• War Divides

    Foreign policy think tank expects dissipating support for Ukraine war and warns of polarization in the EU. Those favoring rapid peace already the majority.

    BERLIN/ROME (Own report) – A Europe-wide think tank, headquartered in Berlin, warns of a long-lasting polarization in the EU caused by the Ukraine war. As the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) acknowledged in its evaluation of the results of its survey, conducted in ten European countries, it is possible to identify already today, two clearly distinct opinion spectrums within the population. Whereas one of these insists, Russia must be defeated at all costs, the other urges a rapid peace settlement, even if this means Ukraine must make concessions. This is due to fears that the war will have negative consequences on the living standards throughout Europe and even threatens to escalate into a nuclear conflict. The ECFR considers that if the Ukraine war continues, the pendulum could swing in favor of those favoring peace, possibly endangering the cohesiveness of the EU. Declining support for arms deliveries to Ukraine had already been registered in Germany in May. In Italy, public protests opposing them are even spreading. Read more

  • ROME/BERLIN (Own report) - Financial experts from Switzerland's major UBS bank are warning of Italy's considerable risks in the case of a recession in the euro zone and they do not rule out the country's exit from the euro. If there is a recession, Rome must expect credit downgrades, UBS notes. Its national debt could easily soar out of control, and leaving the euro possibly could no longer be avoided. A fierce dispute is looming between Berlin and Brussels, on the one hand, and with Rome on the other, because Italy's budget deficit is higher than expected, due to its significant economic slump. Brussels and Berlin are currently only hesitant about engaging in the dispute because of the conflict over the Brexit and particularly because of the approaching EU elections, according to observers. At the same time, Germany is, itself, also moving toward stagnation, not least of all, because of a slump in Germany's export-dependent automotive industry. Read more

  • BERLIN/ROME/BEIJING (Own repot) - The West's power struggle against China is provoking new tensions between Germany and Italy. According to reports published last week, the Italian government plans to conclude a cooperation agreement with Beijing within the framework of the "New Silk Road" (Belt and Road Initiative, BRI) to benefit from Chinese investments in Italy's infrastructure, e.g. the Trieste port and Italy's power grid. China has already invested in several of the EU's periphery countries, heavily affected by Berlin's austerity dictate - such as Greece and Portugal - which gladly welcome these investments as relief. The German government is now beginning to make moves against this. Berlin seeks to prevent the People's Republic of China from increasing its influence within the EU and fears inner-European resistance if it takes aggressive action against its East Asian rival. Fierce debates are expected at the EU summit at the end of next week and at the EU-China summit on April 9. Read more

  • All or Nothing

    BERLIN/LONDON/PARIS/ROME (Own report) - London's government crisis escalated yesterday under the pressure of Berlin and the EU’s unaccomplishable Brexit requirements. Prime Minster Theresa May has barely survived a vote of confidence, which was ultimately triggered by the so-called backstop. Brussels insists on a regulation, which could indefinitely subjugate Great Britain to a customs union, without an option for a unilateral withdrawal and erect a trade border between two areas of the United Kingdom. These provisions are in Germany's interests, but they will plunge Great Britain into chaos. The current government crisis in France is largely due to the austerity programs imposed by Berlin on Paris - while refusing to make any concessions at the EU level. In France and Great Britain, the extreme right is profiting, like in Italy, where Berlin’s drastic austerity dictates, have already crushed the traditional political establishment. Read more

  • ROME/BERLIN (Own report) - German politicians and media are intensifying pressure on Rome in anticipation of today's EU Commission verdict on Italy's national budget. Already last week, EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger announced, in reference to the Italian deficit, that the Italian government must "correct" its draft budget. Media reports refer to a "black week" for Rome. Negative reporting - like rating agencies' devaluation of Italy's creditworthiness - can contribute to the destabilization of Italy's financial and credit markets. The country's current downward spiral threatens to re-escalate the banking crisis. Whereas Berlin insists that the EU take sharp measures against deficits, Germany's Finance Minister at the time, Wolfgang Schäuble had prevented the EU Commission from taking measures against excessive surpluses, which the commission sees as potentially just as destabilizing. Germany has been achieving these surpluses year after year. Read more

  • TRIPOLI/BERLIN (Own report) - Sea rescuers, critical observers and experts are warning against the EU's plan to reinforce Libya's Coast Guard. Last weekend, sea rescuers announced they would file a lawsuit against the coast guard for allegedly leaving three people behind on the high seas in a disabled dinghy. A woman and a child died a miserable death. Already in June, the United Nations had imposed sanctions on several of the EU's Libyan cooperation partners - including the coast guard commander in Zawiya, the leader of a militia, accused of using firearms to sink migrant boats. Experts warn that by transforming civil war militias into coast guard units rather than disarming them, the EU is actually rewarding the armed militias and undermining the officially aspired reconstruction of the Libyan state. In the meantime, initial signs of opposition to the brutal repulsion of refugees are appearing within Italy's Coast Guard: Officers were refusing to follow orders and are voicing their criticism publicly. Read more

  • Too Big to Fail

    ROME/BERLIN/BRUSSELS (Own report) - The dispute in the EU over the economic policy of Italy's new right-wing government is becoming more acute in the context of the looming economic upheavals throughout Europe. After Italian bankers warned Rome to continue with the austerity policy applied over the past few years, Italy's new European Affairs Minister, Paolo Savona, called for a €50 billion-investment program. Prior to this demand, he publicly raised the possibility of Italy abandoning the euro. If Italy should exit the common currency, Berlin would have to expect huge losses and presumably write off €120 billion in the Target2 clearing system. In view of this, Germany's Finance Minister, Olaf Scholz, recently called the euro "irreversible." Considerable risks are not only looming because of Italy’s precarious situation, but also because of the escalating trade conflicts endangering exports - the very foundation of the German economic model. Read more

  • ROME/BERLIN (Own report) - With EU backing, the Italian government's rampage of refusing to accept refugees is continuing. Over the weekend, Rome again closed its ports to one of its government's ships and a ship from EU authorities, because they were carrying refugees, who had been in distress at sea. Italy's Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, refuses to accept the refugees and threatens to deport them to Libya. In so doing, Italy is simultaneously violating several fundamental norms of international law. Berlin and the EU are not protesting. On the contrary, several EU countries are supporting Rome in its measures against private maritime rescuers - which, in the meantime, have had to shut down their operations. Rome is also receiving support from Germany. An influential weekly is setting the social democratic oriented milieus into the right mood to refuse solidarity with the maritime rescuers. In June, the number of victims had skyrocketed, fueled by the fact that the sea rescuers are no longer in a position to save drowning refugees. Read more

  • "Interfere!"

    ROME/BERLIN (Own report) - Following massive pressure from Berlin, Italy's new government has renounced on appointing a well-known euroskeptic to become economy and finance minister. The renowned economist Paolo Savona must accept a less prominent post as Minister for European Affairs - above all because he criticizes Germany's blatant policy of domination at the expense of the other euro zone countries. The far right Lega Nord is now almost as strongly represented in Rome's government as the 5-Star Movement: Due to Germany's open interference, Lega's poll ratings have soared, thereby significantly increasing its political clout. In the run-up, German politicians and media had reactivated a tactic they had been using since the beginning of the euro crisis: With warnings of harsh financial market reactions, they fuel the fear of a crisis, thus applying even more pressure on Rome. According to German media with wide circulation, Italy's policy "concerns all of us" - "Interfere!" Read more

  • Eurocracy

    ROME/BERLIN (Own report) - Following massive complaints from Germany, Italy's President Sergio Mattarella blocked a euroskeptic from becoming his country's finance minister, appointing an IMF man - favored by Berlin - to be prime minister. The democratically elected 5-Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right Lega Nord majority's opportunity to form a government was thereby denied. Euroskeptic Paolo Savona, a renowned career economist, was rejected because he could not have insured the maintenance of the EU's common currency. Under his administration, resistance to Berlin's austerity dictate could have been expected, whereas the newly appointed Prime Minster Carlo Cottarelli passed the test a few years ago as the Rome government's austerity commissioner ("Mr. Scissors"). Savona's nomination is the result of Italy's growing euroskepticism, which, in the meantime, is also shared by other economists. "Germany profits, Italy loses" through the introduction of the euro, concludes Savona's alternative candidate to the post of finance minister. Read more