Greek police find 8 parcel bombs headed to EU officials

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Police in Greece have discovered and neutralized eight parcel bombs, addressed to European Union finance officials and businesses in various European countries, at a postal sorting office near Athens.

The discovery Monday came after letter bombs were sent last week to the German Finance Ministry and the Paris office of the International Monetary Fund, where a small explosion injured a member of staff.

The Greek militant group, Conspiracy Cells of Fire, claimed responsibility for the German attack, describing it as part of a campaign of violence by international anarchist groups.

No one was hurt Monday when the parcels were discovered. Police gave no further details, but said the parcels had been falsely labeled as being sent from academic institutions.

“No to protectionism”

European Union finance ministers on Tuesday expressed worries about the surge of protectionism particularly prompted by the United States and vowed efforts to safeguard free trade.

“We are all worried in Europe that world trade and globalisation with its good sides are being put into question,” said Luxembourg’s Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna.

“We’ve had decades where there was a consensus that open trade was good for all the countries,” Gramegna said.

Brussels feared that the decade-long consensus on conductive free trade was heavily hit by political rhetoric from Washington, especially following that G20 ministers failed to reach an agreement to fight protectionism over the weekend.

Back to protectionism would undermine the prosperity brought by free trade practice and disrupt the order of international value chain, the ministers argued.

“Europe has gained its wealth by trading with the world … if that value chain will break, we will see that companies will disrupt and we will see that jobs will go away,” Denmark Finance Minister Kristian Jensen told reporters.

Souring on the weekend’s “disappointing” G20 meeting, Jensen said that “the promise we have given each other in the past has now been taken away by the new US administration”.

“I’m quite concerned that we need to fight harder for Europe to keep up free trade,” he said.

Against the headwinds, the EU finance ministers, who gathered in Brussels on Tuesday, urged joint efforts to fight for openness.

The EU stayed committed to international trade and saw a continued need for international economic cooperation, said Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU Commissioner for Euro and Social Dialogue.

“This does not concern only trade, but for example, also as regards to international financial legal architecture… We need to work together and work in a coordinated manner,” said the commissioner.

“We need to fight to keep the trade barriers down and we need to fight for free trade,” Jensen noted.