Week of March 13Posted: March 14, 2010
At the beginning of the week, the companies Northrop and EADS withdraw from the contract competition for the US Army for the building of an aircraft Tanker. The fairness of the competition is criticized, the contract being tailored for Boeing (American competitor of EADS). This contract as already been awarded and invalidated several times in the past.[*,*,*] This third flop is upsetting the Europeans, Nicolas Sarkozy will go to Washington to talk with Barack Obama about this[*,*]. My personal opinion: send a member state president to deal with this strongly European issue is a big mistake.
Catherine Ashton is standing up and looks determined to fight back the critics from the last weeks. In a first time, she asked for her own airplane to allow her to move around the world without having to rely on the good will of member states. It is feared that this would open the path for several more claim for airplane for EU officials. [*]. Lady Ashton should visit the Gaza strip next week, in the company of UN general secretary Ban Ki Moon [*]. The High Representative also made a speech in front of the European Parliament where she explain her vision of the Job[*,*,*].
The European Parliament was seating in plenary session in Strasbourg this week[*]. MEPs talked about gender equality, as the week opened on the Women rights day [*], about the Tobin tax on financial transactions[*], and on the EU 2020 strategy, proposed by the Commission last week [*]. The vote on the maternity leave extension(already adopted in committee) as been delayed until at least May, in fear it would cost to much[*].
But the plenary was also an opportunity for the Parliament to overwhelmingly vote (663 against 13) for a resolution asking for more transparency in the negotiations of the international ACTA treaty, which aims at fight counterfeit. The ACTA treaty is negotiated in an informal way and its exact content is kept secret [*]. The Parliament stays on the citizen side as it has done for the SWIFT agreement and stands to the Commission [*,*,*,*].
To finish with economic matters, let’s start by mentioning the eurozone countries show a industrial production growing at the beginning of the year [*]. But of course, the European Economy is still dominated by the deficit crisis (here a good summary in French).
Last weekend, Greek PM G Papandreou was visiting Berlin, Luxembourg, Paris and Washington, looking for political support the reforms in Greece and regulate speculations [*,*,*]. The US Federal Reserve launched an inquiry two weeks ago on the actions of US banks that could have contributed to the crisis [*,*,*].
In Greece, strikes and protests against the austerity measures planned by the Government are continuing. Some Greek citizens are arguing that the problem is corruption and not salaries or social benefits. Though some time violent, it is not certain that those manifestations will have an impact on the austerity measures planned. [*,*,*,*]
The European Countries are thinking about reforms to implement to avoid such a crisis in the future and strengthen the monetary Union. A proposition that collects a lot of support is the creation of a European Monetary Fund on the model of the IMF [*,*,*,*,*].
Europe ; Greece, France and Germany in particular, wish also to better regulate speculative activities on national debts. In particular, the use of Credit Default Swap, largely accused on the Greek crisis, and described by G Papandreou as insurance contracted on the neighbor house and which gives you money if it burns. [*,*,*,*]
A European plan to support Greece is said to be on track, and should be proposed in a eurogroup meeting next week. The opinions on this plan are diverse, and some reluctance exists, particularly in Germany, but the monetary stability prevails. [*,*,*]
A common front of European Countries is een more necessary since the notation agency Fitch warned other countries, using the Euro (France, Spain) or not (United Kingdom), against a possible downgrading of their debt. [*]