Western European News Digest
Crisis Diplomacy in Europe Following 'No' Votes
Emergency crisis diplomacy in Europe, following the "No" votes in the Netherlands and France last week on the EU Constitution, has begun (see InDepth this week for a report on the defeat in France of the EU Constitution). After Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's meeting with Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, June 2, the following day, in Berlin, Schroeder called for a "pause for thought" on the EU integration issue, in order to gain time for restoring the confidence of the peoples of Europe.
But at the same time, Schroeder endorsed a continuation of the ratification process for the EU Charter, in the 13 member countries that still have to vote on it. So far, 10 states, including Germany's parliament, have accepted the charter, while two voted against.
Schroeder, who will receive the French President in Berlin on June 4, also will meet with Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair, the chairman of the EU for the second half of 2005, on June 13an interesting date, because on the same day, Schroeder is expected to present his plans for legislation against the hedge funds. On June 16, a two-day EU heads of state/government summit will take place.
It has furthermore been leaked, from government circles in Berlin, that Schroeder first tried to convene a emergency crisis session of the EU's "founding six of 1957"France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. However, that did not work out, so, for the time being, there will be bilateral discussions.
Bilderbergs Meet: Euro Constitution Top Concern
Online Journal, an internet publication, published on May 24, an extensive account of the May 2005 annual meeting of the ultra-elite Bilderberg Group, which took place this year at Rottach-Egern in Bavaria, and noted that the European Constitution was one of the priority topics of discussion. Under the headline, "The world in the palm of their hands: Bilderberg 2005," writer Daniel Estulin notes that the Bilderberg crowd was strongly backing the European super-state, and saw it as a way to integrate the efforts of France and Britain behind a common agenda. Relations between French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have been frayed, and, according to Estulin, the Bilderbergs were pleased that Blair retained power in Britain under a vastly reduced mandate, making him a weaker, more malleable pawn.
But, the Bilderberg crowd also worried at the strong prospect of the "hard-headed and obstinate people" rejecting the super-state scheme. According to Estulin, "A German Bilderberger insider said that France's yes vote is in trouble because of the 'outsourcing of jobs. Jobs in Germany and France are going to Asia and Ukraine.'" The resounding defeat of the Constitution referendum in France throws a giant monkey-wrench into the plans of the Bilderberg crowd, which had also included: moving ahead on a UN world tax, to be taken from oil at the wellhead; an environmental super-agency, housed at the UN, with participation by governments, as well as sanctioned NGOs; and major actions to curb global oil usage, as future reserves are seen as vastly smaller than earlier thought.
According to the Online Journal account, the American neo-con crowd was heavily represented by: Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, William Luti, Dennis Ross, and Richard Holbrooke.
Other American notables included: Henry Kissinger, David Rockefeller, Richard Haass, Henry Kravis, Gov. Mark Warner (D-Va), Donald Graham, Vernon Jordan, and Martin Feldstein.
France, Germany Ready to Shift ECB Policies?
Rumors are circulating, as reported in various international press June 1, that the governments of France and Germany may modify their European Central Bank policies. Without any more details disclosed, the rumors, which in France have to do with the nomination of Dominique de Villepin as Prime Minister to replace Jean-Pierre Raffarin, following the stunning defeat of the EU Constitution in the French referendum May 29 (see InDepth for full report), have nevertheless created some unrest on financial markets.
The rumors say that France will insist more than before, on the creation of a new institution, a kind of "economic council" to oversee the monetary policies of the ECB; and that Germany wants to raise the issue of the currency, i.e., that when Germany accepted the euro, it sacrificed lower interest rates related to the strength of the mark, rates lower than those of the ECB today. The details will be spelled out in an article in the next issue of the Stern weekly.
German Finance Minister Hans Eichel and Bundesbank Governor Heinz Weber immediately issued denials, but those circles otherwise known as "the markets," apparently do not rule out that such changes are possible or even likely, in the near term.
Brits, U.S. Doubled Iraq Bombing To Provoke War
The British government has admitted that the UK and the U.S. doubled the rate of bombing in Iraq in 2002, to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies a pretext for war, according to the Sunday Times May 31. The information was released by the Defence Ministry in response to a question from Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman. The attacks intensified from May 2002, and by the end of August had become a full air offensive. The Ministry's bomb-tonnage figures show that the allies dropped twice as many bombs on Iraq in the second half of 2002 as they did during the entirety of 2001, and that the RAF increased their attacks even more quickly than the Americans did.
Despite the lack of an Iraqi reaction, the Times notes, the air war began anyway in September, with a 100-plane raid. The Times also notes that, "The systematic targeting of Iraqi air defences appears to contradict Foreign Office legal guidance appended to the [recently leaked July 2002 briefing paper for Blair's war cabinet] which said that the allied aircraft were only 'entitled to use force in self-defence where such a use of force is a necessary and proportionate response to actual or imminent attack from Iraqi ground systems.'"