Western European News Digest
German President Renews Call for Bretton Woods II
WIESBADEN, GERMANY, Nov. 24 (EIRNS)In a speech to the European Finance Week Congress of international bankers in Frankfurt on Nov. 21, German President Horst Köhler renewed his recent call for a New Bretton Woods agreement. The Bretton Woods conference "laid the foundation for a market-economic world economic order based on division of labor after the Second World War, Köhler said, it "brought back confidence, and provided wealth and progress to the industrial nations." Concerning Germany, he added that the agreement "provided ... urgently required flow of capital from abroad, enabling us to build up an export economy that is outstandingly successful to this day. The dimensions today's crisis "calls for a Bretton Woods II," he said, "a gathering of the best, who with expertise, morality, and political commitment, can systematically review the crisis."
This most important, and most useful, section is being censored by most of the media here, which instead focus on his lambasting of bankers' and fund managers' irresponsibility. Unlike his earlier interviews and speeches, Köhler omitted any reference to the pro-fascist John Maynard Keynes.
Czech Court Gives Green Light to Lisbon Treaty
PARIS, Nov. 26 (EIRNS)Under tremendous pressure, the Czech Constitutional Court declared today that the EU's Lisbon Treaty is in conformity with the Czech Constitution, opening the gate for Parliament to approve the Treaty. However, ratification by Parliament remains uncertain.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, in an interview with the weekly Respekt, said that many members of Parliament want to make their approval of the Treaty conditional on the approval by Parliament of the anti-ballistic-missile shield agreed on with Washington.
The Czech Republic and Ireland are the only two EU member countries that have not ratified the poisonous Treaty. Its implementation requires unanimous approval by all EU member states.
As EIR has reported, the Lisbon Treaty goes far beyond the Maastricht Treaty in establishing supranational government in Europe and eliminating national sovereignty, including obliging member states to conduct military interventions whether they like it or not.
Fascist George Soros in 'Der Spiegel'
Nov. 24 (EIRNS) This week's German Der Spiegel granted former Nazi employee and international drug promoter George Soros an interview, allowing him to call for unlimited money-printing and environmentalist genocide, while insisting yet again that he has no problem with his conscience. Soros called the current crisis "dramatic and overwhelmingit has gone beyond my wildest imagination."
Backing up his pal Al Gore, Soros called the current collapse a "great opportunity to finally deal with global warming and energy dependence. He also praised his sponsors: "The Bank of England was a very successful regulator by cooperating with market participants. This cooperative spirit was broken by the market fundamentalists," naming Ronald Reagan as the one responsible for this fundamentalism.
As he has done before, Soros defended his predatory actions, claiming that he "always play[ed] by the rules," and that had no problems with his conscience. "I am very proud to be a successful speculator," he told the magazine.
Contraction in West Hits East
Nov. 25 (EIRNS)Producers in Eastern and Southeastern Europe have begun to feel the effects of the contraction of the real economy under the impact of the financial system's collapse in the West, for which they have been a leading supplier of prefab goods or raw materials. Automakers, steel producers, and other industrial producers in the West, have reacted to the drastic drop in orders in Black October with abrupt cancellations of imports from the East. Arcelor-Mittal already shut down a steel plant it has operated in Ukraine. Mass layoffs in the East are on the horizon.
French Cities De-Privatize Water Utilities
PARIS, Nov. 24 (EIRNS)In 1984, Paris Mayor Jacques Chirac privatized the distribution of drinking water in Paris (population, 8 million), handing a significant part of this municipal utility to France's two private water management giants, Veolia and Suez. Private companies are currently managing 72% of the water needs of French local communities.
On Nov. 21, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe decided to act according to his election promise: to de-privatize the municipal water management system. The city will create a utility company, Eau de Paris, hire the 900 workers from the private companies and buy their technology. The decision follows that of some smaller cities such as Castres, Chatellerault, Cherbourg, and the larger city of Grenoble. The Paris decision, still to be confirmed by the Paris Great Council on Nov. 24, is being denounced by the opposition as "political coup"; in fact, it indicates a trend toward a return to sane economic policies.
L'Expansion, one of the main national economic weeklies, reported two weeks ago that this trend goes back to a year ago, when city and regional officials whose water was becoming more and more expensive, began to realize the how big the profits were that were being made by the private companies to which France had entrusted 72% of its water management. Greater Lyons, for instance, discovered that Veolia's pre-tax profit margins were 21%, while the community's water was one of the most expensive in France despite its abundant water resources. Since then, many officials started looking into and renegotiating the contracts. According to the Association of Major City Mayors of France, 52% of the cities are already renegotiating their contracts, and fully one-third are considering de-privatizing the water utilities. And this trend is occurring as two-thirds of the contracts are coming up for renegotiation in the next three years.
Several years ago, Solidarité & Progrès, the party of the LaRouche movement in France, exposed and denounced the offensive of hedge funds and private groups to grab vital municipal infrastructure. At that time, some 50 mayors from all over the country signed S&P's petition opposing such water privatization and calling for re-nationalization.
Former Economics Minister Warns vs. Germany's 'Deindustrialization'
Nov. 25 (EIRNS)Former Federal Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement left the Social Democratic Party (SPD) today, after having been a member since 1970, creating maximum political impact, by defining the danger of "deindustrialization" as the battle line for Germany. Yesterday evening, an SPD federal commission had confirmed its censure of him, while not expelling him, as some had wanted to do.
Last January, shortly before the Hessian election, Clement had sharply criticized the anti-nuclear policy of SPD-Hessian leader Andrea Ypsilanti, which was seen as an encouragement to not vote SPD. Moreover, Clement also opposed any collaboration with Die Linke (the Left Party).
This is a clear attack on the Green Party as such, without explicitly mentioning it. Clement's step, as far as it goes, strengthens the pro-growth elements in Germany.