THE FUTURE OF EUROPE: A NEW “VALEV PLAN”?

Author : Admin | Saturday, December 15, 2012
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Following last autumn’s “state of the Union” speech, that outlined a vision for a federal Europe[1], the “Blueprint for a deep and genuine economic and monetary union”, unveiled recently by José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, to be submitted at the December 2012 European Union Summit and debated until the European Parliament elections in 2014, is seen as a significant step towards a federalization of Europe along German and U.S. models.

The “Blueprint” focuses on the financial aspects of the Eurozone, which should gradually acquire the powers of a national government with a single treasury and the right to tax or issue commonly backed bonds. The blueprint calls for a fund to be set up within the next 18 months that could provide incentives to struggling countries attempting to overhaul their economies. This fund would grow into a full-scale Eurozone treasury and would initially only provide aid to Eurozone countries that sign contracts with Brussels committing themselves to reform programs – a process similar to current bailouts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal. All Eurozone countries that currently violate EU budget debt and deficit rules would be required to sign the contracts. In the medium-term – which Mr. Barroso defined as anywhere during the next 18 months to five years – Brussels would gradually gain powers to veto measures or require amendments in national budgets as well as raise money on its own for the new Eurozone budget through taxes or debt issuance, but also from loans through the proposed European Treasury. Even such gradual measures would require changes to the EU treaties, a process that should occur after the next European Parliamentary elections in 2014.

The blueprint is seen by analysts as mostly inspired by Germany, since imposing fiscal discipline on Europe, as well as the creation of a “federal debt” instead of passing one state’s debt on the other states are considered to be a “German dream”.

Federalization: a longtime goal

For the historians of the Union, federalization was the real aim in the process of creating the European Community. It was suggested at the 1948 Hague Congress, considered by many as the first federal moment of the European history, when representatives from a broad political spectrum discussed ideas about the development of European political co-operation, including a call for a political, economic and monetary Union of Europe.

The European federal project is even older, being evoked after the French revolution (it was said that Napoleon dreamed of the United States of Europe). In the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle of 1818, Russian Tsar Alexander suggested a kind of permanent European Union and even proposed the maintenance of international military forces to provide recognized states with support against changes by violence. In the early 1920’s, a “Paneuropean Union” was created, led by Richard Nikolaus von Coudenhove-Kalergi and subsequently by Otto von Habsburg, which is considered the oldest European unification movement. French politician Aristide Briand gave a speech in favor of a European Union in the League of Nations on 8 September 1929, and in 1930 he wrote a “Memorandum on the Organization of a Regime of European Federal Union” for the Government of France. After World War II, the political climate favored unity in Western Europe, seen by many as an escape from the extreme forms of nationalism which had devastated the continent. In a speech delivered on 9 September 1946 at the University of Zürich, Winston Churchill postulated a United States of Europe (“We must build a kind of United States of Europe. In this way only, will hundreds of millions of toilers be able to regain the simple joys and hopes which make life worth living”).

Europe’s federalization was central to the proposals of Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman. The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) is “the first step of European federation” (9 May 1950 Declaration). According to Jean Monnet, it “indicates the direction in which the future Europe should look for its way towards a federal Community…” (Les Etats-Unis d’Europe ont commencé, Paris, Robert Laffont, 1955, p.17 and 110). Later on, following the “federation of nation-states” idea proposed by Jacques Delors, based on the thoughts of German President Johannes Rau, French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing and German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt proposed the “federal Euro-Europe” approach as the heart of the European Union. In turn, Joschka Fischer, Germany’s foreign minister and vice chancellor from 1998 to 2005, outlined in a speech of May 12, 2000, the purpose of the Union under the shape of a true European Federation, whereas Romano Prodi proposed his reflections on the future of the Union, by insisting on the necessity to anticipate the possibility for a group of countries to surge ahead whilst affirming that he liked the word federal and the federal model.

Fascism and Nazism: forefathers for a European federation

Other historians are keen to point out that Fascism and Nazism were also focused on the creation of a unified, “super-state” entity in Europe.

As early as 1933, Mussolini declared that Europe could once again exert its power in the world if it succeeded in establishing a certain political unity. Mussolini’s minister for education, Giuseppe Bottai, considered that nationalism was an obstacle for progress and civilization, and the finance minister, Alberto de Stefani, was convinced that nationalities do not offer a solid base for the New Order. In 1941, he advocated the idea of a “European Union” that would not be influenced by the internal policies of the member states.

The Nazis also advocated a united Europe, with Joseph Goebbels affirming: “I am certain that 50 years from now, we will no longer reason in terms of countries”. On 28 November 1941, in the course of a conversation with the Finnish minister of foreign affairs, Adolf Hitler remarked that the countries of Europe should obviously be together, like the members of a big family. He also said that “it’s not very clever to imagine that in a house as little as Europe is, a community of people can maintain for a longtime different legal systems and different conceptions about the law”.[2]

In 1942, the Nazis organized a conference called “The European Economic Community”, which discussed “the community of fate” of the continent’s people, and in March 1943, the Nazi government drew a plan for the creation of a European Confederation, including a single currency and a Central Bank in Berlin, with Hitler declaring that the Germans had to be the core of a federated Europe.

According to French historian Pierre Hillard[3], “the German effort to create a united Europe resulted in the drawing of a regional map of a federal Europe, as a unique state composed of regions with total regional and cultural autonomy. The big themes (foreign policy, defense, and macro-economics) are to be solved at the top level of the federal state. The conceivers of this ideal project were commanders in the Waffen SS”.

Of course, each of these leaders saw the future construction as led by himself. Hitler’s goal was to conquer all of Europe as well as a vast territory further afield. Mussolini wanted to found a new Roman Empire centered on the Mediterranean, while the Japanese were intent on building a Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere.

Historians also noted that Robert Schuman, one of the founders of the European project, was a member of the French Vichy regime which collaborated with the Germans, and he actively supported the Munich agreement, thus facilitating the annexation of part of Czechoslovakia by Hitler’s Germany. At the time, he also recommended that Mussolini and Hitler develop closer ties. Jean Monnet, also one of Europe’s founders, spent the war years in London where he attempted to prevent the broadcast of De Gaulle’s daily radio news bulletins.

Starting with the 1990’s, the successive Bonn governments militated for a united Europe, around a “hard core” formed by Germany and France.

From Trotsky and Valev to Gorbachev: Communist visions of a united Europe

Many analysts, especially in Eastern Europe, also point to the worrying similarities between the federal Europe outlined by the German-inspired Brussels officials and the still well-remembered Soviet models of the COMECON years. They also recall the references to the “common European house” of Leonid Brezhnev, an idea taken over by Mikhail Gorbachev who in 1989, proposed the “permeability” followed by the “spiritualization” of the national borders.

One of the main Marxist theories stated that history will end by abolishing the state, and Lenin considered that regional integration and super-state governance were useful techniques to ensure domination over the continent and, in the end, over the world. In 1916, Lenin proclaimed: “The aim of socialism is not only to abolish the present division of mankind into smaller states and all-national isolation, not only to bring the nations closer to each other, but also to merge them”.

The national idea was strongly opposed by the Russian Bolsheviks at the beginning of the 20th century, with Leon Trotsky suggesting the creation of a huge Euro-Asian Federation, called the “Soviet United States of Europe” and aiming to confront the USA’s economic domination.

COMECON’s “economic specialization doctrine”, which would be followed by the “Valev Plan”, was developed soon after the 1956 anti-communist uprising in Hungary, brutally crushed by the Soviet forces. Its author was Yuri Andropov, who had led the operations in Hungary and became in 1957 the coordinator of Moscow’s liaison and control apparatus for the “socialist camp” Eastern European countries. In 1960, a doctrine of the “economic specialization of the socialist states” was developed, according to which the “socialist camp states” would specialize each in a different economic sector and would provide for the USSR and the other “fellow” countries. At the request of Nikita Khrushchev (who did not want the USSR to appear as directly involved), an “economic specialization” proposal was made by the Polish delegation at the 6-7 June 1962 COMECON conference in Moscow. At the same conference, COMECON adopted the model, outlined in a document called “The Basic Principles of the International Socialist Division of Labor”, developed by Russian economist Emil Borisovich Valev.

According to the Valev doctrine, the USSR, Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic would develop their industries to produce for the industrial needs of the rest of the “camp”, and would develop only small sectors of the agriculture, whereas Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria would become agricultural producers, mainly for cereals, and have only secondary industrial sectors.

In April 1963, Andropov visited Bucharest and tried to convince the Romanian communist leadership to accept an “inter-state union along productive branches”, mentioning that “the problem of creating a single state” was not actual, but “a time will come when it would become so”.

As a specific application of the doctrine, Valev published in the “Annals of the Moscow University” no. 2/1964 an article called “Economic Development Problems of the Danube areas in Romania, Bulgaria and USSR” that was later to be known as the “Valev Plan”. The document outlined a trans-border economic integration plan (“inter-state economic complex”) that would have covered an area of 12000 sq. Kms. of Southern USSR (Moldova and Southern Ukraine), 100000 sq. Kms. of South-East Romania and 38000 sq. Kms. of Northern Bulgaria, totalizing some 12 million inhabitants. The “Lower Danube inter-state production complex” would specialize in “oil and gas chemical industry and some machinery building… in intensive irrigation agriculture for cereals, grapevine and sectors of the food industry”.

The “Valev Plan” was accepted by Bulgaria, but the Romanian communist regime of the time considered it unacceptable, since it meant a de facto splitting of the national territory, as well as accepting the directives of a foreign entity in aspects that concerned the national interest (namely, the economic development of the country). Since the COMECON decisions had to be adopted by consensus, the Valev plan was cancelled, but some economists acknowledged its economic relevance. As to the “Lower Danube inter-state production complex”, many Romanian economists noted its striking resemblance to a “Euro-region”

Regionalization for easier integration

A common feature of the old and new federalization plans that is increasingly perceived as dangerous all over Europe is the process of regionalization, that is considered to bring the Union “closer to its citizens”, but in fact is seen as a means to better impose super-state directives that usually serve the interests of the most powerful actors.

The “Europe of the Regions” was introduced in 1962 by Swiss writer and European federalist Denis de Rougemont, who considered that the “Common Market” would lead to “a devaluation of the national framework” and would “free the regional diversities”. According to the “Europe of the Regions” principles, the nation-state is an artificial entity that oppresses the internal diversities and it will be superseded by two processes, from bottom (through the regions) and from top (through the European construction).

In the process of regionalization, analysts saw again the main role played by Germany, with the Föderalistische Union Europäischen Volksgruppen (Federal Union of European Nationalities) inspiring the main documents of the regionalization process (The Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities, also called the “Madrid Convention”, The European Charter of Local Self-Government, the European Charter of Regional Self-Government), that allowed the development of the so-called “Euro-regions” that are usually formed at the border of neighboring states. All the documents mention that the activities developed in such regions aim to transcend the border and reduce it to a mere administrative institution. The European Charter of Regional Self-Government stipulates a full autonomy for the regional entities. In this phase, the only possible peaceful evolution of the regions would be to integrate into the European “super-state” or to ask for “independence”, thus leading to federalization.

In fact, all that would happen would be the replacement of the national state authority by another central authority (Brussels) that tends to be more and more under the control of Germany. Such an authority would have the power to impose its will over the region/country on fiscal and economic matters, in the same manner as outlined in the “Valev Plan”.

In the case of Romania, most of the “regionalization” initiatives that appeared after the 1989 change of the regime were in fact aiming to achieve the autonomy of the areas inhabited by the Hungarian-speaking minorities, similar to the Soviet-Communist “Mures Magyar Autonomous Region” of the 1950’s, and, in the end, a federalization of the country. Some analysts see an echo in the recent recommendations of Manuel Barroso that the Democratic Union of the Magyars in Romania (UDMR) should be “the only ethnic party” in Romania, even if the current number of the Magyars is estimated at about 6.5% of the population according to the latest census.

According to a 2007 document of the Romanian Foreign Ministry[4], Romania would develop several euro-regions, the main one being “Carpatica” (161192 sq. Km., 16 Mln. people in Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine and Poland). Other Euro-regions would be “Danube-Cris-Mures-Tisza (DCMT)” (Romania, Hungary, Vojvodina-Serbia, Montenegro), “Danube 21” (Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro), “Giurgiu-Ruse”. “Upper Prut” (Romania, Moldova, Ukraine), “Siret-Prut-Dniester” (Romania, Moldova), “Lower Danube” (Romania Moldova, Ukraine). The “Upper Prut” and the “Lower Danube” projects were officially launched.

Since “regionalization” is also a condition for applying and receiving European Union funding for the 2014-2020 period, the problem became quite difficult for the Romanian government, faced with the task of changing the Constitution in order to implement a so-called ‘administrative and territorial re-organization” that many feel might mean the disappearance of the current Constitution’s 1st paragraph (“Romania is a sovereign, independent, unitary and indivisible National State”). The coalition that won the 9 December elections proposed that the new Constitution adopt the existing 8 “development regions” that function since 1998 and are coordinated by their own “regional development agencies” as public utility NGOs.

Some of the continental regionalization phenomena are already taking place, with the “separatist” tendencies of several historic provinces and regions[5] (Flanders and Wallonia in Belgium, Catalonia and the Basque country, Scotland etc.), as well as the economic-triggered separatism of other regions (such as the so-called “Padania” in Northern Italy).

Another trend is the also economic-triggered dislocation of the local population, with people from Eastern Europe migrating, for example, to Spain and Italy, from where local people are moving to the richer countries (notably Germany). Some analysts estimate that such movements might result in a loss of the national identity in only one generation.

Consequently, the small and powerless entities would have to accept from a small group of distant deciding actors the main policy and economic decisions. The process is seen to be irreversible in the case of the countries where the main sectors of the economy, including the banking sector, are already under foreign control.

At this point, it is worth pointing that regionalization is also seen as an important step towards the globalization. One of the main globalization promoters, former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski mentioned in 1995, at “Mikhail Gorbachev’s first State of the World Forum”, that “we cannot leap into world government through one quick step…. The precondition for eventual and genuine globalization is progressive regionalization because by that we move toward larger, more stable, more cooperative units”. Brzezinski also described some regions that would be formed, that Israel and the Palestinians would be part of a Middle Eastern region, how Communist China would be brought into an Asian region, and that Iran would be part of a Central Asian region which would have important oil and gas pipelines constructed.

Dissenting voices

The federalization/regionalization projects have to confront dissenting opinions, mostly from Eastern Europe where the Soviet memories are still vivid.

The Czech president Vaclav Klaus said clearly that it is a “wrong project” and that the Czech Republic joined “the European Union and not a federation” in which the country would become “a non-important province”. He also stated that Europe should change, but in the opposed direction of the Barroso proposals. As to the Eurozone agreements, his opinions were also clearly stated. He considered inacceptable the idea of transferring the fiscal responsibilities of the national government to the Brussels bureaucrats and consequently the Czech Republic joined the UK in the refusal of the new Eurozone treaty.

Another “dissent voice” is that of the Hungarian prime-minister Viktor Orban, already nick-named “Europe’s Chavez”, who declared that Hungary “will not live according to the foreign powers’ commands” and compared the Brussels bureaucrats with the Soviet apparatchiks. When the EU decided to stop financing Hungary because of its huge deficit, Orban replied saying that Hungary “would not be a colony” and it would not accept a “second-hand” European citizenship, accusing Brussels of applying a double-standard policy.

The state secretary for European Affairs in the Budapest government said recently that the provisions of the “Blueprint” of a separate budget for the Eurozone would mean a discriminatory treatment between the EU nations that will end with the Union’s destruction.

The Czech and Hungarian dissents joined the already powerful dissenting trend in the United Kingdom, where Nigel Farage’s United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) European MP militates against a German-led super-state and considers the Barroso model a “the graveyard of democracy”.

The British analysts recall, in this context, Margaret Thatcher’s who said, as early as 1995, to the European leaders rejoicing about the German reunification: Well, you have not anchored Germany to Europe, but Europe to a newly dominant Germany. That is why I call it a German Europe”.

In a roundtable discussion about German unification and the end of the Cold War with François Mitterrand, George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev published in the journal NPQ in 1995, Thatcher also mentioned: “I was opposed to German unification from early on for the obvious reasons. To unify Germany would make her the dominant nation in the European community. They are powerful, and they are efficient”. She also stressed that “Germany will use her power. She will use the fact that she is the largest contributor to Europe to say, «Look, I put more money in than anyone else, and I must have my way on things which I want»… And I have heard the smaller countries agree with Germany because they hoped to get certain subsidies. The German parliament would not ratify the Maastricht Treaty unless the central bank for a single currency was based there. What did the European Union say? Yes, you shall have it”.

Reichsidee: towards a new Roman German Empire

Germany’s efforts towards Europe’s federalization, as well as the positive trend of the German-Russian relationship gave new fuel to the theory about the rebirth of the Holy Roman German Empire, meaning a federal Europe led by a Germany helped by the Vatican (the current Pope being a Bavarian with a past in the Hitlerjugend and the Nazi armed forces[6]) and sharing with Russia the influence over the region.

Several analysts noted in this context that Pope Benedict XVI’s considerations about the “spiritual foundations” of Europe (meaning the role the Roman Catholic Church played and could play again in uniting the Christian nations of Europe during the Middle Ages) are strong reminders of the so-called “Reichsidee” of the Holy Roman German Empire. Pope Benedict stated that the “Reich” is the only legitimate model and concept for a stable co-operation of church and state, in other words a Catholic-German holy Roman Empire in which church canon law supersedes all other and the state enforces church rulings and vice versa.

The Holy Roman Empire was a varying complex of lands that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favor of the princes. In its last centuries, it had become quite close to a union of territories. During the early days of the Holy Roman German Empire, power was shared between the German emperors and the popes in Rome. The popes exercised power in the spiritual realm, while the emperors exercised their power in the political realm. Roman Catholic popes crowned the emperors, and gave spiritual validation to the office of the monarch.

The “Reichsidee” refers to Dominium mundi, an idea inspired by the memory of the Roman Empire that implied the recognition of one supreme authority, which generated a prolonged political and spiritual struggle between imperial and ecclesiastical power. After two hundred years of division during the 12th and 13th centuries, neither of the powers had prevailed, due to their mutual dependency and the rise of the powerful and practically independent reigns of Church and the State.

Analysts also evoked a declaration of Bernd Neumann, Germany’s federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media, who said in 2006[7] that the Holy Roman German Empire can from today’s perspective serve “as a valid model for the functioning order of a super-state”, a model for the future of Europe. Neumann also reminded his audience that the Holy Roman German Empire was “part of the past of many European states” including Poland and the Czech Republic, and that “Germany and Central Europe are historically and culturally indissolubly linked together”.

Before him, similar declarations were made in the 1970’s by Otto von Habsburg, a descendent of the last emperor to sit on the Austro-Hungarian throne, who said that there could yet be a role for the Imperial crown of the Holy Roman Empire in forging a meaningful union among the diverse countries of Europe.

In addition to Germany having an important asset at the Vatican, another argument of the “renewal” of the Roman German Empire is what analysts called “a new Berlin-Rome axis”. It was evoked in the context of the recent developments in France, after the election of a Socialist president. After that, Germany was seen as re-orientating towards Italy, helping the “technocrat” Italian government of Mario Monti and having another Italian (Mario Draghi) to lead the Central European Bank.

In December 2012, Mario Monti said he would resign, after the announcement that former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi would be the candidate of the People of Freedom (PDL) party in an election expected in February 2013. However, Silvio Berlusconi offered to stand back and make way for Mario Monti as Italy’s next leader if the outgoing technocrat premier agreed to run as the candidate for a centre-right coalition.

Russia: the other winner in Europe

Besides Germany, Russia is seen to be another beneficiary of the federalization process in Europe, since it knew to take advantage of the Eurozone crisis and continues to make use of its powerful energetic weapon.

In this context, analysts pointed to Chancellor Merkel’s recent visit to Moscow, where her remarks about Europe speaking with one voice were seen as suggesting that “the voice” in question was that of Germany.[8] Even when speaking “for Europe”, Germany also signed on its own contracts with Russia worth of several millions Euro

On the other hand, Russia continued its efforts to regain influence in Eastern Europe, mainly using its energetic assets through the powerful Gazprom and negotiating prices with EU countries like Poland and Bulgaria.

As to the EU’s “energetic independence”, Germany recently gave what is considered to be a “fatal coup” to the ailing Nabucco project (the European Union’s most ambitious attempt to ensure independent access to natural gas), when Germany’s RWE Group, the principal investor in the project, announced plans to withdraw at the end of the year[9]. The project was also undermined by Russia’s progress in the competing South Stream project (with Bulgaria and Italy as beneficiaries), as well as by the lack of both investment and agreements with supplier countries.

Germany is also a main part in the North Stream project (signed despite the resistance of Poland and Ukraine) that secures its privileged access to the Russian resources and makes Russia a guarantor for the current German energetic “independence”, that is also to be secured through projects for Germany’s transition to renewable energy on its own, ignoring the European dimension.

* * *

Although worrying about the prospects of a regionalized Europe under Germany’s domination, a trend that sometimes is even called a future „4th Reich”, most analysts also note the fundamental differences between the past and current Germany.

As noted, the future of Europe will depend on the future of Germany, a country which managed to become, once again, the richest, most powerful, most efficient and technologically advanced and, after its reunification, also the most numerous in Western Europe, and which is close to fulfil Bismarck’s dream of an economic empire from Central Europe to the Mediterranean. The main difference from the past is that Germany is now ruled by democratic rectitude and not the maniacal recklessness of the Reich.

On the other hand, historians and philosophers point out that the European nations are not alike, which is why they cannot be merged together. Europe was never a national entity, not even in the Christian Middle Ages, since Christianity remained divided among the Catholics, the Orthodox and later the Protestants. A European federal state or European confederation is a distant, and for many, a wrong goal to pursue.

Instead of fragmenting, French philosopher André Glucksmann recently suggested that Europe’s states should “form a united front against external threats and Europe’s challenges in the globalized world. This touches on the nerve of the European civilization project, in which each person is supposed to be able to live for himself and with which, however, everyone wants to survive together… Globalization brings global chaos, and a global police force – which the United States played for a long time – no longer exists. The players may not be keen on war, but they don’t exactly mean well by one another. Everyone is playing his own game. In this anarchic confusion, Europe has to assert itself and face up to threats offensively. Putin’s Russia, which wants to regain parts of what it lost, is a threat. China, a bureaucratic slave state, is a threat. Militant Islamism is a threat. Europe has to learn to think in terms of hostility once again”.


[1] With full fiscal and political union, and calling for a new EU Treaty to enshrine what Barroso described as “a federation of nation states”, where national capitals sacrifice a huge degree of sovereignty to Brussels. The main features of the speech were discussed in a previous paper.

[2] Translated from Adolf Hitler, “Libres propos sur la guerre et la paix”, Paris, Ed. Flammarion, 1952

[3] Pierre Hillard, «Requiem allemand sur l’Europe», in Géostratégiques, Nr. 4, April 2001, Paris

[4] Quoted in Luciana Pop: Angela Merkel merge prea departe, posted 20.11.2012, Ziuanews.ro

[5] The aspects of separatism in Europe were treated in a previous paper

[6] Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) was drafted to the Hitler Youth in 1941, at the age of 14, because membership was required by law for all 14-year-old German boys. In 1943, while still in seminary, he was drafted into the German anti-aircraft corps as Luftwaffenhelfer (air force child soldier). Ratzinger then trained in the German infantry. As the Allied front drew closer to his post in 1945, he deserted back to his family’s home after his unit had ceased to exist (cf. wikipedia.org).

[7] At the opening of a Berlin exhibition about “The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation”.

[8] She was quoted as saying “The Russian president always knows when Europeans do not have a common opinion, but if a common opinion has been formed, we express it”, at which Russian President Putin said: “Note what the federal chancellor said. She said they first consult with 26 countries and then state their common position. In economics, it is called cartel…”

[9] RWE’s 16.67 per cent share in the project might be bought by Austria’s OWE

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