Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Open Europe press summary: 14 October 2009


Barroso warns Czechs will lose Commissioner if Klaus fails to sign Lisbon Treaty
The Telegraph reports that Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission President, has warned Czech President Vaclav Klaus of the consequences if he continues to refuse to sign the Lisbon Treaty. Under the EU's current Nice Treaty, which will remain in force unless Klaus backs down, the number of Commissioners is set to be cut for the first time below the number of member states and Barroso warned, "If there is no Lisbon Treaty, there is no guarantee for the Czech Republic to have a commissioner."

The Telegraph notes that Barroso's warning came after a meeting with Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer, after which Barroso said, "We expect the Czech Republic to honour the commitment it has taken. It is in the interests of nobody, least of all the interests of the Czech Republic, to delay matters further."

Klaus has called for an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which will become EU law as a result of the Treaty, over concerns that ethnic Germans forced out of the Czech Sudeten region after the Second World War may use it to claim back property. German newspaper Welt reports that EU Industry Commissioner Gnther Verheugen is blaming the German CSU party for being partly responsible for the Czech blockages of the Lisbon Treaty. Mr Verheugen says that the Czech President could only exploit the issue of property claims of Sudeten Germans since it "has been kept alive from the German side".

The FT quotes Fischer saying, "We are working on a text that would formalise this additional condition, this demand. There is an ad hoc working group that's been working very hard on this." He added, "There could be a brief political declaration, with reference to the fact that it would be put at a later date into a protocol. This is the legal form that's on the table." The Telegraph notes that Barroso ruled out any attempts by Klaus to reopen the Lisbon Treaty to insert a new Czech clause, a decision that will require ratification to be carried out all over again in all EU countries. "That is absurd, it would be surreal," he said.

According to the Times, Ladisav Jakl, Klaus' top aide, said, "President Klaus has not received any guarantees that ratification of the Lisbon treaty will go on in the way he wants. In this case, he cannot guarantee anything." The Times has also reported that asked during a walkabout on Sunday not to put his name to the treaty, Klaus replied: "Don't worry, I won't."

Writing in the Irish Independent, Bruno Waterfield notes that, "In the most recent polls Klaus scored a 61 percent approval rating, higher than any other Czech politician" and that "The Czech president may not be directly elected - he was chosen by parliament - but he has much more legitimacy than the country's unelected caretaker cabinet."

El Mundo suggests that the debate could continue into the beginning of next year, overlapping with the start of the Spanish EU Presidency. The paper quotes the Spanish Secretary of State for the EU, Diego Lopez Garrido, saying he "considers it done" that the President will sign and the Treaty will come into force without any concession to the Czechs. He later clarified that the Spanish would take a "constructive" position to discuss Czech demands.

Meanwhile, EUobserver notes that the Czech Constitutional Court will hear a challenge to the Lisbon Treaty by Czech Senators on 27 October, two days before an EU summit in Brussels, at which it was originally foreseen that the EU would agree the appointments of the EU President and Foreign Minister brought in by the Treaty. The Telegraph notes that the appointments have now been delayed, including the selection of new Commissioners after the current term of office ends on Oct 31.
Ad hoc news 2 Ad hoc news Welt FT FT: Leader Irish Independent: Waterfield Irish Times Mail: Synon blog EUobserver European Voice Telegraph Irish Times 2 BBC EurActiv WSJ Times Times 2 Die Presse El Mundo El Mundo 2 El Mundo 3 La Razon El Pas LeFigaro LeFigaro2 OE blog

Hedge fund Coupland Cardiff Asset Management threatens to quit London over EU's AIFM Directive
The Telegraph reports that Coupland Cardiff Asset Management, a $300m (190m) Asia-focused hedge fund, has warned that it will quit its London base to set up outside Europe if the EU's Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFM) Directive goes ahead as planned. Coupland Cardiff's Chief Operating Officer Deborah Boyce is quoted saying, "As we invest exclusively in Asia, this Directive will mean that we have no choice but to relocate outside of the EU should we wish to continue to operate."

Meanwhile, research from New York University's Stern School of Business has shown that one in five hedge fund managers misrepresent their fund or its performance to investors during formal due diligence investigations, the FT reports. Managers most commonly misrepresented the amount of money they had entrusted to their funds, their performance and their regulatory and legal histories, according to the research.
Open Europe research Open Europe press release FT Telegraph Sharecast Moneymarketing
Several Danish papers cite Open Europe's calculations showing that Lord and Lady Kinnock between them received around 8 million from the EU in pay and allowances during their respective tenures in Brussels.
Borsen Berlingske Politiken Jyllands-Posten OE blog

Blair EU Presidency receives Commission backing
The Parliament reports that Tony Blair's candidacy to be the EU's first permanent President, a position that would be created if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified, has received backing from Estonian Audit Commissioner Siim Kallas and Austrian External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. Kallas is quoted saying, "Tony Blair would make an excellent president. He has the proven track record and sufficient gravitas on the world stage for such a post. I cannot think of a better candidate although, of course, this is a matter for member state governments to decide".

EurActiv reports that there is growing pressure for a woman to be appointed to one of the two 'top jobs' created by the Lisbon Treaty: permanent President and Foreign Minister. Names in the frame include former Irish President Mary Robinson and current Greek Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou.

Meanwhile, Polish daily Dziennik has reported that Warsaw will send its official position to other EU leaders this week, on the kind of role the new permanent President should have, suggesting a secretary general-type figure who will chair EU summits and coordinate the daily work of the Council, without taking any strategic decisions - a position that could be backed by countries including Spain.
El Pas The Parliament EurActiv

EU nears agreement on telecoms package
EurActiv reports that the European Commission and the EU member states agreed yesterday on an amended text, which could pave the way for a final deal on the telecoms package. A new proposal in the European Council scraps the requirement that judicial rulings must be compulsory before the authorities can intervene against serial illegal downloaders and cut off internet access, but makes a number of concessions to the European Parliament regarding "the right to effective judicial protection" for offenders. Last May, the EP passed an amendment to the package, saying that access could not be restricted "without prior ruling by the judicial authorities".

A conciliation committee could meet in Strasbourg on 20 October, and if MEPs agree on the new text, the telecoms package could be adopted by the end of year or the beginning of 2010.

Finnish broadcaster Yle reports that land - an island in the Baltic Sea which belongs to Finland but which has substantial autonomy - has not yet ratified the Lisbon Treaty, although Finland has. It's not clear what will happen if land's parliament does not sign the Treaty.

Independent: Government is right to bring the Europe Minister back to Commons
A leader in the Independent argues that the decision to bring the post of Europe Minister back to the Commons is "quite right", as since the Czechs are coming under increasing pressure to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, "the Europe question is inexorably returning to the British political agenda. In the run-up to the general election, the Government has to be able to take the fight on Europe to the Opposition as though it means it."
Independent-leader OE blog

FT: French and Germans want a much stronger role in directing EU's economic policies in next Commission
The FT Brussels blog looks at the hunt for the top jobs in the next European Commission and writes, "The French and Germans want to play a much more direct role in shaping the EU's economic and financial policies as the EU struggles to emerge from recession, rewrites its rules on financial regulation and defends its industries in world markets...All this is causing some nervousness in Britain and a few like-minded countries that the next Commission will be less free market-oriented than its predecessor."
FT Brussels blog

The Prague Daily Monitor reports that Irish musician and activist Bob Geldof has said that a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty should have been held in all EU member states and not only in Ireland.
Prague Monitor

The Telegraph reports that British farmers are receiving hundred of thousands of pounds more than last year in single farm payments under the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, because Sterling has weakened dramatically against the euro.

Barroso considers additional Commission posts
Handelsblatt reports that, in addition to the planned two new Commission portfolios of Climate Protection and Basic Rights, EU Commission President Jos Manuel Barroso is considering creating two additional posts in the new Commission: a Commissioner for Innovation and one for Financial Services.

European Commission fears serious debt crisis in 13 EU member states
Der Spiegel reports that the European Commission is fearing a serious debt crisis in 13 EU member states, classing some countries as "high risk" including, Spain, the Netherlands, Greece, Ireland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus, and others as suffering from excessive deficits and debt, including the UK, Romania, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Lithuania.
Spiegel Focus EUobserver

Zeit reports that the European Commission is today presenting its annual report on EU enlargement, relating to accession candidates Turkey, Croatia, and Macedonia. The Irish Times notes that the Commission will warn Turkey that its record 1.7 billion tax demand levied against the country's biggest media group, Dogan Yayin, threatens freedom of the press and could damage its bid to join.
Zeit LeFigaro Irish Times

The FT reports that there is concern within the ECB that the euro is beginning to depreciate, threatening to stifle growth by hitting export prospects.

An analysis in City AM looks at the recent increase in activity of mergers and acquisition by businesses, and suggests it is being taken as a sign of economic recovery, but threatens to be slowed down by EU anti-trust procedures from the Competition Directorate of the Commission.
City AM

The Times reports that Lord Mandelson succeeded yesterday in forcing the new owner of Vauxhall to back down on onerous redundancy plans, effectively securing the jobs of 5,000 British workers. It is estimated that Lord Mandelson is prepared to negotiate up to 400 million of loan guarantees to Magna, who recently bought GM Europe.

Royal Bank of Scotland could be made to sell more than 300 branches by the European Commission as a penalty for receiving billions of pounds of state aid.
Times FT

The Romanian government has fallen following a vote of no confidence which toppled the centrist minority government of Prime Minister Emil Boc. There are now fears that political instability could pose problems for the country in meeting terms of the 20 billion aid package which it won from the IMF this year.
EUobserver EurActiv European Voice LeFigaro LeMonde

Artur Runger-Metzger, Europe's chief broker from the EU Commission at the recent climate change talks in Thailand has told reporters, "You may have heard that China accused the EU of killing off the Kyoto Protocol. But it is the US that is trying to kill it. They want everything 'common' and nothing 'differentiated'", reports EUobserver.

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