APRIL 2004

european news

Friday 27 March 2004 Letter from Prof.Anthony Coughlan

Dear Friends,
If you read carefully the report below from today's EUobserver you will see
that the whole emphasis of the EU summit in Brussels is on "We all want to
see an EU Constitution in place."

It doesn't seem to matter to these 25 top government leaders  -  whose
personal power as EU legislators will all grow mightily if they get this
through  - that although there are many people who do not want any EU
Constitution, it is of some importance to citizens everywhere WHAT IS IN

Here the timetable - for the greater glory of Bertie Ahern and the Irish EU
Presidency (viz.the senior officials in Iveagh House)! - seems to be the
vital matter.

The sensible message should of course be: "Get it right", not "Get it done
before we go on holiday"!

Yours etc.

Anthony Coughlan

EU member states agreed the Constitution should be finalised by the summit
on 17-18 June

Announcing the decision, Irish Prime Minister and current head of the EU, Bertie Ahern, said that member states had agreed the Constitution should be finalised by the summit on 17-18 June.

"I asked colleagues to commit themselves to a timetable", said Mr Ahern, adding "We all want to see a Constitution in place as soon as we can.". "I am delighted negotiations can get under way again", said European Commission President Romano Prodi after the two-hour dicussion.

Their agreement comes just three months after talks on the treaty blueprint collapsed in acrimony over a disagreement on the proposed new voting system. At the time Germany, which is favour of the system, was pitted against Spain and Poland which were strongly opposed. However, following a u-turn in Spain's stance with its new government and a softening of Warsaw's position, coupled with a renewed sense of commitment after the Madrid bombings, the bloc as a whole has recommitted itself to the project.

The next big issue is
timing. The Constitution could be agreed earlier than the deadline they have set themselves. While Ireland and several other countries including the Benelux countries, Denmark, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, would like to see a deal before the European elections on 10 June, others are not so sure. France and the UK particularly fear that the elections would immediately become a referendum on the Constitution. Other factors will also influence timing. Real negotiations with Madrid can only start once the new government is in place which is only expected in mid-April. Similarly, things are currently looking very shaky for the Polish government which could fall over the next few weeks.


Diplomats present at the meeting said that EU leaders agreed to give the
Irish "carte blanche" for a decision to call a final summit on the Constitution, so long as they do it "when they are certain the time is right". Mr Ahern said that work "will commence next week". He did not commit himself to any dates for when EU Foreign Ministers may take the work forward, nor did he give anything on away on the substantial issues that still have to be agreed. He continued the low-key approach that has characterised the Irish Presidency since it took over the EU reins at the beginning of the year by saying there are over 20 items still to be agreed.

Fellow Irishman and president of the European Parliament, Pat Cox, was far more upbeat saying he was confident of a deal by the end of June. "This is the grand project of new Europe", said Mr Cox.
SCHRODER DICTAT???German Chancellor 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.
FINANCIAL 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  

EUOBSERVER / 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.

And this is just what the Irish EU Presidency has been finding out.

Dublin has suggested that for the coming European Council at the end of this week just EU heads of state and government should be the ones to sit at an "inner table" while their trusty foreign ministers - and finance ministers - sit one row behind. This demoting of foreign ministers to mere 'second row-ers' did not go down well in all capitals. Germany's foreign minister Joschka Fischer is one of those who has objected. The Green minister whose party is in government with the Social Democrats in Germany wants to be represented at the table with the Chancellor and not symbolically behind and below him. However, the Irish are sticking to their guns. They say that they are responding to increasing demands by EU leaders for a little more privacy.

In the past they have been "lamenting the fact that they cannot interact in a meaningful way", said an EU diplomat. And indeed the meeting room gets pretty crowded at EU summits. In an enlarged EU with 25 member states, summits attended by heads of state and government, their foreign and finance ministers, plus representation for the European Commission and the Council Secretariat mean around 90 people are present.

"It creates sensitivities having so many people in one room", said the diplomat adding that foreign ministers will not be seated too far away.
Written by Honor Mahony

German Armed Forces want "influence over nuclear bombs"
(Article from Süddeutsche Zeitung, 29.04.2003)

BERLIN - While the German Federal Government pushes for the establishment of  a European military nucleus, the German military are already submitting their  demands for the creation of a future EU-Army. The military arsenals of the  member states are to be subject to the administration of a future EU-government  and thus to be available for the utilisation of Berlin's ambitions as well. A  part of the catalogue of demands is the access to French and British nuclear  arms.

These demands are the object of an eleven-page paper ("Mit  der ESVP zur Europäischen Armee" - ("With the ESVP to the European  Army"), developed by the leadership of the German military and attributed to  the highest ranking military commandant of the Federal Armed Forces, the Inspector General. The catalogue of demands states that the European Union would have to develop independent military capabilities, "while backed by the security of its own military-political influence", in order to be able to act independently of the USA.(1)

"Visibly taking the lead"

Military which are committed by law to  national parliaments will not be essential in the future, according to German  concepts; on the contrary, the creation of "an integrated European military  force" will be absolutely necessary. The Federal Government should ensure  that the "trend toward more national sovereignty and intergovernmental  co-operation evident in several areas" should be "permanently redirected toward integration". Since the success of important political projects often  depends on "one side
taking on the initiative" Germany should play the  role of the "pace setter". The military strategists demand that beyond  bilateral relations (for example German-French) and "temporary central and  isolated solutions" with specifically chosen partners, Berlin should  "visibly provide leadership" in the establishment of such a military  "European nucleus".

"Envisioned goals of German policy"

The policy of military  "integration" repeatedly brought into play, aims to render a sovereign  and integral national defence, by the smaller European national states, impossible. Only "remnants" of the national armies would continue under  the commanding power of their respective governments. Central military arsenals, however, would have to be surrendered to the yet to be established  "government of the European Union". Military strategists in Berlin  explain that "the envisioned goal of German policy" should be a European  Army, "legitimised and financed by the European Parliament".

"Transfer of national nuclear arms potential"

The  "envisioned goals" of the German military specifically include access to  French and British nuclear arms. In its paper the German military leadership  considers the "question of the transfer of the potential national nuclear  arms by several EU states" a possibly "difficult endeavour". In this  case, at least the "mechanisms for consultation and participation in  decisions by non-nuclear states" would have to be negotiated.

1) See  also earlier articles: "German  Global war and The  will to world
and "Demand  for far-reaching shaping of the world".


Gemeinsame Erklärung Deutschlands, Frankreichs, Luxemburgs und Belgiens zur
Europäischen  Sicherheits- und Verteidigungspolitik;;
Ein Heer für  Europa; Süddeutsche Zeitung, 29.04.2003


64.000 Chinese in Ireland - only 60.000 in Italy and the Italians are whinging:

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.