I've found two European politicians in two days (Hannan yesterday and this man today). And just in time for the G20 next week!
EU presidency: US stimulus is 'the road to hell'
By AOIFE WHITE, AP Business Writer – Wed Mar 25, 3:38 pm ET
BRUSSELS – The head of the European Union slammed President Barack Obama's plan to spend nearly $2 trillion to push the U.S. economy out of recession as "the road to hell" that EU governments must avoid.
The blunt comments by Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek to the European Parliament on Wednesday highlighted simmering European differences with Washington ahead of a key summit next week on fixing the world economy.
It was the strongest pushback yet from a European leader as the 27-nation bloc bristles from U.S. criticism that it is not spending enough to stimulate demand.
Shocked by the outburst, other European politicians went into damage control mode, with some reproaching the Czech leader for his language and others reaffirming their good diplomatic ties with the United States. (Looks like a lesson from Obama: subtle attack then damage control. Next step: repeat weekly.)The leaders of EU's major nations — France, Britain and Germany, among others — largely ignored Topolanek and his remarks.
Obama pays his first official visit to Europe next week, aiming to thrash out reforms to the global financial system with the Group of 20 nations and call on NATO allies to commit more troops to the U.S. war in Afghanistan.
Europe's leaders hope the new U.S. administration will agree with them on tightening oversight over the global financial system — which they see as crucial to fixing the global economy.
Instead, the United States is focusing its efforts on economic stimulus and plans to spend heavily to try and lift itself out of recession with a $787 billion plan of tax rebates, health and welfare benefits, as well as extra energy and infrastructure spending.
But Topolanek took aim at Washington's deficit spending.
"All of these steps, these combinations and permanency is the road to hell," Topolanek said. "We need to read the history books and the lessons of history and the biggest success of the (EU) is the refusal to go this way."
"Americans will need liquidity to finance all their measures and they will balance this with the sale of their bonds but this will undermine the liquidity of the global financial market," Topolanek said.
Topolanek spoke the day after he was ousted by his own parliament. The Czech Republic currently holds the six-month rotating EU presidency but its leadership is in question, with Topolanek hanging on to a caretaker government at home after losing a "no confidence" Tuesday.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said he did not expect the Czech poltical turmoil to affect Obama's upcoming trip to Prague because the president was traveling to attend an EU event.
Analyst Nicolas Veron, a research fellow at the Bruegel think tank, said Topolanek's view is not widely shared by EU leaders.
Martin Schulz, leader of the Socialist group in the European parliament, immediately chided Topolanek, saying his comments were "not the level on which the EU ought to be operating with the United States." (guess the socialist has to protect his comrade in the White House)
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also supported U.S. calls to ramp up fiscal stimulus — government spending and tax cuts — although the Bank of England has warned that Britain's swelling public deficit may make it unable to afford new spending.