Western European News Digest
Brits Won't Beat Dead Horse: EU Constitution Vote Suspended
The beleaguered European Union Constitution took another hit on June 4, as the Tony Blair government in Britain announced to Parliament that the vote on the constitution has been officially suspended. With the particular British flair for understatement, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw noted that "the European Union does now face a period of difficulty."
The day of the announcement, the British labor unions issued a news release headlined, "Trade Unionists Welcome Killer Blows to EU Constitution." The TUAEUC (Trade Unionists Against the EU Constitution) "congratulated the peoples of France and the Netherlands for voting decisively against" the charter. Blair has been losing the support of the labor section of the Labour Party over his support of the Iraq war and other Bush/Cheney policies.
These referendum votes "reflect the rejection of EU plans to turn the privatization of public services into a constitutional principle and to undermine the sovereignty of EU member states," the trade-union release said, quoting TUAEUC spokesman Brian Denny. "It is increasingly clear that the German people would also have voted 'no,' had they been given the chance, not least because of the terrible damage the single currency is inflicting on their economy," Doug Nicholls, also of the TUAEUC, said.
"The hostility to the Constitution demonstrated in France and the Netherlands reflects the majority opinion of working people in Britain," added Bob Crow, chairman of this campaign and general secretary of the railway workers union. "The choice is quite clear: Do you want member states to hand over power to Brussels and even more of their public services to privateers, or not?"
Synarchist Bankers Threatening European Leaders
As of June 9, at least one meeting between representatives of private-equity and hedge funds and the German Ministry of Finance took place, during the past two weeks, according to a well-informed source close to the German Finance Ministry. The source had been briefed on the June 9 report that EIR had received from France, that the new Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and the new government of France, formed following the landslide vote rejecting the European Constitution, were warned in strong terms not to harm the Maastricht financial order drawn up by international bankers.
The German source did confirm that there was, in Germany, "not one particular meeting of the kind you mean, but several meetings have taken place ... as they always do."
And a second source at a German Federal agency, close to financial and economic matters, when briefed on a visit that the French Prime Minister received from two blackmailing "men in black," before his inaugural address, said that something like that could also happen in Germany. The source, however, requested anonymity.
A source in Berlin, noting that Social Democratic Party chairman Franz Muentefering has backpedalled from his attacks on the financial "locusts" four weeks ago, said that he is convinced that the bankers told the SPD they had better stop it, or the bankers would begin to speak out on some dirty little deals the Social Democrats have been involved in." Furthermore, he said, the Chancellor and the SPD are aware that the moment they move against hedge funds and the like, 99% of the media, which are anti-SPD, would attack them fiercely.
Minister Proposes a Double-Currency Regime for Italy
In an interview with Corriere della Sera June 11, Roberto Calderoli, Minister for Reform in the Italian government, explained his idea for an Italian breakout of the euro system. "The most viable hypothesis is a double system: the simultaneous circulation of the euro and of a national currency. We can call it 'lira,' or 'calderolo.' " This is one of three proposals to be discussed on June 6 at the leadership meeting of Calderoli's party, the Lega Nord (Northern League), he said.
The other two possibilities are: 1. a return to the lira system as it was before the European Monetary Union; and 2. a return to a lira pegged to the dollar. Calderoli does not like the latter option, because "of the unhappy experience of Argentina." "The euro is good for foreign trade, public debt, and makes tourism easier. Then, the national currency, a real or a virtual one, has other advantages. It must be connected to something concrete, a basket.... If today, a Big Mac costs one 'calderolo' or one euro, and next year it costs one 'calderolo' and 1.20 euros, it is clear that the euro has forced a price increase. The citizen is free to use either of the two."
Poland Will Take Its Time Entering European Union
In an interview published in El Pais of Spain on June 10, Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka underlined that, although he thinks that somehow the ratification process of the EU Constitution should continue, "the heads of state and government must give to ourselves time to reflect and to calm down."
Not only did the EU Constitution receive two back-to-back defeats at the polls in France and the Netherlands, but in Poland, the ruling SLD is in a state of decomposition and probably will be replaced by a new conservative/liberal government coalition.
Any speculation about a newly negotiated EU treaty would be premature. All the talk that it was the EU expansion, and the fear of the so-called Polish "plumber"i.e., immigrant workerswhich contributed to the worries in France and Netherlands, Belka qualified as nonsense. "I think that French society has not been accustomed to live through many changes, as we have in Poland, where in the last 15 years practically every day something changed." More important than the fear of some Polish immigrant workers in France, Belka said, would be the problems related to globalization and outsourcing of production from France into cheap-labor countries such as China.
Pope Benedict XVI Meets World Jewish Leaders
Pope Benedict XVI met with 25 world Jewish leaders in Rome on June 9, including Edgar Bronfman, chairman of the World Jewish Congress.
After praising the landmark document of the Second Vatican Council, the Pope said that the Vatican "deplored any manifestations of hatred, persecution, and anti-Semitism." Benedict added, "At the very beginning of my pontificate, I wish to assure you that the Church remains firmly committed, in her catechesis and in every aspect of her life, to implementing this decisive teaching.... It is my intention to continue on this path. The history of relations between our two communities has been complex and often painful. But I am convinced that the spiritual patrimony treasured by Christians and Jews is itself the source of the wisdom and inspiration capable of guiding us toward a future of hope in accordance with the divine plan."
The Pope discussed with Edgar Bronfman the possibility of cooperation in founding and funding a program to fight AIDS in Africa. Also among the group were Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee, former Israeli Ambassador to the Vatican Samuel Hasa, Chief Rabbinate director general Oded Wiener, and heads of the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox movements in the United States.