Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Cometh the hour, cometh Van Rompuy?

van rompuy2Three months ago, Herman van Rompuy might have struggled to be recognised on the streets of his native Belgium, let alone Paris or London. The bookish former prime minister, a fan of camping holidays and Haiku poetry, was nothing if not low-key; a studious consensus builder in the world of Belgian politics.

Three months on and Van Rompuy, 62, may not outwardly have changed much, but his title and the expectations surrounding him certainly have. In November he was chosen to be the first permanent president of the European Council, the body that represents the EU’s 27 leaders, and on Thursday he will host those heads of state and government at an economic summit in Brussels — the first such gathering he has chaired.

With Greece under extreme pressure with its mounting deficit and debt problems, and Portugal, Spain and Italy threatening to go the same way, the summit comes at a critical time. It is perhaps the most serious test of Europe’s monetary union since the euro single currency was introduced 11 years ago.

“Cometh the hour, cometh the man”, some might say, even if one wonders whether Van Rompuy would have been the first name on most European leaders’ lips at such a pressing time.  But Van Rompuy it is, and he has his work cut out if he is going to seize the moment and tackle one of the EU’s biggest problems.

Does Washington care about the EU?

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Try as it might, the European Union’s efforts to act like a bigger player in world affairs keep running into obstacles.

The latest setback is a report that President Barack Obama won’t be able to make it to the annual EU-U.S. summit this year, pencilled in for Madrid in May. A hectic domestic agenda and the fact the U.S. president made 10 foreign trips last year — more than any other president in his first year in office — means staying at home is the priority and the Europe Union will have to wait.

Criticise Italy at your peril!

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Attacks on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in the British press have hit an especially raw nerve as he hosts this year’s G8 summit and some Italian newspapers have had enough.

The summit has come at a particularly sensitive time for the beleaguered Italian leader, who has been dogged for weeks by salacious scandals involving allegations he has a soft spot for underage women and has entertained escort girls.

from UK News:

On the frontline of the G20 summit

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Abolish money. Punish the  looters. Eat the bankers.

Ageing 1960s hippies and their youthful anti-globalisation descendants joined in an angry  anti-capitalist protest at the Bank of England on Wednesday, waving placards and shouting slogans reflecting  a common fury at perceived corporate greed.

With worldwide recession destroying jobs by the week, protesters at the G20 protest in the City of London demanded an end to what they see as a global, predatory system that robs the poor to benefit the privileged.

from UK News:

Ghost of past failure haunts G20

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Stopping off in New York during a marathon, 18,000-mile diplomatic offensive before next week’s G20 summit in London next week, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown recalled a conference held in eerily similar circumstances in London 76 years ago.

Sixty-six nations gathered for the June 1933 London Monetary and Economic Conference which was aimed at lifting the world’s economy out of the Depression.

Has Syria come in from the cold?

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assad.jpgThe European-Mediterranean summit in Paris might have produced grand projects ranging from cleaning up the Mediterranean sea to using North Africa’s sunshine to generate power. But that is is not what it will be remembered for.

It will be remembered for the glorious welcome it bestowed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who until yesterday was persona non-grata in the West, an autocrat leading a pariah regime, which many believe orchestrated the 2005 killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.  

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