Western European News Digest
German Anti-Euro Plaintiffs: The People Are the Sovereign
BERLIN, July 7 (EIRNS)Four German professors have filed suit before the country's Constitutional Court against the bailout of the euroWilhelm Hankel, Karl Albrecht Schachtschneider, Wilhelm Nölling, and Joachim Starbatty. In a press conference today in Berlin, Schachtschneider was asked by EIR's Stefan Ossenkopp about the emergence of a patriotic impulse in Germany, similar to the mass strike ferment in the United States. "In the last instance, the people are the sovereign, it is the citizen that has to decide 'Wir sind das Volk!'" Schachtschneider said. Whatever ruling may come out of the Constitutional Court, "that is not the end of history," and political changes will occur which have to come from the citizens themselves.
'Euro Bailout Resembles Versailles Reparations'
July 9 (EIRNS) Prof. Wilhelm Hankelone of the four German experts challenging the legality of the bailout of the eurosaid that the creation of the euro was the worst economic mistake since the end of World War II. In an interview with Stern magazine's Shortnews.de column, published in a summarized form today, he said that it forces Germany to shoulder a burden today, which is comparable to the post-1919 Versailles reparations. Hankel charged that German politicians have not grasped this, nor do Germany's EU partners take it into account.
Revelations Open Full Regime Crisis in France
PARIS, July 6 (EIRNS)France has entered a regime crisis, and it is not clear even whether President Nicolas Sarkozy himself can survive, let alone his Minister of Labor, Eric Woerth. While Sarkozy had announced a government reshuffle for October, voices within his own party are calling for one now.
Former PM Rocard Calls for Glass-Steagall
PARIS, July 10 (EIRNS) In a full-page interview published in Le Figaro today, former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard (1988-91) called for bringing back the U.S. Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.
To a question from journalists as to how a consensus around a policy for coming out of the crisis can be built, Rocard said: "The ways to an exit are of a financial order. First we must re-adopt the Glass-Steagall Act everywhere, the American law of 1933, repealed in 1999, which forbade banks from making investments with the money from their deposits.... Then, prohibiting all derivatives products detached from contracts connected to the real economy. Furthermore, the fiscal paradises [offshore tax havensed.] must be eradicated, since they harbor half the immense liquidity which is circulating in the world. Finally, returning purchasing power to wage-earners, in order to favor growth."
Strike Wave Continues Across Europe
July 8 (EIRNS)Greece was hit by its sixth general strike against the unbearable austerity that its government is attempting to impose, as ordered by London. An estimated 12,000 people took to the streets of Athens with banners attacking the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union, and Prime Minister George Papandreou; 5,000 marched in the northern city of Thessaloniki. All modes of public transportation, public offices, and hospitals were hit by the strike.
Unions also held demonstrations against austerity in Portugal today.
European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, nonetheless, blindly insisted, in a press conference today, that governments that hesitate to apply brutal budget cuts are being "too pessimistic on the capacity of their citizens to take those measures."
Italian Farmers Protest Counterfeit Products
July 6 (EIRNS) Thousands of Italian farmers, under the leadership of the Coldiretti union, are blocking the Brenner Pass through the Alps, and checking every truck coming from Austria and Germany. The reason for the protests are counterfeit products that are imported and sold as original Italian ones, such as mozzarella and parmesan cheese. The protest was triggered by a recent case of a mozzarella cheese produced in Germany, and labelled with Italian names, which took on a strange blue color once opened.
Italian farmers have been in a protest mood for some time, because they have been hit by low-cost agricultural products imported by new EU member-countries, and, at the same time, squeezed by the insane EU quota system. For instance, under the quota system, Italy is not allowed to produce more than 50% of the milk it needs, both for direct consumption and for food processing.
U.K. Austerity Inflames Unions
July 5 (EIRNS)The Cameron government's announcement that all U.K. ministries must cut 40% from their budgets, could mean 600,000 public sector jobs lost. The six main unions representing government workers today accused the government of declaring war on trade unions, following reports that the Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude intends to introduce emergency legislation to make changes in labor laws, placing more legal restraints on strikes and lowering compensation for laid-off workers.
Paul Kenny, the general secretary of the GMB union, said: "It is a testament to the priorities of this government, led by two public schoolboys [what are called private schoolboys in the U.S.ed.], that they should consider attacking the rights of ordinary workers rather than the bankers who caused the recession. More and more we are seeing the well-to-do upper class targeting the lower class and making them pay for the recession. It is unfair and unacceptable." Bob Crow, the general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, accused ministers of "declaring war" on unions, and of seeking to prevent workers from fighting back against cuts in jobs and public spending.
The Communication Workers Union, representing half of British Telecom's 100,000 workforce, today postponed a strike vote over threats of legal action. This follows similar actions at the unions for British Airways and the railway unions.
Trichet Against German Insolvency Law
July 8 (EIRNS)At the monthly press conference of the European Central Bank today in Frankfurt, ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet attacked the German proposal for an orderly insolvency law. Trichet was asked by the correspondent of the Irish Times whether his position on the new law is "in favor, against, or open to persuasion," and Trichet answered bluntly that the ECB considers it "not opportune."
Swedish EAP on the Official Political Map Again
July 6 (EIRNS)Today's Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet published an attack on the Swedish LaRouche movement, the European Labor Party (EAP), in an op-ed on slanders in the current election campaign. This follows a distribution of the EAP's new Swedish election pamphlet and the party's new documentary, "The Truth About the LaRouche Movement in Sweden-EAP." The party has been subjected to a decades-long slander campaign, notably for its stand in support of nuclear power since the 1970s. Last year, Sweden reversed its 1980 decision to stop construction of all nuclear power plants and phase out all nuclear power by 2010. The country is 45% reliant on nuclear. The intervening governments should have listened to the EAP.