From Volume 37, Issue 32 of EIR Online, Published Aug. 20, 2010

Western European News Digest

Euro Crisis Comes Back Onstage

Aug. 13 (EIRNS)—The EU "junta" thought that the euro-crisis could disappear if they hid it. Thus, they faked an idiotic "stress-test" to claim that the banking system is sound, only to rush a EU10 billion emergency bailout loan for Anglo-Irish bank, on Aug. 11. Anglo-Irish, which has so far received EU24.3 billion (over 10% of the entire Irish GDP!) in bailout money, was not even included in the stress-tests!

This, and yesterday's figures on the Greek economy, showing a shrinking by 3.5% in the second quarter, ending June 30, compared with the second quarter 2009, have brought reality back onstage. Thus, the euro financial crisis is back—it had never left—and the costs of debt refinancing for Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain are on the rise again.

Faced with the explosion of the crisis, EU junta leaders will, despite their statements, turn to the printing press again. Alfonso Tuor, the deputy editor of Switzerland's Corriere del Ticino, warned, today, against such a policy, writing that the solution lies in a "real reform of the financial system to transform it again into an instrument of collecting savings, aimed at financing investments in the real economy, banning or controlling those responsible for the crisis, meaning the investment banks, hedge funds, private equity funds. And restructuring the debt must be considered."

Germans Fight EU Commission Plan for Direct Tax

Aug. 10 (EIRNS)—Germany is against plans to give the European Union the power to levy taxes across the bloc, the Finance Ministry said Aug. 9. "Calls to introduce an EU tax are in opposition to the position the government established in its coalition treaty, in which it says that we will deny an EU tax or EU involvement in national taxes," Finance Ministry spokesman Tobias Romeis told the press in Berlin. He added that, whereas Berlin is not, in principle, against taxes of this kind, it is against a direct taxation by Brussels, as a "matter of principle." Indeed, taxation is one of the few sovereignty rights remaining under the control of national governments in Europe.

The German government responded to a report in the Financial Times Deutschland on Aug. 9, saying that EU Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski plans to introduce new tax recommendations in September—like "eurotaxes" on banks, financial transactions, air travel and carbon permits. Lewandowski claims that that would fund the Commission's annual budget of EU130 billion directly, thereby ending its dependence on the 27 EU member states' payments. He told the paper that the "present structure of the revenue of the EU does not reflect the spirit of [EU] treaties."

Spanish Financial Crisis on 'Again'

Aug. 12 (EIRNS)—The Spanish crisis is up-front again, in the form of the financial crisis in Catalonia and other regions. Due to Spain's autonomist structure, its regions control twice as much spending as the state, and employ more than half of all public workers.

Catalonia accounts for one-fifth of Spanish GDP and, according to Bloomberg, "has been shut out of public bond markets since March." Catalonia now pays a spread of 300 basis points over Euribor; not as much as Greece paid in the hot phase of the debt crisis in April, but more than the yields on the national debt. The yield on Catalonia's 10-year bond is at 5.5%, like Peru's.

Spanish law forbids the central government to bail out provinces, but Catalonia is "systemically relevant" for the Spanish financial system: It has 10 of the 46 saving banks and, most importantly, the largest one: Caixa.

Farm Fields in Italy Burned Over London's 'GMO Issue'

Aug. 10 (EIRNS)—A group of uniformed anti-globalist radicals invaded and destroyed an alleged GMO [genetically modified—ed.] cornfield in Pordenone, northern Italy Aug. 9. The most outrageous aspect of the action was that the Mussolini-style "squadristi" were protected by the police, and politically backed by the newly elected governor of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia. Immediately after the fact, Zaia blessed the illegal use of violence by declaring that "legality has been re-established."

The targetted farmer, Giorgio Fidenato, is member of an organization called Futuragra, whose observers think that the national head of the Green Party, Angelo Bonelli, was pulling the strings. The campaign is led by a "task force" of a couple of dozen organizations, including Greenpeace, but also the largest national farmers organization, Coldiretti. Futuragra exposes Coldiretti's ambiguity: while opposing GMO crops, Coldiretti supplies its members with GMO feed-corn.

Agriculture Minister Giancarlo Galan has criticized the action.

Labor-Industry Alliance Formed in Germany

Aug. 11 (EIRNS)—In a joint declaration, the labor union of chemical workers, the associations of the chemical, steel, aluminum, glass, construction materials, and paper industries denounced plans by the German Finance Ministry to abolish exemptions from the ecology tax—exemptions once granted to the most energy-intensive industries. The ministry wants to abolish these, as phase one of a strategy to increase the ecology tax as such.

The joint declaration says that the effect of the ministry's planned measures, tax increases of 100%-300% by 2012, will be ruinous for many industries, which will then have no other choice, than to emigrate from Germany, thus killing tens of thousands of additional jobs. This is the second major labor-industry initiative in Germany, after a declaration of the steel industry and the steel workers in March, against raw-materials speculation.

Experts Demand New Inquest into Kelly Death

Aug. 14 (EIRNS)—In an open letter appearing in the Times of London today, a group of prominent British medical experts has demanded a full inquest into the death of British government weapons inspector David Kelly. This could add to the pressure on the new British Conservative-Liberal Democratic-led government to officially reopen the case, as some Conservative MPs had promised during the election campaign, they would do once they came into power.

The letter was signed by eight senior figures, including former coroner Michael Powers, former deputy coroner Margaret Bloom, and Dr. Julian Bion, a professor of intensive care medicine. This new initiative now joins an ongoing legal action by a separate group of doctors to secure an inquest, according to a report in today's online Herald Scotland.

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