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Posts Tagged ‘European Union’

Not so noble: EU’s Peace Prize win sparks debate over legitimacy

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 11, 2012

The European Union’s presidents have received this year’s Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the 27-member group. However, growing numbers of critics have pointed to the EU’s economic and foreign policy failures, arguing the prize is undeserved.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz have accepted the 930,000-euro ($1.2 million) award on behalf of the EU.

In his acceptance speech, Van Rompuy praised postwar leaders in France and Germany who created the EU by uniting their economic interests: “The EU’s secret weapon – an unrivalled way of binding our interests so tightly that war becomes impossible.”

The French and German representatives at the ceremony – President Francois Hollande and Chancellor Angela Merkel, respectively – greeted the award with standing ovations.

But critics argued the award was an inappropriate honor. Six EU leaders, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, did not attend the event. The initial news that the European Union won the 2012 Peace Prize sparked heated debate over whether the award was being discredited, a debate that also raged after US President Barack Obama’s win in 2009. Read the rest of this entry »

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EU mobilizes €120 billion for growth

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 29, 2012

EU officials have agreed to spend €120 billion “for immediate growth measures” to aid the most vulnerable countries of the eurozone. The announcement comes during the latest EU summit that has started in Brussels.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy made the announcement at a summit press conference on Thursday. The leaders of Spain and Italy were reportedly blocking a final agreement on a stimulus package until they won promises of immediate help in reducing their borrowing costs, AP reports.

However, after a tough night of bargaining, an agreement was reached that would allow loan money to be provided directly to troubled banks, circumventing European governments as middle men in the bailout process.

Allowing money to be funneled directly to the banks was seen as a way to keep investor interest rates down by removing the debt from European governments; loans provided to governments might cause investor doubt, therefore driving interest rates to unsustainable heights. The move was beneficial for Spain, which has been seeking €100 billion in loans for its troubled banks.

Another key part of the agreement was a reversal of EU policy stating that any new bailout applications would not be met with the same strict conditions that were imposed on previous bailout requests. This move was seen as one designed to placate Italy, who insisted that despite its troubled economy, it was not seeking a bailout at this time. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Euro – Going From Bad to Worse

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 27, 2012

By Sir Christopher Meyer, Former British Ambassador to the United States and Germany, former Chairman of the Press Complaints Commission

The markets have steadied a bit after their loss of nerve on Monday. But you can’t help feeling that it is a bit like a climber, sliding down a glacier to his inevitable doom, who breaks his fall for a while on a crumbling ledge that soon will give way.

Things in Euroland have taken a bad turn for the worse – and it’s the politics, stupid. It is not just the uncertainty about the second round of French presidential elections on 6 May. François Hollande, the Socialist leader, will probably win, because it will be easier for him than for Nicolas Sarkozy to pick up votes from those whose candidates were knocked out in the first round. But the energetic Sarko should never be underestimated. He is pitching his campaign hard to gain votes from the hard Right supporters of Marine Le Pen. Herein lies the problem for the euro and for Germany.

It almost doesn’t matter who wins the election. The fiscal compact agreed in principle by 25 out of 27 European leaders in January – “a kind of German straitjacket for the fiscally wayward”, to quote Stephen King, group chief economist of HSBC – is Angela Merkel’s pride and joy, her answer to all the eurozone’s difficulties. Typically, like the euro itself, it has been designed to make everyone more like Germany. Hollande has already made it a plank of his campaign to renegotiate the compact. Meanwhile, as Sarkozy moves ever rightwards, striking a strongly nationalist tone (and risking the estrangement of centrist voters), he puts himself increasingly at odds with a compact designed to create greater fiscal union on German terms. If Sarko wins, it is hard to see how Merkozy, never the warmest of unions, can simply pick up where they left off. Read the rest of this entry »

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Security fears? Chicago G8 Summit canceled, relocated to Camp David

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 6, 2012

AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan

AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan

Amid concerns over thousands of protestors descending on Chicago, Illinois for the G-8 Summit this spring, the event have been moved to the presidential compound at Camp David, Maryland, around an hour outside of Washington.

Leaders from the United States, Russia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and European Union were expected to arrive in Chicago this May for the annual meeting of the world’s largest economies. Protesters also had plans for the Windy City, however, and demonstration groups including Occupy Wall Street offshoots had begun orchestrating events to coincide with the meeting. Now barely two months before the event is slated to occur, the G-8 Summit is being moved outside of Chicago to Camp David, a suburban city outside of the US capital that serves as a historic retreat locale for America’s commander-in-chief.

“In May, the United States looks forward to hosting the G-8 and NATO Summits. To facilitate a free-flowing discussion with our close G-8 partners, the president is inviting his fellow G-8 leaders to Camp David on May 18-19 for the G-8 Summit, which will address a broad range of economic, political and security issues,” reads a statement released Monday by the White House.

After the G-8 Summit, the NATO meeting is expected to continue as planned in Chicago on May 20 through 21.

In the past, these high-profile meetings of the minds have attracted massive demonstrations, with the 2010 G-20 Summit in Toronto resulting in the largest mass arrest in the history of the entire country of Canada. In recent weeks, the Apartment Building Owners and Managers’ Association of Chicago began a series of presentations in which it explained how building managers could effectively handle riots, protests, tear gas and bomb threats.  Read the rest of this entry »

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The Obama Administration’s Syrian Double Standard

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 14, 2012

By Amb Marc Ginsberg,  Former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco

“We do not want further militarization of the situation in Syria.” So sheepishly declared an Obama Administration spokesman today when pressed why isn’t the U.S. prepared to help defend defenseless Syrian protestors by providing humanitarian and perhaps financial and logistical support to the Free Syrian Army.

My how the tides have changed in the hallways of the Eisenhower Executive Office building.

When Col. Gaddafi’s forces were on the outskirts of Benghazi, White House staffers were falling all over themselves in a mad dash to declare to any and all that a humanitarian catastrophe demanded urgent international action to prevent an assault on innocent civilians. Nightmares of Rwanda and Bosnia compelled the burning of midnight oil at the State Department.

Abetted by a cavalry of outraged academics in Washington think tanks demanding action from the Administration, President Obama publicly signaled events demanded action and marshaled his top officials to explore every conceivable avenue to thwart Gaddafi’s forces. Secret arms deliveries were smuggled in to Libya courtesy of Qatar and Egypt. CIA operatives were parachuted in to help the nascent Libyan opposition forces. A NATO led no-fly zone was declared and enforced. No stone was left unturned to keep Gaddafi’s forces from killing civilians. Everyone was on red alert.

Fortunately, because of that example of presidential leadership a humanitarian catastrophe in Benghazi was averted and the Administration has been patting itself on the back ever since… never mind that Libya today is suffering a destabilizing outbreak of post-revolutionary violence threatening the very victory Administration officials crowed about. But, hey that’s no longer necessarily our business… right? Read the rest of this entry »

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EU Iran Oil Embargo Sanctions ‘Unprecedented’

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on January 23, 2012

BRUSSELS — The European Union imposed an oil embargo against Iran on Monday and froze the assets of its central bank, part of sanctions to pressure Iranian officials into resuming talks on the country’s controversial nuclear program.

The measures, approved in Brussels by the EU’s 27 foreign ministers, include an immediate embargo on new contracts for crude oil and petroleum products. Existing contracts with Iran will be allowed to run until July.

Some 80 percent of Iran’s foreign revenue comes from oil exports and any measures or sanctions taken that affect its ability to export oil could hit hard at its economy. With about 4 million barrels per day, Iran is the second largest producer in OPEC.

Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful, but the United States and other nations suspect it is trying to build nuclear weapons. Iran is now under several rounds of U.N. sanctions for not being more forthcoming about its nuclear program.

Two Iranian lawmakers, meanwhile, stepped up threats that their country would close the strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s crude flows, in retaliation for the EU oil sanctions.

Lawmaker Mohammad Ismail Kowsari, deputy head of Iran’s influential committee on national security, said Monday the strait “would definitely be closed if the sale of Iranian oil is violated in any way.”

Tensions over the strait and the potential impact its closure would have on global oil supplies and the price of crude have weighed heavily on consumers and traders. The U.S. and Britain both have warned Iran not to disrupt the world’s oil supply. Read the rest of this entry »

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Euro Veto: Nicolas Sarkozy Attacks ‘Obstinate Kid With A Single Obsession’ Cameron

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 15, 2011


Are they really laughing ?

David Cameron has attempted to rally support among European leaders believed to have deep concerns about last week’s summit deal amid reports French President Nicolas Sarkozy made a savage personal attack on his leadership.

The Prime Minister told Tory MPs he was in close contact with counterparts in other member states and insisted it was “not one against 26”, party sources said.

But tensions between the UK and France were heightened further on Wednesday night after an unconfirmed report in French satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaine suggested President Sarkozy had accused Mr Cameron of behaving “like an obstinate kid”.

The magazine reported that Mr Sarkozy told his party’s MPs in a private meeting that he had achieved a “good coup” by securing an agreement covering most of the EU while resisting the UK’s demands.

“It’s the first time that we have said ‘No’ to the English,” Mr Sarkozy is reported to have said. “Cameron behaved like an obstinate kid, with a single obsession: protecting the City, which wants to carry on behaving like an off-shore centre. No country supported him. That is the mark of a political defeat.

“Objectively, it was a good coup. I manoeuvred well. The whole world recognised that my proposal was the only possible course. The accord will perhaps not put an end to the crisis, but it is a tool for facing up to it. The dynamism of the Franco-German axis enabled us to rally 26 countries.”

No 10 confirmed Mr Cameron made calls to leaders in the Czech Republic and Sweden – two non-eurozone nations that could waver when it comes to signing up to the summit deal – as well as Irish prime minister Enda Kenny, who has warned a referendum may be needed on the deal.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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Nick Clegg Says Tory MPs Are ‘Spectacularly Misguided’ As Coalition Splits Over Europe

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 11, 2011

Nick Clegg has said he is “bitterly disappointed” by David Cameron’s decision to wield Britain’s veto at the EU summit last week, as a significant rift opened in the coalition government.

The deputy prime minister said he feared the UK would now be isolated from key decisions made within the European Union.

“I’m bitterly disappointed by the outcome of last week’s summit, precisely because I think now there is a danger that the UK will be isolated and marginalised within the European Union,” he said.

“I don’t think that’s good for jobs, in the City or elsewhere, I don’t think it’s good for growth or for families up and down the country.

“There’s nothing bulldog about Britain hovering somewhere in the mid Atlantic, not standing tall in Europe, not being taken seriously in Washington.”

David Cameron has said his decision to block changes to an EU treaty was “the right thing for Britain” as it “didn’t have sufficient safeguards for Britain”.

Clegg had initially stood by the prime minister and insisted that the “coalition government was united” on the issue. However the europhile Lib Dem leader later said that those “rubbing their hands in glee” at the outcome of the summit should be careful what they wished for.

And a party source later told the Independent on Sunday that Clegg “couldn’t believe it” when, on Friday morning, he was informed of the course of events.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme this morning, Clegg said eurosceptics jumping with joy at outcome of the summit were “spectacularly misguided”.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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How a Deal May Save the Euro But Not Preserve Europe

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 10, 2011

By LEO CENDROWICZ / BRUSSELS

Britain Prime Minister David Cameron arrives for an informal dinner gathering European Union (EU) heads of State or government on the eve of an European Union summit at the EU headquarters on December 8, 2011 in Brussels. Eric Feferberg / AFP / Getty Images

Dec. 9 is bittersweet for Europe: at a summit in Brussels, its leaders struck a deal that might save its beleaguered currency, euro — but at the expense of the European Union itself.

The deal could mark a turning point in the raging euro crisis if it convinces jittery markets that, by way of strict budget rules, member countries can claw their way out of debt woes. It is potentially historic, taking the continent deep into fiscal integration and union as the member states concede sovereignty on taxation and spending to a central authority.

The problem is the E.U. isn’t heading into this adventure as one. Ten hours of tense talks failed to persuade U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron to sign up to the pact, and so the other 26 member states agreed to forge ahead on without Britain. Cameron argued that the planned deal would threaten key British interests, including its financial markets and the preeminence of the City of London as Europe’s financial capital. And so he vetoed an amendment of the full Union treaty. Hence, the others had to take a different route to an agreement: the intergovernmental agreement they will hammer out by March will be written outside the E.U.’s legal framework.(See “Euro Treaty Takes Shape, But Without Britain.”)

Some observers believe the split is more significant than the deal itself, with Britain drifting into isolation, and perhaps irrelevance. Indeed, by trying to preserve the City’s paramount financial position, Cameron may have made Britain’s entire financial industry vulnerable to future E.U. restrictions — making London’s diminution as Europe’s business capital inevitable. “It is conceivable that a different British government could seek to reverse this disastrous opt-out,” says Charles Grant, director of the Center for European Reform, a London-based think tank. “More likely, Britain will continue on a path towards isolation, perhaps even leaving the E.U. itself.” Read the rest of this entry »

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German Vision Prevails as Leaders Agree on Fiscal Pact

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 10, 2011

By  and 

BRUSSELS — Europe’s worst financial crisis in generations is forging a new European Union, pushing Britain to the sidelines and creating a more integrated, fiscally disciplined core of nations under the auspices of a resurgent Germany.

Exactly 20 years to the day after European leaders signed the treaty that led to the creation of the European Union and the eurocurrency, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany persuaded every current member of the union except Britain to endorse a new agreement calling for tighter regional oversight of government spending. The accord, approved at a summit meeting in Brussels early on Friday, would allow the European Court of Justice to strike down a member’s laws if they violate fiscal discipline.

“It’s interesting to note that 20 years later we have realized — we have succeeded — in creating a more stable foundation for that economic and monetary union,” Mrs. Merkel said, adding, “and in so doing we’ve advanced political union and have attended to weaknesses that were included in the system.”

The agreement was a clear victory for Mrs. Merkel, and it prompted a sharp rally in stock markets in Europe and the United States. But it is viewed as unlikely to calm fears that Europe is unwilling to muster the financial firepower to defend the sovereign debts of big member states, including Italy and Spain, that have little or no economic growth and have big debt bills coming due soon. Read the rest of this entry »

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David Cameron Blocks Eurozone Deal Putting UK At Risk Of Isolation

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 9, 2011

Prime Minister David Cameron has been criticised for “isolating” the UK from the EU after he vetoed a crucial treaty designed to deal with the eurozone crisis because it was “not in Britain’s national interest”.

The treaty governing all 27 EU members is now likely to be abandoned, but the 17 eurozone countries will continue to negotiate a separate stability pact, and nine of the 10 EU members not in the single currency have chosen to endorse that process.

The UK will be the only EU member left outside the deal, the Council of Europe has indicated, despite earlier suggestions that Sweden, Hungary and the Czech Republic would not take part.

The move was criticised by Labour leader Ed Milliband, who said that Cameron had “spectacularly mishandled” the negotiations. Some Lib Dems also attacked the decision, with LibDem MEP chief whip Chris Davies saying that it had left the UK “isolated”.

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Click Here To Read The Full Statement On The Deal By The EU’s Leaders

Countries who sign up to the stability agreement are likely to be forced to have balanced budgets, and a structural deficit of not more than 0.5% of gross domestic product.

The deal also includes sanctions for nations if their deficit is larger than 3% of GPD.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the EU had “learned from the mistakes of the past”.

In a press conference on Friday she said: “The British were never part of the euro, they had an opt out from the beginning so we are familiar with the situation.

 

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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David Cameron May Block Treaty Designed To Rescue Euro

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 6, 2011

David Cameron has warned that he will block plans for a new EU Treaty unless European leaders agree to a list of British demands.

The Prime Minister insisted that if eurozone countries want to use the “institutions of Europe” to rescue the single currency, they will have to back a number of “British safeguards” in return.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German chancellor Angela Merkel renewed calls for reform of the treaty after emergency talks in Paris. The aim would be to allow far tougher rules and sanctions governing the eurozone in future to reassure markets about the euro’s long-term stability.

Mr Cameron said he was heading to talks in Brussels later this week “to defend and promote British interests”.

“Now, the most important British interest right now is to sort out the problem in the eurozone that is having the chilling effect on our economy that I have spoken about,” he said.

“That obviously means eurozone countries doing more together and if they choose to use the European Treaty to do that, then obviously there will be British safeguards and British interests that I will want to insist on. And I won’t sign a treaty that doesn’t have those safeguards in it, around things like, of course, the importance of the single market and financial services.

“Now if they choose to go ahead with a separate treaty, then clearly that is not a treaty that Britain would be signing or would be amending but, of course, if they want to use the European institutions, then we will be insisting on the safeguards and the protections that Britain needs.

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Whither the European (Dis)Union?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 14, 2011

by 

Is significantly greater integration the surest way to prevent both the euro and even the entire European Union from

A droplet of water falls from a tap in front of the euro sculpture at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany, Friday, Nov.11, 2011. (Photo: Michael Probst / AP)

blowing apart? Or is EU federation–and the basic powers national governments now wield being weakened in the process–exactly the kind of radical fusion certain to send countries jealous of their sovereignty fleeing for the exits? As euro zone members now consider drastic, big-bang solutions to overcoming their currency’s crisis, leaders of all 27 EU member states find themselves grappling with the question of whether more or less Europe is necessary to safeguard the bloc’s future.

The spread of the single currency’s existential crisis–which began as a debt problem initially believed to imperil only a few small nations before expanding to shake Europe’s biggest economies to their foundations–mirrors the rising pressure posed by a similarly essential dilemma over the wider European Union project, and evoking similar denial from leaders. While most officials agree that deep and dramatic measures must be undertaken to finally contain the debt-driven euro emergency, their concord evaporates over the different options for action—especially centralization of budget and debt rules, and giving real intervention power to the European Central Bank. Central to that disagreement are clashing views over just how bound together EU members should be—a long-standing confrontation between Euroenthusiasts and Euroskeptics that has resurged in crisis anew. As such, moves to save the euro will probably shape the direction—or even future—of the entire EU as it seek a collective horizon to look toward.

News reports Nov. 10 stated France and Germany were consulting partners on potentially radical harmonization measures between euro zone members—or at least those capable of and willing to accept far stricter budgetary and fiscal rules that greater convergence would involve. If true, it suggests the euro zone’s two biggest economies are contemplating tossing unsustainably indebted currency partners out of what would become a smaller, tighter euro ship. German Chancellor Angela Merkel denied those reports, insisting scission of the euro 17 wasn’t an option. Yet her comments elsewhere indicated the status quo could not endure, either. Read the rest of this entry »

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Eurozone Crisis: European Markets Rally As Eurozone Plan Boosts Confidence

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 27, 2011

 
We have to be happy for the agreement, but needs to be careful for the implementa­tion and effectiven­ess:

Europe’s main stock indices fought back strongly on Thursday as markets gave a vote of confidence to eurozone leaders’ “grand plan”.

At close, the FTSE 100 was up 2.98%, the German DAX up 5.35% and the French CAC40 up 6.28%.

The latter two indices have been dragged down by continuing fears over the solvency of the continent’s banking sector, and banks led the recovery as dual measures to cut Greece’s debt by 50% and to pump more than €100bn into recapitalisations buoyed confidence.

The STOXX Europe 600 Banking Index – a composite of bank stocks in Europe – was up 8.92%.

The euro hit a seven-week high of 1.41 against the dollar, with traders forced to unwind bets taken against a deal being reached.

Many traders had been squaring off positions ahead of the summit on Wednesday night, with most having little faith in a comprehensive package, but few willing to go long into such a critical meeting. The plan, while still short on detail, beat their limited expectations.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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Eurozone Crisis: European Leaders Produce Broad Statement After Summit

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 26, 2011


Everybody under pressure and the source of the pressure nobody else
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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