Friday, January 29, 2010
A quick look to the index published today shows that it's all Europe. But where are the Baltics? Going though the ranks one can see that while Latvia is doing just great, Lithuanian and Estonian performance lags behind the region on average.

21 Latvia 72.5
37 Lithuania 68.3
57 Estonia 63.8
The index has two main components divided into sub components. Of the main components, state of environments seems to be rather fine in Baltics, from Lithuanian 74,3 to Estonian 76,9 (out of 100). However, the ecosystem variable shows really some variation: fro Latvian 79,3 to Estonian 50,4. While Latvia and Lithuania are ranked into a group of less industrially developed countries with vast natural resources, Estonia bundles with the industrial world - and this is perhaps visible in the ecosystem variable. When compared to each other, it seems Lithuania has issues with fishing, biodiversity and availability of water, and Estonia has poor air quality and high emissions. This is pure speculation, but perhaps the Estonian figures somehow reflect the use of oil shale in energy production and Lithuania on the other hand has very limited seashore and water flows only in dirty rivers coming mostly from Belarus.

However, I thought the ranking is very partial and does not give even slightest support for developing countries to keep on doing the good work with environment. On the other hand, it does not take anyhow into consideration how industrial countries have countless methods they could use to curb the emissions and health the world - that is money - and how the smaller ones cannot perhaps afford all the latest environmental technology, if they are even short of the basics like food and water.

Thus, A quick recalculation: EPI/log10(gdpcap07). Let's "standardize" the result of efforts to availability of methods, so to say. I removed Serbia/Montenegro due to missing data.

New results:  old result in parenthesis

New top:
Nepal 1 (38)
Costa Rica 2 (3)
Congo DR 3 (106)
Zimbabwe 4 (127)
Iceland5 (1)

Old top:
Iceland 5 (1)
Switzerland 10 (2)
Costa Rica 2 (3)
Sweden 11 (4)
Norway 43 (5)

Old bottom:
Sierra Leone 152 (162)
Central-African Rep 151 (161)
Mauritania 155 (160)
Angola 158 (159)
Togo 142 (158)

New bottom:
UAE 162 (151)
Bahrain 161 (144)
Eq. Guinea 160 (145)
Qatar 159 (121)
Angola 158 (159)

Significant leaps  (over 70 ranks)
Zimbabwe +122 
Congo DR +102
Burundi +95
Eritrea +91
Malawi +83
Mosambique  +81
Guinea-Bissau +77

Significant falls (over 55 ranks )
Luxembourg -81
Singapore -70
The Netherlands -64
USA -63
Canada -62
Brunei -62
Australia -59
Denmark -58

Baltic Sea Region
Sweden 11 (4)
Latvia 45 (21)
Finland 57 (12)
Belarus  64 (52)
Germany 70  (17)
Lithuania 72 (36)
Denmark 89 (31)
Poland 93 (62)
Estonia 100 (56)
Russia 103 (68)

The new ranks show the countries with lot of money but little relative effort, as well as the poor ones that showing some effort. Of the BSR, One can notice how it was earlier practically divided by West-East division (as the whole EPI). The new calculation, where the ability (assuming GDP per capita is more relevant that GDP itself - GDP per capita tells relatively the amount of usable money per person, while GDP just shows a lump sum) comes in, seems that only a few countries do what they really could do.  Baltics kept their order even in the new calculation, and seems the majority of Baltic Sea Region countries still are on the plus side (above rank 81) in the world. Just shame on Denmark!

Original EPI:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Algirdas Semeta and a ... party member

The new Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud may be Algirdas Šemeta! Why should you care?

First, there are a few issues with the title and the country of origin. Lithuania is for sure fighting hard(ly?) towards fraud, but nevertheless, this is a country of some good ol' corruption. I have heard stories of medical passes being bought by people who were first deemed to have too bad eyes for computer work, then bribing of police is not perhaps an everyday issue, but something that even foreigners have met in the country. And then the officials and politicians? Quite a few are involved in a more or less shady affairs. I think you get the picture: Lithuania is not a country of customs, audit nor anti-fraud. Still this does not mean that the customs would not reveal all the time record high illegal imports from Russia, nor that there would not be any people that would be experts on this area. Just, not Semeta.

The man who mostly looks like the Finnish C-class celebrity Matti-Esko Hytönen, has some issues of his own. He was taken as a commissioner to fill in the current president Dalia Grybauskaite, and as the trend seems to be, once you are in, you are in. Thus, Semeta is now offered for second term, and this may be the biggest mistake EU can make.

 Matti-Esko Hytönen

You can all go to visit the EC web page and read through the impressive CV of the man, but you will perhaps also notice the huge hole in it: the education is not given. Mr. Semeta says he has finished the studies of cybernetics and economics in Vilnius University in 1985. Thus, this Soviet time economist has the formal education of 5 years of university. The man of statistics (which by all means must be just good for the post, unless he is expected to understand the always so overvalued "why?" of the events) holds just the first level university education that was offered those times, but it is not written anywhere that a commissioner should be a phd or even a master, or is it?

Still, Semeta may be just the perfect man for the post. Bad language skills, looks of an evil genius and charisma that is left second only by Silvio Berlusconi. I surely hope that he has a strong team if he gets through, as the post may be too much for his rather narrow shoulders. It just is not a good move to put a man from country that has bad relations to our largest neighbor to rule the customs...

What you should expect: bad English, lots of statistics, long truck lines on Russian borders, great performances of Mr. Charisma 2009.
What you should not expect: solutions
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
A great new age is about to begin!

Hereby, we, the great omnipotent correspondent of the east shores of Baltic Sea, pronounce this blog as open. Surely, the development should soon take towards an integrated web page with more content, but the mismanagement of the EU funds has left us short of website development subsidy, and we can surely say that the evil forces of our sworn enemas are behind this all! We curse thee!

However, it is not a moment for panic yet. We shall return to glory, and make our name known! We shall be misunderstood many times during this process, but in the end, not even the glory of King Roman II will outshine our noble mission!

Thus, let's all hail the Baltics, denounce the denouncers, and oppress the oppressors!

And now, back to work...

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