auditors 110,742.09 EUR European Economic and Social Committee 87,223.82 EUR Committee of the Regions 92,775.27 EUR European Ombudsman 239,840.80 EUR European Data Protection Supervisor 98,468.52 EUR European External Action Service 80,869.68 EUR
How much of the EU bugdet goes into the salaries of EU officials?
It's not obvious to find these numbers in the budget, so we'll have to use a hack. EU permanent staff pays 10.25% of their salaries to the pension fund. Pension contributions are accounted for as revenue, so they are consolidated the section 4 1 0 here. For 2012, pension contributions were at 483mln euros. By means of a simple extrapolation, we can now evaluate the amount paid in salaries to 4.7 bln euros, i.e. 6.5% of the EU budget. With the number of permanent position at 38 482, this gives an average of ~122 000 euros/year salary.
Naturally, the distribution of income is rather unequal at the instititions, with high earners being paid 7 times more that low earners (18 370 vs 2 654 euros/months base salary)
Something interesting about the EU budget
They have a consolidated revenue volume, but expenditure is spread over several volumes. This was designed to make budgeting easier to understand, yeah…