EURCP NEWS for PRAYER 1 April 2012
Our name & mission “The European Union Review & Call to Prayer”
Part of TPM, Targeted Prayer Ministries, Newsletter publishers: Hugh & Norma Davis
WEB http://euprayer.com/ all back issues and EU info Next issue 15 March 2012
ADD TO YOUR NATIONAL PRAYER ORGANIZATION
Highlighted portions in long articles are for you to seek the HOLY SPIRIT’S direction in Prayer for Change. Check other sources. This newsletter is not a headline report. Prayer requires understanding. We select the heart of key articles for you to review and pray about.
EU FISCAL TREATY
HOLLANDE 'NOT ALONE' IN BID TO RENEGOTIATE FISCAL TREATY
19.03.12 @ 09:30 BY VALENTINA POP
BRUSSELS - French Socialist candidate Francois Hollande has claimed he is "not alone" in his bid to re-negotiate the treaty on fiscal discipline.Meanwhile, Ireland is likely to wait for the outcome of the French elections before holding a referendum on it."I will re-negotiate the treaty on budgetary discipline not only for France, but for the whole of Europe," he said during a campaign speech in Paris on Saturday (17 March), adding that the pact focuses on austerity only and does little to spur economic growth.He said that if he elected he will have a mandate from the French people and support from European Socialists and "allies who are not all Socialists" for re-opening the text.He mocked the centre-right leaders in Europe for backing his rival, incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, saying it is "somewhat touching to see how they come to help him out."
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, who ensured that the fiscal treaty is a pre-condition for any future eurozone bail-outs, openly backed Sarkozy last month and has refused to meet Hollande ahead of the 22 April elections.Hollande continues to lead in opinion polls by a few percentage points ahead of Sarkozy, although last week for the first time one snap poll put the president ahead.The French presidential race is being closely watched in Ireland, where the government is organising a referendum on the fiscal pact.If a referendum is held before the French elections, opponents would likely question why the government is asking the people to endorse a treaty that might be re-negotiated."We're conscious of what Mr Hollande has said. We're watching his subsequent statements to get further clarification," Irish finance minister Michael Noonan told reporters last Thursday after a meeting with his French counterpart in Paris. Noonan insisted that the French elections will not be the "deciding factor" in the timing of the referendum.For its part, Sinn Fein, Ireland's second largest opposition party, said it will use Hollande's comments to bolster its campaign to urge voters to reject the treaty."The opposition to the 'Austerity Treaty' from ... prominent European social democrats such as French presidential candidate Francois Hollande has already become part of the debate in Ireland. It demonstrates the widespread opposition across Europe to this anti-jobs and anti-growth treaty," it said in a statement.
A Socialist victory in France would also change the political landscape in the EU.Currently all large member states have centre-right governments. Only Austria, Belgium and Denmark have Socialist ones - all of which subscribed to the fiscal compact without putting up resistance.
HUNGARY EU CHALLENGE
HUNGARIAN PM TO EU: 'WE WON'T BE A COLONY'
BY VALENTINA POP
BRUSSELS - Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday (15 March) accused the EU of colonialism and meddling in his country's domestic affairs.His words come after Budapest was hit with a €500 million EU funds freeze for its continued budget deficit and with legal action over constitutional changes limiting the independence of media, judges and the central bank."We will not be a colony. Hungarians won't live according to the commands of foreign powers, they won't give up their independence or their freedom," Orban told over 100,000 people gathered outside the parliament in Budapest on the anniversary of the country's 1848 revolution against Hapsburg rule."As a European nation we demand equal treatment. We will not be second class European citizens. Our rightful demand is to have the same standards apply to us, which apply to other countries," he said.
These words reflect a sense that Brussels is keener to apply its new tough budget rules to smaller countries, than it is to larger ones. Earlier this week, a budget concession was granted to Spain while Hungary was sanctioned.Orban's centre-right party (Fidesz) enjoys a super-majority in the parliament after a landslide win in the 2010 elections. The political dominance has allowed him to pass sweeping constitutional changes - changes that the European Parliament and democracy watchdogs have since deemed anti-democratic. An anti-Communist himself, Orban compared EU meddling with Soviet rule: "We are more than familiar with the character of unsolicited comradely assistance, even if it comes wearing a finely tailored suit and not a uniform with shoulder patches."
In his view, "European bureaucrats" look at Budapest with distrust because the government chose "new ways" of tackling public debt and has not shied away from proclaiming the supremacy of nation states."If we don’t act in time, in the end, the whole of Europe can become a colony of the modern financial system," he said, vowing to 'protect' the Hungarian constitution by any means.Fidesz' public support has dropped by 20 percent compared to 2010 when it won with over 60 percent of the vote. Last year was marked by anti-government protests following the constitutional changes. Meanwhile, several thousand people - mainly students and grassroots organisations - staged a peaceful demonstration in another part of Budapest on Thursday. "If we choose to stay (in the EU) then we need to resolve our problems based on the club's rules," Levente Halasz, one of the protesters told Reuters.
EU PUBLIC SUPPORT
POLL CASTS NEW DOUBT ON PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR EU
By Martin Banks - 19th March 2012
A new poll says that more than half of French people have branded the EU a waste of money.According to the survey, which was published at the weekend, some 43 per cent of Germans feel the same way, compared with 39 per cent of Britons. The poll findings, which come ahead of the French presidential election, reveal growing tensions across all member states as the eurozone crisis takes its toll on taxpayers.Eurosceptics says that bailouts for debt-laden countries and a Europe-wide squeeze on public spending are casting doubt over the cost of the whole EU project. The poll, the most in-depth survey of its kind in recent years, was carried out by new think tank YouGov-Cambridge, which questioned more than 11,000 voters across the EU.It reveals that Britain and the eurozone countries are heading in "two starkly different directions".
Six out of 10 Britons want a renegotiation of its relationship with the EU or complete withdrawal. Six out of 10 also back a national referendum on EU membership.In contrast, 62 per cent of Germans, 61 per cent of Italians and almost half of French voters want greater integration.There is even a majority in Italy in favour of a United States of Europe, an idea also given the backing of four out of 10 French voters.The vast majority of British voters want to reclaim national control in almost all policy areas.Reacting to the findings, MEP Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, said: "The high-handed actions of the European elite are succeeding in turning the entire continent against them. "No longer are the British alone in condemning the project. While taxpayers across the continent have a greater belief in the dream, even they are beginning to have qualms about
EU MEP ELECTIONS
[OPINION] WHY DO MEPS FEAR ELECTORAL REFORM?
14.03.12 @ 19:40
BY ANDREW DUFF
BRUSSELS - Against expectations, this week the European Parliament again flunked a vote to reform its own electoral procedure. Despite strong backing from the Constitutional Affairs Committee, the key element of the reform, which is the creation of a pan-European constituency, proves too controversial.The European Parliament's power has grown over the years - but has its legitimacy? (Photo: Valentina Pop)
Under my proposals, 25 MEPs would be elected for a pan-European constituency. The transnational lists would be composed of candidates of at least nine nationalities drawn up by the European political parties. They would not favour any specific nationality. MEPs for the pan-European constituency would be directly accountable both to the European political parties and to the electorate (much like any other MEP).The question of transnational lists has been discussed for many years within the Parliament and among the European political parties, many of which see potential benefits to their own development once they are made responsible for the selection of candidates on the transnational lists, for electoral campaigning and for holding pan-European MEPs to account.
Parliament has not reformed its electoral procedure since 1999 - before the Treaties of Nice and Lisbon and before the great enlargement of the Union. During that period, the powers of the institutions and the competences of the Union have grown dramatically.
Legitimacy of parliament
We must ask ourselves whether the efficacy and legitimacy of the European Parliament have kept pace with these constitutional changes. Certainly the declining turnout at every European Parliamentary election, and the rise of nationalist forces in many if not all EU states, would suggest otherwise.Now the Union is moving to greater fiscal discipline and the probable installation of a more federal type of economic government which will have to be made directly accountable to Parliament. But do we sincerely believe that the European Parliament has attracted the desirable levels of loyalty and identification of the EU citizens and taxpayers that are implied by such important democratic responsibilities?
As Parliament begins to prepare for the next elections in 2014, are we confident that the quality of the election campaign will be such an advance on previous elections that the electors will see that, in voting for MEPs, real choices can be made about the direction of the EU polity?Can we not agree that Europe's national political parties are now failing to sustain its integration process in a fitting manner? Do the media report the politics of Parliament in a thorough and fluent way?Surely only European political parties and not national political parties will be able to offer real choices at election time about, for example, the name of the new President of the Commission, the pace of enlargement, or the size and shape of the EU budget?
My second report recognises that some issues concerning the pan-European proposal are particularly sensitive - namely, the timing of the reforms, the choice between closed or semi-open lists and the question of whether the 25 pan-European MEPs should come on top of the 751 existing deputies or be drawn from among them.The report composes an agenda for the inevitable negotiations with the Council which is designed to achieve a comprehensive package deal on a range of issues, including the date of the elections, the revision of the 1976 Act and the modernisation of the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities (which still remains unchanged since 1965).
The report also prepares the ground for the necessary negotiations on seat apportionment between nationalities after the accession of Croatia. The Committee prefers to search for a new durable and transparent system for the distribution of the existing 751 seats in preference to the present unseemly bartering.One wonders why so many MEPs are intimidated by the prospect of making a radical proposal for electoral reform. If the initiative were launched by the plenary, the details of all these changes would remain a matter for unanimity agreement with the Council. Parliament would have to give its consent to any final package.
We are missing the opportunity to bolster the political legitimacy of the European Parliament and to galvanise European political parties. It is perfectly clear that left to their own devices, national political parties and governments will never engage the voters with the politics of the European Union.We are left facing the serious challenge of how a stronger European Parliament might best contribute to the better government of a more united Europe.
The writer is a Liberal Member of the European Parliament
JOACHIM GAUCK ELECTED NEW GERMAN PRESIDENT
AP | Mar 19, 2012, 08.14AM IST
BERLIN: A far-reaching majority of lawmakers elected former East German pro-democracy activist Joachim Gauck as Germany's new president on Sunday. The 72-year-old Gauck is an outspoken former Lutheran pastor and relentless advocate of democracy and civil rights who enjoyed the backing of most major parties. He received 991 of the 1,232 ballots cast.The ex-communist Left party's candidate Beate Klarsfeld secured 126 votes, the far right NPD party's candidate Olaf Rose only three, and there were 108 abstentions, said Norbert Lammert, the President of the Germany's Parliament.
Gauck opposed East Germany's then-communist regime and became head of a federal agency overseeing the files of the Communists' ubiquitous domestic intelligence service after Germany's reunification in 1990.The candidate appeared moved as he accepted the election to become the country's new head of state, a largely ceremonial role in Germany that has little executive power but is considered an important moral authority.``I accept this duty. After the long political meanders of the 20th century, I do so with the infinite gratefulness of a person who has finally and unexpectedly found his home again and who had the pleasure of participating in a democratic society over the past 20 years,'' Gauck told the assembly.``Very certainly I won't be able to live up to all expectations,'' he said. ``But there is one thing I can promise: I say yes with all of my force and with my heart that I will carry out the responsibility you entrusted to me today.''
Gauck, who has no political affiliation, won wide backing from Germany's mainstream parties for the presidency after predecessor Christian Wulff resigned in a corruption scandal last month.When he was nominated, Chancellor Angela Merkel described Gauck as ``a true teacher of democracy.'' Gauck had run for the opposition against her candidate, Wulff, two years earlier, but Merkel's junior coalition partner pushed her to accept him as president at the second attempt.
On Sunday, Merkel said Germany can be proud of its new president, who was elected with a ``very convincing result.'' The chancellor, herself daughter of a pastor and another former East German, also said that Gauck's election was a sign of the success of Germany's reunification. ‘We can also be a little proud of that,'' Merkel said, adding that more progress was still required to see eastern Germany catch up fully with the wealthier western part.
In 1989, Gauck, then a pastor based in the northern port city of Rostock, helped initiate protests against the communist regime in his region. He joined a prominent opposition group in the final phase of hardline communist rule, and after communism fell he was elected in March 1990 to serve as a lawmaker in East Germany's first and only democratically elected Parliament until reunification that October.
Sunday's election came exactly 22 years after that ballot ``when millions of East Germans were finally allowed to be citizens after a 56 years long reign of dictators,'' Gauck said in his acceptance speech. ‘At age 50 I had for the first time in my life the chance to vote in a free, equal and secret ballot on who would govern (the country) in the future,'' he said.
Gauck separated from his wife Gerhild, with whom he has four children, after the country's reunification, but the couple never divorced.Since 2000, he has been in a relationship with journalist Daniela Schadt. That has raised a few eyebrows among conservatives and led to calls that the president should marry his current partner. But the incoming first lady, who has said that she will now move in with Gauck in Berlin, told Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag that ``the entire family lives well with our arrangement, then maybe the rest of the society should also be able to live with it.''
Gauck was one of the leaders of efforts to wind up the Stasi, East Germany's loathed and notoriously invasive secret police. In January 1990, demonstrators had stormed the Stasi headquarters in East Berlin to prevent the files' destruction. For the next decade, Gauck oversaw the newly created government authority that oversees the 112 miles (180 kilometers) of files collected by the Stasi's network of 85,000 full-time spies and 170,000 voluntary informers. German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said Gauck's life story of standing up for freedom and civil rights ``is also an encouragement for many freedom movements around the world
UK PM ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
CAMERON WOULD CONSIDER CHANGING LAW TO PROTECT RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
By Tim Ross, Political Correspondent
8:00AM GMT 13 Mar 2012
David Cameron would consider changing the law to protect the right of Christians to wear the cross at work if European judges fail to reinforce religious freedom, his spokesman said.The Prime Minister’s spokesman said David Cameron supported the right of Christians to wear symbols of their faith Photo: EPATwo women who have been barred from wearing the traditional symbol by their employers are taking their campaign to the European Court of Human Rights.Judges in Britain have ruled against Nadia Eweida, a British Airways check-in clerk, and Shirley Chaplin, a nurse, who wanted to wear the cross at work.Mrs Eweida’s case dates from 2006 when she was suspended by BA for breaching the company’s uniform code. Mrs Chaplin was barred from working on wards by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust after refusing to hide the cross she wore on a necklace chain. The pair, and two other Christians, are bringing legal action against the UK because they believe British laws have failed to protect their human rights, specifically the right to freedom of religion.
Their lawyers argue that article nine of the Human Rights Act should allow them to “manifest” their beliefs by wearing items, including the cross, which are not a “requirement of the faith”. The Government’s official submission to the Strasbourg court dismisses their argument as “ill-founded”.The response, prepared by the Foreign Office, adds: “In neither case is there any suggestion that the wearing of a visible cross or crucifix was a generally recognised form of practising the Christian faith, still less one that is regarded (including by the applicants themselves) as a requirement of the faith.”Downing Street said the Government was required to pass on the ruling of the British court to the European Court in Strasbourg and is awaiting its judgment.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said Mr Cameron supported the right of Christians to wear symbols of their faith. “The PM’s personal view is that people should be able to wear crosses,” said the spokesman. “Our view is that the Equality Act as it stands should allow people to express their views in this kind of way.”A No 10 source said it was possible the European court would agree with the claims from the two women and clarify the right of Christians to wear the cross in a way that does not “cause offence to others”.
However, if the court refused to support the women, “we would have to consider what action we might take”, the source said. It was understood that one option could be to legislate.The subject was raised yesterday in the Commons. Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, told MPs: “Providing any object doesn’t get in the way of doing the job, a discreet display of someone’s religion is something we should welcome.”
CHRISTIANS HAVE NO RIGHT TO WEAR CROSS AT WORK, SAYS GOVERNMENT
By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent
9:00PM GMT 10 Mar 2012
Christians do not have a right to wear a cross or crucifix openly at work, the Government is to argue in a landmark court case. The Government has refused to say that Christians have a right to display the symbol of their faith at work Photo:
In a highly significant move, ministers will fight a case at the European Court of Human Rights in which two British women will seek to establish their right to display the cross. It is the first time that the Government has been forced to state whether it backs the right of Christians to wear the symbol at work.
A document seen by The Sunday Telegraph discloses that ministers will argue that because it is not a “requirement” of the Christian faith, employers can ban the wearing of the cross and sack workers who insist on doing so.The Government’s position received an angry response last night from prominent figures including Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. He accused ministers and the courts of “dictating” to Christians and said it was another example of Christianity becoming sidelined in official life.The Government’s refusal to say that Christians have a right to display the symbol of their faith at work emerged after its plans to legalise same-sex marriages were attacked by the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain.A poll commissioned by The Sunday Telegraph shows that the country is split on the issue.Overall, 45 per cent of voters support moves to allow gay marriage, with 36 per cent against, while 19 per cent say they do not know. [see web link for more]
FRENCH AND GERMAN SOCIALISTS TEST WATER FOR COMMON AGENDA[FR]
Published 19 March 2012 - Updated 20 March 2012
The French and German socialists are hoping to create a common front against the centre-right's current management of Europe and in particular of the euro crisis. To do so, they will have to overcome dramatically different national political traditions. EurActiv France contributed to this article. Last week on 16-17 March, socialist European leaders – including President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, the leader of the Party of European Socialists Sergei Stanishev and SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel – gathered in Paris to support Socialist candidate François Hollande ahead of the presidential elections, with a first round on 22 April and a run-off on 6 May.
Polls give a slight advantage to Hollande, who is likely to be propelled to the run-off together with centre-right President Nicolas Sarkozy."As President of the European Parliament, I don't have the institutional right, but I have a friend I like a lot […] and wish him all the luck, his name is François Hollande," Schulz said.'Change starts with you, François' For his part, PES leader Sergei Stanishev didn't have to resort to diplomacy."Change starts with you, François. It is happening now in France and in Europe. Your election is important for the citizens of France and for all of Europe," Stanishev stated.He further said that since a number of other European nations are to hold elections, the Socialists and Social Democrats are getting ready to re-paint Europe red – "the color of growth, employment, and hope."
[see web link for more]
SWEDEN CASHLESS ECONOMY
SWEDEN MOVING TOWARDS CASHLESS ECONOMY
March 18, 2012 5:09 PM
AP) STOCKHOLM - Sweden was the first European country to introduce bank notes in 1661. Now it's come farther than most on the path toward getting rid of them. "I can't see why we should be printing bank notes at all anymore," says Bjoern Ulvaeus, former member of 1970's pop group ABBA, and a vocal proponent for a world without cash.The contours of such a society are starting to take shape in this high-tech nation, frustrating those who prefer coins and bills over digital money.In most Swedish cities, public buses don't accept cash; tickets are prepaid or purchased with a cell phone text message.
A small but growing number of businesses only take cards, and some bank offices — which make money on electronic transactions — have stopped handling cash altogether."There are towns where it isn't at all possible anymore to enter a bank and use cash," complains Curt Persson, chairman of Sweden's National Pensioners' Organization. He says that's a problem for elderly people in rural areas who don't have credit cards or don't know how to use them to withdraw cash.The decline of cash is noticeable even in houses of worship, like the Carl Gustaf Church in Karlshamn, southern Sweden, where Vicar Johan Tyrberg recently installed a card reader to make it easier for worshippers to make offerings."People came up to me several times and said they didn't have cash but would still like to donate money," Tyrberg says.Bills and coins represent only 3 percent of Sweden's economy, compared to an average of 9 percent in the eurozone and 7 percent in the U.S., according to the Bank for International Settlements, an umbrella organization for the world's central banks. . [see web link for more]
EU TO CONFRONT CHINA WITH 'RECIPROCITY' IN PUBLIC CONTRACTS[FR]
Published 09 March 2012
Tired of seeing European companies blocked from Chinese public tenders, the European Commission is preparing plans later this month that will allow individual EU countries to bar foreign bids from countries that refuse to open up their public procurement markets, EurActiv can reveal. The controversial proposal is due to be presented by the end of March by Michel Barnier and Karel De Gucht, the EU commissioners for the internal market and trade.
Under the plan, seen by EurActiv, EU countries "will be given the possibility to reject foreign bids from third countries" that fail to open their own public procurement markets to European companies."If a third country repeatedly discriminates against European companies, the Commission will be able to take targeted restrictive measures vis-à-vis this third country and effectively close a part of the EU's procurement market," a Commission spokesperson told EurActiv."The procedure would be modelled on the existing anti-dumping proceedings," said Chantal Hugues, spokesperson for Barnier, the internal market commissioner.Public contracts represent 19% of the EU's gross domestic product, said Barnier, who was speaking to journalists ahead of an EU summit last week. . [see web link for more]
ASSAD: FAITHFUL STUDENT OF RUTHLESSNESS
March 18, 2012 5:11 pm
By Roula Khalaf in London
We imagine brutal dictators as sadistic men dressed in military gear, hunkered down in their bunkers and plotting murderous strategies.In the Middle East, the cruellest strongmen, the likes of Saddam Hussein and Muammer Gaddafi, fed this image into our imagination, projecting fear through their every word and action. They were unstable and psychopathic; their families were dysfunctional and their children misbehaved.
Killings deepen Karzai dilemma
Then came Bashar al-Assad, the modern dictator. He is, like other tyrants, detached from reality, oblivious to the suffering of Syrians in their year-long revolution. But he is also a jeans-clad young computer nerd who lives a seemingly normal life with his glamorous British-born ex-banker wife. According to the emails published by the UK’s Guardian, which purportedly belong to the couple, the 46-year-old Mr Assad’s forces could be shelling civilian areas while he is ordering his favourite music on iTunes or sharing songs with his wife. If these emails are genuine, it seems he cares little about the reforms he has announced, referring to the “rubbish laws of parties, elections, media”.
Asma al-Assad, whom many Syrians assumed to be alienated from the regime, seems perfectly at ease in her role as the dictator’s wife, shopping for expensive jewellery and ordering furniture and candlesticks from a Paris boutique. According to the leaked emails, she asks a friend to get hold of a Harry Potter book, as if nothing could be out of the ordinary in the Assad household.The personality of Mr Assad has long perplexed Syrians and outsiders. For years after he inherited power from his father Hafez in 2000, the London trained eye-doctor was thought likely to evolve into an open-minded, reformist leader. Many of his foreign interlocutors were convinced that he was being held back by hardliners in the regime.
Months after the uprising against him erupted in March last year, many Syrians still entertained the hope of a miracle transformation in Mr Assad. Perhaps the revolution was his opportunity to push aside the nasty men in his regime, including his brother Maher, a top military chief, they figured. They were dismayed to see the president defending the brutality of his security forces and insisting that they were fighting terrorists.Experts who have studied the trove of Assad emails say the Syrian leader is not a conventional dictator. James Fallon, an American neuroscientist who has written on the mind of dictators, says Mr Assad shares some of the characteristics of other tyrants – lack of empathy and need for flattery (he surrounds himself with young female aides who seem to be in awe of him). But he finds him “an incomplete dictator” who appears to lack a personal sadistic streak. “He comes across as a pathetic adolescent little tyrant. a weak leader … a sorry character,” says Prof Fallon. [see web link for more]