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Crisis Meeting

  • December 11th, 2008
  • Posted by 7thmin

council-building1.jpgEuropean leaders at their pre-Christmas meeting at Brussels on Friday and Saturday (11-12.12.08) have a three-part agenda – taking on the world financial crisis, climate change, and their own restructuring problems, with Ireland still holding out against change.

The heads of government may be taking note of a pronouncement by Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary General, that the financial crunch, growing world food shortages, and global warming, cannot be separated and must be treated with equal urgency.

“We are going through unprecedented multiple crises,” he told the BBC.

The Secretary General was speaking as Ministers from member countries of the world body meet at Poznan, at the mid-point of a two-year project for dealing with climate change.

It follows the Bali summit last year.

A strong commitment to that may, or may not come from Brussels in the coming two days.

The 27 EU heads will be working to put into law their commitment of the last two years to an attack on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – to be measured by a 20% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, by 2020.


The sudden onset of economic hard times has cooled interest in the project; Central and Eastern European governments, especially Poland, have been pointing out that they are poor in clean energy resources, and should be offered special concessions, if they are to continue with the 20/20 project.

Those might be financial breaks, such as concessions on  the value on products they commit to a world carbon trade.

The second main question for the EU gathering will be a proposed economic stimulus package, not unlike programs now being undertaken, or fo reshadowed in the United States, China or Australia.

It comes down to increased spending, in the order of  €200-billion (A$396.63-billion;, 11.12.08); strongly supported by the French Presidency,  under Nikolas Sarkozy,  while others, including the German government, the largest economic power, are hesitating over likely deficits that will result.

The third pressure point for the 27 leaders this time will be a replay of the debate over the remaking of the EU, under the Lisbon Treaty, approved by all of the governments, ratified by the great majority, but blocked by a “no” vote in the Irish referendum last June. (See EUAustralia, “EU Heads: We’ll fight it out another day”, 21.6.08; “Heavyweights Tackle Brussels Stalemate, 23.6.08).

Irish political leaders are understood to have come up with a set of demands that could meet, and resolve public objections.

Those would see guarantees of national control over a range of rights issues, including abortion; taxation, and defence policy, specifically Ireland’s traditional neutralism.

They might also include a guarantee of top-level representation on the European Commission; Ireland as a small state would feel the loss of its permanent member of the Commission, if the Lisbon Treaty, as expected, reduced the Commission in size and caused a rotation of members from the different countries.


Simon Taylor, EU leaders face heavy session to get climate change deal, European Voice, Brussels, 10.12.08.

BBC News, “Irish ready to hold EU vote”; “Call for no delay on climate deal”,, (11.2.08)

Picture: European Council building, summit venue.