Western European News Digest
Italian Press Covers Parliamentary Vote for New Bretton Woods
Several Italian press agencies covered the Parliamentary vote of Italian Deputy Mario Lettieri's motion for a New Bretton Woods monetary system. Following the vote on April 6, a long press release on the debate and vote on the Lettieri motion, referencing Lyndon LaRouche's role in promoting the New Bretton Woods international campaign, has widely circulated among Italian press and political circles. In the past few days the release has been published by four press agencies, including Osservatore Politico Internazionale; Agenparl (distributed to all parliamentarians and other political institutions); Aise (for Italian organizations and institutions worldwide); based in Rome; and Iniziativa Meridionale, based in Naples.
French Prime Minister Challenged To Support a New Bretton Woods
In the context of a trip to the city of Lyons to campaign for the adoption of the European Constitution, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin was confronted by members of the LaRouche Youth Movement, who challenged him to support the call endorsed by 50 Italian parliamentarians calling for a New Bretton Woods monetary accord.
The challenge was made in the presence of 1,000 people, including nine French Deputies, two French Senators, and a European Union Deputy.
In the question period, a LaRouche Youth member reminded Minister of Justice Dominique Perben, who was moderating the meeting, that only months ago, he had answered quite positively to the need to overcome the obstacles to productive investments which the European Union Stability Pact and the Maastricht Treaty represented.
Asked, again, in Lyons, Perben protested, "Only that!" When the LaRouche youth named Lyndon LaRouche, there was a moment of silence followed by security and police being called to break the tension.
German Social Dems Rediscover the State's Economic Role
Presenting the work going on inside the SPD on a new party platform, party chairman Franz Muentefering April 13 attacked the "power of capital," and the fact that "human beings today are only viewed as appendices of growth, profit, consumption, or as a commodity on the labor market." The globalized economization of society has gone so far, he said, that many are only interested in "maximizing" short-term profit and "reducing the role of the state" to a "repair shop."
He added that, instead of this "market economy purism," the SPD wants a "social market economy," with a visible role of the state, as is guaranteed in the German Constitution. Muentefering attacked those who see the state as an obstacle, as posing a threat to democracy.
Muentefering later added that the state must be present in all areas that are vital for society: 1) to secure municipal investments to be made; 2) to secure the social security systems; 3) to make investments, securing a future through long-term engagements, 4) to invest in basic research, in energy, transport, medicine, and not to wait to see whether the free market shows an interest in these areas.
Thyssen-Krupp Workers Remind Schroeder of the Transrapid
At a Northrhine-Westphalia election campaign event of the Social Democrats with factory councillors in Krefeld April 12, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder received a present: a desktop model of the latest version of the Transrapid, given to him by the workers of Thyssen-Krupp. Perhaps this reminder will help the Chancellor to begin thinking about maglev projects in Germany.
Sharp Decline in European Car Sales in March
The depressed state of European domestic economies, combined with record-high costs for fuel prices, becomes more evident daily. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (EAMA), Western European car sales dropped by 4.7% in March, compared to one year ago. In the first quarter of the year, sales were 3.3% below last year's level. Worst hit among automobile producers were Fiat (-17%), Peugeot (-9.0%), and Renault (-6.7%). Peugeot, which is Europe's second-biggest carmaker behind Volkswagen, just announced a cut of 850 jobs at its plant in Ryton, England. Renault said on April that it will cut production by one quarter at its factory in Valladolid, Spain. Among countries, car sales dropped the most in Italy (-8.6%) and Britain (-5.1%).
While Eastern Europe is not included in the EAMA data, some countries, such as Poland and the Czech Republic, reported even more dramatic declines in car sales during the first two months of the year.
Polish troops will leave Iraq by end of 2005
In a much-publicized press conference April 13, Polish Defense Minister Szmajdzinski officially announced that Poland has decided to pull its troops from Iraq by the end of 2005. Poland is one of the last members of the "coalition of the willing" to announce this move. Poland has run a multinational stabilization force in the south of Iraq (the country has deployed a total of 10,000 soldiers, since 2003), and began to reduce its own contingent from 2,400 to 1,300 soldiers at the beginning of this year. The Defense Minister stated that the new move would also be a "recommendation" for the next government.
As is widely reported, latest opinion polls show that a growing number of Poles are against Poland's military engagement in Iraq. Given the political disarray in the ruling (post-communist) party SLD, and the forming of an alliance among the conservative parties, the ruling SLD government under Prime Minister Marek Belka is expected to lose power in the upcoming parliamentary elections, which are to take place in October.