2010 already? As the clocks struck midnight on 31st December 2009 and Big Ben in London bong bong-ed in the New Year, it was Spain
that took over the reigns from Sweden
as the holder of the rotating presidency of the EU.
And as is customary for each six-month rotating presidency
, the website of the new presidency suddenly became available online at midnight, and on first glance it seems that the Spanish have opted for a more functional, more user-friendly approach and layout - with a distinct lack of colour in comparison to the outgoing site of the Swedish Presidency (se2009.eu
While the expansive white background does make the site appear incredibly boring (and quite amateurish if I may be so bold to say so), for the layman sat at his computer, it has however clearly been designed to be very easily navigated, with the section headings clearly visible and sub-sections decorated with splashes of blue, bright red and lemon yellow.
It seems therefore that the Spanish have gone 'back to basics' and opted for the short, sweet and simple approach - perhaps reflecting their desire for a rather less austere and bold plan to the current financial recovery?
And yet, the launch has not passed without some embarrassment, and so has certainly not been the start that the Spanish Presidency - keen to impress and assert itself whilst adapting to the new operation required since the arrival into office of the President of the European Council Mr Herman Van Rompuy
- had wanted.
I allude to, of course, the cameo appearance on the website of a comic character familiar to those of us from the UK - Mr Bean
- who, thanks to an as yet unidentified hacker, briefly hijacked the site on Monday (4th), replacing Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
's photo meant to welcome visitors to the website (see above).
The presidency site - eu2010.es
- was taken offline briefly to remove this hacked image from the site, and was quickly back online and back to full operation.
In Spain, the similarity between Mr Zapatero (far left?) and Mr Bean (played by Rowan Atkinson, right in image) is a long-standing joke since the Spanish daily newspaper El Pais
depicted the Spanish Premier as Mr Bean in a cartoon above an article that was highly critical of his handling of the economy in Spain, where unemployment has reached almost 20%.
While it remains unclear whether the hacker acted through political motives or whether they were just trying to have a laugh at Zapatero's expense, it certainly has served to undermine the Spanish presidency even before it has begun proper with Parliament still in recess until next Monday.
One thing for sure, Mr Zapatero and his team will want to remedy this quick, although I have a feeling this won't be the last time Mr Bean will be make further cameos during these next six months...