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When you live inside the EU bubble, you sometimes forget that there is a world outside the EU. This is why holidays are great, because they allow you to escape all the ordinary procedures, discover a new country, and get a better understanding of its political landscape.

Is Egypt's future as bright as its past?

In mid-April some representatives of The Lobby decided to spend two weeks in Egypt, and the impressions gathered through conversations with locals met in restaurants, trains, planes, or just in the street, together with some very good lectures, were fascinating.

Unfortunately, there is much less enthusiasm about the “Arab Spring” than there was before.

Whereas one can only respect a country whose people risked their lives to attain their freedom, there is also a certain amount of trepidation when one considers the enormous expectations these people have towards their future new government.

The causes of the 25-January revolution, as the Egyptians call it, are deeply rooted. Some reasons for this Egyptian malaise are the enormous social inequalities, the lack of jobs corresponding to the qualifications of young graduates, a climate of corruption, religious fundamentalism, rising food prices, and, last but not least, the lack of political liberties.

When looking into the future, there is a sea of uncertainties: will the new government and President be able to tackle some of these problems? What about the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence, and in particular the Salafist movement? How can democracy work in a country with an illiteracy rate of around 40%?

Yet, I remain cautiously optimistic: Egypt is a wonderful country with a rich cultural and religious diversity, and the awakening of a sense of citoyenneté during these last months demonstrates that there is a reason to believe that Egypt may successfully manage its regime change.

– Christian



Just another day at the Lobby – and, it would seem, another EU Summit, at least according to Herman Van Rompuy.

Some people claim to be suffering from Summit fatigue, particularly ever since De Heer Van Rompuy decided to host a Summit every few weeks, or so it seems.

But not The Lobby.  We don’t just like EU Summits, we adore them – we are the Summit equivalents of trainspotters, except we only wear anoraks when it’s really bad weather…

We at Lobby towers love Summits so much we have taken the immense trouble of publishing a snapshot of what was discussed, who said what, how it was reported.  You can thank us later, but first, of course, you have to read it, and to do so all you need to do is click here.

There you are.  We’ve done all your work for you.

If you can’t be bothered to click the link (yes, this link) you are very lazy, but because like any good publishing house, we know our readers, please see below a (very) brief summary:

  • A lot happening on energy;
  • France and Germany trying to get the rest of the Eurozone to agree to some kind of fiscal union – the other members aren’t so keen – it’ll be finalised at March’s Summit (The Lobby says: hmm, not so sure about that one)
  • Member States can’t agree on Egypt – obviously they all want democracy, that’s the easy bit.  But should Mubarak be involved?  If so how?  And where does this leave the EU’s foreign policy?
  • And innovation – researchers, SMEs, a golden future awaits you!

That’s that.  But of course, it would be better if you read our update.  Which you can access here.

Still not clicked it?  OK one last time – here!

Happy reading!

– Rob

Egypt’s official language is Arabic†. China’s official language is Chinese*. OK fine, we knew that. But isn’t it a bit ironic that more than half of the world’s 1.6 billion internet users speak languages with non-Latin scripts, yet all internet domain names are written in Latin characters?

This is about to change, and it is already being hailed as the biggest change in the 40-year history of the internet. ICANN (see ‘Yes we can, says ICANN: new top-level domains coming in 2010‘) the body that regulates the internet, has announced plans to allow for so-called Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) by changing the internet’s Domain Name System (DNS) in order to allow for website names to be written with non-Latin scripts such as Chinese, Cyrillic, and Arabic.

The Lobby thinks this sounds great – the more the merrier, but some have warned that this will only lead to fragmentation of the net…

The new IDNs will be introduced some time in 2010.

– Emil

† Standard Arabic

* Standard Mandarin (spoken) & simplified Chinese (written)

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