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...........................................................and the euro falls ( see reports beneath this). This is not good at all.
Surely intervention in Iraq was designed to provide stable oil prices? They are now so high and sustained at such levels for so long that only a lengthy economic recession seems likely to restore reason to the markets!
Centre and South of Italy reportedly also want return of the Lira
While the call to scrap the Euro in Italy has been portrayed as confined to the Northern part of the country, this report just in from AGI, linked here, seems to indicate that the demand is becoming nation-wide. Not surprising really whennlooking at the inward investment figures for France and Germany quoted in the posting beneath this. I quote the AGI report:
EURO: CALDEROLI, CENTRE AND SOUTH OF ITALY WANT LIRA BACK
(AGI) - Reggio Calabria, June 25- The Minister of Reforms Roberto Calderoli, confirmed that Lega favoured the reintroduction of the Lira. During the meeting with the leader of Civil Rights movement, Franco Corbelli in Reggio Calabria, Calderoli discussed the possibility of a referendum on euro-lira co-existence and explained that the centre and the south of Italy would like to have the Lira reintroduced. "It is evident that the less developed areas suffer much more" commented Calderoli, who then explained his point of view. " Euro should be used for public and private interest rates, foreign trade and tourism, while a new coin or the old Lira should serve for home exchanges and in order to guarantee purchasing power of our citizens without inflation".(AGI) -
Links on the Euro Crisis - Want more background then click here or indeed here!.
The following is from a report in EUobserver linked from here:
Foreign investment in France and Germany, the two largest economies of the European continent, fell sharply in 2004, according to figures released yesterday (23 June) by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris.
In France, inward investment almost halved last year, falling from $43bn to $24 bn.
In the case of Germany, foreign investors actually withdrew about $39bn from the country, reversing the inflow of $27bn recorded in 2003, the OECD said in the report "Trends and recent developments in foreign direct investment".
On the other side of the Channel, foreign direct inflows into the UK more than tripled, coming up to $78.5bn in 2004, according to the report.
Mandelson joins attack on farm subsidies In my first post of today I advised that statements from the man known as'the prince of darkness 'in the UK would be worth watching for clues as to future developments in the EU crisis and Blair's developing and in my view dangerous strategy.
I would never have expected to have been proved so rapidly correct, but this Guardian report, linked here, issued at 1315 London time proves me right possibly within minutes rather than hours of my prediction.
Has Peter Mandelson, generally acknowledged to have been the mastermind behind Blair's New Labour election winning strategy, now been planted by his mentor (or perhaps marionette?) at the heart of the EU to repeat the performance but on a larger scale?
A BBC report on press coverage among some of the new entrant countries shows Blair is gathering support, the item may be read from here.
More surprisingly the editorial in France's Le Monde is also mainly supportive of the argument put forth by Blair, with the print edition carrying a long and detailed analysis on the costs of the CAP with detailed illustrations. The democratic deficit and defining the logical borders of the EU are also topics for first rate coverage in that French newspaper today.
Considerations of democracy and where the borders of power should sensibly lie have never been matters of concern to the present British Prime Minister. Tony Blair has at a bound been freed from all concerns regarding the EU in domestic British politics since the recent referenda in France and the Netherlands. How will he use that freedom and a final, possibly five year term at the head of the UK government, to further his future plans in Europe? Democracy has not figured much as a word in his recent pronouncements - take that as a clue!
Blair's EU actions more significant and dangerous than his words.
The mainstream media has taken the message it wants from Blair's address to the EU Parliament. The Daily Telegraph, linked here, likening it to Thatcher's Bruges speech while The Guardian in a piece by Jonathan Freedland linked here, chooses to emphasise the opposite side with quotes such as this:
"I believe in Europe as a political project."
As always, Blair has no difficulty in apparently earnestly avowing conradictory if not directly opposing philosophies or set of beliefs in one single speech. Tony Blair, as Northern Ireland most clearly demonstrates triangulates only with one objective - his own personal advantage. The significant event of yesterday, therefore, was what he did and not what he said.
As reported in our posting here yesterday, Blair embarked on a direct appeal to German voters over the head of Gerhard Schroeder with an interview in the mass circulation newspaper "Bild".
Most media talk and comment in Germany at present concerns the likliehood of a September general election, which apparently is to be curiously manipulated by Schroeder himself arranging to fail a vote of no confidence.
Blair with complete and typical disregard for the lessons of history has ignored convention by throwing himself into the centre of that debate and thus made himself a part of the German election campaign.
It is impossible to believe this was not done without malice aforethought. Blair is seemingly a man with nowhere to go but clearly would wish to avoid the fate of his former friend Bill Clinton whose aimless wanderings are indeed a pretty pitiful sight.
This blog has long believed that the only major change to the EU Constitutional Treaty that might eventually get signed will be a nod in the direction of democracy by making the Presidency an elected office. A perfect office for the authoritarian and provenly anti-democratic British Prime Minister. (Watch Mandelson's statements and actions in Brussels)
Figures often quoted for Brussels legislation versus National lawmaking nowadays put the former at a level of beteen sixty and seventy per cent of the total. Is this then sufficient excuse for the longstanding convention of political leaders to not interfere in the national elections of allied countries to be now thrust aside. Tony Blair has clearly decided that it is, he is embarked on a dangerous course.
Since German reunification, the German electorate has co-incidentally been granted a disproportionate control over the direction of the EU. The temptation for other nations to influence the outcome of their election debates was always likely to arise. The extremely ambitious and egoistical Tony Blair has apparently been unable to resist taking that course, whether as an act of revenge over the events during the Council meeting of last week or with a longer term personal objective cannot yet be known, neither can the consequences
A civil war in an expanded EU of some thirty odd member states in earlier times would be classed as a pan-euopean conflagration if not a World War or quickly likely to become one.
The conspiratorial means chosen by Jean Monnet and his followers to achieve a united europe, always tended to make a peaceful and amicable end to the non-democratic project seem unlikely. Blair's actions of yesterday make the demise of the present EU, clearly indicated in the French and Dutch referendum results, now far more likely to be acrimonious if not downright dangerous.
Heralding the EU as the cause of Europe's half-century of peace as Tony Blair did yesterday, has always been entirely false and unsustainable. In my opinion, Blair's actions of yesterday have helped move the EU from a neutral stance vis a vis peace to one where it is now conceivable that it could become a threat to the continent's security.
The quotes below are from an item that may be read in full from this link.
.....to Juncker's critics, the Luxembourg presidency has proved that running a principality of nearly half a million is one thing, but running a Union of almost half a billion people is quite another. They point to the March summit of EU leaders that effectively decided to rip up the eurozone's fiscal rulebook, water down an ambitious plan targeted at boosting jobs and growth in Europe and gut a draft law aimed at opening up the club's services sector. They criticize the role Juncker played ahead of the French and Dutch referendums on the EU constitution, when he warned of catastrophe in the event of a "no" vote and let slip that Union leaders had a "plan B" waiting if the electorate rejected the treaty, which they ultimately did. And they question the series of judgments he made in the aftermath of the French and Dutch votes. Just hours after the result was announced in Paris, the Luxembourg premier, together with the head of the European commission and parliament, made a passionate plea for the ratification process to carry on. On Thursday, as it became clear there was little support for this approach among EU leaders, he made a dramatic U-turn, agreeing to a "cooling off" period and calling for a time of "debate, reflection and explanation." Despite this, lawmakers from the EU's second-smallest state Monday agreed the July 10 vote on the constitution should take place as planned. This decision could ultimately prove Juncker's downfall as the veteran premier has pledged to resign if Luxembourg, which houses many of the EU's headquarters, rejects the constitution. A month ago, such a scenario would have been unthinkable, but latest polls show the "no" camp gaining rapidly on "yes" voters, with only eight percentage points separating them.
The danger in all this (it seems to me), is that if international criticism of Juncker (albeit clearly well deserved), particularly of the UK tabloid variety becomes sufficiently intense........then the voters of the Grand Duchy might feel compelled to rally round their countryman and vote as he wishes.
Just how unpopular is this man at home?
From the vote in his own parliament it would appear the majority there at least wish to see him get a bloody nose and stage an early departure, but what of the broader electorate .....?
The economic situation and arguments seem to me to hold the key.
Interesting times indeed, unless like Chirac, Schroeder and the EUReferendum blog (linked here) you are among the few in Europe who believe that everything is just as before!
The rise of the Euro over the past three years from around 87 cents to $1.36 has done much to shield EU economies and consumers from the impact of ever climbing oil prices which today look set to break through the previous $60.00 a barrel ceiling.
As the value of the Euro cointinues to decline due to the contradictions implicit within the single currency, the inability to implement sensible reforms within the main EU economies and the ever more obvious complete incompetence of the Continent's present crop of leaders the real impact of these ridiculous oil prices will now quickly begin to bite causing yet more difficulties and potential conflicts.
The ECB has left interest rates unchanged for two years while the eurozone stagnates and continually declines.... Was any of that mentioned at the Brussels summit last week???????
EU Business had a report dated 10th June indicating the NO side were gaining based on economic concerns. Things got far worse today with the French Finance Minister dropping his forecasts for national growth, while the major unions were about their usual business. France was living beyond its means and the French must work longer and harder was the headlines news in the evening TV bulletins. This will not make the Luxembourg yes vote any stronger if this report from EU Business is to be believed, read it from here.
Where might the small population of Luxembourg look for inspiration.... Switzerland is often the country they select for such comparisons - another EU Business report indicating only thirty percent of that prosperous and independent nation's population would vote to join the EU (linked here) might also have some affect on the referendum outcome. See also this startling report linked here.
Anger at the reaction of the EU Leaders to the French and Dutch results might provide a bigger spur, this comment by Thomas Rupp, linked here, that appeared in EUobserver sums that up very well.
Reform of the EU can soon begin, but more democratic shocks to the national leaders must be quickly delivered.
The voters of Luxembourg have now been presented with a heavy responsibility!
Phillipe de Villiers interview in today's Le Figaro
The after shocks of the French NON continue to reverbate across France as may be read from these excerpts.
The interview in French may be read from this link. The free translation from Free2Professional translation service (linked here) on the net is as follows:
FIGARO. – THE FAILURE of the Brussels summit proves that there was not plan B, in contrast to this that hammered the opponents of the European treaty during the campagne?
Philippe of VILLIERS. – I never spoke of plan B, because I never advocated a renégociation of this Constitution. I evoked a plan B as common sense, c'est-à-dire the refusal of a supranational Constitution, and the instauration again principles base on the respect of the national sovereignties and the free cooperation, c'est-à-dire europe of the peoples.
The failure of this summit was it predictable?
Of course since this summit met the coalition of the yes. We attended the failure of the summit of the yes. A summit that said three times yes: it decided, in a surrealist way, to continue the process of ratification to the slowed down, while it would have been necessary to note that the Constitution was dead to set off again on again bases. The summit said yes to the opening of negotiations with October 3 next Turkey. The summit, at last, spoiled the historic occasion of all thorough review while saying yes to an Europe that protects us more and more poorly and that costs to us more and more dear.
The victory of the no to the referendum weakens a lot Jacques Chirac to the European plan. That of which person cannot gladden herself...
This that one notes, this is that the president is ridiculous, and the political class discredited. She continues to confine itself in a refusal to hear the French people, that claims the necessary rapatriement of the strength to Paris. ......
Which are your projects for the MPF?
I want to give to the MPF of the vigor for that it embodies the force of the no and exercises a vigilance mission on the three big questions that put themselves after the earthquake of the no. Where will be tomorrow the strength: to Paris, to Brussels, to Frankfurt? Europe to 25 being dead, can one to establish a community preference to variable geometry that protects the European products? How carry a stop blow to the Islamic communautarisme that installs itself in France?
On the latter not at all, that did you think about the elections to the French Counsel of the Muslim worship (CFCM)?
The CFCM now became a parallel public power to the heart of the state, with two characteristics: a vocation politico-religieuse in contrast to all our secularity principles, and an instance under foreign directly linked influence to the consulates of algeria, Morocco, Turkey and mouvances fondamentalistes of the Middle East. While creating the CFCM, our leaders installed in France the communautarisme, in contrast to our traditional and republican vision of unity base on citizenship. I claim the dissolution of this instance, and his replacement by a certified charter in which the creation of mosques would be subjected to three conditions: not any foreign financing, recognition of equality women men and refusals of the polygamie, recognition of secularity.
Will you be candidate to the presidential election of 2007?
If the questions that I put are not reaches in an explicit way in the political debate as early as 2006, I not at all exclude to carry them myself in 2007.
Continuing budget dispute is not the best British Presidency priority!
The Times today reports ( click here)that Tony Blair plans to confront Chirac by proposing early reform of the CAP in return for scrapping the rebate. The French Ambassador has also been prolonging the split by appearing on both ITV news last night and being interviewed on the Today programme this morning.
Chirac could be made vulnerable in the manner reported in the paper but is that the best strategy? Weakened at home he might now prefer a gloves off fight in defence of the French rural idyll rather than face up to the disaster the EU has now become, thanks in large part to his own policies not least the brutal disregard by France and Germany for the provisions of the Growth and Stability pact.
The Luxembourg referendum will now become a key factor in refocussing all of Europe's leaders onto the real problems. The budget is one such but of minor importance. The initiative put forward by Blair might save some face with the ten new-entrant countries in particular the Poles, but the real DEBATE and focus of the the various urgent review groups that should be put to work during the British Presidency are of course elsewhere.
To my surprise the tiny Duchy of 460,000 voters, wealthy beyond most people's dreams, mainly as a result of hosting EU institutions, has now announced it will proceed with their planned constitutional referendum. The Reuters report may be read from here, the relevant section is as follows:
Despite a summit decision to extend the deadline for ratification of the constitution from November 2006 to mid-2007 at the earliest, EU president Luxembourg decided to go ahead with its own referendum on July 10.
The decision by parliamentary leaders in the Grand Duchy is risky for Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU's longest-serving leader, who has threatened to resign if the treaty is rejected.
It seems too much to believe that another NO might be delivered, but it would certainly help to ram the message of dismay at the total disregard for the French and Dutch vote at last week's summit well and truly home to the apparently blind, deaf and ever more incompetent leaders of the EU's nation states.
Juncker's statement that he did not believe the constitution had been rejected in the earlier two referendum votes makes his resignation threat (offer) just too tempting to resist I would have thought!
Blair defended his actions in Parliament this afternoon, the report from the Guardian is linked from here.
In France meantime the framer of the EU Constitution (VGdE) has put the blame for the present crisis squarely on the French NON, the report may be read from this link to Ireland On Line linked here.
Now the proper EU debate can begin - the International Herald Tribune leads the way
Two items from tomorrow's IHT may be now be read its piercing 'News Analysis' on the economics of the disputefrom here and its damning Editorial on the lamentable leadership of the block from here
These articles are infinitely preferable to the continuation of insult flinging and innuendo as presently being continued by a French government member as reported by EU Politix linked here.
Germany's Deutsche Welle seems to similarly have nothing constructive to suggest other than that a look beyond the British EU Presidency by leading its website today with a strange piece from the Austrian Chancellor, linked here.
A more independent view of the crisis from the tiny island of democracy lying at the coporatist EU's heart, published by Swissinfo, may be read from here.
Matthew d'Ancona's Sunday Telegraph article today, linked here, is highly recommended. It concludes as follows:
Last week's dramas showcased the fierce human conflict of the main players on the European stage - Blair, Schröder, Chirac - all of whom, for different reasons, are approaching their final bow. It was good political theatre. But the crisis that lurked beneath the shrill deliberations of the summiteers is much deeper than a row over money, voting procedures, and enlargement.
The French and Dutch referendums ought to have been a wake-up call to the EU political elite. But the shambles in Brussels last week suggested that, far from waking up, the members of that elite have mostly pressed the snooze button, rolled over, and resumed their suicidal slumber.
The Simon Jenkins column in the Sunday Times titled 'Europe gives Blair his chance to pull the levers of history' is also worth a read and is linked here.
Apart from his disputable implication that he is one of those who have laboured hard for the eurosceptic cause, which I find more than curious recalling much he has written and said implying the opposite down the years (but perhaps euroscepticism is now to become de rigeure in those circles ) his article, as so often nevertheless makes many sound points, not least in its concluding paragraphs quoted here:
Previous Euro rows have been within the existing treaty framework. This one is not. After last week there is a clear requirement for a new European treaty that does not “build on” Nice or Maastricht but goes back to basics.
It respects the political diversity of nations within and outside the present EU, thus embracing Norway, Turkey and Switzerland. It must reflect Europe’s variable web of cultures and currencies, confederations and border controls. Europe’s people have spoken. They may sacrifice autonomy in the cause of open markets and free trade, but only so far. They do not want a united Europe or an imperial bureaucracy. If I were Blair I would suggest a new headquarters located in Geneva or Prague or Vienna, anywhere but Brussels.
The task is Herculean. Two hundred years ago William Pitt gloomily rolled away the map of Europe for as long as Napoleon was on the loose. At Waterloo 10 years later it was unrolled. Today it is unrolled again, and briefly laid at Tony Blair’s feet. His legacy is what he does next.
Leading eurosceptic Christopher Booker on the other hand seems to have missed the full implications and great opportunities of the new crisis, his column's comments on that topic "The death of Europe has been much exagerated" (not even being the lead item) may be read from here.
Mission accomplished for this blog I believe. I will drink the health of all democrats and now take a break. Thanks to my regular readers - was it the internet "wot dunnit"....... probably not, but it certainly helped and the enemies of democracy must now surely learn that ' the web' and the freedom of information it supplies .... can no longer be ignored!
Chaos engulfs the EU over the Constitutional Treaty
Some national leaders call off their referenda, others plan to continue ratification. A pause for reflection is cited by some but for how long and to what purpose remains unclear. A BBC News report at midday in London reports the confusion extending from last night's meeting into today's budget session with Jaques Chirac being quoted as stating a freeze to Britain's rebate would be insufficient while such an offer has yet to be even made.
Latest internet reports BBC News from here Times Online from here and Bloomberg here. The Times item concludes as follows:
In the meantime, the real problems of Europe — the stagnant economy, the loss of democratic legitimacy, the institutional paralysis — go unattended, unresolved. After all, the purpose of political theatre is entertainment and distraction.
President of MPF calls for French Referendum on the Euro!
The french paper Le Figaro reported this morning that Philippe de Villiers, one of the main leaders of the successful NON campaign in the recent constitutional referendum, has now called for a referendum in France after the summer holidays on the Euro.
My rough translation of his demands is as follows " The only country where the debate (on the euro) is still blocked is France. To remove that blockage, I propose the only democratic solution is a referendum on the continuation of the euro"
The report concludes with a report that an opinion poll by Ifop shows that 61 per cent of french people say that they miss "regretter" (be sorry for) the Franc.
EU drive to raise its own revenues continues apace
In typically shameful manner and total disregard of the two recent referenda results demonstrating the citizen's will for less EU, the commission today approved a paper designed to tax airline ticket sales. The report may be read from this link to Forbes.
British concession on EU rebate (see earlier report below) now put at 840 million euros a year.... with no sign of similar concessions from other countries. Read the latest report from San Diego linked here. A quote:
A British official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said his government might agree to exempt the EU's poorer eastern European nations from contributing to the rebate. The official said the concession would amount to about $840 million a year.
Continuing EU Constitutional ratification looks increasingly absurd.
At the present pace there would seem to be only two people left in the EU who believe it sensible to continue the ratifiaction process by tonight's summit meeting to discuss the matter, they of course being Schroeder and Chirac.
Portugal has halted the process, read here, and Denmark looks likely to follow suit with polls now showingb the NO vote leading those in favour by 41 to 32 per cent, the Forbes report is linked from here.
In Ireland the NO vote also now lead in the polls, while in the UK of course the No vote were always assured a victory.
Were more than five countries to fail to ratify the Constitution then it would be completely dead even within its own terms. The Franco/German leadership axis will therefore shortly switch tack.... watch this space!
Blair reported ready to give up part of the EU rebate
In a report that seems to confirm recent rumours of Tony Blair's inadequacies in hard negotiations, Business Week has a report (linked here) that the British PM is prepared to give up some seven hundred million euros a year of the British rebate, AND this before the EU summit meeting has even begun and without the slightest sign of any budget concession from any other country.
This report is even harder to understand when reading today's normally rightist and Chirac supporting newspaper Le Figaro, (linked here) where article after article makes the British case with startling clarity and the damning table of EU contributions (previously published in the Daily Telegraph and linked from this blog earlier this week). Even the french paper's editorial makes clear the British rebate is not now the problem for Europe.
The respected British broadsheet has in its leading article today, finally and openly come out in support of the kind of EU constantly championed from this blog. Furthermore the Conservative Foreign Affairs spokesman Dr Liam Fox has also openly supported the almost exact concept put forward on these pages only yesterday. Some quotes from the editorial, linked from here, follow:
"Today's meeting of European leaders is potentially the most momentous summit in the history of the European Union, if not of its predecessors, the EC and the EEC. We are witnessing the natural demise of the process of "ever closer union" that began in 1957 with the Treaty of Rome.....
As we have argued in recent weeks, the death of the constitution can be exaggerated: European leaders are used to ignoring the will of their peoples, and are, even now, attempting to resurrect its component details without a formal treaty. It would be a tragedy - not least for the unemployed of Germany and France - if the response to public defeat were to be a private stitch-up between the fading stars in the Chancellery and the Elysée.
The second course is as thrilling as the first is depressing. For many years the integrationists have made the intellectual running in the European debate - not because they had the best argument, but because they had a clear sense of where they wanted to go, and the language of "progressive" historical inevitability to support them. Eurosceptics, by contrast, have relied on an instinctive belief in the natural legitimacy of the nation state; they have had little sense of a future destination towards which their efforts are bending, and they have lacked a moral vision with which to inspire voters......"
The editorial concludes:
"The 20th century, which saw the construction and then the dissolution of the Soviet and Yugoslav federations, will also be remembered for a doomed project of pan-national unification at the other end of Europe. For this century, Dr Fox has thrown down a challenge to all British politicians to start another, better project."
The coming EU meeting looks like ending in deadlock over the question of finances.
Quite right too. The present arrangements do not deserve to continue, let alone be financed at present or even higher levels.
A new EU is needed. One that has no power to legislate beyond its founding treaty. One without the trappings of a parliament or common currency. Possibly with an organising structure along the lines of an inner permanent council with appropriate vetoes and a larger general assembly of the constituent member country's elected legislators. There is plenty of scope and many better minds than mine that can address the complex issues involved. All must now see, however, that the present arrangements are broken beyond repair.
France has had several Republics and most will well know that Germany had more than one Reich. There should therefore be no philosophical difficulty with an EU Mark II. Fear of failure and then having nowhere to go will provide the biggest obstacle - doing nothing at this critical stage seems far more likely to provide the ultimate EU wrecking strategy.
Today's serious newspapers have all the evidence needed as to why this drastic step is now required. The time for reflection is past!
Blair storms France's main TV Evening News - in French
If President Chirac was tuned in to the normally government 'inclined' TF1 main news broadcast this evening I imagine he would have been somewhat amazed at the interview performance Britain's PM turned in with France's number one news anchor PPDA.
In much improved french Blair put across the case for reform of the CAP and the fact that Brtitain pays two and half times more to the EU than France or Italy with calm and conviction.
Was this a reaction to there having been no joint news conference after this afternoon's meeting, or is more independence in French TV news reporting yet one more welcome result of the French government's defeat in the referendum?
Blair described his meeting with Jaques Chirac as amicable in spite of the clear area of disagreement at his British Embassy press conference in Paris this afternoon. President Chirac is maintaining his silence of recent days.
Earlier today German State broadcaster Deutsche Welle led its website with this critical report titled "EU's Billions flow to familiar shores" (click here to read in full), on the EU's wasteful agricultural policy.
As Blair stated today - can there be any real reform of the EU while that misguided and profligate policy remains in place? - and are the German's (with an election now looming and the clear realisation that had they offered their voters a referendum the result would undoubtedly have been the same as that in France and Holland) now preparing to veer towards a wholesale reappraisal of the EU and bury the dreadful constitution and the CAP in the process?
This report is from the Daily Telegraph, other links confirming the inevitable and protracted death throes of this deeply undemocratic and thoroughly objectionable document will be posted during the day.
A real victory for all in Europe who believe in Karl Popper's definitions of democracy and tyranny, and any with even the remotest grasp of the importance of indivdual responsibilities and personal liberties.
BBC News has further explanation in rapidly moving polls against the constitutional treaty, linked here,
Elsewhere, even opinion in Luxembourg, which has the next referendum scheduled in July, is rumoured to be turning against extension of the non-democratic and increasingly totalitarian super-state..... something that only last week I would never have believed, given the huge economic, judicial and egotistical benefits that tiny Duchy gains from the monstrous creation the EU has now become. (Just look at the PM of that tiny state strutting across our TV screens as EU President when the French and Dutch 'two finger' verdicts on the 'Grand Plan' were eventually announced).
The following is a quote from the most recent FX report from the markets, also linked from here:
"...the market is so afraid of the possibility of EU break up that it continues to dump euros at any opportunity. It is difficult to see what will turn this negative psychology around. Perhaps Tony Blair’s calming stewardship of the EU Presidency due to start in July will stabilize the market."
Blair shuns joint Press Conference with Chirac - Telegraph
For the report and more on the present irrelevant EU spat where Jack Straw has referred to the French President as deluded, follow this link.
Read the same newspaper's Leading Article , from here, where the budget row is correctly identified as an irrelevance, which even the voters in France seem to recognise from what I can gather, increasingly viewing their President and his new stooge PM with what amounts to almost complete contempt. I quote merely the conclusion, all is worth the read for the implications of the obvious facts stated are really quite frightening:
Instead of scrapping over the budget, EU leaders ought to be seeking to address their voters' concerns. During the recent referendums Yes campaigners argued that a No vote would be a rejection, not simply of the constitution, but of the entire European project. Let them now stand by their own logic.
If the peoples of Europe have indeed voted against closer integration, let their leaders repatriate powers to the national capitals - starting with those parts of the constitution that they have already implemented. There is no point in holding referendums if we do not respect their verdict.
Britain's PM in waiting lays out EU Budget strategy
As Blair flies off to Moscow and Foreign Secretary Straw arrives in Luxembourg, Gordon Brown has drawn the lines in the sand for this week's crucial meetings. The reports from Reuters are linked from here and here
Meantime an alarming report that one way out of the coming budget impasse might be to grant the corrupt, non-democratic and profligate EU powers to raise its own revenues are being widely circulated - a report on which may be read from this link to the New Alliance website.
How CAP expenditure beyond 2007 was actually 'Stitched Up"
A few links to remind those who have forgotten how the deal that President Chirac is now 'not prepared to reconsider' was actually driven through, principally against an unprepared, naive, gutless, unsuspecting and then totally incompetent British PM:
The reality of the Schroeder/Chirac deal stitched up in Brussels was summarised by the British National Farmers Union in a briefing paper, linked here, as follows:
The budgetary cost of EU enlargement
The Commission has estimated that the budgetary cost of fully including the new Member States in the CAP on the same terms as the current EU countries will require approximately 6 billion euros a year, excluding rural development measures. This should be compared with the approximately 38 billion euros that the EU spent on the same kind of payments for the existing Member States in 2001.
In October 2002, the EU agreed on the financial ceiling for CAP expenditure for the period 2007-2013. The ceiling increases by 1% a year, and this increase is by and large enough to cover the agricultural expenditure in the new Member States as these are phased in to the CAP. Therefore, the cost of the enlargement of the EU does not per se affect the budget available for agricultural spending in the present EU countries. However, given that the cost of enlargement takes up the entire increase in the expenditure ceiling over the period of 2007-2013, there will not be much room left for any new agricultural reforms. This is particularly critical for the future reforms of the milk and sugar regime, where a reduction in price support is to be compensated by income support payments, implying much higher EU budgetary costs for these regimes.
The bold emphasis was added by me!
Note also from the final link how access to the farmer's gravy train will only be slowly brought in - highlighting the hypocrisy of Chirac/Schroeder now claiming it is the poorer newly joining countries' interests they are now trying to protect:
For direct payments, a 10-year phasing-in period will still apply as standard. During this period, farmers in the new Member States will receive direct aids at a reduced but gradually increasing rate compared with that received by farmers in the present EU countries, starting at 25% of the level applicable to the present EU Member States in 2004 and increasing as illustrated in the table below: 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 25% 30% 35% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% The CAP should be scrapped!
Can Brown force Blair to make EU budget row consider the important issue of 'EU waste and corruption'? and Britain's excessive share of the resulting costs
The Daily Telegraph this morning reports an apparent and long awaited change in Britain's EU budget negotiating tactics linked from here.
At last the government publishes some facts on the disproportionate share of the costs of the thoroughly rotten and useless bureaucratic super state in its graphic linked here or available from the report as well as these previously well known but previously governmentally unacknowledged facts:
"We transfer money to the EU every two weeks. Last week I remember it was £138 million."
The CAP keeps third world countries out of European markets and has been subject to repeated fraud.
The EU will spend a total of €112 billion (£75 billion) next year, which makes it about one sixth of the size of the British Government's expenditure. But it is hoping to increase its budget markedly beyond that in order to extend subsidies to its new member
As a result of the terms of its EU membership, Britain's contributions are forecast to escalate rapidly. This week, the Treasury said in a parliamentary answer to Kate Hoey, a Eurosceptic Labour MP, that gross contributions will rise by £2.5 billion to £14.6 billion in 2007-8. That is the equivalent of 4p on income tax.
The Treasury says Britain gets less out of the EU than many other countries, because it has a relatively small agricultural sector. Receipts from the EU have fallen from £6.3 billion in 1997 to £3.7 billion in 2003. Last year, £1.7 billion of expected payments from the EU to Britain were inexplicably delayed.
Britain's net contribution was €4 billion (£2.7 billion) in 2002 and has totalled €35 billion since 1995. Even with the rebate, it has contributed twice the amount of France and three times the amount of Italy.
This is not the view of the dispute being put about in France and Germany of course. Le Figaro, linked here, has a headline putting the dispute as one between Blair and Schoeder/Chirac with the blame squarely on the former. German State Broadcaster Deutsche Welle carries much on the Schroeder/Chirac contrary view in a report linked from here, which includes this quote:
------------- the vice-president of the European Commission, Günter Verheugen (photo), on Wednesday described the British rebate as "unreasonable." He said the UK must help to fund the bloc's enlargement.
"There is absolutely nothing to justify that Britain does not pay its part of the costs of enlargement," Verheugen told Germany's ZDF television.
"I find it really unreasonable that one of the richest countries in Europe, and that is what Britain is today, is being partly financed by Europe's poorest countries, in other words the new members," he added.
Is it not outrageous, given the graphic issued jointly by the British Government and the EU Commission as available from the Daily Telegraph article and my link above, that a Vice President of the Commission can claim that Britain is being partly financed by the poorest countries!
France's falling indices followed by further Euro falls
The third month of falling industrial output in France, read Bloomberg report from here, are reported as being the cause of yet more Euro declines against the dollar and sterling as the exchange markets closed in the EU this Friday.
It appears that Brown is holding the line better than Blair from the report quoted below.
Whether or not that is the case it really is quite incredible that while the leaders of the larger countries within the EU should be considering where the EU might be headed in the short term, following the huge rejection by the voters in two of its founding countries, they instead create an artificial row over who will pay for what in 2007 and beyond. Will the Euro really last that long to make such disputes really worthwhile?
The report is linked from here and the opening paragraphs are as follow:
PARIS/LONDON (Reuters) - France and Germany mounted a fierce campaign by European Union leaders on Friday to persuade Britain to accept a reduction of its annual EU budget rebate to help reach a deal on the bloc's long-term finances.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, looking isolated, opened the way to a compromise by suggesting a deal would be possible if EU leaders agreed to a major overhaul of the budget.
But tension rose after his finance minister said London could veto any move to cut the multi-billion euro payback and President Jacques Chirac ruled out any compromise over the big farm subsidies that France receives from Brussels.
A showdown is looming at an EU summit next week. Failure to agree the 2007-2013 funding programme would ruin efforts to show the 25-nation bloc is back on track after French and Dutch voters' rejection of the Union's planned constitution.
"I think there'll be a deal in the next week ... There is political pressure. It is easier to get a deal when there is pressure," European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told reporters in London.
But asked about the chances of a quick deal, Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson said: "I am not over-optimistic."
Old Europe's Crisis Consultations Continue... The following report is from German State Broadcaster Deutsche Welle:
France's new foreign minister is visiting Germany today to discuss the crisis over the European Union's constitution. Philippe Douste-Blazy, who became Foreign Minister last week in a major cabinet reshuffle, is holding talks with his German counterpart Joschka Fischer. On Friday, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is to travel to Paris to consult with French President Jacques Chirac. Both leaders have insisted that other countries should press forward with ratifying the charter.
Le Figaro today tries to blame the predictable failure for the coming summit at the feet of the British, in an article critical of Blair's statement to the Commons yesterday refusing to budge on Britain's EU budget rebate. The article is linked here (in French).
During the second half of this year Britain will hold the presidency of both the EU and the G8.
While it was the voters in France and the Netherlands who wrought the victory that has at last provided a window of opportunity for a return to democracy across the continent of Europe, it was undeniably the arguments and campaigning of mainly British euro-sceptics which made such a startling success possible.
The battleground will now switch to the EU budget beyond 2007 and the survival of the Euro.
Blair should use the EU Presidency to impress upon his fellow leaders that when the people of a country clearly indicate year after year that there is only so much EU they can bear it is wise to take heed. Blair wanted to be in the heart of Europe and a founder member of the euro - in spite of our faltering democracy the British people led by the undeniable arguments of Britain’s euro-sceptics made sure he was thwarted in his plans.
In the attempts to suggest certain parts of the constitution could now be introduced through the back door, or ’cherry picking’ the constitution as has been suggested by Jack Straw, ex-Commissar Patten and others the EU’s leaders should be made to see that this would be an affront to democracy too far!
The drive by Blair and Brown to shift the debate to problems beyond the EU’s borders is to be applauded. The countries of Europe have navel-gazed too long.
Britain should neglect the EU budget talks as irresolvable as long as Britain’s budget contribution remains a subject for debate. The future of the Euro is a matter for the finance ministers of the eurozone countries and their governments thus not including the British.
Euro-sceptics meantime must continue to highlight the anti-democratic aspects of the EU as often and as loudly as possible. Attempts by EU leaders to sidestep the clearly stated will of the voters of France and the Netherlands will make this task that much easier and democratic reform more likely when the leaders of France and Germany are eventually and deservedly replaced.
Foreign Secretary's statement to Parliament on the EU Constitution Referendum
The following is from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website linked here.
With permission, Mr Speaker, I should like to make a statement on the EU Constitutional Treaty, following the 'no' votes in the referenda in France and the Netherlands last week. I shall be explaining why we have decided to postpone the Second Reading of the European Union Bill.
At the end of 2001 European leaders met at Laeken in Belgium to consider the future of the EU. Just three months before, the world's sense of order had been shattered by the atrocity of 11 September.
Reviewing the progress made within the EU over previous decades, European leaders said that the Union 'stands at a crossroads, facing twin challenges, one within and the other beyond its borders'. 'Within the Union, European institutions must be brought closer to its citizens; beyond its borders, the Union is confronted with a fast changing, globalised world.'
It was this Laeken Declaration which led to the Convention on the Future of Europe and to the Intergovernmental Conference which followed it. Negotiations in the IGC were hard fought; but the United Kingdom achieved all its key objectives.
My RHF the Prime Minister and I therefore had no hesitation in recommending the new Treaty to Parliament and to the country.
We did so, not least, because the EU's organisation plainly needed reform better to cope with the new challenges set out at Laeken, and with the enlargement to 25 member States.
So, the Treaty includes: a reduction in the size of the European Commission; a much better voting system (which benefits the UK); an end to the six-month rotating Presidency, with replacement by a full time President of the council and team Presidencies; better arrangements for involving national Parliaments in EU legislation; and greater flexibility through 'enhanced cooperation', to allow groups of Member States to cooperate more intensively whilst others go at their own pace.
And we kept our national veto in all key areas of concern.
The Prime Minister and I signed the Constitutional Treaty in Rome on 29 October last. But, like any other EU Treaty, it requires ratification by every one of the EU's Member States – now twenty five – before it can come into force. As of a week ago, nine countries had approved the Treaty through their Parliamentary processes, and one – Spain – by referendum. In the last week, however, as the House and the country are very well aware, in referenda the electors in France voted 'no' by 55% to 45%, and in the Netherlands by 62% to 38%.
The Constitutional Treaty is the property of the European Union as a whole. It is now for European leaders to reach conclusions on how to deal with the situation.
To give effect to the UK's commitment to ratify the Treaty by referendum, we introduced the European Union Bill in the last Parliament, and it was given a second reading by this House by a majority of 215 on 9 February. The Bill fell on the calling of the General Election. It was reintroduced in this new Parliament on 24 May – before either the French or Dutch referenda – and it would in normal circumstances have been scheduled for its Second Reading very shortly.
However, until the consequences of France and the Netherlands being unable to ratify the Treaty are clarified, it would not in our judgement now be sensible to set a date for Second Reading. There is also the need for further discussions with EU partners and further decisions from EU governments. The first opportunity for collective discussion within the EU will take place at the end of next week when Heads of State and Government meet in the European Council.
We shall of course keep the situation under review, and ensure that the House is kept fully informed.
I should emphasise that it is not for the UK alone to decide the future of the Treaty; and it remains our view that it represents a sensible new set of rules for the enlarged European Union. We reserve completely the right to bring back the Bill providing for a UK referendum should circumstances change. But we see no point in proceeding at this moment.
As I commented during last week, these referendum results raise profound questions about the future direction of Europe. The EU has to come to terms with the forces of globalisation, in a way which maximises prosperity, employment and social welfare. There are other larger questions: how we can strengthen the force for good of the EU in foreign policy, along with aid to poorer Countries and trade; how we ensure value for money for our citizens, and better regulation; and how we make a reality of the widely-agreed concept of 'subsidiarity', ensuring that decisions are made at the lowest level possible.
All these issues have long been central to the United Kingdom's priorities for the European Union, and will be so for our EU Presidency which begins on 1 July. The continuing issues of enlargement and future financing will also be on our agenda. At the start of the Presidency I will publish the latest in our series of White Papers on the EU, and make an accompanying statement, to set out our priorities in more detail.
Let me conclude by saying this: the European Union remains a unique and valuable achievement, central to the UK's prosperity and well-being. The world's largest single market has enabled the businesses and people of this country to earn new prosperity by trading freely across borders. European co-operation has broken down barriers to travel, work and leisure. And the EU remains a vital engine of peace, democracy and reform.
The EU does now face a period of difficulty. In working in our interests, and the Union's interests, we must not act in a way which undermines the EU's strengths and the achievements of five decades.
Canada's first rate paper the Globe and Maillinked here, has a report from Downing Street pre-empting the Foreign Secretary's later statement to Parliament that Britain will once again get no vote on the EU, as also later reported by the UK press such as that in the Guardianlinked here and The Times here. The Evening Standard starts its report on Google with an inoperative link as follows:
Straw abandons UK vote on Europe treaty This is London -2 hours ago By Joe Murphy Political Editor, Evening Standard. The British referendum on the EU constitution was effectively abandoned today, sparking fury in France and Germany. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw read the last ... The actual statement will be linked here when available. It is scheduled for 1630 CET.
Meanwhile in Italy the President became embroiled in a dispute over responsibility for the country joining the Eurozone as reported by Forbes linked here.
The Northern League (a member of the ruling coalition) is reported in the Guardian to be collecting signatures for a referendum to be held regarding a return to the lira. The respected Milan daily Corriere della Sierra comments on the irony of Umberto Bossi once having suggested an independent Padania join the eurozone (linked here in Italian).
USA Today reports on anti-euro sentiment in Germany, linked here, while Bloomberg reports that the dollar may be set to gain some ground against the euro when markets open, read it here.
Time Magazine uses the phrase in its article on the euro, linked here. The following is a quote:
In a scolding report on public finances last week, the European Commission noted that, while Belgium, Finland and Ireland had balanced budgets, four members — Germany, Greece, France and Italy — had allowed their budget deficits to grow beyond the 3% limit laid down in the rules of the single currency, and that the overall debt level of the euro countries is creeping up again from 70.8% of gross domestic product in 2003 to 71.3% in 2004 and a projected 71.7% this year. The debt level isn't supposed to exceed 60% of gdp.
The euro zone is seeing a growing disparity in performance among its members, too. Finland, Greece and Spain are expected to enjoy growth of almost 3% this year, while Ireland is likely to see more than 4%. But Italy is in recession, and most economists have been slashing their forecasts for Germany and France to only a tad over 1% growth this year.
It will be an interesting meeting for the Eurozone's Finance Ministers tomorrow, how many times have they emphasised that for the Euro to survive, ever closer EU union and convergence is required, the very thing that most certainly the Dutch voters have now decisively rejected! Schroeder and Chirac after their emergency weekend meeting have urged the ratification process to continue! How many times do they need to be shown by Europe's voters what NO should really mean? Luxembourgers will be the next to get their chance, but only in July!
Rather a strange report considering the British PM takes over the six month EU Presidency in less than one month. A more interesting point from the same Sunday Telegraph article, linked here, is the following:
In the first rumblings of a call for the franc to be reinstated, Nicolas Dupont-Aignant, a member of Mr Chirac's ruling UMP party, said: "France, Italy and Germany would be in a better state without the euro. However, I don't believe we should ditch it now.
"But either it is reformed, and the central European Bank kick-starts growth by lowering interest rates and pursuing a more American-style monetary policy, or the euro will explode in mid-air."
The governor of France's central bank, however, rushed to the euro's defence. Christian Noyer said that the currency was "in no way under threat" following its fall in value since the No votes of the past seven days. He dismissed as "absurd" the idea of a temporary withdrawal from the euro by individual states.
"The euro is a solid currency which brings us a lasting guarantee of stable prices and thus the maintenance of purchasing power for our wages and savings," he told Le Parisien newspaper.
The markets have been slowly adjusting to the possibility of the break-up of the euro, with the spread between government bonds in different countries widening.
From the same newspaper and subject Matthew d'Ancona concludes his column (worth reading in full from this link) as follows:
If last week's referendums have a message for British politicians, it is that the public is increasingly sceptical of their capacity to navigate successfully the choppy waters of change. The two votes also marked, definitively, the end of a particular way of doing things in European politics, and the absolute obsolescence of a particular generation of the European elite - a generation that spoke of "destiny" not the daily lives of EU citizens, that led by fiat rather than argument, that dismissed every sceptic as a xenophobe or a racist, and dared, most shamefully, to invoke the spectre of the Holocaust to discredit the "No" campaigns.
That generation has failed utterly, and bequeathed to its successors the formidable task of salvaging that which is still good in the EU: namely, an enlarged single market, expanding eastwards to embrace the new democracies. The disagreeable challenge for Tony Blair in the months ahead, as he sits with this fractious flock of Euro-dodos, squawking over the carrion of the Constitution, is to persuade his own disgruntled party and electorate at home that he is not already among the obsolete, too.
Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso starts another typical EU misinformation campaign by ignoring the import of the Dutch voters' verdict on the corrupt, undemocratic and increasingly remote EU by distorting. or at the very least grossly misrepresenting, the verdict of the French electorate, by a pretence that it is all a matter of differing economic means to what must presumably be the common aim of prosperity.
The EU frontmen have been rumbled by the electorate in at least two countries. If the leaders of this clearly rotten enterprise wish to understand how deep the disillusionment really runs - then I challenge them to carry on the ratification process in every member state by means of a national referendum!
Read the Reuter's report of Barroso's quite disgraceful speech from this link, or go to the Europa website itself, ( if you have the stomach for it!).
The following is taken from Radio Netherlands Press Review for 3rd June, linked here:
.....But that's not all… Also in De Volkskrant, a Belgian economics professor says that the European currency, the euro, could "explode" after the Dutch and French results. According to Professor Paul de Grauwe, economists warned years ago that the euro would be doomed if its introduction wasn't accompanied by closer political integration. That integration, says the professor, was believed at the time to be ultimately inevitable... now, after this week's events, it seems dead in the water. Former deputy minister Rick van der Ploeg is quoted by De Volkskrant as confirming that the euro could indeed end up "on the garbage heap"... a development which probably wouldn't cause much heartache to a lot of Dutch voters.
The anti-democratic EU federalists cannot now have it both ways. For years the supporters of the Euro have pushed integration forward with the arguments and recognising the fact that without deeper integration a common currency is bound to fail.
In support of the Euro those same federalists have then justified the need for the non-democratic and hugely complex Constitutional Treaty as essential for the survival of the Euro. In spite of the arguments of dismissed former EU Commission leader Jaques Santer on both BBC radio and their website, linked here, (have the BBC no shame whatsoever in dragging out such a man in support of their EU fanaticim?) the Constitution is clearly dead - what then of the Euro - which by the federalists oft repeated assertions therefore has no prospect for survival whatsoever!
The Daily Telegraph has the report linked from here.
The mouthpieces for the putative tyrants behind the half-century anti-democratic EU conspiracy were to be heard across the continent all day yesterday vowing to plough ahead as usual regardless of the clear vote of the people of Holland.
Happily common sense now looks likely to prevail in Downing Street, and also the Dutch Prime Minister seems to have awoken to the fact that almost two thirds of his countrymen have finally given notice that they are fully aware of what has been underway for so long.
How long before any of the BBC automatoms report the proper conclusions to the referenda of this historic week - especially the incredible Dutch protest?
With a turnout way, way above predictions at a forecast 62 per cent, the NO vote in the Exit Poll is incredibly even higher at 63 per cent opting against the EU Constitution Treaty.
This report from Australia, linked here, was the first I could find on the internet. No doubt more will now flood in on this incredibly significant evening for all who treasure individual freedoms, reponsibility and the right to democratically replace those who rule over us - frequently and without bloodshed!