Week of February 27Posted: February 28, 2010
Last week, Europe got itself involved in the death of Mahmud al-Mabhuh, a Hamas member, killed in January in his hotel room [*,*,*]. The European Union is worried by the use of European passports and is waiting for the inquiry, and Israel for explanations[*,*,*]. Though, this incident should not fundamentally change the relations between Israel and the Union.[*]
After the fall of the Dutch government la week, on a disagreement on sending troops in Afghanistan [*], the other member state participating in this NATO operation are questioning their participation: citizen are less and less in favors of this operation [*,*,*].
In matters of neighborhood and enlargement , the European Commission recommended this week to open the adhesion negotiations with Island. Island filled its candidacy for adhesion in July 2009 and integrates already almost 75% of the EU legislation. Negotiations will still be complicated in the matter of fishing for example [*,*,*]. Spain, which holds the turning presidency, wish to open new negotiation chapters with Turkey (candidate since 1987)[*].
The different between Switzerland and Libya, which had already strike on European passports last week [*] knew a new episode this week when Colonel Ghadafi called for jihad against Switzerland. Those less than diplomatic words are quite usual from the Libyan leader, but don’t make easier the work of Europe to solve the passport issue.[*,*]
Four Guantanamo inmates arrived in Europe. The Us government wants to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and expect helps from its European allies.[*]
The diplomatic service of the European Union has a hard time getting set up: the member states and the commission are fighting over nominations, in particular Joao Vale de Almeida named by José Manuel Barroso as head of the EU delegation to the US. this choice is highly contested, mostly because of the way it has been made. Carl Bildt, Swedish minister for foreign Affairs expressed his disappointment in a letter to High Representative Catherine Ahston. Foreign Affairs, in particular with the US, are a matter where member states want to keep a certain control. [*,*,*]
Mrs Ashton is the object of more and more critics: she is skipping the informal meeting of Defense Ministers and went in Ukraine for the inauguration of President Viktor Yanukovych, elected a few weeks ago. Moreover NATO General secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen was present at this meeting. Schedule problem, empty chair of lack of interest, the High representative adds a new critic to her board. [*,*]. Read also my reaction to her interview in Time Magazine.
After giving a thumb up to Microsoft and Yahoo last week [*], the commission is attacking Google: accused of relegating possible concurrent in the results its search engine show to the user[*,*,*]. Google is facing other difficulties in Europe : accusations of privacy violation in Street View[*], condemnation in Italy[*]…
The European commission proposed a ban on international trade of bluefin tuna starting next year[*].
The European Parliament held a mini plenary seesion in Brussel this week[*]. The parliament in particular decided to increase the allowance given to the MEP to allow them to answer to the new missions given to them by the Lisbon Treaty[*] ; They also voted in comity for an extension of maternity leave to 20 weeks[*].
Herman von Rompuy, European council president, came before the Parliament to present the work of the informal council at the beginning of February and explain his view on his job[*]. From this intervention, the remembered moment has been the critics of the euro-skeptic British MEP Nigel Farage who compared Mr Von Rompuy to a «damp rag». These words have been widely criticized.[*,*,*,*] (Read my comments here)
On the economic front, the situation in Greece get calmer but is still not settled : the Greek citizens are reluctant to apply the austerity measures decided by the government, and go on strike [*,*]. But it seems that the budgetary revenues have been better than expected during January[*].
The American bank Goldman Sachs stays at the center of accusation of operation masking the Greek debt, conflict of interest and speculation fueling doubt on Greece. The Federal Reserve launched an inquiry in Goldman Sachs to determine its responsibilities[*,*,*]
The possible existence of a rescue plan, whose details are kept hidden to force Greece to implement its austerity reforms and to avoid hostile speculation against the plan, helps calming the markets[*,*]. This plan would be 100% European, the Union preferring not to call for the International Monetary Fund[*,*].