Western European News Digest
It's Official: Britain Is the Top 'PIG'
Feb. 19 (EIRNS)"Shock as British Deficit Equals That of Greece," shouts the headline of the London Independent today. The collapse of tax revenue that caused a record £4.3 billion deficit for January, is front-page headline news all over the British media. Now, almost all the relevant numbers have made Great Britain the top PIG (the acronym PIGS refers to the supposedly weakest economies in the Eurozone: Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain). First, the announcement pushed up the interest on British 10-year treasury bonds, or "gilts," to 4.2%, up 17 basis points. While this is still lower than Portugal (4.41), Ireland (4.75), or Greece (6.53), it is considerably higher than Spain (4.02) and Italy (4.05). As for the deficit as percentage of gross domestic product, Britain is headed toward 12.8%, as compared with Greece's 12.7%. Even if Britain is within the government's own official forecast, it will be at 12.6%. The overall borrowing this fiscal year, which ends in March, is officially forecast to be £178 billion, but could exceed £180 billion.
A closer look at the "fundamentals" of tax receipts, shows it could hardly be worse. The collapse of revenue was 9% in a monthJanuaryfor which economists had forecast a 2.8% increase. Income tax returns collapsed by 20%, and corporate tax by 6%. The Value Added Tax (VAT) increased only because the rate was increased from 15% to 17.5%. Public spending increased 15%, especially because of increased unemployment benefits. The Independent reports that the figures may have been massaged, because there are indications that the government has been holding back the reimbursements for overpaid income tax, which would make "the figures better now, at the cost of making them worse in a couple of months time." Because income tax revenues are collapsing, especially in the top 10 percentile which accounts for 53% of the intake, the VAT will likely be increased to 20%.
The collapse of revenues among British municipalities is expected to lead to the loss of more than 20,000 municipal jobs.
German Constitutional Court Could Block Any Bailout
Feb. 15 (EIRNS)Wolfgang Münchau, one of the chief commentators of the Financial Times, writes in today's edition that, while last week's EU summit may have agreed to a bailout for Greece, Germany's Constitutional Court rulings on the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties could make that a dead letter. While saying the anti-bailout sentiment "borders on hysteria," he admits that Chancellor Angela Merkel "is contained by the 1993 Maastricht Treaty ruling of the German Constitutional Courtwhich as I understand was an important consideration in determining her stance last Thursday [Feb. 11]. The court stipulated that stability is an unalienable basis for Germany's participation in a monetary union. Should this principle be violated, the legal basis for Germany's participation would no longer be valid."
A source in the German Bundestag confirmed to EIR, that, the bailout for Greece, if it comes, may be taken to court, by a "constitutional body" in Germany, such as a group in the national parliament, or by the Bundestag as a whole (not very likely), or another body (state government, state parliament, etc.).
These remarks, as well as the increasing media coverage of the constitutional issue, prove that Helga Zepp-LaRouche was on the mark, when she said that the crisis of the euro showed it is high time for Germany to quit the euro system and return to its national currency, the deutschemark.
Deutsche Bank Says 'No' to Return to D-Mark
Feb. 19 (EIRNS)An interview with Nicolas Heinen of Deutsche Bank, in the Germany daily Die Welt, on the Greek issue and the euro crisis, is just another piece of evidence that the debate about a return to the German deutschmark is intensifying.
When the interviewer asks, "But, would Germany not been better off with the d-mark? The speculative attacks are also hitting us, although their target is the Greek state finances," Heinen replies: "Even if at present, predominantly the frictions inside the eurozone are perceived, the advantages [of the euro] prevail. If we still had the d-mark, there would be a massive flight from other European currencies into the mark. It would be been strongly revalued, and the high exchange rate would strangle our exportsin addition to the reduced demand on the world markets."
Brittany Regional Slate of Solidarity and Progress Party Certified
PARIS, Feb. 16 (EIRNS)The 91-candidate slate of Jacques Cheminade's Solidarity and Progress Party, called "Brittany, a Lighthouse of the New World," for the March 14 regional elections, was officially certified by the Prefecture yesterday.
The four LaRouche Youth Movement members leading the slate held a press conference following certification. Four journalists attended: the Rennes local TV station; the national FR3, which covers regional news; the largest regional daily Ouest France; and the Telegramme de Brest.
This morning, the Telegramme writes that besides the seven usual slates, four newcomers are spicing up the debate. "Then, there was the breakout of the Solidarity and Progress party of Jacques Cheminade, which has chosen Brittany to present his only regional slate". Ouest France this morning has a small article, "Solidarity and Progress, the Surprise Invitee," showing the four leaders of the slate in front of the Theatre of Rennes. "On top of his program, Alexandre Noury places a reform of the international financial system which today 'imposes short-term profit and sacrifices the future.' He also denounces wind, energy which he considers 'ruinous for all' while demanding small nuclear reactors for the region."
'Assisted Suicide': Coming to a Neighborhood Near You?
Feb. 20 (EIRNS)Just as Barack Obama prepares his new attempt to ram through his British-modelled Hitler health plan, the British government is planning its next stepdecriminalizing "assisted suicide."
The U.K. Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, who issued a guidance last September on when you can kill someone without being prosecuted for murder, is scheduled to publish his final guidelines this coming week. According to British press reports, as in the Daily Telegraph of Feb. 19, Starmer's guidelines will amount to a "checklist" of circumstances under which you can avoid prosecutions.
Current British law calls for punishing anyone who aids or abets another to end their life by up to 14 years imprisonment. In the face of numerous "test cases" flouting the law, the House of Lords has still refused to legalize assisted suicide. Now, this administrative move will effectively circumvent the Parliament, and permit the practice.
According to the Telegraph account, the Crown Prosecutor will effectively be setting out in detail the way people can commit the crime of murder, without being held to account. Not even Hitler dared to make such a public declaration of intent.