Top-level EU trio at secret summit

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Series Details Vol.7, No.22, 31.5.01, p3
Publication Date 31/05/2001
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Date: 31/05/01

By Dennis Abbott

TWO Commissioners and an executive board member of the European Central Bank took part in last weekend's secretive Bilderberg summit of the world's 'power elite'.

Spokesmen for competition chief Mario Monti and Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler confirmed the pair attended the controversial conference in the west coast Swedish town of Stenungsbaden. No mention of their appearance there was announced on the Commission calendar.

They joined around 100 business leaders and politicians at the three-day meeting - but are barred from divulging details of their discussions under 'Chatham House' rules.

Other leading participants included NATO Secretary-General George Robertson, Finnish premier Paavo Lipponen, US Senators Chuck Hagel and Christopher Dodd, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Swedish Trade Minister Leif Pagrotsky, ECB executive board member Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa and newspaper tycoon Conrad Black.

The summit hotel was protected by a 900-metre-long metal fence and patrolled by secret servicemen. However writer Jim Tucker, a Bilderberg expert, managed to beat the security cordon.

He told European Voice that the future of the EU was a key topic under discussion."Bilderberg is fearful that the EU might be coming apart; it had expected Britain to be a full partner and to have embraced the euro by now," he said. Speakers called for Europhiles in the opposition Conservative Party to bring participation in the single currency to the top of the list of priorities as soon as the expected Labour Party victory in the 7 June election is official. "Some also expressed fears that Italy will rip another seam in the EU because of the election of Silvio Berlusconi and his conservative coalition earlier this month. Berlusconi has pledged tax cuts, which they believe will undermine the euro."

Tucker revealed that Fischler played a prominent role on the closing day of the summit (27 May), leading a debate on global food quality. "The conclusion was that a UN bureaucracy must be established to tackle this area," Tucker said.

Critics say the Bilderberg group, named after a Dutch hotel where it first met in 1954, is an unaccountable shadow government which seeks to exert its influence over the world's leading politicians.

This year's conference was hosted by Sweden's Investor Group, headed by SEB bank chairman Jacob Wallenberg.

Bilderberg's secretary-general Martin Taylor issued a brief statement through Reuters, insisting that the group sought no political influence."The whole point of Bilderberg is to foster closer relations between Western Europe, the United States and Canada. We want to stress the importance of the Atlantic alliance, which has provided the guarantee of world peace for 50 years."

Taylor, a London-based senior executive with 'bulge bracket' investment bank Goldman Sachs, said the conference discussed the Middle East, the new US administration, Russia, China, Japan and the effects of globalisation.

Tucker dismissed Taylor's claims that the group sought no influence, claiming it had made - and broken - political careers. "It manipulated Margaret Thatcher's downfall as UK premier because she opposed the euro," he said. "She confirmed this to me personally."

He said Bilderberg members at the meeting discussed Thatcher's high profile anti-euro crusade ahead of the UK's election next Thursday (7 June),calling it "Maggie's revenge".

Amelia Torres, spokeswoman for Monti, said the Competition Commissioner was unable to give an interview about the conference. "Mr Monti was there on Thursday and Friday (24-25 May) but it was not on the Commission calender. I can't tell you more than that," she said.

Pagrotsky initially indicated that he would be willing to discuss his involvement at the summit - but failed to return calls made by European Voice.

Two Commissioners and an executive board member of the European Central Bank took part in the secretive Bilderberg summit of the world's 'power elite' at Gothenburg, May 2001. The Bilderberg group seeks to foster closer relations between Western Europe, the United States and Canada.

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