Western European News Digest
Vaclav Klaus Delays Lisbon Treaty
June 19 (EIRNS)Czech President Vaclav Klaus has thrown a monkey-wrench into the drive to force through the European Union's supranational Lisbon Treaty. Speaking at the EU summit in Brussels today, he announced that he will not sign the treaty until the Czech Parliament votes on the guarantees on national sovereignty being demanded by the Irish government, in return for holding a second referendum. All states have to ratify these new guarantees, which are still under negotiation between the Irish government and the EU. (The Irish people defeated the treaty in a referendum in June 2008, but the government is being pressed by the EU to run it again.)
The London Financial Times reports that it is believed that EU leaders fear that Klaus is playing for time, in the hope that the British Conservative Party will come to power in an early election. "The Conservatives have declared they will hold a referendum on the treaty, which could end in a 'no' vote that would kill it forever," the paper states.
The Conservative Party is now in the process of forming a new European Parliament faction which would include Lisbon Treaty skeptics, including Klaus's own party, as well as parties from Poland and the Netherlands. A Dutch European parliamentarian from the Christian Union party, a small conservative party with two European parliamentarians, informed EIR that he was in negotiations to create such a faction.
Berlusconi Backs Blair as 'President of Europe'
June 20 (EIRNS)At the European Union Summit in Brussels yesterday, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi endorsed Britain's Tony Blair to become the "first President of Europe," when calling for the Lisbon Treaty to be put into effect as soon as possible. Concessions by the rest of the EU leaders to Ireland, in the form of a special protocol dealing with abortion, military neutrality, and tax haven status, yielded a promise by Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen that his country would hold another referendum on the Lisbon Treaty sometime in October. The concessions to the Irish must, however, still be approved by the parliaments of the other 26 EU nationswhich will not occur in a rush.
German Parliament Passes 'Living Will' Law
June 18 (EIRNS)The Bundestag (parliament) of Germany passed a law on "living wills" today, in a vote of 320 to 241, with 5 abstentions. This vote is the preliminary result of a years-long struggle over legislation that places a patient's wish to die over medical or juridical considerations. This even applies to oral statements, not requiring anything in writing. Strong opposition to the "living will" has watered the law down a bit, so that it includes an option for courts to intervene, in cases of dispute between medical personnel and relatives of the patient.
But why did the Bundestag, which after a 2003 ruling by the Constitutional Court has been brooding over the issue but has not voted on it, vote it out now in a bit rush? Apparently, someone very high up wanted this law to pass before the Summer break, in tandem with the debate over health-care "reform" in the U.S.A.
Obama-Style Health Cuts Exported to France
PARIS, June 16 (EIRNS)The French government today revealed its expectations for the deficit in this year's Social Security budget (which pays for health insurance, retirement, workplace accidents, and the family): a rise from EU10.2 billion to EU20.1 billion. Of course, the doubling of the deficit is the direct consequence of job losses and fall in contributions. France, as Germany, has a "Bismarckian system" in which the Social Security is mainly managed by 27 representatives of the employers and the employees represented by trade-unions. Britain has a totally state-managed system established by Baron William Beveridge in 1942. But if the deficit appears, the state intervenes to pay.
French Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot underlined that the growing deficit is "not the result of overspending." With the same rhetoric as the Obama Nazi health team, Bachelot claimed that "rigorous cuts are not on the agenda," but said the fight against fraud and waste will be undertaken. The first issue mentioned: patient transport. Since many small clinics and hospitals are in the process of being closed down, patients are obliged to travel long distances to receive care. The cost of such trips, so far, is paid by public health insurance. But given the increase in such trips, "fraud" is suspected. Health insurance officials will inspect the 200 hospitals that recommend the majority of these trips.
Children with Flu Hospitalized in France
PARIS, June 16 (EIRNS)Ten schoolchildren were confirmed as having H1N1 influenza in a school in Quint-Fonsegrives, in southern France. The cases are not connected to anyone who had travelled to Mexico, the U.S., or other countries affected. All ten, even though they are not suffering from severe infection, were hospitalized, in order to study and quarantine them.
Bruno Marchou, the head of the infectious disease department of the local hospital, angrily said that such hospitalization was absurd, not practiced anywhere else but in France, and could endanger the lives of other patients. To free up hospital beds and services, other patients were hastily relocated. "It is completely abnormal to hospitalize persons suffering from the flu who have no respiratory problems," said Patrick Berch, a professor of microbiology at the University of Paris. They should be treated at home, while hygienic recommendations are given to those around them to avoid contagion. "It is dangerous to send them to the hospital."
Austria To Prosecute BAE for Corruption
June 20 (EIRNS) Her Majesty's top arms manufacturer and funder of British Secret Intelligence operations, BAE Systems, might very well end up in trouble in Austria over allegations of bribing government officials for the sales of jet fighter aircraft to Austria, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.
The Austrian prosecutor is expected to bring corruption charges, as a result of new documents that have surfaced, detailing the channeling of secret BAE funds to Austrian Count Alfons Mensdorff Pouilly, allegedly BAE's top bagman in delivering bribes to further the sales of these aircraft. One document has Mensdorff writing that the successful sales of BAE's Eurofighters in Austria, worth EU1.7 billion, were thanks to "aggressive incentive payments to key decision-makers."
A new witness has also surfaced, Mark Cliff, a British accountant who help arrange the sale of a Scottish hunting estate and ran several of several of Mensdorff's offshore shell companies, according to today's London Guardian.
Brown's Iraq War 'Inquiry': Bury Everything
June 15 (EIRNS)British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced today in the House of Commons that the long-awaited full inquiry into the Iraq War will be carried out in private, by an "independent, Privy Counsellor Committee of Inquiry." The committee is supposed to look at everything from the run-up to the war in Summer 2003 to the current withdrawal, Brown said. It will be "fully independent of government," he added. While the inquiry should have access to all British documents and witnesses, evidence will be heard in such a way as to ensure national securitymeaning secretlyuntil the report is released for national debate in July 2010 (notably, after the last possible date for a general election in Britain, which is June 2010). All the members of the committee, which is to be led by Sir John Chilcot, "are or will become" privy counsellors, Brown said. Their goal is to "identify lessons learned," and not "apportion blame or consider issues of civil or criminal liability," Brown stressed.
Lyndon LaRouche commented that the long-awaited "inquiry" is only intended to bury everything for now, to be exhumed in a few years.