Atlantic Update 5/9/11


Today is all about the European economy, with the ‘big four’ holding secretive talks over Greece, Ireland receiving a loan rate reduction, while a "financial bomb" is diffused in Belgium. Libyan rebels look forward to Italian arms, an expectation quelled by Italy’s insistence that they will only include "self-defense material." Perhaps the Dutch could satiate their appetites as the Dutch Armed Forces bid ‘tot ziens’ to their Leopard tanks.


The EU as a style (ABC)

The question “What good is the Union?” will be heard again and again in the near future. Although the Economic and Monetary Union is straightening itself out and the foreign policy and security mechanisms are improving, a certain mistrust is real, writes academic José de Areilza Carvajal. (Full Text in Spanish)

Euro zone’s ‘big four’ hold secretive talks over Greece (Euractiv)

Finance ministers from the euro zone’s four biggest countries held a secretive meeting in Luxembourg on Friday night (6 May) to discuss Greece’s debt woes, amid speculation that Athens was threatening to leave the common currency.

‘The Only Real Option Left for Greece Is Debt Restructuring’ (Spiegel)

A secret meeting of EU finance ministers in Luxembourg on Friday has generated suspicions that a second bailout may soon be required for Greece’s stricken economy. Most German commentators agree that Athens’ departure from the euro zone or an overly swift restructuring of the country’s debt could have drastic consequences.

Europe Considers a New Bailout Package for Athens (Speigel)

Greece insists that there is no scenario under which it will exit the euro zone. But one German economist thinks such a move might be the lesser of two evils. Europe, meanwhile, may have to come to the country’s aid with a second bailout package.

Republic of Ireland to get ‘EU loan rate reduction’ (BBC News)

Ireland is to get an interest rate cut on the emergency loans it has acquired from EU bodies, the BBC has learned. Currently, Ireland pays an average rate of 5.8% on loans agreed with the IMF, fellow Eurozone countries and a special fund set up by the European Commission.

A respite for Belgium (Le Soir)

“The Belgian financial bomb defused,” leads Le Soir following the announcement by caretaker Prime Minister Yves Leterme via Twitter that Standard & Poor’s did not in the end downgrade Belgium’s credit rating (currently at AA+). “In the market’s view,” writes Le Soir, “our country is able to pay down its debt.” “Panic” had seized the Rue de la Loi (the Belgian government) on December 14 when the rating agency confirmed that the absence of a sitting government – the current one resigned in April 2010 – was undermining the creditworthiness of the country. Yves Leterme was then asked by the king to stay on as head of a caretaker government and draw up a budget with all possible urgency. Though the markets have been calmed for the moment, says Le Soir, “there is no shortage of reasons to unnerve them in the medium term […] The most cynical view is that without the threat of the markets (the country) might already be in tatters. For the main obstacle to fresh elections was precisely the spectre of a financial meltdown. […] For now, that threat has been staved off. Belgium has a wonderful new breathing space to carry out its reforms,” concludes Le Soir, with just a hint of sceptical disbelief. (Full Text in French)

NATO chief urges political solution as fighting rages in Libya (Deutsche Welle)

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has warned it will be necessary to find a political solution to the conflict in Libya, as fierce fighting breaks out near Misrata. Rebels there say they are short of supplies.

Libyan Rebels Say Italy Will Provide Weapons (Defense News)

Libya’s rebel government said May 7 that Italy has agreed to supply it with weapons to fight against Moammar Gadhafi, but government sources in Rome said only "self-defense material" would be sent. "They will supply us with arms and we will receive them very soon," Abdul Hafiz Ghoga, the vice chairman of the National Transitional Council, told reporters in the rebel capital Benghazi.

Tanks for sale (Radio Netherlands Worldwide)

Today, the Dutch armed forces are saying farewell to of all their 60 Leopard tanks, four mine sweepers and 14 Cougar helicopters. The cabinet has decided to make a structural one-billion-euro cut to the defence budget. The surplus hardware will be sold off and 12,000 jobs scrapped.


Lying will kill the euro (Süddeutsche Zeitung)

That’s not the way to save the euro, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung. With their secretive meeting on the Greek crisis, EU finance ministers have gambled away the last confidence of EU citizens in their governments. This must have consequences.

‘Al-Qaida Faces Difficult Times Ahead’ (Spiegel)

In the wake of the British royal wedding, perhaps the most successful PR achieved by a monarchy in two decades, essayist Ian Buruma argues that monarchies keep countries together, put a lid on ethnic conflicts and dampen down populism.


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