The BBC has appointed a panel to review criticisms of its coverage of the European Union. Euroskeptics think the Beeb has a pro-European bias, while pro-Europeans think the British public-service broadcaster’s EU coverage is “seen too much through a Westminster prism with the result that significant EU developments go unreported”.

Having reviewed the BBC’s output about the EU last week, my impression is that the latter criticism, which is equally true of most of the British news media, is accurate. The only exception is the Europe Today programme on — surprise, surprise — the World Service.

Here, in the first instance of a regular feature are some of today’ (and some of Friday’s) EU-related news from Britain’ national newspapers:

  • The Daily Express is incenced that EU taxpayers will get a £17m bill for a payout to Yassir Arafat‘s wife Suha:
    > According to Israeli newspaper Maariv, Suha will receive a one-time payment of £12.2million, a stipend of £20,000 a month for life and she will get to keep more than £5million that was discovered last year by French authorities investigating money laundering.

    Actually it’s the Palestinian Authority who agreed all this, but the Express makes the EU connection because “the Palestinian Authority is currently bankrupt and only kept afloat by monthly cash injections from the European Union”.</li>

    • Hidden away in a Guardian interview with European Parliament President Josep Borrell is this nugget:
      > The liberals in the European parliament will next week demand that MEPs be given the right to sack individual commissioners if two-thirds vote for a motion of no confidence in him or her, a draft resolution seen by the Guardian says.

      Next week, the European Parliament holds hearing for the three new or reshuffled commissioners introduced in the wake of Jose Barroso’s withdrawl of his proposed Commission including the controvertial nomination of Rocco Buttiglione as Justice Commissioner.

      The Guardian also carries an comment piece by Robin Cook, who believes that “the special relationship has become a national delusion” and that U.S. neo-cons “intend to deploy American pressure to derail development of a closer European Union” because they view it as a threat to American hegemony.</li>

      • The Independent focuses on comments by NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who accused European governments of failing to support the “war on terror”. The paper says these comments “contrasted strongly with recent comments from the EU’s counter-terrorism co-ordinator, Gijs de Vries.” The article also touches on the wider issue of Euro-Gaullism:
        > Some EU capitals see the re-election of Mr Bush as an opportunity to forge a more powerful European identity, and last week the French President, Jacques Chirac, argued: “It is evident that Europe, now more than ever, must strengthen its unity and dynamism when faced with this great world power. More than ever, we must reinforce Europe politically and economically.”

      • Unfortunatly, the Indy’s subs don’t know their European institutions. Under the headline “Terror laws unjust, says EU human rights chief”, the paper reports on comments by Alvaro Gil-Robles, an official with the Council of Europe, which is not an EU institution. Surprisingly, the usually-reliable FT makes the same blunder; the Guardian gets it right.
      • Various newspapers fret over the potential cost to UK taxpayers that could result from the European Court of Justice case of French student Dany Bidar who claims that as an EU citizen who has lived in Britain for three years, he should be entitled to UK student loans. The case is only at the stage of the the advocate-general’s Opinion, but some of the papers misidentify Advocate-General Leendert Geelhoed as an ECJ &ldquo:judge”. The Evening Standard version of story is best.
      • Saving the best for last, the FT has too much good stuff to list it all here.</ul>