Gerhard Schröder announced on Friday (26 March)
that the EU big three - France, Germany and the
EU - would meet again in the UK. Mr Schröder
added that the discussions would focus on justice
and home affairs, which have recently been
debated by the so-called G5, including Italy and
Spain. He gave no date for the next meeting, nor
did he say which ministers would be involved.
The announcement also seemed to come as a surprise to others close to Mr Schröder. One German source said, "it was the first we had heard of it". French diplomats were also in the dark and were unable to confirm the meeting. The meeting is likely to re-awaken fears of a Franco-German-British "directorate" in the EU. A meeting in February between the three, ostensibly to discuss the EU economy, drew sharp criticism from smaller member states and others, such as Italy, who felt isolated from the action.
ACERBITY OR HORSE-TRADING?
Finance ministers from the 12 euro zone countries
today appointed Spaniard Jose Manual Gonzalez
Paramo to the governing council of the European
Central Bank (ECB).Mr Paramo will replace
compatriot Eugenio Domingo Solans on the six
member board but his appointment turned out to be
a political hot potato and was only made after
lengthy horse-trading and conflict between big
and small countries. The Spanish candidate was
heavily backed by Germany, France and Italy.
Belgian National Bank Director Peter Praet - regarded by many as the best qualified for the job - and Irishman Michael Tutty were also in the running for the post. The appointment is coveted because member states with a representative on the executive board have two votes on how interest rates in the 12-country euro zone develop.
Diplomatic horse tradingMr Paramo's selection has been the subject of some classic EU horse-trading. His appointment was complicated by the need also to appoint someone as head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after the surprise resignation of Horst Köhler to run for German President. The Managing Director of the IMF is traditionally a European and many analysts expected Rodrigo Rato - a former Spanish finance minister - to clinch the post. However, Spain is very unlikely to be granted both the IMF and ECB positions so France has been pushing the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), a Frenchman called Jean Lemierre, for the IMF job.
With a Spaniard now installed at the ECB, Mr Rato could be less likely to get the post, which may leave the field open for the French candidate.But the French may not have it all their own way. Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was busy promoting his candidate for the IMF post today, saying "we have our own exceptional Italian candidate", according to Bloomberg.And the French may find it difficult to win another high-profile finance position after the recent appointment of Jean-Claude Trichet as ECB President. Mr Rato himself, however, denied that the selection was a result of horse-trading. He said that Mr Paramo had been chosen "for reasons of his personal qualities from the academic and monetary policy point of view".
But he admitted that it would be "satisfying" to have a Spaniard in the post.
Press Articles ABC Cinco Dias AFP
Related Article EUobserver
FISCHER AND CO PLAY THE STATUS GAME...DIDN'T WE
KNOW WHAT IT WAS ALL ABOUT!!!???
/ BRUSSELS - Member states may well be struggling
with lofty issues such as the EU Constitution or whether they have any intention of
sharing intelligence with one another but
when it comes down to it, all that is
important is where you sit at the table.
Chinatown Is a
Hard Sell in Italy
Romans Say Immigrant Area Isn't Doing as They Would Do
By Daniel Williams
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, March 1, 2004; Page A11
ROME -- This city that prides itself on welcoming all nationalities is wrestling awkwardly with an issue concerning its changing face: Should there be a Chinatown here? Elsewhere, this might seem a quaint question. But the prospect has created plenty of hard feelings here. City hall and Italian residents of Esquilino, the district where thousands of Chinese have put down roots, are aggressively resisting the emergence of what is being described as an ethnically defined ghetto. What might be fine for New York, San Francisco, London, Los Angeles or, on a smaller scale, Washington, doesn't wash here.
"This is a neighborhood in the historic center of Rome. Rome is Rome and not a provincial Chinese capital," said Dima Capozzio, president of the Esquilino Block Association. "There are no butchers, no laundries. I have to go miles to buy mortadella."
City hall has laid down rules to limit Chinese commerce in Esquilino and make it less of an immigration magnet. Wholesale outlets, a main source of livelihood for the Chinese, are banned in the district. New occupants of commercial space where one form of business existed for 15 years or longer are not allowed to change the nature of the business for two years. In effect, a bakery must remain a bakery, a cafe, a cafe.
"We're trying to avoid development of ethnic neighborhoods. One ethnicity cannot dominate an entire neighborhood. There cannot be a Chinatown in Rome," said Maria Grazia Arditto, spokeswoman for the commerce adviser to the mayor and the department in charge of regulating trade in the city.
For the Chinese, the issue is one of civic and human rights. "These rules are simply discriminatory. They apply only to Esquilino and only because of the Chinese," said Daniele Wong, an Italian-born Chinese activist who has mediated with city hall over the issue. "There's an atmosphere of yellow peril hysteria in Rome."
The conflict is rooted in the Romans' view of themselves and their city. "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" has become a rallying cry because, in the Roman view, the Chinese are doing as the Chinese do -- and in upsetting ways. They open shops that sell products in bulk, raise signs in Chinese characters, work long and odd hours and keep to themselves in a way that many Italians consider unfriendly and mysterious.
Even matters of taste are a factor. When Chinese merchants recently began to hang red paper lanterns outside their shops, other residents raised an uproar. The city banned the decorations, with police enforcing a 1920s regulation that required signs in foreign languages to be smaller than those in Italian.
Although ethnic wrangling is a staple of northern Italy, home of the anti-immigration Northern League party, it has been less pronounced in the south. Moreover, Rome's mayor, Walter Veltroni, has said he favors racial and ethnic diversity.
Immigration into Italy from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and South and East Asia has transformed sections of many Italian cities. Government estimates put the number of legal foreign residents at about 2 million in a country of about 57 million. The number of illegal newcomers is unknown, but police estimate at least 1 million people reside in Italy without documents. About 250,000 migrants enter the country each year.
Many immigrants initially congregate around train stations where cheap hostels abound. The Piazza Garibaldi area in Naples has become home to North African migrants, many of whom work in unregulated factories and in the farming communities surrounding the city. Whole neighborhoods in northern cities such as Turin, Verona and Modena are home to Albanian, Romanian, Polish and North African immigrants. Rome's immigrant scene is dominated by Philippine house servants, Bangladeshi factory workers, African trinket salesmen and Eastern European day laborers.
Chinese immigrants number about 60,000 nationwide, and no more than 10,000 in Rome -- the third-largest concentration after Milan and Prato, a leather-working center near Florence.
But the Chinese in Rome have made themselves more prominent than in other cities. They are settling downtown rather than dispersing to the cheap and distant suburbs, and they have decided to make Rome a center for distribution of Chinese imports, Chinese residents and Italian officials say.
The streets around Esquilino's Piazza Vittorio are dotted with about 600 open-front shops with names such as Great Wall, Celestial City, The Ruby and Heavenly Horse. About 90 percent of the Chinese population in Rome comes from the eastern province of Zhejiang, and most of them from the port city of Wenzhou and hamlets around it, according to the Catholic relief agency Caritas.
Xu Xiaoming, a young immigrant who recently was loitering at the Yellow River boutique, offered a typical account of the immigrant journey to Rome. He traveled to Europe through Austria on a tourist visa, and because he had already entered the European Union and did not need to pass through any more immigration checkpoints, he continued on to Rome, where his cousins were living.
"We are just trying to mind our own business. We don't bother anyone," said Xu, who speaks no Italian. "Why are they bothering us?"
"One thing that irritates the Italians is that the Chinese have not come to serve them. They work for Chinese in Chinese businesses and in Esquilino, sell Chinese goods," said Laura Casanelli, a researcher who is fluent in Chinese. "They come, they buy up stores, they set up. They work among their own relatives. The whole Italian idea of integration is irrelevant to them."
Casanelli said many Chinese also come through the Balkans, paying smugglers known as "snakes" thousands of dollars to arrange their transit. Two years ago, Italian police broke up a smuggling ring that included Chinese, Slovenian and Croatian operators. The bust coincided with the release of dozens of Chinese who had been held as virtual slaves in factories in central Italy until they could pay off a $12,000 fee for their trip.
"The Chinese view Europe as a chessboard on which they can move freely. They chose Rome because it is near enough to Naples, where the goods move through, but more pleasant," Casanelli said. "The trend in Rome is inevitable, I think. The question is how to manage creation of a Chinatown, not stamp it out."
Wong, the activist, said the Chinese were welcome when they first began populating Esquilino. The district had fallen on hard times and had become a haven for drug dealers. "Everyone has forgotten that. We are now the enemy," he said.