Western European News Digest
Angelides Testifies Before European Parliament
April 11 (EIRNS)Phil Angelides, chairman of the U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, gave what was received as "historic" testimony before the European Parliament's Committee on the Financial and Social Crisis today. He was invited by the committee, after its members had met with him in the U.S. earlier this year.
The Angelides report, issued on Jan. 27, chronicles the rise of what it calls the "shadow banking system" of investment banks, money-market funds, and "hot money," parallel to the commercial banking system, and shows how deregulation allowed the shadow banking system to grow and outstrip the regulated banks, to the point of their collapse in 2007-08.
From the tone of the praise and the questions posed by the Members of the European Parliament who comprise the committee, it was clear that his presence and presentation had a remoralizing effect.
Lega Nord MEP Mario Borghezio asked if Angelides could comment on the fact that the U.S. Federal Reserve bailed out the European banks as well as the American ones. Angelides said he was unable to answer that question, but he did say his commission's investigations only "opened the door" and that follow-up investigations should take place.
Iceland Votes Against Bailout ... Again
April 10 (EIRNS)About 60% of Iceland's citizens voted "No" in an April 9 national referendum on the latest plan for the government to pay the British banks for their blown-out speculation in Iceland. Voters thus reiterated their decision in the March 2010 referendum on a previously proposed bailout deal. After recent opinion polls had given a supposed comfortable majority for an affirmative decision, the hardening of the voters' mood shocked international financiers, who reportedly braced for "political and economic chaos."
Britain's Treasury chief Danny Alexander announced that the U.K. and the Netherlands would sue Iceland for billions of euros in European courts.
LaRouche Featured on Icelandic Blog
April 15 (EIRNS)An Icelandic blogger is featuring Lyndon LaRouche and the global fight for Glass-Steagall prominently on his blog, called Amazing Iceland and Icesave. Among other things, he has posted Danish Schiller Institute chairman Tom Gillesberg's letter to the President of Iceland after the Icelandic people decisively defeated the so-called Icesave agreement. The blog also has many links to LaRouchePAC videos, LaRouche webcasts, and other material from LPAC.
German Lawmakers Denounce Unconstitutionality of Eurozone Bailout
April 13 (EIRNS)German Members of Parliament Frank Schäffler (FDP) and Carsten Schneider (SPD), both prominent skeptics against the planned new rescue facility ESM (European Stability Mechanism), have sounded the alarm over the attempt of the German government, in line with the EU bureaucrats, to push the ESM through as a permanent bailout mechanism, without having it ratified by the national parliament.
Schäffler, the Free Democratic Party's financial expert in the Bundestag (parliament), told the Handelsblatt business daily, "The ESM is an in-depth interference with the budgeting privilege of the parliament, and it is changing the primary law in Europe." Schneider, the Social Democratic Party's budget spokesman in the Bundestag, also denounced the plan: "It must not be tolerated that the finance ministers of the euro states who are seated on the EMS board, should be allowed to vote for the expansion of the credit volume.... This decision is a privilege of parliaments."
50,000 Demonstrate Against EU Austerity
April 11 (EIRNS)The Hungarian trade unions estimate that at least 50,000 people came to demonstrate at the ECOFIN meeting of EU finance and economic ministers and central bankers, held in Budapest, today.
Representatives of 45 unions of 22 countries participated, including from other East European countries. "This is the largest demonstration since May 1, 1989," said demonstrators, referring to events that led to the May 2, 1989 opening of Hungary's borders, which marked the beginning of the end for the communist system.
Hungarian demonstrators said "no to austerity, and for growth and jobs," ironically, the same slogans which brought the current government of Viktor Orban to power last year.
Dutch Government Sticks to Nuclear Power Plans
April 15 (EIRNS)The Dutch nuclear power facility at Borssele will undergo the European Union's "stress test," which was decreed after Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant breakdown, along with all the other 142 reactors in Europe. Dutch Economics Minister Maxime Verhagen said that his government will not change its commitment to build two new reactors at Borssele and to put them on the grid in 2020. The government is doing so, even though opinion polls show 51% of Dutch citizens opposed or not favorable to nuclear power.
At Borssele, the Netherlands has a nuclear reactor, built in 1973, which was to be shut down in 2006; but its operational license has been extended to 2033.
Rally in Northern Ireland: 'Stop the War on Peace'
April 11 (EIRNS)On April 10, about 10,000 people, most of them young, joined a peace march in Omagh, County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, organized by a 29-year-old resident via Facebook. He called for the march after Ronan Kerr, a 25-year-old rookie police officer, was killed by a car bomb on April 2.
Leaders of all political parties attended the march, but there were no speeches. Marchers wore white ribbons and many had signs with Kerr's picture and the words "Not in My Name," There was music, including the singing of "We Shall Overcome."
EU Schengen System Has Collapsed
April 13 (EIRNS)The Schengen agreements for "free market" circulation of people inside the European Union are collapsing under the impact of the North African crisis. The agreements, reached in 1985 and continued by the EU in 1999, eliminated border controls between signatory nations, while continuing them for those travelling in and out of Europe. After the Italian decision to grant visas to thousands of Tunisian immigrants heading to France, France has strengthened police controls at its borders and on trains coming from Italy. Germany has supported the French decision and has attacked Italy. The Italians accuse the French and the Germans of not respecting the Schengen agreements, and the latter accuse Italy of the same violation.
German Elites Want To Seal Nuclear Exit Strategy in Mid-June
April 16 (EIRNS)Germany's Federal government and the 16 state governments agreed at their Berlin meeting yesterday that a timetable for an accelerated exit from nuclear power be passed on June 17the day when the March 17 government decree on a three-month shutdown of the seven oldest power reactors expires. "Accelerated" means at a date earlier than the end of 2021, as envisaged in the exit law passed by the Social Democratic-Green government in 2001.
Greek, Portuguese Unions Plan General Strikes in May
April 15 (EIRNS)Greek and Portuguese trade unions are planning general strikes for May to combat the European Union's and International Monetary Fund's bankers' dictatorship.
In Greece, the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY), the public sector trade union, held a rally in central Athens, and a march to Parliament on April 13, in which they announced an escalation of strike action in May.
In Portugal, the country's largest labor union is considering calling a general strike, as it steps up protests against austerity measures that are expected to deepen under an EU-IMF bailout. The union plans to intensify its protest campaign, starting with nationwide rallies on Labor Day on May 1.
Bavarian TV: Mars Mission Will Enoble Mankind
April 12 (EIRSN)On Bavaria's TV science program "Stargazing with Professor Lesch," on April 6, University of Munich astrophysicist Harald Lesch strongly endorsed of a manned Mars mission, reviving the memory of when the first humans walked on the Moon in July 1969, which he said united all of mankind. The same is true for a Mars mission, Lesch said, which will help mankind overcome its present divisions and petty problems, because a bigger challenge is posed to them by the Red Planet.