Archive for 31 October 2011

Legal issues affecting e-learning firms in the European Union: To merge or not to merge

What do you think the European Union is? Is it an entity that exists solely to pass laws regulating the shape and size of fruit, or burden employers with endless legislation? Or is it a collection of governments, working to find areas they have in common, and improve standards across the trading block?

One area where the last of these has happened is with regards to E-learning. E-learning can be defined as any educational activity that has an electronic dimension to it, encompassing a primary school class delivered using a PowerPoint presentation teaching learners how to use desktop computer applications, like what is done at Broadclyst Primary School, to a programme delivered completely online to update workers’ skills.

According to the International Data Corporation the corporate training segment of the e-learning industry is estimated to have to increased from 234 million euros in 2000 to 11.4 billion euros in 2003, although in the European Union only about 20 percent of e-learning products are produced within the common market. In 2000 the European educational multimedia industry was undercapitalised as links between education and training systems and the industry were not strong enough to generate viable services that cater for education and training requirements.

It has been argued by the European Commission that another reason for this undercapitalisation is because much of the development of e-learning systems comes from a high number of small firms within the industry. Critics would argue that this is only a problem because of how small businesses have been burdened with increased legislation originating from the European Union, which now legislates in an increasing number of areas affecting small to medium-sized undertakings. Indeed, some now estimate that European Union Law accounts for about half of the legislation in Member States, with countries wishing to join the European Union facing around 80,000 pages of EU law to incorporate into their national legislation.

Despite the legislative burden placed on small e-learning firms, the attitude of the European Commission towards e-learning is very positive. According to one estimate, in 2001 around 50 million euros from the budget for education and training was spent on projects which could be considered as promoting e-learning, but the largest amounts have been channelled to the Structural Funds and the framework research programme.

Developments in Internet and multimedia technologies are the basic enabler of e-learning, with content, technologies and services being the three key segments of the e-learning industry, although it could be argued that there are two additional sectors, which are the consulting and support sectors.

The e-learning industry can be seen to consist of companies that provide content and technology such as Microsoft, services, such as those offered by the University of Cambridge or Brighton University, as well as undertakings that support the industry, such as marketing firms like Magicomm. These undertakings include small to medium-sized e-learning firms that produce the content and software, large software companies that provide the platform on which to run the software, manufacturing firms and their supply-chain that provide the hardware and media, telecommunications companies that provide the network infrastructure, educational establishments and training firms that provide the services as well as content, self-employed consultants who contribute to the consulting sector and technical and administrative enterprises that contribute to the support sector. These companies may offer services such as direct-to-customer marketing communications solutions, personalisation and cross media implementation and document and communications workflow consulting, such web enabled information production automation.

It has been argued that the present e-learning industry of a high number of small to medium-sized undertakings is slowing the growth of the industry and that as few e-learning companies can truly do it all they will form strategic alliances to diversify and strengthen offerings, with form such alliances will take are limited by competition law, in particular Articles 81 and 82 of the European Union treaties, soon to be Articles 101 and 102 respectively. These firms may consist of technical media specialists, digital artists, content developers and in some cases social networking analysts. The concept of free competition is a fundamental element in the EU treaties, which embraces the premise that any restriction on free competition is intrinsically reprehensible.

It could be argued that the restrictions placed on undertakings in the e-learning industry by Article (101) is forcing small to medium-sized enterprises to enter into more substantial agreements to form what are known as concentrations, through either taking over or merging with other undertakings. Some might argue that this is a good thing, as in a time of increased globalisation undertakings within the European Union need not just compete with enterprises within the union, but also compete on a global scale with undertakings in the USA, and the emerging markets in India and China for example. It could also be argued that small to medium-sized undertakings allow for a flexible and dynamic market, and that mergers impede innovation and creativity. Whichever position is right, it is certain that the e-learning industry will have to deal with mergers more often as the market develops if undertakings are to overcome the restrictions placed on them by Article (101).


Policy on European Union Referenda and Parliamentary Sovereignty

My policies on ‘transfer of powers’ to the EU and the role of UK legislatures are as follows:

1. Any EU measure that would change the fabric of the UK’s culture and identity should require a referendum. This would include:

  • The euro, which would change our currency;
  • Weights and measures, which would change the way that people order things like alcohol;
  • Entry or exit of the EU, which would affect the rights we enjoy to trade with and visit the EU; and
  • Anything else of a ‘constitutional character’.

2. Any EU measure that would change the fabric of law and order in the UK would require a resolution to be passed in each UK legislature before being adopted formally. This would include;

  • EU Directives, which require ‘transposition’ and would need to be repealed if the UK left the EU; and
  • EU Court (CJEU) Judgements, which would change the Common Law.

3. The following types of EU law should be used in preference of those in 2:

  • EU Court (CJEU) Decisions, which affect only the parties involved in the hearing; and
  • EU Regulations, which apply to everyone in the EU, and are separate from and preserve national law.

The essences of my policy are:

  • We should work better in Europe and get more out of Europe‘.
  • We should be in Europe and running Europe

The Ethics of Lying

Is it ethical to lie? I get very uncomfortable if I think I have lied or been dishonest, even when I did not realise that I was being so at the time, if you understand what I mean.

I’m going to look at common situations prone to lying and look at the ethics of the situation.

Does my bum look big in this?

If a woman can get her partner to clothes shop with her it is stereotypical she asks, ‘Does my bum look big in this?’. If their partner answers ‘yes’ they have scorned, or if they answer ‘no’ and she thinks ‘yes’ they have scorned.

So is honesty the best policy? If she does actually look big it in, then to not say so could lead to her to experience harmful comments from others if she actually accepts her partner’s word. So which is the bigger hurt, the immediate telling of the truth, or the long-term consequences of withholding the truth?

The Boogie Man

Parents will often use specific characters to attempt to control their children’s behavior. For example, near Easter they may say that the Easter Bunny won’t bring their chocolate eggs if they don’t comply. They’ll say some mythical creature will come and get them near Halloween. They may even claim that they are on first person terms with Santa Clause, who won’t bring their child presents if they don’t comply.

Whether this lying is ethical might depend on the interests of the child. If they say it to the child so they get ‘out of their hair’ while they are watching TV for instance, then it might be unethical. If they use it to keep the child out of danger such as avoiding them harming themselves or others then it might be considered ethical.

But would overuse of these techniques amount to the parent offering ‘improper disincentives’ when it may be more appropriate they develop more truthful strategies?

The Public Interest

Sometimes the politicians withhold or misrepresent the best truth for their own gain. They might at other times do so because it is in the public interest, such as the times in World War II that Churchill did not intervene to prevent a bombing strike as it would have let the Germans know their code had been cracked. I would argue that the politicians who lie about or misrepresent their personal or their party’s true opinion in order to get elected or gain some other advantage should face severe penalties.

Why there needs to be an MTV-XL

There is a huge problem in society – thin people seem to be the preserve of what is considered beautiful. Even pop music about a large woman, Timbaland’s ‘The Way I Are’, had a very slim woman in – Keri Hilson.

Is it fair that people whose genetic make ups make them large are called ‘fat and ugly’? I think not. Had the forerunner to the ratified Lisbon Treaty, which I call the Reform Treaty, being voted for by Ireland, then discrimination on the grounds of genetics would have been illegal, but it was taken out of the one they voted for. It doesn’t seem right to me people who are large are called ‘fat and ugly’ – they should see themselves as ‘differently beautiful’.

While the Daily Mail has talked down the prospect of a magazine for large women, why not create a music channel, say MTV-XL, which gives large people the chance to make it acceptable not to be slim. Number one chart singles like that from Michelle McManus of Pop Idol fame could be the norm on this channel, rather than people being dropped by record labels as she was. Songs like ‘The Way I Are’ could be covered by people who are actually large and actually poor, who could have the XL-Factor.

Nuts Magazine gives women the chance to please gynasexual men like homosapien women have for the last 200,000 years

I’m not saying I’d want to watch such a channel, even though I find bone-thin women repulsive, as I’ve been subject to the biased media of Photoshoped thin women and [Person G] was a size 10-dress. Like many other people impression by popular music, I would sooner by a bottom shelfer like Nuts or Zoo, than a top-shelfer like XL-Magazine, which isn’t for me. But large women are for many others, like a friend’s friend who finds slim women don’t do it for him like large ones do. So I think, if there was a music channel dedicated to advancing the music careers of large people, then this may cut problems like depression and eating disorders among people who are large, and those who think they are but aren’t, through creating role models that are more reflective of the reality and not unrealistic fantasy.


States of the nations

I have previously expressed my objections to independence for Wales and primary legislative powers. The reasons have been because of reduced scrutiny of legislation due to unicameralism (Letters, April 14, 2004), unnecessary duplication of laws (Letters, October 1, 2002) and lack of effective use of time due to having to implement EU Directives on top on Welsh law (Letters, February 20, 2004).

Others have said independence is unaffordable because of entrappings of the state, requiring passport offices, driving licence agencies, and customs and tax offices. Welsh nationalists often draw parallels with Catalonia as a model for independence. I would however suggest another one – Benelux – the union between Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. There is no reason why all the British nations (including Ireland) can’t be independently constituted as nation states, whilst being both members of the European Union and a “British Isles customs union.”

These “member nations” could share state apparatus, like a council of ministers and supreme court, from which BICU governments would make laws applying to all nations in the case of the former, and from which they would provide judges to resolve inter-governmental, EU and international law issues in the case of the latter. We could still have British passports and hold joint nationalities as British citizens and Welsh citizens. Our driving licences could still be issued by the DVLA , but could have “CW” for “Cymru Wales” on them instead of “UK”. It would be a big improvement on the current settlement, as not only could a new Act of Union give us more exclusive rights within the BICU, but because each nation could be independent members of the EU, the people of Wales would have greater rights to be treated equally in England than they do now. We could be a member of the euro like Ireland, and that may mean more manufacturing returning to Wales while England keeps the pound.

Should all EU members sit and vote as a single block in the UN

The Guardian reports on complaints by EU diplomats that the UK is blocking progress by not signing an UN declaration as a single block.

If these diplomats want to blame anyone it should be the French and the Dutch who voted against ratification of the Constitutional Treaty. Had the Constitutional Treaty gone ahead, then the EU’s High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy would have had the right to sign treaties on behalf of the EU. This provision did not make it into the Lisbon Treaty.

So I regard the UK Government, by refusing to sign under the heading of the European Union is acting perfectly reasonably. I think their wish to sign it, ‘Signed by the EU and its member states’ would be more against what they are trying to achieve and ‘Signed unanimously by the Member States of the EU with the backing of the European Union’ would more closely reflect the legal situation as it stands.

Unlike my colleagues in my One Pontypridd Coalition on Pontypridd Town Council, I do not think Wales should have a seat on the UN – nor the UK for that matter. I personally would like the EU to be able to sign international treaties on behalf of all Member States in the EU where they agree unanimously. I would like is so that all EU members states sit on the UN Security Council as one block under the heading of the ‘European Union’ on the same basis as other blocks like the US, China and Russia do.

Being an economist whilst also owning a business, my attitude to issues of independence and sovereignty has always been a pragmatic one. We should not make laws for the sake of having laws. So I would rather replace EU Directives with Regulations which apply to all countries in the EU, even new members, so they can keep their local law intact, should they decide to leave the EU, as Regulations don’t need to be transposed. In the meantime, if we are to keep Directives, then it would only make economic sense to make Wales and independent in order to get the economic and other benefits if my concerns over duplication of ratifying and transposing EU and international law could be done at a British level covering all British nations to reduce the costs of different laws doing the same thing.

So the EU having a seat on the UN and being able to sign international treaties would save all the duplication of ratifying it in all countries, but I think like the EU’s Council of Ministers has to ask the European Parliament and Committee of the Regions (made up of UK councils and other EU regions), then I see no reason why there should not be a process to consult National Parliaments, of which the Senedd would be one if Wales became independent, and like with the European Parliament, if their opinion was not considered then the treaty that was signed could be annulled by the Court of Justice of the EU.

How the UK can leave the EU without a referendum – and why it shouldn’t

The BBC report on a motion in Parliament calling for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. It claims a Tory MP is calling on his colleagues to back an amendment which would delay a referendum until the UK had renegotiated its position in the EU.

As a moderately pro-European and democrat I hope that a motion that requires there to be a referendum before the United Kingdom can leave the EU.

In fact, theoretically under the EU Treaty, all that is necessary for the process for the United Kingdom to leave the EU to start is a resolution in both Houses of Commons. So if an amendment to this motion was made to the effect of calling for withdrawal without a referendum in accordance with the EU Treaty then the UK Government may be obligated to notify the EU of this fact.

Personally, I think any referendum on the European Union, should be held at the same time as a referendum on the full constitutional make-up of the UK.

For instance, I think it would be unfair if Wales was forced to leave the EU, when we get so much benefit from it in terms of funding and our exports. So if Wales is being asked to vote to leave the EU I think at the same time we should be asked whether we want to leave the UK if the majority vote in the UK is to leave the EU. As an independent nation we would then have the chance to join the euro once the problems are solved, which would bring more inward investment as other countries could take advantage of the Convergence Funding available to grow their business without the transaction costs associated with converting from pounds to euros and vice-versa.

If sharing is caring, should sharing be a human or civil right?

As an egalitarian I believe that people should not solely possess any property, monetary or otherwise, which they are not using or capable of using because everyone should only have as much property as they are able to use.

One of the core parts of my ‘equatricism’ philosophy is that it is not capital that drives an economy, but the exchange of artefacts (i.e. tools/signs). Another part of it is that people will not have full access to their mental artefacts at any one point in time. As I argue most mental artefacts are linked to external artefacts as ‘mediating artefacts’. So as one does not have full access to all ones possessions (mediating artefacts) at all points in time either mentally or physically, should it not be unreasonable that one shares those artefacts with others when one does not need them but they do?

So, it may be that the solution to poverty is not necessarily wealth redistribution, but ‘sharing’ of wealth.

For instance, if someone in a community can afford 10 games consoles and everyone else none, would it not be fairer if they loaned the other people in the community the games consoles they were not using?

Thinking about the European Convention on Human Rights, it would not be unlawful to compel the person with 10 games consoles to share them, providing they were ‘properly compensated.’ However, would asking them to list the game consoles they own count as restricting the privacy of their home and correspondence, which is against their human rights?

In terms of a non-forced application of this; in a housing estate, would it not make sense if people got together to buy one lawn mower which they all share and pay to replace, rather than each house having their own lawn mower? It could also mean that the community could pay one of its members to mow the verges normally done by the council, which would make local government redundant. So long as the ‘free-rider’ problem is managed, which is that people only get access to a resource if they are contributing towards it, then this sharing model could work to end poverty, as well as possibly creating community spirit.

Under European Union Law one has a right to expect to be able to provide and receive services. Should only expect one’s neighbour to provide a goods lending service if they have the excess capacity to be able to provide it?

Should there be an inquiry into Alain Rowland’s Conduct in RWC2011

IRB Referee Alain Rowland, made an unpopular decision in the Rugby World Cup 2011 game between Wales and France that led to the Wales captain Sam Warburton being red-carded. The BBC Scrum V programme found he acted consistently with how he did in past matches, but many other referees would have made a different decision.

Cyberspace is now full of pictures which mostly allude to allegations that M. Rowland acted inappropriately, such as claims he was biased, incompetent, etc. The IRB should have expected such a reaction by having a referee adjudicate a match where they have first generation ancestral roots to one of the participating teams. Fans made allegations that M. Rowland’s father was French, and that he had links with Ireland. Whilst the IRB found such allegations unfounded, this is clear evidence of a “perceived conflict of interest” with regards to M. Rowland taking part in the game, however professional he is.

On the basis of ‘perceived’ conflict of interest then the referee should not have taken part. BBC Scrum V says he is one of the few referees that issue a red-card for that incident. Therefore if he had seen that his participation could give rise to a ‘perceived’ conflict of interest then he should not have taken part, and therefore if that incident had occurred it would be unlikely there would be a red-card. This concept of ‘perceived conflict of interest’ is well understood in the South Hemisphere as presented here and in all regulated professions.

I would like an inquiry to find out whether M. Rowland or the International Rugby Board broke IRB or other international sports ethics rules and brought the sport into disrepute by allowing M. Rowland to take part in the game, and whether they knew of his ‘perceived’ conflict of interest.

I personally believe the IRB has brought the sport into disrepute and should face penalties for creating a situation where the integrity of officials have been questioned, where it would have been avoidable if they had followed a code of ethics than many other professionals do.

William Hague has it wrong on ‘EU repatriation’ limitation

William Hague is reported as saying the possibily to ‘repatriate’ powers to the UK has no “prospect.

I think he is showing his weakness on the issue, which perhaps his leadership supporting hero Margaret Thatcher might think lacks creativity.

In the Lisbon Treaty under Title III was this new power called ‘enhanced co-operation‘. This means that any country that does not want further integration can let the countries that do get on with it. I was recently used so the UK could be part of the EU Patent but Italy and France did not have to.

There is no reason why the EU can’t repeal all the EU Directives and Regulations that the UK does not want to be subject to, and then apply them to only the nations who do want them using ‘enhanced co-operation

If one wants to see how this could work without much fuss, look at the way the Video Recordings Act 2010 was written.

Proudly Published by WordPress, using a Theme by
Promoted by Jonathan Bishop. Published by Crocels News, LLC. Both available at Ty Morgannwg, PO Box 674, Swansea, SA1 9NN. © Jonathan Bishop Limited.