- Posted July 8, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Eye On Europe - July 8th
Europe continues to be the boiling cauldron which may affect the US presidential election and plunge the world into another financial meltdown. European leaders continue to try and work through the troubling fiscal issues and squabble over austerity versus spending.
Bank Scandal: A global investigation into manipulation of interbank lending rates widened on Friday with Britain's fraud squad taking up the case and sources telling Reuters that Germany's markets regulator had launched a probe into Deutsche Bank.
Authorities in the United States, Europe, Japan and Canada are examining more than a dozen big banks over suspected rigging of the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor). Britain's Barclays has so far been the only bank to admit wrongdoing, agreeing last week to pay a fine of more than $450 million.
The rate-fixing scandal has exploded into the front ranks of politics, especially in Britain, where politicians say the bankers responsible should end up in jail.
Romania: The Council of Europe has asked constitutional experts to examine Romania's suspension of its president after Germany and the United States criticized the action by the ruling leftist alliance, saying it threatened the rule of law.
"I am very concerned about the recent developments in Romania, especially about actions taken by the government and the parliament in respect of key democratic institutions," the council's Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland said.
"I have requested an opinion from the Council of Europe's Commission for Democracy through Law - of which Romania is a member - on whether these actions are compatible with democratic principles and the rule of law."
Germany: Around half of Germans are prepared to give up some national powers to Brussels in the pursuit of a common European Union financial policy, according to a poll by Emnid for the German magazine Focus.
Some 49 percent of the 1,000 Germans surveyed for the poll supported handing over more power to the EU, in line with the closer European fiscal and political union championed by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Some 44 percent were opposed.
Closer Euro Unity - The desecration of dozens of graves of Germans killed in World War I and buried in a French cemetery clouded a historic meeting Sunday by the leaders of the two nations, who urged Europeans to set aside economic worries and deepen their union.
In the medieval cathedral in Reims, France, a city battered by the two world wars, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel marked the 50th anniversary of a meeting between France’s Charles de Gaulle and Germany’s Konrad Adenauer that paved the way for decades of cross-border partnership.
Greece: Greece's new finance minister on Saturday pledged to carry out reforms and privatizations demanded under its latest financial rescue in an attempt to regain credibility with international partners stumping up money to keep the country afloat.
But he also warned of a tough road ahead in convincing the so-called troika of European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank lenders to give Greece more time and money.
"The negotiations will not be quick - they will be long and arduous," he told parliament during a debate ahead of a confidence vote on the government on Sunday.
"Additional time is required because the recession was bigger than expected. The extension means someone will have to give us more money and this is not simple."
Spain: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Saturday that he will take additional steps to reduce the public deficit in the coming days and renewed his call on Europe to quickly implement a rescue plan for Spanish banks.
Rajoy is expected to announce on Wednesday in Parliament budget measures including a likely hike in the value-added tax, and cuts to benefits for public workers.
Italy: A 307-mile highway built by corrupt contractors is falling apart, and now the EU wants its grant money back.
The highway, which was started in 1929 but not completed until 1974, has been the subject of decades of controversy and criticism within Italy because of questionable contracts and allegations of corruption. Now, the European Union is making Italy pay back $471 million in grant money after its anti-fraud arm found what it calls “widespread irregularities” in how the grant contracts were awarded by the Italian regional governments of Campania, Basilicata, and Calabria.
But because the grant money is gone, it will be Italian citizens who will have to shoulder the repayment. “This money had already been spent, so the Italian state is obliged to give it back to the EU with the burden subsequently falling on taxpayers,” said Giovanni Kessler, head of the European Commission’s Anti Fraud Office (OLAF).
Let Non-Euro Stats In - Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Sunday that European integration should not only be based on the countries sharing the euro currency, but should also include other EU members such as Britain and Poland.
"I'm a bit uncertain whether we should really try to pursue a more cohesive European economic and political process simply based on the euro zone," Monti told a conference in Aix-en-Provence, in southern France.
"I know in France that is a widely held view, but I have reservations. It would be best not to isolate ourselves too much from the other parts of the European Union," he said.
From the Cornfield, we must remain vigilant less we get caught with our pants down in the event the Euro Zone crumbles.