Thursday, March 03, 2011

Open Europe


Admiral insurance group expects increased profits at expense of consumers after ECJ rulingThe Telegraph reports that insurance group Admiral has said that it expects profits to rise as a result of the ECJ’s ruling to enforce unisex pricing for insurance products. Henry Engelhardt, Chief Executive, told the Evening Standard,“As an insurer I'm pleased. We will raise rates for young women, we won't bring them down much for young men. That means more profit.”
Yesterday’s Times’ leader cited extensively from Open Europe’s briefing on the potential impact of the ruling and argued, “The EU already suffers from a democratic deficit. The common sense deficit now being displayed by its principal court will make the Union even more unpopular with citizens who would like to live, and drive, without excessive and expensive interference.” Open Europe’s calculation that the ruling is expected to cost young women drivers £4,300 by the time they are 26, continues to receive coverage and is cited by NPR, Business Week, Czech television CT24 and Belgian website
Open Europe research Open Europe press release Times: Leader NPR Business Week CT24 Express Liberty Times Telegraph Evening Standard ABC Irish Independent: Devlin
MEPs seek another office allowance increase
European Voice reports that the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgets will today assess a new request to increase MEPs’ office allowance by a monthly €1,500, which would amount to a €13.2m transfer from the Parliament’s reserve budget. The monthly office allowance covers parliamentary assistance expenses, and was already increased by €1,500 last year following MEPs’ claims that they have a heavier workload under the Lisbon Treaty. The article notes that a study showed that a total of €153m was spent on assistants last year, meaning that, on average, MEPs spent a monthly €17,320 on staffing.
European Voice
EU increases aid to Libya to €10m;
Divisions between NATO members over no-fly zone
EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso yesterday announced that the EU will increase emergency aid for Libya from €3m to €10m; EU Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva will oversee spending in the region. Barroso said that a further €25m will be made available to help Italy and Malta cope with a potential wave of immigration.
El Pais reports that France and Turkey are opposed to the creation of a no-fly zone over Libya, leaving a NATO led initiative unlikely for the moment. US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates yesterday warned the US Congress that establishing a no-flight zone over Libya would have to begin with an attack on the country’s air defences, reports IHT. Al Jazeera reports that the Arab League has said it may impose a "no fly" zone on Libya in co-ordination with the African Union if fighting continues, but it dismissed plans for any direct military intervention.
EUobserver EUobserver 2 BBC: Hewitt Irish Times EurActiv European Voice EUobserver: Waterfield WSJ Express Express 2 Express: O'Flynn El Pais El Mundo Evening Standard FT Brussels Blog Publico Al Jazeera IHT Times FT
Merkel to resist Irish bailout renegotiationFollowing a meeting with the Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted that it was not possible to "artificially lower" the interest rates charged to the Irish State on its bailout deal. “We can't get to a point where Ireland pays lower interest rates than Portugal," she added.
Writing in the FT today Guy Verhofstadt, Jacques Delors and Romano Prodi argue that the Franco-German pact would be ineffective due to its “one size fits all” policies and “peer pressure” approach. In an interview with the FT, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, parliamentary leader of the SPD, has criticised the ‘pact for competitiveness’ saying that “not a single element is appropriate to end this European crisis”. He argues that the focus should be on fiscal policy, such as bond buy backs and extending the bailout fund. Steinmeier also said his party would back the government if it attempted a pan-European solution to the crisis.
The Portuguese government held a successful sale of €1bn in treasury bills but at an interest rate of 4.06%. This follows estimates yesterday by Barclays Capital that the ECB bought €19.5bn of the €21.7bn Portuguese bonds sold last year.
The European Banking Authority announced yesterday that the next banking stress tests will include a baseline and an extremely negative macroeconomic situation as well as country-specific shocks on property prices, interest rates and government borrowing. Separately, EUobserver reports that the Danish Prime Minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, may push for a referendum on adopting the euro this summer.
FT FAZ Leader European VoiceEUobserver FT Comment City AM Irish Times FT Alphaville Irish Independent Irish Independent: Leader Irish Times 2 Irish Independent: Creaton Irish Times 3 Irish Independent: Keenan FT 2 EUobserver 2 WSJ Handelsblatt DPA FAZ: Weber MNI Reuters SueddeutscheMaerkische Allgemeine FT Deutschland Die Zeit
On his Telegraph blog, Nile Gardiner notes that in 2009 the EU subsidised several US anti-death penalty groups to the tune of €2.6m through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). “It is bad enough that Brussels consistently interferes with the internal affairs of EU member states, but it is surely a bridge too far when it tries to intervene in the affairs of one of the world’s greatest democracies that isn’t even part of the EU,” he argues.Telegraph: Gardiner
Seven year restriction on EU migrants’ welfare entitlements to endThe Times reports that there is “nervousness in Whitehall” about a possible rise in the UK’s benefits bill as restrictions on eligibility imposed on migrants from Central and Eastern Europe in 2004 are due to expire this year under EU law. It is estimated more than 100,000 migrants will be able to claim jobseeker’s allowance, housing and council tax benefit, potentially worth up to £250 a week per person. Reactions have been mixed, with employers’ organisations saying it would reduce the amount of red tape, while the group MigrationWatch warned of potential “benefit tourism”.
Euractiv quotes Socialist MEP Stavros Lambrinidis warning that the EU-funded INDECT surveillance project could introduce “Big Brother into our lives.” Lambrinidis warned that the project aims to access "all existing feeds in cameras, in the Internet, in DNA databases and even on personal computers”. It has received nearly £10m in EU funding.Euractiv Wikinews Neoconopticon EP Written Declaration Open Europe research
EUobserver reports that yesterday the European Commission urged Croatia to “redouble” its efforts on fighting corruption, prosecuting war criminals and reforming its judicial system in order to meet a June deadline for completing EU entry negotiations.FT EUobserver Irish Times
MEPs push for a financial transaction taxIn a letter to the Guardian, six MEPs from the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group propose the introduction of a tax on financial transactions, popularly referred to as the “Robin Hood tax”, claiming that for “too long the financial sector has been undertaxed… it is time for it to contribute its fair share”. They argue the EU ought to lead in this direction, even in the absence of a global agreement. Handelsblatt reports that Germany and Austria are looking to push ahead with plans for a financial transaction tax in all 17 eurozone member states.
Guardian: Letters Handelsblatt Reuters Italia
The Mail reports that the British Government has formally asked the European Court of Human Rights to review its controversial ruling on prisoners’ votes, arguing that one of the court’s main objections to Britain’s blanket ban - that Parliament had not considered the issue for more than a century - had now been addressed.
The Express is backing a campaign, also supported by some MPs, to either change the planned referendum on electoral reform, due to be held on 5 May, to one on the UK’s continued membership of the EU, or at least to also include the question.Express
EUobserver reports that yesterday thousands of HIV-positive demonstrators took to the streets in New Delhi over concerns that the free trade agreement being negotiated by India with the EU will end the production of affordable life-prolonging drugs.EUobserver
The IHT reports that Thomas de Maizière – who had been serving as Interior Minister since 2009 – has been appointed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the new German Defence Minister.IHT El Pais
AFP reports on a new poll conducted by the STEM Institute showing that the Czechs’ trust in the EU has fallen to an all-time-low of 46%. Only 39% of respondents said they were confident in the European Parliament.AFP
ABC reports that the EU yesterday launched its new satellite navigation system for civil aviation EGNOS, a precursor to Galileo.ABC

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Open Europe is an independent think tank campaigning for radical reform of the EU. For information on our research, events and other activities, please visit our website:, follow us on twitter @OpenEurope or call us on +44 (0) 207 1972333 (London) and +32 (0) 2 5408625 (Brussels).

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Reject the Welfare/Warfare State

Congress Must Reject the Welfare/Warfare State

“During the past few weeks, Congress has been locked in a battle to pass a continuing resolution to fund government operations through September.  Both supporters and opponents of the bill, HR 1, claim it is a serious attempt to reduce federal spending.  However, an examination of the details of the bill call that claim into question.  For one thing, the oft-cited assertion that HR 1 reduces spending by $99 billion is misleading.  The $99 billion figure merely represents the amount that HR 1 reduces spending from the President’s proposed Fiscal Year 2011 budget - not reductions in actual spending.  Trying to claim credit for a reduction in spending based on cuts in proposed spending is like claiming someone is following a diet because he had only five slices of pizza when he intended to have 10 slices!”

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Open Europe


Open Europe: EU ruling could increase insurance costs by £1bn from 2012As expected the ECJ ruled this morning to ban the use of gender in determining different risks for insurance products. The ruling will take effect on 21 December 2012, meaning insurers can no longer offer different products and prices to men and women based on their sex. In a briefing note published earlier in the week, Open Europe estimated that, on average, a 17 year old female driver will now have to pay an extra £4,300 in insurance premiums by the time she is 26 as a consequence of the ruling. The briefing also notes that the insurance industry in Britain may need to acquire an extra £1bn in capital to account for the increased uncertainties in the market. The ECJ’s ruling was based on the Lisbon Treaty’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, from which the UK was claimed to have secured an “opt-out” by the previous government.
Open Europe’s findings continue to receive widespread coverage, and are cited in today’s FT, De Telegraaf, on Conservative Home and on several consumer websites.In the Telegraph, Philip Johnston looks at the ruling and notes, “The same happened with the working time directive. Its scope has been extended eight times by the ECJ at a cost to the UK economy of between £3.4 billion and £3.9 billion a year, according to calculations made by the campaign group Open Europe.”
Open Europe’s Stephen Booth appeared on the BBC World Service, BBC Radio Sussex, ITV News and ITV News Online, arguing that the ruling pushes anti-discrimination legislation “beyond the realms of common sense” and that EU judges had “shot themselves in the foot” as the ruling will only anger ordinary citizens. Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe also appeared on AP TV.
ECJ press release BBC: World Service ITV News online Independent: Prosser Telegraph De Telegraaf Open Europe press release Open Europe briefing Conservative Home FT BBC: Today Insurance Daily Moneywise Mirror Independent: Meade The Parliament
Ashton confirms sanctions on Libyan regime;
EU Commissioner: EU should have acted faster on Libya
EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele yesterday made an unprecedented statement criticising Europe's approach to the crisis saying, “'Several of us would have liked to see sanctions decided during the council and applied even faster”, reports DPA. “Europe was not vocal enough in defending human rights and local democratic forces in the region", he added. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy may convene an extraordinary EU summit to discuss the crisis on Thursday.
Speaking after a UN council meeting yesterday, EU Foreign Minister Baroness Catherine Ashton confirmed that the EU will impose sanctions on Libya, including an arms embargo, an asset freeze and a travel ban on Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi plus 25 family members and associates.
EUobserver reports that further measures are being weighed up by EU and US officials including the possible use of fighter jets, aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean, a no-fly zone and arming the opposition in Libya. In the Commons yesterday, David Cameron said, "We do not in any way rule out the use of military assets. In France, Prime Minister Francois Fillon confirmed that "all options are on the table". The US State Department suggested that a no-fly zone could be enforced through NATO as China and Russia could block the measure at the UN level.
In an interview with Il Messaggero, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi argued that caution is needed on evaluating the possibility of Gaddafi’s exile. However, he said, “We are and will be perfectly in line with what the international community will decide.”
Guardian Express Mail Times Telegraph Evening Standard EUobserver EUobserver 2 EUobserver 3 AFP BBC: Hewitt BBC BBC: Robinson Straneuropa WSJ European Voice EurActiv Irish Times Open Europe blog Il Messaggero: Berlusconi EEAS press release Il Messaggero: Berlusconi BBC Today: Major DPA
Irish bail-out renegotiation to face resistance from eurozone partnersThe FT reports that, according to diplomats and EU officials, opposition to Ireland’s demands for renegotiation of the bail-out terms is growing among other eurozone countries, particularly Germany, Finland and the Netherlands. A diplomat is quoted saying: “The ink is hardly dry yet. Politically, it’s very difficult.” Meanwhile, Irish Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has been given the green light from his party to start coalition talks with Fine Gael.
An editorial in the FT notes: “Enda Kenny, Fine Gael’s leader and presumptive Taoiseach, claims he will renegotiate the [bail-out] deal. The likely outcome is a face-saving but useless compromise: in return for a lower interest rate, Mr. Kenny will stand by his predecessors’ suicidal conflation of bank and sovereign debt. The Irish tragedy will come full circle – but a new act will open in Europe’s drama.”
Irish Independent El Pais FT Editorial FT European Voice Irish Independent FAZ
Lukewarm response to revised eurozone ‘Competitiveness Pact’New proposals on joint economic governance put forward by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council chief Herman Van Rompuy on Monday received a lukewarm response from member states. A diplomat from one northern European country said: "There definitely wasn't a breakthrough, but it also wasn't a flop either". The fact that questions still remain, despite the pact being watered down significantly, increases fears that eurozone leaders may be unable to reach an agreement on economic and bailout package reforms by the 25 March deadline. Meanwhile, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt criticised the upcoming meeting of eurozone leaders, saying: "I think we should not divide the European Union, but stick at the 27 members being present when it comes to heads of state and government".
Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates said yesterday that Portugal was ready to implement the necessary economic reforms but added: "I fear that if Europe does not take the necessary steps, all this effort may have been in vain". Earlier, Portuguese Finance Minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos argued: "There is a deficiency in the construction of the euro. There is one leg missing and that is the budgetary or fiscal element. We have a single currency but we do not have a budgetary or fiscal instrument at a European level."
El País reports that credit rating agency Moody’s has warned that Spain’s savings banks, the cajas, will need to raise €50bn to meet the stricter capital requirements recently established by the Spanish government, rather than the government’s own estimation of €20bn.  
WSJ Reuters WSJ 2 Le figaro El Pais EUobserver Le Figaro Les Echos FT Money Supply Blog Reuters EurActiv FD WSJ 3 Irish Independent Reuters WSJ Opinion Irish Independent Bloomberg Coulisses de Bruxelles Le Monde Les Echos: Delpla WSJ 4 El País 2 Expansión Le Monde
EU ministers will today meet in Brussels to discuss possible ways to end EU rules on throwing back dead fish that exceed EU quotas. The Guardian reports that Scottish Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead will not be able to attend today’s meeting, despite Scotland being particularly affected by the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, since EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki has insisted that only one minister per member state could attend.  Guardian EUobserver BBC Today: Damanaki
FT Deutschland: EU Directive on online trading will be “a feast for litigious lawyers”FT Deutschland reports that the European Parliament is to vote next week on legislation which would force online retailers to offer their goods in all EU states. According to legal experts, this would mean companies having to adapt their terms and conditions to comply with the consumer protection laws of 27 countries, and run the risk of being sued in any one of them; posing a significant business risk to smaller operators in particular.
FT Deutschland FT Deutschland2
EU to consider legislation to get more women into the boardroomIn an op-ed in the IHT, European Parliament president Jerzy Buzek and EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding argue that not enough progress has been made in Europe towards ensuring greater female participation on company boards. They say that if businesses fail to address this situation voluntarily, the EU will introduce “legally binding quotas that can be enforced …starting in 2012”.
IHT: Buzek and Reding
The IHT notes the disparity in pay-scales and other benefits between public officials at the EU level, compared with national officials. The paper cites the case of Andris Piebalgs, Latvia’s member of the European Commission, who earns €248,006 a year, around seven times more than the man who appointed him, Latvia’s Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, who earns €32,640 a year.IHT
Writing in the Telegraph, Programme Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs, Professor Philip Booth, criticises the concept of “fair trade”, and the activities of the Fairtrade Foundation. He argues it is “risible” that the EU is helping to finance the foundation's campaigning, “given how the EU undermines farmers in poor countries through agricultural protectionism”.Telegraph: Booth
Euractiv reports that the Macedonian government has said that it is ready to agree to change the country’s name, but that the decision would have to be approved by citizens in a referendum. The long-standing dispute with Greece over Macedonia’s name has so far been a major obstacle to the country’s EU accession.EurActiv
EUobserver reports that EU energy ministers faced criticism yesterday over a decision not to set out tougher energy efficiency targets for 2020, as EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told the European Parliament that a pledge to cut carbon emissions by 20% over the next decade lacked ambition.EUobserver EurActiv
EUobserver reports that MEPs are concerned that EU officials, in particular in Europol, have reneged on their agreement with the European Parliament to provide data on how the EU-US data sharing deal – Swift – is being implemented.  EUobserver

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One Challenge down, many to go
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Open Europe is an independent think tank campaigning for radical reform of the EU. For information on our research, events and other activities, please visit our website:, follow us on twitter @OpenEurope or call us on +44 (0) 207 1972333 (London) and +32 (0) 2 5408625 (Brussels).

Monday, February 28, 2011

Open Europe press summary: February 28 2011


New Open Europe briefing: ECJ ruling could cost young women drivers an extra £4,300The European Court of Justice could tomorrow rule to scrap the insurance industry’s opt-out from the EU’s 2004 Gender Directive, which will mean insurers can no longer offer different products and prices to men and women based on their sex. The ECJ’s Advocate General has argued in a preliminary opinion in favour of removing the opt-out, since it constitutes gender-based discrimination. The Court’s verdict follows the Advocate General’s opinion in 80% of cases.
Open Europe has published a new briefing showing that, should the ECJ decide to ban the insurance industry from charging different prices, it could, on average, cost a 17 year old female driver an extra £4,300 by the age of 26. In a worst case scenario, this cost could rise to £9,000. The ruling could also see the insurance industry needing to raise an extra £936m in capital due to increased uncertainty in the market.
Open Europe’s findings were featured on the front page of the Metro and the Express, and were cited in the Telegraph, the Sun, the Mirror, the Mail, the Press and Journal, and several regional papers. Open Europe Research Director Stephen Booth is quoted saying: “That these judges would magically rule that young women should pay more in the name of equality is simply perverse. Instead of making prices fairer between men and women, this ruling would increase costs for consumers taken as a whole.”
Meanwhile, the Guardian and the Telegraph also note that the ECJ ruling could cost male pensioners £340 per year due to a decrease in annuity rates.
Open Europe briefing Open Europe press release Mirror Sun Sun: Leader Mail Sun Metro Express Guardian Telegraph PAPress and Journal MSN Money Shropshire Star Express and Star
EU to impose sanctions on Libya “as a matter of urgency”EU Foreign Minister Baroness Catherine Ashton announced yesterday that the EU will impose sanctions on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his family "as a matter of urgency", following a unanimous resolution by the UN Security Council. EU leaders have agreed to an embargo on arms sales, travel bans and asset freezes. Plans to enforce a no-fly zone have been shelved. The UN resolution also called for an immediate investigation to be launched by the International Criminal Court.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said that the Libyan crisis has reached “a point of no return”, adding that it is “inevitable” that Gaddafi quits. Frattini also confirmed that Italy has suspended its 2008 friendship treaty with Libya, which included a non-aggression clause. The Economist’s Charlemagne blog notes: “The rumour in Brussels is that Italy is making its support for EU sanctions against Libya conditional on guarantees of EU ‘solidarity’ on migrants.”
Writing in Saturday’s IHT, Baroness Ashton argued: “Some ask whether we should have acted sooner, opposing authoritarian regimes instead of cooperating with them. It is a fair question. There is no easy solution to the dilemma of when and how to engage with such regimes…Were the European Union to isolate every government that fails to live up to the principles of liberal democracy, we would face accusations of political imperialism. It is better to proclaim the principles of democracy, but deal with the world as it is.”
Handelsblatt: Prodi EUobserver El Mundo El Pais: Maria Ridao Saturday’s Telegraph FT Weekend Economist: Charlemagne blog Independent BBC Il Messaggero La Repubblica BBC: Today EUobserver BBC: Hewitt Saturday's Guardian FT Weekend: Leader Saturday’s IHT: Ashton FT Weekend
2,500 EU officials on £185,000 or more claim extra days off to compensate for “overtime”The Sunday Times reported that 2,558 officials in the European Commission’s top pay band – with an annual salary of £185,000 or more – are claiming an average of seven and half days off every year as a compensation for working overtime. This is on top of their basic holiday entitlement of 54 days. Under the Commission’s own staff regulations, officials on monthly salaries above €10,000 (£8,500) are not allowed to claim overtime payments when they work more than their basic 37.5 hours a week, but this is happening anyway.
A Commission spokesman said, “It’s perfectly natural that if people work more hours in one week or month, they should be able to work slightly less the next.” Open Europe Director Mats Persson is quoted saying, “Taxpayers will understandably ask by what right EU bureaucrats on six figures ask for extra days off to compensate for what are considered normal working hours in most places. It’s amazing these kinds of perks remain in place.” Mats also appeared on LBC, discussing the benefits and costs of the EU.
Sunday Times
Fine Gael-Labour coalition most likely to emerge as Irish voters punish outgoing governmentThe BBC reports that Irish centre-right party Fine Gael is most likely to form a coalition with the Labour party, who finished second in the poll. The Independent notes that former Prime Minister Brian Cowen’s party Fianna Fail had a historically poor result, as it dropped from more than 70 seats to around 20 and was almost wiped out in Dublin. The Green party – Fianna Fail’s junior partner in the outgoing government – lost all its seats.
The new Irish government is now widely expected to seek a renegotiation of the terms of the €85bn EU/IMF bail-out. Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny is quoted in the Telegraph saying: "I see room for manoeuvre in terms of interest rates and in terms of the cost of the banking structure."
A leader in the Observer argued that the EU/IMF deal for Ireland “is punitive, unjust and unsustainable…It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Irish interests are being sacrificed to the larger cause of saving the euro.” It concludes that “if democracy and European solidarity are to mean anything”, Ireland should be allowed to re-negotiate the terms of its bail-out.
Independent Le Figaro BBC EUobserver FT WSJ EurActiv Telegraph Independent: LeaderGuardian Guardian 2 Guardian editorial El Pais: editorial Times: leader IHT Observer: Leader Sunday Times Sunday Telegraph Observer Irish Times Irish Times 2 Irish Independent Irish Times 3 Irish Independent 2 Irish Independent: Keenan Irish Times: Leader
The Sunday Times reported that a delegation from Ireland’s National Treasury Management Agency negotiated with Libya over a possible bail-out of Irish banks, with loans coming from the Libyan Investment Authority. Brian Lenihan, then Irish Finance Minister, is believed to have been aware of the negotiations, which took place in December last year.  Sunday Times
Environment Minister’s family has earned £2m in EU farm paymentsThe Mail on Sunday reported that the family of a Government Minister, Richard Benyon, has earned £2m in EU farm subsidies between 1999 and 2009. Mr Benyon, a Conservative MP, is the Environment and Fisheries Minister within DEFRA, which recently blocked public access to all information about how much farmers had earned from subsidies in order to comply with an ECJ ruling on data privacy.
Mail on Sunday
Greek EU Commissioner: EU-imposed austerity measures could lead to “social degradation” in Greece;
German Economy Minister: German taxpayers liable for €174bn in eurozone loans
EUobserver reports that the Greek EU Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, has criticised the EU austerity plan in Greece, claiming it could lead to “social degradation”. In a speech on Wednesday, Damanaki called for a “better balance between austerity and growth”. She also accused the EU of “short-termism” and embraced the idea of a “fully fledged economic union.”
José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission President, and Herman Van Rompuy, the European Council President, have drawn up a successor to the Franco-German “pact for competitiveness” and will release it to eurozone officials today. The plan will reportedly include some form of constitutional cap on government borrowing but is not expected to tackle the linking of wages to inflation or corporate tax rates specifically.
FAZ reports that German Economy Minister Rainer Brüderle has said that the various eurozone bail-out agreements could make Germany liable for around €174bn in potential loans. This includes “€22.4bn in aid to Greece, €119bn for the EFSF and around €11.4bn for the EFSM. The implicit share of ECB purchases amounts to €21bn.” The WSJ reports the Italian Central Bank Governor Mario Draghi has indicated that interest rates in the eurozone will probably be increased soon but has argued that this will not hurt weaker eurozone economies.
Meanwhile, La Dernière Heure reports that the Belgian law approving the eurozone's temporary bail-out fund – the European Financial Stability Facility – is being challenged by citizens at the Belgian Constitutional Court. They are also demanding a referendum in Belgium on the necessary treaty change to set up a permanent eurozone rescue mechanism.
EUobserver FT EurActiv WSJ  FT Munchau FT Editorial FT fm WSJ 2 FAZ FAZ 2 DH
Writing in theTelegraph, Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, argues that having a referendum on a new voting system is the wrong one to be having. He wrote: “By all means let us have a referendum – the one we were promised, on the Lisbon EU Treaty. Have you noticed the EU policy on North Africa? Have you heard much from Baroness Ashton? Shouldn't we have a vote on all that?”Telegraph
German Industrial Energy Association: EU green targets could lead to de-industrialisation of EuropeDie Zeit reports that the President of the German Industrial Energy Association Annette Loske has warned that EU environmental targets are pushing a “policy of de-industrialisation”. The article alleges that that EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger is also lobbying against measures proposed for the EU’s low-carbon “Roadmap 2050”.
Meanwhile, in the Mail Christopher Booker argues that although wind turbines are expensive, inefficient and unsightly, Britain is committed to building thousands more in order to meet EU renewables targets. He claims Britain ought to take notice of other EU countries turning against EU policy, following Holland’s announcement that it would slash its annual subsidy by billions of euros.
Zeit Mail: Booker
The Times reports that employers have warned that the EU Agency Workers Directive, due to come into force in October, will cost them £1.5 billion a year. The Directive will affect around 1.3m workers in the UK.Times
The Mail on Sunday reported that UK consumers have to pay nearly four times more for new eco-friendly light bulbs following the EU’s ban on incandescent bulbs.
Express Mail on Sunday Mail on Sunday: Leader
The Sunday Times reported that, following TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s campaign against the EU Common Fisheries Policy, EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki, will this Tuesday unveil a proposal to ban the controversial practice of “discards”, whereby fishermen have to throw back the fish for which they have no quota. However, Spain and other southern European countries are expected to oppose the plan.Sunday Times Express
News of the World reported that the Conservative-run Northants County Council has opened a £2m office in Brussels, at the same time as it has cut 900 jobs and passed saving measures worth £73m.No link
In an interview with Al-Jazeera, David Cameron has rejected calls for an in/out referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, arguing that leaving the EU would “not be in [Britain’s] interest.” On his Telegraph blog, Dan Hannan has argued that rather than guessing at the outcome, and then working backwards, people ought to consider instead whether it is right in principle to consult the country.Al-Jazeera: Cameron Telegraph: Hannan
Saturday’s Express reported that under the European Parliament’s “mobility plan”, parliamentary staff using public transport are entitled to a taxpayer-funded travel subsidy of £203, about half the annual cost of a season ticket.Saturday’s Express Saturday’s Express: Editorial
EUobserver reports that, ahead of a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the German society of “xenophobia” and the German government of “discrimination” against Turkish migrants. This follows an awkward meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday, during which Sarkozy told the press that Turkey’s accession would “destabilise” the EU.EUobserver
Le Figaro reports that French Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie resigned yesterday over links with the ousted Tunisian regime. She will be replaced by Alain Juppé, who has been serving as Defence Minister.Independent Le Figaro

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The EU won the Olympics, the World Cup… and now an OscarOpen Europe blog

Open Europe is an independent think tank campaigning for radical reform of the EU. For information on our research, events and other activities, please visit our website:, follow us on twitter @OpenEurope or call us on +44 (0) 207 1972333 (London) and +32 (0) 2 5408625 (Brussels).

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Return to Zion?

Shalom Ilan, haveri! Thank you for thinking of me. We've had an ice and snow snow that came in last night and expect another tonight. My car door won't open. Frozen shut.
I would love to visit my beloved Land but probably can't for many reasons: I'm a poor white boy (I'm a poor fellow getting ready to sell my home and move with Mom and her boyfriend Doug to a nice home with my own bedroom in the country). And my AIDS doctors said I'll probably be dead and are in shock I'm not already and haven't gotten sick with infectious diseases. Blessed be God! What will be will be. I won't give up without a struggle.

Love ya Ilan,