Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker is the European of the Year
Brussels 29 November 2005: The Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker was declared "European of the Year" at an awards ceremony in Brussels hosted by European Voice this evening. Juncker, nominated for bucking the trend on the European Constitution, secured a yes-vote from his citizens after voters in France and the Netherlands had rejected the treaty.
European Voice, published by The Economist Group, is the leading European weekly newspaper. A distinguished panel of opinion leaders from across the EU - including three former Heads of State - selected the 50 nominees. The winners were chosen by the general public in an on-line poll and via paper ballot forms in the European Voice. Polls closed on 11 November.
Michel Rocard, MEP and ex-Prime Minister of France, won the award Ã¢â‚¬Å“MEP of the YearÃ¢â‚¬Â for leading the charge against the software patents directive. Calling it a struggle for the Ã¢â‚¬Å“freedom of inventionÃ¢â‚¬Â, Rocard turned the discussions into a debate about the future of technological innovation.
Another key player in the fight against the software patents directive was campaigner Florian MÃƒÂ¼ller, who won Ã¢â‚¬Å“Campaigner of the YearÃ¢â‚¬Â for his instrumental efforts in killing off the whole proposal.
But Florian declined his award. In an email, he writes:
On Tuesday evening (29 November 2005), the EU-focused newspaper European Voice (www.european-voice.com) presented the "EV50 Europeans of the Year" awards in Brussels.
The EV50 awards (www.ev50.com) comprise nine category awards and the grand prize for the overall "European of the Year". A jury selected 50 nominees. After the announcement of the nominees on 22 September, the worldwide public was asked to submit votes in an Internet poll until 11 November. Additionally, the European Voice published a paper ballot for those of its readers who preferred to submit their votes non-electronically.
I was proclaimed as the winner of the "EU Campaigner of the Year" category award for my work on the NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign. In that category, I was competing with five other nominees, including U2 frontman Bono and another rock star, Bob Geldof. The rules were such that the overall winner could not simultaneously win the category. Initially, I accepted the category award, not enthusiastically but because I did not want to cause any impression of an emotional overreaction by immediately declining it. I awaited the presentation of the remaining awards. After the overall "European of the Year" award had been given to Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg, the organizers wanted to take a picture of all ten winners with their trophies. Before the photograph, I gave the award trophy back to Mr. Dennis Landsbert-Noon, the publisher of the European Voice, and left.
I told Mr. Landsbert-Noon that I had, after serious consideration, "decided not to accept the award", and that I will issue further statements after obtaining legal advice.
Obviously it was a difficult decision to decline a category award that has been won by famous people, most notably the late Pope John Paul II in the year 2002. I was fully aware of the fact that this action would potentially affect decisions by other award juries in the future as well as my relationship with the organizers and sponsors of the EV50.
My greatest concern was that by declining the EU Campaigner of the Year award, I would disappoint the many who have voted for me and those who have supported our tremendously impactful Internet campaign for votes.
However, it was in my opinion the only appropriate action, and I will soon explain the reasons to do so. In the meantime, please understand that I will not be able to answer further questions on this subject.
I also have an anecdote to tell that many will find amusing. Mr. Michel Rocard, a member of the European Parliament (MEP) and former prime minister of France, received the "MEP of the Year" award for his work on the software patent directive. In his acceptance speech, he mentioned Microsoft's sponsorship of the EV50 awards several times. While Microsoft supported the proposed directive, Mr. Rocard wanted to very clearly exclude software from the scope of patentability. Mr. Rocard had a special message for Microsoft and EU commissioner Charlie McCreevy: "You will discover that we were right."
Mr. Rocard could additionally have mentioned that Burson-Marsteller, a PR and lobbying firm with offices in many cities including Brussels, counts Microsoft (as well as other corporations with a similar position on software patents) among its clients. Burson-Marsteller was involved in the organization of the EV50.
Note that the 50 nominees were chosen by an independent jury, which through its choices demonstrated its independence.
For general information on the EV50, journalists are recommended to contact the organizers. A number of presidents, prime ministers, parliamentarians and EU commissioners were personally present at the EV50 dinner.