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“Solidarity” With Algerians, Farm Payments, And Goodbye Alitalia?

  • December 19th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

algiers-coop-rsch.jpgEuropeans working on closer relations with Algeria are shocked by the bombings there last week; conservative resistance builds up against cuts in EU farm support; and Italy tries again to sell its state airline.

ALGIERS BOMB ATTACKS

The bomb attacks in Algiers on 11.12.07, with 47 people killed, brought a shocked reaction in Europe, reflecting the close proximity and mutual engagement of Algeria and the EU.

A group linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist movement claimed responsibility.

Hans-Gert Pottering, President of the European Parliament, at Strasbourg, said the two car bombs showed the terrorism problem was shared by both Western countries and the Arab world.

“We need a determined policy with the objective of preventing terrorism and terrorist acts, both on European spoil, and anywhere else in the world, in line with the principles of the international community and our system of law”, he said.

The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, said he had contacted the Algerian government to express “solidarity” with Algeria in the face of “barbarous and odious acts.”

One week before, Mr Sarkozy had been on a visit to Algeria, where he expressed regret for excesses of French colonial rule and oversaw the signing of several new business deals between the two countries.

Those were concentrated on energy development, with plans for the construction of a large petrochemical plant in Algeria, and signing of a government-to-government accord on civil use of nuclear technology.

CONSERVATIVES AND LOCAL LOBBIES MOVE TO KEEP FARM MONEY

Conservative political groupings have declared a very conditional stance on the funding of a changed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the European Union.

Members of the centre-right EPP bloc, the largest in the European Parliament, said (6.12.07) they had a working party that would defend levels of spending, during a forthcoming major budget review of the EU – 2008-09.

They’ll be contributing to a part of that review, the so-called “health check” on the CAP, where the European Commission will investigate major changes already being put in place, and be looking for economies.

The EPP has agreed that changes were needed so that industry could “respond to future challenges.”

However it has also picked up on complaints that the new order is failing to recognise legitimate claims of rural industry, based on different regional needs, e.g. mountain areas versus maritime ones.

That idea has seen arguments made for the exemption of mountain areas, on grounds of cultural heritage, from changes in the wine industry, where uneconomic vineyards will be grubbed out.

Agriculture policy, which remains the biggest budget item for the EU, has been converted from a scheme based on production subsidies, to a large-scale efficiency program, rewarding producers for innovation and measured best practice. It also now includes an infrastructure funding scheme for economic development in rural zones.

There has been a scaling back of spending, and the EPP bloc’s Rapporteur for the “health check” in the European Parliament, Lutz Goipel, now insists there should be no more cuts in money for the CAP.

“The very history of the EU is anchored in this policy”, he says.

ALITALIA BACK ON THE BLOCK

Government heads in Italy set the end of this week to accept a bid for the purchase of the loss-making national airline, Alitalia.

Despite operating some lucrative domestic routes the state operator has been suffering all the pressures of traditional flag-carriers faced with budget-airline competitors, industrial conflict with its workforce and difficulties borrowing money for its capital needs.

It is said to be losing over one-million Euros a day.

Three bids had been received by 17.12.07: from a consortium of business interests in Italy; another Italian airline, Air One, and from Air France – KLM.

The government currently owns just under 50% of the company, which it has been trying unsuccessfully to sell since the failure of an earlier bidding process, last January.

Picture:

Bombing damage, Algiers, cooperativeresearch.org

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