EU nixes rights agency poetry contest

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[April 30, 2010]  BRUSSELS (AP) -- One poet in the house is enough, thank you!

HardwareThe European Commission has told its fundamental rights agency in Vienna to stick to monitoring human rights and to drop an unusual contest that would have participants set the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights to poetry.

Part of a public awareness campaign, the competition hadn't gotten under way yet.

In a stern letter, EU Justice and Fundamental Rights Commissioner Viviane Reding criticized Morten Kjaerum, the rights agency's director, for the contest plan, saying it would gut the charter's dignity.

The EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights enshrines political, social, and economic rights into EU law. Drafted in 2000, it became part of the EU treaty in 2009.


"The language of the charter is already clear and direct," Reding said in the letter to Kjaerum, dated April 19.

"I therefore do not see what is to be gained by running the initiative you have in mind to promote its accessibility to citizens," said her letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

Reding told Kjaerum to stick to his "core business of data collection" about the state of human rights in the EU, and to say how much money he has spent on the ill-fated "Express The Charter" poetry contest.

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She also told Kjaerum to provide her in future with more details of any public communication initiatives he is planning.

The rights agency declined to immediately comment on the sinking of its poetry contest.

The EU doesn't have a resident poet, but it does have a top official who produces verse.

This month, EU President Herman van Rompuy published a book of Haiku, the dreamy Japanese poetry of unrhymed three-line poems comprising 17 syllables in all.

"Haiku Herman" made something of a name for himself by closing a Tokyo news conference this week by saying: "The sun is rising / sleeping yet in Europe / but still the same sun."

But Reding sees no need for her rights agency to take a cue from Van Rompuy.

[Associated Press; By ROBERT WIELAARD]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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