JULY 2007

  european news

The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre 24 Crawford Avenue Dublin 9 Ireland
Tel.: 00-353-1-8305792

Thursday 5 July 2007

Dear Friends,
The German-chaired Brussels summit the other weekend laid down the detailed terms of reference for the  EU Constitution Mark 2. This revised EU constitution will take the form of amendments to the two existing EC/EU treaties, the "Treaty on European Union" and the "Treaty Establishing the European Community",  including  a change of name for these treaties.  This will be done rather than repealing the existing treaties entirely  and replacing them with an explicitly named  EU Constitution  as in the "Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe" which was signed in October 2004 and was voted down by the French and Dutch peoples in summer 2005.
The word "constitution" is not to be used and the proposal to give a legal basis to the EU flag, anthem and national day is to be removed - while these will continue in use without a legal basis as they have existed for years. Some other minor changes are to be made, but while a legal basis for the symbols of EU statehood is to go,the reality they symbolise will be brought into being. The new treaty, though it will have a different legal form, will be 90% or more the same as the old, as Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other EU leaders have frankly admitted.

The new treaty  will be just as much an EU Constitution as the old in that it will CONSTITUTE  or establish a legally new Euroepen Union in the legal form of a supranational State for the first time, and it will make us all real citizens of that State, endowed with real citizens' duties of obedience to its laws and loyalty to its authority, over and above our national Constitutions  and laws, rather than the nominal  or notional EU citizenship we have had up to now; for one can only be a citizen of a State.  The European Union up to now, as distinct from the European Community, has not even had legal personality, not to mind having the constitutional form of a State.

The Constitution Mark 2 will be drawn up under the Portuguese presidency and will be ready for signature in October next,  or by December at the latest,  after which it will go around for ratification by the 27 Member States  during 2008.  It is intended to avoid referendums on it wherever possible, in  case  the peoples may reject it in the way the French and Dutch did when they got  the chance.   The idea is to try to confine the whole process to the  political elites, at European and national level - for they know best what is good for us, and for themselves!  A referundum on it in Ireland is unavoidable however because of the Crotty case,  for which this organisation was substantially responsible.   

The article below outlines the main features of the new EU constitutional  treaty. It is an adaptation of an article by the undersigned in the Irish Times of 28 June, which was carried  as the main feature  on that day's op-ed page. 

For  a detailed  and legally authoritative analysis of what is likely to be in this  revised constitutional treaty, may I draw to your attention  the valuable material which has just been sent around by the "Open Europe" organisation in Britain. This is by far the best source of critical material on the EU on these islands, although this British-oriented material would need to be adapted slightly to  fit Irish circumstances.  What they term their "first analysis" of the negotiating mandate for the Intergovernmental Conference(IGC) to draw up the new constitutional treaty, given below, is  excellent and can be accessed and downloaded  at:
You and your colleagues  should  find this useful if you wish to understand the detailed ramifications of the proposed new treaty. Our Danish colleague Jens-Peter Bonde MEP and his legal team  will also be producing an authoritative criticism of the  constitutional treaty Mark 2 when that is ready at the end of the Portuguese presidency.

You might like to  to draw the article below or this "Open Europe" material and the relevant URLs to the attention of others who  may wish to obtain  more information at this stage on the implications of what was agreed at the German EU summit recently. 

Yours faithfully

Anthony Coughlan
PS. Two items following

ITEM 1:  WHAT THE EU CONSTITUTION AIMS TO DO ... ______________   The EU Constitution Mark 2,  whose main elements were agreed at the German-chaired EU summit at the end of June,  will take the form of amendments to the two existing EU/EC Treaties, the "Treaty on European Union"(TEU) and the "Treaty Establishing the European Community"(TEC).  This will be a change from the proposal to repeal  the existing European treaties entirely and  substitute for them the "Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe" which was signed in October 2004 but which was rejected by French and Dutch voters in summer 2005.
The new treaty will be called something different.  The word  "Constitution" will not occur in either its text or its title.  The provisions to give a legal base to the symbols of EU statehood - the flag, anthem, motto and annual national day -  will be dropped, while the reality of the EU statehood which they symbolise will be brought into being - and the flag, anthem etc. will continue in use anyway as they have existed for years without any legal basis.   Some other presentational changes will be made, but the new treaty will be legally  as much a constitution as the previous one, for it will CONSTITUTE  or establish a legally new European Union in the  constitutional form of a  State for the first time and will make us all real citizens of that State.

This would be the most important step to affect the Irish State since its establishment in 1921.  It would represent the final abandonment by Fianna Fail and the principal 26- County political parties of  all pretence to Republicanism  or concern for democracy and national independence, on which their claim to historical legitimacy has rested.

As Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other EU leaders have admitted frankly, the revised treaty will contain 90% or more of the Constitution which French and Dutch voters rejected two years ago. But by not calling  it  a constitution the EU elites hope that they will be able to avoid referendums on it and will be  able to push it through their national parliaments without giving their citizens a say.   

The treaty embodying the revised EU Constitution, although it will not be called that in order to facilitate its ratification without referendums in the EU Member States, would do six important things:-

  Firstly, the new treaty would add to the powers of the Brussels institutions, which already make the majority of our laws, in over 40 new policy areas - including energy, transport, tourism, public services, space, sport, civil and criminal law, civil protection, public health, the EU budget - while correspondingly reducing the powers of national States, national parliaments and citizens. 

Secondly, in making those laws the new treaty would increase the voting weight of the bigger EU States and reduce that of smaller States like Ireland.

Thirdly, It would deprive Member States of the right to have a representative at all times on the Brussels Commission, the body which has the monopoly of proposing European laws. Big States as well as small ones would lose a permanent Commissioner, but the economic and political weight of the former makes them inherently better able to defend their interests without such representation.

Fourthly, it would contain a mechanism to enable majority voting for European law-making to be extended to new policy areas by agreement among governments, without need of new treaties or treaty ratification.

Fifthly, it would make the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights legally binding on  the EU Member States and their citizens. This would give the 27 judges of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg - which has one Irish representative  - the final decision on the wide range of human rights matters covered by the Charter, as against national Constitutions and Supreme Courts, or the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. This would greatly extend the power of the EU Court, which one of its own judges once characterised as "a court with a mission" -  that mission being to extend the powers of the EU as widely as possible by means of the case law of a court that is notorious for "competency creep".  The Charter would apply in all areas of EU decision-making,which now makes most of our laws. It could lead to uniform standards being imposed across the EU as regards areas of human rights where there are significant national differences - for example trial by jury,  rules of evidence, censorship law, the criminalisation of hard drugs and prostitution,  rights attaching to State churches, conscientious objection to military service, euthanasia, succession rights to property, family law and the rights of the child and the elderly etc.  It could lead to jurisdictional disputes between the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg and the Court of  Human Rights in Strasbourg,  for the former court would have supremacy in any case of conflict between the two.  Moroever the Constitution will provide that  the exercise of the rights and freedoms recogised by the Charter may be limited "to meet objectives of general interest recognised by the Union". This  means that the rights set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights would not be so fundamental after all.  This is more about EU power than rights.  Human rights standards in the EU Member States are not so defective that they require a supranational EU Court to lay down a superior norm or to impose a common standard across the EU States and their Constitutions.  

Sixthly: Politically and constitutionally however, the most important thing the new treaty would do would be to give the new European Union which it would legally establish the constitutional form of a supranational State for the first time, making this new Union separate from and  superior to its 27 Member States.

This would make the EU just like the United States of America in that the US is separate from, and constitutionally superior to,  California and New York.  Similarly, Germany is separate from and superior to  Bavaria and Saxony. 

We would all be made real citizens of this  new EU State rather than notional or honorary European "citizens" as at present; for one can only be a citizen of a State. 

It is this which would give the new treaty the character of a Constitution or basic law for the legally new European Union which  it would establish. This change would be accomplished by three essential legal steps:-


The first legal step would be for the treaty to give the new European Union its own legal personality and distinct corporate existence for the first time, something that all States possess. This would enable the newly constituted EU to sign treaties with other States, have its own President, Foreign Minister - however called - diplomatic corps and Public Prosecutor, and take to itself all the powers and institutions of the existing European Community, which already has legal personality and which now makes most of our laws.  The symbols of European statehood - flag, anthem and national day - will be excised from the new treaty, for as Taoiseach Bertie Ahern explained vividly after the Brussels summit, as these annoy a lot of people. But the State reality they symbolize would nonetheless come into being.    
In this connection it is important to realise that what we call the European Union at present does not have legal personality or corporate existence in its own right, and what we term EU "citizenship" does not have supranational legal content. Properly speaking, therefore, there is no such thing as  "EU"(European Union) law, only "EC(European Community law. That would change with the proposed new treaty. What we call the European Union now -  a name which derives from the 1992 Maastricht Treaty on European Union -   is merely a general descriptive term for the various areas of cooperation between its 27 Member States - the area of supranational European law deriving from our continuing membership of the European Community, and the "intergovernmental" areas of foreign, justice and home affairs, where Member States still interact on the basis of retained sovereignty.

The second legal step in giving contitutional statehood to the new Union would be to abolish this distinction between the supranational "community" and the "intergovernmental" areas of the two existing European treaties, the Treaty on European Union(TEU) and the Treaty Establishing the European Community(TEC). Thus all spheres of public policy would come  within the scope of supranational EU law-making, either actually or potentially,  as in any unified State.  The newly established Union would then possess all the key features of a fully developed State except the power to impose taxes and to take its constituent Member States to war against their will. The Euro-integrationists hope that it will acquire these remaining features in time.        

The third legal step would be to make us all real citizens of this new EU State entity, with the normal citizens' duties of obedience to its laws and institutions and loyalty to its authority,  over and above our obligations to our national constitutions and laws, with all the implications of that. Those pushing the  EU State-building project  hope that voters  will not notice the radical character of the constitutional change proposed, for after all does not the EU exist already and are we not already EU "citizens"?  These familiar terms would continue to be used as if nothing had changed, although their legal substance would be transformed fundamentally.
That is why the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, which got us to use the terms "European Union" and EU "citizenship" for the first time, was titled a Treaty ON European Union, not OF  Union. The proposed new constitutional treaty would effectively be the Treaty OF Union, although it will be called something else. It would in effect be the capstone of the EU State edifice, which it is hoped to set in place nearly sixty years after the 1950 Schuman Declaration, which is commemorated annually on Europe Day, 9 May, proclaimed the European Coal and Steel Community to be the "first step in the federation of Europe".

It is no small thing to attempt to turn the citizens of the 27 Member States of the EU into real and not just notional citizens of a supranational "United States of Europe" which is separate from and superior to their own National States and Constitutions. It can only be done by deception and bullying -  and above all by avoiding  referendums that would enable people to decide such a fundamental constitutional  change themselves.  The strategic deception lies in the elaborate charade of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty on  European Union and the new Treaty of  European Union, which the proposed revised Constitutional Treaty in effect would be, although it is intended to give it some such spin-doctor's title as "Reform Treaty" to make it easier for the EU elites to get it ratified. 
By such sleight of hand are we to be made real citizens of a real European State that is superior to our own national States. Those pushing the new treaty hope that we will  thereby have real citizens' obligations of obedience, solidarity and loyalty to the new European Union  imposed upon us without our knowing or realising that this is happening.  If they should succeed, one can predict confidently  that the popular reaction will be all the more explosive,when people realise in due time what has been done.      

People may welcome or decry these proposed constitutional changes for the EU, but clearly they call to be widely analysed and discussed before we vote on them in Ireland.   (This document may be adapted and disseminated in any way one may wish, without reference to or acknowledgment of its source. )

_________________ ITEM 2: OPEN EUROPE INFORMATION ITEMS _________________  
  Open Europe bulletin: 29 June 2007

  • EU Constitution by any other name
  • Red lines beginning to fade
  • What other EU leaders are saying
  • How you can help
  • News in brief
  • Open Europe in the news

  1) EU Constitution by any other name At the summit on June 21-22 EU leaders agreed a deal on a revised Constitutional Treaty.  While the treaty is not yet finalised - the politicians only signed up to an outline of a text which will be thrashed out by diplomats between July and October - it is clear that they have agreed to retain the vast bulk of the proposals from the original Constitution.  In a detailed analysis, Open Europe argues that almost all of the contents of the original EU Constitution are to be reintroduced in the "new" version of the Constitutional Treaty.   The report highlights at least 40 areas where the contents are the same as the EU Constitution - which was overwhelmingly rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005.   Click the link to read the analysis, "The EU Constitution by any other name":    

 The Government is attempting to persuade voters that the new treaty is very different from the EU Constitution, and therefore not worthy of a referendum, even though it is unable to point to any substantial differences between the texts.   The Government has even resorted to claiming that the difference is that the new text is not a Constitution because it does not contain things such as the EU flag and anthem.  According to the Downing Street website: "Asked what it was in 2005 that required a referendum, and what were the elements of the constitution, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman replied they were elements such as flags, national anthems, etc."   In a short briefing note we examine the Government's case against holding a referendum:  

In a separate briefing, we look at EU leaders' attempts to avoid holding referendums across Europe as well as looking at opinion poll data on what voters in other European countries think:  

Open Europe has also released a briefing calling on the Liberal Democrats "keep their promise to back a referendum".  It argues that withdrawing their previous support for a public vote in order to please the Government would rob the Liberal Democrats of their distinctive commitment to principle.  

2) Red lines beginning to fade After signing the deal on the revised Constitutional Treaty, Tony Blair declared that it was a good deal for Britain because "The four essential things that we in the UK required in order to protect our position have all been obtained."   But the 'red lines' were there as a smokescreen.  The Government aimed to focus attention on areas where it thought it was likely to get a result in order to distract attention from everything else it was giving up.  For example, the 'red line' securing a safeguard on social security rights for migrant workers was never actually up for negotiation.   Unfortunately for the Government, legal experts have begun to question whether the safeguards that the Government has put in place to attempt to protect its other "red lines" will be worth the paper they are written on.  

Charter of Fundamental Rights The Government repeatedly insisted that it did not want the Charter of Fundamental Rights to become "legally binding" in the UK.  But the new treaty states that "the article on fundamental rights will contain a cross reference to the Charter on Fundamental Rights, giving it legally binding value." Open Europe interviewed several European Court of Justice (ECJ) judges who said the Charter would change national laws, despite the safeguards. This is crucial, as it would be the Court's judges who would ultimately decide on how to interpret the Charter if the Constitutional Treaty is ratified.   One EU judge said it would be "a basis for challenging national law". Another has said it is "foolish" to think it will not affect national laws. Even the President of the Court explicitly refused to deny that the Charter may be used to change member states' laws.  Several judges said that the Charter, despite the "safeguards", would give the court "more power". Asked whether the proposal for safeguards would work, one judge said "I guess not, because I saw what was the destiny of other safeguard clauses in the treaty."   The Government has inserted a new clause into the revised Constitutional Treaty which it hopes will give the UK an "opt-out" from the Charter, but legal experts have already called it into question.   Jacques Ziller, a professor at the European University Institute in Florence, said that the idea of one country opting out of the Charter was "nonsense" and would quickly be challenged in the courts. (European Voice, 31 May 2007)   Former EU Justice Commissioner Antonio Vitorino has questioned the legal basis for the British opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights and warned that it would not work. The Commission's legal experts have also taken the same view. (Guardian, 26 June 2007)   Legal Adviser to the Commons European Scrutiny Committee, Michael Carpenter questioned the claim by Tony Blair that the Charter of Fundamental Rights will not extend the ability of the European Court of Justice to challenge UK laws. Carpenter said: "This is a high standard to set, and I doubt if what appears to have been agreed secures this result." He indicated that the Charter could have an indirect impact on UK law, if the Court gave a ruling on the Charter's effect on a given EU law in another member state.   An EU official told EUobserver that the British exemption from the Charter of Fundamental Rights is "complicated" and that "The opt-out probably does not cover the whole of the Charter. The scope of application does not seem to be extraordinarily wide." (27 June 2007)   The Government has potentially created a lawyers' paradise with this messy fudge. It has clearly broken its repeated promise that the Charter would not become legally binding, whilst it is becoming clear that the much-vaunted safeguards simply will not work.   For more information on what a legally binding Charter would mean in practice see our new briefing:  

Foreign policy Despite repeated assurances from the Government that giving up vetoes in foreign policy was a "no-go area", the revised Constitutional Treaty would in fact introduce majority voting in seven areas of foreign policy.  The most important of these would be on proposals made by the new EU Foreign Minister.  This was initially described as "simply unacceptable" by Jack Straw when he was Foreign Secretary.  Unfortunately, the Government has rolled over and accepted it.   At the summit, Tony Blair strove to keep foreign policy inter-governmental and outside the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.  But according to Foreign Office officials, who spoke to the News of the World, this failed. The guarantee Blair had written into the new treaty was a "declaration" and not a "protocol".  A Foreign Office aide said, "There is a massive difference between a declaration and a protocol.  Everything else in the treaty is a protocol, but this is just a declaration.  It is a worthless promise and not legally binding.  Brussels will gradually expand its role in security, defence and foreign policy." (24 June)   The British Government also got the name of the EU Foreign Minister changed to "High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy".  But several EU leaders have played down the significance of this.  Nicolas Sarkozy said, "What does it matter what we call him?"   A Spanish diplomat said, "If your name is Maria, you can call yourself Jane, but you will still do Maria's job.  We have exactly what we wanted. The foreign minister will have the political clout necessary to do his job and will control the administrative services too. Blair was worried about this, but over lunch he calmed down."  

Justice and Home Affairs Another of the Government's 'red lines' was to maintain control over crime and policing issues.  What was eventually agreed was an opt-in arrangement - whereby the UK will have to decide whether to participate in new measures or not.  The problem is that once the UK has opted-in, it cannot decide to pull back out - even if the resulting law is not to its liking and it is outvoted.   But even more significantly, under the new Constitutional Treaty the European Court of Justice would get full jurisdiction over justice and policing.  This would make the ECJ the highest criminal court in the land, clearly breaching previous promises and crossing the red line. The Government themselves admitted that it was a big transfer of national sovereignty:

"The Government does not accept that we should agree to extend full ECJ jurisdiction over the very sensitive areas covered by the Third Pillar. These raise sensitive issues relating to national sovereignty - law and order and the criminal justice process."

"An acceptance of extended jurisdiction would have to be on a "once and for all" basis. This would be a significant extension of the ECJ's legal responsibilities."
This is a really big deal. Giving the Court competence is an even bigger transfer of power than giving up the veto. At least if there is a majority vote we can try to get other countries to support us and block things we don't like. But if the court makes a judgment we don't like there is simply no comeback.   The treaty would also sweep away restrictions to the EU Commission being able to act on our behalf in areas such as justice and policing.  This will mean that for the first time unelected EU Commissioners - rather than national ministers - will negotiate extradition treaties and deportation agreements with non-EU countries such as the United States.

Tony Blair was always going to return to London claiming "victory for Britain".  His tactic - to set up a number of straw men or 'red lines' which he knew he would be able to achieve - distracted many commentators from the other significant powers he handed over to Brussels.  These include: an EU President, an EU Foreign Minister, majority voting in over 60 new areas, a legal personality for the EU and a new voting system which will reduce Britain's voting strength by over 30%.     Gordon Brown has suggested that a referendum is not necessary because the red lines "have been achieved".  But it is becoming clear that even by the standards it set itself, the Government failed in the negotiations.  As more and more experts begin to question the so-called safeguards in the coming months it will only add to the pressure on Brown to let the people have a say.

  3) What other EU leaders are saying While the Government is attempting to argue that the revised Constitutional Treaty is fundamentally different to the old version, other EU leaders are being more honest.   German Chancellor Angela Merkel "The substance of the constitution is preserved. That is a fact." Telegraph (29 June)   Author of the EU Constitution Giscard d'Estaing "This text is, in fact, a rerun of a great part of the substance of the Constitutional Treaty." Telegraph (27 June)   German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier It will "preserve the substance of the Constitutional Treaty". Agence Europe (25 June)   Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero "A great part of the content of the European Constitution is captured in the new treaties". El Pais (23 June)   Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen "The good thing is...that all the symbolic elements are gone, and that which really matters - the core - is left." Jyllands-Posten (25 June)   Finnish Europe Minister Astrid Thors "There's nothing from the original institutional package that has been changed." TV-Nytt (23 June)   Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern "Given the fact that there was strong legal advice that the draft constitution in 2004 would require a referendum in Ireland, and given the fact that these changes haven't made any dramatic change to the substance of what was agreed back in 2004, I think it is likely that a referendum will be held... thankfully they haven't changed the substance - 90 per cent of it is still there." Irish Independent (24 June)   EU Commissioner Margot Wallstrom  "It's essentially the same proposal as the old Constitution." Svenska Dagbladet (26 June)  

4) Getting ready to campaign for a vote: how you can help We believe that in the modern world decisions should be made at the local level - close to the people they affect. The last thing we want is to give even more power to remote EU officials who are not accountable to anyone.  But the EU just keeps trying to grab more and more powers, no matter how many times people say "no". We need a vote to make Europe's politicians finally listen to the people - and sort out the failings of the EU.   The new constitutional treaty is yet another step in the wrong direction. It will be more of the same, consolidating the current failings of the EU, rather than introducing the reforms that Europe desperately needs.   Open Europe will be pressing to make sure that people are given the vote they were promised.   We will be working to make the case against the new treaty in every region.   If you would like to help please contact our Campaigns Manager:  

5) Open Europe's alternative family photo Open Europe staged an alternative 'family photo' on the edges of the EU summit on June 21.  It featured life-size cardboard cut-outs of all 27 EU leaders standing with their fingers in their ears, symbolising how politicians have disregarded the "no" votes in France and the Netherlands and ignored Europe's voters throughout the negotiation process.   The stunt was a huge success - over 35 TV crews from across Europe came to film the cut-outs and interview Open Europe Vice-Chairman Derek Scott.  The image also appeared in newspapers and magazines across the EU.   For more information and pictures from the stunt, please follow the link below:  

6) News in Brief German politicians call for a "supra-national European army." A number of leading MPs from the governing German SPD party have called on EU members to "integrate our national armies into a supra-national army, a European army." In their report - "On the way towards a European army" - they argue that, "National armies within an increasingly strong, supranational EU will gradually develop into relics of the last centuryŠ We should build on the successes of the European unification process, and as an expression of our common security interests we should have the courage to initiate a development at the end of which we have a European army."   EU spending millions on empty buildings. A report for the Court of Auditors has revealed that the EU is wasting tens of millions of euros by negotiating construction deals behind closed doors and by renting instead of buying many of its own buildings. The report reveals for example that the Commission is paying ¤6 million in rent for an empty building and that the Parliament bought three buildings worth ¤143 million in Strasbourg, without taking into account decades of rent paid, which had been inflated by the Strasbourg authorities. (FT 28 June EUobserver 27 June)  

Portugal hopes to reach agreement on Constitution by October 18. The incoming Portuguese Presidency has set aside only three months for negotiation on a new EU treaty. Formal negotiations will be opened on 23 July with the aim to have them concluded by 18-19 October. (EUobserver Le Monde 26 June)

New ICM poll: refusal to hold a referendum would cost Brown Labour votes. A new ICM poll of 1,000 people for Open Europe found that a majority of voters of all political parties want a referendum on the new constitutional treaty - and don't want to give more powers to the EU.  The poll also finds that refusing to hold a referendum may well damage Labour at the next election.  83% of Labour voters want a vote to be held on the text, as do 88% of Lib-Dem and Tory voters. 88% of trade union members want a referendum.  43% of Labour voters say they will be "definitely less likely" to vote for Brown if he does not hold a referendum. (Press release  21 June)

Daily European press summary Each morning Open Europe produces a summary of all the top stories from leading newspapers across Europe. Our team of researchers and linguists searches through the press from the UK, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands and Scandinavia for the latest news on the European Union.   If you would like to sign up for the service please register on our homepage :  

7) Open Europe in the news Sarkozy scuttles EU with change to Treaty Bloomberg  27 June On Bloomberg, in reference to Sarkozy's removal of the EU's commitment to "free and undistorted competition" Open Europe Director Neil O'Brien argued "We'll need to see what the lawyers make of it in practice. But this is a bad sign of the direction Europe is taking.'' 
A living treaty Newsnight Guardian letters EUpolitix BBC Mardell Guardian Houston Chronicle San Diego Tribune 26 June Open Europe Director Neil O'Brien appeared on Newsnight, arguing that the new treaty will represent a transfer of power to the EU, and noting that leaders around Europe are openly admitting that the new text is much the same as the Constitution.   On his blog, BBC Europe Editor Mark Mardell noted that the UK Government's 'safeguards' on the new treaty may not be as certain as he previously believed.  He described Open Europe as a "pretty amazing outfit" with a "meticulous and hyperactive research department", which calls the Government's line into question.  The Telegraph has a link to our analysis of the revised Constitutional Treaty on its website.   Neil O'Brien had a letter in the Guardian, responding to a recent leader in the newspaper. He argued: "The EU needs reform, not even more powers. Indeed, the process leading to the European constitution was launched in 2001 in the hope of "bringing Europe closer to its citizens". An attempt to smuggle the rejected constitution past the public by denying them a vote, which you seem to endorse, would be a truly pitiful end to the project."   Open Europe was quoted in numerous papers including the Guardian, NY Sun, Forbes Weekly, San Diego Tribune and the Houston Chronicle commenting on Gordon Brown's European policy: "Blair always had an eye on building up that currency called influence. Brown is likely to be more ready to put his foot down and say no." 
Revised treaty "merely the EU Constitution with another name"
Sunday Times Sunday Times-leader Mail on Sunday Sunday Telegraph Sunday Telegraph-O'Brien BBC PM Telegraph blog Welt 24 - 25 June In an analysis article in the Sunday Telegraph Open Europe Director Neil O'Brien argued that "Anyone reading what has been agreed in Brussels this weekend will quickly realise that the 'new' treaty is merely the EU Constitution with another name."    A leader in the Sunday Times with the headline "Now a vote on Europe" said, "As Open Europe, the think tank, put it: 'When you look at the detail of what has been agreed, it is clear that this is just the old EU constitution in everything but name.'  Open Europe was also quoted in the Mail on Sunday, the Sunday Express, separate articles in the Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times, the Express and BBC online. On Saturday's BBC PM programme Open Europe Chairman Lord Leach argued that the opt-out on the Charter of Fundamental Rights would almost certainly not be strong enough to stop EU judges from changing UK labour law. Various leading blogs, including Daniel Hannan, Iain Dale and the Spectator quoted Open Europe's analysis of the constitutional treaty.    Open Europe was quoted in Die Welt, arguing that 95% of the original Constitution is contained in the new treaty. Open Europe's Neil O'Brien was quoted in the Sun arguing: "Other EU politicians are being more honest than the British." The Express referred to Open Europe's new analysis showing the extent to which new powers will be transferred to the EU as a result of the new treaty.  

Open Europe's alternative 'family photo' attracts Europe-wide media attention Newsnight Guardian 10 O'clock Hoy MetroHK Politiken Swedish Television Swedish Television2 Irish Times  Danish TV Spiegel Conservative Home BBC

22 June Open Europe staged an alternative 'family photo' on the edges of the EU summit, featuring life-size cardboard cut-outs of all 27 EU leaders standing with their fingers in their ears.    More than 35 camera and broadcast crews came to film the image and interview Open Europe Vice Chairman Derek Scott.  Derek was interviewed on the BBC 6 O'clock news, 10 O'clock news, Newsnight, ITN's 6:30 and 10:30 news bulletins, Channel 4, CNBC and Al Jazeera English.  Derek was also interviewed by television stations from most other major EU countries, including: German channels ARD, WDR, Deutsche Welle and ZDF; LC1 and TF1 from France; RTE from Ireland; RTP from Portugal; and RAI from Italy.    The image was one of BBC online's pictures of the day, and was featured in Spiegel, the Guardian, the Metro, Sunday Times, Dutch daily NRC Handelblad, the Herald, Danish daily Politiken, on the front page of Belgian daily Het Laatste Niews, and in Spanish dailies Hoy and El Norte de Castilla. The picture was also picked up by Reuters, AFP and Associated Press, and featured on Conservative Home.   Open Europe's Mats Persson appeared on Swedish Television's 6 and 9 o'clock news programmes and Danish Radio. Lorraine Mullally was interviewed by Channel Russia and EUX-TV.  Paul Stephenson was interviewed by Danish state broadcaster DR, Danish Radio and BBC Five Live.  Neil O'Brien appeared on BBC News 24.  Crews from the Netherlands, the US, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Georgia and Lithuania also filmed the stunt.   Open Europe's Paul Stephenson was quoted in the Irish Times arguing that "Millions of Europeans voted against the constitutional treaty, and our leaders still don't listen". He objected to the "elitist" way the summit is being conducted: "It's all behind closed doors, in secret."  

  86% of voters want a referendum on a new EU treaty Standard Spectator blog 21 June The Evening Standard reported on Open Europe's new ICM poll, which found that 86% of voters want a referendum on the new EU treaty, as well as a majority of voters of all political parties.  The poll was also mentioned on the Spectator blog, and in Le Figaro, which noted the result that 43% of Labour voters will be "definitely less likely" to vote for Gordon Brown if he does not hold a referendum.  

The EU Constitution Mark 2 - useful sources of information for your info.
Polish President's Remarks in De Spiegel newspaper:

"I am very surprised by the view of those who say that one is not allowed to return to the questions of history," he told the newspaper. "The Germans return to this question. The expellee federations do, as does (head of the Federation of German Expellees) Erika Steinbach (more...), who is the daughter of a soldier of the occupation. The Jews also return to these questions, to the question of the Holocaust. Does that mean others are allowed to do it but not Poland?"

He also talked about "a revision of memory" in Germany. "Germany was not a victim of this war. Germany was the aggressor," he said. "If someone creates the impression that the suffering of Germany is comparable with that of Poland's, then that is very disturbing."

He also blamed an ongoing media skirmish between the two neighbors on the German side. "The attacks in the media, and not only in the media, come from Germany," he said, adding that he could "only hope that that dies down with time." He said he felt the recent Wprost cover image of German Chancellor Angela Merkel breast-feeding the Kaczynski twins (more...) was "tasteless to a high degree," adding that he hoped such things "would not happen" but that "the press is free."

In the interview he also reiterated his claim, which he made Wednesday on Polish radio, that a verbal agreement had been reached at the recent EU summit (more...) which would allow Poland to block any EU decisions for two years after new voting rules take effect.


New treaty outline creates fresh question marks

23.06.2007 - 01:11 CET | By Honor Mahony
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – The German EU presidency has presented a draft treaty compromise that caters for most of the issues raised by problem countries but risks upsetting a larger camp of pro-constitution states that feels the good balance of previous drafts has been lost.

The 16-page document, circulating late on Friday evening, accommodates British, Dutch and Czech "red lines" giving them something to sell to the public at home.

Britain, which came to the meeting saying it would walk away from the summit if it did not get its issues agreed, will be able to claim it has won some big concessions, with one diplomat referring to the latest text as the "British mandate."

The Charter of Fundamental Rights, which sparked big discussion in the run-up to the summit, is now to have language attached to it that makes it completely clear it will not create new rights for the union or encroach on UK law.

The proposed EU foreign minister will now have the clunkier title of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, while the text in several places makes clear that the EU should not get any more foreign policy powers.

London will also not be obliged to take part in EU cooperation in judicial and police affairs.

Dutch prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende, who could not return to the Hague empty-handed following his country's rejection of the original constitution in 2005, has secured stonger enlargement criteria in the treaty.

The changes make it more difficult for would-be member states to get their applications approved, gives slightly more power to national parliaments over proposed EU legislation and adds a protocol stating that the new treaty does not affect the right of member states to provide services of general interest.

The Czech Republic secured language making the division of power between member states and the union clearer - stating that it is a two-way process - implying that powers can be taken back from the union.

The new text has come under fire from a series of member states who fear that the balance of a German proposal circulated earlier this week has been undone, however. Several of the 18 countries that have ratified the constitution believe too many concessions have been made on the Rights Charter as well as the wording on primacy of EU law not being strong enough.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has also drawn criticism for being too tough on the Poles by threatening to go ahead with intergovernmental treaty talks without them.

Poland has got its longed-for text on energy solidarity as well as a phrase stating that language in the rights charter will not affect national governments' power to legislate in the sphere of "public morality [and] family law."

However, there is stil no language at all on the voting system with EU leaders currently locked in a row about what to do with Poland's demand to adjust the system proposed in the original constitution.

Polish breakthrough?
But diplomatic sources are saying Warsaw will in the end go for an extension of the current Nice treaty voting rules until 2017, as well as a new version of the 1994 "Ioannina Compromise," which allows small minorities of EU states to call for re-examination of EU decisions they do not like.

A summit attendee noted that the talks between Germany and Poland are extremely stilted. Every time Ms Merkel suggests something to president Lech Kaczynski, he leaves the negotiating room to discuss it with his twin brother and prime minister back in Warsaw, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said the source.
© 2007 EUobserver, All rights reserved

Dismay over competition shift(President Sarkosy set this in motion when forbidding Spanish purchase of French company last month)

By Tobias Buck and Bertrand Benoit in Brussels

Published: June 22 2007 20:25 | Last updated: June 22 2007 20:25

A deal to remove the commitment to “free and undistorted” competition from the European Union treaty sparked howls of protests from business leaders, regulators and antitrust experts on Friday.While goals such as “full employment” and “social progress” will be held up as core objectives in the EU’s new legal foundation, free competition will be downgraded, mentioned only in a protocol attached to the treaty.

Diplomats and officials claimed the move – which came at the bequest of Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president – would not diminish the European Commission’s powers to pursue and punish competition abuses. A German official was adamant that removing the reference from the general objectives would not weaken the legal basis for EU competition policy because “it is mentioned a total of 13 times in other EU texts”. 

But antitrust specialists dismissed that argument, warning that it would still have a negative impact on the Brussels competition watchdog and the European courts. Professor Damien Geradin, director of the Global Competition Law Centre at the College of Europe and a partner at Howrey, a law firm, said: “To mention the importance of competition law in a protocol does not address the concerns. Removing competition from the objectives of the treaty is extremely unfortunate and damaging.”Frank Montag, partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and chairman of the antitrust lawyers association of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, described the move as a “catastrophe”. He said: “If I was a judge at the European Court of Justice I would have to assume a protocol has a different legal status from something that is in the treaty. This is just window-dressing.”Lawyers and former competition officials such as Mario Monti, former EU competition commissioner, believe the change will make it more difficult for Brussels to crack down on protectionism and antitrust abuses. They point out that the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court, frequently refers to EU objectives when it examines competition cases.John Fingleton, chief executive of Britain’s antitrust watchdog, the Office of Fair Trading, said it would be “shocking” if competition were eliminated from the list of EU objectives enshrined in the treaty. “One worry is how this would work at a legal level and the fear is that it would weaken the competition rules. But even more worrying is the fact that we need to persuade consumers and everyone else that competition is a good thing.”

Business groups were also up in arms: “This could have a very negative effect. We are worried,” said Wim Philippa, secretary-general of the European Round Table of Industrialists, whose members include chief executives and chairmen such as BP’s Peter Sutherland and Thierry Desmaret of Total.“We think this could take away the pillar of the [EU] internal market. And it would be food for people arguing in favour of economic nationalism,” Mr Philippa added.Business Europe, the pan-European business lobby representing more than 16m companies, also voiced concern. Jérôme Chauvin, the group’s director for legal affairs, said: “We would be worried if this had an effect on EU competition policy.”

While the Commission derives its powers to fight cartels, illegal state aid and anti-competitive mergers from other clauses in the treaty, legal experts insist that those competencies are underpinned and fortified by the reference to competition in the EU’s overall objectives. “This principle is the bedrock on which competition law provisions?.?.?.?are based,” said Prof Geradin.

Green Shift, Manchester City Council project in England:

Green Shift, the project will replace energy-absorbing PCs with greener alternatives in up to 10 cities by the end of 2009. It aims to change the way computers work and how they deal with email and internet surfing.

Green data centres will host services such as email and deliver them using non-fossil-fuel power. People will be able to access the service through a small desktop box rather than having to have their own "energy-hungry" PC.

BlackBerry ban for French cabinet

By Mark Solomons in Paris

Published: June 19 2007 20:08 | Last updated: June 19 2007 20:08

Members of the new French cabinet have been told to stop using their BlackBerries because of fears that the US could intercept state secrets.The SGDN, which is responsible for national security, has banned the use of the personal data assistants by anyone in the president’s or prime minister’s offices on the basis of “a very real risk of interception” by third parties.The ban has been prompted by SGDN concerns that the BlackBerry system is based on servers located in the US and the UK, and that highly sensitive strategic information being passed between French ministers could fall into foreign hands.

A confidential study carried out two years ago by Alain Juillet, the civil servant in charge of economic intelligence, found that the BlackBerry posed “a data security problem”.Mr Juillet noted that US bankers would prove their bona fides in meetings by first placing their Black­Berries on the table and removing the batteries.

Although the foreign ministry is thought to have long taken heed of an earlier ban on the use of BlackBerries, members of other government departments are said to have been still secretly using the devices.President Nicolas Sarkozy is often seen with a mobile phone clamped to his ear and was engrossed in calls for much of his election day victory parade in Paris.But Mr Sarkozy and his cabinet colleagues face limits on their embrace of the digital age. Ministers have complained that the SGDN went ahead with the ban but has still to provide advice on alternative options. “They don’t seem to operate in the same time frame as us,” complained one.

The BlackBerry has become the favoured communications accessory of bankers, journalists and others, but the government is following an example set by the French private sector. Total, the oil company, has never allowed its staff to use the BlackBerry, also for “security reasons” according to the company. “There are plenty of other perfectly good PDAs,” Total said.

Le Monde, which first reported the ban on Tuesday, said officials feared messages could be intercepted by US agencies such as the National Security Agency because they ran through servers in the US and Britain. It quoted Alain Juillet, an official in charge of economic intelligence issues as saying that the Blackberry “poses a problem of data security”.


June 19th:As reported yesterday, Blair has called for new laws that would enforce strict control of the Internet, a’la the throttled Chinese version, in a desperate attempt to stifle dissent — meaning mainly, of course, to stem the flood of information on the 9/11 fraud sweeping around the world...............from a scientist with the 911 truth movement.... (I must make it clear this is not an organization. The website is a reference collection of public statements make by individuals.)
A new page, featuring statements from more than 140 Engineers and Architects, has been added to This site now features statements by more than 500 credible individuals who question or contradict the official account of 9/11, with more being added all the time.  They include:

  • 100+  Senior Military Officers, Intelligence Services and Law Enforcement Veterans, and Government Officials
  • 140+  Engineers and Architects
  • 130+  Professors
  • 100+  9/11 Survivors and Victim Family Members
  • 70+  Entertainment and Media Professionals

Despite the best efforts of Google to cozy up to Red China, Google Video is blocked.Say goodbye to e mail as a reliable form of communication. If the person you're writing to has an account with a mail service that the government doesn't like, the mail is simply returned to you and you're informed that the recipient is an "illegal user".Keyword logging is also employed to block out individual words - if you include them in the e mail then you've just wasted your time in writing it because it doesn't get through.

"The Washington Post obtained a list of keywords used by a Chinese blog service provider to flag offensive material. Of 236 items on the list, only 18 were obscenities. The rest were related to politics or current affairs," reported the Post in February 2006.

We may say goodbye to Googling away to our heart's content. If you input too many sensitive words in one go, as I did with "Bush" and "Taiwan" - ceases to be accessible at all and in some cases your Internet connection is instantly terminated.
In conclusion, the new Internet will be nothing more than an electronic police -

letter from USA

Sarkozy chooses Socialist as Foreign Minister
By John Lichfield in Paris
Published: 15 May 2007

In a conciliatory gesture to left-wing voters, France's president-elect, Nicolas Sarkozy, has offered the high-profile post of Foreign Minister to the popular Socialist politician, Bernard Kouchner. M. Kouchner, 67, one of the founders of Médécins sans Frontières, is likely to be named as part of the first government of the Sarkozy era at the end of this week. The choice is somewhat surprising. As a former UN administrator in Kosovo, M. Kouchner is reasonably experienced in foreign affairs. He was, however, one of the leaders of the May 1968 left-wing, student revolt, whose "moral legacy" was savaged by M. Sarkozy during the recent presidential campaign.

M. Sarkozy had been criticised for mounting a divisive campaign, which often seemed to appeal to the tribal instincts of the right. He has promised to govern for "the whole of France" and, therefore, to open his administration to senior figures from the opposition.

In naming his first government, M. Sarkozy has to reconcile three conflicting campaign promises: to give half the senior posts to women; to open his administration to the left and centre; and to reduce the number of full ministerial positions to 15. To solve this conundrum, M. Sarkozy will have to disappoint many senior figures and close allies on the centre-right.

Angry words are already said to have been exchanged with the Defence Minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, who had expected a move to foreign affairs. The foreign affairs job was also discussed with Hubert Védrine, who held the post under the Socialist Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, in 1997-2002. A number of sources said yesterday, however, that the final choice would be doctor-turned politician M. Kouchner, a popular figure in France.

The other near-certainty in the new government is François Fillon, 53, who will become Prime Minister. Mme Alliot-Marie may move to justice or remain at defence.

M. Sarkozy also plans to split the sprawling economics ministry into a strategic ministry for economic affairs and a managerial ministry for employment, finance and the budget. The likely head of the new economics ministry is Jean-Louis Borloo, seen as a consensual figure who will be able to smooth negotiations on social reform with the trades unions. M. Sarkozy had preliminary talks with union leaders yesterday and promised to negotiate, rather than bulldoze through, his plans for changes in unemployment and trades union law.

Peter Myers, 381 Goodwood Rd, Childers 4660, Australia ph +61 7 41262296 

Robert Fisk: How can Blair possibly be given this job?

Here is a politician who has failed in everything he has ever tried to do in the Middle East

Published: 23 June 2007

I suppose that astonishment is not the word for it. Stupefaction comes to mind. I simply could not believe my ears in Beirut when a phone call told me that Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara was going to create "Palestine". I checked the date - no, it was not 1 April - but I remain overwhelmed that this vain, deceitful man, this proven liar, a trumped-up lawyer who has the blood of thousands of Arab men, women and children on his hands is really contemplating being "our" Middle East envoy.

Can this really be true? I had always assumed that Balfour, Sykes and Picot were the epitome of Middle Eastern hubris. But Blair? That this ex-prime minister, this man who took his country into the sands of Iraq, should actually believe that he has a role in the region - he whose own preposterous envoy, Lord Levy, made so many secret trips there to absolutely no avail - is now going to sully his hands (and, I fear, our lives) in the world's last colonial war is simply overwhelming.

Of course, he'll be in touch with Mahmoud Abbas, will try to marginalise Hamas, will talk endlessly about "moderates"; and we'll have to listen to him pontificating about morality, how he's absolutely and completely confident that he's doing the right thing (and this, remember, is the same man who postponed a ceasefire in Lebanon last year in order to share George Bush's ridiculous hope of an Israeli victory over Hizbollah) in bringing peace to the Middle East...

Not once - ever - has he apologised. Not once has he said he was sorry for what he did in our name. Yet Lord Blair actually believes - in what must be a record act of self-indulgence for a man who cooked up the fake evidence of Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" - that he can do good in the Middle East.

For here is a man who is totally discredited in the region - a politician who has signally failed in everything he ever tried to do in the Middle East - now believing that he is the right man to lead the Quartet to patch up "Palestine".

In the hunt for quislings to do our bidding - ie accept even less of Mandate Palestine than Arafat would stomach - I suppose Blair has his uses. His unique blend of ruthlessness and dishonesty will no doubt go down quite well with our local Arab dictators.

And I have a suspicion - always assuming this extraordinary story is not untrue - that Blair will be able to tour around Damascus, even Tehran, in his hunt for "peace", thus paving the way for an American exit strategy in Iraq. But "Palestine"?

The Palestinians held elections - real, copper-bottomed ones, the democratic variety - and Hamas won. But Blair will presumably not be able to talk to Hamas. He'll need to talk only to Abbas's flunkies, to negotiate with an administration described so accurately this week by my old colleague Rami Khoury as a "government of the imagination".

The Americans are talking - and here I am quoting the State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack - about an envoy who can work "with the Palestinians in the Palestinian system" to develop institutions for a "well-governed state". Oh yes, I can see how that would appeal to Lord Blair. He likes well-governed states, lots of "terror laws", plenty of security - though I'm still a bit puzzled about what the "Palestinian system" is meant to be.

It was James Wolfensohn who was originally "our" Middle East envoy, a former World Bank president who left in frustration because he could neither reconstruct Gaza nor work with a "peace process" that was being eroded with every new Jewish settlement and every Qassam rocket fired into Israel. Does Blair think he can do better? What honeyed words will we hear?

I bet he doesn't mention the Israeli wall which is taking so much extra land from the Palestinians. It will be a "security barrier" or a "fence" (like the famous Berlin "fence" which was actually called a "security barrier" by those generous East German Vopo cops of the time).

There will be appeals for restraint "on all sides", endless calls for "moderation", none at all for justice (which is all the people of the Middle East have been pleading for over the past 100 years).

And Israel likes Lord Blair. Indeed, Blair's slippery use of language is likely to appeal to Ehud Olmert, whose government continues to take Arab land for Jews and Jews only as he waits to discover a Palestinian with whom he can "negotiate", Mahmoud Abbas now having the prestige of a rabbit after his forces were crushed in Gaza.

Which of "Palestine"'s two prime ministers will Blair talk to? Why, the one with a collar and tie, of course, who works for Mr Abbas, who will demand more "security", tougher laws, less democracy.

I have never been able to figure out why the Middle East draws the Balfours and the Sykeses and the Blairs into its maw. Once, our favourite trouble-shooter was James Baker - who worked for George W's father until the Israelis got tired of him - and before that we had a whole list of UN Secretary Generals who visited the region, frowned and warned of serious consequences if peace did not soon come.

I recall another man with Blair's pomposity, a certain Kurt Waldheim, who - no longer the UN's boss - actually believed he could be an "envoy" for peace in the Middle East, despite his little wartime career as an intelligence officer for the Wehrmacht's Army Group "E".

His visits - especially to the late King Hussein - came to nothing, of course. But Waldheim's ability to draw a curtain over his wartime past does have one thing in common with Blair. For Waldheim steadfastly, pointedly, repeatedly, refused to acknowledge - ever - that he had ever done anything wrong. Now who does that remind you of?

© 2007 Independent News and Media Limited

archimedes - his book decoded and published

He was so skilled, in fact, that it almost seemed that he could stop Rome's large army single-handedly. But in the end Archimedes fell victim to brute force after all. One of the greatest inventors of all time, Archimedes was killed at the age of 73. His murder, notes British philosopher Paul Strathern, was "the Romans' only decisive contribution to mathematics."

Archimedes prepared the way for integral calculus and approximated the number Pi. He discovered the law of leverage and invented new formulas to calculate the properties of cylinders and spheres. He once yelled "Eureka" while bathing, after having dreamed up the concept of specific weight while splashing around. He even specified the number of grains of sand that could fit into the universe: 1063. Until then the Greeks had merely left it at a "myriad" (or 10,000).

"It took almost 2,000 years before anyone else could hold a candle to him," Strathern says about this extraordinary man, who lived from 285 to 212 B.C. But brilliance had its drawbacks. Archimedes was often so engrossed in thought that he would forget to eat -- and he bathed infrequently. But aside from that, researchers know little about this oddball from the early days of geometry and mechanics. Unfortunately many of his writings were lost, while the rest have been handed down in the form of Arabic and Latin copies. Vandals destroyed his famous planetarium, with its water-powered wheelworks.

But now a Greek original has been discovered after all. In "The Archimedes Codex," recently published in English, two US researchers describe the decoding of a manuscript from the early days of mathematics. It took the authors years of painstaking work to "extract the secrets from these faded letters."

Old Manuscript for $2.2 Million

The Beck publishing house, which will first publish the German edition on Sept. 17, is also heavily promoting the book. With a scheduled initial printing of 20,000 copies, Beck is advertising the book as an "important work." "Our scientific view of the world is turned upside down," the publisher raves in the press release.

The fuss revolves around a manuscript that caused an uproar once before, in October 1998, when a fragile, handwritten manuscript with mold spots and blackened edges was offered for sale in an auction at Christie's in New York. After a contentious bidding war, the auctioneer's hammer fell at a price of $2.2 million.

An anonymous "billionaire from the computer industry" had apparently purchased the rare work. But who was it? Neither the auction house nor the new owner was willing to answer that question. Insiders are now certain that it was Jeffrey Bezos, the founder and CEO of online book retailer Amazon.

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