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Report from Bill Newton Dunn MEP

May 24, 2012 10:48 AM
By Bill Newton Dunn MEP
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

The EU ongoing financial crisis

In Brussels this week there was an "informal" summit of the 27 national leaders in the EU. They were again indecisive but may have inched slightly towards a solution - which in the end has to be moving towards a full federation. The Commission has announced that it will produce proposals how to get there. See http://euobserver.com/19/116336

Meanwhile, the 27 national leaders appear to prefer to wait for the result of the next Greek general election on 17th June. After the result of that is known, then it will be clear whether the Greek people accept that massive help from their friends also requires more changes in the way their country is run (collecting more taxes, reducing the state sector), or whether they prefer to go totally bankrupt and abandon the help from Europe and the International Monetary Fund.

A majority of MEPs in the parliament approved the proposal of a Financial Transaction Tax (originally known as the Tobin Tax after the American professor who first proposed it to pay to help the developing world). I voted against because the cost of the tax would certainly be passed on to the public by the banks and now is no time to impose new taxes.

Middle East

At a briefing here in the parliament about the Middle East, while NATO in Chicago finalised its plans to withdraw from Afghanistan without solving either the opium crop problem and the Taliban problem (and one wonders whether China might be the next outsider to try its luck in Afghanistan ?) I learned that Sinai is becoming a new centre for Al Qaida, with operatives moving there from Libya, Egypt, Somalia, etc. Also that the fighting in Syria has splintered, now being not only between government and rebels, but also between Sunnis and Shias.

Finally...

At a briefing by DotEU ( ie .the domain that issues emails ending in .eu ) who gave a breakfast in the parliament to celebrate their first five years in existence, their CEO told a story to illustrate how it is necessary to get every detail right when you are dealing with many different countries and languages. His story was was that one of the famous giant detergent manufacturers who used a big poster advert. The poster showed three pictures like a cartoon : the first showed dirty clothes, the second showed a washing machine using their detergent, the third showed clean clothes. Simple and powerful. Except that when they used the poster in Arab countries, they forgot that Arabs read from right to left.

All the best,

Bill