The Death of the Euro?
Part of the international press jumped on a statement by Italy’s anti-European minister of labor and social affairs, Roberto Maroni, to reintroduce the Italian lira and allow for both the euro and the lira, and a report by Der Stern Online that discussions were held by some regarding the euro. Some of the articles which were subsequently published grossly exaggerated the facts and even gave the impression that the euro was dying. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Italian press clarified that the minister spoke his own mind which was not shared by the Italian government under president Berlusconi.
As Timesonline explained on June 4, 2005:
“Embattled EU financial leaders spent the day defending the currency, dismissing talk of its break-up as ‘absurd’. One senior EU official said: ‘Euro notes and coins are for ever, like the euro.'”
The EUobserver reported on June 2, 2005, “German analysts have poured cold water on rumours that the European Monetary Union (EMU) might be broken up in the wake of the French and Dutch no votes… ‘It [an EMU break up] is not a realistic scenario’, Commerzbank economist Christoph Balz told EUobserver. ‘But in the current mood of the market, everybody jumped on the news. Even if it was later denied, the market still thought if there is smoke, there is fire’.
“Germany’s Stern magazine published news on Wednesday (1 June) about a recent meeting between German finance minister Hans Eichel, Bundesbank president Axel Weber and private sector analysts which purportedly discussed Germany’s exit from the common currency. Berlin and the national bank both denied the report, while analysts at major German banks indicated that what really happened was that one of the private sector economists at the gathering mentioned a potential EMU crisis and the mere presence of high-ranking officials gave the speculation undue weight.”
The article also pointed out that in light of the French and Dutch “No”-votes to the EU constitution, the euro fell against the U.S. dollar, but it is expected to rise again by the end of the year. “The weaker euro is also set to boost the fortunes of European exporters, the Commerzbank economist indicated… ‘We are probably close to the bottom of the movement. This [the weakening of the euro] is the current mood of the market, but it is not the beginning of a trend’, he said.”
A Core Europe?
The EUobserver wrote on June 2, 2005:
“Reports have already emerged that Berlin is once again looking at the idea of a core Europe. According to Press Association (PA), the British news agency, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder called his Dutch counterpart on Wednesday evening to offer The Hague a chance to take part in an inner circle of EU founding members, who could forge ahead.” The article continued that “Mr Balkenende made it perfectly clear he wasn’t interested. He is well aware that the Netherlands would be a junior partner in such a small grouping alongside Germany and France.”
A Shorter EU Constitution
On June 3, 2005, EUobserver published a thought-provoking commentary by Kimmo Kiljunen, Finnish Member of Parliament and former member of the EU Constitutional Convention. It stated:
“France and Holland have just demonstrated a masterpiece of political bungling. Leading politicians did not know how to tell their citizens what the EU constitution is about. A clear majority of the French and the Dutch said ‘No’ to the new EU constitution. At the same time, they said ‘Yes’ to the present EU. The referendums won’t make the EU go away. It will carry on as before….
“The only way to save the EU constitution is to approve an abbreviated version. Drop the technical and explanatory articles in parts III and IV. The new constitution only needs parts I and II: what the Union is for, how it makes its decisions, and the rights of citizens. This would give the constitution a chance to be approved. It would also offer citizens a more comprehensible document. This abbreviated constitution would have a chance of passing referendums in France and Holland by late 2006.”
Europe Is Here To Stay
The Christian Science Monitor published an insightful article on June 3, 2005, pertaining to the future of Europe. It stated the following:
“The charter’s next steps won’t be decided until an EU summit June 16-17. And some observers say no substantial action will occur until 2007, when Germany and France are expected to have new governments. But as they rouse themselves from this week’s nightmare scenario, proponents of greater European unity say that the EU’s work will go on… Despite reaching an eight-month low against the US dollar this week, the euro will persist as Europe’s common currency. Greater military cooperation, negotiation as a single bloc at the World Trade Organization, and efforts to create a common immigration policy will also continue…. Observers recall that past EU crises have sometimes served as springboards for further progress. At the end of the 1960s, for example, French President Charles de Gaulle’s refusal to allow Britain to join the EU paralyzed the six-member community. Widespread frustration at this led to pressure for new initiatives, which resulted in the Union’s first expansion.”
Europe Without Great Britain?
As news.telegraph.co.uk reported on June 6, 2005, “Tony Blair has given up on Europe as an issue worth fighting for, senior allies of the Prime Minister have told The Sunday Telegraph.” Mr. Blair’s government also very wisely decided to postpone any referendum in Great Britain [which had been scheduled to take place in the spring of 2006], realizing full well that the British people are at this point expected to vote against the EU constitution by a wide margin.
Other member states were not impressed by Mr. Blair’s approach. As the EUobserver reported, “Several member states have continued to stick by their plans to have a referendum on the constitution despite Britain’s decision on Monday to shelve its own plans for a public poll. Speaking just after the British decision, Polish foreign minister Adam Rotfeld said, ‘The French, Dutch or British cannot make the decision for us. We should decide for ourselves … through a referendum. Regardless of what happens to the treaty, an unambiguous “yes” by Poland in favour of European integration given through a referendum will greatly strengthen Poland’s position’, he said…. Ireland and Denmark, the other countries planning to have a referendum, are also staying firm for the time being. According to The Irish Times, Dublin said its position remained exactly as it was before London’s announcement – to continue paving the way for a referendum.”
In a related article, the EUobserver pointed out Britain’s precarious situation, as follows:
“Over the weekend, the French and German leaders also called for votes on the EU charter to continue, and Mr Chirac’s spokesman suggested Britain held ‘great responsibility’ during its half year at the helm of the EU – starting from 1 July – in finding a way out of the current crisis.”
As Der Spiegel Online put it, Britain did not listen to the European message. What will this mean for Britain’s future?
Germans Against the EU Constitution?
Germany’s major parties concluded that the German Constitution did not allow for a referendum of the German people regarding the introduction of the euro and the EU constitution. This very dubious and legally questionable conclusion served as a political avenue to force the euro and the EU constitution on the people of Germany, although a growing number seems to be against both.
According to Bild Online, 96.9 percent are against the EU constitution. The tabloid justifies its conclusions after having polled almost 400,000 readers. According to another, more reliable poll by the more serious magazine, Focus, 44 percent are for the EU Constitution, while 39 percent are against it, and 17 percent are undecided. Before the French and the Dutch “no”-votes, 52 percent had supported the EU constitution. According to the magazine, 62 percent of those under 24 were for the constitution.
Turkey and the EU
Der Stern pointed out, correctly, on May 31, 2005:
“The nice words of the German Chancellor [Gerhard Schroeder, SPD] cannot fool anyone that it is not the EU constitution which reflects European reality, but the question of enlargement. The [CDU] understands this… Europe with 25, 27, 57 member states cannot be easily organized… What has been difficult with 15 member states, is impossible with 25.”
The article pointed out, too, that one EU applicant which would not meet the support of a new Angela Merkel-Edmund Stoiber [CDU/CSU] government, would be Turkey. As Focus pointed out on June 3, Spain has recently changed its position in support of the Merkel-Stoiber position. The Spanish government advocated that the EU reconsider membership conditions of Turkey. Until now, Spain was one of the strongest supporters for a EU membership of Turkey.
As Focus reported on June 3, 2005, “the [alleged] improvements in Iraq are not supported by the figures… In the last 18 months, 12,000 civilians were killed [in violent attacks by insurgents]… More than 10,500 victims were Shiites… Since the beginning of the US invasion in March of 2003, 1,663 US military personnel were killed.”
Monotheistic Religions and the Family
On June 6, 2005, Zenit published the text of a remarkable address Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sidney, gave to an interreligious conference in defense of family life and marriage. The following are excerpts from his speech:
“One of the great tasks facing us for the 21st century is to build bridges and improve relations among the great religions, especially among all monotheists. Jews, Christians and Moslems should have a special advantage in undertaking this work, because we are all the children of Abraham. We all worship the one true God, reverence the holy city of Jerusalem, believe that our actions in this life will be judged, met with approval or disapproval in the next life. We believe in God as creator of the universe and as the Great Judge after the day of resurrection. We all believe in the importance of prayer… we belong to the same monotheist family… All children of Abraham are called to oppose the excesses of individualism, such as pornography, drug abuse, alcoholism, sexual promiscuity and abortion. We who profess a religious faith have a solemn duty to uphold key moral values and to propose them to society…
“Of particular concern to all Christians, Jews and Muslims is the family. People are foolish if they pretend that the consequences of family breakdown have no social impact. One of the great cleavages that we are beginning to see opening up in our society is between children who come from stable and loving families, and those who do not. Those who are lost to drugs, suicide, violence, and alcoholism, are often those who do not have the personal and family resources and resilience to resist or avoid these perils. Family breakdown and instability are a growing cause of impoverishment. Loving faithful marriage is the true foundation of the family. I suspect that the haves and have-nots of the future will often be divided into those who have had a loving family upbringing and those who have never had this opportunity. The children of Abraham should take the lead in ensuring a better future not only for children and families, but also for our country.”