Western European News Digest
France: Rocket Docket Clears Way for Lisbon Treaty
Feb. 5 (EIRNS)Assembled yesterday in Versailles, and in a rocket docket procedure, both houses of the French legislature voted up a reform of the French Constitution to permit the French Parliament to ratify the European Union's Lisbon Treaty; 560 votes were cast in favor, 181 against, with 152 abstentions.
The reform of the Constitution requires 60% of the votes cast, indicating that if the opposition had mobilized to do so, the reform could easily have been defeated. "The Treaty of Lisbon gives body again to a French dream of an acting and efficient Europe," commented French Prime Minister François Fillon.
The Treaty of Lisbon is nothing but a repeat of the "European Constitution" which was rejected by referenda in Denmark and France in 2005. Like the "European Constitution," it will remove the little that is left of the sovereignty of European governments under the EU.
The new rules of the EU democratic empire: 1) A President of Europe will be elected by the 27 heads of state of the EU; the most likely candidates are Tony Blair or Jean-Claude Juncker; 2) All decisions will be made by a qualified majority instead of unanimity; 3) The EU will have a single foreign affairs representative; 4) The European Parliament will get more power and elect the president of the European Commission; 5) One million citizens of the EU (from several member states) can ask the Commission to elaborate a rule or directive.
Blair Runs for 'President of Europe'
Feb. 2 (EIRNS)Tony Blair, a key author of the Iraq War, will mount a campaign to be appointed President of the European Union Council, "President of Europe," if the job comes with "real powers" over defense and foreign affairs, Britain's Guardian reports. The presidency is a new position created by the Lisbon Treaty, but the treaty has not yet been approved.
Blair has recruited his old chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, in his bid. While French President Nicolas Sarkozy has voiced support for Blair's bid, no one else has. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is cool on the idea, as is former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the reputed author of the Lisbon Treaty. The smaller countries are said to be cool to the idea as well.
French Socialist Party Deputy Favors Two-Tier Credit System
PARIS, Feb. 6 (EIRNS)Arnaud Montebourg, a Socialist deputy and national party leader, on Jan. 30, issued the following statement to AFP, on the Société Générale case, reflecting the influence in France of Lyndon LaRouche's associate Jacques Cheminade of the Solidarity and Progress party:
"It is not by looking for a scapegoat that we will deal with the disorders of our financial system. Our concern is to reform the financial system by putting it into service for the real economy, so that it is not trailing behind the speculative economy. The masses of money invested in speculation must be re-oriented towards the industrial and productive economy. We must, at a European level, reverse the tendency of over-taxation of capital invested in the productive economy and undertaxation of the money invested in speculation. Let us look for the means to avoid further catastrophes which hurt hundreds of thousands of working people."
U.S. SEC To Probe Société Générale Insider Deals
PARIS, Feb. 6 (EIRNS)The U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has opened an investigation on the possible "insider trading" operated by shadowy American billionaire and Arnold Schwarzenegger advisor Robert A. Day, according to the Wall Street Journal. Day, as a director of Société Générale, sold over 1.5 million of his shares just days before the "rogue trader" fraud sparked heavy losses. The Kings County (Brooklyn) attorney general has opened a criminal investigation on a case tied to Société Générale, whose content is so far unspecified.
Germany Refuses To Put Combat Troops into Afghanistan
Feb. 7 (EIRNS)Despite a full-court press exerted by the United States, Germany refused to put its troops in harm's way in Afghanistan, saying that they would remain in non-combat areas of northern Afghanistan. Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung told reporters on Feb. 6 that Germany would send only 250 troops to northern Afghanistan as part of a NATO Quick Reaction Force, to replace a Norwegian unit of similar size.
While falling short of Helga Zepp-LaRouche's Feb. 4 call for a German military pullout, the decision is a rebuff to the demands from the Western and NATO officials who refuse to accept that NATO has already lost in that country.
Sarkozy's Party Expected To Take Heavy Losses Next Election
PARIS, Feb. 6 (EIRNS)Today's Le Canard Enchaîné confirms EIR's previous analysis that the March 9 national district and municipal elections in France will be a severe defeat for President Nicolas Sarkozy and his UMP party. Le Canard reports that the UMP is close to revolt against the President, blaming him for its likely defeat.
Three elements have brought down Sarkozy's overwhelming popularity after just 11 months in the Presidency. First and foremost, he had promised to be the "President who would increase purchasing power," but, since then, the French have seen prices and taxes increase, while Sarkozy has declared that "the state coffers are empty"; 2) the overexposure of his private life, which has caused the elderly to turn against him, who had elected him based on a law-and-order platform; 3) the report just published by Jacques Attali's Commission on How To Free the Economy, which Sarkozy named and which proposes massive deregulation of protected sectors of the economycommerce, taxis, notaries, pharmaciesas a means to obtain reductions of prices, has created havoc in that electorate against the UMP.
The Socialist Party, itself in shambles, and with no alternative program, is expected to be the beneficiary of this defeat.
Smaller Study of Kattegat Bridge Approved in Denmark
COPENHAGEN, Feb. 6 (EIRNS)Transportation Minister Carina Christensen has approved spending only 2 million Danish krone ($400,000) for a "screening," as opposed to a real study, on the feasibility of building a bridge across the Kattegat Sea, that would connect the island of Zealand, where Copenhagen is located, and the Jutland Peninsula near Aarhus, Denmark's second largest city. The chairman of the East Jutland region, Bent Hansen, said that if no more money were allocated by the central government, he would try to get the regional government to put in money to help make it a more comprehensive study. The Schiller Institute, during its April 2007 testimony, was the first to urge the Danish Parliament to order a study of building a maglev link across a Kattegat, as a part of its national maglev plan.
The announcement of the study came on the same day that "TV2 East Jutland" held a hearing about a Kattegat Bridge, in which members of the Schiller Institute's Aarhus chapter intervened.
Prince Andrew Tells U.S. How To Be Imperialist
Feb. 5 (EIRNS)Prince Andrew, in a Buckingham Palace interview with the International Herald Tribune, was highly critical of the Bush Administration for not listening to British advice on how to be an effective imperialist. He gave the interview ahead of his departure today for a ten-day U.S. trip to promote British business. He will visit Florida, California, Georgia, and New York.
There are "occasions when people in the U.K. would wish that those in responsible positions in the U.S. might listen and learn from our experiences," he told the Tribune. He went on to say that because of its imperial history, Britain has experienced much of what the United States is going through. "If you are looking at colonialism, if you are looking at operations on an international scale, if you are looking at understanding each other's culture, understanding how to operate in a military insurgency campaignwe have been through them all," he said. "We've won some, lost some, drawn some. The fact is, there is quite a lot of experience over here which is valid and should be listened to."