My football dreamteam
Every football (soccer) fan has a dream to coach a world team. We are all experts in front of the TV set. We know why one team win, why another one always loose and which players are the best the in the world. Of cause that is one of the real charms with football (soccer). We are all experts. And we all have favorites. So here is my world team right now, plying with a very attacking 4-5-1 formation:
Gianluca Buffon (Italy/Juventus)
Emmanuel Eboue (Cote D’Ivoire/Arsenal), Kolo Toure (Cote D’Ivoire/Arsenal), Carles Puyol (Spain/Barcelona), Eric Abidal (France/Barcelona)
Christiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Man United), Elano Blumer (Brazil/Man City), Cesc Fabregaz (Spain/Arsenal), Kaka (Brazil/Milan), Lionel Messi (Argentina/Barcelona)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden/Inter)
Peter Czech (Czech Republic/Chelsea), Nemanja Vidic (Serbia/mancheste United), Dejan Stankovic (Serbia/Inter), David Villa (Spain/Valencia)
What do you think ?
Meetings with Meyra Hernandez, BASC to talk about cooperation in implementation of AEO programmes in Latin America.
Back to Brussels
In the airport to take the plane back to Brussels.
A good meeting
Yesterday I had a successful meeting with the Spanish Director General of Customs. Spain will be more engaged in the Columbus programme and will offer expert for Columbus phase 2 missions to Spanish speaking countries.
Today I visit Madrid to meet with Director General of Spanish Customs, Mr. Nicola Bonilla and his management team for discussions about support for the Columbus programme in Latin America.
Presentation to the Private Sector
Presentation to the Private Sector Consultative Group about Columbus programme and our progress on implementation.
Shaping the strategy for the future
So now the project programme is up and running with full speed again. It is obvious that our programmes will be extensive over the following months. It is crucial that we can keep focus on major priorities. It is now, over the coming 8 months to Council 2008, the abilties of the Columbus programme will measured. It is make or break. We have to find the mechanisms for efficient implementation, but I am convinced that we will be successful.
I have written it before and will keep underlining that the key elements for phase 2 will be,
1) building the expert pool covering phase,2 identified competence needs,
2) matchmaking with donors,
3) building capacity to transform good project plans to funding applications,
4) support strategic management creating on capacity to manage the change process,
5) identify and promote 15-20 successful pilot projects with real tangible results within 10 months. We need some short term project successes and results that will create leading implementation experience, experience that can be transferred within the sub-regions. If we can integrate all our programmes to support this process, then I am convinced that we can do this. We will have to be agressive, pro-active and focused to succeed. Like always, the future favour the brave.
Today I had a meeting with my Director colleague Mr. Mike Schmitz about SAFE WG, Secure WG and other issues.
Flying out to Madrid for discussions with the DG of Spanish Customs, Mr. Nicola Bonilla.
The Stanley Cup
Ottawa Senators will win the Stanley Cup in the NHL this year. remeber where you read it first.
On my way back…
Time for another 30 hours in a plane…..but it was certainly worth it. Had a great week with a good conference and very positive meetings.
Another great meeting
After a second presentation at the conference I had a very good bi-lateral meeting about capacity building with the CEO of Australian Customs Service Mr. Michael Carmody and the Deputy CEO Mr. Neil Mann. A very positve meeting about further cooperation and the WCO capacity building agenda.
Meeting with the New Zealand Customs Service
Today I met with the Comptroller of the New Zealand Customs Service, Mr. Martyn Dunne and the head of International, Mr Richard Bargh. We had an exellent meeting about the WCO capacity building agenda, further cooperation and the WCO-OCO partnership.
At the CFCBA meeting
Today I made a presentation about SAFE and Columbus at the annual CFCBA conference. I got interesting feed-back, there where good discussions and it was a very interesting conference.
A loooong flight
Took me 34 hours to get to Queenstown, what a trip ! It is a beautiful place though….
Queenstown, here I come
On the road again. I am on my way to Queenstown on the south island of New Zealand for a ministerial conference.It is virtually on the other side of the planet. I will give a speech on capacity building and the Columbsu programme. I will also talk on the CFCBA (brookers association) annual meeting. And I will have bi-lateral and common meetings with the Commissioner of the New Zealand Customs Service, Mr. Martyn Dunne and the CEO of the Australian Customs Service, Mr. Micheal Carmody. I know both of them well since before and as you know I am trying to meet with and talk to all of the donors of the Columbus programme within a month to make sure that we have the financial support that we need for the next phase of the programme. It will be very interesting meetings and I am fairly optimistic about the outcome. Even though it is a very, very long trip downunder. Anyway, I will be back again the following weekend.
Successful EU meetings
Last week we had a very good meeting with the EU, European Aid (DG AidCo). Also the new WCO unit of the DG Taxud participated in the meeting. It was without any doubt a very positive meeting. I want to thank everybody involved for your participation. We are now getting closer to a breakthrough with one of the largest donors in the world. It is a long way to go still, but we are getting closer. Exchange of strategies, data, experience, working material is a part of the process. This is hard work, but essential for the future. AidCo is a serious major player in the donor community and we are on the way to a closer cooperation with them. Let me underline that this is a prioritized task for our directorate. I am also very pleased with the creation new WCO unit of the DG Taxud and our first meeting. The unit consists of people we know and have worked with before. There is a lot of competence there and we must develop a very close partnership with them for the future.
I also want to thank everybody for a good directorate’s meetings last week. And a nice evening in town. We now have a platform for the next steps of the strategy and the programmes. At the end of last week I also got a chance to have a longer discussion with the SG about our plans and he has now fully endorsed the way forward.
The new Bruce Springsteen album, "Magic" is really...magic. run to the store and buy it. Amazing record. Songs like "Radio Nowhere" and "Living in the future" has not been produces on record since the late 80s. The concert will be super (Sorry, Robert, I know you dont have tickets).
Sajsa won again
Martin played with the cadetten (boys 91, he is born 93) against Welta mechelen this weekend. Huge guys, especially in comparison with my son being two years younger, but our team won with 32-18 and Martin scored four goals from his wing position.
Inter, my team in Italy…
Inter Milan won again in Serie A. And Juve lost 2 points (Angelo, they are getting to far behind already...).
The Blackberry is back !
I am finally writing on my Blackberry again. A new one. My old Blackberry is still in cyberspace and I am still grieving over my loss. It was a very disturbing feeling to have my Blackberry missing for more than a week. I have not been disconnected since 1992. And it is very stressing (not the other way around...). Most of you know the story, but maybe not the end of it. I lost my Blackberry device in a taxi in Washington D.C last week. While I was writing to the office to shut down the connection, I received an e-mail from a guy in the World Bank saying that a taxi driver had called him up since a mobile phone had been found in his taxi and he was now calling the last number dialled. I told the driver to go back to the airport, but the security personnel would not allow me to collect the mobile on the outside of the security check, so the driver took it back to the World Bank. The WB guy sent it with DHL to Brussels. The phone was then stopped by Belgian Customs! They suspected it to be a new phone. When Marc Bruneau had sorted that out, after three days, DHL was supposed to deliver the phone to the WCO headquarters on last Friday. When the package arrived to our security guys at the reception downstairs - it turned out to be....empty. Somebody had opened it at the back and stolen the Blackberry !!! So another weekend in pain for me. But the heroes of the story, Natalia and Bernie, today managed to get me another Blackberry phone with all my contacts in place, so now I am a happy man again.
Oh boy, a really interesting sportsweekend. Even though I am not a rugby fan, I did notice that the huge favourites went out from the Rugby world cup in the quarterfinal knockout games today. France beat the AllBlacks from New Zealand and England rose from the dead to beat the Wallabies from Australia. I guess the Springboks from South Africa will be the new favourites now.
More PICARD developments
The PICARD strategy for management development training will be finalized and published at the end of 2007. identification of partner institutions is in progress. Canada, Finland and US are providing development support.
This will indeed be a gigant step forward for one important part od the WCO capacity building strategy and agenda.
Another PICARD university
Today we had a signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The University of Skopje. Skopje University from Macedonia will be another important player in our PICARD network. Working with the International Network of Universities (INCU) and WCO Members, the WCO has developed the first international standards of recognition for Customs-related education. The piloting phase of this work will start in the beginning of 2008.
Meeting the European Union
Today we had a very important meeting about capacity building with the European Commission. We have an on-going dialogue with Europe Aid, DG AidCo, about partnership and cooperation. We are working to create a mutual closer cooperation with the Commission, which is prioritized and very important for us. The EU is one of the largest donors in the world and they have a broad capacity building programme, also directed to Customs and Trade developments. The European commission became a member of the WCO also as a region on the 1st July 2007 after a Council decision in June. The 27 EU Member states have been members of the WCO for a long time. DG Taxud also participated in the meeting. It was a very good, creative and constructive meeting. Progress on the way.
While the internal meeting continued, I also got a chance to meet with the Secretary General to discuss the progress of the Columbus programme and what I intend to present at upcoming meetings.
Back in Brussels and in the office after the journey to Sweden. Today we are having a Directorat´s meeting, talking about the plans for the next period. Almost all of the Capacity Building Directorat is present in Brussels, which is not so often in due to our programmes in more than 100 countries. In the evening we had a dinner at a nearby restaurant, a very nice evening indeed.
Presentation for Swedish Business
I was invited by the Swedish Chamber of Commerce South region to participate in the annual Customs and Business day. I did a presentation about the WCO and our capacity building programme. It was very positive to get a chance to meet with a lot of business representatives, also from SME:s, that were present at this big conference.
From Stockholm to Malmö
A very early morning trying to catch the earliest flight from Stockholm to Malmö. I managed to get on the plane at Arlanda Airport and arrived just after 08h00am at the conference hotel in Malmö.
Meeting Pravin Gordhan in Sweden
Today I travelled to Stockholm, invited by the Director General of Swedish Customs Mrs Karin Starrin, to participate in a bi-lateral meeting between South Africa and Sweden. The South African delegation was lead by the Commissioner of South African revenue Service (SARS), Mr. Pravin Gordhan.