The Daily Telegraph’s Barbara Amiel breakfasts with the president of the European Commission, Romano Prodi:

The EU was also sorry about Turkey, but that country could not be a member until it put its human rights and democracy in order. Meanwhile, Romania and Bulgaria were ahead in the queue.

His remarks struck me as peculiar. Turkey has been an EU candidate-member since 1997 and first applied to the EEC in 1959 when Romania and Bulgaria were still singing the Internationale. Doubtless Romania has substantially improved since the heyday of Mr and Mrs Ceausescu, but in a country where all libel is a criminal offence and Romanian journalists investigating government activities were told last year by the defence ministry’s press office that “life is short and your health has too high a price to be endangered by debating highly emotional subjects”, there can’t be much to choose between it and Turkey….

In Iraq we are trying to build a new government with some democratic standards. Why won’t you help us?” [Roger Ailes] asked. “No, no, no,” Prodi said theatrically. “We will not give money when we don’t know to whom.” Which of course explained the hundreds of millions given to the Palestinian Authority by the EU. They must have known it would end up in Mr Arafat’s Swiss bank account. I had fleeting visions of jolly African dictators cashing their Euro-cheques.

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