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Results 1 - 10 of Headlines for European Union
European Union Headlines
Sunday, May 4th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
By Jim Angelus -- It is really interesting to follow opinions here in Europe on Iraq, as it was during Bosnia, Kossovo, and Afghanistan. Always the same sentiment: military action will be the start of WWIII; no one has ever defeated the Serbs or the Afghans or the former Ottoman provinces now called Iraq (read Germans, Russian, Brits); that the US is acting without proper authority; that there are naked economic interests at stake (chrome in Kossovo, uranium in Afghanistan, oil in Iraq, ect.). The usual percentage of people opposed to military action has been roughly 65-70% in each case in just about every country I've visited during these crises.
I've actually witnessed about a dozen of these anti-American episodes in my young life beginning in the mid-50's when we had to wade through thousands of "ban the bomb' folks in England where we lived for three years. Of course it didn't help that Dad's job there was to deliver a single nuke under the belly of his F-100 on a one-way mission into the Soviet Union. And it didn't deter us that so many people were opposed to American actions all over the globe to limit the spread of communism; we knew that the military was one of our best means to do so, alongside the glittering success of the free enterprise system (now called market economy) we were defending because of its causal link to political freedoms. No matter how enthralled the masses may have been with socialist utopia, we knew better. Bush is doing now what most US presidents have done in the past, used his best judgment based on the best intelligence available, to act despite negative world opinion. Yes, it rankles the students to hear such nonchalance and the argument that this planet is not safe with exotically armed fanatics, but they'll just have to sit back and watch the show. We're not giving an inch any more, the stakes are simply too high and we are blessed by the fact that our former Soviet adversary, now terribly weakened militarily-emotionally-economically, is becoming more and more our partner in the war against terror.
Poland was with us since the beginning of each of the last three 'events' if you count all the Yugoslav issues as one. This time they sent 200 special forces to Iraq, the highly-rated GROM units, to compliment the UK and Australian combat units. Other 'allies' (and even some not so willing partners) sent non-combat people into the theater but Poland was the only one to send their boys to the front. The first sitting president to visit the new US president after Vincente Fox from Mexico was Aleksander Kwasniewski, which was an official state visit unlike Fox's. Bush gave one of his best speeches ever in Warsaw almost two years ago when he invited Russia to join the family of free nations, with some of its former colonies like Poland to assist in the process. The majority of Polish people still oppose our armies in Iraq, but they are silent with the knowledge that they are finally a part of Euro-Atlantic structures after almost 60 years since they were swept into the East bloc while the US looked the other way. And perhaps a little reassured that at least they had time to think about it, when ol' Hungary was used as a forward airbase for the US during the Kossovo affair only two days after joining Nato.
What makes these Easterners more mad than anything is to be bossed around by their Western European buddies. Now that the ink has dried on the EU accession agreements, the comments made by Chirac that they "keep their mouths shut" has had a huge impact. Even Schroeder has had to limit his antiwar rhetoric, not only because the Coalition was so successful in the military campaign in Iraq, but because he knows the ramifications of French superiority complexes. We all have to thank God for Rumsfeld's remark about "new" versus "old" Europe, because that's exactly what it is and exactly how it's being played out here now ... because of his remarks! Yesterday's EU meeting in Athens showed a bowed Chirac following the newest members of the EU from the East who will not tolerate any French or German or French-German hegemony. This is the best news of all.Results Page:
Tuesday, February 18th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
With hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating all over the world, against war with Iraq, it is important to remember that the countries that spawn those demonstrators, are populated by millions of people, not hundreds of thousands.
The newspapers continue to splatter images of rock-solid opposition to war everywhere, but then it is the nature of opposition, to be visible. People who support the stand against Iraq are less likely to demonstrate, because they are internally content, or internally resolved as to what has to be done. It is the same in politics. People who support a government are not likely to march to show their support. They’ll stay quietly at home, and remain silently resolute, because as the saying goes, ‘if it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it.’ However, their satisfied or resolute silence, should not be taken as indecision or similar opposition. In this case, though, that seems to be exactly what is happening. Polls upon polls, newspapers upon newspapers, pundits upon pundits comment upon just how many people oppose a war in Iraq. It would be disingenuous to pretend to know whether or not, there is a silent majority that supports the military option against Iraq, but it is equally disingenuous to pretend that the hordes of demonstrators shouting leftist, pro-islamic, pro-Saddam and pro-pacifist slogans, represent the prevailing public opinion in the world. Clearly, there are countries like France where the U.S. is seen as more of an enemy, than the murderous regime in Iraq, but there is no evidence that the bulk of other national populations feed into the same skewered mentality. Part of the reason why the polls show such lack of support for a tough position against Iraq, is simply that those people who are strongly against the military option, feel strongly enough about it to go onto the streets and show their opposition, while those people who do not oppose the military option, do not support it STRONGLY enough to go out onto the streets and show their support, or lack of opposition. It’s a fine analogy, but an example of this abides within the realm of U.S. politics-specifically the issue of gun control. The gun control advocates within the U.S. probably outnumber those who feel very passionately about their gun rights, yet while the gun control advocates will usually not vote on this issue ALONE, the gun rights advocates, will do precisely that, and so even though they are not in a majority, their passion makes up for their smaller number.
That is precisely the case, as far as Iraq goes. There is clearly a divergence of opinion as far as what course of action to take, but those who have a hard-line opposition to any sort of war in the gulf, would probably constitute a distinct minority. However, they are also the noisiest, most self-centered, most aggressive, most visible and conspicuous group of advocates, and so their actual number is vastly over-estimated.
The silent majority understands that whether or not there is a war in Iraq, there will be terrorism in today’s world, because terrorists simply look for enemies to hate and attack. September 11 occurred before there was any major stand taken against Iraq, or any other potential rallying points. If there wasn’t the issue of Iraq, there would still be excuses for terrorism, because that is the nature of terrorism-hate, hate and more hate. And that hate translates into a tolerance for violence and murder, in the name of causes. Those who advocate tolerance and eternal patience for prevaricating butchers like Saddam, simply buy into the game of pacifying, which never works. There will ALWAYS be an excuse for terrorism, and it is not responsible to try to dictate foreign or military policy, based on fear of terrorism. You don’t capitulate to a menace, and concede more ground to it. You face up to it, confront it, and refuse to bow to it.
The demonstrators all around the world, insist that they are not pro-Saddam or Anti-American. They are simply anti-war, and anti-Bush. Aside, from the circularity of claiming not to be anti-America, but to be anti-the leader of America, their assertion is simply not backed up by the facts. There are effigies of George W. Bush AND the American flag, burning, not just in Arab countries, but in European countries, and the words coming from the rabble-rousers are tinged with virulent anti-American rhetoric, and a complete intolerance for any sort of American leadership, while also sporting a COMPLETE AND TOTAL disinterest in addressing the issues that led to the present military situation. The demonstrators are not bothered by Saddam’s butchery and malicious military record and intent, but they are totally outraged by anyone daring to stand up to the butcher of Baghdad. They are outraged by the thought of the Iraqis who will die in a war, but they are not outraged by those who are tortured to death daily by Saddam, or those who have been gassed and butchered by the dictator. They insist that the war is all about America obtaining Iraq oil, but fail to mention that Iraq got into this position because it invaded Kuwait in August 1990 to plunder it for its oil and money, and refused to withdraw after being continuously told to do so the United Nations. They are outraged by the Iraqis who have died from sanctions against Iraq, but make no mention of the fact that Saddam has been responsible for a large portion of those deaths, by sending hundreds of thousands of critical dollars to the families of suicide bombers, while Iraqis are starving to death. So it’s the same old story. It’s all America, the big bad America, pounding away at the innocent, sweet, harmless choir boy and choir regime in Iraq.
The only present thing that is positive, is the fact that while these extremists pour into the streets in their churlish frenzy of pacifism, those who know what Saddam is all about, continue to prepare for what has to be done. They know that leadership is not conducted by taking polls for popularity of your position. Leadership is conducted by making the hard decisions you were elected to make, not just in time of peace and prosperity, but ESPECIALLY in the times of fear and frenzy. Winston Churchill lost his job after his brilliant and successful efforts of the second world war. Likewise, although my suspicion is that the wild demonstrators are a lot less powerful at the ballot box, it is a possibility that a lot of politicians MIGHT lose their jobs, over the Iraq imbroglio. But whatever the case, their decisions and policies should be informed by sound, rational, pragmatic principles, and not by hordes of churlish extremists all over the streets of European capitals, making more noise than most people care to hear.
Thursday, February 6th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
The Convention on the Future of Europe, the forum charged with writing a common European constitution, unveiled the first 16 articles of its draft Feb. 6.
The drafters clearly are out of touch with contemporary political crosscurrents in present and future European Union members, and the document represents a fundamental French miscalculation in its attempts to manipulate the EU’s development. The result will be a defeat of the draft constitution’s more ambitious, federalist clauses and the effective end to Europe’s halting evolution in the federalist direction so far as political consolidation is concerned.
At the core of the debate is how centralized the EU should be. The EU’s key policy making body is the Council of Ministers. The other EU structures are either ceremonial, such as the rotating presidency; adjudicative, such as the European Court of Justice; implementary and advisory, such as the European Commission -- or pointless, such as the European Parliament.
Within the Council of Ministers sits the leaders of the Union’s 15 member states. Until recently, most issues could be blocked by a national veto from any member. Under this system, any forward motion in EU policy is both plodding and laborious: Any state could block almost any policy in which it disapproves. Even tiny Luxembourg proved capable of preventing tighter financial disclosure laws in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Treaty of Nice -- in force only since Feb. 1 -- loosened up that decision-making structure. While vetoes still exist on many issues, qualified majority voting, or QMV, now will handle most votes. Under QMV, any proposal must receive support from the 74 percent of votes available, representing at least 62 percent of the Union’s population. A country’s population roughly determines its voting weight, although smaller states receive proportionally more votes so the club’s larger members cannot ignore them.
While improved, the system clearly fails to make the EU function as a unified political entity. And since foreign, security and tax policy remain the territory of national vetoes, it is impossible to forge ahead with meaningful integration plans. States that oppose a more unified EU -- including Austria, Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom -- can easily block any creeping federalization.
This is where the European constitution comes in. In theory, a common European constitution would lay out a new power structure and decision-making process to enable faster evolution and integration.
France has been particularly keen to develop such a constitution and has been pushing hard to accelerate the process. Paris is obsessed with "punching above its weight" in international affairs, and could do so with a more unified Union at its back. France also is particular about preserving its economic way of life. As a leading EU power, it has adjusted EU policy to its interests. A more federal Union with France at the top would entrench that economic security.
Perhaps most importantly, time is of the essence. The Union has committed to admitting 10 new members in June 2004. All of them have expressed varying levels of skepticism over plans for a more federal EU. If France wants to get the EU unified, it needs to do so in the next 16 months, otherwise the addition of 10 anti-federalist states will permanently shelf France’s federalist plans.
To achieve this end, France was a leading proponent of a common constitution and insisted that one of its own, former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, assume leadership of the convention that would write it.
From the looks of the initial draft, it is apparent that d’Estaing went a bit overboard.
The draft calls for the EU to be organized on a "federal basis" in the first article. Article 9 asserts that the constitution will have primacy over the laws of member state; a similar clause once brought about a civil war in the United States. Article 14 specifically instructs states to refrain from actions or statements that might undermine the union’s common foreign and security policy.
If the draft had been released a month earlier, it might have been the object of fierce debate. But now it is merely a laughing stock.
Within the past two weeks, three EU applicant states joined the leaders of Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Italy in clearly separating their countries from the "common" foreign policy of France, Germany and Greece, the current holder of the rotating EU presidency. A few days later, 10 other applicant states joined them.
The chances of finalizing a federalist constitution before June 2004 are extremely low, but the chances of finalizing one after June 2004 are nil.
So what now?
Europe’s political federalization might be at a dead end, but this does not mean that the EU has been for naught -- or that its evolution is over.
At the most basic level, the EU’s prime goal of making another European war unthinkable has been a grand success. Anglo-Franco-German-Italian economic integration is at a historic high -- and climbing --and there are no signs of military tension among them. The EU has successfully absorbed all but two of the countries of western Europe and is on the verge of accepting the former Soviet Union’s European satellites. Despite the lack of a functional political hierarchy, Europe’s physical and cultural unification continues more rapidly than ever.
Economically as well, the EU has surpassed expectations. By some measures the Union is integrated more tightly now than was the Soviet empire. Its combined GDP is second only to the United States, a position it will entrench further in 2004 by adding 10 high-growth states. Twelve of the 15 members share a common monetary policy and currency that has managed to give the U.S. dollar a -- pardon the pun -- run for its money.
This is not to say that the EU does not have serious problems. The common monetary policy is fundamentally flawed, individual states occasionally flout union laws without apparent penalty and decision-making often is a painfully laborious process. But that does not detract from the fact that on economic issues the United States clearly considers the European Union its equal. It might not be all that the EU set out to do, but it is far more than many expected it would achieve.
So while the idea of Europe as a political superpower is proving unattainable, support for continued development of the Union’s economic aspects remains strong across both existing and future members. So long as that support holds, the EU -- in some form -- will continue.
Tuesday, September 10th, 2002
: RCN Administrator
On Sept. 4, the United States and Switzerland announced plans for closer cooperation in investigating and preventing acts of terrorism. FBI and U.S. Customs agents will work within the Swiss Anti-Terrorism Task Force, and Swiss investigators will team up with FBI and Customs agents in the United States.
This agreement is indicative of the deepening trans-Atlantic intelligence cooperation since Sept. 11, 2001 -- despite frequent political clashes between Washington and European capitals over everything from Israel and Iraq to steel and agricultural quotas. The United States and Europe are bound by a common enemy and mutual fears of attack. Security services on both sides also have a strong foundation for cooperation on the operational level that allows intelligence workers to stay above the political fray. Finally, national leaders understand that the intelligence war is too important, and too interdependent, to be affected by politics.
Building from that foundation, intelligence cooperation has strengthened considerably over the past year, with new networks and alliances expanding from the United States and Europe into North Africa. Barring a major break between Washington and its European partners, the intelligence war should continue to rise above political tensions.
Because of the very personal and devastating nature of the Sept. 11 attacks, and because it is the world’s only superpower, the United States approaches the war on al Qaeda as a sovereign affair. Washington views its "partners" in Europe, the Middle East and Asia as tools to be wielded. Being "with us" means cracking down on al Qaeda’s finances with measures dictated by the United States; aggressively arresting and extraditing suspected militants to the United States or, at the very least, rapid prosecution abroad; and above all, giving U.S. authorities rapid and full access to intelligence.
That approach has the potential to seriously strain relations with Europe, and it has done so on a political level. But fundamentally, European governments understand that they too are under serious threat from Islamist militants. Europeans, who have a long personal history with extremists, immediately felt a kinship with Washington following the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. They also recognized that al Qaeda easily could launch similar attacks on London, Berlin, Paris or Rome. As a result, Europe responded quickly to calls for a crackdown and intelligence-sharing -- not out of loyalty to a close friend, but out of keen self-interest.
Though the United States is centered in al Qaeda’s crosshairs, Europe -- as a collection of wealthy Western nations and close U.S. allies -- has good reason to feel threatened. It also has a much larger Muslim population than the United States, including a huge number of recent immigrants from North Africa, many of whom are thought to have extremist connections. With its nearly open internal borders and liberal immigration laws, Europe is a favored home for cells involved in planning, logistics or fundraising for militant organizations.
Not surprisingly, Europe has been at the epicenter of the few terrorist events that followed Sept. 11. In the only successful operation outside South Asia linked directly to al Qaeda since then, 14 German and four French tourists were killed in April in a suicide truck bombing near a synagogue in Tunisia. Eleven French naval workers were killed when their bus was bombed in Karachi, Pakistan. And British citizen Richard Reid, also known as "the shoe bomber," failed in an alleged attempt to bring down an airplane en route from Paris to Miami.
Following Sept. 11, security services from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and other EU nations moved to increase cooperation with each other and with the United States. Intelligence professionals were able to build upon and expand existing networks and connections and were given free rein by political leaders.
The aspects of cooperation have been varied and extensive, from simple information-sharing to direct aid in investigations. The FBI and its German counterpart, the Bundeskriminalamt, have exchanged investigators, and Berlin set up a special commission to facilitate information-sharing with Washington. French agents helped to interrogate detainees at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and have made important inroads with intelligence officials from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Spain helped the United States trace the movements of Sept. 11 ringleader Mohammed Atta, and Dutch officials broke up at least one large suspected terror cell.
At the same time, lawmakers from Spain, Germany and Greece, among others, passed new measures making it easier to investigate, detain and prosecute suspected militants. Stringent evidence requirements have made it difficult for many European countries to keep suspects in custody, but the new spirit of cooperation following Sept. 11 has given them room to strengthen their laws.
Information-sharing between national intelligence and security agencies has not been perfect. Some European security officials -- such as a senior French intelligence agent cited Sept. 8 by the New York Times -- complain that, in terms of intelligence, "the Americans take a lot more than they give." German sources close to the local intelligence community tell STRATFOR that, although the German Federal Intelligence Service has similar complaints, it has shared and will continue to share all valuable intelligence gathered on al Qaeda and other Islamic militant groups.
Meanwhile, public political disagreements continue. For instance, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is strengthening his rhetoric against a U.S. attack on Iraq, while U.S. President George W. Bush continues efforts to curry international support for such action. But Bush will shy away from criticizing Schroeder directly, knowing that at the end of the day the United States needs, and is getting, full cooperation from German security services.
Political leaders will draw a clear boundary between any ongoing political conflicts and vital cooperation at the professional level. Too much is at stake for either side to let politics infect security links. Intelligence-sharing also is enshrined in and protected by various bilateral agreements -- and institutional relationships forged through the Cold War and in NATO remain strong, albeit with a healthy degree of professional competition.
Significantly, intelligence professionals recognize that that their own personal success -- as well as that of their agencies -- often depends upon the success of their sister agencies. That knowledge, perhaps more than anything, will keep agencies on both sides of the Atlantic talking and working together in concert against al Qaeda.
Political disagreements conceivably could harm the level of trust needed for operational cooperation, but that would take a drastic shift in transatlantic relations that is hard to conceive. For now, both sides recognize the benefits of working together -- making the whole much greater than the sum of its parts in the intelligence war against al Qaeda.
Thursday, August 22nd, 2002
: RCN Administrator
By Patrick Lannin
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union ( news - web sites) gave a cautious welcome Friday to new U.S. concessions on heavy steel duties, but said it was too soon to say whether it would definitely abandon the idea of sanctions.
A day after the United States announced its last batch of exemptions from the duties this year, the EU said it would press its case at the World Trade Organization ( news - web sites) to overturn the tariffs. European producers Thyssen and Corus said they were disappointed and wanted more exemptions.
The EU last month delayed more than $300 million of sanctions over the tariffs at the last minute. It said it would review its decision at the end of September, taking into account the exemptions European firms had been awarded by then.
"This is at first sight a positive action and a signal to the world that the U.S. realizes that protectionism has a cost," European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said in a statement.
But it was too soon to say whether the moves would be enough to prevent EU retaliation, another EU official said.
"It’s too premature to answer your question today," said Salvatore Salerno, head of the steel department at the European Commission ( news - web sites)’s trade directorate general for the steel industry, when asked if the U.S. steps were sufficient to avoid sanctions.
"The message to the U.S. authorities is: ’Please, let’s try to stop these steel wars which before were every five years and which now, due to the economic cycle, are every three years. Let’s stop the trade war and let’s play full competition,"’ he said, urging the closure of excess of U.S. capacity.
INDUSTRY WELCOMES, WANTS MORE
The United States Thursday exempted a final batch of 178 foreign steel products from duties imposed in March by President Bush ( news - web sites) to the fury of U.S. trade partners.
It said EU and Japanese producers were the main beneficiaries of the latest U.S. move, which brought total exemptions to 727, chosen from more than 1,300 requests.
The Commission said that so far more than 50 percent of EU exports had been exempted from the duties, which were imposed at between eight and 30 percent on a range of products.
Salerno said the Commission now wanted to consult with industry. By mid-September, it would present its conclusions on whether or not to go ahead with sanctions to EU governments.
EU steel makers said they wanted more concessions. Britain’s Corus said it had exemptions for less than a third of the 824,000 tons of product hit by the duties.
"It is, therefore, disappointing. We will be discussing the total exclusions granted with government departments over the coming days," a spokesman for the company said.
Thyssen said it was pleased the U.S. administration had not "blindly followed" steel industry demands for protection, but was disappointed with its exemptions.
New requests for exemptions are allowed from November for a decision in March 2003.
The United States contends the steel duties, which will be phased out over three years, are legal under international rules that let countries restrict imports temporarily to help battered industries get back on their feet.
It says the higher levies were needed to help the domestic steel industry restructure after more than 30 bankruptcies.
But the EU and other nations including Japan have started proceedings at the WTO to have the duties ruled illegal.
A decision is not expected until next year.
"The EU calls on the US to withdraw the remaining WTO illegal measures as soon as possible and in any event immediately after the decision of the panel condemning the U.S. measures," Lamy said.
"I am confident that the U.S. will lose this (WTO) case, as it has lost all six previous safeguard cases, and I hope that they will not prolong the agony by asking for an appeal."
(Additional reporting by David Lawsky and Swaha Pattanaik)
Wednesday, July 31st, 2002
: RCN Administrator
The 98bn euro (£62bn; $95bn) budget of the European Union is an accountant’s nightmare, riddled with mistakes and full of loopholes, according to one of its own former auditors.
In an interview with the BBC, Marta Andreasen - who was ditched from her post as chief accountant at the European Commission in May - says the Commission’s numbers fail even to meet minimum accounting standards.
Officials can change numbers without leaving any kind of electronic trail, offering a standing temptation to fiddle the figures, Ms Andreasen said.
The charges come at an embarrassing time, just as the world is trying to tighten the rules after a spate of accounting irregularities committed by large private corporations.
Ms Andreasen’s allegations are repeated in the Financial Times newspaper, which on Thursday published details of what it said were leaked documents from the EU’s court of auditors.
The Commission’s systems are "out of control" with "obvious risks as regards reliability", the paper quotes the report as saying, and says the commission "has been warned about them but to date has not taken any action".
Ms Andreasen told the BBC’s Today programme that the systems at the Commission made accurate record-keeping impossible.
"The effect of all this is that the accounts do not present a true and fair view of the situation at the commission," she said.
"The computer system on which the transactions are processed is incoherent, insecure and allows no audit trail."
The lack of security, she warned, "gives big room for fraud" - and makes tracking it almost impossible.
Off the case
Ms Andreasen was moved to a job with few responsibilities on her old 125,000-euro salary in May after refusing to sign off on the Commission’s 2001 accounts.
She had been pressured to do so by senior officials, she said, and is now facing disciplinary action initiated by Neil Kinnock, former UK Labour Party leader and now Commission vice-president in charge of administration.
The Commission itself has strongly disavowed her claims.
Mr Kinnock has said the problems were already well-rehearsed and were being dealt with by the time Ms Andreasen began her complaints.
And the Commission said her sideways move was the result of personnel problems.
The FT’s report agreed with this up to a point, noting that the problem first came to light in auditors’ reports in 1999 and 2000 covering the then-new Sincom 2 system.
But it added that the leaked document from the court of auditors, dated February 2002, said little or nothing had been done since.
"No account has been taken of generally accepted accounting standards, mainly double-entry book-keeping," it warned.
Monday, July 29th, 2002
: RCN Administrator
Chile and the European Union signed a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) on April 26. The deal gives the EU an important beachhead in South America for further bilateral and regional trade agreements and sharply increases pressure on the Bush administration to quickly wrap up FTA negotiations with Chile.
The Chile-EU agreement is an important victory in Latin America for foreign policy makers in Brussels. Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Mexico and Canada was implemented in January 1994, the EU had been trying to gain a foothold in South America before Washington could expand NAFTA southward from Mexico. By wrapping up a trade deal with Chile well in advance of any agreement between Chile and the United States, the EU has captured the attention of Latin American governments that see little progress on trade from U.S. policymakers.
Although Chile and the United States have been negotiating a bilateral FTA since fourth quarter 1999, no agreement can be formally announced before the U.S. Senate approves trade promotion authority for U.S. President George W. Bush. Under TPA, Congress can approve or reject, but cannot change or amend, trade agreements negotiated by the president. Without TPA authority, the Bush administration is unlikely to risk a major political setback by announcing a trade agreement with Chile that Congress likely would amend or reject.
The Chile-EU free trade agreement also strengthens the prospects of an eventual trade agreement between the EU and the South American Customs Union (Mercosur), whose members include Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with Bolivia and Chile as "associate members." The EU and Mercosur have been negotiating an accord since 1999. However, EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy cautioned April 28 that any FTA between the two sides likely would be less extensive than the trade accord with Chile.
That deal includes several elements that place it ahead of both the WTO and NAFTA. For example, the agreement liberalizes up to 98 percent of bilateral farm trade, while 92 percent of EU exports to Chile will benefit from zero tariffs on such product groups as textiles and pharmaceuticals. Both parties also wrapped up agreements on competition and intellectual property and agreed to a bilateral dispute-settlement mechanism that goes beyond the WTO’s minimum demands.
Additionally, under a wines-and-spirits agreement, Chile will withdraw all European names like Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and Chateau from Chilean wine over a transition period of five to 12 years. While the EU will not pay Chile any financial compensation, it has agreed to cut its tariffs from the current level of 5 percent to 6 percent to zero in four years’ time. This will enable Chile to expand its exports to EU markets more rapidly. The EU has already displaced Asia as Chile’s main trading partner, accounting for over 25 percent of the country’s total exports of $17 billion in 2001.
Monday, July 22nd, 2002
: RCN Administrator
Belgium -- Sanctions against Zimbabwe’s elite have been extended by the European Union.
Fifty-two more people were added to the 19 senior government and military officials already on a blacklist which prevents them from travelling to EU nations and freezes their assets.
The sanctions were first imposed after a row with President Robert Mugabe over the role of EU observers in this year’s presidential elections.
Mugabe was already on the sanctions hit list. The 52 added on Tuesday at a meeting of EU foreign ministers include all remaining Cabinet ministers, politburo secretaries and deputy ministers, an EU statement said.
"This is the hard core of the regime," said Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency.
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw added: "This decision underlines that the world is not going to ignore the callous behaviour of the Mugabe regime."
Zimbabwe at the polls
The so-called "smart sanctions" are intended to hit leading members of the government while allowing ordinary Zimbabweans to be unaffected.
They were imposed ahead of Zimbabwe’s presidential election after a row over the role of EU election observers. (Full story)
Mugabe went on to win the vote despite widespread allegations of vote-rigging, although some African nations said that while there were flaws the result should stand.
After the poll Zimbabwe was also suspended for 12 months from the Commonwealth on the strength of a report compiled by observers from South Africa, Nigeria and Australia. (Full story)
Before the meeting Straw said: "Over the past year there has been an increasing discontent by neighbouring countries against the Mugabe government. A year ago that wasn’t there.
"Let’s remember it was Commonwealth election observers led by some of the main African countries who themselves blew the whistle on Mr Mugabe’s election malpractices."
Britain, Zimbabwe’s former colonial master, has led the push within the 15-nation EU to impose the targeted sanctions.
Monday, July 1st, 2002
: RCN Administrator
Police described the images created and distributed by the group as some of the most shocking they had ever seen. Members of the ring allegedly broadcast live pictures of abuse on the Internet and posted images of children, including babies, being sexually abused and tortured.
"In terms of the kind of material they are posting and allowing access to, it’s the worst group I have encountered," said Detective Chief Supt. Len Hynds of Britain’s National High-tech Crime Unit, which coordinated a yearlong investigation with the European police organization Europol.
"This group were using highly sophisticated technical means," he added. "It was a level of sophistication we have not seen in law enforcement before."
Arrests were made in Germany -- where 31 suspects were apprehended -- Belgium, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden, Europol said.
British police said the ring was set up about two years ago and also had members in the United States, Canada, Denmark, Romania and Switzerland.
Hundreds of police officers swooped on suspects’ homes in synchronized raids early Tuesday, seizing dozens of computers, videos and compact discs containing obscene images, the British crime unit said.
Police also contacted 62 Internet service providers, telling them to remove material related to the ring from 244 sites.
Hynds said the group had about 100 members, including 23 "systems administrators" who ran the ring’s Web site and "monitored bulletin boards and chat rooms ensuring people were using proper security measures and excluded people from the site if they weren’t."
Administrators also provided advice about police tactics and techniques so they could avoid detection, he added.
"The Shadowz Brotherhood believed they were beyond the law ... but this shows there is no hiding place for pedophiles," Hynds said.
Sixteen suspected members of the group were already in custody in Britain, Germany, the United States, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Canada. British detectives also are conducting investigations in Japan and South Korea.
One suspect in the United States, an air force officer, has committed suicide while in custody, police said, without releasing his name.
Authorities say some members of the group sexually abused children and then posted the images on their Web site, which also provided advice on how to meet children in Internet chat rooms.
They used sophisticated encryption techniques, sometimes hiding material in seemingly innocent picture files, officials said.
Police said administrators operated a "star" system to rate members: after initial vetting, new members received a one-star rating, allowing them to view certain chat rooms, newsgroups and bulletin boards.
To gain further stars they had to post images of child sex abuse on the group’s site; as they gained stars, they obtained greater access to restricted sites containing the most graphic material.
To further increase security, the group was structured in cells whose members knew only each other, police said.
Wednesday, December 31st, 1969
: RCN Administrator
FUNERAL OF HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH, THE QUEEN MOTHER -- Tuesday 9 April 2002, Westminster Abbey
Before the service the Tenor bell is tolled every minute for one hundred and one minutes, reflecting the years of the Queen Mother’s life.
Order of Service
As the coffin enters, the Choir of Westminster Abbey sings:
I AM the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.
St John 11: 25, 26
I KNOW that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.
Job 19: 25-27
WE brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we shall carry nothing out. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
I Timothy 6: 7; Job 1: 21
The Choir sings:
THOU knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts; shut not thy merciful ears unto our prayer; but spare us, Lord most holy, O God most mighty, O holy and most merciful Saviour, thou most worthy Judge eternal. Suffer us not, at our last hour, for any pains of death, to fall from thee. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer
I HEARD a voice from heaven, saying unto me, "Write, From henceforth blessed are the dead which die in the Lord: even so saith the Spirit; for they rest from their labours."
Revelation 14: 13
The Very Reverend Dr Wesley Carr, Dean of Westminster, says:
IN gratitude we bid farewell to a greatly loved Queen. For her grace, humanity and sympathy, for her courage in adversity, for the happiness she brought to so many, for her steadfast pilgrimage of faith, for her example of service, and for the duty which she rendered unflinchingly to her country, we thank and praise Almighty God. As we commend Elizabeth, his servant, to God’s mercy, let us especially pray for her family in their loss. We give them back to Thee, dear Lord, who gavest them to us; yet as Thou dost not lose them in giving, so we have not lost them by their return. Not as the world giveth, givest Thou, O Lover of Souls. What Thou gavest, Thou takest not away, for what is Thine is ours always if we are Thine. And Life is eternal and Love is immortal, and death is only an horizon, and an horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.
The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr David Hope, KCVO, Lord Archbishop of York, Primate of England and Metropolitan, reads:
THE FIRST LESSON: ECCLESIASTES 12: 1-7
REMEMBER now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: in the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, and the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low. Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
The Choir of Westminster Abbey sings:
I WILL lift up mine eyes unto the hills: from whence cometh my help. My help cometh even from the Lord: who hath made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: and he that keepeth thee will not sleep. Behold, he that keepeth Israel: shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord himself is thy keeper: the Lord is thy defence upon thy right hand; So that the sun shall not burn thee by day: neither the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: yea, it is even he that shall keep thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out, and thy coming in: from this time forth, for evermore. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.
His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, reads:
THE SECOND LESSON: REVELATION 7: 9-17
AFTER this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four living creatures, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
IMMORTAL, invisible, God only wise, In light inaccessible hid from our eyes, Most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days, Almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise. Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light, Nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might; Thy justice like mountains high soaring above Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love. To all life thou givest - to both great and small; In all life thou livest, the true life of all; We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree, And wither and perish - but nought changeth thee. Great Father of glory, pure Father of light, Thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight; All laud we would render: O help us to see ’Tis only the splendour of light hideth thee. St Denio 377 NEH, Adapted from a Welsh song set to a hymn in John Roberts’ Caniadau y Cyssegre (1839), W Chalmers Smith (1824-1908). 1 Timothy 1: 17
The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr George Carey
Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan
The Choirs sing
HOW lovely are thy dwellings fair: O Lord of Hosts. My soul ever longeth and fainteth sore for the blest courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh do cry to the living God. O blest are they that in thy house are dwelling: they ever praise thee, O Lord, for evermore. Johannes Brahms (1833-97) from A German Requiem Psalm 84: 1-2, 4
The Reverend Chris Chivers, Minor Canon of Westminster Abbey, says:
Let us pray. Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us. All say together:
OUR Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Right Reverend John Miller, Moderator of the General Assembly,Church of Scotland, says:
GOD of all grace, who didst send thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to bring life and immortality to light: Most humbly and heartily we give thee thanks that by his death he destroyed the power of death, and by his glorious resurrection opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Grant us assuredly to know that because he lives we shall live also, and that neither death nor life, nor things present nor things to come, shall be able to separate us from thy love, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland. ALMIGHTY God, Father of all mercies and giver of all comfort: deal graciously, we pray, with those who mourn, that casting all their care on thee, they may know the consolation of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Choirs sing:
HOLY is the true light, and passing wonderful, lending radiance to them that endured in the heat of the conflict; from Christ they inherit a home of unfading splendour, wherein they rejoice with gladness evermore. Alleluia. William Harris (1883-1973) Salisbury Diurnal
The Minor Canon continues:
ALMIGHTY God, the fountain of all goodness, we humbly beseech thee to bless our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Charles, Prince of Wales, and all the Royal Family: endue them with thy Holy Spirit, enrich them with thy heavenly grace; prosper them with all happiness; and bring them to thine everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Dean concludes:
O ETERNAL God, our Heavenly Father, we bless thy holy name for all that thou hast given us in and through the life of thy daughter Elizabeth.
We give thee thanks:
* for her love of family and her gift of friendship;
* for her grace, dignity and courtesy;
* for her humour, generosity and sheer love of life.
And we praise thee for:
* the courage that she showed in times of hardship;
* the depth and reality of her Christian faith;
* the good example that she set for us to follow.
We offer thee our heartfelt thanks for the deep affection she drew out of everyone she met, and we pray that thou wilt grant her peace; let light perpetual shine upon her; and in thy loving wisdom and almighty power work in her the good purpose of thy perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
BRING us, O Lord God, at our last awakening into the house and gate of heaven, to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity; in the habitations of thy glory and dominion, world without end. Amen.
John Donne (1572-1631)
GUIDE me, O thou great Redeemer, Pilgrim through this barren land; I am weak, but thou art mighty; Hold me with thy powerful hand: Bread of heaven, Feed me till I want no more. Open now the crystal fountain Whence the healing stream doth flow; Let the fiery cloudy pillar Lead me all my journey through: Strong deliverer, Be thou still my strength and shield.
When I tread the verge of Jordan, Bid my anxious fears subside; Death of death, and hell’s Destruction, Land me safe on Canaan’s side: Songs and praises I will ever give to thee. Cwm Rhondda 368 NEH John Hughes (1873-1932) William Williams (1717-91) translated by Peter Williams (1727-96), and others
The Reverend Anthony Burnham, Moderator, The Free Churches Group, reads from:
I SEE myself now at the end of my journey, my toilsome days are ended. I am going now to see that head that was crowned with thorns, and that face that was spit upon for me. I have formerly lived by hearsay and faith but now I go where I shall live by sight, and shall be with him in whose company I delight myself. I have loved to hear my Lord spoken of; and wherever I have seen the print of this shoe in the earth, there I have coveted to set my foot to. His name to me has been as a civet-box; yea, sweeter than all perfume. His voice to me has been most sweet; and his countenance I have more desired than they that have most desired the light of the sun. His word I did use to gather for my food, and for antidotes against my faintings. ’He has held me, and hath kept me from mine iniquities; yea, my steps hath he strengthened in his way.’ Glorious it was to see how the open region was filled with horses and chariots, with trumpeters and pipers, with singers and players on stringed instruments, to welcome the Pilgrims as they went up, and followed one another in at the beautiful gate of the city.
John Bunyan (1628-88)
The Archbishop of Canterbury says:
Let us commend our sister, Elizabeth, to the mercy of God, our Maker and Redeemer. O HEAVENLY Father, who by thy mighty power hast given us life, and in thy love hast given us new life in thy beloved Son: we entrust our sister, Elizabeth, to thy merciful keeping, in the faith of the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who died and rose again to save us and now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
The Archbishop of Canterbury says:
MAY God in his infinite love and mercy bring the whole Church, living and departed in the Lord Jesus, to a joyful resurrection and the fulfilment of his eternal kingdom; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always.
The Choirs sing:
Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) Organist of Westminster Abbey 1623-25
THE LAST POST
The Garter King of Arms proclaims
THE STYLES AND TITLES OF HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH
Thus it hath pleased Almighty God to take out of this transitory life unto His Divine Mercy the late Most High, Most Mighty and Most Excellent Princess Elizabeth, Queen Dowager and Queen Mother, Lady of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Lady of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Lady of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India, Grand Master and Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order upon whom had been conferred the Royal Victorian Chain, Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Dame Grand Cross of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John, Relict of His Majesty King George the Sixth and Mother of Her Most Excellent Majesty Elizabeth The Second by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, Sovereign of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, whom may God preserve and bless with long life, health and honour and all worldly happiness.
THE NATIONAL ANTHEM
The Cortège and Processions leave the church.
The bells of the Abbey Church are now rung half-muffled to a peal of Stedman Caters, comprising 5101 changes.
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