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Posted on on March 28th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Green Energy Can Spur Ireland’s Return To Growth.
March 29, 2010, Ireland
By Barbara Lewis

Renewable energy should play a major role in spurring Ireland back to growth now the government and economy are both showing signs of stability, Ireland’s energy minister said in an interview.

Eamon Ryan kept his post as minister for communications, energy and natural resources in a cabinet reshuffle last week after intense media speculation of tensions between the governing parties, Fianna Fail and junior coalition partner the Green Party, to which Ryan belongs.

Ryan said he felt the government and the economy were on a more stable footing.

“We went through so many difficult decisions last year with regard to banking and the Lisbon Treaty (on streamlining EU institutions). That gives a certain stability and the feeling we have the ability to get over difficult issues,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of the Green Party conference in Waterford, southeastern Ireland, at the weekend.

“I’d be reasonably confident that we would start to see the economy turning slightly and that we will start to see the government get a reasonable amount of stability.”

Economists have shared the government view that growth would resume in the second half of this year, although figures last week showed the economy had shrunk more than expected late last year.

Renewable energy and the kind of innovative approach labeled the “smart economy” have a huge part to play in stimulating Ireland’s economy, Ryan said.

So far, around 12,000 new jobs in renewables and the smart economy have been created of the 120,000 targeted by the government for 2020.

The country has also set itself a goal of sourcing 40 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020, and Ryan said this could be exceeded, allowing Ireland to switch from being 90 percent dependent on imported fossil fuel to an energy exporter.

“We can get 40 percent of renewable electricity on the system in the next 10 years,” he said. “We think we can beat that target. No problem at all. We should become a renewable energy exporter.”

Ireland’s deep financial problems should not hinder funding, he said, as the private sector had proved willing to finance “bankable” projects, especially as costs had begun to fall.


“It’s becoming competitive. It’s what’s getting funding. It’s what’s getting built,” he said of wind farms.

“The advantage we have is that we have very competitive power. The support required is substantially lower than in, say, Britain. The wind is significantly stronger. We have some of the best wind resources in the world.”

Ryan consistently emphasized the pragmatic as well as the ideological and said the experience of Greens in government elsewhere — in Finland and previously in Germany — proved “there is certainly realpolitik in the Green Party.”

Ryan, who used to run a green tourism cycling business, said he wanted to see green money-making at the heart of Dublin’s business district and cited the government initiative to set up a green International Financial Services Center (IFSC) for carbon trading and green fund management, for instance.

“There is a whole plethora of green financial activities,” he said. “It is being pursued as a government initiative under the auspices of the existing IFSC.”


Posted on on March 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (…

Video: Obama: “America has been shaped” by the Irish

Video: Obama: “America has been shaped” by the Irish
President Barack Obama celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by welcoming Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen to the Oval Office and joking it’s the one day in America when everyone’s Irish. (AP)


Posted on on August 29th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

From Uri Avnery


                        titled: Tutu’s Prayer 

HOW MUCH did the boycott of South Africa actually contribute to the fall of the racist regime? This week I talked with Desmond Tutu about this question, which has been on my mind for a long time. 

No one is better qualified to answer this question than he. Tutu, the South African Anglican archbishop and Nobel prize laureate, was one of the leaders of the fight against apartheid and, later, the chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which investigated the crimes of the regime. This week he visited Israel with the “Elders”, an organization of elder statesmen from all over the world set up by Nelson Mandela. 

The matter of the boycott came up again this week after an article by Dr. Neve Gordon appeared in the Los Angeles Times, calling for a world-wide boycott of Israel. He cited the example of South Africa to show how a world-wide boycott could compel Israel to put an end to the occupation, which he compared to the apartheid regime. 

I have known and respected Neve Gordon for many years. Before becoming a lecturer at Ben Gurion University in Beersheba, he organized many demonstrations against the Separation Wall in the Jerusalem area, in which I, too, took part. 

I am sorry that I cannot agree with him this time – neither about the similarity with South Africa nor about the efficacy of a boycott of Israel. 

There are several opinions about the contribution of the boycott to the success of the anti-apartheid struggle. According to one view, it was decisive. Another view claims its impact was marginal. Some believe that it was the collapse of the Soviet Union that was the decisive factor. After that, the US and its allies no longer had any reason for support the regime in South Africa, which until then had been viewed as a pillar of the world-wide struggle against Communism. 

“THE BOYCOTT was immensely important,” Tutu told me. “Much more than the armed struggle.”  

It should be remembered that, unlike Mandela, Tutu was an advocate of non-violent struggle. During the 28 years Mandela languished in prison, he could have walked free at any moment, if he had only agreed to sign a statement condemning “terrorism”. He refused. 

“The importance of the boycott was not only economic,” the archbishop explained, “but also moral. South Africans are, for example, crazy about sports. The boycott, which prevented their teams from competing abroad, hit them very hard. But the main thing was that it gave us the feeling that we are not alone, that the whole world is with us. That gave us the strength to continue.” 

To show the importance of the boycott he told me the following story: In 1989, the moderate white leader, Frederic Willem de Klerk, was elected President of South Africa. Upon assuming office he declared his intention to set up a multiracial regime. “I called to congratulate him, and the first thing he said was: Will you now call off the boycott?” 

IT SEEMS to me that Tutu’s answer emphasizes the huge difference between the South African reality at the time and ours today. 

The South African struggle was between a large majority and a small minority. Among a general population of almost 50 million, the Whites amounted to less than 10%. That means that more than 90% of the country’s inhabitants supported the boycott, in spite of the argument that it hurt them, too. 

In Israel, the situation is the very opposite. The Jews amount to more than 80% of Israel’s citizens, and constitute a majority of some 60% throughout the country between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. 99.9% of the Jews oppose a boycott on Israel. 

They will not feel the “the whole world is with us”, but rather that “the whole world is against us”.  

In South Africa, the world-wide boycott helped in strengthening the majority and steeling it for the struggle. The impact of a boycott on Israel would be the exact opposite: it would push the large majority into the arms of the extreme right and create a fortress mentality against the “anti-Semitic world”. (The boycott would, of course, have a different impact on the Palestinians, but that is not the aim of those who advocate it.) 

Peoples are not the same everywhere. It seems that the Blacks in South Africa are very different from the Israelis, and from the Palestinians, too. The collapse of the oppressive racist regime did not lead to a bloodbath, as could have been predicted, but on the contrary: to the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee. Instead of revenge, forgiveness.

Those who appeared before the commission and admitted their misdeeds were pardoned. That was in tune with Christian belief, and that was also in tune with the Jewish Biblical promise: “Whoso confesseth and forsaketh [his sins] shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)  

I told the bishop that I admire not only the leaders who chose this path but also the people who accepted it. 

ONE OF the profound differences between the two conflicts concerns the Holocaust. 

Centuries of pogroms have imprinted on the consciousness of the Jews the conviction that the whole world is out to get them. This belief was reinforced a hundredfold by the Holocaust.

Every Jewish Israeli child learns in school that “the entire world was silent” when the six million were murdered. This belief is anchored in the deepest recesses of the Jewish soul. Even when it is dormant, it is easy to arouse it. 

(That is the conviction which made it possible for Avigdor Lieberman, last week, to accuse the entire Swedish nation of cooperating with the Nazis, because of one idiotic article in a Swedish tabloid.) 

It may well be that the Jewish conviction that “the whole world is against us” is irrational. But in the life of nations, as indeed in the life of individuals, it is irrational to ignore the irrational. 

The Holocaust will have a decisive impact on any call for a boycott of Israel. The leaders of the racist regime in South Africa openly sympathized with the Nazis and were even interned for this in World War II. Apartheid was based on the same racist theories as inspired Adolf Hitler. It was easy to get the civilized world to boycott such a disgusting regime. The Israelis, on the other hand, are seen as the victims of Nazism. The call for a boycott will remind many people around the world of the Nazi slogan “Kauft nicht bei Juden!” – don’t buy from Jews. 

That does not apply to every kind of boycott. Some 11 years ago, the Gush Shalom movement, in which I am active, called for a boycott of the product of the settlements. Its intention was to separate the settlers from the Israeli public, and to show that there are two kinds of Israelis. The boycott was designed to strengthen those Israelis who oppose the occupation, without becoming anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic. Since then, the European Union has been working hard to close the gates of the EU to the products of the settlers, and almost nobody has accused it of anti-Semitism. 

ONE OF the main battlefields in our fight for peace is Israeli public opinion. Most Israelis believe nowadays that peace is desirable but impossible (because of the Arabs, of course.) We must convince them not that peace would be good for Israel, but that it is realistically achievable.  

When the archbishop asked what we, the Israeli peace activists, are hoping for, I told him: We hope for Barack Obama to publish a comprehensive and detailed peace plan and to use the full persuasive power of the United States to convince the parties to accept it. We hope that the entire world will rally behind this endeavor. And we hope that this will help to set the Israeli peace movement back on its feet and convince our public that it is both possible and worthwhile to follow the path of peace with Palestine. 

No one who entertains this hope can support the call for boycotting Israel. Those who call for a boycott act out of despair. And that is the root of the matter. 

Neve Gordon and his partners in this effort have despaired of the Israelis. They have reached the conclusion that there is no chance of changing Israeli public opinion. According to them, no salvation will come from within. One must ignore the Israeli public and concentrate on mobilizing the world against the State of Israel. (Some of them believe anyhow that the State of Israel should be dismantled and replaced by a bi-national state.) 

I do not share either view – neither the despair of the Israeli people, to which I belong, nor the hope that the world will stand up and compel Israel to change its ways against its will. For this to happen, the boycott must gather world-wide momentum, the US must join it, the Israeli economy must collapse and the morale of the Israeli public must break. 

How long will this take? Twenty Years? Fifty years? Forever? 

I AM afraid that this is an example of a faulty diagnosis leading to faulty treatment. To be precise: the mistaken assumption that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resembles the South African experience leads to a mistaken choice of strategy. 

True, the Israeli occupation and the South African apartheid system have certain similar characteristics. In the West Bank, there are roads “for Israelis only”. But the Israeli policy is not based on race theories, but on a national conflict. A small but significant example: in South Africa, a white man and a black woman (or the other way round) could not marry, and sexual relations between them were a crime. In Israel there is no such prohibition. On the other hand, an Arab Israeli citizen who marries an Arab woman from the occupied territories (or the other way round) cannot bring his or her spouse to Israel. The reason: safeguarding the Jewish majority in Israel. Both cases are reprehensible, but basically different. 

In South Africa there was total agreement between the two sides about the unity of the country. The struggle was about the regime. Both Whites and Blacks considered themselves South Africans and were determined to keep the country intact. The Whites did not want partition, and indeed could not want it, because their economy was based on the labor of the Blacks. 

In this country, Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs have nothing in common – not a common national feeling, not a common religion, not a common culture and not a common language. The vast majority of the Israelis want a Jewish (or Hebrew) state. The vast majority of the Palestinians want a Palestinian (or Islamic) state. Israel is not dependent on Palestinian workers – on the contrary, it drives the Palestinians out of the working place. Because of this, there is now a world-wide consensus that the solution lies in the creation of the Palestinian state next to Israel.     

In short: the two conflicts are fundamentally different. Therefore, the methods of struggle, too, must necessarily be different. 

BACK TO the archbishop, an attractive person whom it is impossible not to like on sight. He told me that he prays frequently, and that his favorite prayer goes like this (I quote from memory): 

“Dear God, when I am wrong, please make me willing to see my mistake. And when I am right – please make me tolerable to live with.” 


To the above excellent review, and clear rejection of the idea that an international boycott will achieve anything beyond making it more difficult to obtain eventually a solution in the Arab-Israeli conflict, I would like to add that among the group of ELDERS that came to Israel was also the Former President of Ireland  (1990-1997) Mary Robinson,  who said according to reports in the media, that if Israel misses the opportunity to reach out for a two-states solution, the alternative is then a one-state solution, and this alternative will hurt the future of Israel much more.

Even though many Israelis do not regard her as a friend of Israel, this because of positions she took as the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights (1997-2002), nevertheless, her comments here must be taken seriously by Israelis with the country’s real self interest at heart. 


Posted on on August 1st, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

The following are the top 28 finalists in the Official 2009 New 7 Wonders of Nature competition – nominated from among hundreds of sites around the world that have been proposed.

see please: and you can vote – for up to 7 of the 28 list – at that link.

you can vote for your choice of 7 on line, by phone, or text message. It is expected that one billion people will vote and the winner will be announced in 2011.

A similar effort two years ago elected seven manmade wonders generated considerable publicity. We backed at that time Machu Picchu, Peru

These selections are being organized by a Swiss filmmaker and entrepreneur, Bernard Weber, and the committee that chose the 28 finalists included Federico Mayor, former chief of UNESCO, and Rex Weyler, co-founder of Greenpeace International.

Like everything else that has a UN connection, obviously such selections will be politicized beyond the simple angle of national pride – just see the country called Chinese Taipei for what most call Taiwan.

In this year of climate change we thing the Amazon will get the world’s nod, but watching in Vietnam (it is Halong Bay) how a whole country can get beyond a particular location we would have said that China could muster the vote, but will they do it for Taipei?

From among the many places on the list that we have been to – I am voting as Numero Uno for the Iguazu Falls.






























From the competition on the 7 Man-made wonders – a stamp collection from Gibraltar:

For all media inquiries and interview requests, please contact:

Tia B. Viering, Head of Communications
Mobile: +41 79-762-2784
Phone: +49 89 489 033 58 (Munich office)
Email at


Posted on on June 5th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

Dutch Put Anti-Immigration Party in EU Parliament.

By Jurjen van de Pol, June 5, 2009, Bloomberg.

        Dutch voters gave the Freedom Party of Geert Wilders, the lawmaker who made a film linking the Koran to violence, its first seats in the European Parliament, preliminary results showed.

Wilders’ party received 17 percent of the votes or four of the 25 Dutch seats, participating in the European polls for the first time yesterday, news agency ANP reported, citing preliminary results. The Freedom Party aims to reduce European Union influence, curb immigration and reject Turkey’s membership in the bloc.

The Irish and Czechs will cast their votes today. Final results will be released June 7 after all 27 EU nations have voted.

While Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s Christian Democratic Alliance remains the largest party, the vote indicated the ruling coalition risks losing its majority in the Dutch parliament after yesterday’s vote suggests the Freedom Party was the country’s second largest.

“The cabinet should step down, the sooner the better,” Wilders told Dutch public television NOS. Dutch parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2011.

The worst recession since World War II may spur voters across Europe to seek alternatives to established parties for the bloc’s legislature.

Libertas, which opposed the EU treaty in a referendum in Ireland, may win seats today for the first time. In Austria, the anti-immigration Freedom Party will pick up two seats and in France a new anti-capitalist party will gain seven, forecasts by a group of scholars show. “People are fed up with a large Europe as it is now and with Turkey possibly joining,” Wilders told NOS.


Police Protection:

U.K. authorities in February refused entry to Wilders after he defied a travel ban and flew into Britain for a screening of his movie “Fitna.” Wilders said in a newspaper editorial the Koran was “fascist” and should be banned. The lawmaker, who receives police protection around the clock, faces trial in his own country on charges of inciting hatred.

The Netherlands and the U.K. were the first of the European Union member states to cast their vote for the Brussels and Strasbourg-based parliament, which oversees business and environmental regulations while leaving foreign and finance policy largely in national hands. Only the Dutch publish preliminary results the same day.

Balkenende’s Christian Democratic Alliance received 19.9 percent of the votes compared with 24.4 percent in 2004 and dropped to five from seven seats, according to the preliminary results. The Labor Party of Finance Minister Wouter Bos has been overtaken by the Freedom Party. The party received three seats (12.1 percent) after gaining seven seats (23.6 percent) in the previous election.

The Netherlands controls 25 seats in the 736-member European Parliament, compared with 27 in 2004, as the total numbers of assembly seats is reduced. Dutch turnout fell to 36.5 percent from 39 percent five years ago, ANP said after 99.7 percent of the votes have been counted.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jurjen van de Pol in Amsterdam at  jvandepol at


A breakdown of the seat distribution in the new 736-seat European Parliament per member state in the 27-nation EU bloc. Seats are distributed based on representation by population.

Under treaty rules, the size of the EU assembly falls from the outgoing 785-seat chamber to streamline the legislature’s work to the above 736 total:

_ Germany: 82.4 million people, 99 seats
_ France: 62.9 million, 72
_ Britain: 60.4 million, 72
_ Italy: 58.7 million, 72
_ Spain: 43.76 million, 50
_ Poland: 38.2 million, 50
_ Romania: 21.6 million, 33
_ Netherlands: 16.3 million, 25
_ Greece: 11.1 million, 22
_ Portugal: 10.6 million, 22
_ Belgium: 10.5 million , 22
_ Czech Republic: 10.3 million, 22
_ Hungary: 10 million, 22
_ Sweden: 9 million, 18
_ Austria: 8.3 million, 17
_ Bulgaria: 7.7 million, 17
_ Denmark: 5.4 million, 13
_ Slovakia: 5.4 million, 13
_ Finland: 5.3 million, 13
_ Ireland: 4.2 million, 12
_ Lithuania: 3.4 million, 12
_ Latvia: 2.3 million, 8
_ Slovenia: 2.0 million, 7
_ Estonia: 1.3 million, 6
_ Cyprus: 0,7 million, 6
_ Luxembourg: 0,5 million, 6
_ Malta: 0.4 million, 5


Astonishing – the reaction from the European Commission to the Dutch results:

05.06.2009 – 15:00 on the EUobserver –
Commission criticises Dutch for early results publication


Open Democracy, June 5, 2009,   questions the sense of the European Parliament these days of such low interest by voters in the member states:

The European parliament: problem, and solution – The sacrifice of an institution without a purpose would strengthen the European Union itself, says Anand Menon.

To read the full article please look at:…


Posted on on May 23rd, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (


Managing risk and building resilience in a resource-constrained world.

All Hallows College, Dublin, 10th -12th June, 2009

Climate change is not the only emergency at present. The peak in world oil production and the global recession are among many that come to mind. Normally, each crisis is discussed in isolation from the others. The New Emergency Conference, however, has been planned on the basis that they are all inter-linked and have common systemic roots.

It will cover such topics as:
how money systems need to be changed to cope with greatly reduced levels of fossil fuel use,
the possibility of using biochar to turn the world’s land into a CO2 sink rather than a source,
the global governance structures required for a climate agreement, and
the rate at which the the world’s net supply of energy might decline in view of the increasing energy inputs required to produce it.

Other topics include reshaping food production, rural bio-refineries, the Transition Towns movement, and the taxes and new forms of enterprise ownership which make the transition easier to bring about.

The workshop discussions will look for synergies between these possible solutions.

Among the energy and climate-related speakers are:

Alex Evans, whose Center for International Co-operation report on climate change and global institutional reform has just been published, will present the case for a basing a solution to the climate crisis on a scientifically-derived stabilisation target which shares the global carbon budget out between the world’s nations according to a transparent, equitable formula. He also wants a far more rigorous compliance regime than that for Kyoto.

Chris Vernon, European editor of The Oil Drum, will survey the prospects for oil, gas and coal supplies over the next 50 years. He will argue that, because the energy cost of producing these fuels is rising as more difficult sources have to be used, the actual amount of energy that will be available for other purposes will fall off more quickly than has been recognised so far.

Dmitry Orlov, author of Reinventing Collapse, will explain why efforts to extend the lifetime of   the industrial, fossil fuel-based economy are misguided and will fail. He will then present alternatives, describing how patterns of land use can be transformed into patterns of habitat creation and how informal local networks of sustainable non-fossil-fuel-based production and distribution can be created .

David Korowicz, a climate physicist, will document the growth of complexity in trade and financial networks and in the various types of infrastructure. He sees the collapse process as a system of re-inforcing feedbacks which mean that investment in energy and r&d cannot be maintained and supply chains and IT networks break down.

Richard Douthwaite, the author of The Growth Illusion, will look at the problems created by the availability of cheap energy. He believes it shaped capitalism and our monetary systems, led manufacturers and farmers to adopt unsustainable technologies, and permitted a six-fold increase in the human population while concentrating power and wealth in very few hands.

Julian Darley, founder of the Post Carbon Institute, will review the non-economic factors which influence decisions-making. He will explain how a knowledge of them can be used to get new systems introduced. The factors include culture, social and individual psychology, business and political fashions, perceptions of what will be publicly acceptable, and what other opinion leaders and decision-makers are thinking and doing.

Full details of the conference, which is organised by Feasta, the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability, can be found at


Posted on on January 20th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

Bono Gives Palestine an Inaugural Celebration Shout Out
Posted by John Nichols, The Nation, January 19, 2009.

This is “… an Irish dream, a European dream, an African dream … an Israeli dream … and also a Palestinian dream.”

The ‘We Are One’ Obama Inaugural Celebration concert at the Lincoln Memorial Sunday was carefully choreographed to be light on politics. This was always intended as a feel-good event, and it was.

But U2 frontman Bono gave the crowd at least a little something to think about.


Toward the end of the concert that drew half a million people to cheer Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger (singing a spirited “This Land Is Your Land”), Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder and the president-elect, U2 took the stage.

Before launching into “Pride (In The Name Of Love,” the band’s tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.,) Bono noted that the crowd was gathered on the mall where King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

“Let freedom ring. On this spot where we’re standing 46 years ago Dr. King had a dream. On Tuesday, that dream comes to pass,” before launching into ‘Pride (In The Name Of Love)’, U2’s tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This is not just an American dream,” he said, adding that it was “also an Irish dream, a European dream, an African dream… an Israeli dream… and also a Palestinian dream.”


The mention of the Palestinians, in this semi-official setting, with Barack Obama sitting just a few feet away, will not change the circumstance on the ground in Gaza. It is unlikely to inspire a more engaged or functional U.S. policy with regard to the Middle East.

But Bono deserves a measure of credit for reminding the partygoers that peace and justice, for Israel and Palestine is a part of the dream.


Posted on on November 26th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Austrian minister quits over EU referendum clause.

25.11.2008   the EUobserver – Austria’s pro-European foreign minister Ursula Plassnik has refused to be part of the country’s new governing coalition because it did not rule out future referendums on EU treaties.

“I was not ready to serve as an EU warranty or fig leaf for a government where some of its members do not distance themselves enough from a fruitless and energy consuming alliance with EU-critical forces,” Ms Plassnik told Die Presse.

The minister’s center-right OVP party formed a “grand coalition” with the populist Social-Democrats (SPO) at the weekend, following two months of talks that locked Austria’s resurgent far-right factions out of power.

The new SPO chancellor, Werner Faymann, declined to insert a clause into the coalition pact guaranteeing that future EU treaties will be ratified through parliament instead of referendums, prompting Ms Plassnik’s departure, she explained.

Instead, the coalition signed up to a “self-destruct clause” under which the two parties can seek EU-wide or national referendums by mutual agreement. In case of disagreement, the government would be dissolved.

The OVP and SPO both officially want the Lisbon treaty – which was ratified by the Austrian parliament in May – to come into force.

But in tendering her resignation, Ms Plassnik recalled that Mr Faymann and the then SPO chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer in July wrote a letter to Hans Dichand, the editor of the tabloid Krone newspaper, pleading for national referendums on EU affairs.

“Future changes on the EU treaty, which touch upon Austrian interest, should be decided through a referendum in Austria. The same applies to a possible EU accession of Turkey, which would overstrech, in our view, the current EU structures,” they said, as part of the SPO election campaign.

“It is not about cutting ‘the people’ out. Mr Dichand [the editor of Krone] is not ‘the people.’ It is about explaining carefully and clearly the EU and its co-operation with Austria. The EU must not be chased as a scapegoat through the villages. This is false and brings Austria to a dead end. And Austria is no dead end country,” Ms Plassnik told Kleine Zeitung.

A coalition cannot assume governing responsibilty and have an “official pro-EU line,” but at the same time “enter a coalition with EU opponents,” she added. “It shouldn’t be the case that Austria becomes a risk country [in terms of future EU integration].”

The Austrian public is the most eurosceptic in the union – only 28 percent had a positive view of the EU in a June 2008 survey, the lowest among all 27 states.

The majority of Austrians also wanted a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, with 59 percent saying they wanted a popular vote in a Gallup poll in April 2008.


Prague – It is inevitable for the Irish to vote on the EU Lisbon treaty in a referendum again, Dick Roche, Irish minister for European affairs, told CTK in Prague today.

He emphasised that the new referendum would take place only after careful negotiations with the EU removed objections and dispelled the apprehensions the Irish public feels about the reform treaty.
In a month Dublin is to disclose the main areas the Irish want to discuss with the EU in this connection, Roche said.
At the European Council meeting in December the Irish prime minister will propose a “road map” to identify the main areas we believe we have to discuss with our European colleagues in order to clarify the problems the Irish feel worried about, Roche said.
The complex negotiations will probably continue throughout the period of the Czech Republic’s EU presidency in the first half of 2009 and they could even be completed not before the start of the Swedish presidency, Roche said.
After the Irish apprehensions of the Lisbon treaty are dispelled, Ireland will see another referendum, Roche said.
He said the Irish government has not discussed the referendum’s date as it will be topical only after a final agreement with the EU is reached.
Roche said he personally hoped the process not to take more than a year.
One of the issues for the Dublin-EU discussion will be the proposed new size of the European Commission. Ireland insists on the principle of one commissioner from each member state, Roche continued.
The Lisbon treaty, nevertheless, contains a mechanism that enables to preserve this principle until 2014. Afterwards it will be possible for the EC to decide on an increase in the number of commissioners.
Dublin also objects to the EU’s liberal approach to abortion. Roche said Ireland respects it that other EU countries have a different approach, it is their right, Roche said.
He said the planned negotiations could bring about a declaration recognising Ireland’s different view in this respect.
The other problems Ireland considers important include the sovereignty of individual member countries in deciding on their own systems of taxes.
In this respect Roche said he believes that the Czechs and most small countries share a similar view.
He said the Irish also differ from most European countries by their strive for neutrality.
Other countries ensure their security by their participation in NATO. Ireland respects this, but it has a different view, Roche said.
He said he believes that a result can be achieved after all the worrying problems are analysed. The Lisbon treaty must not be approached with fear. It is necessary to assure the Irish that they rights will be guaranteed, he said.
The negotiations will last many months and they will require much good will. The discussion must not destroy the balance the other EU states have achieved, Roche pointed out.
In the Czech Republic, which is the last of the 27 EU countries not to have taken an official position on the Lisbon treaty so far, the document has been assessed by the Constitutional Court these days.
At the court’s public proceedings today, Czech President Vaclav Klaus, an ardent opponent of the treaty, said in his opinion the treaty is at variance with the Czech constitution.
Klaus previously said that if the court gave the green light to the treaty and if the Czech parliament ratified it, he would not sign it until it is ratified by Ireland.
Roche said he would not dare to comment on a political debate in the Czech Republic as it would be impolite.
He said the ratification process in an EU country should not be made conditional on the ratification elsewhere.
Roche said there will always be discussions about the balance between national sovereignty and the advantage to be a member of a bigger grouping.
The Irish do not have a feeling of being less Irish in the EU. The opposite is true, Roche said.
Author: ÄŒTK

Irish parliament to debate second Lisbon referendum.

November 26, 2008, EUobserver – An Irish parliamentary committee is to debate a report arguing that a second referendum on the EU’s Lisbon treaty is legally possible.

The draft report, first seen by the Irish Times, has been discussed in a private session by the Subcommittee on Ireland’s Future in the EU and is due to be presented to the joint Committee on European Affairs on Thursday (27 November).

It argues that a second poll on the EU’s new reform treaty – following the debacle in June when the Irish voters rejected the document by a clear majority – would be preferable, suggesting a vote on the same text but accompanied by clarifying declarations on controversial issues.

One concrete issue of the kind likely to be considered is a protection of the country’s neutrality. Parliamentarians argued that a new procedure should be set up to boost national decision-making powers regarding military-related matters.

Also, they would like to see in an attached declaration assurance that all member states keep their commissioner – if other European partners agree with the move.

Under the Lisbon treaty, EU member states would take turns at having a representative in the commission, meaning that once every 15 years, each country would be without a commissioner for a period of five years, as the number of commissioners is scheduled to be reduced from 27 to 18 as of 2014.

Earlier this month, Irish foreign minister Micheal Martin hinted that his government is in talks with other governments and EU officials on the issue of the composition of the bloc’s executive.

But some insiders doubt this modification could be achieved, as it is one of the major elements of Lisbon’s institutional reform and was introduced parallel to similar changes for other institutions, notably the European Parliament.

Under the Lisbon treaty, the new EU legislature will have 750 members instead of the current 785.

However, if the new parliament is elected according to the currently applied Nice Treaty in June, its size will be reduced to 732. In such a case, the new commission – due to be appointed later this year – should also have fewer than 27 members.

Julian Priestley, the parliament’s former secretary general, believes that Ireland itself should face some “consequences” if there is no second referendum by mid-2009.

Speaking on Tuesday (25 November) at a debate on the next EU elections organised by the European Policy Center, he argued “it would be a mistake to get some kind of a fix around the clear provision of the Nice treaty.”

Mr Priestley rejected the possibility of having 26 commissioners and to not count the president of the commission as part of the team, stressing that the EU should respect the provisions of whatever treaty is in force.

“If Ireland is the only country that hasn’t ratified the Lisbon treaty and at least superficially prefers the Nice treaty, it should face the consequences of Nice and lose the commissioner,” he concluded.

Waiting for the verdict on Lisbon

Meanwhile, Prague is expecting a verdict from the Czech constitutional court on whether the EU reform plan is in line with the Czech constitution after a heated exchange between the country’s president and government officials in the courtroom on Tuesday (25 November).

The Czech Republic is the only country that has not yet voted on the Lisbon treaty. Despite this fact, the republic is preparing to take over the helm of the EU from France in January, when it assumes the six-month rotating EU presidency, and must then lead talks with Ireland on how to solve the institutional problem.

But top politicians in Prague are divided on the issue. While deputy prime minister Alexander Vondra praised the document and its improvements to the bloc’s functioning, President Vaclav Klaus strongly criticised it at a public hearing.

He argued that the democratically elected institutions in the Czech Republic would be weakened and that key conditions for the country’s EU membership – as stated when the citizens voted on entry in 2003 – would change due to the new treaty.

In a radio interview on Monday (24 November) President Klaus also indicated he might sign the treaty – if adopted by parliament – only after it is ratified in Ireland, echoing the stance of Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s minister for European affairs, Dick Roche, told the Czech CTK news agency that a second referendum on the Lisbon treaty is “inevitable,” adding that he hopes the whole process would not take more than a year.


Posted on on November 12th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Postpone UN climate summit, suggests former Irish president.
Former Irish president Mary Robinson has said that a crucial UN climate change summit due to take place in Poland in December should be postponed until after Barack Obama is inaugurated as US president.

Speaking at a meeting in Brussels on Thursday, Robinson, now vice president of the Club of Madrid, an organisation of former world leaders, said, “It would make more sense to postpone the summit until 20 January. It can’t possibly be led by a lack of understanding for the kind of change that Obama wants.

“This summit, which sounds great and sexy, is happening at the wrong time.”

Also speaking at the event, held to publicise the ‘Road to Copenhagen’ initiative – which refers to the UN climate meeting due to take place in 2009 in the Danish city – was commission vice president Margot Wallström.

She said, “The election of Barack Obama has sent a forceful positive signal to the EU. We see it in terms of negotiating a post-Kyoto agreement.

“We find it hugely important that Obama – with his strong statements on climate change – will be president.

“If we can have a signal from America that they are willing to sit down and talk, it will affect China and India.”

The ‘Road to Copenhagen’ project, which Robinson and Wallström are spearheading along with former Norwegian prime minister and UN special envoy on climate change, Gro Harlem Brundtland, was created to give the general public, industry, politicians and NGOs a say in the UN climate negotiations.

The Poznán summit in Poland this December is due to lay down the formal agenda for the whole process, but the decisive summit will be held in Copenhagen next year.

Robinson, Wallström and Brundtland were joined at the press conference by the Icelandic singer Björk, who has started her own climate campaign to find eco-friendly options for Iceland’s rich natural resources.


Unless postponed until the change in US Administration, Poznan will end up in a ditch and better to postpone it then let it derail the following Copenhagen meeting.

The Road to Copenhagen is a very bright idea if there is a productive Poznan meeting – otherwise Copenhagen will turn naturally into Poznan II and not into a Kyoto II as the UN professionals hope, or a Copenhagen I as an agreement between the US, China, India, Brazil would entail. Poznan is thus a make or brake event on the road to Copenhagen, and a US represented by Paula Dobriansky will just push the rest of those present into the ditch.

Barak Obama cannot speak up before January 20, and obviously cannot have his negotiator vetted by US Congress before he takes over as US President. He said clearly that he works under the rules of the US Constitution that says there is only one President at a given time. Pushing for keeping the Poznan date under these conditions is rather like saying that it is imperative for those opposing the notion that the world must be kept addicted to petroleum and other fossil carbons in their self-interest must have the day.

Barak Obama could appoint his Climate Change negotiator on January 20, 2009, right there at his inaugural speech, and Congress could approve his selection, the speediest, within a month – so, a Poznan meeting in March 2009 is the earliest it makes sense to hold this meeting if you are positively inclined to do something about climate change. We keep saying so for over a year, this even before we had an inkling of who might be next US President. We kept pouring cold water on the UN euphoria with their debate time-line. We are afraid that UN talk is very expensive – it allows people to fly around freely but is not intended to come up with results. Statements by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on how much he wants to see results from the climate change negotiations, and rosy pronunciations from the Executive of the UNFCCC, Yvo de Boer, cannot change the reality that in the end – it is the US President that holds the keys for a positive outcome of the Climate Change negotiations. It is in the promise of the US and the response from the Brazil, China, India, that an effective plan will be born.


See please also:

The Columbia University World Leaders Forum, September 26, 2008, Became The Podium For Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark To Make Known A Roadmap To The December 2009 Climate Change Meeting in Copenhagen. The Prime Minister Is Keenly Interested That The Copenhagen Event Becomes The Turnaround Point From Our Present Descent Towards Global Environmental Disaster, and He Negotiated This Week A Roadmap With The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and The Two Candidates For The US Presidency. We Wished Him All The Luck He Needs; Nevertheless We Expressed Some Skepticism.

Posted on on September 27th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz ( PJ at



Posted on on November 8th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

World News Desk – November 6, 2008,…
World Reacts to Historic Presidential Win: Celebrations erupted across the world as American citizens elected Barack Obama to be the 44th president of th   United States.

U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) comes out to greet the crowd, along with his wife, Michelle, and children Malia, 10, and Sasha 7, at his Election Night Rally in Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois, Nov. 4, 2008.
Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT

Newspaper headlines from Azerbaijan to Argentina speculated about what kind of changes a presidency under Mr. Obama would bring to the world, who has been viewed as a global denizen and force of international unification.

Chandra Bhan Prasad, a prominent Indian author: “This is America’s second revolution, and Obama’s victory will boost the esteem of the underprivileged social classes and ethnic groups the world over” (Washington Post).

Samir Saadi, a Saudi journalist: “Given Obama’s name, his background, the doubts about his religion, Americans still voted for him and this proved that America is a democracy,’ he said. ‘People here are starting to believe in the U.S. again'” (ibid.).

Viktor Yerofeyev, Russian novelist: “The choice of an African American president in the United States overturns the whole idea of the stiff and conservative America. This means that America did wake up. This means that America is again open for free and democratic values. America has once again become a good model to emulate. It has again become a great country” (ibid.).

Kenya, the nation from where Mr. Obama’s late father was born, even declared a national holiday to celebrate the U.S. senator’s victory to the “most powerful office on earth” (Daily Nation).

Many world leaders were equally optimistic.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd: “Senator Obama’s message of hope is not just for America’s future, it is also a message of hope for the world as well” (Washington Post).

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen: “Barack Obama’s remarkable personal story—allied to his eloquence and his huge political talents—sends a powerful message of hope to America’s friends across the world” (ibid.).

Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission President: “I sincerely hope that with the leadership of President Obama, the United States of America will join forces with Europe to drive this new deal. For the benefit of our societies, for the benefit of the world” (Jerusalem Post).

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev: “Russian-U.S. relations are historically an important factor of stability in the world. They are of great and sometimes, of key importance for resolving many pressing international and regional problems…We are confident that it is necessary to step-by-step enhance cooperation between our countries on a wide range of issues on the world agenda, but also to really promote bilateral interaction in all areas” (Itar-Tass).

French President Nicolas Sarkozy: “By choosing you, the American people have chosen change, openness and optimism…At a time when all of us must face huge challenges together, your election raises great hope in France, in Europe and elsewhere in the world” (AFP).

Kenyan Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka: “It is exciting for Kenya not only because of continental attachment to President-elect because of his roots in Kenya but because Obama victory is a harbinger of good tidings especially for our tourism sector” (Daily Nation).

Chinese President Hu Jintao: “The Chinese government and I myself have always attached great importance to China-US relations. In the new historic era, I look forward to working together with you to continuously strengthen dialogue and exchanges between our two countries and enhance our mutual trust and cooperation on the basis of the three Sino-US Joint Communiques, with a view to taking our constructive and cooperative relationship to a new high and bringing greater benefits to people of our two countries and the rest of the world” (China Daily).

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez: “The historical election of an Afro-descendant to rule the most powerful nation of the world is a symptom that the epoch change that has been gestated from the South of America could be knocking the doors of United States” (Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias).

BBC News also outlined the “Top 10 foreign challenges for Obama,” alluding that there could be “problems in new areas of al-Qaeda activity, especially Algeria and Somalia” when he takes office.

Although most government officials were excited about the historic win, several tried to be realistic.

The Jerusalem Post: “‘We are not the first priority,’ one senior diplomatic official said, reflecting the consensus thinking in the Foreign Ministry. According to this thinking, the new president will first need to tackle the economy, the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, the tension with Russia and a worsening situation for the U.S. in South America—the U.S.’s ‘own backyard’—before tackling the Middle East conflict.'”

Der Spiegel also featured a series of commentaries from various European leaders about what they want to see under the new president-elect.

Margot Wallström of Sweden, the vice-president of the European Commission: “The U.S. has been particularly successful in creating growth and jobs, and maintaining competitiveness through technological innovation rather than low labor costs. The EU on the other hand has brought forward an ambitious climate change package and works hard to promote social justice. As we have seen in Scandinavia—where the concept of the flexicurity seems to have been born—it is possible to combine economic growth with social justice…I believe the era of U.S. unilateralism is over, and that partnership with Europe has become a central plank of U.S. foreign policy.”

Democrats in the United States were equally elated about Mr. Obama’s win.


Posted on on October 23rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

REEEP announces Call for Proposals for EUR 4.3 million in grant funding.
Vienna, 23.10.2008
The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) today announced a call for project proposals which support the development of markets for renewable energy and energy efficiency. The project call is REEEP’s largest in its five year history with more than 4.3 million Euro available for projects in least developed countries and emerging market economies.

The programme cycle received funding from a consortium comprised of Australia, Ireland, Italy, Norway and the United Kingdom.

Australia, with its significant contribution will help intensify REEEP’s efforts in small island states in the Pacific.

The United Kingdom and Norway will continue their focus on emerging economies and Ireland and Italy will continue their focus on Africa.

The REEEP call is an open tender seeking projects from priority countries – Brazil, China, India and South Africa and from across the developing world.

REEEP will build on its experience gained over the last five years with a bottom-up approach to defining priorities and selecting projects.

REEEP is intensifying its efforts to directly engage governments and financial institutions in its programme. REEEP is inviting countries with specific policy, legislative or regulatory needs or development finance institutions with need for financing structures and business models to develop projects directly with REEEP. It is hoped that by assisting governments with lowering risk within the renewables and energy efficiency sector and by working with development agencies to encourage business and finance models, finance can be attracted into new markets.

To increase operational efficiency and to increase transparency and openness, all proposals will be submitted for evaluation via REEEP’s new on-line Programme Management Information System (PMIS).

Dr. Marianne Osterkorn, REEEP International Director stated that the partnership can now add value across a number of areas. “We are grateful to all REEEP donors – UK, Norway, Ireland and Italy and we welcome the new donor Australia to the REEEP programme. We look forward to working with Australia to support the Pacific Islands to develop local energy sources and helping their quest for energy security. We also look forward to intensifying our engagement with governments and development financial institutions to increase the chances of investments in sustainable energy infrastructure “.
REEEP previously disbursed € 3.2 million euro in 2007,   € 2.2 million in 2006 and € 1.1 million in 2005.

Agata Gago
Media Relations
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP)
International Secretariat
Wagramerstrasse 5
1400 Vienna, Austria
Tel: +48 503 180 791


Posted on on October 4th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

 EUOBSERVER / WEEKLY AGENDA (5 – 12 October) – This week will start with a meeting of the EU’s economy and finance ministers (ECOFIN) in Luxembourg on the need for a European response to the international financial crisis, just a day after the bloc’s four biggest states – Germany, France, Britain and Italy – hold emergency talks on the subject in Paris.

The ECOFIN meeting on Tuesday (7 October) is expected to highlight the need for co-operation and cohesion among EU states on the issue, as well as the necessity of constructing a “structural response” to the crisis, rather than taking ad hoc actions.

The ministers will also underline the need to respect the so-called Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) – the rules underpinning the euro, following comments coming from some EU capitals that tackling the crisis should take priority over keeping budget deficits in line with EU rules.

“[The SGP rules] are temporarily not the priority of priorities. The priority is to save the global banking system and the savings of citizens. There is no other choice,” Henri Guaino, a close adviser of French President Nicolas Sarkozy told French television channel Canal Plus on Thursday.

The meeting – which will be preceded on Monday by a meeting of the economy and finance ministers from EU countries using the euro – will also assess the impact of the crisis on banks and insurance companies, as well as on small and medium-sized enterprises.


France believes EU-level measures may have to be cobbled together to aid banks in smaller member states, while denying rumours of a €300 billion package. But Germany has indicated it would not support any European “big-bang” deal.

“What happens if a smaller EU state is hit by a looming bank collapse? Maybe this country does not have the means to save the bank,” French finance minister Christine Lagarde told the Handelsblatt in an interview published on Thursday (2 October). “Therefore the question of a European safety net solution comes up.”

The safety package may be presented by French President Nicholas Sarkozy at a 4 October meeting between himself, the prime ministers of Germany, Italy and the UK, as well as Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker and European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet.

Reports have it that the Netherlands is the source of the €300 billion proposal. The country quickly denied this was the case.

But any suggestion of a European version of US treasury secretary Henry Paulson’s $700 billion bail-out plan for Wall Street is being stiffly resisted by Berlin. In an interview with German daily Bild, Chancellor Angela Merkel said she opposed writing “blank cheques” for banks.

“The idea of applying one solution, one big bang … is not practicable and would create new, enormous problems,” German finance ministry spokesperson Torsten Albig told reporters yesterday in Berlin. “Germany does not think much of such a plan,” he said, according to AFP.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso on Thursday welcomed the approval of the package by the American Senate, which had enabled another attempt to hammer out the bill in the House of Representatives and described it as “a good step forward in the right direction.”

But after receiving negative signals from both Berlin and London on the idea of a similar emergency fund worth €300 billion for Europe’s banking sector, French president Nicolas Sarkozy distanced himself from the proposal.

A day later Sarkozy said: “I deny the sum and the principle,” according to media reports. And from Christine Lagarde’s office:   “there was an exchange of ideas but no French proposals. There was no French plan,” AFP says.

Asked by journalists about a possible EU version of the US banking rescue scheme on Thursday, the European Central Bank (ECB) president Jean-Claude Trichet – also to attend the Paris mini-summit together with commission chief Barroso – openly said it would not work for Europe. “We do not have a federal budget, so the idea that we could do the same as what is done on the other side of the Atlantic doesn’t fit with the political structure of Europe.”

Britain has suggested that solutions to the financial crisis need to be primarily sought by national authorities. “It is right that individual countries would want to take their own decisions, particularly when national taxpayers’ money is potentially at risk,” said spokesman of Gordon Brown, UK’s prime minister: “The purpose of the [Paris] meeting will be to discuss how each of the four major economies in Europe are responding to the global financial crisis,” he added, according to the BBC.

The Irish parliament on Thursday passed a bill fully guaranteeing all bank deposits, which has sparked a controversy in other European capitals about unfair advantage for Irish banks over foreign competitors.

British media reported a rising interest among Brits to switch from the UK’s to Ireland’s banks in a bid to secure their savings in a rising atmosphere of insecurity. Minister Lagarde said in a BBC live interview that better European co-ordination could prevent such cases, arguing that “a measure decided in one [EU] member state has to be shared in advance with other member states.”

EU competition spokesman Jonathan Todd said his department still hadn’t received any formal explanation from Ireland about how its bank insurance programme would work, meaning it was still uncertain whether or not the EU will even clear the Irish move as legal.

The Guardian says that Greece has followed Ireland in offering a guarantee on deposits in all banks operating in the country, after it says savers were getting restless. The paper goes on to say that it puts EU leaders in a difficult position ahead of an emergency summit in Paris on Saturday to find a common response to the crisis.

Meanwhile, Deutsche Welle says that on Thursday the European commission gave the go-ahead to Germany for a €35bn deal to bail out mortgage lender Hypo Real Estate.

And El País says that the EU is struggling to come up with a common response to the financial crisis, with individual member states taking unilateral action to save their own banks: the UK (Bradford and Bingley and Northern Rock), France and Belgium (Dexia), and Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (Fortis).

France and Germany at odds over EU ‘Paulson Plan’ – 02.10.2008

France believes EU-level measures may have to be cobbled together to aid
banks in smaller member states, while denying rumours of a €300 billion
package. But Germany has indicated it would not support any European
“big-bang” deal.

EU big four gather for financial crisis talks – 03.10.2008

The leaders of the EU’s four biggest states – Germany, France, Britain and
Italy – are gathering for emergency talks on the financial crisis in Paris
on Saturday, one day after US lawmakers are expected to vote on an amended
bail-out plan. But France says there will be no US-type rescue package for
the EU.


Posted on on October 1st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

The plenitude of materials that show how much this calamity, started in the US, affects now Europe and the rest of the world, boils down to serious criticism of America Administration’s views on the essence of government.
And further – the proposed bail-out program did not make sense anywhere – but save-your-souls programs are very seriously needed – that is said by everybody.

What the Bush/Paulson effort was all about is the clear concept that the White House Knows Best – so the present White House will create a situation that binds the hands of the next Administration also. Just give away 1.5 trillion dollars to the cronies that managed a deregulated economy for their own benefit, and they will continue this mirage of government for their own benefit in the future as well – there will be no abrupt change amounting to   no upheaval – and as long as they will stay happy – so will the rest of the people have to stay quiet. The government is not there to help the people, but to help the system from needed change. in the end the tax-payer will be left to hold the bag while the former insider helps the present insider manage the huge puddle he left behind.

Europe is different. All of Europe seems to believe in much more government then the White House in Washington DC. Europe ranges from the Russian closing of the Stock Exchange so no impulsive reaction is possible, to plain Nationalization of Banks in Ireland – a great move that reassures the people and the businesses and removes the bankers – like one removes cancer. This latter treatment looked too radical to the folks in Brussels – but they also can do little more then say – each government is on its own – but we will all together back France and Germany in their call to view the crisis for what it is – the end of US hegemony on world economy and the establishment of a super structure that will share the responsibility that the US Superpower said it had for the world.

The best suggestions deal thus with the need of a global bail-out rather then again a US inside – job. Further, money is not dished out to the “IS” but governments take equity stakes in the fallen giants – this translating to the right to clean the houses from their rotten managers – as the saying goes – “the fish stinks from his head.”   With government ownership, comes now government responsibility that might indeed call for changes in accounting rules and in taxation laws – all so there is a new stimulus that moves the economy from the dead points it is stuck now.

Above all, the US cannot be allowed to get itself in a state of continuous disrepair with projected shadows to its business partners overseas. They want part of the action here because it is their money that is invested here.

























Posted on on September 30th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Scotland to build world’s first ‘wind farms under the sea.’…

By Jenny Haworth, Environment Correspondent, The New Scotsman, September 29, 2oo8.

SCOTLAND has taken a major step towards leading the way in marine renewable energy with the announcement that the world’s first tidal farms could be built within three years.

Two tidal projects, each with up to 20 turbines, could be installed on the seabed in the Pentland Firth and the Sound of Islay. A third is planned off the North Antrim coast in Northern Ireland. The aim is that all the underwater turbines would be constructed in Scotland, kickstarting the renewables industry in this country.

ScottishPower Renewables will apply for planning permission for the three tidal projects next summer. If permission is granted, they would be the first commercial underwater tidal turbine farms built anywhere in the world.

The structures stand 30 metres tall and can work as deep as 100 metres. The 20-metre blades would turn at least 10 metres below the surface to avoid shipping, developers said, and the zones would be off-limits to trawlers for safety reasons.

ScottishPower said tests in Norway proved the blades moved slowly enough for marine life to avoid them.

Scotland, which aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, has the best tidal resources in Europe and it has been calculated that at least a third of Scotland’s energy demand could be met by tidal renewables.

The tidal farm sites would have a combined output of 60 megawatts, enough to power 40,000 homes in Scotland and Northern Ireland. If planning approval is granted, ScottishPower Renewables says the projects could be operational by 2011.

The company is also hoping to build a factory in the north-east of Scotland where all the turbines will be constructed, and the projects would be expected to bring hundreds of jobs.

Keith Anderson, the director of ScottishPower Renewables, said this was Scotland’s chance to become the global leader in a new renewable energy industry.

He said Scotland has the best tidal resources in Europe, with the Pentland Firth alone containing enough energy to meet a third of Scotland’s power requirements. “The rapid technological advance of tidal power has been startling and is now allowing us to progress plans for substantial projects delivering major environmental and economic benefits,” he said.

“Tidal power is completely renewable, being driven by the gravity of the sun and moon, with no carbon dioxide emissions, plus the added benefit of being entirely predictable.”

First Minister Alex Salmond, who will visit Caithness, near the potential site of the tidal farms, described the announcement as “significant”. He said: “We have an estimated 25 per cent of Europe’s tidal resource and 10 per cent of its wave potential. That is why this announcement is so significant.”

Before it can be deployed, a £6 million prototype will have to be tested for about a year in Scottish waters, probably off Orkney.

Engineers rising to the challenge of harnessing tidal power:

THE tidal farms will use a machine known as the Lànstrøm device, which was invented in Norway and has already gone through four years of successful testing.

Even though the devices seem likely to be the first to be used in a large-scale commercial tidal farm, many other machines are in development in what is set to become a very competitive market.

Marine Current Turbines, based in Bristol, installed a 300kw tidal turbine called Seaflow off Lynmouth, Devon, in 2003.

It’s a two-bladed rotor connected to an electrical generator mounted on a single steel tower drilled into the seabed.

Irish firm OpenHydro Group has developed the Open-Centre Turbine, which has a single rotor. A single prototype turbine was installed at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney in 2006. In May 2008 it became the first tidal device to export power on to the UK grid.

The Engineering Business, based in Newcastle, is developing the Stingray tidal generator, which uses the flow of the tide over a hydroplane, similar to an aeroplane wing, to generate electricity. In 2002 the 180-tonne, 150kw machine was tested in the Yell Sound, Shetland.

SMD Hydrovision, based in Tyne and Wear, has developed the TidEL concept, which consists of a pair of contra-rotating 500kw turbines, mounted together on a single crossbeam.

The unit is buoyant and tethered to the seabed, allowing it freedom of movement. The turbines can automatically align themselves downstream of the tidal flow as it changes during the day.



40 – Turbines that could be built in Scottish waters by 2011.

40,000 – Homes that could be powered by the three turbine farms.

80 – The percentage of the UK’s potential tidal power in Scottish waters.


Posted on on September 30th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

From The European Parliament – September 30, 2008:   Europe props up crumbling banks.

European governments were forced to rescue a number of financial institutions hit by the US-born crisis, sending stock markets plummeting, reports Deutsche Welle.

Washington’s rejection of a 700 billion dollar bailout caused world markets to plummet, it says.

Only a few weeks ago, banks in the eurozone financial sector were said to be safe from the US-born financial crisis, but now, as the global financial situation gradually worsens, five European governments have had to step in to prop up financial institutions, the paper goes on.

France is to inject €1bn into ailing Franco-Belgian bank, Dexia, which will receive €6.4bn in total, with the rest made up from donations from Belgium and Luxembourg, according to Le Figaro.

In Ireland, meanwhile, the government has placed a two-year guarantee on all deposits and certain debts in six major Irish banks, says the Irish Times, in a move it says is to “safeguard the Irish financial system”.


Europe scrambles to save banking system: Banking stocks took a major hit across Europe after news the US bailout had failed.

LEIGH PHILLIPS, The EUobserver, September 30, 2008.

European authorities in Brussels, Frankfurt and at EU member state level are scrambling to save the continent’s financial system after bank stocks plunged when US lawmakers rejected a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street on Monday (29 September).

Banks are petrified of lending to one another for more than one day, requiring central banks to flood their coffers with the money they need to stay in business.

After yesterday’s part-nationalisation of Belgo-Dutch banking giant Fortis and the nationalisation of the UK’s Bradford & Bingley, Belgium-based Dexia, the biggest provider of lending to local governments in the world, could be the next financial institution to be rescued by taxpayers.

In an email from Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme, the country’s federal government reached an agreement with Belgium’s regional assemblies to jointly support the bank, Bloomberg News reported.

Even French President Nicolas Sarkozy has joined the rescue operation, despite the bank being headquartered in Belgium, issuing directions that the state investment body Caisse Des Depots offer Dexia funds.


Elsewhere, the German government backed by a series of private banks bailed out collapsing mortgage lender Hypo Real Estate reportedly to the tune of €35 billion, according to the German Ministry of Finance.

The list of nationalisations is rapidly growing, with Iceland – not an EU member state – also nationalising the country’s third largest bank, Glitner. The government has taken out a 75 percent stake in the firm in return for €600 million.

The Icelandic bailout is a larger per capita rescue operation than even the failed US $700 billion plan, representing some €2,000 for every Icelander. Following the move, the Icelandic Krona dropped to its lowest level ever against the euro.


Russia’s Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, has rushed to the forefront in the crisis, announcing authorities will offer domestic banks a fresh $50 billion atop the $120 billion already supplied.


In perhaps the most frightening development, banks have deposited some €28 billion with the European Central Bank, afraid of leaving it stashed anywhere else, according to reports in the UK’s Daily Telegraph, quoting Hans Redeker, currency chief at France’s BNP Paribas.

“The ECB is no longer able to inject liquidity because the money is just coming back to them again,” the British paper quotes the banker as saying.


Bank stocks plunge:

Meanwhile, European bank stocks dropped through the floor on Monday, with Germany’s Aareal and Commerzbank particularly badly knocked down, taking a 42 percent and 22 percent hit to share prices. Ireland’s Anglo-Irish Bank was down 46 percent and Allied Irish down 16 percent.

Italy’s Unicredit, Sweden’s Swedbank and France’s Natixis all took a bruising as well, while a host of smaller banks in Denmark are set to collapse, according to the Financial Times. Spanish operations too are struggling.

On Monday, the European Banking Federation tried to reassure citizens that the financial sector was on a sound footing despite the crisis, and that depositors’ savings were not at risk.

“The global economy is facing an unprecedented crisis which is generating a certain degree of anguish due to the financial failure of some major banks,” the EBF said in a press statement.

“The European banking system will weather the storm,” the statement read, adding: “In EU countries retail deposits are insured.”


EU timetable:

French President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet bank and insurance company directors on Tuesday to assess the financial sector’s situation in his country, his office announced.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also said that a “structural European response” was currently being prepared for the summit of European leaders in two weeks’ time.

Additionally, on Wednesday, EU internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy is to unveil a tripartite reform of European banks’ capital requirements.


Russia has a monetary surplus – will this now become its entree card to a tighter relationship with the EU?

Is this the beginning of a realignment that will see a Europe-Russia new economic bloc and a US-China economy tie-up?


Posted on on July 29th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Biofuels targets too much too soon for Ireland, writes   LEIGH PHILLIPS for EUobserver. Electric cars are slowing winning favour in the council.     28.07.2008
Gently squeezing the brakes on biofuels policy is the growing consensus amongst European diplomats regarding the controversial energy source, with Ireland the latest member state to pull back from short-term targets on its use in transport fuel.

While not wanting to abandon the mid-term goal of 10 percent use of biofuels by 2020, the Irish energy minister is now pushing for an abandonment of the already agreed EU biofuels target of 5.75 percent of what fills the tanks of cars and lorries by 2010.

In an interview with the Irish Times, energy minister Eamon Ryan said that his government has dropped the earlier target in the wake of a slew of reports released in the last six months that have shown strong links between EU and US biofuels policies and increased greenhouse gas emissions and skyrocketing food prices.

“There’s been an avalanche of these reports, but it was the [UK Renewable Fuel Agency’s] Gallagher Report that in particular had an impact on our thinking,” an Irish official told the EUobserver.

“[Minister Ryan] still believes in the 2020 target, and that should still be the main goal – it doesn’t make sense to tear that apart, but as far as the 2010 interim target, it’s too much too soon.

“The minister thinks it’s overly ambitions and that we need to slow down.”

Earlier this month, the UK Renewable Fuels Agency issued a report recognising the negative impact of biofuels on greenhouse gas emissions and food prices as a result of indirect land-use changes, arguing for an avoidance of the use of productive agricultural land in favour of idle or marginal land, and an emphasis on so-called second-generation biofuels – such as the use of agricultural residues, algae, forest waste or timber industry left-overs – which do not compete with food production.

Two-stage approach:

The Gallagher report has convinced Ireland that biofuels do indeed have an indirect result on land-use changes that result in increased greenhouse gas emissions. Such changes occur when the agricultural land used to grow biofuel crops displaces land otherwise used to grow food or feed. Those crops still need to be grown, resulting in grasslands, forests or peat bogs mowed up or even burnt to open up land for the displaced food or feed crops.

“The minister is a big supporter of including indirect land-use change [considerations] in the development of sustainability criteria for biofuels,” said the official.

The report did not however argue for a wholesale abandonment of biofuels or even the dropping of the EU’s 2020 target, but rather to apply the brakes on their development until sustainability can be assured.

The UK government immediately embraced the report’s findings and is pushing for an evolution of the EU biofuels strategies in line with its conclusions.

Member states are essentially now agreed that there be a two-stage approach to biofuels for transport.

First, any biofuels used must deliver a 35 percent savings in greenhouse gas emissions on what would be emitted by fossil fuels.

Secondly, following an interim review of the effects of biofuels conducted by the European Commission, there would be a move to a demand that biofuels deliver a 50 percent savings on fossil fuels, so long as the commission review found such a move appropriate.

There is however division over the date of the move from the first to the second step, with some eastern member states feeling that 2015, mooted by other member states, as too early. A compromise date of 2018 for the switch from 35 percent to 50 is “very likely” said the Irish official.

Electric cars on their way:

“We’re very happy with the way the discussion is moving in the council,” the official said.

“We’ll also see more of an emphasis on the development of electric cars, perhaps with some sort of credit for their use,” added the official, underscoring that the 2020 is for ten percent of transport fuel to come from renewable energy sources, which does not necessarily mean biofuels.

Denmark has put a proposal before the council to give a triple bonus to all electric cars within the 10 percent renewable energy for transport target, a proposal which has been well received.

On Sunday at the British International Motor Show, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown promised €114 million ( £90 million) in government money to make Britain “the European capital for electric cars”.

The moves in the council are still more conservative on the issue than where the discussion is at in the European Parliament.

“There is a good mood to strengthen the sustainability criteria within the parliament, from members of all parties, [to achieve a greenhouse gas savings of] between 45 percent and 50 percent immediately,” Luxemburg Green MEP Claude Turmes told the EUobserver.

The deputy, who is in charge of shepherding the directive on the use of energy from renewable sources through the parliament added that MEPs in the environment committee support an increase to 60 percent savings on their fossil-fuel equivalents in a second stage beginning in 2015, not 2018.

“Why should we be less ambitious if almost all the biofuel industry already is claiming that they can achieve a 50 percent or greater savings today?” he asked.

Mr Turmes also welcomed the moves towards electric cars, noting that the use of biomass to produce electricity to run a car is three to five times more efficient that turning biomass directly into a fuel for a car.

However, he warned: “But we must make sure that this is electricity from genuinely
renewable sources, not coal-based or nuclear energy.”


We, at are flabbergasted – this was said to me by Mr. Herman Kahn, the genius of the Hudson Institute, already 35 years ago. I was talking to him of ethanol from corn and he said – why not burn the whole plant and go for the maximum energy output?  


Posted on on July 21st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Barroso calls for more concessions from developing economies ahead of WTO talks.
LEIGH PHILLIPS, July 21, 2008, EUobserver.

All eyes are on Geneva on Monday (21 July) as world trade talks open in a last-ditch attempt at reaching a global agreement some seven years after discussions were launched.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, in a statement released on Sunday night as trade ministers from 30 nations met for dinner in the Swiss city ahead of the negotiations, called the talks the “last great opportunity” for a deal, and called on the third world to make greater concessions.

“For those negotiations to succeed, the other developed countries and the emerging economies in the WTO also have to make a major contribution,” he said.

“Europe cannot be the sole banker of this deal,” he added. “Moreover, Doha is not just about agriculture — we also need to make progress on industrial tariffs, and in other areas of the negotiations such as services and geographical indications.”

The EU feels that the meeting is the last chance to clinch a deal on a basic framework for a final agreement in the Doha Round of WTO world trade talks ahead of the November US presidential and congressional elections. The positions of the incoming president and members of congress are expected to be much more protectionist than has been the case for decades, making a deal after the end of the year unlikely.

An agreement has been blocked for years since negotiations opened in 2001 in Doha, Qatar. The main sticking points have been wealthy countries’ demands that developing countries reduce duties on imports and open their markets to more manufactured goods.

In return, poorer countries want the EU and US to reduce subsidies for agricultural products, something that Northern countries have been loath to do.

Within the EU, key players are themselves divided over the level of reductions in financial support for the agricultural sector.

Trade commissioner Peter Mandelson and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have been in an ongoing scrap in recent weeks, with Mr Sarkozy going so far as to blame the commissioner’s position on WTO talks for the defeat of the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland’s 12 June referendum.

Paris believes too many concessions have been made already, without sufficient commitments from the developing world on access to their markets for European industrial goods.

Although Ireland has not been as blunt as Mr Sarkozy, the country’s prime minister, Brian Cowen promised farmers that he would veto any deal that harmed their interests – a commitment made in what proved to be an unsuccessful attempt to win Ireland’s rural areas to the Yes side in the referendum.

Development NGOs for their part warn that the talks are stacked in favour of the wealthier nations, saying that what is currently up for discussion will exacerbate ongoing problems with food prices and worsen levels of poverty in the third world.

“Forcing open the markets of [developing] countries still further will deepen the [food] crisis by handing greater control to multinational corporations, which put their own profits before people’s needs,” said John Hilary, the executive director of War on Want, a UK development charity.

“Developing countries are still being pressed to open up their markets, despite the risks involved, while rich countries fail to address their own farm subsidies,” he added.

“If the deal on the table goes through, millions of the world’s most vulnerable people stand to lose their jobs and fall into poverty,” he said, calling on ministers to abandon the talks.

{US corporations increasingly take regulatory lead from Brussels, not Washington
American investigative reporter Mark Schapiro in his book – Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What’s…}


Posted on on July 1st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, prime minister, François Fillon, and members of the French government will meet up with the European commission college in Paris for a working lunch to discuss the country’s agenda for the next six months.

Later, following a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso will have a private meeting with Sarkozy, before attending a dinner party in honour of the European commission at the Elysée Palace.

Parliament president Hans-Gert Pöttering will also attend the opening ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe alongside Sarkozy, Barroso and outgoing EU president, Slovenian prime minister Janez Janša.

From Press Review: Sarkozy pledges to restore trust in EU.
President Nicolas Sarkozy of France seized the reins of the EU last night, pledging to turn the EU’s crisis of confidence into an opportunity to make the unloved union more popular with almost half a billion Europeans, reports the Guardian.

The paper says that French president Nicolas Sarkozy painted himself as the guardian of Europe in a television appearance on the eve of taking over the presidency, quoting him as saying, “We must not be afraid of the word protection. We have to reflect on how to turn Europe into a means of protecting Europeans in their everyday lives.”

According to the paper, France’s presidency priorities include combating climate change, cushioning consumers against soaring food and fuel prices and taking action against illegal immigration.

However, Le Monde says that Sarkozy’s efforts to set himself up as the protector of the EU almost fell flat in the TV appearance on French channel France 3, as he struggled to offer solutions to complex European problems.

Les Echos quotes Sarkozy defending Europe’s role to French citizens, saying that the EU can play a part as a barrier against the effects of globalisation. “This will not work,” he said. “Europe is worried. Citizens are asking themselves if they’re not better off solving their problems at national level.”

The Times takes the same slant, reporting on how Sarkozy wants to restore faith in the EU after the Irish rejection of the Lisbon treaty. He will travel to Dublin in a few days to meet with Irish prime minister Brian Cowen to discuss the fallout.

But Deutsche Welle reports on comments from a London-based expert on Sarkozy’s upcoming visit to the Irish capital. It says that because of the French president’s unpredictability, the trip could well set Europe back rather than take it forward.

Meanwhile, the FT says that France wants to add a military dimension to European space policy to counter threats from terrorism and conventional military power. French ambitions range from setting up an EU spy satellite system to joining a manned US mission to Mars, adds the paper.


Posted on on June 24th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (


Recycling is crucial first step in reducing emissions, says former London mayor Ken Livingston in a visit to an EU Parliament Committee in Brusells: An economic perspective on climate change can convince people to reduce their carbon footprint, the former mayor of London has said.

Ken Livingstone said that highlighting the benefits of saving money by reusing and recycling was an important first step in winning popular support for climate change policies.

“We need to get across to people that almost everything we do can save money,” he told “Basically, it’s all about being more careful and not wasting things.”

Livingstone said that there was a lot to learn from attitudes that prevailed half a century ago. “If you look at my parents’ generation, this approach was their whole ethos,” he said.

Livingstone was in Brussels to speak at the eighth thematic session of parliament’s temporary committee on climate change, on sharing examples of best practice to achieve significant CO2 emissions reductions in the short term.

As mayor of London, Livingstone established the C40 initiative, a collective agreement between 18 cities to take action towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, begun in October 2005.

The project was given a boost in August 2006 following a joint partnership between the C40 and the Clinton climate initiative, a business-focused project founded by former US president Bill Clinton.

One initiative under the scheme, the congestion charge in London, has reduced CO2 emissions in the city by 16 per cent.

New York has implemented diesel-electric hybrid buses, and the city authorities in Berlin have developed a project aiming to achieve a 26 per cent reduction (on average) of CO2 emissions for buildings that undergo retrofit tenders.

Livingstone said that getting cities on board was vital to support and encourage the innovative technology aimed at tackling global warming.

“The technology already exists; the next generation of energy efficient tools are already here. What they need is large cities to come and give them the support they need,” he said.

Irish GUE/NGL deputy Bairbre de Brún added that it was important to learn from those cities which had adopted energy-saving policies. “Initiatives taken at the local level can have an impact on national policy,” she said. “Foresight, imagination and political will are what is needed.”


Posted on on June 20th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Deutsche Welle says Ireland has dashed hopes of a quick fix to the uncertainty caused by the Lisbon treaty rejection, after Irish foreign minister Micheál Martin said that he didn’t think there would be any solution on the table by October.

Meanwhile, at a summit of EU leaders that kicked off last night, French president Nicolas Sarkozy accused the EU’s trade chief of causing the Irish rejection of the Lisbon treaty, says the Telegraph.

Sarkozy said Peter Mandelson’s policies had alarmed Irish farmers and contributed to the no vote.

The Belfast Telegraph says that Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen is due to have more talks with his EU counterparts today as the summit continues, after EU countries agreed to give the Irish until October to come up with a solution to the impasse.

Meanwhile, the Irish Times reports that Sarkozy may visit Ireland in July to hear the Irish perspective on the no vote. France is keen to get the treaty ratified during their presidency of the EU, which is fast approaching.

And the Guardian says that Sarkozy has put pressure on the Irish to vote again on the treaty, and encouraged the other eight member states which have not ratified it yet to do so as swiftly as possible.

The Euobserver presents three different Commentaries on the subject:

[Comment A] A coalition of the willing has to bring Europe back on track – 19.06.2008 – 16:58
The time is up for mini-compromises and mini-solutions. We need a coalition of the willing to get Europe back on track, argues Christoph Leitl, President of SME Union and Honorary President of
[Comment B] The EU: reform or self destruct? – 19.06.2008 – 16:33
The better way out would be to accept the Irish No vote for what it was – a rational rejection of deeper EU integration – and to carry out the reformsthat were promised in the Laeken Declaration, writes Open Europe Director Neil O’Brien.

[Comment C] Democracy may be the price for securing a Lisbon agreement – 19.06.2008 – 09:51
The EU’s democratic deficit has killed the Lisbon Treaty, argues Peter Sain ley Berry. Nevertheless, a non-treaty ‘Lisbon
Arrangement’ might succeed if a real extension of European democracy was on the agenda.