German Constitutional Court suspends ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, demanding a change to German law giving parliament more say over EU decision-making
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that the German Constitutional Court has ruled that the Lisbon Treaty is compatible with the German Constitution, but has withheld approval for immediate ratification, demanding a law to guarantee the rights of the German Parliament in the EU decision-making process.
The press release of the Constitutional Court notes that the German ratification act should be modified because the German Lower House and Upper House "have not been accorded sufficient rights of participation in European lawmaking procedures and treaty amendment procedures."
It continues: "the Federal Republic of Germany's instrument of ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon may not be deposited as long as the constitutionally required legal elaboration of the parliamentary rights of participation has not entered into force."
The press release notes that: "the further development of the competences of the European Parliament can reduce, but not completely fill, the gap between the extent of the decision-making power of the Union's institutions and the citizens' democratic power of action in the Member States."
FT Deutschland notes that "the Judges have considered the EU to have a democratic deficit. Therefore sovereign rights such as decisions on budgetary matters or on penal law, cannot be transferred to the EU without the consent of the German Lower and Upper House". The newspaper reports that this means the German Parliament will in future need to consent to any changes to the EU treaties, with Frankfurter Rundschau reporting that military operations, "which could be possible after Lisbon", will have to be approved by the German Parliament.
Deutsche Welle quotes the Court saying: "If one wanted to summarise this result, one could say: the Constitutional Court says 'yes' to the Lisbon Treaty but demands that parliament's right to participation be strengthened at the national level."
Die Welt notes that the German law giving the Parliament more say could pass soon, with a first reading to be held on 26 August. The leader of the Christian Democrat faction leader in the German Parliament Norbert Röttgen has announced that the second and third reading are planned for 8 September. German elections are to be held on 27 September.
Open Europe has published a new poll, conducted by German polling company Psyma, which shows that 77 percent of German voters want a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.
Press release in English Court Decision Spiegel Spiegel 2 EU Observer BBC Deutsche Welle FAZ Zeit Welt NZZ FTD Le Monde OE poll OE poll in German Frankfurter Rundschau
Polish President will delay signing Lisbon Treaty to "defend Irish people's right to a sovereign decision"
Polish President Lech Kaczy?ski says he will only sign the Lisbon Treaty if Ireland and Germany ratify the Treaty, according to DPA. He argues that by delaying ratification in Poland, he is "defending the Irish peoples' right to a sovereign decision". Gazeta Wyborcza reports that this marks a change in the President's position, as he had originally delayed signing the Treaty only for the outcome of the second Irish referendum.
DPA Gazeta Wyborcza
Law lecturer: Neither the 'decisions' nor Irish protocols will change the meaning of the Lisbon Treaty;
Libertas faces 40m costs from European elections
Writing in the Irish Times, senior law lecturer Gavin Barret argues that neither the "decisions" made at the EU summit nor the promised protocol will change the meaning of the Treaty. He notes that "The protocol's role is not therefore that of altering the treaty's impact. It is that of putting it beyond argument that the treaty represents any threat regarding sensitive political issues." He adds, "True, the treaty itself will be the same. But Ireland will vote not merely on Lisbon but rather on 'Lisbon plus'".
Also writing in the Irish Times, Jamie Smyth argues that Ireland needs a strong candidate for the EU Commission in order to "rebuild its reputation in Europe after the Lisbon Treaty No vote". He writes that former Taoiseach John Bruton is the most qualified and most likely to get a 'heavyweight' post due to his work as EU Ambassador to Washington. He adds that this would also get opposition party Fine Gael 'on board' for the next Lisbon referendum campaign.
Meanwhile, the Irish Independent reports that Libertas is on the "brink of extinction" after it spent 40m on its European election campaign. Remaining Libertas members in Ireland are expected to meet in the coming weeks to decide if the party should be wound up, whether a new leader should be elected or if it should return to the status of a "think tank".
Irish Independent Irish Times: Smyth Irish Times: Barrett
Professor Stephen Hawking criticises "disgraceful" EU tax on mobility scooters
Professor Stephen Hawking has criticised what he called a "disgraceful" tax on mobility scooters, and urged the EU's Customs Code Committee meeting tomorrow to drop a 10% import tax on the vehicles. PA quotes him saying, "For many of us with disabilities, a mobility scooter is literally a lifeline - without it we are locked out further from the world around us. To tax the most disadvantaged in society in this way is simply disgraceful".
The current regime classes mobility scooters as "motor vehicles for the transport of persons" which attract a 10% import duty, rather than as "carriages for disabled persons", such as conventional wheel-chairs, which are duty-free. Jim Dooley, Chairman of The Mobility Bureau suppliers said: "We have tried to get the UK Government to fight our corner, but now it seems it's too late. It's a real slap in the face for small businesses and the disabled." PA reports that the tax is almost certain to stay in place.
Private equity senses turnaround in proposed EU regulation
Simon Walker, Chief Executive of the British Private Equity Association (BVCA), has urged European policymakers to pay attention to recent reports from top-rank regulation experts and leave private equity out of their proposed regulation on alternative investment funds.Walker said that comments in the de Larosière report and by Sir James Sassoon, author of a report on financial regulatory reform for Shadow Chancellor George Osborne, show in "clear logic" why the EU should leave private equity out of proposed directive, according to City AM. The article quotes him saying, "These are merely the latest distinguished experts to agree that the directive as it stands is fundamentally flawed...This would do immense damage to private equity at precisely the moment when it could and should be at the centre of a European economic recovery strategy".
City AM Guardian
Bankers Association says EU financial supervision proposals should be based on "clear logic"
The Independent reports that Angela Knight, Chief Executive of the British Bankers Association, speaking on the EU's proposals for financial supervision has said that, "While supporting the [European Union's] proposal for better cross-border co-ordination on systemic issues and between the many regulators, there is little doubt that greater centralisation, more new directives and amendments to old ones are flowing fast from this Commission and may well flow faster still from the new one. These proposals need to be brought forward from a base of clear logic and not from either prejudice or the simple desire of the EU to be seen to be doing something".
Independent Open Europe press release
Commons Committee urges EU Commission to stamp out financial irregularities
PA reports that MPs on the Commons Public Accounts Committee have urged the European Commission to finally stamp out irregularities in its 118 billion budget, saying there was still an "unacceptably high level of error" in some key budget areas. This has meant that the European Court of Auditors has refused to approve the accounts for the 14th consecutive year. Conservative MP, and committee Chairman, Edward Leigh said that a current review of European Union expenditure "gives the Commission a rare opportunity to make the long-term improvements to financial management which have eluded the EU for so long".
The FT reports that EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes has warned UK banks for a second time in a week that they may have to make disposals of their assets as a condition for receiving state aid. The two banks most likely to be affected would be Lloyds and RBS.
Swedish PM urges David Cameron to embrace "European leadership"
The Guardian reports that Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt, due to take over the EU Presidency tomorrow, has said it is a pity that Conservative leader David Cameron has decided to leave the main centre-right grouping in the European Parliament, the EPP-ED, where Reinfeldt's Swedish Moderate Party sits. Reinfeldt also added that Cameron will need to adopt a more pragmatic approach in government and will "need" mainstream leaders in Europe.
Reinfeldt is quoted saying, "If David Cameron becomes prime minister, part of what he wants to do in the world and Europe will need European structures. I hope he will feel comfortable in working with other European leaders. He will need us. To address this issue he needs European leadership, not only British leadership."
Conservative Home Guardian Press Conference
Court of Auditors criticises Galileo Programme
Knack reports that the EU's Galileo Satellite navigation project has come under heavy criticism from the Court of Auditors. The Court says that the preparation phase of the 'Galileo Joint Undertaking' scheme was inadequate, resulting in a poor execution of the Public-Private Partnership-programme, adding "If the commission wishes to engage in other infrastructural programmes, it should ensure that it has adequate instruments at its disposal".
EU promises "strong and collective action" against Iran
A leader in the FT writes that Iran's intimidation and arrest of Iranian employees of the British Embassy in Tehran demands an EU response. The article notes that Britain "has rightly taken its case to its partners in the European Union" and that "faced with retaliation from 27 countries rather than one "little Satan", Iran might just think again. This is an important test of EU cohesion and solidarity."
The Times reports that one option being considered by the EU is for all 27 member states "to withdraw their ambassadors from Tehran temporarily as a collective protest".
FT: Leader Times Irish Times Guardian
Angela Merkel: "We are impatiently waiting the start of the Swedish presidency"
Several sources are providing a critical analysis of the Czech Presidency as it reaches its last day. RFI highlights the failures such as the downfall of the Czech government and the diplomatic errors which were made, and states that the task of presidency was made even more difficult by the conflict in Gaza, the Russia and Ukrainian fuel crisis, and the economic crisis. RTBF describes the presidency as a catastrophe, quoting Angela Merkel saying, "We are impatiently waiting the start of the Swedish presidency".
Meanwhile, a roundup of what to expect from the Swedish presidency is published on Toute l'Europe. First on the agenda is fighting the economic crisis and climate change.
Opening a new chapter of negotiations with Turkey is likely, even in the face of reticence from some member states. Negotiations with Croatia however, are likely to be put on hold due to a border dispute with Slovenia.
The Justice and Home Affairs cooperation or the 'Stockholm programme' is likely to be a contention point - due to its far reaching and somewhat murky nature covering Visas, immigration and security. Trade negotiations will also be a priority.
Toute l'Europe RFI RTBF Reuters Les Echos
On the FT: Brussels blog, Tony Barber argues that a squabble between Spain and Belgium over who should preside over the Union for the Mediterranean for the next two years "puts EU foreign policy in a poor light", but says a lot about "the way the European Union operates". Barber adds "EU governments look like mice fighting over a piece of cheese, while outside Europe the world is full of large, fierce cats."
FT: Brussels blog
Expansion writes that the European Commission urged the Spanish government to notify commissioners of details of the restructuring plan adopted by their banking sector last week.
Leaders of international lending institutions met yesterday with Russian and Ukrainian officials, the IHT reports, to discuss ways to help Ukraine pay Russian company Gazprom for its natural gas after energy shortages left EU citizens without heat last winter.
El Mundo IHT
Gazprom has signed a deal to import gas from Azerbaijan and distribute it to Europe, the BBC reports. Some observers in Europe are seeing this move as an attempt by Moscow to extend its monopoly over European energy supplies.
EU Observer and Le Monde report that the OSCE, which monitored the Albanian elections, said that while there was marked progress, there were also rumours of pressure on voters, among other voting problems in the country.
Monde EU Observer
The European Commission reached a deal with ten of the world's leading mobile-phone makers yesterday to introduce a universal charger for mobile phones as of next year.
WSJ Irish Independent Independent FT Times Irish Times El Mundo EuropeanVoice Google News EU Observer Euractiv
The Times reports that tension between Russia and Georgia is increasing as Russia carries out 'Caucasus 2009' military exercises close to the border. There are fears that Russian troops will soon enter the Georgian capital Tbilisi and topple the government.
The Coulisses de Bruxelles blog reports that former French Justice Minister and new MEP Rachida Dati is planning on joining law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, raising doubts about her ability to perform her duties in Brussels.
Coulisses de Bruxelles
The EU and the US have jointly established the European Electronic Crime Task Force, which will tackle cyber-crime and monitor computer networks for threats.
In the WSJ, Hugo Brady argues that "Britain's European debate remains stuck somewhere between 1988 and 1993" and that the UK needs to decide once and for all whether to stay in the EU or not.
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