Western European News Digest
Franco-Italian Summit Pushes Nuclear Agenda
April 9 (EIRNS)The bilateral Franco-Italian meeting today in Paris pushed forward an important agenda of industrial cooperation, spearheaded by cooperation in nuclear energy development, but also including railways and finance. Italy plans to build four nuclear power stations with French technology. To this purpose, a deal has already been signed between Electricité de France (EDG) and the Italian electricity company ENEL, which will be the leader of the consortium.
Today, three more deals will be signed by the French nuclear company AREVA: 1) With Ansaldo Nucleare. Italian technicians and engineers will work together with their French colleagues in plants being built abroad, such as in Finland, and eventually in France and Great Britain on engineering, building, and starting the reactors. 2) A deal for a strategic partnership with Techint to build components for plants, not necessarily nuclear plants. 3) An agreement with a dozen Italian universities to reconstruct lost skills and develop new ones in the nuclear fields, including joint research programs, student internships at AREVA, and visit to plants.
British Tories Would Reopen Kelly Inquiry
April 5 (EIRNS)British Conservative Party shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve said that if the Tories win the next elections, they will reopen the investigation into the July 2003 death of weapons of mass destruction scientist Dr. David Kelly. Grieve is quoted in the Daily Mail as questioning the Hutton Inquiry, organized by the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair, which claimed that Kelly had committed suicide. Kelly was the source for a BBC story exposing that the Blair government had "sexed up" the report that Iraq had of weapons of mass destruction.
The Hutton Inquiry refused permission to have an official coroner's investigation, and Lord Hutton has had all evidence relating to the case sealed from release to the public for 70 years. The Mail reports that Hutton later made a statement saying that the doctors' group could have access to the documents, but he has yet to act on it. The doctors hope that, with Grieve joining their cause, Hutton will finally release the documents to them.
Paris Public Hospitals Financed by Bond Bubble
PARIS, April 9 (EIRNS)The largest Japanese Mutual Bank, Zenkyoren, is buying upo bonds of the Assistance Publique-Hopitaux de Paris (AP-HP), the largest public hospital group of France.
The bonds are for sale in Zurich and, of course, in France. Since 2006, AP-HP, increasingly pressured to be financially "autonomous," has been taking loans from private banks, and in 2009, the group borrowed 275 million euros from private banks.
But the hospital also found a much cheaper way to obtain cash: It writes its own bonds. In 2009, the totality of bonds written out by the public AP-HP were bought by foreign capital. "With the new prudential rules, international investors are looking to safe investments," explains its financial manager, Philippe Sauvage.
So far, AP-HP has AAA rating, but rating agencies are starting to worry about the debt increase, from 1 billion in 2005 to 1.87 billion euros in 2009! To "restructure" the debt, one has to expect the IMF will very soon send its "men in black."
Budget Fascists Assault German Health Care
April 6 (EIRNS)Apparently encouraged by the Obama success in the U.S. Congress, budget- cutting fanatics in Germany are moving ahead for a new round of deep cuts in the health-care system. On the one hand, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble restated that the "debt brake" policy will have priority, and, since deep cuts in pensions and other social budgets are not possible for the time being, the health-care budgets are the prime target. Schaeuble said the "debt brake," which goes into full effect in 2011, is neither debatable nor changeable, and he encouraged Health Minister Philip Roesler to march ahead with his "reforms."
Claiming that he wants to do something about the chronic under-supply of health care and infrastructure, including the shortage of doctors and nurses in some regions of Germany, Roesler has called for the creation of more medical service centers (modelled on the British centers), which would employ doctors and nurses at fixed salaries, and operate on the basis of restrictive budgetary and medical ceilings. This is accompanied by a populist move by Roesler, calling for lifting the quota system that puts a limit on the number of medical students at universities, and for changing the training standards, so that universities produce medical personnel who are much more specialized and streamlined in certain categories of medical treatment, and can therefore finish universities in less time than an average student today.
No Future for Youth Employment with EU System
April 7 (EIRNS)The latest unemployment figures published by the European Union's statistical service Eurostat, in Brussels yesterday, show that unemployment of youths under age 25 is on the rise, reaching 20% now, which is twice as high as that of unemployed generally. That figure broken down by country shows an alarming rise of jobless youth in Spain and Latvia, in particular, with above 40.7% and 41.3%, which means that almost one out of two citizens under age 25 in those states is without a job.
Throughout eastern and southeastern Europe, youth unemployment is considerably above 20%: Slovakia 33.2%, Lithuania 30.4%, Hungary 27.6%, Estonia 27.5%, Greece 27.5%, Poland 23.4%, Bulgaria 22.4%, the Czech Republic 21.6%. Italy with 28.3%, and Ireland with 28.6% are not far behind, nor are Sweden with 25.6%, Belgium with 24.8%, and Finland with 23.7%. Also France with 22.1% and Portugal with 21% are above the EU average. Germany and Austria are at 10%. Figures for Britain and Romania were not available.
Not quite a "success story" for the Eurocrats who try to lecture the Greeks about how to behave.
France Legalizes Internet Gambling
PARIS, April 6 (EIRNS)Confirming the sleaze factor among elected officials and also among many citizens, who are becoming gamblers in the millions, the French National Assembly will soon adopt a law legalizing gambling on the Internet, and expanding the gamut of gambling that had been relatively restricted, to be allowed on the Internet.
Since the end of the 19th Century, gambling in France has been run by a public company, La Française de Jeux, and was limited to betting on equestrian competitions. The present law will eliminate the state monopoly, open up to private gambling companies, and legalize Internet gambling in poker games and sports betting.
Tremonti Speaks Again On Need for Chapter 11
April 10 (EIRNS)Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti, speaking before 5,000 industrialists, regretted that no "Chapter 11" bankruptcy proceedings and no "New Deal" solution had been adopted at the onset of the world financial crisis, and so the crisis continues to unfold, like monsters popping up in a videogame.
Tremonti was speaking at a general staff meeting of the Italian Industrialist Association in Parma. "The threat is not over," he was quoted saying by the business daily Il Sole 24 Ore. "It is like in a video game. The crisis has mutated. It was not managed as with the New Deal, not with 'Chapter 11.'"