Monday, 14 November 2011

Memos from Member States...

The United Kingdom: Support grows for Occupy London protest
War veterans are the latest in a long line of recruits joining the Occupy protests outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Such is the scale of the protest that, in a break with tradition lasting more than 800 years, the new Lord Mayor of the City of London was this week anointed at the cathedral’s south entrance rather than the building’s front steps.

The peaceful protest against economic inequality, social injustice and corporate greed began on 15 October 2011 in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York. The protestors occupy two encampments in central London in St Paul's Cathedral and Finsbury Square.

As protestors attended Remembrance Day services at St Paul's Cathedral, they were joined by former service personnel with their own list of grievances against the government. At least 15 military veterans have joined the camp in protest over their post-conflict treatment.

Their presence serves to illustrate the increasingly diverse support base of the anti-capitalist Occupy movement, which, just weeks after the protests led to the resignation of three of the cathedral's leading clerics, has now been endorsed by a canon in residence at St Paul's.

Belgium: Budgetary deadline set by European Commission
The latest economic forecast issued by the European Commission for Belgium predicts that the nation’s economy will grow by just 0.9 per cent next year, lower than estimated two months ago.

The Commission also called for all budgetary cuts to enter into rigour by mid-December, warning that if no action is taken, Belgium's budget deficit will top 4.6 per cent in 2012 and sovereign debt could exceed 100 per cent of GDP.

In response to the Commission’s report, Belgian Prime Minister, Yves Leterme, called on the six parties negotiating the formation of a new Federal Government to come to an agreement on budgetary reforms for 2012.

The Netherlands: An asylum seeker’s victory
The Dutch parliament has granted temporary reprieve to 18-year old Angolan asylum seeker, Mauro Manuel, allowing him to remain in the country on a student visa. Mr Manuel has become a symbol for other young asylum seeker s in the Netherlands, who, under Dutch immigration law, must return to their native countries when they turn 18.

Despite its historically open attitude to asylum seekers and immigrants, the Netherlands has become increasingly divided over immigration, as concerns mount over the number of Muslim immigrants in the country and their integration into Dutch society.

The political influence of Geert Wilders has had much to do with this shifting stance. As leader of the anti-immigration, anti-Islam Freedom party, he has a pact with the minority coalition government: in exchange for tough policies on asylum seekers, the Freedom party usually supports government to give it a majority in the parliament.

Sources: Agence France Presse, Bloomberg, Reuters, The Guardian, El País, BBC News, The Economist, Le Monde, The Financial Times,

By Sonia Jordan