Week of February 20Posted: February 20, 2010
Here is the summary of the European news during the week, which had been rich and diverse :
On January 20, Mahmud al-Mabhuh, highly ranked in the Hamas hierarchy, has been killed in an hotel in Dubaï. Since then, the CCTV videos leaded to the identification of 11 suspects who arrived in Dubaï using the identity of British, Irish, French and German citizens. Suspicion are strong on Mossad (Israel secret service), which could have organized this killing. The European governments are, obviously not pleased to see their country involved in this case, and are asking Israel for explanations [5,6].
Still in the domain of international relations, the European Union suffered this week from the conflict between Switzerland and Libya . Libya bared european passeports for entering its territory. A diplomatic conflict exists between the two countries since mid-2008 ; Switzerland being a member of the Schengen area, all the countries signatory of the agreement are hit by this restriction. The European Commission has immediately contacted the two countries in order to find a quick answer to this crisis [10,11].
The EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and the commissioner for enlargement Stefan Fülle went this week in the regions of the Balkans[12,13]. The countries in the Balkans are, or expressed their desire to be, for most of them candidates to then adhesion to the European Union; particularly Croatia which is very advanced in the adhesion process [14,15].
In the Union, the Dutch Government resigned this Saturday over a different on the sending of troops in Afghanistan (a matter of debates in many of the European countries involved in this NATO operation). The different parties of the governing coalition failing to get an agreement on this matter, the government presented its resignation[16,17]. Legislative elections will take place in the next three months.
Following the council meeting last week, which was mainly focused on the Greek debt issue, Herman von Rompuy, president of the European Council, proposes to increase the number of council meeting, limited today to 4 ordinary meeting during a year, up to one every month . This proposal has been well received among the member states. [18,19]
During the week, the European commission gave its okay for a deal between Yahoo and Microsoft which want to share their internet search engine, in order to compete with Google. Saying that this deal won’t impede significantly the competition, the commission gave its agreement to the deal, which has also been approved by the US department of Justice.[20,21]
The ECOFIN council and the eurogroupe (the ministers of finance of the Union and the euro zone) met at the beginning of the week, mostly on the issue of the deficit crisis. The plan to reduce the deficit presented by Greece has been approved and will be evaluated at mid-March, new measures might then be required [22,23,24]. The military expenses of Greece are in particular is questioned and targeted by a part of the planned reductions , we will remember that Daniel Cohn-Bendit had already been very critical to the military expenses in Greece, at the occasion of the vote on the new Commission(to watch and watch again).
The American bank Goldman Sachs is highly criticize in this matter, since it might has helped Greek to hide its debts in complex financial operations, and to subscribe large loans (everything being sometime compared to the subprimes that shake down the banks in 2008), just to take afterward financial position betting on the fall of the euro and a Greek default (in a head I win, tail, you lose way)[27,28]. Paradoxically, some Americans are worried by those links between US banks and Greece, and fear that American money would bail out Greece. It’s still important to note that those operations, which turned out not to be responsible, were not illegal, and even has been used by other euro countries [30,31].
Following of all those uncertainties on the Greek economy: the euro has varied during the week in comparison to the dollar, alternating up and down days. At the end of the week, the euro traded for about 1.36 dollar .
Finally, still in the economic domain, the European Central Bank (ECB), designated this Monday Portuguese Vitor Constancio to the post of Vice-president, to replace the Greek Lucas Papademos whose mandate expires in May. This nomination leaves the way open for German Axel Weber who should take the post of Jean-Claude Trichet (ECB president) after his mandate expires in October 2011.[34,35]