Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sderot Media Center Weekly Update

By David Bedein

Who is fooling who?
By Anav Silverman

Sderot Media Center's exclusive report on Sderot delegation's visit to Knesset On Monday morning, July 28th, a delegation of Sderot residents arrived to the Knesset with one goal in mind; to raise concern over the way in which the Israel Tax Authority deals with compensations for rocket damages done to Sderot property and homes. After years of being mistreated by the Israel Tax Authority representatives in legal battles and bureaucratic proceedings over rocket damages, Read More

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P.o Box 472, Sderot 80100

histadrut 1 , st, sderot


Open Europe press summary : 31 July 2008


Le Monde: Failure in trade talks could help Sarkozy persuade Irish to hold second referendum

There is continued coverage of the breakdown of the Doha trade talks. Le Monde has a piece on the "winners and losers" from the collapse. Among the winners, it lists Nicolas Sarkozy, who has "killed two birds with one stone," in that "he can boast about having defended the interests of French and European farmers, and he can now encourage the Irish to organise a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty - the first having been lost, he says, because of the threats to Irish meat and milk." A separate piece quotes the French Minister for External Trade Anne-Marie Idrac saying of the collapse in the world trade talks: "It's not the end of the world."

The Irish Independent reports that Irish Farmers' Association President Padraig Walshe said farmers owed a debt of gratitude to Nicolas Sarkozy for helping to end the talks. Irish Junior Minister Martin Mansergh said the breakdown "will be a huge relief to Ireland's hard-pressed farm sector", and indicated that Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson could not be trusted, and was trying to use the talks to press the "British objective" of undermining the CAP. He then argued that the result at Doha showed how important it was for Ireland to engage with other EU countries, before warning that "The 'No' decision of the Irish people on the treaty has left Ireland, for the time being, in a more exposed and vulnerable position" regarding trade.

Meanwhile, Swedish Radio notes that Italy had threatened to block the EU's negotiation mandate if a new trade deal did not contain a special provision banning the production of parmesan cheese outside of Italy.

The Economist blog argues that the breakdown of the WTO talks show that global trade relations are no longer divided between richer and poorer nations, but that "mercantilist interests drive trade policy".

Le Monde Le Monde 2 FT Beattie FT leader AFP European Voice Economist Free Exchange blog Irish Independent McRae Irish Independent Ivory Guardian Patel Guardian Irish Independent Swedish Radio

Ganley: Sarkozy agreed that a Lisbon referendum in France would have been lost

EUobserver follows up yesterday's reports that the Irish government is considering a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in autumn 2009, and mentions Open Europe's July poll which found that 62 percent would reject the Treaty and that 71 percent don't want to vote on the subject again. The poll is also covered in Irish daily Western People.

EUobserver also reports that Declan Ganley, a prominent Irish campaigner, is currently touring Europe to try and establish a new anti-Lisbon political group in time for the 2009 European elections. If elected, Ganley plans to write a reader-friendly, 20-page EU treaty based on the US constitution to replace the 400-page long Lisbon text. Ganley reportedly told French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Dublin last week that French people would also have rejected the treaty if France had held a referendum. "You may be surprised to hear that he agreed with me," said Ganley.

The Irish Independent reports on splits between Ireland's pro-Lisbon parties, as recriminations set in over the failed campaign for the Treaty. Asked about a report that the Government is considering holding a second referendum in autumn 2009, Fianna Fail TD Mary O'Rourke said the proposal was the "lazy way forward" and an "insult" to the electorate.

Irish Times EUobserver Irish Independent

EU back-room deal could leave contaminated soil at hospitals and schools

EUobserver reports that schools, playgrounds, hospitals and other public sites with contaminated soil could remain polluted as the result of a back-room deal between Germany, France and the UK on European legislation covering soil degradation and clean-ups. Two years ago the Commission proposed a directive which would force governments to clean up contaminated soil; however it was vetoed at last December's European summit. Despite this France did promise to revive the directive during its presidency of the EU. Instead of pursuing the initiative through official channels it has recently come to light that France has been holding unofficial meetings to renegotiate the directive, but invited only the countries who previously rejected it (Germany, UK, Austria and Netherlands).

A leaked draft seen by EUobserver of changes sought by the main blocking countries shows that they are seeking to strip the bill of almost all of its key requirements. "What little substance was in the original directive proposal has now been gutted," said Pieter de Pous, a soil policy expert with the European Environmental Bureau. The changes to the document mean that instead of having to identify all contaminated sites, member states will now only have to identify problem sites which are being sold. This creates a significant risk considering many sites, such as hospitals and schools, are unlikely to be sold and as such will not be identified.


Guardian assesses Miliband's approach to Europe

Supposing a possible leadership challenge, the Guardian has a piece on what David Miliband stands for. On Europe, Mr Miliband is said to be optimistic about the EU's ability to meet global challenges and would like to see the EU as an "environment union". The paper also suggests that Mr Miliband is more pro-EU than Gordon Brown, though an observer is quoted as saying this is because "he's never had to sit through finance meetings with other European finance ministers."


Court rules against ban on Turkey's governing party

Turkey's highest court yesterday ruled against the demands for the governing Justice and Development party (AKP) to be banned, following allegations of Islamist tendencies. Six of the eleven judges voted in favour of outlawing the party - one vote short of the seven required for the party to be banned. A ban would have brought down the government, forcing elections for the second time in a year, and plunging Turkey into political chaos. However, Court President Hasim Kilic added that the court would still be sending the party a "serious warning" by cutting its Treasury funding in half, adding that "I hope the party in question will evaluate the outcome very well and get the message it should get".

After yesterday's ruling, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said "A great uncertainty blocking Turkey's future has been lifted," adding that he would "continue to protect the fundamental principles of our republic". Labour Minister Faruk Çelik hailed the decision as "a victory for Turkish democracy".

The ruling could also boost Turkey's long-stalled EU membership bid. In Brussels officials expressed relief at the verdict. EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn told Reuters that "Despite everything, this is a good day for Turkey and for Europe", and urged the government to resume economic and social reforms to meet EU standards after what he called "wasted time for reforms" during the political uncertainty of the past two years.
FT Boland Deutsche Welle The Times BBC Reuters IHT Independent Cockburn Guardian Tisdall WSJ

EU to adopt tougher sanctions on Iran

Reuters reports that the EU will adopt tougher sanctions on Iran next week. The changes will encourage EU financial institutions to "exercise restraint" on export credits, and allow its navies to inspect all Iran-bound ships, going beyond sanctions already set by the UN Security Council in an earlier resolution.


The Economist on Walloon poll

A piece on the Economist blog explores the recent Walloon opinion poll, suggesting that it and coverage of its findings may be misleading. The poll found that one in two Walloons would be in favour of joining France in Belgium was to break up, but the Economist identifies problems such as selective sampling (Brussels' French-speakers were left out) and selective questioning (there was no question on independence). The article also looks at the reasons behind the reported Walloon sentiment, suggesting that joining France may be an attractive option as it could serve as a replacement patron for Brussels.

Economist Certain Ideas of Europe blog

EU rule leaves blue flag beach coated in sludge

One of Britain's best beaches has been left coated in a thick black sludge from thousands of tonnes of rotting seaweed after council officials were told they could be breaking EU rules if they remove it. The local council has been warned that it will be prosecuted if it removes the sludge and causes damage to nearby chalk reefs, which are protected by a special European designation. However due to other rules and regulations on waste management the council is struggling to find any areas to dump the waste, leaving the beach unusable.


Kosovo has begun issuing its first passports as an independent state; however, it remains unclear which of the 7 EU states which do not recognise Kosovo's independence will accept the documents.

EUobserver BBC

The WSJ reports that the EU's strict regulations on genetically modified crops could create continent-wide shortages of soybeans, a crucial part of the diet of Europe's livestock.


Prospect's Brussels Diary predicts that "whole swathes of the French economy" could be in for generous treatment from the EU Commission, in a bid to win over President Sarkozy to support a second term for Barroso as Commission President.

No link

It has been reported this week by The Observer and The Scotsman that Chief Whip Geoff Hoon is possibly being lined up as the UK's next EU Commissioner. The move is apparently an attempt to dissuade Mr Hoon from organising a leadership challenge to embattled Gordon Brown.



Israel's PM announces resignation

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced yesterday that he will not run in his party's primary election in September, and would step down afterwards to allow his successor to form a government. Mr Olmert's popularity had dropped to below 20 percent during the war in Lebanon in 2006, and is again extremely low following a recent string of corruption allegations and police interrogations. He has reportedly said to now be dedicating himself to clearing his name.

The announcement has raised serious doubts and fears over the prospects for peace efforts with both the Palestinians and Syria, particularly since recent progress in talks with the Palestinians have depended on the close bond Mr Olmert has forged with President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Times IHT Sun


Miliband triggers media speculation over Labour leadership

Foreign Secretary David Miliband yesterday sparked intense speculation in the UK media as to whether he intends to challenge Gordon Brown for the Labour leadership. An article in the Guardian yesterday by Mr Miliband failed to mention Mr Brown and was seen by many observers as the opening move in a leadership bid. A press conference in the afternoon failed to dampen speculation when Mr Miliband refused to rule himself out of any leadership contest.

Mr Miliband's actions drew a furious response from 'allies' of Mr Brown who called Mr Miliband "disloyal" and "self-serving". Sky News reports that Mr Brown is being urged by friends to sack the Foreign Secretary. Meanwhile it is reported that Health Minister Ivan Lewis has openly criticised Mr Brown for being too "timid". The criticism follows calls from two Labour MPs for Mr Brown to step down.

Sky News Spectator blog Daily Mail Glover Guardian Independent Richards Times Independent Independent 2 FT Times Cavendish Sun Economist blog

Traitor Shimon Peres to divide Jerusalem

Yitzhak Rabin murdered to empower Shimon Peres to divide Jerusalem?

"Israeli Penal Code – 1977, Section 97(b) A person who, with intent that any area be withdrawn from the sovereignty of the State or placed under the sovereignty of a foreign state, commits an act calculated to bring this about, is liable to life imprisonment or the death penalty."

Israel has this law on the books, but will they enforce it before it's too late? The worst offender is Shimon Peres. Yitzhak Rabin exposed Shimon Peres as "an indefatigable subversive." Yet, shamefully, Shimon Peres has survived to this day, protected by the corrupt Israeli oligarchy that are servants to their German-Jesuit masters, as the Jewish homeland continues to be dismembered, the Third Temple dismantled, and Jerusalem undermined!

Isaiah 3:12
As for My people, children are their oppressors, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, And destroy the way of your paths.

Isaiah 9:16
For the leaders of this people cause them to err, And those who are led by them are destroyed.

Shimon Peres has collaborated with the bloody Roman Catholic Cult (aka the Babylonian Mystery religion) and Germans to transfer Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem to them, fulfilling their dream that will become the world's worst nightmare!

Treacherous Israeli leaders deserve the death penalty! Apparently, too many Israelis (and Jews in self-imposed exile) prefer lies and delusions to the plain truth of the Bible and history. Clearly, the sheep are on their way to the slaughter the German-Jesuit EU prepares!

Lying Visions of Peace

Paint Israel Black: Jews to Lose Jerusalem!

Europe to Take Out Iran For Jerusalem

Woe to Ariel! (Jerusalem to Suffer EU Occupation)

Exposing the German-Vatican Plot to Occupy Jerusalem

EU to Conquer Anglo-Saxons and Jews

Shimon Peres Came to Power Over Rabin's Dead Body

The Secret Nazis Covet the Temple Mount

Mount Zion Under Siege: Who Will Be King of the Mountain?

Vatican Linked to the Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin?

UN Resolution 181: Blueprint of the Beast?

Israel's Only Way Out: Follow Kahane!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Jerusalem Conspiracy

25 Tammuz 5768, 7/28/2008
I Didn't Want to Be Right: "The Jerusalem Conspiracy"
by Tamar Yonah

No, no, no, no... I didn't want to be right on this one. I really didn't. And what surprises me is that I thought we would have to wait longer to see if my theory was correct or not. I am talking about a conspiracy to get the people to agree, even to demand, the division of Jerusalem - for fear of their safety...

Shalom Tamar,

Exposing the German-Vatican Plot to Occupy Jerusalem
The one time The Traveller did run a political piece, it ruffled feathers with the local authorities. In 'Will Jerusalem become an international city?' by American writer David Ben-Ariel, readers were warned about a German-Vatican plot to take over Jerusalem, urged to take back the Temple Mount and dislodge 'as symbols of foreign occupation' Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

This is why Shimon Peres came to power.

Kol tov,

Open Europe press summary : 30 July 2008

Open Europe


Irish government considers second referendum in autumn 2009

The front page of the Irish Independent confirms that the Irish government is considering a second Lisbon referendum in autumn 2009 - which would use the guarantee of holding on to a European Commissioner as "the carrot for a 'Yes' vote". There are also expected to be written assurances on the issues of abortion, taxation and neutrality. The paper notes that in order to accommodate this timeframe, the appointment of the new EU Commission would need to be temporarily delayed until the winter of 2009 - after a second Irish referendum. A senior government source told the paper: "You'd have to arrive at that decision by a logical means by the end of this year. It's shaping that way. It's being kicked around."

Former minister Mary O'Rourke told a Dail committee yesterday "It is a very foolish route we are taking if we think we can have another referendum... The people said 'No'. There is no escaping that. We will not be able to carry another referendum. The sooner we realise that, wake up to it, the better."

A leader in the Irish Independent argues that the plan for a second referendum "deserves calm appraisal", but says that a recent poll from Open Europe showing it would be defeated "should not be dismissed out of hand". Fionnan Sheahan argues in the paper that a second Lisbon referendum is "inevitable, so the only question is when". He believes that an autumn 2009 poll "will allow the heat to be taken out of the situation for a while", but accepts that "a second referendum will be trickier than the first." On his BBC blog, Mark Mardell also mentions Open Europe's recent poll and notes that the ratification process in Ireland could drag on.

The Irish Times reports that "Some parties' MEPs had access to EU funds to support their campaigns" for the Lisbon Treaty. Figures from the Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland show that Fine Gael's five MEPs spent 102,858 euros on print and outdoor advertising in June.

Irish Independent Irish Times Irish Times Mark Mardell's blog

Doha trade talks break down

There is widespread coverage of yesterday's breakdown of the Doha round of global trade talks. The immediate cause of the breakdown is reported to be a disagreement between the US and China and India over a mechanism allowing developing countries to protect farmers from surges in imports and prices - described as a comparatively small part of the talks. The FT notes that there was relatively little trading of blame in the aftermath of the breakdown. However, China and some other developing countries blamed wealthier countries for protecting their agricultural sectors while demanding poor countries cut tariffs on industrial goods and liberalise services markets.

Peter Mandelson said that the talks on agriculture had been harmed by the new US Farm Bill - a five-year programme of agricultural subsidies recently passed by the US Congress. He called it "one of the most reactionary farm bills in the history of the US". Pascal Lamy, the World Trade Organisation's chief, said he expected he would attempt to revive the Doha talks but it was not possible to say how or when that might happen. The WSJ notes that by the end of 2009, there will be a new US President, a new EU Trade Commissioner and possibly a new Indian government - all which could make a new global trade deal even harder. Open Europe's Hugo Robinson was interviewed on Al-Jazeera English, discussing the breakdown of the talks.

Comment: The EU is far from blameless. During the Geneva talks, the EU did not make any new concessions on tariff reductions relative to the 2006 position. Last week, Mandelson attempted to spin that the EU had proposed reducing farm tariffs by 60% - up from the existing offer of 54%, calling it a "a very considerable improvement on our own part." However, EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer-Boel and French Trade Minister Anne-Marie Idrac admitted that the offer was "nothing new" - the difference between the two figures was merely down to whether tropical products were included in the tariff cut calculations or not. Trade negotiations are inevitably based on reciprocity: given the intransigence of the EU on market access, it's hardly surprising that large developing countries were wary of demands that they bring down their own tariffs. The question of safeguard mechanisms was merely the final straw that led to the collapse of talks.

Irish Independent El Pais EUobserver AFP FT FT 2 WSJ IHT Irish Times Independent EU Referendum blog Independent Guardian

Fischer calls for flexible EU defence policy
Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has called for a group of EU member states to develop a military force capable of responding to current global crises. At a presentation of a report carried out by the European Council on Foreign Relations, Mr Fischer said that a selection of EU member states should form a "pioneering group" to deal with issues of European security and defence. In the report it was suggested that if such a European reaction force were created it would be able to react to violence around the globe more effectively than allowed by current policies.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that a European peacekeeping mission was funded by a staff whip-round and a loan from British ambassador's entertainment budget. A report published yesterday says that Europe's plans under the Lisbon Treaty to increase combined defence initiatives and boost the EU's international role are threatened. The report's author, Nick Witney, the senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, blames "inertia and resistance in defence machinery" for thwarting the EU's aim to contribute to global security.
Deutsche Welle

Blair favourite amongst business for EU Presidency

EUobserver reports that European business leaders would like to see former Prime Minister Tony Blair as the first occupant of the proposed post of permanent EU President. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel was runner-up in a poll carried out by CNBC Europe. French President Nicolas Sarkozy signalled last year that he would back Mr Blair for the role but other European governments are less keen.


EU migrants may join armed forces

A Commons select committee report has recommended that Polish migrants should be allowed to join the UK armed forces. A growing lack of specialists is said to be undermining the army, a situation that Chairman James Arbuthnot stressed must be addressed with "flexibility and imagination". It is suggested this move could help with over-stretched situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Daily Mirror

15,000 Serbian protestors clashed with police in the "Freedom for Serbia" rally in Belgrade last night.

El Pais WSJ IHT Irish Times EUobserver Independent

Common EU divorce laws to move ahead under enhanced cooperation?

The Economist blog looks at a proposal which will enable some EU members to move ahead with adoption of common divorce legislation if they choose - under so-called enhanced cooperation. It is noted that proposals for common divorce laws have consistently been opposed by member states with the most liberal divorce laws, who worry about having to apply foreign laws that are more restrictive than their own. For instance, Sweden has warned that their courts could even be forced to adopt restrictive divorce policies from countries like Iran.

Economist blog

New poll: 49% of Belgian francophones want to join France

Le Figaro reports that according to a new Ifop poll, 49% of Belgian francophones are tempted by the idea of joining France - up from 29% between October 2007 and January 2008. 45% are opposed to joining France. 60% of French people are in favour, including some MPs - up from 54% in November last year.

Le Figaro EUobserver


Miliband in leadership bid

The Times reports that David Miliband has unveiled a plan to guide Labour to victory in the next election. He called for change and a return to "New Labour", and suggested that delayed reform of the NHS and a failure to devolve power are reasons for the party's increasing unpopularity. The article did not mention Gordon Brown at all, so many are viewing this as a bid for leadership.

The Times Daily Express Telegraph

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Obama: Withdraw Troops From Germany?

Arianna Huffington

Obsession with Polls Leads to a Bad Case of Premature Pontification

Posted July 28, 2008 | 04:54 PM (EST)

Isn't it strange that Barack Obama didn't get a bounce from his wildly well-received overseas trip? Oh wait, maybe he did. But, hey, it was just a small bounce. Or was it more of a bump? Perhaps a bouncelet? A hop? A ricochet? A swelling? Or was it a rash? In which case, if it persists for more than two weeks, should he see an electoral professional, or just declare victory?


Couldn't Europe have just done us all a big favor and "confused" Obama with all the illegal African immigrants and bounced him back there? And while in Germany (where *56,000 US soldiers and 15,000 US airmen—live and work), why didn't Obama demand we withdraw our troops from Europe?

*We Have How Many Troops in Europe?

President Barack Obama sound good to you?

Black to Africa: Facing the Crisis in Black America

Open Europe press summary - 29 July 2008

Open Europe

Cross-party alliance on Lisbon Treaty breaking down in Ireland

29 July 2008

There is continued coverage of a Red C poll commissioned by Open Europe showing that Irish voters are strongly opposed to a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, and would vote no by a larger margin than the last time around if a second vote was held.

The Irish Independent, in an article discussing Open Europe and its business supporters, reports on the opposition of the Irish Labour Party to a second vote. Labour TD Joe Costello is quoted as saying that “the latest Red C poll indicates the extent to which there has been a further hardening of attitude against a rerun of the Lisbon Treaty”.

The Irish Election blog argues that the shift in the Labour position against a referendum re-run reflects growing strain within the ‘Grand Alliance’ over Europe in Irish politics. Meanwhile, the Irish Times reports that opposition parties Fine Gael and Labour are to oppose the formation of a special parliamentary committee to analyse the no vote and propose a way forward. The paper notes that “The development fractures the cross-party unity that has existed on European Union issues between the major parties, as both main Opposition parties adopt a slightly more distanced attitude towards the treaty… The significance of the Fine Gael move is a strong signal that it is less likely to be as supportive to the Government on EU issues in future, particularly since half of its declared support voted No in June. The Labour Party leader, Eamon Gilmore, who has already said that he would oppose a second referendum, is faced with the reality that a strong majority of his party's support base voted No.”

The Irish Daily Mail picks up on comments made by Irish Foreign Minister Micheál Martin yesterday, who dismissed the poll as outside “interference”, and said Open Europe was “using Ireland as a battleground, as the pawn if you like, to manipulate the situation and to achieve their wider agenda of undermining the European Union itself.” Open Europe’s Lorraine Mullally is quoted saying the government was trying to divert attention away from the poll. A separate piece looked in detail at Lorraine’s Irish background and argued that the Foreign Minister “was making a fool out of himself yesterday on Morning Ireland, attacking the think tank Open Europe and its director of research Lorraine Mullally.”

A comment piece by Richard Waghorne in the paper, argues that while Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel went to Ireland to campaign in favour of the Lisbon Treaty, “Open Europe did almost the exact opposite – they came here to ask our opinion. The first got the red carpet, the second the red mist. It is an unhappy irony that funding a listening exercise is chalked up as an act of foreign sabotage when threatening reprisals for the No vote and demanding a second is not. The finding of the Open Europe poll, that a second referendum would be roundly trounced, is far less revealing than the reaction it provoked. Is there not something deeply contradictory about a government that continually emphasises the merits of integration with Europe but then brands mere interest in our views from our next-door neighbour as ‘interference’?”

Mike Fealty’s ‘Brassneck’ Telegraph blog also picks up on the Irish government’s criticism of the Open Europe poll. The piece notes that “There have been accusations from Dick Roche, the Minister of State for European Affairs, that the questions were 'extraordinarily skewed' on Newstalk yesterday morning. That is, perhaps, a line the Minister would be well advised not to pursue too rigorously.”

He argues that the “selective leaking” to the press of the EU Commission’s Eurobarometer poll, conducted in the week after the no vote, exposes supporters of the Treaty to the accusation of bias, and that the Open Europe poll “seems purer than the driven snow by comparison”. He notes that “there was, as Open Europe reports on it its own blog, some serious discrepancies in detail between these briefings and the actual results when they were finally came out.”

Open Europe is quoted saying, "How is it interfering to ask people how they might vote in a future re-run referendum? It's not as though it hasn't happened before, look at Nice. It's clear that people don't want a referendum. The truth is the government is panicking, since its strategy of taking the country back to the polls is in trouble".

Open Europe’s Lorraine Mullally was interviewed on Irish radio station Q102 yesterday, discussing the poll. The poll was also mentioned in Le Monde, Danish daily Politiken, Swedish radio, Gideon Rachman’s FT blog and EU news service Euractiv.

UK Shadow Foreign Minister William Hague had an article in the Irish Times over the weekend, arguing that “If Lisbon remains unratified by all EU member states, a Conservative government will put Britain's ratification of the treaty on ice and hold a referendum, recommending a No vote to a document we believe represents an outdated centralising approach to the EU. So the chances are growing that Ireland's voters will not be alone in saying No to Lisbon for long.”

Irish Independent Mail (Ireland) Mail (Ireland) Waghorne Euractiv FT Rachman Telegraph Fealty Irish Labour party statement Irish Times Irish Times Hague Open Europe Blog Swedish Radio Vasabladet

Recriminations begin as hope for world trade deal dims;

Nine EU states urge tougher line from Mandelson in WTO talks

Hopes of a deal in the current talks of the WTO Doha round are fading, with relations between major trading blocs breaking down and fractures opening within the EU over Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson’s negotiating position.

Meanwhile Mr Mandelson has been criticised by nine EU member states (including France, Italy and Germany) who are demanding he take a tougher line against developing countries in order to protect Europe’s agricultural sector. The French in particular distrust Mr Mandelson and fear he would be happy to make concessions that hit French agriculture hard in return for any deal; French President Nicolas Sarkozy has demanded an immediate meeting with Mr Mandelson. The nine states, each with large agricultural sectors, have formed an alliance to push for better terms for the EU in any deal that emerges.

The Irish Times reports that the Irish Farmers Association has continued to accuse EU negotiators of selling out farmers. However EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel has responded that the IFA’s claims were in, “bad faith” and were, “nothing to do with reality… the figures [used by the IFA] are clearly misleading."

AFP 1 AFP 2 Deutsche Welle FT Irish Times Irish Times 2 IHT IHT 2

Government’s deal with trade unions pledges to fight EU single market for health

The three-day meeting at Warwick University over the weekend to agree Labour policies has led to public sector unions winning a pledge to fight any moves by the European Union to create a single market in health care. A press release from Unison notes that the agreement “opposes any attempts to create a single EU market for healthcare which could undermine the NHS.” This is a sensitive topic given that the European Commission has recently re-launched its proposed Health Directive. The controversial Directive means that the UK Government must choose between the proposed EU Directive and the NHS model of funding.

Open Europe briefing - Health Services Directive Times Unison press release

Emissions Trading auctions to net £2bn for Government

The FT reports that auctioning off the right to emit carbon dioxide is likely to net the Government nearly £2 billion over the next four years under the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme. The terms on which the emissions permits will be sold for the first time this year will be set out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Treasury. Under the second phase of the ETS, power companies will have to buy up to a third of their permits although they will still receive the rest free. Other sectors in the scheme, such as steelmakers and cement-makers, will continue to receive all of their permits for nothing, at least until 2013.

Yesterday’s price for this year’s permits stood at about 25 euros, with permits for 2012 selling in the forward market at nearly 30 euros. At these prices, the permit auctions would yield the Government between 2.1 billion euros and 2.4 billion euros in total by 2012. Once all the bids are in, the Government will calculate a single settlement price for all the permits available.


Greece rebuked over migrant care

Medecins Sans Frontieres, a French charity, has accused the Greek government of detaining up to 800 migrants in “horrible” conditions and branded the situation a “humanitarian crisis”.

Le Figaro reports that French Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux yesterday met with the ambassadors of 32 African countries to discuss the European pact on immigration and asylum. Agence Europe reports that it seems likely that the pact will boost immigration patrols and result in more people being expelled from the EU. With only one major sticking point left, the creation of a pan- European border guard, it is expected that the pact will be approved by mid-October.

BBC Irish Times Le Figaro

Danish immigration law under fire after EU court ruling

A recent EU court immigration ruling may force the Danish Government to revise its immigration policies- which are amongst the most restrictive in Europe. Numerous couples have appealed the decision made by the Danish government to reject their application to settle in Denmark.


Hannan: Don’t hold Bosnia together artificially

The BBC reports that Serbia is preparing to make a bid for entry into the EU before the end of the year, as the pro-EU leadership believes the arrest of Radovan Karadzic will strengthen the case.

In The Telegraph, Daniel Hannan rejects Paddy Ashdown’s claim that the EU needs to “wake up” to the idea that Bosnia may divide along ethnic lines following the Karadzic saga. Hannan argues that denying the national principle in the 1990s created just as many, if not more of the horrors that would have come about if independence was allowed. As a result, he says that Bosnia should not be artificially held together. Peter Murtagh writes in the Irish Times that due to the fragmented and divided power structure, the only real signs of unity in Bosnia at the moment are the currency and the car number plates. A mass rally against the arrest of Karadzic is due to take place in Belgrade later today.

Telegraph BBC Irish Times

Low university spending behind Europe’s poor growth record?

Compared to US higher education institutions, universities in the EU are poor relations, argues Tony Barber on the FT’s Brussels Blog. Whereas the US spends around 3.3% of GDP on higher education (36,500 euros per student), the EU spends only 1.3% of GDP (8,700 euros per student), which may explain why European universities fail to match their US counterparts in terms of quality research output. In a report published by Breugel, a Brussels-based think-tank, it is argued: “European growth has been disappointing for the past 30 years, remaining persistently lower than in the United States. There is now much evidence that this situation is closely linked to the state of innovation and higher education in Europe.” Breugel stresses the need for more money, more autonomy and more competition to improve the situation.

FT Brussels Blog

Swedish Radio reports that Coca Cola receives millions in EU export farm subsidies.

Swedish Radio

Turkish court considers ban on ruling party

Turkey is facing a political crisis as the Constitutional Court meets to decide whether or not to ban the current ruling Justice and Development party (AKP). The AKP has been accused of stealthily seeking to Islamise the country and erode secular values. Since the 1960s a number of pro-Islamist and pro-Kurdish parties have been shut down by courts for allegedly seeking to undermine the state’s core secular values, but this is the first time allegations have been made against a ruling party with a huge parliamentary majority, says the BBC's Pam O'Toole. Whilst it is true that the party has pursued an Islamic agenda, such as allowing women to wear headscarves at public universities, it is argued in the FT that the charges it faces are based on flimsy evidence.

FT leader BBC

Monday, July 28, 2008

Open Europe press summary : 28 July 2008

Open Europe


New poll shows Irish are against a second referendum and would reject Lisbon by even bigger margin than before;

Irish government attacks poll

A new poll by Irish company Red C, commissioned by Open Europe, has found that 71% of Irish voters are against a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, and that, of those who expressed an opinion, 62% would vote 'no'. That would mean the "no" lead would increase from 6 points in the recent referendum to a commanding 24 point lead in a second vote.

The poll found that 17% of those who voted "yes" in the recent referendum would vote "no" in a second referendum, while only 6% of those who voted "no" would now vote "yes". Perhaps most significantly of all, those who did not vote last time would vote more than two-to-one against in a second referendum: 57% would vote "no" and 26% would vote "yes".

67% agreed with the statement that "politicians in Europe do not respect Ireland's no vote". Only 28% disagreed. 61% disagreed with the statement that "If all of the other 26 EU countries ratify the Treaty in their parliaments then Ireland has to change its mind and support the Treaty." Only 32% agreed. 53% said they would be less likely to vote for Brian Cowen at the next election if he called a second referendum. In particular, 43% of Fianna Fail voters said they would be less likely to vote for him.

The poll was widely reported in the UK, Ireland and across Europe yesterday, and coverage continues today. In particular, it was reported on in the Irish Independent on Sunday, the Irish Times, the News of the World, the Sunday Express, the Times, Le Monde, Le Figaro, Le Point, NRC Handelsblatt, Spiegel, Gazeta Wyborcza and Die Presse.

Open Europe Director Neil O'Brien is quoted saying, "EU leaders who are trying to force Ireland to vote again are playing a very dangerous game, and it looks like Brian Cowen could be putting his political life on the line by calling a second vote. By appearing to bully the voters, EU politicians are actually driving lots more people into the 'no' camp." Neil was also interviewed on Irish radio RTE.

The Irish government yesterday accused Open Europe of "meddling" in the Irish debate, claiming the poll was "biased" and "not credible". Speaking during a debate with Open Europe's Lorraine Mullally on Irish radio Newstalk, Europe Minister Dick Roche claimed the suggestion that Nicolas Sarkozy was reported to have said there should be a second referendum was "complete nonsense." He denied there had ever been any suggestion of a second referendum, saying: "you're making it up as you go along." He said the poll should be taken with "large sugar spoonfuls of salt", claiming that Open Europe had a "europhobic attitude".

This morning Lorraine Mullally appeared on RTE's Morning Ireland programme, to discuss the reaction to the poll, and argued that the Irish government was attempting to divert attention from the results.

Meanwhile, Eamon Gilmore, the leader of Ireland's Labour Party, said the concerns over the slowdown in the Irish economy should take precedence over any talks on Europe. Despite supporting the Lisbon Treaty, he said there should not be any discussion on having a second referendum. He said: "We've had a referendum, we've had a decision. We have to accept that decision. If you were to have a second referendum again on the Lisbon Treaty, in my opinion, you'd get the same result."

Chairwoman of the People's Movement, former Green MEP Patricia McKenna, accused Government ministers of double standards, saying "There was no concern expressed about outside interference when the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU vice president Margot Wallstrom came here to urge us to vote Yes. It's a bit late for the Government minister to be taking the moral high-ground now."

She said: "Our Government has never complained about polls commissioned by the EU political establishment. But because other interested parties, who have a different agenda, commission opinion polls on our attitude to Lisbon it just not acceptable." She added: "At least the results of these polls have been made available to the public. The Government on the other hand have decided to use taxpayers' money to mount extensive confidential polls to clarify the reasons underlying the referendum result and intend to withhold the results from the public. A Government that intends using our money to try and find out how to manipulate our minds when preparing for the next referendum has no moral authority to criticise the motivation behind any opinion polls."

The Irish government has initiated high-level contact with the two main opposition parties to discuss the formation of an all-party body on the Lisbon Treaty. AFP reports that Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said in an interview with Austrian newspaper Kurier that Irish voters might rethink their opposition to the EU Treaty if European leaders reassured them on key issues. In the Irish Independent, John Drennan argues that Brian Cowen "needs to leave whatever attic he is hiding in and come out this September, swinging the big stick of a 'back me or sack me' surprise Lisbon referendum."

Irish Times Irish Independent Sunday Express RFI EUobserver AFP Times Belfast Telegraph RTE Pravda SK Adevarul Irish Times Le Point Irish Independent leader EUobserver Sunday Express Young Irish Times Hennessy Spiegel Die Presse NZZ Morning Ireland Irish Independent AFP NRC Handelsblad Le Figaro Gazeta Wyborcza Sunday Express L'Express Le Monde Sunday Business Post Observer

Open Europe poll: press release Open Europe poll: full results

EU trade negotiators move to appease Irish beef farmers

The FT reports that EU and US negotiators have offered more temporary work visas for skilled professionals in a bid to maintain momentum in the Doha round of trade talks. It is widely reported that a resolution has been found in the long-running banana dispute between the EU and Latin American countries. "The 16-year-old bananas wars are finished. We can finally leave behind the most difficult dispute in the history of the GATT and the WTO," Costa Rica's WTO ambassador Ronald Saborio Soto told Reuters. However, the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) trade grouping have said the banana plan was unacceptable as a result of fears of preference erosion. Officials involved in the talks warned yesterday that a deal was far from done on liberalising agricultural and industrial goods, the main part of the talks.

Padraig Walsh, President of the Irish Farmers Association, has said that EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson was acting as a "British Government proxy" to destroy European agriculture. "Mandelson and the British Government are using the WTO negotiations to achieve the same result, with the aid of Brazil and South American interests," he said.

However, the Irish Times reports that Mandelson has denied "selling out" Irish farmers. The article notes that EU negotiators have placed special conditions on the sensitive issue of beef imports, proposing that tariff cuts for this product will be lower than for other farm goods, and that 45 per cent of those imports resulting from the reduced tariff will be lower grade meat that will not compete with Irish high quality beef exports to other EU states.

According to the Irish Independent, Fine Gael agriculture spokesman Michael Creed said he believed the Irish government had been cowed by the result of the Lisbon referendum, and would therefore be reluctant to threaten a veto of the world trade deal as a result.

Writing in the Irish Times, Alan Matthews has criticised the Irish Farmers' Association's "apocalyptic" vision of any proposed WTO deal. Matthews argues that a new WTO deal would benefit Ireland and adds that while "Every interest group has the right to state its case... IFA figures bear no relationship to any likely reality".

The FT Magazine had an in-depth article about the CAP. The article highlights the intransigence of the agricultural lobby throughout the EU's history, but also details recent attempts by some farmers to diversify the industry and the difficulties inherent in any attempt at reform.

FT Irish Times Matthews Le Figaro FT Sunday Telegraph The Times Telegraph Irish Independent Irish Times BBC EUobserver Euractiv

Irish government considers joining new EU battlegroup

As part of the new EU battlegroup system, the Irish government is considering entering a military formation with the armies of Germany, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Austria. The EU battlegroups are a new system under which European armies commit troops to a common force or battlegroup. Irish Defence Minister Willie O'Dea has been holding talks with the other countries discussing the possibility of switching from the Nordic to the German-led battlegroup, although he has reportedly told his Austrian counterpart, Norbert Darabos, that it was still too early for Ireland to commit to the German-led battlegroup or to commit to continuing with the Nordic battlegroup.

Irish Times

European court to hear women's challenge to ban on abortion

The European Court of Human rights will hear the case of three Irish women who are challenging the government's ban on abortion. In being forced to terminate their pregnancies outside of the state, the women argue that the current laws threatened their well-being and health. Their complaint centres around four articles in the European Convention on Human Rights, including protection from "inhuman or degrading treatment". The Irish Family Planning Association, which is supporting the women's case, says it could bring about a change in the law, just as the 1988 Norris case resulted in the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Irish Times

The Irish government is withdrawing its support for current EU biofuel targets, saying that it is "bad policy".

Irish Times

Italy extends state of emergency over immigration

Silvio Berlusconi's government is facing criticism over the declaration of a national state of emergency to deal with immigration. On Friday Interior Minister Roberto Maroni argued that the controversial measure was aimed at "intensifying efforts to combat and control the [immigration] phenomenon", and would include increasing the number of intake centres across the country - labelled "centres for identification and expulsion". The new measures come shortly after the government passed controversial new laws making undocumented migration a criminal offence. The country's centre-left opposition have accused the government of encouraging xenophobia.


EU internet proposals raise civil liberty fears

Civil liberty groups across Europe are claiming that the "telecoms package" due to go before the European Parliament in September will significantly infringe on individual freedoms and breach the fundamental principles of human rights in Europe. The legislation will force ISPs to hand over vital personal information about their customers to their governments, in an attempt to crack down on illegal downloads of music and films across the EU.

Sunday Independent

Burnham: UK will lobby Brussels for special conditions on football

The UK's Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, Andy Burnham, has declared himself willing to lobby Brussels in an effort to reduce the numbers of foreign players in English football leagues. In an interview with The Times, Mr Burnham said, "I'm not xenophobic in any way but I care about the health of English football, the state of the grassroots game, the quality of the competition and the ability to win of the national team." Football's world governing body, FIFA, has proposed a quota system to promote home-grown talent but such a system would fall foul of the EU's free movement of workers laws. However Mr Burnham insisted he would support a FIFA agreed blueprint in the face of EU opposition: "I would be quite prepared to go to Europe and say 'this is our proposal let's see if we can get clearance for this'. The debate is around applying EU law sensitively."

Meanwhile, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Christopher Booker has criticised the way the free movement of labour rules have affected cricket. While English Counties are officially only allowed one non-English player, EU laws allow this rule to be routinely flouted. Until recently even non-EU players were covered by the EU if their home country had a trade agreement with the EU. The "Kolpac" ruling of 2004 saw 40 Caribbean and South African players playing for English Counties this season as EU-qualified players.

Times Sunday Telegraph

FT: euroscepticism is strong political force in UK

A feature in the FT Magazine argues that the Lisbon 'no' vote in Ireland has led to the resurgence of UK euroscepticism. It argues the prospect of a Conservative Government means that David Cameron has to recognise the phenomenon of scepticism towards the EU, and develop a successful approach as it is "a political force that he will do well to contain."


Macedonia's EU ambitions face resistance from Greece

Macedonia's new centre-right government has vowed to make EU membership a top priority. However, these ambitions are hindered by a persisting deadlock in the country's 'name row' with Greece, irrespective of any future progress on Macedonia's internal deficiencies.


Paddy Ashdown has warned of a possible break-up of Bosnia, and has criticised the EU for adopting a complacent attitude towards the Balkans.

Certain Ideas of Europe - Economist blog