Western European News Digest
Irish Farmers Attack Mandelson's Pro-WTO Policy
May 1 (EIRNS)Padraigh Walshe, the head of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), has attacked pro-WTO (World Trade Organization) EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, for leaving Irish Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan "empty handed," after their meeting in Brussels April 19. This ups the stakes, with consequences throughout Europe, as the IFA has promised to vote "no" on the Lisbon Treaty referendum in Ireland on June 12, if Mandelson, the EU negotiator with the WTO, continues his sell-out of agriculture.
The IFA, which mobilized 10,000 farmers onto the streets of Dublin several weeks ago, helping to catalyze a European farmers revolt which is now centered on dairy farmers, stated in their April 30 press release against Mandelson: "Mr. Walshe said Minister Coughlan failed to secure any commitments from the Trade Commissioner, which was probably not surprising given his ruthless determination to destroy Europe's farm family structure. Mandelson has never disguised his real agenda, which is to make Brazil and South America the dominant food suppliers to European consumers and the destruction of Europe's food industry in the process."
After the meeting, Mandelson emphasized how much Ireland could benefit from the "services sector." For the record: Dublin is a center for those famous asset-backed securities (ABS) bank conduits, employs thousands in the back-office processing centers for the trades of London-centered hedge funds, and is a call center in competition with Bangalore, India. (Some wags just might also remember Mandelson's escapades with Brazilian transvestites in a Rio nightclub, another kind of "service sector" he seems to know something about.)
Italy Goes for Brenner Tunnel
April 26 (EIRNS)Italian President Giorgio Napolitano will officially give the start April 28 to the construction of a tunnel between Austria and Italy, as part of the "Corridor 1" Trans-European Network. The project should be completed in 2020, at an estimated cost of Eu6 billion, partly financed by the European Union with Eu593 million, and the rest split evenly between the two countries.
The Brenner Base Tunnel project (BBT) is the heart of the 2,200-km high-speed rail corridor from Berlin to Palermo, via Munich, Verona, and Bologna (Corridor 1) and it includes a 56-km-long tunnel. In addition to significantly lower gradients, the BBT will also reduce total line length by about 20 km, bringing the current two-hour travel time between Innsbrück and Bolzano down to 50 minutes. Other benefits will include reduction of freight traffic on the A22 highway. The Italian state railway company Ferrovie dello Stato estimates about 400 trains per day running inside the tunnel (320 of them freight trains), traveling at speeds of up to 220 kmh.
As Corriere della Sera reports today, one of the leading environmentalist organizations, Legambiente, supports the project.
Dairy Farmers Price-Dumping Protest Spreading
April 30 (EIRNS)Several hundred dairy farmers engaged in protest actions at 46 locations in the eastern German state of Saxe-Anhalt, yesterday, handing out butter and milk for free to the population, in protest against attempts by dairies to dump producer prices below 30 cents per liter of milk.
Protests by dairy farmers are also reported from Spain and other countries of the European Union. Spanish dairy farmers held a protest rally in Santiago de Compostela, today, with three farmer associations announcing a boycott against dairies, should their pricing policies not improve. As in the German case, dairies in Spain are trying to justify their cuts in prices paid to producers, with the alleged "overproduction" and "milk market glut" myths, which are also propagated by the EU Commission, with the intent to cut subsidies to farmers.
France-China Crisis Still Hot
PARIS, May 1 (EIRNS)Today, once again, several hundred Chinese demonstrated in front of the French supermarket Carrefour in three major Chinese cities. The demonstrations were held in opposition to France's position on Tibet. The pressure seems to be having some impact, since French agent-provocateur Robert Menard, and his NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF), declared that they will cancel a planned demonstration tomorrow in Hong Kong. RSF suddenly declared that Beijing gave signs of opening up to dialogue, and that "concrete acts in favor of human rights" are in the making.
Since 2001, the George Soros-financed RSF has claimed its target was to "screw up the Olympics." Robert Menard went to Greece and Japan to disrupt the passing of the Olympic torch there. It appears that somebody in Paris told them to shut up, or else.
EU To Destroy Hundreds of Thousands of Acres of Vineyards
April 30 (EIRNS)The Council of Ministers of the European Union yesterday approved the EU Commission draft to eliminate 425,000 acres of vineyards in the next three years, through a system of "incentives." The aim is to eliminate surpluses and "non-competitive" farms. The EU reform includes the permission to use sugar, the use of imported musts (the fresh juice from the wine grapes), and a simplification of labels.
The reform has been opposed by major wine-producing countries, including France and Italy, but it was nevertheless approved. Critics warn that destroying "non-competitive" vineyards, means to eliminate diversity, leading to a few, "globalized" types. Also, the simplification of labels mandates the indication of the vineyard, but eliminates the production site, favoring large producers.
Basque Bombing Spree in Spain
May 1 (EIRNS)Three bombs exploded in the Spanish Basque region today. The separatist ETA took responsibility. No casualties were reported. One bomb hit the parking lot of the local office of Spain's Ministry of Labor in the town of Arrigorriaga and caused extensive damage, a Basque regional police spokesman told CNN. The other two bombs exploded half an hour later, near a Basque regional government labor institute in the large city of San Sebastian.
Those two bombs were preceded by warning calls in the name of the ETA, giving police time to cordon off the area. They caused little damage.
These bombings followed ETA bombings on April 20, of a recreation center of the ruling Socialist Party in the Basque town of Elgoibar. They caused no injuries. Days earlier, seven Basque police officers were slightly hurt when a bomb exploded on the outskirts to the largest Basque city, Bilbao.
The latest bombings came just hours after a Spanish judge on April 30 jailed the mayor of Mondragon, Inocencia Galparsoro, on charges of collaborating with ETA, after she refused to condemn the killing of an ex-councilman.