"Europe’s Conservatives between Dogma and Schism
The European People’s Party (EPP) met in Rome for its annual Study Days this week, celebrating its 30th anniversary. The conference that attracted several Conservative Heads of Government attempted to find a common approach to trans-European issues such as enlargement and the EU constitution, but also had to face internal disagreement and even the threat of a split.
The Conservatives constitute the dominant force in European politics today, counting nine EU commissioners and 11 heads of governments among its members, including those of key EU countries France, Germany, and Italy. The EPP-ED (European Democrats) fraction also forms the largest group in the European Parliament, occupying 264 out of the 732 seats."
www.uruknet.info: Baghdad or Turkey ? - Baghdad photo scandal discovered - US San Diego Republican Howard Kaloogian exposed
Baghdad or Turkey? - Baghdad photo scandal discovered - US San Diego Republican Howard Kaloogian exposed
Howard Kaloogian a Republican who is running for Senate in the US was under fire for publishing a web photo which was portrayed as being a picture of himself in a peaceful Baghdad suburb, but the picture was actually taken in Istanbul. The photo which appeared on the congressional candidate, Howard Kooligian's website had the caption "We took this photo of Baghdad while we were in Iraq. Iraq is much more calm and stable than what many people believe it to be. It looked too good to be true and some Intelligent folks on the internet collectively pooled their skepticism and wondered if the photo was a fake. Clues cited include the lack of Arabic on the signs, the bare-shouldered woman in the foreground, and a taxicab that didn't match Iraqi taxi colors.
After some virtual collaboration from eagle-eyed skeptics, the real location of the photograph was identified less than 24 hours later as Bakirkoy, Istanbul. Someone even took a photograph of the same intersection for comparison. Let us hear it for the Internet.
Dollar declines in rumor-prone market-by Kevin Plumberg
The dollar on Thursday suffered its largest single-day decline in two months, spurred by market chatter on central bank foreign exchange reserve diversification, which reignited concerns about the growing U.S. trade deficit. Also, rumors the White House issued a statement in support of a weaker dollar accelerated what was already a clear move lower in the dollar partly driven by technical factors, traders said. But concerns have indeed been revived that the United States may not be able to continually attract enough capital flows from abroad, particularly from China which has the world's largest currency reserves, to offset its enormous trade deficit, which reached a record $723.6 billion last year.
"China is probably going to make some adjustments that include slower reserve accumulation in the future and therefore slower reflow into the United States," said Robert Sinche, global head of currency strategy with Bank of America. "Throw on top of that talk of some Middle Eastern central banks doing some reserve diversification, all of this leaves some negative structural backdrop to the dollar, so that any time you get inclinations there is less Fed tightening in the works, the natural course for the dollar is lower," he added.
LONDON (Dow Jones)--A possible move by Middle Eastern central banks to cut the dollar's share in their foreign currency reserves is placing new pressure on the already shaky currency.
A report on Wednesday that a United Arab Emirates central bank will decide next week whether to shift a portion of its reserves from the dollar to the euro renewedlong-term speculation that other Middle Eastern banks would make the same change. Some analysts still question whether the currency market's focus on this topic is justified, given the relatively small amounts involved in the U.A.E.'s reserves. But with the dollar's popularity already wobbling with signs that U.S. interest rate hikes are ending, the fresh speculation put the greenback under pressure.
"We have seen similar comments from Iran, Syria, and now from the U.A.E., so certainly momentum is gathering," said Monica Fan, head of currency strategy at R.B.C. Capital Markets in London.
PARIS (AFX) - France's public budget deficit stood at 2.9 pct of GDP in 2005, down from 3.7 pct the year before, and bringing the country back into line with the euro zone's Stability and Growth Pact, which requires countries to keep their budget deficits below 3 pct of output. The budget deficit was also lower than the 3 pct level forecasted by the French government, and marks the first time that France's budget deficit has met the stability pact requirements since 2001.
However, France's public debt rose to 66.8 pct of GDP at the end of last year from the 64.4 pct seen in 2004.
EU calls on members to close digital divide by Sarah Arnott
The European Commission is urging member states to focus on closing the digital divide caused by unequal access to broadband communications. According to the Bridging the Broadband Gap report published last week, high-speed internet access is crucial to the dynamism of the European economy and meeting the growth objectives of the i2010 Lisbon agenda. But broadband households are concentrated in urban and suburban areas while rural communities are being left behind.
In January, DSL broadband was available to only 62 per cent of rural homes in Europe, with a take-up rate of just eight per cent, compared with 18 per cent in towns.
Hungary and Finland support strong European Union
Relations between Finland and Hungary are problem-free, agreed presidents Lászlo Sólyom and Tarja Halonen in Helsinki on Wednesday. Hungarian President Sólyom, who is on a two-day state visit in Finland, exchanged views with Halonen about the future of the European Union and about the Kosovo situation, among other issues. For historical reasons, Hungary would like to take part in the efforts to stabilise the Balkans. At a joint press conference, Halonen gave an assurance that both countries supported a strong Europe and were interested in putting the European Constitution into force. Both heads of state agreed that the countries interested in joining the Union, as well as its present member states, should give up restrictions that prevent free movement of labour within the Union.
The presidents also deliberated the cooperation possibilities of the Finno-Ugric peoples within the context of the EU. Sólyom arrived in Helsinki from Tallinn, where he had had negotiations with the Estonian leadership. Next month there will be a parliamentary election in Hungary, but none of the large parties have brought up the question of dual citizenship for Hungarian minorities abroad, president Sólyom confirmed. Last year there was a referendum in Hungary concerning dual citizenship, but the entire vote was nullified because of the low turnout percentage.
Central Europe feels chill wind from global investment climate by Stefan Wagstyl
Hungarians would prefer to ignore the financial turmoil that has hit Iceland. But there are concerns that the same chill winds blowing around Reykjavik could be felt in Budapest and, possibly, other central European capitals. Rising global interest rates are pushing down currencies in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. There is no sign of imminent financial upheaval. But fund managers are concerned that an adverse change in the global investment climate has coincided with a bout of political uncertainty - with Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia facing parliamentary elections and Poland beset by reports that a fragile government may be forced to go to the polls.
Governments have pressed ahead with EU-linked reforms. But unlike the Baltic states, central European countries have recently balked at serious fiscal restructuring. Except for Slovakia, they have declined to cut welfare budgets which swell their fiscal deficits. Voters, buffeted by change since the fall of Communism, have grown weary of reform and populists have gained ground by promising to ease transition through increased social spending.
Dutch economy up 1.1% in 2005
"Statistics Netherlands" announces that the growth rate of the Dutch economy in 2005 reached 1.1 percent. This is lower than the 1.7 percent growth rate in 2004, but well above the figures for the years 2002-2003. This is according to the second estimate made by Statistics Netherlands. The economic growth rate is 0.2 percent point higher than in the first estimate of February.
Again, exports were the driving force behind the continuous but modest economic recovery in 2005. Furthermore there was another slight increase in investments. There was a very modest increase in the consumption of households and government. There were two working days less in 2005 than 2004.
European Union threatens Microsoft Vista
Chief vole basher Neelie Kroes, the €uro antitrust commissioner, told Microsoft its future Vista OS can't be sold unless it obeys the rules laid down by the power bloc. The Wall Street Journal interviewed Neelie Kroes who said the €U must design Vista so it doesn't breach antitrust rules. Or else.
The Journal also quotes Kroes as saying that she sent shy and retiring CEO Steve Ballmer a billet doux last week warning him not to put some security features into the Vista OS and not to allow the IE 7 browser to point only at its own search engine.
Envisat sees the eclipse's shadow over Africa
An unsual view of the total eclipse from space as Europe's Envisat's MERIS captures the totality path slicing through northwestern Nigeria on 29 March 2006. You can see the animation if you have the latest Macromedia Flash program installed on your computer.
"Turkish question and enlargement may ultimately define EU’s destiny
By Ann Cahill, Europe Correspondent
THE US would not have gone into Iraq if the EU had been united against it; Europe did not intervene in Bosnia to prevent the genocide because the US didn’t care about it enough to spur NATO into action; Turkey, and not pushing growth and jobs, is what will define ultimately the European Union.
All brave statements but when the person making them is one of the most respected intellectuals in the world and current Director General of External and Politico-Military Affairs of the EU, they are worth noting at least.
Globalisation and the Irish Economy: Ireland extremely vulnerable to a global slowdown in either the high-tech or financial services sectors
A reduction in US investment into Ireland would have a disproportionately negative impact on the Irish economy, a study carried out by the Institute for International Integration Studies (IIS), based in Trinity College Dublin, shows.
The analysis shows that Ireland acts as a production and financial intermediary that has enormous liabilities to foreign investors and imports large volumes of goods and services but also holds very large foreign asset positions and has a spectacular export record. An important feature is that the pattern of Ireland's international economic linkages is highly asymmetric – the United States is an important supplier of capital and intellectual services, Asia is growing as a source of manufacturing imports, while intra-European flows dominate in terms of trade in final products and migration flows.
Europeanisation of Russia needed for EU energy security, Piebalgs says
BRUSSELS - The best way to create EU energy security is to export market economy values to suppliers such as Russia and the Middle East, energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs told EUobserver in an interview on Tuesday (28 March), prioritising foreign policy over single market goals in the EU's new Energy Policy for Europe (EPE). "A market economy is not imaginable without democracy, without human rights and without freedom of expression, these things go together, you can't separate them," the energy commissioner stated.
The adoption of a European-type market economy in Russia and beyond would help create stable energy markets and extra wealth for suppliers while spreading energy benefits from billionaires to ordinary citizens, he explained.
European Union calls for online debate-by Veronique de freitas
The European Constitution has launched an internet discussion website for people to share their views on issues affecting the European community. Margot Wallström, the EU executive's vice-president in charge of communication strategy, says the site is aimed at collecting feedback from Europeans on their hopes and worries on the future of the European Union. In a podcast message, Margot Wallström, said: “I often hear people say that they have lost confidence in the European Union because they feel that it has taken on too many responsibilities and has become very complex and difficult to understand. We want to know what your hopes for Europe are and what worries you as a European.”
Debate Europe is available in 20 languages and asks for ideas on several issues including unemployment, healthcare, globalisation, pensions, education and environmental at http://www.europa.eu.int/debateeurope/
BRUSSELS, March 28 (Xinhua) -- The European Commission is to propose legislation aimed at slashing "unproportional" charges on international mobile phone calls within the European Union (EU). EU commissioner for information society and media Viviane Reding said the executive European Commission has to propose an EU regulation after mobile telecom operators failed to respond to her calls for lower costs six months ago. "I have warned the industry repeatedly that price must be brought down, but it seems the industry has had trouble understanding my message," Reding told a press conference on Tuesday. "I am not prepared to stand on the sidelines," she warned
BRUSSELS - Love and the search for a better quality of life are the main reasons most Europeans leave their home countries and move to another state, a European Union-sponsored study showed Tuesday. The report said only 2 per cent of EU citizens chose to move to another European country. Of these, 30 per cent said they were leaving home to follow their partner or family and 24 per cent said they were seeking a better quality of life. Only 25 per cent said they were changing countries because of a job. "The main pull factor that brings people to France and Spain is quality of life. In Italy it is a partner or family and people tend to move to Germany and Britain to work
and study," the report said.
Spain: EU's biggest seafood market by Bent-Are Jensen
Even though most people might believe that France is the number one consumer of fish in Europe, Spain is among the highest per capita seafood consumers in the world. Spain presently imports 30 percent of its seafood consumption.
"Goodbye Europe, Hello Eurabia
Posted GMT 3-28-2006 18:2:30
Europe's botched civilization, perverted by socialism and lost faith, seems to have lost the will, the passion to sustain itself. If it continues to practice today's multiculturalist leftism, Europe's demographic doom will be sealed. Some harbingers:
* In Brussels, Belgium, the most popular name for baby boys is now Mohammad. Sustaining the population of a nation requires that on average each couple gives birth to 2.1 children. The average European couple now has fewer than 1.4 babies, compared to 3.6 babies born to the average Muslim immigrant couple in Europe. Across Western Europe 16 to 20 percent of babies are being born into Muslim families.
* In France at least 12 percent of the population is already Muslim, the fruits mostly of immigrants from former French colonies in North Africa. If present birth trends continue, by 2030 a quarter of France's people will be Muslim, more than enough to determine who controls the national parliament and executive. As this columnist recently noted, the nuclear-armed French military is already 15 percent Muslim. Adjacent Switzerland is now 20 percent Muslim.
* The German newspaper Deutsche Welle days ago reported that Germany's birth rate in 2005 fell to a level lower than at the end of World War II, to a 'historic low,' more than fifty percent lower than those of France and Great Britain. But at a meeting this week in Berlin that brought together the interior ministers of six European nations, Germany's leftwing Social Democrats continued to oppose the application of any test or standard that would restrict who could migrate into Germany."
"EU to Ask, What Is Europe?
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
A leading German conservative, supposedly a political has-been, claims to have the answer, and he claims to speak for most Europeans.
Identifying Europe on a map might not be too difficult for anyone with a high school—let’s make that a college—education. But try to identify where Europe ends, what its borders are, and you need an international summit.
Looming over a two-day summit of European Union leaders last week in Salzburg, Austria, was the question of how big the EU can be allowed to get and who can join.
With the questions still looming, foreign ministers have scheduled an informal summit for May to assess “where Europe’s future borders lie,” according to the Netherlands’ Ben Bot (Associated Press, March 24). Bot told reporters, “One of the many questions Europeans ask is, ‘Are there no borders to the EU that should be fixed?’”
Absorbing Europe's Muslims - by HDS Greenway
During a discussion about Muslims in Europe at the American Academy in Berlin, where I had the opportunity to spend a few weeks this winter, a young man rose to ask a disturbing question.''In Germany we have the most liberal constitution . . . and freedom of religion," he said. ''There is perhaps more freedom than is available in any other country of the world. But on the other hand there is a paradox which I have experienced personally as a German of Pakistani descent." For even though he had been born in Germany, spoke fluent German, and had even served in the German Army, he found Germany ''one of the most psychologically hostile countries towards Muslims. This is not concerning the state and the government, but concerning the hearts and minds of the German people," he said. ''There is an extremely negative attitude -- a hostile attitude towards Muslims. What can be done to overcome that and to achieve a certain kind of peaceful coexistence?"
Europe simply cannot get used to the fact that it has become an immigrant target. From about 1800 to 1920, Europe exported some 85 million people to the New World. Now this trend has reversed itself, and Europe has become a net importer. Immigrants from Africa and Asia are pouring in to find the same difficulties that dark-skinned immigrants have found elsewhere in Europe, North America, and Australia.
Newsday.com: How does the present US Administration view multiculturalism? "Lets be honest - Multiculturalism can kill a nation"-by James P. Pinkerton
How does the present US Administration view multiculturalism? "Lets be honest: Multiculturalism can kill a nation"- by *James P.Pinkerton
"The lesson of the Muhammad cartoon controversy is: Multiculturalism between nations is inevitable, but multiculturalism within nations is disastrous. Protests, many of them violent, have erupted across the world - including Europe, Australia and New Zealand - after the appearance of cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad in unflattering ways.It's time for all of us to recognize that different cultures have different values. For the West, broadly speaking, the highest value is freedom, including freedom of religious expression. But for the Muslim world, the highest value seems to be Islamic piety. To draw such a distinction between West and East is not to endorse cultural relativism; it's simply to take note of cultural reality. Not everyone thirsts for liberty. Plenty of people around the world, maybe most, thirst instead to restrict liberty. And so, if Muslim crowds can't kill the Muhammad-mocking Danish cartoonists for "blasphemy," they will settle for burning Western embassies, at least for now.
It should be obvious that our effort to influence Muslim public opinion in a positive way has reached a dead end. That is, we advocate democratization but get Islamization. That process empowers the likes of Hamas in Palestine and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran. Even Turkey, commonly regarded as the most democratic and pro-American Muslim country, is changing its stance. The hot movie for Turks is titled "Valley of Wolves: Iraq." It depicts American GIs as blood-crazed war criminals. And, as UPI reported, the actor Gary Busey plays a "Jewish-American doctor at Abu Ghraib prison who disembowels innocent Iraqis so their organs can be sold to rich people in New York, London and Tel Aviv." These Turks are our friends? And, oh, by the way, another piece of news concerning Western-Muslim relations is worth noting: Jamal Badawi, a leader in the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, back in 2000, has "escaped" from his Yemeni prison. We shouldn't hold our breath waiting for his recapture."
*James P. Pinkerton has been a columnist for Newsday since 1993. Prior to that, he worked in the White House under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, and also in the 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992 Republican presidential campaigns. Pinkerton is the author of What Comes Next: The End of Big Government--And the New Paradigm Ahead (Hyperion: 1995). He is also a contributor to the Fox News Channel and a Fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington DC. He is a graduate of Stanford University.
"European, Arab lawmakers seek stronger cultural dialogue
Mar 27, 2006, 12:19 GMT
Brussels - European Union and Arab lawmakers Monday called for a stronger understanding for each others' cultural values, saying dialogue was the only way to counter the current rift between Islam and western countries.
With relations between the EU and Islamic states still strained over the publication in several European papers of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, members of the Euro-Mediterranean parliamentary assembly insisted the focus must be on rebuilding ties between Europe and Islam."
Sweden names new foreign Minister
STOCKHOLM, March 27 (Xinhua) -- Swedish Prime Minister Goeran Persson on Monday appointed veteran diplomat Jan Eliasson as foreign minister to replace his predecessor Laila Freivalds who quit last week.
Eliasson served as Sweden's ambassador to the United State and UN ambassador from 1988 to 1992, and became the first deputy UN secretary-general for humanitarian affairs in 1992.
The new foreign minister is due to be sworn in on April 24 to succeed Laila Freivalds, who quit last Tuesday over allegations that she lied about her role in shutting down a website carrying cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.
America is increasingly foreign owned - and why not
Foreigners already own half of the US government's publicly traded debt. Nearly one in five US oil refineries is owned by foreign companies. The United States must borrow more than $2 billion per day from foreigners to finance its huge trade deficits. And the result: America increasingly is foreign owned. Note EU-Digest: The question is why not? Since these foreign companies employ local citizens, produce new products, re-invest and stimulate the US economy, what can be so bad about that? It is a two way street, with both parties benefiting
Dutch MPs visit B’lore, India
The Netherlands may give a fresh look at its rigid immigration laws with the objective of attracting skilled foreign manpower to develop the country as a major “Euro-Asian gateway” for knowledge and service sectors. Recognising the importance of India as a rapidly emerging global base for IT and IT-enabled services and as a source of skilled manpower in knowledge sectors in pursuing the objective, a high-level Dutch parliamentary delegation of floor leaders headed by Speaker F W Weisglas is currently on a “study” trip to the country.
The 26-member delegation that also includes representatives of various media organisations in Holland will concluded its week-long familiarisation visit in Bangalore where it spend two days. The Dutch parliamentarians have chosen India for their once-in-two-years’ visit of the kind in view of “the steadily growing international role and stature of India.
Germany Probes Russians in Equipment Exports to Iran
Seven people are being investigated over exports of German equipment to Iran via Russia. The equipment could be used for Iran’s nuclear program, prosecutors in Germany said. Benedikt Welfens, spokesman for the prosecutors’ office in Potsdam, near Berlin, quoted by Reuters, said investigators wanted to question the seven, mostly Russians, after seizing cash, equipment and records in raids on 41 sites across Germany last week. They were not under arrest but declined to comment on their whereabouts. German-made electronic components, transformers and special cables and pumps worth $2.4 million to $3.6 million were found to have been delivered to Iran. “It’s not that much, but it may rise. We have to look at the information and data that we’ve found,” Welfens said. Prosecutors plan to contact the Russian authorities in the next stage of their probe.
"European values: Global or local?
27 March 2006
The Germans are the most pessimistic nation in Europe, according to a recent survey conducted in six leading nations. The most important question is, however, why the Germans are so pessimistic while they are the leading export nation in the world and one of the richest. According to the survey analysis, because the German demographic structure is shrinking and getting older and older, there is a great deficit of children. Where there are no children, as an Arab proverb says, there is no optimism. Germany is exactly in this situation. The Germans of today actually have nothing to cry about except they have to work longer. It is true that the Germans are fighting for a better social structure and the German state is cutting off some pension rights etc., but the German state is still providing the most acceptable social security for its citizens."
Why U.S. Business Is Winning -Should European Business follow suit?
Newspapers bring us the dark stories about American business. The Enron trial serves up tales of lies and looting. The General Motors restructuring dramatizes the death of traditional U.S. manufacturing. Commentators from left and right agree that a growing swath of the economy, from accounting services to non-emergency health care, may one day move offshore. And yet something is going dramatically right inside American corporations. Despite all the nostalgia for the era when GM dominated the world's car industry, the heyday of American business may actually be now.The result: American firms, including the subsidiaries of American firms in Europe, are simply better managed than European rivals. In fact, superior American management accounts for more than half of the productivity gap between American and European firms.
Whence this American superiority? The first answer is that competition is fiercer. The United States has relatively few trade and regulatory barriers for firms to hide behind, so bad companies either shape up quickly or go bust. In retailing, for example, firms such as Wal-Mart and Target have been able to spread their super-efficient logistics systems all across the country -- at least until lately, when a perverse anti-Wal-Mart campaign has sprung up. In Europe and Japan, by contrast, a web of zoning laws entangles efficient retailers, sheltering unproductive companies that overcharge consumers.
Another overture for peace in Spain
After 40 years of terrorizing Spain, the Basque separatist group ETA now says it will seek its goal of independence through peaceful means. The announcement of a permanent cease-fire ''could be the beginning of the end,'' Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero said. Though hopeful, Mr. Zapatero is right to proceed with caution. Check and verify must become Spain's mantra in dealing with ETA's latest pronouncement.
Spain has traveled this road before. Every administration has sought to defang ETA since Spain became a democracy in 1977. Declarations alone aren't enough. ETA has killed 816 people, including nearly 300 civilians. To show that it truly renounces violence, ETA must disband and disarm itself.Militant students founded ETA in 1959 with hopes of creating an independent Basque country in Northern Spain and Southern France. They chose violence as a means. The first violent act was to try to derail a train transporting supporters of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in 1961. Over the years, the extortions and terror attacks turned most Spaniards, even Basques, against ETA. The 1997 murder of a small-town council member, Miguel Angel Blanco, prompted millions to protest in the streets. In March, 2004, Islamic terrorists killed 191 people by bombing trains in Madrid. ETA wasn't linked to the bombings, but the backlash -- and a police roundup of more than 130 ETA suspects -- further undermined the group.
Mr. Zapatero deserves credit for opening the door to a cease-fire last May when he offered to talk peace with ETA if the group renounced violence. He has said repeatedly that only the terms of surrender would be negotiable; no concessions would be entertained. That is the right approach.
Germans are brainiest-by Helen Nugent
A new European league of IQ scores has ranked the British in eighth place, well above the French, who were 19th. According to Richard Lynn of the University of Ulster, Britons have an average IQ of 100. The French scored 94. But it is not all good news. Top of the table were the Germans and the Netherlands, with an IQ of 107. The other 5 top IQ scores come from Poland, Sweden, Italy, Austria and Switzerland.
Airbus Evacuates 873 People From A380 in 80 Seconds in Test
Airbus SAS, which is aiming to deliver its first double-decker A380 by yearend, performed a key certification test today, evacuating 873 people in 80 seconds -- 10 seconds faster than its goal. One person broke a leg. The drill was done to ensure that passengers could be quickly removed from the plane in an emergency. It was carried out in darkness in a hangar at one of Airbus's factories in Hamburg, using volunteers selected from 11,000 applicants. Airbus said the full results won't be known till tomorrow night.
``We successfully evacuated 873 people in 80 seconds,'' Airbus Chief Executive Gustav Humbert told reporters at a briefing after the test, according to spokesman Tore Prang, who was present. The evacuation time was less than the 90 second goal required by air authorities. Only half of the 16 doors were in operation, as required by the test.
France seeks to lead an energy-hungry world back to nuclear power-by Angela Charlton
CHALON-SUR-SAONE, France (AP) - At a factory nestled among Burgundy vineyards, workers shape, bore, polish and test pieces needed to put together a nuclear reactor. At each work station, technical charts are pasted next to a map of the country buying the product. A reactor core marked for the Salem plant in New Jersey is propped on its side, five metres wide and resembling a chunk of an enormous railroad tunnel. Nearby, workers prepare to broach holes into a plate for 15,000 cooling tubes for a reactor in Ling'ao, China.
Twenty years after the Chornobyl nuclear plant coughed a cloud of radiation over much of Europe and scared consumers and governments away from atomic power for a generation, a new crop of leaders, from North America to Europe to Asia, is thinking nuclear.
Strikes put de Villepin presidenial hopes in danger- by Martin Arnold in Paris
France is bracing itself for widespread strikes in public transport, businesses and schools on Tuesday that trade unions hope will force the government to abandon its unpopular youth employment law.Hundreds of thousands of workers and students will add to the disruption by demonstrating across France. The “day of action” will increase pressure on Dominique de Villepin, the prime minister, to back down over his first job contract (CPE) legislation. He also faces growing calls from his own party to accept a compromise, which could damage his chances of running for president next year. An opinion poll in the Journal de Dimanche showed 83 per cent of people wanting President Jacques Chirac to intervene.
Netherlands corporate giant DSM to reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide
Moves by DSM, a Dutch world wide Nutrition, Pharma, Performance Materials and Industrial Chemicals company to reduce pollution emissions at its plants is a sign of the times for food companies, as tougher environmental laws come into force in the EU and US. In recent months the EU's food and drink association (CIAA) has been lobbying the European Commission to exempt small and medium sized businesses in the sector from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
The EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). is part of the bloc's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet international commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. The "cap-and-trade" scheme, which took effect from January 2005, allows companies to buy and sell carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rights on specially constructed Internet sites.
EU-Digest:Fifty Million people liberated from tyranny in Afghanistan and Iraq, but what about Abdul Rahman?
Fifty Million people liberated from tyranny in Afghanistan and Iraq, but what about Abdul Rahman?
Those who supported military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq often point with pride to the fact that the citizens of these countries were liberated from the tyranny of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein and given democracy. However, the case of Abdul Rahman suggests that democracy without basic human rights is little more than a comedy with ballot boxes, long voting lines, and purple fingers. Rahman is a 42-year-old Afghan who converted from Islam to Christianity. Muslim clerics in Afghanistan were not amused by Rahman's actions, and sentenced him to death by decapitation. A Muslim judge dealing with the case said Afghanistan's judiciary will ignore outside pressure and act "independently."
Is blood & money being wasted on a culture where expressing religious freedom is a criminal act, punishable by death? This is unacceptable.
Main Points of EU Statement on Economy at Summit"
The EU sees a gradual recovery picking up this year, with 6 million new jobs created from 2005-2007, bringing unemployment down from a 9-percent peak in 2004 to 8 percent. However, Europe's aging population and challenges from new competitors in the global economy mean the EU must make changes. The 25 EU nations are to present reports setting out their reform programs by August. The EU leaders set themselves a target of creating 2 million jobs every year up to 2010.The EU leaders see research as key to boosting the economy. They confirmed a target to spend 3 percent of gross domestic product on research and development by 2010.
Recognizing that small and medium-sized businesses are "the backbone of the European economy," the leaders acknowledged the need to cut red tape to make it easier and cheaper to set up companies. "The principle of 'think small first' must be applied systematically," they said. "Member states should establish by 2007 a one-stop-shop, or arrangements with equivalent effect, for setting up a company in a quick and simple way." The aim is to make it possible by 2007 for budding entrepreneurs to complete business start up in one week. "Startup fees should be as low as possible and the recruitment of a first employee should not involve more than one public administration point." The EU will consider amending its restrictions on state subsidies to allow more aid to small companies.
Kenya's bloom under siege-as Europe looks elsewhere for its horticulture products
In 2005, Netherlands took 68 per cent of Kenya’s horticultural products to the EU, the UK accounted for 18 per cent, Germany 6 per cent, France, Switzerland and the rest bought 3 per cent each. The main market for the vegetable exports are the UK (66 per cent), followed by Netherlands (14 per cent), France (11 per cent), Germany (2 per cent) and others at 3 per cent. The main markets for fruit exports are France (45 per cent), Netherlands (26 per cent), Dubai (12 per cent) and UK (8 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (3 per cent). To remain more competitive, Kenyan flower exporters will have to increase their efforts to export directly to the EU markets, in order to reach an import volume equal to or lower than the distribution capacity of the Netherlands of 55 per cent. “Kenyan flower exporters will have to focus more on direct exports and also expand the assortment in order to remain competitive in the future,” According to Mr Feldt from Feldt Consulting. To this end the country may well look toward Dubai, which has opened up a Sh5.8 billion, 36,000-kilometre free export zone. The Dubai Flower Centre is said to be capable of handling 180,000 tonnes of perishable goods annually.
“This will open up the horticulture industry to over 200 million people and the Middle East market worth $1.3 trillion and here we are talking of a region with little or no conditions and regulations such as tractability, quarantine issues, packaging recycling, human well fare,” says Mr Ibrahim Ali, marketing director at DLC. Total exports from Netherlands to the Middle East in 2004 was around Sh2 billion.
Opinion : So, you thought the European constitution was dead, did you? by Daniel Hannan
Two years from now, the European constitution will be in force - certainly de facto and probably de jure, too. Never mind that 15 million Frenchmen and five million swag-bellied Hollanders voted against it. Two years from now, the European constitution will be in force - certainly de facto and probably de jure, too. Never mind that 15 million Frenchmen and five million swag-bellied Hollanders voted against it. The Eurocrats have worked out a deft way of getting around them. Here's how they'll do it. First, they will shove through as many of the constitution's contents as they can under the existing legal framework - a process they had already begun even before the referendums. Around 85 per cent of the text can, with some creative interpretation, be implemented this way.
True, there are one or two clauses that will require a formal treaty amendment: a European president to replace the system whereby the member nations take it in turns to chair EU meetings; a new voting system; legal personality for the Union. These outstanding items will be formalised at a miniature inter-governmental conference, probably in 2007. There will be no need to debate them again: all 25 governments accepted them in principle when they signed the constitution 17 months ago.
Money worries cause Brits to lose sex drive
As many as two million British adults admit that worrying about their finances has made them lose their sex drive, according to a new study by insurance giant AXA. The company says that around 1.3 million women and around 732,000 men have lost their libido – and sorting out their finances is the only way to rediscover it. But who is most likely to lose their libido due to money worries? Of those who have experienced money problems affecting their relationships, over half are either married or cohabiting, 23% are widowed or divorced and perhaps surprisingly 22% are single. And maybe not so surprisingly, the study showed that women are more than twice as likely to let financial problems affect their sex life than men (64% female and 36% are male). In addition, 68% of those who have lost their libido due to money worries are between 35 and 54 years of age.
EU Trumpets Energy Deal, Plays Down Discord
European Union leaders hailed an agreement on a new joint energy strategy Friday and played down discord on resurgent protectionism, but a sense of unity was palpably missing. "We are on the right track in Europe -- trying to build Europe on concrete results," said European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso at a closing press conference in Brussels on Friday. "The healthy thing about the debate is that, I think, it's being won by those in favor of more open markets," said British Prime Minister Tony Blair, adding: "The arguments are moving, in our view, in the right direction."
EU SUMMIT Leaders agree on need to create 2 mln new jobs by 2010
Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said European leaders have agreed on the need to create 2 mln new jobs by 2010. Speaking at the end of a two-day EU summit here, Schuessel also said: 'We have at present a good economic situation.' European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said leaders firmed up their commitment to the EU's revised programme for economic reform. 'It's now up and running. Now the focus is on implementation,' Barroso said.
Chirac bolts EU summit over switch to English
A French official said Chirac, Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, and Finance Minister Thierry Breton left the room when Ernest-Antoine Seilliere, head of the UNICE business lobby, switched from French to English at a summit session with the EU's so-called social partners -- employers and unions.''Representing 20 million companies in 39 organizations in 33 countries, I will speak English, the language of business," the former head of the French employers' organization said. A UNICE spokeswoman said Seilliere began his speech in French before switching to the language of Shakespeare and Milton Friedman. Chirac missed Seilliere urging leaders to ''resist national protectionism in order to avoid a negative domino effect" in the EU's internal market, in a veiled criticism of France and others who have tried to block cross-border takeovers.
Note EU-Digest editor: Recently the European Union promoted Gaelic, Ireland's native tongue, to "official" status. This means the EU will now also have to turn out official documents in Gaelic, in addition to the 20 other official EU languages.
The EU translation bureau is easily the world's largest translation agency. Translation costs for the EU's 20 official languages are spiraling out of control. In January, the amount passed the Euro 1 billion mark following the entry in 2004 of 10 new EU members, chiefly from Eastern Europe. As a francophile I am also attached to the French culture and language, but when it comes to managing the day to day business affairs of the EU it seems practicality and economic realism must prevail. Isn't it high time to pinpoint one language as the official language of business at the EU headquarters and thereby cut the translation budget by 80%. EU taxpayers deserve it.
"EU Leaders Discuss Ways to Boost Economy
By AOIFE WHITE , 03.23.2006, 03:49 PM
European Union leaders tried to get past their protectionist squabbling Thursday to work out cooperative ways to boost Europe's economy and ensure energy supplies.
The chairman of the summit appealed to his fellow leaders to focus on ways to keep the EU's economy competitive in the globalized market.
'Without change, we just fall back,' said Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, who was heading the two-day meeting. 'There has to be change.'
"Protectionism row threatens EU meet
BRUSSELS — Tensions over resurgent protectionism in Europe threatened to sour the mood yesterday as EU leaders opened a summit aimed at re-dynamising reforms in the continent’s long-lagging economy.
Plans to forge a joint energy strategy for the 25-nation European Union, caught in the crossfire of Russia’s gas price war with Ukraine at the start of the year, are also high on the agenda of the annual two-day EU economic summit.
After a string of summits last year, clouded by rows over everything from spending plans to Turkey, the EU has hoped above all to present a united front at the spring gathering.
EU Interior Ministers Propose European Test For Foreigners
Interior ministers of six EU nations are weighing the possiblity of an "integration contract" with immigrants as well as improving pan European collaboration in the fight against terrorism and illegal migration. The ministers of Germany, Poland, France, Spain, Great Britain and Italy, meeting in the Baltic seaside resort of Heiligendamm on the north German coast, agreed to check the possibility of a European-wide test for foreigners seeking to become citizens in EU countries.
The EU ministers agreed that foreigners who wanted to become citizens of an EU-member state should be offered a contract fostering their integration by signing up to specific rights and obligations. The proposal which is now to be scrutinized by national governments is intended to complement citizenship tests already existing in a number of EU countries.
EU's 'big three' in crisis, says third way guru - by Nicolas Watt
France, Germany and Italy are facing an economic crisis with worrying levels of unemployment, Tony Blair's intellectual guru has declared on the eve of an EU summit which starts in Brussels this afternoon. In a rare insight into the prime minister's private thoughts about some of Britain's closest European partners, Anthony Giddens warned of further trouble unless the three countries reform.
"Is there enough shock in France and Germany and Italy to produce ... changes because a great deal of Europe's unemployment is concentrated in those three countries?" the academic asked in an interview with Guardian Unlimited.
DECISIONS OF FINNAIR PLC'S ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2006
Finnair's result for last year has been the best for five years noted the chairman of Finnair, Christoffer Taxell. He also said profitability developed positively, even though the main production factor, fuel, rose in price by more than 50 per cent during the year. Christoffer Taxell said : "Productivity has improved. This is important since the price of oil is might also remain for a long time, at a high level, nor will it be possible to pass on the higher costs into ticket prices. In Europe, intense competition has continued among airlines, new and old. This only serves to highlight the importance of Finnair’s Asian strategy. The passenger streams travelling through Helsinki bring a competitive advantage to Finnair that will be difficult for competitors to overcome. At the same time growth in Asian traffic will also increase demand on European routes and give our Finnish customers links to different parts of the world."
European Space Camp in the land of the midnight sun
If you are interested in space and science, aged between 17 and 20 and would enjoy the experience of launching your own rocket, then apply to take part in this summer’s European Space Camp, to be held in northern Norway at the Andøya Rocket Range. Students from all over the world interested in physics, space and electronics can apply to take part in the summer camp which takes place from 28 July to 6 August. The course and accommodation are provided free but students have to pay for, and make, their own travel arrangements.
The 25 lucky students selected will spend a week building their own rocket and attending lectures in subjects related to rocket science. The summer space camp is organised by the Norwegian Association of Young Scientists and the National Centre for Space Related Education in cooperation with ESA and the Andøya Rocket Range. To apply go to http://www.spacecamp.no/
The European Union’s two faces on globalisation by Fintan O’Toole
European Union economy ministers met in Brussels on 13 March 2006. It was not a joyful assembly. Piotr Wozniak, the economy minister in Poland's new right-wing government, complained bitterly about the amendments made in February by the European parliament to the so-called services directive, a key piece of legislation aimed at completing the drawn-out process of creating a single EU market. Just before the European parliament vote, Wozniak – along with like-minded colleagues Alan Johnson, the British secretary of state for trade and industry, Etele Baráth, the Hungarian minister for European affairs, Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, the Dutch minister of economic affairs and Milan Urban, the Czech minister of industry and trade – had written to Charlie McCreevy, the internal-market commissioner, warning against any watering down of the directive. Immediately after the parliament voted to do precisely that, Wozniak had declared: "I am not sure if it's worth supporting the law in its present form." Now, at the meeting of EU economy ministers, he claimed that as many as fifteen countries, including most of the EU member-states in east-central Europe which had acceded to the union in May 2004, were unhappy with the amended version of the directive; Wozniak went on to argue, in effect, that the council of ministers should refuse to accept the amendments.
The divisive argument over creating a single market in services reflects the European Union's confusion over globalisation and reveals its need to articulate itself as a political and social project, says Fintan O'Toole of Open Democracy.
"Is Germany So Different than France?
The French government's plans for controversial labor reforms continue to provoke the ire of student and union demonstrators. Looking at all the unrest, some German papers see similarities between France and Germany.
With new student protests in Paris on Tuesday and trade unions calling for nationwide strikes, pressure is rising on French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin to scrap his controversial labor market reforms. Villepin has declared himself willing to negotiate over changes to his so-called 'First Job Contract,' but refuses to abandon the piece of legislation altogether, claiming that it will help combat France's high youth unemployment. If the measure does indeed take effect next month, it will allow employers to fire workers under 26 for first two years of employment without having to give a reason that could be contested in court. Students and trade unions call that an unacceptable attack on job security."
"EU places 92 foreign air carriers on blacklist
By Dan Bilefsky International Herald Tribune
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22, 2006
BRUSSELS The European Union banned from its skies 92 foreign airlines based in countries including Afghanistan, Thailand and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as part of a blacklist aimed at strengthening air security and reassuring travelers after a series of recent crashes.
The ban by the EU's executive, which applies across the 25-member bloc, covers passenger and cargo operators including Phuket Airlines of Thailand, Ariana Afghan Airlines, Airlink Swaziland and North Korea's Air Koryo. Popular airlines used for vacations by Europeans are noticeably absent from the list and the EU could not specify how many of the banned airlines had flown in European skies or used European airports. But some such as Ariana Afghan Airlines operate routes from Europe."
Crisis brings out gambler in France's Villepin - by Tom Henegan
In his first eight months as prime minister, poet-politician Dominique de Villepin was so cautious that the French almost forgot his nicknames from more dashing earlier days, names like "Zorro" and "Nero".
His reputation as a political gambler, earned in 1997 when he advised President Jacques Chirac to call a snap general election that his party lost, faded from view as he got down to the hard slog of trying to cut France's high unemployment rate. But after ramming his youth unemployment law through the National Assembly without debate last month, the old Villepin -- the Napoleon fan, the romantic patriot, the man of action bent on forcing France out of its rut -- is suddenly back in force.Diplomats dubbed Villepin "Zorro" during his whirlwind stint in 2002-2004 as foreign minister when he personified western opposition to the U.S.-led Iraq war. Chirac's wife Bernadette called him "Nero" after the disastrous 1997 snap election.Hard-driving with his staff, he flashes a patrician charm in public and argues with ever escalating energy and eloquence when deputies or journalists challenge what he has to say. Critics like to simply cite his full aristocratic name -- Dominique Marie Francois Rene Galouzeau de Villepin -- to hint he cannot by definition be a man with the common touch.
As the EU struggles to adapt to the double challenge of increasingly globalised competition and demographic change, the focus is moving to member states' social systems and their ability to cope with these changed realities. Numerous experts have praised Nordic countries' systems, particularly that of Denmark, for their ability to create jobs while maintaining a high standard of social security for the unemployed. Industry associations also like the system because its liberal hire-and-fire rules allow for a high degree of flexibility and quick adaptation to downward as well as to upward market developments. Due to its potential for reconciling this kind of flexibility with social security, the system has been labelled 'flexicurity'. The concept of flexicurity rests on the assumption that flexibility and security are not contradictory, but complementary and even mutually supportive. It brings together a low level of protection for workers against dismissal with high unemployment benefits and a labour market policy based on a right for the unemployed to retraining. The concept of job security is replaced by employment security. Social dialogue between employers and employees is an important aspect of the flexicurity model. Could this maybe be the answer to the problems France and Germany are facing in trying to implement labour reforms.
Two Months of Competition in Dutch Healthcare
The liberalisation of healthcare in the Netherlands appears to be successful. In an attempt to reduce the cost of healthcare the Dutch government has allowed the existing sickness funds to compete as of 1 January. Within two months one quarter of Dutch families had switched to different health insurers. There is no sign of the chaos which was predicted. Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende’s centre-right government made the liberalisation of healthcare a priority from the start. They identified healthcare as one of the last "Stalinist strongholds" in the Dutch welfare system. It was run by the government, which set down detailed targets for hospitals, including how many operations they were allowed to perform. One of the victims of the two months of competitive health insurance is AGIS, a Dutch insurance company that lost half a million policies to cheaper funds, with an ensuing loss of several hundred jobs. AGIS is accusing the other funds of cheating at the game by dumping their prices for the start of the liberalisation programme, in order to attract new clients, but with the intention of raising prices significantly next year.
Norway keen to invest surplus funds in India
NEW DELHI: Oil-rich Norway is looking at India to park its surplus funds in assets that could provide good returns, Svein Gjedrem, governor of the central bank of Norway, said here on Tuesday. "Asia is an attractive investment destination and India is a major player in Asia," said Gjedrem, addressing a select gathering at the Confederation of Indian Industry. The Norges Bank governor said the fiscal discipline followed by his country had resulted in a surplus of 15-20 percent in their budget mainly due to earnings from rich oil and gas reserves and high tax rates.
Under the fiscal rules in Norway, four percent of the budgetary surplus was permitted for investment in the country and the rest had to be invested in international assets that would provide returns.
Hungary to hold referendum on euro
Hungary plans to hold a nonbinding referendum in 2008 on the adoption of the euro, the prime minister's spokeswoman said Friday. The referendum would be held after Hungary achieves the economic criteria needed to adopt the European Union's currency, said Boglar Laszlo, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany's spokeswoman. "We are talking about a 'sympathy referendum,'" Laszlo said. "The government is asking for society's support for its plans to adopt the euro." aszlo said that as of now the government's pledge to comply in 2008 with the criteria needed to adopt the euro "is the only thing set in stone."
Countries wishing to adopt the euro must meet limits on the size of the budget deficit and the inflation rate, among other economic indicators, for two years before being allowed to switch currencies. In theory, Hungary would be able to begin using the euro in 2010 if its economy stays within the limits set by the EU from 2008.
Launch of second Galileo test satellite postponed
The second experimental satellite, Giove-B, for the European satellite navigation system Galileo will probably be postponed several months. Instead of being launched in April, the satellite called Giove-B will probably take off between September and November, a spokesperson from the European Space Agency ESA told the Financial Times Deutschland. Giove-B was originally designed as a replacement for the first Galileo test satellite Giove-A, which was shot into space at the end of December from the Cosmodrom Baikonur in Kazakhstan on board a Sojus-Fregat booster. The main task of Giove-A is to ensure frequency bands for the operation of Galileo: by June of 2006, ESA will have to demonstrate that it can actually use the radio frequencies reserved for Galileo by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). "We are not in any hurry because Giove-A will be ensuring the frequency bands," the ESA spokesperson told the FTD. The spokesperson explained that the postponement of Giove-B would not affect the setup of the overall system of 30 satellites.
Note EU-Digest: The spacecraft was built by Surrey Space Technology Limited of the United Kingdom, and will carry out a two-year mission to test the navigation signals and atomic clock that are at the heart of the Galileo system, and also to secure frequencies assigned to Europe by the International Telecommunications Union to avoid possible interference with the radio waves from the American and Russian systems.Galileo will offer four different types of service packages, including an open service that is provided at no cost to users, a safety-of-life service that alerts users when accuracy or integrity is compromised, a commercial service using encrypted signals, and a public regulated service that is aimed at government users.Despite this competitive rhetoric between the US and EU, it is well understood that the two groups will offer a similar product, and alternative sources for this critical information provides both Americans and Europeans with greater flexibility. Users should be able to obtain signals from both systems with a single receiver, further exemplifying that the systems are in step with one another.
The cutting edge satellites will collectively pinpoint ground receivers within three feet of their actual location, with some modes able to reach an unprecedented accuracy of just four inches at times.
HyWays Suggests Revised Hydrogen Vehicle Targets for European Union
Stakeholders in the European Union’s HyWays project suggest that the 5% target for hydrogen vehicle penetration in European markets is too optimistic, with 3% of the passenger car market being more likely in a ‘best case scenario’. The project, co-funded by research institutes, industry and by the European Commission (EC) under the 6th Framework Programme [contract N° 502596], aims at providing a roadmap for the development of hydrogen in the European Union. Members of the project have released an interim report last month, marking the completion of 18 month Phase 1 of the project, which specifically analysed France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, and Norway. Phase 2 will analyse Finland, Poland, Spain, and United Kingdom over the coming 18 months. Though the consortium used the “European Energy and Transport: Trends to 2030” (Energy Trends 2030) as a baseline scenario, oil price projections for the scenario were considered too low at $US50 per barrel of oil equivalent (BOE) for 2050. Decreasing reserves of oil relative to natural gas however lead to the expectation that rises in natural gas prices are expected to be lower than those for oil, with a $1 price rise in oil between now and 2050 expected to be met with a $0.50 rise in the price of natural gas on a BOE basis.
The report confirms that the most viable market for hydrogen vehicles is likely to be passenger vehicles though fuel cells are unlikely to become dominant technology in transport until 2030-2040.
Dutch Again Booking Fewer Vacations to Africa, Turkey, and the US
DE MEERN, 22/03/06 - The Dutch have so far booked 5 percent fewer vacations compared with the same year-earlier period, according to figures from travel industry organisation ANVR. Turkey is particularly hard hit in the latest statistics. Bookings to Turkey - last year's winner in the battle for the Dutch vacationer - dropped by no less than 47 percent up to March. "That is surprising," said M. Dresmé of ANVR. "At the beginning of January, there was still the bird flu effect, but that cannot still be the reason now," he wondered. Greece, Portugal and Spain have however achieved growth figures of 23, 16 and 13 percent respectively. "Last year, Turkey overtook Spain in the number of vacationers. But if the trend of the past months continues, Turkey can drop a rank again."
The Americas and Africa, like Turkey, are attracting far fewer Dutch tourists.
EU Diplomats Join Protest In Belarusian Capital
MINSK,Several senior diplomats from European Union countries have arrived at the central square of the Belarusian capital, Minsk, where demonstrators have gathered to protest the results of Sunday''s presidential election, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported from the scene, Russian Information Agency Novosti informed Tuesday. The group of diplomats includes the ambassadors to Belarus from Britain, Italy, Latvia, France and Germany.
Election day in central Minsk ended with the sound of many thousands of Belarusians chanting "Long live Belarus!" But the name the crowds were chanting was that of Alyaksandr Milinkevich, the main opposition candidate, and not that of the man who, preliminary results indicate, won nearly 89 percent of the vote. How many Belarusians turned up is a matter of guesswork, but as many as 30,000 opposition supporters gathered to protest a vote that will already seems certain to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to office for an unprecedented third term. Alexander Lukashuk, the director of RFE/RL's Belarus Service, said there were "an incredible number of people, an incredible number of young people" carrying flags of the European Union, the opposition Zubr movement and -- above all – the white-red-white flag that was, until 1996, Belarus's national flag.
Javier SOLANA, EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), made the following comments to the media after the elections in Belarus that took place on 19 March 2006. "I am saddened by the conduct of the Belarusian presidential elections. The preliminary report by OSCE election observers concludes that the elections did not meet international standards. It cites unacceptable abuse of state power in the run-up to the elections, obviously designated to protect the incumbent President. The elections did not allow citizens to freely and fairly express their will at the ballot box. All this casts a shadow over the legitimacy of the electoral process. On the other hand, I am glad to see the consolidation of a genuine democratic opposition and strong civil society. Their efforts to defend the right of each and every Belarusian citizen to a democratic process have shown bravery and deserve our recognition, support and deep respect. I strongly caution the government not to threaten those exercising their political rights in the coming days. The EU will look into further restrictive measures against those responsible for the serious shortcomings and abuse in the electoral process. The European Union will prepare these measures in close co-ordinations with its partners."
"Poland the villain, Denmark hero of EU reform
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
BRUSSELS - Reuters
Poland replaced Italy as the 'villain' of European Union reforms to boost economic growth and employment last year, while Denmark snatched the 'hero' billing from Sweden, a study showed.
The reforms, first agreed by EU leaders in Lisbon in 2000, are to help the 25-nation bloc pay for generous social policies in the future as its workforce shrinks due to ageing and companies struggle with rising Asian competition."
"EU set to boost tourism industry
The European commission has unveiled plans to strengthen Europe’s tourism industry.
Brussels wants to boost the tourism sector to ensure that Europe remains the number one tourist destination in the world.
“Europe is the world's leading tourist destination. But we need to do more to keep our competitive edge.” said commissioner vice president Günter Verheugen during a speech on Tuesday in Vienna.
“Our proposals add European value to the efforts by member states. They will help to promote the EU as a unique tourist destination in a more effective and coordinated way”.
With an industry that employs more than eight million people, Verheugen stressed tourism could also weigh significantly in the renewed Lisbon strategy goals."
"EU To Continue Assisting Western Balkan Countries Through Practical Measures
European Union Foreign Ministers said in Brussels on Monday they would continue to assist western Balkan countries on their way to the EU through practical measures to make the European perspective more tangible.
'In this context, the Council (of the European Union) encouraged regional cooperation, notably the creation of a regional free trade area based on CEFTA and is looking forward to the results of the high level meeting on 6 April in Bucharest,' read the conclusions on Western Balkan which the Council of the EU adopted in Brussels on Monday"
"EU Introduces Single Driving Licence
EU member states have agreed on a plan to replace the 110 existing types of driving licences with a single document to be valid across the bloc.
The plan is expected to be officially approved by EU ministers at a meeting on 27 March.
The move became possible after Germany and Austria withdrew their objections against legislative details in the plan and agreed that each member state can choose between ten and fifteen years for the validity of the documents.
The first new driving licences are to be issued in 2012. They will look like a credit card with a photo and a microchip.
The old types of driving licence are to be recognized not after 2032.
"GAZPROM BROADENS, DEEPENS INROADS INTO EUROPEAN UNION'S INTERNAL MARKETS, TRANSPORT SYSTEMS
By Vladimir Socor
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Even as some European Union authorities in Brussels attempt to formulate a common EU energy policy, major European players seem to be vying for bilateral deals with Gazprom that could lock their countries into long-term dependence before any common policy is in place.
On March 17, Gaz de France announced that it is negotiating with Gazprom on the possibility of being connected to the planned Northern European Gas Pipeline (NEGP) that would carry Siberian gas to Germany across the Baltic seabed. According to Gaz de France commercial director Jean-Marie Dauger, French participation 'would make the project more European, not just German.' Whether this statement implies that Gaz de France seeks to elbow its way into the deal or has reached an understanding with the German companies seems far from clear. Gazprom's deputy chairman Aleksandr Medvedev confirmed that the Russian company is considering possible participation of new partners in this project. The Yuzhno-Russky field is the upstream source of gas for the planned NEGP. The field's export is earmarked for the German companies, E.ON Ruhrgas and Wintershall, once the NEGP becomes operational (Interfax, Bloomberg, March 17). "
"How to Handle Europe's Last Dictator?
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has claimed a sweeping victory in national elections. But European election observers have criticized the results, saying they are democratically deficient. German papers warn that Europe's last dictator presents a major political conundrum for the European Union.
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko preceded over what the German press is calling an 'election farce.'Defiant Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, widely known as 'Europe's last dictator,' sternly declared victory in his country's national elections on Sunday. With an 82.6 percent win -- incumbent Lukashenko beat out three opposition candidates, including democracy proponent Alexander Milinkevich. But foreign election observers, led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), claimed the election did not meet democratic standards. In the run-up to the poll, hundreds of opposition politicians were arrested or harrassed by Belarus' secret police, which still happens to be called the 'KGB.' The election may have been blessed by Moscow (which fears a Ukrainian style Orange Revolution), but in Europe the results have gotten a frosty reception."
EU shivers in a chill east wind - by Bronwen Maddox
EUROPE should have been more careful in wishing that Belarus and Ukraine stay at a comfortable distance. Its wish has been emphatically granted. Sunday’s presidential elections in Belarus showed that the European Union’s influence on that half-frozen country is zero. The coming Sunday’s parliamentary election in Ukraine — a far better candidate for EU friendship — is likely to deliver the same message.
In the past year, the EU, sagging under its own sense of over-expansion, has been so anxious to deter any hopeful new applicants that it has been too chilly towards both countries, hurting itself as well as them. In Minsk yesterday, the triumphant 2½-hour rant by President Alexander Lukashenko claimed that his re-election, with more than 80 per cent of the vote, was free and fair. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), as expected, said the opposite. There is probably little the EU could do to provoke change in Belarus directly. Its influence through trade is small (just over a third of Belarus’s trade in 2004, compared to 45 per cent for Russia, according to EU figures). Russia’s subsidies to Belarus remain huge. Note EU-Digest: the EU Commission would do well to remain at arms length from any further expansion into Eastern Europe, given the experience it has acquired in dealing with some of the new EU members from Eastern Europe. At least no further expansion before there is a constitution accepted by the citizens of Europe, which is able to set some parameters on loyalty to the common cause of Europe.
Europe's Top 100 Golf Courses
Of the top ten golf courses in Europe, France score's the higest with 4 listed, followed by 3 in Spain. The Valderrama Golf club in Andalusia, Spain, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1975 is listed by Golf World Magazine as the best golf course in Europe.
Portugal Open Kicks Off European Tour's Season
The Algarve Open de Portugal will take place March 25-April 2. For the tenth time, Le Meridien Penina Golf & Resort will host the PGA European Tour event. Designed by Sir Henry Cotton the 36-hole course features an abundance of waterways and lakes. The Portugal Open, with a $1.5 million purse, is the European Tour's first event of the year on home soil. The tournament will boast seven players ranked in the world top-100: Paul Broadhurst, Kenneth Ferrie, Raphael Jacquelin, David Lynn, Bradley Dredge, Stephen Dodd and Charl Schwartzel. The field also contains 15 players rated in Europe's top 50, and 44 players who have won professional tourneys. Portugal is one of Europe's top golfing destinations. In the Algarve's mild climate, golf is played year-round between red cliffs and sea views. There are more than 30 golf courses in the Algarve, many designed by the best known names in golf. Several courses are considered among Europe's finest, with luxury clubhouses and manicured greens open to visitors.
Denmark moves against radical Islamic group-by Christian Wienberg
Copenhagen — A spokesman for a radical Islamic group in Denmark has been charged with threatening the government for distributing a leaflet urging Muslims to “eliminate” rulers that prevent them from joining the Iraq insurgency, a Danish prosecutor said Monday. The leaflets, from the Danish chapter of Hizb ut-Tahrir, called on Muslims to travel to Iraq to join the insurgents fighting coalition troops. They also urged Muslims to “eliminate your rulers if they stand in your way” – a phrase that prosecutors interpret as a direct threat to the Danish government. Denmark has 530 troops stationed in southern Iraq.
“We have now finished looking at the material and decided there are grounds to start formal charges,” Deputy Regional Prosecutor Karen-Inger Bast told the Associated Press.
Sanctions on China won't alleviate U.S. woes - by Andrew Busch
Despite a ridiculously bad stretch for U.S. President George W. Bush, matters could get worse. But let's run through the numbers first. Mr. Bush's job approval rating is now 37 per cent, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. It's been under 40 per cent since October, and this is the longest time below 40 per cent of any president except Jimmy Carter. Ouch.
Then there's Senator Russ Feingold's motion to censure Mr. Bush for authorizing warrantless wiretaps. Republicans have chastised the Wisconsin Democrat for the motion, and Democrats have given it a chilly reception. The only time a president was censured was in 1834. According to Mr. Feingold, he just wants "people to be talking about ways to bring accountability, whether censure succeeds or not." Either way, it's not helpful and continues to weigh on sentiment for Mr. Bush.March 31 is the deadline for a vote in the Senate on Mr. Schumer's bill to slap 27.5-per-cent tariffs on all Chinese goods to offset the Chinese manipulation of the currency to keep it artificially weak. If the Senators don't hear what they like, you can bet this will be brought to the floor and voted on. They may do it anyway for political gain to fully press Republicans and Mr. Bush on trade. Without question, the U.S. current account, at 7 per cent of gross domestic product, is astounding and disconcerting. From the International Monetary Fund to U.S. Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke, financial experts are sounding warnings on the potential for a massive adjustment shock to the U.S. dollar.
Trade legislation would do very little to solve the trade deficit issue and could trigger the U.S. dollar shock. Equities wouldn't be far behind.
France drafts copyright law to open up iTunes by Tom Braithwaite
Apple Computer could on Tuesday be forced to open up its digital music business to competitors after a vote in the French parliament.The owner of iTunes, the online music store, and the iPod digital music player, will have to choose between making downloaded music compatible with rival platforms or pulling out of France if, as expected, the parliament in Paris approves a draft copyright law.
Software in digital downloads from iTunes prevents music being played by any rival to the popular iPod, but the French bill seeks to impose “interoperability” on online music stores and break Apple’s closed system.
South African President Mbeki ready to talk business in Italy
President Thabo Mbeki, his wife and a presidential delegation will leave for Italy on Tuesday for a visit aimed at strengthening relations to speed up economic growth, the foreign affairs department said on Sunday.
"President Mbeki's visit to Italy comes within the context of South Africa's priority to strengthen relations with countries of the North with a view to faster and shared economic growth while consolidating the African agenda and promoting the agenda of the South," foreign affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said in a statement.
Davids Medienkritik: International Study: German State Media Most America Critical in Europe by D. Ray
German State Media Most America Critical in Europe by D. Ray
Davids Medienkritik has delivered examples of German media bias on a daily basis for nearly three years. But some readers still wonder whether there really is a larger pattern of anti-Americanism or whether we are we just "cherry picking" the negative. Well, the international media research institute "Medien Tenor" has just released (another) study that reaffirms what we've suspected for quite some time. In the summary of a newsletter entitled, "Bush has a difficult standing among Europe's journalists," the institute reports. Note EU-DIGEST: Not only in Europe, in just about every corner of the world...
U.S., European Union square off over `geographic indications' - by ANDREW MARTIN
EPERNAY, France - The latest advertising campaign for Moet & Chandon, the venerable champagne maker, features sexy, festive models sipping tall glasses of bubbly and the slogan "Be Fabulous." Times do seem good at the company's sumptuously appointed tasting room, built to honor Napoleon Bonaparte, who stopped by on occasion to sip his favorite champagne. But for all its splendor, the truth is that all is not fabulous at the house of Moet & Chandon, nor at the other champagne makers in this affluent and picturesque region about 90 miles northwest of Paris.
Champagne is at the center of a decades-old trade dispute between the United States and Europe over who can use certain place names on their labels, whether it is bottles of champagne, packages of feta cheese or slabs of Parma ham. For the makers of Moet & Chandon, the idea of serving California champagne, which is marketed by a handful of American vintners, is sacrilege. They insist that only grapes grown in the cool climate and chalky soils near Epernay deserve the honor of stamping "champagne" on their label. For all their efforts to resolve the dispute over names, the French champagne industry is hardly struggling. The French sell about 300 million bottles of champagne a year compared with 30 million in 1950.
Poland 'villain' on EU economic reform scorecard
BRUSSELS - Denmark, Sweden and Austria top the list of this year's Lisbon scorecard on EU states' competitiveness issued by the Centre for European Reform (CER). The CER's Lisbon Scorecard is a yearly document issued by the London-based think- tank assessing member states' progress on the so-called Lisbon Agenda – the bloc's aim to become the most competitive economy in the world.The UK and the Netherlands took place four and five on the 2006 scorecard, with the Dutch dropping from number three to five on the 27-strong list which comprises the EU-25 plus acceding states. Poland, which occupies place 26 on the list, has been earmarked as this year's "villain" by the London researchers because of its poor performance on indicators such as long-term unemployment, but also because of its recent shift of government.
Other poor performers are newcomers Bulgaria (25) and Romania (24) as well as Italy (23), which was last year's "villain."
France and Germany occupy place eight and ten on the list, with France jumping from place 11 last year primarily because of improving employment figures.
Serbia must acknowledge Milosevic evil - by Karen Coleman
Martin Luther King once said: ‘‘The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.” What a pity that stark proclamation never penetrated the mind of Slobodan Milosevic when he was wielding power with blood-stained fists during his years of dictatorship in Belgrade in the 1990s. Had Milosevic absorbed its poignant message, the wars that ripped Croatia and Bosnia apart may never have taken place, and tens of thousands of lives could have been spared.
But peace was not a word in Milosevic’s dictionary of destruction.
"EU to take action against Chinese,Vietnamese shoes next week
The European Commission will slap duties on Chinese and Vietnamese shoes next week, acting against a flood of cheap imports that it says breaks world trade rules.
Trade officials from the European Union's 25 member states voted not to block Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson's recommendation that they impose temporary duties of up to almost 20 percent on imports of leather shoes from China and Vietnam.
The duties will be adopted on March 22 and will be phased in from April, starting at 4 percent and rising to 19.4 percent for Chinese shoes and 16.8 percent on Vietnamese footwear over six months. Children's shoes and high-tech sports shoes will be exempted."
Estonia and Denmark are Europe's hottest property spots, by Lorna Bourke
For anyone looking for property hot spots, Estonia saw the highest house price inflation in Europe last year at 28%, closely followed by Denmark at 22%. According to the latest survey of European House Prices from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Spain at 15% and France with 10% price rises, 2004’s leaders, are now third and fifth, with Swedish house price rises at 12% in fourth place.
‘After several years of high growth in Europe’s Mediterranean regions, fuelled by the second homes boom and strong economic growth, countries in the north of the continent are starting to catch up, in what remains a generally buoyant European market,’ says the RICS report.
Sugar producers lobby for euros by Jan Sliva
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Officials from three Caribbean islands called on the European Union on Wednesday to increase its compensation for losses from EU subsidy cuts in the region's sugar industry. Government officials from St. Kitts and Nevis, Guyana and Jamaica met European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and asked for more yearly aid in 2007-2012 to help Caribbean sugar producers cope with the EU's 36 percent cut in sugar subsidies imposed in January.
The EU has earmarked 40 million ($47 million) in aid for 2006, an amount St. Kitts Prime Minister Denzil Douglas called ``paltry.''
The Defiant War
When it began three years ago, few people could have anticipated that the combat in Iraq would last so long or that the enemy would become a stubborn and resilient insurgency. To be there or not to be is first question for U.S. about its future in Iraq
On the third anniversary of the Iraq war, Insight asked a variety of experts and analysts what they believe the United States should do, starting now, about the situation in Iraq. For their responses click on our EU-Digest title link to The San Francisco Chronicle: INSIGHT: THE DEFIANT WAR
Euro up against US$ in European trading
The 12-nation euro was up against the US dollar on Friday, even as US industrial production rose during February.
The 0.7 per cent increase reported for overall industrial activity by the Federal Reserve came after a 0.3 per cent dip in January. But it was tempered by a report that production at US factories was flat last month after jumping by a strong 0.8 per cent in January. The showing in February was the weakest since a 0.5 per cent decline in factory output in September.
The European Union adopts ambitious biofuels strategy by Dr. Ludwig De Braeckeleer
Earlier this month, the European Commission 1 has adopted a mix of legislative and research measures, known as the "EU Strategy for Biofuels", in order to boost significantly the production of fuels from agricultural raw materials. This decision builds upon other action plans adopted in the sector of clean energy and seems to indicate the genuine willingness of the European Commission's energy policy makers to actively promote the development of renewable energy, particularly energy from wind, water, solar power and biomass.
The European Commission is now focusing on transport. In the EU, transport is responsible for almost one quarter of greenhouse gas emissions.
Dutch Brewer Heineken Sees the Light-by David Kiley
Half of U.S. beer drinkers are choosing low-cal hops, and the Dutch brewer has an upscale beer created especially for them. Purists who prefer full-bodied, full-calorie beer, and who like the bitter taste of Heineken, may sneer at the new Premium Light beer being rolled out by the Dutch brewer this month. But while overall beer sales decline, two segments are growing -- light beer and premium niche beer -- and beermakers cannot ignore them. "It's very hard to ignore half the market," says Heineken USA Chief Executive Andy Thomas. Heineken also distributes Amstel Light, priced at a premium compared to mass brands like Miller Lite and Bud Light.
Imported beers have less than 10% of the light-beer market, so that's where Heineken sees an opening. Amstel Light and Corona Light are the most popular among the imports, though Corona Light, to many palates, has even less body than Coors Light. Heineken, already the top imported beer brand with 2.5% of the overall U.S. beer market, figures its sizeable distribution will vault Premium Light to the top from the start.
Mexico: 10,000 protest at water summit
About 10,000 protesters have marched in Mexico City, where 11,000 delegates and representatives met at the 4th World Water Forum to discuss ways to improve supplies for the poor.Participants from 121 countries, debated topics including the developing world's growing reliance on bottled water bought from private companies, instead of on public water systems, which some call a form of privatisation.
Cristina Hernandez, a protester, said: "We don't want privatisation because it will only serve as a business for someone. Services get more expensive with privatisation, but not better."
Two sides to Serbia's story - by ALEXANDER BRENDAN ZECEVIC
'WE are not angels. Nor are we the devils you have made us out to be," said Slobodan Milosevic in his most famous, most notorious speech delivered in 1989 in Kosovo Field at the scene of Serbia's most famous battle - a battle hailed as a "heroic defeat". It was a speech that cemented his place as a political figure and is regarded as a landmark in the resurgence of Serb nationalism, and a milestone marking the beginning of the end of Yugoslavia. But nearly two decades later and after a succession of wars, these words still carry a resonance with Serbian people who feel vilified and victimised by the West.In a perverse way, and in the eyes of the minority of supporters at his funeral today, he has become like the Serb heroes of Kosovo Field in 1389, who fought the invading Ottoman army, killed the Sultan Murad and were beaten.
Echoing his own words from that same speech, Milosevic "remained undefeated when losing".