Western European News Digest
EU To Dismantle National Health-Care Systems
May 20 (EIRNS)The passage by the European Parliament on April 23 of the European Commission (EC)'s Bowis Directive, on the application of patients' rights in "cross-border healthcare," is an attempt to foist upon European nations privatization of health-care systems under the law of a single market. Health care was excluded from the Bolkestein Directive of 2005, which mandated the free circulation of services, after strong opposition from labor movements, and from left and pro-sovereignty parliamentarians.
The new directive intended to transfer to the EU the regulation of health-care procedures, under the pretext of patients' rights in cross-border health-care. The EC was to determine the norms of health-care procedures, and established a list of allowed hospital treatments. These aspects where defeated, however, because some national parliaments and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) opposed this intrusion into nations' sovereign rights.
But, as European Commissioner for Health Andrulla Vassilliou stated on her blog, the aim of EC health policy is to create a single health market. The Bowis Directive, as the 120 MEPs who voted against it protested, is explicitly based on the Treaty on European Union's Article 95, concerning the European interior market, and not Article 152, which pertains to health care. MEP Katika Liotard from the Netherlands stated that now, national health-care systems will have to give way to EU market rules.
Belgian Health Minister Laurette Onkelinx pointed out that this directive will lead to disinvestment in health-care infrastructure, in favor of "exports" of the sick to the lowest bidder, thus creating a competition between sick nationals and foreigners. Onkelinx also pointed to the role of private insurers specialized in cross-border coverage, who will promote such competition by favoring access to health care of the wealthiest in this free market.
Battle Royal Between City of London and Monarchy
May 18 (EIRNS)British Conservative Party leader David Cameron called today for the dissolution of Parliament, and demanded a vote of no confidence in the Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, as the British government implodes in the biggest scandal to rock Westminster in generations. On May 8, the Daily Telegraph, allied with the City of London and Conservative party, launched its campaign exposing Prime Minister Gordon Brown and leading members of his Cabinet for billing the taxpayers for all kinds of expenses related to the politicians' second homes, personal expenses, and other matters. At fault is a system which allows MPs to claim for second homes in London and other costs related to serving in Parliament, which actually has been in effect many years. But it is in this time of world crisis, that the Telegraph began its exposure of the abuses. The entire British system is being shaken up.
Several MPs, including Labour Justice Minister Shahid Malik, have been forced to resign over "dodgy" expenses claims, and it is certain that more headsif not the those of the entire Parliamentwill roll.
Lyndon LaRouche called the scandal a battle between the City of London, trying to re-establish control amidst this financial debacle, and the monarchy, on lines drawn when the Crown dissolved the utterly discredited 250-year-old East India Company in 1858.
London Grabbing Scarce Flu Vaccines
PARIS, May 21 (EIRNS) Two articles in the Financial Times reveal that even before the British pressured the World Health Organization (WHO) not to shift to a Phase Alert 6 against a flu pandemic, the British elites were already grabbing vast quantities of specific anti-H1N1 vaccines to preserve their own "master race."
"UK grabs limited flu vaccine stocks," wrote Andrew Jack in the Financial Times of May 15. "Fresh hope of protection against the H1N1 flu outbreak emerged on Friday when the government said it had signed a £450-million contract to reserve scarce manufacturing capacity for 90 million doses of vaccine by the end of the year. The contract, which individuals close to the talks estimated to be worth about £5 per dose, may spark international concerns as some richer countries negotiate with producers for privileged access to limited supplies of a pandemic vaccine."
It was British vaccine producer GlaxoSmithKline which obtained the contract to supply 60 million of the 90 million British doses. GSK said it sold a further 50 million doses to France; 13 million to Belgium, and 5 million to Finland. Baxter will supply the U.K.'s remaining 30 million doses.
In reality, "the UK already agreed two years ago to pay £155 million for 'advance supply agreements' which reserve manufacturing capacity for production of 132 million doses of a future pandemic vaccine sufficient to cover the entire population."
Four days later, Andrew Jack wrote another article in the Financial Times, announcing, "Access to flu vaccine 'will fall short': A third of the world's population, at best, could be provided with pandemic flu vaccine over the coming year, even if a decision is made to produce it in the next few weeks, according to estimates released on Tuesday by the WHO."
The article concludes that in the U.S., Secretary for Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, "unlike a number of countries in Europe, had not yet ordered any pandemic vaccine supplies because of continuing uncertainties."
(See InDepth for an overview of the flu crisis.)
Globalization Killing Dairy Industry
PARIS, May 22 (EIRNS)French dairy farmers will conduct milk-dumping protests on May 25. While initially milk prices for consumers increased during last year's food price speculation, the French government, under pressure from the European Union Commission, further deregulated the farm sector, and prices to farmers have plunged.
In Germany this week, Chancellor Angela Merkel met with 100 dairymen in Lower Saxony, but refused to talk to 70 members of the independent milk farmers' association. Afterwards, she promised measures to improve dairy farmers' incomes, but would not consider a floor price to cover their costs of production and to keep them in operation. Instead, she offered the prospect of 1) lowering taxes on farm-use diesel fuel; 2) advance payment of certain farm supports scheduled otherwise for 2010; and 3) some credit guarantees for farmers.
France: Railway Privatization Hasn't KilledYet
PARIS, May 22 (EIRNS)Some 20,000 passengers were unable to travel between Paris and Bordeaux on May 20, when two cargo trains crashed close to Anglouleme. While nobody was killed this time, rail unions correctly point to the increasingly dangerous areas caused by privatization of operators using the rail grid. French Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau tried to shrug off the incident as "human error."
Meanwhile, a meeting took place in Cologne on May 16-17 of railway workers from several EU countries, to discuss strategies against the privatization drive of the EU Commission and of governments, such as that of Britain, which wants to privatize its share of Eurotrain. Pressure to privatize is being put by the EU on France and Belgium, the other shareholders in Eurotrain.