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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 05-12-15

The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Fight Over EU Budget
  • [02] Without Transport and DEKOs
  • [03] Bill Voted For Amid Reactions

  • [01] Crucial Summit in Brussels Fight Over EU Budget

    15 Dec 2005 09:57:00 (Last updated: 15 Dec 2005 13:27:26)

    By Athina Saloustrou

    Sources: ANA, NET, BBC Greek

    Todays Summit in Brussels between the 25 Member-States of the European Union is expected to turn into a battlefield, because of the intense disputes over the Community budget for the period 2007-2013. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the Summit is crucial, especially after the negotiations fiasco last June and the rejection of the European Constitution in France and the Netherlands. "The non achievement of an agreement would send out a negative message to citizens, a message that Europe is in deadlock and cannot progress." The 25 leaders should go over the budget tonight, following the first talks on the other two issues of the Summit: the VAT percentage and its reduction in restaurants, according to Frances request, and the declaration of FYROM into a candidate country. EU President for the current semester British PM Tony Blair will try to find his way round budget manoeuvres, as the most important Member-States have voiced their intense disagreement to his proposals. Before the opening of the Summit, Blair will have the opportunity to converse with French President Jacques Chirac in private in an ultimate effort to reach an acceptable compromise.

    London Asks CAP Review

    In an effort to lift the deadlock, the UK offered an olive branch to the new Member-States by granting more funds in some of them. However, the proposal of the British Presidency does not include France and Tony Blair insists on reviewing the CAP in exchange for reducing the British rebate. Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have also raised objections to the new budget, which provides for increased spending on research and development, thus enlarging the crisis in the European Union.

    The revised proposals, which were submitted yesterday and rejected immediately by almost all Member-States and the Commission President, include an overall ceiling for the Budget for 2007-2013 at 849.3 billion euros (1.03% of the EU's Gross National Income). They also provide for a 2.3 billion-euro increase in Community expenditures, in relation to the previous proposal, which limited aid to the new Member-States by 10%. The proposals keep the rebate. Indeed the rebate will rise, from an annual average over recent years of 5 billion euros to around 7 billion. Blair simply accepted to reduce the rebate increase, which means the UK would lose 8 billion euros from the 50 to 55 billion euros it would receive in 2007-2013. So far, Blair linked all revisions on the issue of the British rebate to the total reduction of agricultural spending. However, these grants have been adopted for the period 2002-2013 and most European countries, including France, refuse to touch them.

    Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the changes are inadequate, while Poland threatened to exercise its veto right, thus foreshadowing another deadlock in the Summit's negotiation talks. Germany feels the UK's latest proposals do not limit the chances of reaching an agreement over the Community Budget, but underlined the actual negotiations would begin in today's session. "I would not say it is on the wrong direction," stated German Chancellor Angela Merkel, after meeting with the Premiers of the confederate German states. "However, reaching an agreement or not has not become more or less likely. Actual negotiations have not started yet, but prospects have not been affected by the revised British proposals," stressed Angela Merkel, underlining Germany is interested in reaching an agreement on the 2007-2013 Budget, "but it cannot happen at any cost."

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    Read the story on other sources:

    BBC: EU seeks to end budget deadlock

    Financial Times: EU states reject UK budget proposals

    The Guardian: Blair risks French anger on EU budget deal

    The Times: Back to the brinkmanship for leaders on perilous summit

    [02] Strikes Continue Without Transport and DEKOs

    15 Dec 2005 00:02:00

    By Vivian Papastefanou

    Major transport problems for the second day in a row, as all public means of transport have pulled the handbrake, while DEKOs will remain closed too, due to the 48-hour strike, which employees have called reacting to the Bill on DEKOs. What is more, OSE (Hellenic Railways Association) workers are also on strike, while the EKAV (National Centre for Emergency Medical Care) and hospital will be running on emergency staff. Olympic Airlines are performing one flight per destination. As for yesterday, public services operated on emergency personnel, most means of transport performed no routes, ships remained docked in ports, while planes did not take off. At 12:30, OTA (Local Self-Government Organisation) contract workers will rally at Klafthmonos Square, demanding to be included in the permanent working status. Violent incidents were reported yesterday, during GSEE's rally. A group of 30 masked men torched a police car with Molotov cocktails at the junction of Alexandras avenue and Spyridonos Trikoupi, while they used iron bars to hit a reporter and a cameraman, who were covering the story. However, the perpetrators disappeared before police forces had the time to arrive on site. Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis said the hooded extremists are the enemies of the state and order and called on citizens to assist the authorities in the task. POESY (Panhellenic Federation of Journalists' Unions) and ESIEA (Journalists Union of Athens Daily Newspapers), as well as unionists, condemned the incidents.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [03] The Bill on DEKOs Bill Voted For Amid Reactions

    14 Dec 2005 21:17:00

    By Vivian Papastefanou

    Sources: NET, ANA

    The bill that foresees changes in DEKOs operations was voted in principle by Parliaments Plenary Session with 160 votes for and 119 against after a roll-call vote demanded by PASOK. It was voted for by ND MPs and independent MP Stefanos Manos, while voted down by PASOK, KKE and SYN. ND MP Giannis Manolis, a unionist for many years, did not vote the controversial Article 14, concerning collective negotiations ,on reasons of principle. Earlier, there was a fierce dispute between President of PASOK George Papandreou and Minister of Economy Giorgos Alogoskoufis, while during the discussion, voices were raised between Government members and the Main Opposition.

    Criticism on Government Policy

    President of PASOK noted that the Government is incapable of proposing the necessary planning for DEKOs, and it is only planning how fast and how cheap DEKOs will be sold off. Moreover, he referred to the precondition for reform of social consensus and estimated that the bill will undercut stability and social peace. PASOK, said Mr Papandreou, is the party what can guarantee reforms with social consensus and this is the greatest difference between PASOK and the Karamanlis Government. We have, he added, the philosophy of democracy and deliberations, and we guarantee the other way.

    Replying the Minister of Economy accused Mr Papandreou of remaining trapped in the political dead-ends of his party and called him to explain if he is in the past or the future, with development or personal interests. We, noted Mr Alogoskoufis, are proceeding with reforms, which temporarily could cost, but they are a one-way street and only this can lead the country forward.

    KKE General Secretary attacked ND and PASOK, accusing them of being completely in line with their programmed choices, in particular privatisations, which only serve the interests of the capital. "The two big parties are keeping up the competition and can only project hypocritical and demagogical arguments or manage existing problems created in the context of public enterprises," noted Mrs Papariga. Furthermore, she spoke of a class policy by ND and PASOK, while referring to the issue of collective contracts and labour relations, she accused the two parties of systematically working for the destruction of the unionist movement. The KKE General Secretary spoke of "a unionist aristocracy" with specific interests, which are not only for parties. She also made accusations over bilingualism to SYN. "It is with everything; with the liberation and against privatisations and with modern labour forms and against the abolishment of collective negotiations. Wherever the wind blows," underlined Mrs Papariga.

    On his part, President of SYN Alekos Alavanos described the Government as incapable of handing public assets and called on it to resign if it wants to operate with private and economic criteria.

    Disputes between Government and PASOK MPs

    A dispute took place between Minister of Economy and former Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis caused by Mr Alogoskoufis statement of the reform on labour relations not being unconstitutional, since, as he said, there is a relevant ruling by the Supreme Court in 1996, based on which it is a constitutional reform

    Mr Kaklamanis reacted, noting that there is no connection between the Supreme Courts ruling with the unconstitutional reforms attempted by the Government. "I will submit the Supreme Courts ruling as it constitutes a monument of unorthodox treatment of the Parliament by the Government," said Mr Kaklamanis.

    "I am saddened that the former Speaker of Parliament cannot read the Supreme Courts ruling, which states that it does not oppose Article 22 of the Constitution. Learn to listen and read. You have to revoke what you said over misleading the Parliament," replied Mr Alogoskoufis. "In the veil of the Governments authoritarianism the veil of Mr Alogosoufis hypocrisy should be added," commented Mr Kaklamanis.

    Fierce disputes took place between the Deputy Minister of Economy Petros Doukas and PASOK Parliamentary spokesperson Charis Kastanidis. "We fully respect the free negotiations and collective contracts. What we are saying is that detrimental enterprises cannot send the bill to the Greek taxpayers," underlined Mr Doukas.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    Related News:

    Dispute Over DEKOs


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