December 8, 2011
By Ian Traynor
The European commission could be empowered to impose austerity measures on eurozone countries that are being bailed out, usurping the functions of government in countries such as Greece, Ireland, or Portugal.
Bailed-out countries could also be stripped of their voting rights in the European Union, under radical proposals that have been circulating at the highest level in Brussels before this week’s crucial EU summit on the sovereign debt crisis.
A confidential paper for EU leaders by the EU council president, Herman Van Rompuy, who will chair the summit on Thursday and Friday, said eurobonds or the pooling of eurozone debt would be a powerful tool in resolving the crisis, despite fierce German resistance to the idea.
It called for “more intrusive control of national budgetary policies by the EU” and laid out various options for enforcing fiscal discipline supra-nationally.
The two-page paper, obtained by the Guardian, formed the basis for discussions on an interim report tabled by Van Rompuy, the European commission and the Eurogroup of countries that have adopted the euro, which is to be debated on Wednesday among senior officials in an attempt to build a consensus ahead of the summit.
October 24, 2011
By Patrick Hennessy and Bruno Waterfield
The proposal, put forward by Herman Van Rompuy, the European Council president, would be the clearest sign yet of a new “United States of Europe” — with Britain left on the sidelines.
The plan comes as European governments desperately trying to save the euro from collapse last night faced a new bombshell, with sources at the International Monetary Fund saying it would not pay for a second Greek bail-out.
It was also disclosed last night that British businesses are turning their back on Brussels regulations to give temporary workers full employment rights, with supermarket chain Tesco leading the charge.
Meanwhile, David Cameron is attempting to face down a rebellion tomorrow by Tory MPs in a vote over staging a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.
Ministers expect 60 or 70 MPs to defy the party’s high command and back the call for a referendum, while some rebels claim the final toll could be up to 100 — about a third of the parliamentary party.
Downing Street has upped the stakes dramatically. Last night, No 10 sources insisted they would impose a three-line whip — effectively ordering all Tory MPs to fall in line.
Mr Cameron, who yesterday took personal charge of the effort to persuade MPs to back the Government, has come under intense pressure from Cabinet colleagues to try to defuse the revolt by offering concessions or a way out to rebels. Sources say a handful of parliamentary private secretaries — the lowest rung on the government ladder — might resign.
The single Treasury plan emerged in Brussels yesterday as Europe’s finance ministers tried to find a way out of the crisis engulfing the eurozone. A full-scale rescue plan could cost about £1.75 trillion.
British sources said Mr Van Rompuy, who is regarded as being close to the German government, suggested plans for a “finance ministry” to be based either in Frankfurt or Paris. The EU already has its own “foreign ministry”, headed by Baroness Ashton, the former British Labour minister, and based in Brussels.
A senior Coalition source told The Sunday Telegraph: “I am well aware of arguments in Brussels and elsewhere in favour of a single Treasury. You’d get any number of different versions of ‘Europe’ all running at very different speeds.”
A series of meetings are due to be held over the next few days on the eurozone crisis that will involve the leaders of EU member states.
They were overshadowed last night as senior sources at the International Monetary Fund indicated privately that it is not willing to further bail out Greece, whose economy has an outstanding debt of about £232 billion.
The IMF, with the EU and the European Central Bank, is assessing Greece’s debt crisis, and a joint report yesterday suggested lenders might have to agree losses of up to 60 per cent in a Greek default.
Any suggestion that the IMF would not be part of a new bail-out of Greece could spark panic in the markets and worsen the eurozone crisis.
Eurosceptic Tories, meanwhile, are arguing in favour of “repatriating” powers from the EU to Britain, including the Agency Workers Directive, imposed last year at an annual cost of £1.8 billion, which is putting at risk 28,000 temporary job contracts for those aged between 16 and 24. Tesco has asked one of its suppliers to take advantage of a loophole in the law which allows workers to “opt out”.
As Mr Cameron led the drive this weekend to neuter the Tory rebellion, Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, indicated his party might not field candidates at the next election against MPs who vote for a referendum.
However, there is no danger of Mr Cameron losing the non-binding vote. He can count on the “payroll vote” of more than 100 ministers, most if not all Lib Dams and nearly the entire bloc of 258 Labour MPs.
On Saturday Tory rebels were among speakers at a “People’s Pledge” pro-referendum rally in Westminster. They included David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, who called the EU a “nascent superstate”.
June 4, 2010
By David Gutierrez
(NaturalNews) Young children who swim in chlorinated pools may suffer an increased risk of lung infections and even lifelong asthma and respiratory allergies, according to a study conducted by researchers from Catholic University Louvain in Brussels, Belgium, and published in the European Respiratory Journal.
“This suggests that chlorinated pool attendance can increase the risk of asthma and respiratory allergies by making the airways more sensitive not only to allergens but also to infectious agents,” senior researcher Alfred Bernard said.
Researchers conducted health tests on 430 Belgian kindergarteners and had their parents fill out questionnaires about their health history and swimming habits. They found that while 36 percent of children who had been exposed to chlorinated pools before the age of two had a history of the lung infection known as bronchiolitis, compared with only 24 percent of children who had not been exposed.
May 21, 2010
By Jeff Randall
For Angela Merkel, leader of the eurozone’s richest country, a queue is forming of high-quality adversaries. As she tips German Geld und Gut into the furnace of a rescue package for the euro, while going it alone in a misguided ban on market “manipulators”, the brass-neck Chancellor has infuriated domestic voters, angered her EU partners (in particular the French) and invited the so-called wolf pack of global traders to do its worst.In one respect, Mrs Merkel is right: “The euro is in danger… if the euro fails, then Europe fails.” What she has not yet admitted publicly is that the main cause of the single currency’s peril appears beyond her control and therefore her impetuous response to its crisis of confidence is doomed to fail.
The euro has many flaws, but its weakest link is Greece, whose fundamental problem is that for years it spent too much, earned too little and plugged the gap by borrowing in order to enjoy a rich man’s lifestyle. It flouted EU rules on the limits to budget deficits; its national accounts were a moussaka of minced statistics, topped with a cheesy sauce of jiggery-pokery.
By any legitimate measure, Greece was unworthy of eurozone membership. That it achieved card-carrying status was down to the sleight-of-hand skills of its Brussels fixers and the acquiescence of central bank bean-counters. Now we know the truth, jet-hosing it with yet more debt makes no sense. Another dose of funny money will delay but not extinguish the need for austerity.