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On the Crisis of Being French

25 May 2005

Much has been written of the political and emotional state of a nation ahead of Sunday's referendum on the EU constitution.  Called by President Chirac, the French referendum is being touted as the deciding vote on the future of the EU, and looks like backfiring on the government. With the "non" vote gaining the ascendence through an unholy alliance of far left, far right and dissident gaullists, Krzysztof Bobinski writes on the injustice of such French self-importance for the rest of Europe, and the cowardice of the British in relying upon it. Johannes Willms argues that the debate in France reveals a nation torn, and exposes deep-seated fears over national identity, whilst Frank Vibert  urges the French to do us all a favour and ditch a constitutional "turkey".  The BBC's correspondent in Paris John Simpson says the result is too close to call,  but that its clearly touched a nerve in the ongoing debate on national life. The BBC also offers a breakdown of arguments for and against here.  There is a lot of talk about identity, but the French crisis must be about more than a threat to baguettes non? Europe news offers a selection of reports from all over the world, whilst European Democracy  has some interesting discussions of the implications union-wide.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals


To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.


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