Iraq was of course the year’s biggest story, but the true consequences of that action have yet to emerge. The lead-up to the rapidly successful invasion has left international fractures just as severe as those still daily apparent in the ongoing Baghdad street battles; the latter at least being fought to impose order and bring liberty to that country.
As the UN skirmishing began, at the start of this year, it was not completely clear where the battle lines would finally be drawn. Even now many months on, there still remain a few who are yet to be correctly categorised. The Blair government, in my view surprisingly, now falls into that category. But how can we best now define the opposing philosophies?
In my mind, what we witnessed at the UN and subsequently is a battle royal between those who see violence (they would say the use of force) as a legitimate and essential tool of foreign policy in defence of liberty and those who previously had maintained a position of ’force only as an absolute last resort’, which the Iraq conflict has exposed to essentially mean NEVER.
First blood, even before a shot had been fired, went to the presumed ‘warmongers‘. Their initial success, won within the UN Security Council and underplayed in press coverage and TV news headlines across the globe, lay in their exposing the fact that their opponents’ fig leaf statement of ‘violence only as a last resort’ (up to then credible given the ‘surgical’ bombing campaign in Serbia), had by early 2003 evolved to mean ’violence practically never’.
The ’Gun-Barrel Diplomats’ led by a group that has become known as ‘neocons’ in the George W Bush Administration and followed with varying degrees of enthusiasm by those nations (or their present Governments) presently forming a part of the ’coalition’ on the ground in Iraq were principally: Britain, Australia, Poland, Spain, Italy, etc.
The ‘Violence Never’ group were, of course, led by the Franco/German duo, Chirac and Schroeder, behind whom came most of the UN Security Council and General Assembly, almost all International Non-Governmental Organisations, proponents of the Global Civil Society, others who their opponents describe as Transnational Progressivists, supranationalists who make-up practically the entire EU elite and the peace movement in general, all of whom, for simplicity, I shall describe here as ‘Internationalists’.
This battle of ideas is being fought with real bullets, bombs and grenade launchers across Iraq. Following the flight of the UN and most of the NGOs, the foot soldiers for the Internationalists are the rump Fedayeen and Baath Party fanatics still loyal to the now captured Saddam Hussein. Were I in Schroeder or a Chirac‘s shoes, this fact alone might force a reconsideration as to how I had put myself in such an uncomfortable position. They, however, have demonstrated an inability to confront such harsh realities; but nevertheless continue to have the support of surprisingly large numbers of their countrymen.
The ordinary servicemen in Iraq, mainly US but supported by British, Polish, Italian and many other nationalities, are fighting and dying in the cause of freedom for the Iraqi people and to demonstrate an international willingness to confront and resist tyranny wherever it may appear. George W Bush’s speeches when he rejected past US policies of appeasing despots were a truly historic turning point, for which 2003 might later also become noteworthy.
What dream or philosophy are the Internationalists offering the world, as they try to hide their obvious desire for a huge American setback in Iraq ? None, that I have been able to discern or unearth.
The year ahead will be tough in Iraq, Afgahnistan, Pakistan and the Middle East. Possibly terrorist acts will be seen in western democracies once again.
At least the USA seems to have coolly appraised its options and committed itself to what appears to this writer an honourable course. The coming Presidential election will be key! If only such unselfish realism could become more widespread in the New Year.
The steadfastness of purpose shown by the European leaders of countries which have recently suffered casualties in Iraq has been for me one of the more hopeful events of the year.
Elsewhere the non-agreement of an EU Constitution is cause enough for tonight’s champagne!
I wish a very happy and prosperous new year to all those who from time to time have visited this blog to follow my often rambling and sometimes disjointed views.
....Of course, we have lots of problems that the EU wants to see resolved: unfettered corruption, poor public administration, a justice system that makes a mockery of impartiality, and an economy which, despite some progress, has not yet been declared a "functioning market" by the European Commission.
The above is taken from a Christmas day item in 'The Taipei Times'. Surprisingly enough, it is not the EU itself that is the subject of the criticism, but an applicant country Romania. (This country appears a perfect match!)
The article continues: But it is agriculture, and in particular the Romanian pig, that is causing the severest headaches in Bucharest and in Brussels. This can be read in full by clicking on the descriptive title that follows:
I enjoyed this newly discovered blog which describes a recent visit to France and an interesting observation on blogging:-
One thing is clear to me: in these extraordinary times blogs are the most political form of writing we have, possibly the most significant in terms of changing people's minds. I won't pull back. I'll do my professional work, spend time with my family (most important!) and keep blogging. Who needs sleep?
I have just watched an edition of BBC World Television's programme, Hardtalk. It being mid-way through the holiday season, neither the first nor second division interviewers appeared to be available and I encountered a new face (by the name of John Soper, I believe, whose name flashed briefly by at the programme's end). No matter what name, however, as this criticism is not directed at any one individual; but rather at the Corporation as a whole.
What process produces these automatons I wondered, as the standard Anti-American, Anti- Israeli, pro-multilateralist, bi-polar claptrap spewed forth? Is there a production line established deep within British society that leads from state primary school to comprehensive secondary through to university, delivering its end-product 'BBCMindlessMoron Mark X', ready-made to the state broadcasting interviewer's spot.
How is mankind's ability to employ independent thought removed and what happens to natural human curiosity and a facility for doubt? For every one of these creations that we see before the camera, how many more must exist in the production teams and other departments? What can a meal be like in a BBC dining room or other social facility? Don't any of these apparently mindless zombies ever thirst to hear a difference of view? Clearly not!
Regrettably it makes for very dull television and as we can all too often witness, a woefully ill-informed audience. Now in whose interest is that?
EU Indifference to Economic Growth or its Citizen's Wellbeing!
The strength of the Euro gives Europe's corrupted and blinkered ruling elite a wonderful sense of macho pride as they strut the world stage. The dreadful prospects for growth, consequent unemploment and resulting discomforts for Europe's ordinary citizens apparently leave them unfazed. A report on their indifference can be read in this article from Forbes that is linked from here, a chilling quote from which is this:-
"The ECB's line still is that it is difficult to justify being concerned."
London's Financial Times ran an article a day or two ago that indicated some degree of concern was at last beginning to percolate into the minds of some ECB officials at least, as it included this quote:
The ECB policymaker said the bank needed time to assess the magnitude and
persistence of the euro's appreciation. Its performance over the next "four to eight weeks" could influence the outlook on interest rates. He said therapid strengthening of the euro had "introduced an element of uncertainty" into the outlook for the eurozone economy.
The rise in the euro has been well underway for more than a year now, and the likely effects on EU growth and prosperity have been the subject of several posts on this blog alone. What more proof can be given of the true nature of the 'EU project' and the total lack of interest, of those who drive it , in the welfare of Europe's citizens!
According to an article on the site of Deutsche Welle the German State Broadcaster, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker is presently a favoured candidate as next EU President. Read a June 1999 interview here which is most informative in light of subsequent events which prove his predictive abilities are almost non-existent. The concluding paragraph of his position on Iraq was this:-
“Both Mrs Polfer and myself will commit ourselves in next Monday’s and Tuesday’s sessions to generate a common, unwavering and substantial position that responds to the European Union’s peace ambitions.”
This quote is from a speech made at Cambridge University linked here:-
The Prime Minister is a more enthusiastic Europhile than even the most committed British politician. "Deepening Europe is peace policy too," he believes.
Things can only get worse is the headline of the Leading Article in this morning's Daily Telegraph and if you read it through to the end, one will certainly find it hard to form any other conclusion. The final sentences of the comment are hardly designed to launch one into the New Year festivities full of cheer, as can be read below:-
But things cannot carry on as they are indefinitely. Under every past Labour government, higher taxes and increased regulations have led eventually to economic failure. Sooner or later, it will happen again.
A good description of recent inner EU frictions and curtain raiser for the coming political battle in Italy can be found here in this article from Insight Magazine.
There is also an item in the same magazine headlined Draft Constitution Divides Europeans which implies the collapse of the constitutional talks was decided in advance by Chirac and Schroeder:
Before the EU summit collapsed in disarray, two of its main protagonists met for dinner in a Japanese restaurant in the Belgian capital. At the dinner, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröeder and French President Jacques Chirac decided not to provide the concessions some member-states wanted. A French source said they didn't want to agree on a bad deal.
Such is a headline from this morning's Western Morning News which accompanying article may be read in full by clicking here.
Britain's fisheries which were obtained through European deceit and Tory Party duplicity could well prove to be the spark that ignites the funeral pyre upon which the UK's bonds to Europe will be finally severed. Bradshaw the misfortunate Fisheries Minister is, of course, himself a West Country MP.
The Radio Netherland Press Review, which can be read in full from here, makes this false assertion:-
Choice between civilization and growth With the year drawing to a close, several papers assess the current economic slump in the Netherlands............the real issue is "the fundamental choice between a welfare state and a pure market economy", a choice between "civilization" and growth, no less.
This is pure EU hogwash par excellance the cause for the Dutch, French, German, Italian in fact most of the Eurozone's economic woes is of course the Euro obsession that has blinded Euroland's politicians from making the hard political choices they would otherwise have been forced to face....Maybe 2004 will be the year when this fact finally sinks in to even the longest suffering EU consumer! Check out how Sweden has fared since they voted NO! Sweden Q3 growth outshines euro zone, exports surge
An interesting article in today's IHT reported on the fate of a French Journalist who has written a book about the biased reporting (not restricted to France) of this year's events in Iraq. Read it from here. A small quote:-
"He regards the single most cohesive element as French anti-Americanism."
Another area of dispute still outstanding is whether Europe's Christian roots should be mentioned in the Constitution. It is not an area on which we have aired the arguments as our view is that relgious mention has no place in such a document. Many others hold strong views on the matter and it could well be another area that figures largely in the eventual fate of the entire agreement. This article in the Straits Times of Singapore, provides a well balanced view of the arguments and can be read from here - God Bless or Divide the EU.
The Scotsman reports this afternoon that the Foreign Secretary believes his Red Lines over the Constitution are well accepted and will not be re-opened. Time will tell! The article is linked from here.
The Washington Times publishes this fitting summary of the EU's past year by Barry Renfrew of the Associated PressSquabble-riven EU limps through '03 Some high (low?) -lights:-
angry governments squabbled over Iraq - The European Union split - "The crisis over Iraq has left deep scars," said political analyst Maxime Lefebvre of the French Institute of International Relations. - there was no disguising the bitterness that lingered - The move to unite Europe continued amid the usual mix of idealism, recrimination and fudging - Efforts this month to frame a European constitution foundered - Europe dithered on how to handle its limping economy and high unemployment. - France and Germany effectively wrecked an agreement on limiting government spending - European business is weighed down by bureaucracy and high taxes - stabbing murder of Sweden's foreign minister as she shopped - the old scourge of anti-Semitism.
The web site of Sky Headline News is running a poll as to whether or not Blair will have resigned before the next election, poll obsessed as he is if enough people vote that they think he will be gone he could well be driven in that direction. Vote from here
Following the earlier explosion of two waste receptacles near the EU Commission President's Bologna home before Christmas, EU Business now reports that the Commissariat's number one has received and opened a parcel bomb:
Romano Prodi, the head of the European Union's executive commission, escaped unharmed Saturday when he opened a booby-trapped parcel, triggering it to catch on fire, his spokesman said
Tony Blair's Britain 6 Years On - 'Mad World' (of hopelessness?)
The following are the lyrics of the surprise Number 1 'Top of the Pops' Christmas Chart Topper:-
"All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
And their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow
And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
'Cos I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very
Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday
Made to feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen
Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher tell me what's my lesson
Look right through me, look right through me"
Prompted by our post of yesterday, regarding the Reuters wrong referendum result, we began to wonder about the development of public opinion in that country since then and found this in an EUobserver report about growing anti-EU opinion in Norway:-
'At the same time a new poll in Sweden shows that only 38 percent of questioned would want their country to join the single currency. According to a Skop poll quoted by Ekot/Sveriges Radio, 59 percent of Swedes are against joining the euro.
The opposition to euro has increased since the referendum. During the referendum in September 56 percent of Swedes voted against joining the euro.'
Britain again among few Dupes to enact EU Arrest Warrant
This item come from Singapore's Straits TimesEU states fail to adopt rule on arrest warrant , which highlights the fact that Britain is one of only four countries within the EU to enact the restrictive legislation on an EU-wide arrest warrant before the year-end deadline. The newspaper article ends with this quote:
A Commission official said: 'A delay is never good news, but we have every reason to feel relieved if it is just a matter of months rather than the catastrophic scenario for which we were getting ready.' -- Financial Times
If something seems a catastrophe for an EU Commission official, then it can only mean freedom and relief for Europe's citizens.... bring it on!
Unsurprising that no thought should be given to British Citizens' legal rights with a Home Secretary who achieved one of the worst ever 'Mastermind' scores, read here and here.
Up to this point it has only been possible to speculate that the New Labour ministers who rule us are amongst the most stupid people in the country.....now we have the clear evidence!
This is just the kind of move designed to be welcomed by the man in the street, impossible to enforce and probably only ever to be put into effect in Britain! A fitting announcement to end a year that has been an unmitigated disaster for the corrupt and crumbling European Union.
If only it were to turn its attention to democratic accountability in the year ahead, instead of more grandoise and unenforceable, impractical schemes!
In compiling a year-end review of the blog the 'Most Horrible Howler' is awarded to Peter Stark of Reuters who had this item published in the Washington Post, which announced that the Swedes had voted for the Euro see Ironies post on 14th September:
Sweden Votes to Adopt Euro
By Peter Starck
Sunday, September 14, 2003; 11:44 AM
STOCKHOLM, Sept 14 -- Swedes voted on Sunday on scrapping the crown to become the 13th member of the euro after opinion polls showed sympathy votes for slain pro-euro Foreign Minister Anna Lindh eroding the "No" side's long-standing lead.
As we stated at the time 'Let's hope in their rush to be first they have got it wrong'.
Following from our post below, this item in the online edition of the Indianapolis Star regarding the US oil firms Occidental, Amerada Hess, Conoco (now Conoco/Phillips) and Marathon highlights other potential difficulties ahead:
'French heavyweight Total. Libya pumps about 1.5 million barrels of crude a day, or 2 percent of world supplies, and is the second-largest producer in Africa behind Nigeria'.
The cancellation of three round trip Paris/Los Angeles flights over the Christmas period is causing renewed angst between the two countries according to this report in this morning's Daily Telegraph titled US in row with France over terror operation
US/Libya Policies in contrast to those of EU towards Syria
This paragraph appeared in a report from the Asia Times filed from Athens on 24th December:-
Outside the Grande Bretagne, Queen Sophia Avenue was decked out with crossed Greek and Syrian flags. Despite the display being standard protocol for any state visit, the sight of the Syrian Ba'ath Party's colors fluttering outside the Greek parliament - just days after another Ba'athist leader, Saddam Hussein, was apprehended in Iraq - caused some perturbed Greeks to raise their eyebrows.
The full report can be read from here. More on the differences in attitudes between The EU's Chris Patten's curious policies and those of the USA can be found in this earlier item from Lebanon's Daily Star.
It is not possible to know exactly where W.T. Stead timeline obtained the inspiration for his far reaching ideas. Possibly from Macauley or leading liberals of the earlier part of the nineteenth century; perhaps we should look even further back to the dreams of Simon de Montfort themselves possibly rooted in the continental horrors of the Albigensian Crusades. The origin is, however, not too important for we can now, with the internet, easily trace where they seem to have led.
In 1880 Stead first used the term “United States of Europe” an electioneering phrase for Gladstone' Liberals. In the 1890's he fully explored his ideas with Rhodes, Milner and others and eventually set them forth in his book 'Europa' which was written in 1899. The driving force for his dreams can possibly best be summarised as 'THE ERADICATION OF THE NATION STATE IN THE CAUSE OF PEACE'. A quote- “ So far, therefore, we have come in our pilgrimage to the United States of Europe, that the power of the sword, which last century was a practical reality in the hands of a hundred potentates, is now practically limited to three persons, without whose permission no gun may be fired in wrath in the whole Continent”
From Carroll Quigley’s The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden, Books In Focus, New York 1981 we can follow Stead’s path to his meeting with Cecil Rhodes Peter Myers Online Analysis:
(Page 35)In 1894 Stead discussed with Rhodes how the secret society would work and wrote about it after Rhodes's death as follows: "We also discussed together various projects for propaganda, the formation of libraries, the creation of lectureships, the dispatch of emissaries on missions of propaganda throughout the Empire, and the steps to be taken to pave the way for the foundation and the acquisition of a newspaper which was to be devoted to the service of the cause."
Much more can be gathered from the link provided to the first rate analysis of Quigley's book by Peter Myers, so few extra quotes are needed here:
(Page 40)we can be certain that six were initiates. These were Rhodes, Lord Rothschild, Johnston, Stead, Brett, and Milner. Of these, Rothschild was largely indifferent and participated in the work of the group only casually.
(Page241)From 1921 onward, the Milner Group and the British government (if the two policies are distinguishable) did all they could to lighten the reparations burden on Germany and to prevent France from using force to collect reparations. The influence of the Milner Group on the government in this field may perhaps be indicated by the identity of the two policies. It might also be pointed out that a member of the Group, Arthur (now Sir Arthur) Salter, was general secretary of the Reparations Commission from 1920 to 1922
In “The Great Deception” Christopher Booker and Richard North, Continuum 2003 Chapter 1 ’The Birth of an Idea’ the links between Arthur Salter and Jean Monnet, (the acknowledged EU driving force) are clearly established. The authors on Pages 16/17 quote from Salter’s 'The United States of Europe” 1931 by Arthur Salter this passage:
‘the commercial and tariff policy of European States is so central and crucial a part of their general policy, the receipts from Customs are so central and substantial a part of their revenues, that a common political authority, deciding for all Europe what tariffs should ber imposed and how they would be distributed, would be for every country almost as important as, or even more important than, the national Governments, and would in effect reduce the latter to the status of municipal authorities.’
Hasn't France appeared to be prepared to do almost anything to woo certain 'rogue states' of recent years....I think so - but here is yet another mistake, highlighted in this report from the BBC Website:
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has called on France to review its proposed ban on overt religious signs, such as headscarves, in schools.
"I hope the French Government, which claims to be avant-garde in liberty, equality and fraternity, will cancel this wrong decision," he said.
He told reporters that banning the headscarf would be "a kind of extreme nationalistic tendency".
French President Jacques Chirac gave his support for the ban last week.
The Parmalat hole is reported to now have reached 7 billion Euros and could still rise to 10 billion as a question mark hangs over 3 billion euros worth of its own bonds it supposedly bought back. The volume of dairy products bought by this company was so large that Italy has requested an exemption of EU state aid restrictions to help its agricultural sector. If not granted they presumably will follow the example of France and Germany with the stability pact and just go ahead anyway. Though Prodi preparing to fight an election against Berlusconi hardly seems likely to refuse. EU Business update can be read here.
A Reuters report, just in, advises that a scanner was used to falsify a bank statement showing a balance of 3.9 billion euros as being in a Cayman Islands Parmalat bank account when it was not. Can't believe it; then use this link or read these quotes:-
One of Europe's biggest ever corporate crises exploded last week when the firm said a document showing 3.95 billion euros (2.78 billion pounds) held by a Cayman Islands unit, Bonlat Financing Corp, had been declared false by Bank of America.....
Italian newspapers said on Tuesday that investigators had established that a scanning machine had been used to falsify Bank of America documents which were then used to convince auditors that it had billions of euros in cash and investments.
The Independent reports Charles Kennedy as being confident a reconsideration of the first past the post electoral system will be undertaken by the Government before the next election. The article can be read from here
The report in the Daily Telegraph linked from here, that France was unaware of the negotiations with Libya over WMD highlights a problem for the EU as a whole and PM Blair in particular.
The potential loss of the experimental fusion reactor from Cadarache to Japan which seemed likely yesterday after a decision was deferred until February would be a massive failure for EU diplomacy. For Tony Blair, who has made Britain's place in Europe a major plank of his adminstrations policy for years, to now be publicly exposed as mistrusting our cross channel neighbour over nine months of delicate negotiations is something of an humiliation, giving his drive to integrate the country ever further into Europe, the appearance of a farce.
This embarassment risks making a mockery of the elaborate arrangements he has planned to celebrate the hundred year anniversary of the Entente Cordiale in 2004. It will be interesting to study how that arrangement is viewed after a year of close analysis of its effects on the past dreadful century!
Parmalat whose shares collapsed today amid talk of billions of Euros (possibly up to ten billion) gone missing is already being referred to as Europe's Enron, see particularly a Leading Article in today's Financial Times which concludes with this long list of questions:-
The ramifications go far beyond Italy, affecting banks and bond-holders in other European countries and the US. Much remains to be established: how Parmalat built an impenetrable web of offshore transactions, how auditors failed to prevent money being drained away, how ratings agencies granted investment status on the basis of poor information and why banks and investors risked money on a company they palpably did not understand. Once the lessons are clear, reform must follow.
One not asked but at the forefront of my mind is what role was played by the single European currency, the Euro. If fraud does indeed play a part was it made easier by the lack of oversight from a local and national central bank and secondly will the entire Eurozone now suffer the backlash. In the past only the lira would have been likely to show the effects!
Apt Quotation Apropos the still alive and 't'icking EU Constitution
From Daniel Webster who said the following regarding the US constitution:
"Good intentions will always be pleaded for any assumption of power. The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."
Needless to say the EU Constitution proposed by disgraced French ex-President Valery Giscard d'Estaing works in the reverse direction!
Hitting back at the comments made recently by Italian PM Berlusconi regarding the disaster that the single currency is clearly proving, Commission President Prodi is reported by EUobserver to have responded as follows:-
"It's about time that these lies are brought to an end", Mr Prodi dryly said, according to La Repubblica. Reacting to Mr Berlusconi's statements, Romano Prodi said the reason the prices have increased only in Italy is due to lack of surveillance in the country.
At last, ECB's worries regarding inflation seem to be founded. Indeed, inflation in the major EMU countries was particularly disappointing during the past year, while the output gap even widened. For instance, the eurozone HCPI was up 2.1% y/y in October. French inflation edged up to 2.3% in November, after 2.2% in October, the highest level since last March. This resilience of headline inflation has resulted, first, from a surge in food and tobacco prices, but also from higher core inflation . In Spain, inflation was up 2.7% in November, after 2.9% in October, mainly due to temporary factors, such as the strong increase in energy prices compared with the same period last year. Though it has narrowed in recent months, inflation differential between Spain and the euro zone remains marked, at 0.7 percentage point in November, versus 1.0 point in Q3 2003 and 1.7points in Q4 2002.
The BBC reports in an item that can be read by clicking here, that Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi has admitted that:-
the euro had "so far produced many negative effects."
These are of course destruction of democratic processes on a pan-european basis, unemployment, recession, huge corruption, institutionalised deceit etc., etc.
The propoganda brainwashing that accompanies the whole disgusting EU project continues apace however, as a phone discussion with a French relative has just revealed, after a long listing of all that country's problems, my suggestion that the Euro might be a contributory factor is met by the response ' but there is now no alternative'. Incroyable
We commend this article In Brussels, they don't have a Plan B from the Sunday Telegraph by Daniel Hannen Conservative MEP for South East England who belongs to a party that belives Britain's future remains with the EU, in spite of his otherwise plainly sensible views, some of which we quote below:
Yet, even in his own terms, Mr Blair has failed. His defence of fiscal sovereignty is 30 years too late: the EU already has a say over VAT, corporate taxation, permissible deficits and how to define tax evasion.
As for foreign affairs, it is worth quoting exactly what Mr Blair has agreed to: "The Union's competence in matters of common foreign and security policy shall cover all areas of foreign policy and all questions relating to the Union's security. Member states shall actively and unreservedly support the Union's common foreign and security policy in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity." If this is a red line, I hate to think of what would constitute a concession.
The constitution will be back, make no mistake - conceivably as early as March. Let us not be caught off guard a second time.
This is an item from this morning's Christopher Booker column in the Sunday Telegraph, linked from here
Neil Herron, the Sunderland-based campaign director of the North-East Against A Regional Assembly, last week presented Stephen Barber, the director of the North-East Assembly, with a special Christmas surprise.
Mr Barber is the man entrusted by John Prescott with ensuring that next year's referendum will record a "yes" vote for the North-East to become the first of England's eight "Euro-regions" outside London with its own elected parliament. But all this year Mr Herron has been a thorn in his flesh, not least through the district auditor's ruling that the North-East Assembly had been misusing local authority funds by campaigning for an elected assembly.
Alarmed that they might become personally liable for this spending, the unelected members of the North-East Assembly - like those of other regional assemblies - were advised to "incorporate" themselves as a limited company.
They have now spent an undisclosed sum of public money making all the preparations necessary to turn themselves into the "North-East Assembly Ltd", and also, for good measure, into "First North-East Ltd". Just one little step they overlooked: when they apply to Companies House they will find both companies already registered to a Mr N Herron of Sunderland.
In what George W Bush has described as a victory for "quiet diplomacy", referring to nine months of Anglo/US negotiations with the ex-rogue state, Bush and Blair jointly announced Libya's renouncement of WMD. Washington Times Report from here.
Final success could possibly have come from Gaddaffi, watching on TV that other dictator, looking like a hobo and being deloused in captivity. There was a period last week when even I had to abandon my obsessive regular TV news checks, unable to witness one more time the torch-lit recesses of Saddam's mouth.
EUBusiness has just filed this report on the Fisheries Deal, from which we quote the last two paragraphs:-
Spanish Fisheries Minister Miguel Arias Canete, whose country appeared to be the big winner of the all-night haggling, was visibly pleased as the ministers emerged into the grey light of Friday morning.
"The result is very satisfactory. We obtained increases on almost all species," he said, adding that the deal "should calm the Spanish fishing industry."
Read of the other countires more reasoned responses to this disaster here
Has Britain got a new Hilary Rodham in the making in the shape of Mrs Blair. First she hits out at Saudi Arabia as reported in Al Jazeera and then its the Pope's turn, as reported in The Daily Telegraphhere.
Details of some of the charges may now be read from this link to Expatica:-
The welter of documents released in Los Angeles included a final settlement agreement between prosecutors and five French parties, including billionaire retail magnate Francois Pinault, a friend of President Jacques Chirac, and his holding company Artemis.
The deal also included a "criminal information" accusing Credit Lyonnais of illegally acquiring Executive Life through a series of front companies and then covering up the operation.
A spokesman for the prosecutor, US Attorney Debra Yang, said that document formed part of the deal under which the bank and the CDR accepted limited criminal responsibility in return for averting a trial that could have cost the bank its precious US banking licence.
This Blog has always suspected this was a Big Deal
The views on the Constitutional failure by the present British Minister for Europe appear today in The GuardianNo smell of a deal .
It was significant that his immediate predecessor the disgraced Keth Vaz who was similarly fanatical over Europe while in office, changed his tune on the eve of the final IGC meeting and joined those calling for a referendum.
Strangely, in view of her recent Fabian pamphlet he chooses to quote his fellow Labour MP Gisela Stuart 'there is no difference between Michael Howard and his predecessors when it comes to outright hostility to Europe' . Good thing too if it proves true!
This article from the Taipei Times gives a good summary of the present situation and outlook of the EU. We particularly liked the accompanying illustration which in our view is worth using the link for all on its own - European constitution out in the cold. The article concludes as follows:
Schroeder and Chirac may hope the financial leverage of the budget talks will force Spain and Poland to sue for peace on voting rights by 2005, but in such a poisoned atmosphere, that seems far from certain.
The Daily Telegraph this morning reports on more Euro-Abuses, this time it is once again the MEP's, who outrageously have apparently voted themselves a huge salary increase while hanging on to their obscene expense allowance system. Read the entire report by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Brussels below:
Euro-MPs get 30pc rise with no loss of perks
Euro-MPs awarded themselves a 30 per cent pay rise yesterday with no loss of their office perks.
Pay for British MEPs is to jump from Â£55,000 to Â£72,000 overnight, severing the link with their Westminster colleagues for the first time.
The new formula harmonises MEP salaries towards the highest level, whether they come from rich or poor countries.
Spain's MEPs will double their salaries. Hungarian or Latvian MEPs will rise into the top tier of Europe's elite when they join the EU next year while their national colleagues must limp along on Â£6,500 and Â£7,600 a year respectively.
Each MEP receives a tax-free Â£108,000 a year for staff expenses - used by almost half the British delegation to pay spouses, children and immediate kin, often doubling the family income.
A further Â£32,000 is wired into their accounts annually for "general expenses". Earmarked for paperclips, stamps, and such, it is in reality an extra bonus since the European Parliament's twin sites in Brussels and Strasbourg already provide free offices and computers.
MEPs also receive an attendance fee of Â£185 a day for showing up. Many amass Â£925 a week extra in cash.
The report in The Independent has the MEP's losing their expenses and points out that the deal is subject to EU Governments' approvals. It also states the UK Conservative MEPs abstained in the vote, Labour and the Lib-Dems backed the new deal. This article is linked from here. The report on the debate from the European Parliament can be read from here.
The Telegraph gives this summary of the Jack Straw Dublin speech that can be read in full from last evenings posting immediately below:-
Mr Straw said the declining level of public approval for the EU was a "welcome reality check" for anyone who thought the focus on EU institutions was a way of getting popular support for the European project.
BRITAIN AND IRELAND: STRONG PARTNERS IN AN EXPANDING EUROPE
In a speech to the Institute of European Affairs, in Dublin, on 16 December 2003, Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw spoke of Ireland's preparation for its sixth EU Presidency: 'Ireland is taking over the Presidency at a truly historic moment for Europe.' Mr Straw said that enlargement would bring great benefits to Britain, Ireland and Europe and described the EU as a union of sovereign nation states who have decided to pool some of that sovereignty to achieve objectives they could not achieve on their own. Speaking of the important tasks ahead for the EU, Mr Straw spoke of a 'core' or 'two speed' Europe and said: 'It is already the reality that there are different groups pursuing deeper cooperation in certain areas. I am convinced that Europe can work at twenty-five, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight. It should be our overriding objective to achieve this.' Speaking of Britain and Ireland, Mr Straw concluded by saying: 'Greater prosperity has made our partnership stronger. We now have the chance to push for economic reform across Europe.'
The EU has published Prodi's reply to a six nation request to cap EU spending at 1.0 rather than 1.24 per cent of GNP. Prodi states among other points:-
If the means attributed to the budget of the Union are not adequate, less will have to be done and some of these goals cannot be fulfilled.
As most if not all the money going to the EU is either wasted or corruptly diverted, the less handed over the better in my view. A 19.35 per cent budget cut is a good first step. Scrapping the lot would be better!
"While technically and legally the Union can function, from a political point of view confidence has been damaged and you can't make European policy without that confidence."
The Scotsman meanwhile reports a more traditional EU type of dispute, this time over butter, where New Zealand is accusing the EU of acting illegally. New Zealand May Challenge EU over Butter Curbs Unnaturally Britain under Blair will no doubt be siding with the Continentals once again!
The Nice Treaty will be what the EU now has to live with for the foreseeable future. Our readers might enjoy refreshing their memories of what that meant when it was hailed as a major victory by President Chirac a short three years ago. This link will take you to the report by The Economist magazine:
Ironically Defence Appears Best First Option for EU Core
This item in this evening's EUobserver dangles the fascinating proposition that defence would be the best area for the putative inner core to first proceed with enhanced cooperation. The Commission is already reported to be getting agitated over this prospect, although as the article makes clear.... Britain 'should' be unlikely to encourage such a course!
French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin told a newspaper he was "revolted" about having to consent to a settlement of the long-running U.S. Executive Life probe, according to this report from Forbes.com.
According to people we speak to in France this pretty well sums up the feelings of your typical French voter. Of course Raffarin's disgust is presumably at the waste of money to keep the full facts quiet, while for the general public the anger is at continuing to be kept in the dark.
Note particularly this statement:-
Raffarin, however, said a $770 million settlement, which also included French bank Credit Lyonnais and billionaire Francois Pinault, was justified in order to avoid a trial.
No wonder that the EU Commission delayed release of the Autumn 2003 Eurobarometer Opinion Poll until after the weekend summit. It opens with the following statement:-
1. An increasingly pessimistic background
1.1 Citizens' expectations for the year 2004
Citizens' expectations are going down a path that is marked by pessimism which increases rather than decreases with time .
Some of the highlights are quoted below. The report can be accessed in pdf format from this link.
(For the summary of results merely print Page 19).
"The gap is closing between those who consider that their country has benefited from its membership in the European Union and those who believe the contrary (46%, -4 against 34%, +5). Those in the latter group have extended their hold in virtually every country, with the exception of Greece, Ireland and Spain. The most worrying trends are those to be seen in the Netherlands (+15), Italy (+13), Belgium (+8), France and Finland (+7 each)."
The UK Results for the UK with changes since the Spring survey in brackets were:-
Trust in Commission 26 (-3)
Membership Good Thing 28 (-2)
Benefit from Membership 30 (-2)
Support for Single Currency 23 (-1)
Support for enlargement 38 (+2)
Support Common Foreign Policy 35 (-2)
Support Common Defence and Security Policy 48 (+1)
Support EU Constitution 48 (-4)
The biigest swings in each category by country and scale were:
Trust in Commission Denmark Down 11
Membership Good Thing Germany Down 13
Benefit from Membership Holland Down 11
Support for Single Currency Italy Down 12
Support for enlargement Luxembourg Down 8
Support Common Foreign Policy Sweden Down 7
Support Common Defence and Security Policy Sweden Down 12
Support EU Constitution Sweden/Portugal Down 6
Most eye-grabbing number for me, just look at that 13 per cent fall off in the number of Germans considering Membership of the EU as a good thing over the past six months. Down 13 to well under half the total at 46 per cent!
Several commentators, including this blog, have tended to assume that Blair's enthusiasm for the provisions and directions of the document drawn up in the Convention led by Valery Giscard d'Estaing were motivated by his possible ambitions to fill the presidential office it envisioned.
The apparent total disregard of his government for the historical democratic rights and individual freedoms of the people of this country, including the gross misrepresentation of the nature of the proposed treaty by his Foreign Secretary and himself to Parliament, left little other logical explanation. Suspecting such duplicity as being solely driven by personal ambition is one thing, but suspicion is what it would normally have to remain when dealing with the inner desires of another man.
Extraordinarily, however, in the statement issued by Number 10 of the press conference delivered by Blair and Straw, following the breakdown of the IGC, we now have more or less concrete evidence in the Prime Minister's own words that such is indeed his ambition.
Among what is mostly incomprehensible double talk, if not at times just plain gobbledegook, is this statement:
I don't think in the near term it is going to be a dramatic problem, but I think as time goes on, unless Europe has a really effective way of working, and I think that means that you need a full time coordinator of these Council meetings, you know you can see with what has happened today and in the past few days, I mean the Italian Presidency has performed heroics, but it is difficult for them, each successor country to take that on, so I think there are areas there where in time it will be extremely important, for Europe to operate effectively, that we have this new agreement.
It could perhaps be argued that the Prime Minister is merely suggesting any competent coordinator or President could fill such a role, but that case for me is weak. To argue a negotiation failed for the lack of something only a successful outcome could deliver is somewhat disingenuous. The point being made also seems to me irrelevant to the question asked, indicating this was the item already at the forefront of Blair's mind. What Blair said boils down in essence to this: 'Europe can't work without a strong leader' Blair as PM sees himself as such. No strong leader envisages himself working for another - Blair must therefore consider himself as the man to lead the EU.
In my view, therefore, to create an EU Presidential Post became Blair's principal objective and the remaining constitutional treaty terms under which the people of Britain and all other nation states in Europe would lose many of their democratic rights became matters of minor importance.
I believe that it is up to the people of Britain who have seen their own institutions of government and political conventions despoiled by this self-driven, but otherwise directionless man, to ensure he is exposed and removed from power before he has further opportunity to coordinate a similar fate for the whole of Europe. Hutton and other looming difficulties happily make this appear an increasingly practical proposition.
Britain, to my mind, certainly cannot afford a resumption of constitutional negotiations while its negotiating team is headed by one who so obviously displays his own personal agenda lies with the 'opposing' side.
The BBC carried a reasoned look at the collapsed IGC in its report EU: Two speeds ahead? by Paul Reynolds.
How would such a two speed Europe, or faster motor as President Chirac described it, or 'inner core' as it has recently been known, have to operate? What common institutions could it utilise and would all have to pay or just the inner group?
The Nice Treaty provisions on 'Enhanced Co-operation' will presumably be what govern and we re-print them below for ease of reference.
1. Enhanced cooperation in any of the areas referred to in this Title shall be aimed at safe-
guarding the values and serving the interests of the Union as a whole by asserting its identity as a coherent force on the international scene. It shall respect:
* the principles, objectives, general guidelines and consistency of the common foreign and security policy and the decisions taken within the framework of that policy;
* the powers of the European Community, and
* consistency between all the Union's policies and its external activities.
2. Articles 11 to 27 and Articles 27b to 28 shall apply to the enhanced cooperation provided for in this Article, save as otherwise provided in Article 27c and Articles 43 to 45.
Enhanced cooperation pursuant to this Title shall relate to implementation of a joint action or a common position. It shall not relate to matters having military or defence implications.
Member States which intend to establish enhanced cooperation between themselves under Article 27b shall address a request to the Council to that effect.
The request shall be forwarded to the Commission and to the European Parliament for information.
The Commission shall give its opinion particularly on whether the enhanced cooperation proposed is consistent with Union policies. Authorisation shall be granted by the Council, acting in accordance with the second and third subparagraphs of Article 23(2) and in compliance with Articles 43 to 45.
Without prejudice to the powers of the Presidency or of the Commission, the Secretary-General of the Council, High Representative for the common foreign and security policy, shall in particular ensure that the European Parliament and all members of the Council are kept fully informed of the implementation of enhanced cooperation in the field of the common foreign and security policy.
Any Member State which wishes to participate in enhanced cooperation established in accordance with Article 27c shall notify its intention to the Council and inform the Commission. The Commission shall give an opinion to the Council within three months of the date of receipt of that notification. Within four months of the date of receipt of that notification, the Council shall take a decision on the request and on such specific arrangements as it may deem necessary. The decision shall be deemed to be taken unless the Council, acting by a qualified majority within the same period, decides to hold it in abeyance; in that case, the Council shall state the reasons for its decision and set a deadline for re-examining it.
For the purposes of this Article, the Council shall act by a qualified majority. The qualified majority shall be defined as the same proportion of the weighted votes and the same proportion of the number of the members of the Council concerned as those laid down in the third subparagraph of Article 23(2).
The following is the agreed voting procedure according to the Nice Treaty that will now prevail for the foreseeable future:-
THE WEIGHTING OF VOTES IN THE COUNCIL
Members of the Council Weighted votes
United Kingdom 29
Czech Republic 12
Acts of the Council shall require for their adoption at least 258 votes in favour, cast by a majority of members, where this Treaty requires them to be adopted on a proposal from the Commission.
In other cases, for their adoption acts of the Council shall require at least 258 votes in favour cast by at least two-thirds of the members.
When a decision is to be adopted by the Council by a qualified majority, a member of the Council mayrequest verification that the Member States constituting the qualified majority represent at least 62 % ofthe total population of the Union. If that condition is shown not to have been met, the decision in question shall not be adopted.
The requirement of 'Nice' for 258 out of 345 total votes is a percentage vote of 74.78 per cent plus 62 per cent of total population . A much higher hurdle than the proposed double majority 60 per cent championed by VGdE, which would have effectively allowed the Commission and small inner core of countries to have become a legislative steamroller.
This is a major defeat for those pushing a corporatist and non-democratic future for the EU. Much comment today has said the failure was on a matter of 'voting' technicalities. We believe the above table disproves that assertion.
This really is turning out to be a weekend to savour. On top of the collapse of the EU Constitutional Council Meeting, we now learn that Saddam Hussein has been captured.
While it is always best to be cautious about events in the Middle East, there must now be much greater cause to hope for the future of the people of Iraq, just as yesterday's events in Brussels inevitably brighten the prospects for all in Europe!
The following quote is from the concluding paragraph of today's Leading Article in 'The Sunday Telegraph':-
"For the Euro-elites, what matters is the process itself. They have almost forgotten the original declared purposes - peace, prosperity and so forth - in their determination to integrate, always and everywhere. They are almost like the apparatchiks of the Eastern bloc in the late 1980s, who had long since stopped believing in the principles of Marxism-Leninism, but who kept going because they did not know what else to do - and who were able to get away with it, too, by ignoring popular opinion. Eventually, the desire for national democracy caught up with them. Sooner or later, it will do for the Euro-elites, too."
One of the best social writers in Britain today, has a tendency in my view to also be one of the most depressing to read. Prison Doctor Theodore Dalrymple often comes upon such sorry specimens of humanity, and not only on his prison visits, that even starting his various columns requires a certain screwing up of courage. I was therefore a little taken aback at the title of his piece this week in The Spectator: Reasons to be cheerful.
The Sunday Telegraph has this as its main item on the failed summit. The article can be read from here. We quote the thrust of the article here:
In private, Jacques Chirac, the French president, blamed Britain for not supporting the Franco-German position. Publicly, he indicated that a hard core or "pioneer group" of states would push ahead with European integration regardless of how the new members of the EU behaved
Anyone listening to the statement by EU President Berlusconi at the Press Conference following the breakdown will have been been totally disabused of the idea that the Constitution represented anything other than full European Federation, certainly from an Italian viewpoint. His description of what had potentially been lost made Jack Straw's protestations to Parliament completely absurd!
Will Germany and France seek to use the ratification process of the Accession Treaty as a lever against the Poles? The link below shows that according to the EU Commission, neither of these two major countries have yet to lodge their ratification of the Treaty:-
That was the assessment of Richard Gowan Europe Analyst interviewed on BBC World this afternoon following the summit's collapse. One thing it proves he said "Donald Rumsfeld knows his Europe".
According to EU Politix "The row was such that other key points, such as the scope of EU decision-making and the role of a European 'foreign minister', never even made it on to the agenda."
German State Broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports: Germany and France have refused to give in on the matter and said they would rather postpone adoption of the entire document until a later date rather than approving pieces of it. Read their coverage in full by clicking here.
Surely all of Europe whether 'Old' or 'New' must by now be getting tired of the constant wrecking tactics of the Franco/German duo. More probably Poland and Spain will receive the public blame!
This Reuters report cofirms the IGC Breakdown and can be read by clicking here.
Leaders are discussing a communique to be issued after lunch, detailing areas where progress was made. It ends as follows:-
Diplomats said negotiations on the constitution treaty -- deadlocked by irreconcilable differences over the voting system -- would be postponed but there was no precise timetable for their resumption.""
Such is the Breaking Headline News from BBC World at this hour. The Poles are reported to be leaving Brussels. This is fantastic news for all the ordinary people of the entire Continent of Europe. More details will be posted when available
Poland and Spain continue to stand firm on their positions over voting rights as covered in the linked reports by EU Business. Indeed Spain declares itself perfectly happy if no further proposals are received, quite rightly being more than happy to maintain the already agreed voting structures through to 2009 as agreed in the Nice Treaty:
"We don't need any proposals. We're very happy with what we've got at the moment, which we have until 2009. If things remain as we are now we are delighted." a Spanish Diplomat is reported as saying.
The arrest in Brussels of three innocent British leaflet distributors (see my posting immediately below) should be all the further proof Europe's Presidents, Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and other leading figures could need of the monstrous non-democratic nature of the institution they are now gathered together to create. If they pause long enough to register the enormity of this incident they should immediately adjourn their meeting and return to their countries while still they may!
The reputed 'Father of Modern Journalism', William Stead, was as far as I can find, the first known creator of the term United States of Europe as long ago as1880.
Nineteen years later he asked this question about the 'Europe' that might one day be created:-
......the germ of the United States of Europe, and to develop the concerted action of six Powers in relation to the question of the East into a Federated Union of all the European States. It may perhaps be well worth while to form some idea of this new organic entity which it is the first object of our foreign policy to create. Are we repeating the crime of Frankenstein, or are we fashioning, like Pygmalion, a beautiful creature into which at the appointed time the gods will breathe the breath of life? In other words, what is this Europe whose United States we are seeking to federate?
The European Union now part formed and under completion in Brussels this weekend, is clearly the Frankenstein of Stead's nightmare, rather than the peaceful benign entity for which he hoped when writing Europa in 1899. More of Stead's book can be read from this link.
The democracies and freedoms of almost five hundred million people lie at stake this weekend!
The fuller report on this incident can be read from this link.
British campaigners arrested
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Three activists from the UK Vote 2004 campaign were arrested by Belgian police and will be deported out of Belgium tomorrow (13 December).
The three men were handing out leaflets from a van at Place Luxembourg near the EU institutions in Brussels where the European heads of states are negotiating the final details of a new European Constitution.
The leaflets were demanding a referendum on the new European Constitution.
The activists were arrested for not having the necessary paperwork to demonstrate in Brussels.
One of the British activists told the EUobserver - from a police car - that he believed an application to demonstrate needs to be lodged with the mayor of Brussels five days in advance of the intended date. This had not been done.
They are to be released this evening and will have to spend the night in Calais before being deported back to Britain tomorrow morning.
A spokesman from Vote 2004 told the EUobserver that Mr Blair had been informed of the incident.
Neil O Brien, the campaign director, said, "This is disgraceful. All we are asking for is a right to have a say and they are trying to stifle our right to free speech with hardball tactics".
We have chosen this link to a Norther Ireland News Source to bring Blair's Lies on the defence agreement to readers of this blog. Northern Ireland is used to the double-dealing deceitfulness of this British Prime Minister and the despair that follows in its wake!
Rather than quote the Prime Minister who has lost any ability to recognise the truth, we pick these quotes:
the Tory Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Ancram was quick to dismiss the agreement as a "sell out".
“The agreement on an autonomous planning cell for a European military capability is a dangerous step along the road to a single European state," he said.
“The Prime Minister has sold out to those in Europe who wish to undermine Nato and rival the United States. This agreement is yet another reason why this Constitution should be stopped in its tracks or the British people should be allowed to have their say in a Referendum.”
It is now more important than ever that this agreement never be enacted!
According to this report, just in from the Italian Press Agency: 'AGI' EU President Berlusconi is depending on a majority vote to solve the differences in a forum that requires unanimity. We quote:-
EU IGC: BERLUSCONI, NO PROMISES BUT THERE IS A POSSIBILITY
(AGI) - Brussels, Dec. 12 - Shortly before the opening of the general meeting of the EU summit on the Intergovernmental Conference Silvio Berlusconi did not make any promises about the outcome of the negotiations. "I am not making any promises , I never did", he said on his way back to the Justus Lipsius Palce after some bilateral meetings in the Conrad Hotel. "We verified the single positions", he continued, "there is a certain opening to the positions of the others, now we will see". "I reckon - added the premier - that everybody thinks that we are moving forwards and that in the end we will vote on the final solution". Berlusconi believes that "everybody is willing to look for a compromise that should be a compromise that leads to a Europe that will work and that can take decisions". (AGI)
Washington Times Devastatingly Summarises EU Hypocrisy
Delphine Soulas and David R. Sands writing for the Washington Times amplify the underlying duplicity behind the attempts to change the Nice voting procedures that this blog has tried to convey in some previous postings. Read the full article from the link below:
Italy hopes Blair, who has close ties to the Spanish and Polish leaders, might help to pressure the two countries to compromise in return for acceptance of Britain's "red lines" of keeping a national veto on tax, foreign and justice policy.
Such are the dirty, double-dealings that the EU represents. If an agreement is reached, only one thing is certain: The people of europe are the losers!
EU Business reports that the brochure prepared by the popular British tabloid is freely available in Brussels.....and obviously causing something of a stir. They particularly seemed to like this particular translation of Eurospeak:
Thus, for example, "The Union shall provide itself with the means necessary to attain its objectives" becomes, in Sun-talk, "The EU can tax and raise money for its bureaucracy, limos, lunches and jobs for the boys".
On another issue, the leaders also agreed to consider lifting the arms embargo imposed on China after Beijing's bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square.
The European Union has repeatedly called on China to improve its human rights policies.
Surely all regular 'Ironies' readers knew that the headline of this post could not have been on anything significant!
Note 'they' only agreed to consider a matter that ceased to be of interest to the rest of the world some considerable time ago. Are the EU member countries not represented on the IOC that awarded the Olympics to Beijing???....Eurodynamism at work....just wait until we have two Presidents and multi-role QVM Foreign Ministers!
This report in English from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung illustrates that Germany seems to be entering the final Constitutional meeting with no plans of their compromising whatsoever. The biggest problem, described by the Presidency as 'the rock on which the treaty might founder', is the fact that three years ago the German Chancellor freely agreed to having the same votes in the European Council as France. He also agreed to Spain and Poland having a mere TWO wieghted votes less.
Unbelievably the German electorate decided to reconfirm this Chancellor in his position for another term of office, well after this incompetence was known and accepted across Europe. The referenda and decisions to enter the EU by the ten new countries were taken on the basis of the Nice Agreement. The position now being taken by Germany to renege on this agreement, and the backing it is receiving from many of the existing EU members is quite deplorable.
Any backdown by Spain and Portugal will be abhorrent to the thinking citizens of Europe, and be just one further disaster to be laid at the door of the present Franco/German duopoly.
One would have considered the destruction of the Growth and Stability Pact would have been error enough! Rather than re-consider, repent or recant - I have just heard on the BBC 6 o'clock Radio 4 Evening News President Chirac saying "Our Spanish and Polish friends must accept democracy....." in French indeed and therefore quite incroyable!
Dutch Prepared to Scupper Summit for Stability Pact?
A report from Radio Netherlands, title "Daggers Drawn at EU Summit" which can be read in full from here, reports that :
The Dutch delegation is now pressing for guarantees to be included in the constitution to ensure that countries will comply with agreed budget rules in the future.
The Italian presidency presented a compromise to solve the matter, but the Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende on Thursday rejected the proposal as insufficient. Both the Dutch government and parliament insist that the Stability Pact rules have to be taken seriously and therefore must be implemented, he said.
Rumours have it that the Dutch Prime Minister is prepared for a tough fight with Germany and might even call for the whole summit to be postponed until next year if no agreement is reached on the Stability Pact.
A Reuters report filed on the opening of the summit and describing the meeting as being plunged into gloom, states that Germany has rejected this Dutch approach:-
But Germany and the Netherlands squared up for a fight over budget rules, with Berlin rejecting a Dutch proposal for enforcement of the regime in the European Court of Justice.
"It's a very important issue and we want to have a result," Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende told reporters.