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Eurobriefs - The latest from Brussels


Treaty twisters

In a debate in the House of Lords on the Lisbon Treaty, Foreign Office Minister Lord Malloch-Brown confirmed that the “reassurances” to be offered to the Irish “do not change the Lisbon treaty”. He went on to say, “Ireland sought and has received guarantees, but the treaty has not been reopened. In that regard, it is a referendum on the same treaty as before.”

Malloch Brown denigrated the “undemocratic” Irish for blocking the “aspirations” of the 24 countries, including Britain, who approved the Constitution without holding referenda. He of course was not elected by anyone.

Czech PM and current EU President Mirek Topolanek is hedging his bets. He admitted that the Treaty is “the same as before” (the rejected European Constitution) and that forcing national parliaments to ratify something people haven’t voted for is “absurd”. But he justified signing the treaty because he negotiated and approved it.

Euro economics

Computer company Dell announced on 8 January it would cut 1,900 jobs in Ireland, and move its manufacturing base to Poland. The Polish government used a 50 million euros aid package to attract Dell to move away from Ireland.

Under Latvia’s loan agreement with the EU, public sector wages and public services are to be slashed, and VAT rates increased. No wonder there have been huge demonstrations against the government.

Euro fuel

The EU says that by 2020, 20 per cent of our transport fuel should come from biofuels. To grow this amount in Britain would consume almost all our cropland. Instead Malaysia and Indonesia grow palm oil, and Brazil grows ethanol. Result: destruction of farmland in Malaysia and Indonesia and rainforests in Brazil, and increased net carbon dioxide emissions.

Even so the EU insists that biofuels are the answer. In the past year, the growth in biofuels has taken 100 million tons of cereals out of food supplies and into car fuels. Result: increased food prices across the world.