Reasons #1, #2 & #3: Guy Verhofstadt, J-C Juncker, and The Italian Job
1. Update on Sleazeball Verhofstadt
Further to the Slog’s last exposé on Fatty Verhofstadt, it turns out that Greasy MEP Guy’s Sofina connection is also going to help him make a bob or two from the proposed Thessalonika Water privatisation. But his sticky fingers extend beyond the Boël dynasty.
The old Athens airport in the seaside neighbourhood of Glyfada was acquired by Lamda Development (owned by Spiros Latsis, Greece’s richest man) in February 2014. It was the only one asked to take part in the tender announced by the Greek Privatization Agency – in a joint offer with a fund from Abu Dhabi, Chinese Fasun and private European capital.
Valuation sources later estimated that the Latsis bid secured the development site at somewhere between a seventh and a third of its real worth. Latsis remains close to fierce Tsipras critic and all-round hypocritical Belgian crook Guy Verhostadt. Two weeks ago, Verhofstadt failed to declare an interest in either this deal or other Greek privatisation ventures. In this latest case, the money goes to Guy’s Friends of Europe (FOE) cronies via consistent and generous donations from…..Spiros Latsis.
Spiros is on the Board of FOE Trustees….as is Verhofstadt:
There are no less than three former Belgian Prime Ministers in the FOE’s cosy little club. The Slog will be taking a closer look at its activities as time goes on….all relevant and accurate information gratefully received.
In return for these packed-full brown envelopes, part of Guy’s job in lobbying for Latsis is to ensure that Syriza (which has cancelled the old airport privatisation) is banished from power in Greece at the earliest opportunity. But the Belgian Booby is not Spiros’s only EU lapdog, peeps: he also té-toi’s with our old friend Jean-Claude Drunker.
2. Juncker, Europe’s top tax-evasion fixer
Spiros Latsis lives with his wife Margarita in Switzerland, where his main businesses are based. But 548 tax rulings in Luxembourg from 2002 to 2010 have also been central to his successful evasion of EU tax. These secret deals feature complex financial structures designed to create drastic tax reductions, providing written assurances that companies’ tax-saving plans will be viewed favourably by Luxembourg authorities.
Jean-Claude Juncker, who has vowed – as Commission President – to crack down on tax evasion, risibly insists that Luxembourg’s tax laws are in ‘full accordance’ with European law. They are not. Along with Guy Verhofstadt, he is a whore rewarded by Latsis to defend his interests in preference to those of the People – a protector of serial tax evaders: nothing more, nothing less.
3. The Italian basket-case
There was a hilarious piece at the BBCNews website the other day, referring to Italy’s economy as ‘infinitely more mainstream and stable’ than that of Greece. I love it when major MSM institutions write this kind of twaddle, probably without ever going near the place beyond two weeks in Chiantishire every year.
Post Berlusconi Italy is a mess. Greece functions (despite the infinitely more severe bullying it has taken from the EC/ECB/Eurogrope axis of depravity) whereas Italy doesn’t. Greek élitists took huge backhanders but at least the projects happened. Berlusconi and his Blairite mates took all the money, and did nothing.
Italian infrastructure is a joke, unemployment a nightmare (it’s increased without cessation since Q3 2007) crime is out of control, corruption beyond anything the Greeks could imagine, and obstructionism beyond belief: it takes 223 days on average to have a building permit approved. Italy somehow retains its position as a G7 country, and yet is 102nd out of 189 countries for getting electricity, 141st for paying taxes, 56th for ease of doing business. In Spring 2013, it lied about its gdp growth figures. Even the weather service has been known to take bribes and lie about the hours of east-coast resort sunshine. Unsurprisingly, 89% of Italians think politicians are either corrupt or very corrupt.
However, the core problem – as always with ClubMed – is the debt to gdp ratio. Like unemployment, it’s risen steadily since 2007 when it was at 103%, and now stands at over 132%. Given the Italians achieved this without the unique Troika bailout accelerator feature (but with the usual limp wrist of Tricky Trichet at work in the background) you can judge for yourselves the depth of the tutti-frutti doodoo Italy is in.
Let’s be real here for a second and face up to one very simple, obvious reality: Italy’s national debt is every bit as unsustainable as that of Greece. And while its economy is at last showing weak signs of recovery, the income this might generate to reduce that debt is minute. Just servicing its debt costs the country €90bn a year, and last year the total budget surplus was €78bn…weaker than the year before. If current trends were to continue, it will be a century before Italian debt is down at a manageable level – and that assumes higher growth plus reduced government costs for the entire period. This clearly isn’t going to happen: when Italy blows – and it is when, not if – we will be talking about failed fiscal control on a scale way above Greece.
We will also be staring down the barrel of a gun with a hair trigger compared to that of Greece. The comfortable Greek professional classes have a near-compulsive fear of leaving the euro: such a compliant attitude to Brussels-am-Berlin bullying is almost absent in Italy. The treatment of Greece has already forced Italians to wonder whether eurozone membership is really worth it. Italy’s second largest party, the Five Star Movement, overtly demands a referendum on whether to stay in the currency union.
This series will continue throughout the run-in to Britain’s IN/OUT referendum, now scheduled for June 2016. It is already clear that the Conservative government will blur all the lines between Party and governance comms expenditure in order to pull things its way…as well as having the might of UK europhile media behind it.
To be clear, The Slog is not “supporting UKip”; rather, it supports the idea of getting away from a corrupt, dictatorial and debt-riddled European Union in search of better long-term prospects elsewhere. My case is nothing whatever to do with patriotism and Little Englander attitudes: it is to do with getting more commercial minds into government, not corporacratric greed. Staying a member of the EU is bad for individual liberty and security, bad for the long-term economy, and a locking device that will make it impossible to pursue a more entrepreneurial and communitarian econo-fiscal strategy wherein the keynote is independent self-sufficiency.