Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Open Europe press summary: 30 June 2009


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.
No link

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".
No link

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".
Knack AFP

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.
BBC news

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.
WSJ: Brady

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: openeurope.org.uk or call us on 0207 197 2333.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Open Europe press summary: 29 June 2009


New poll shows 77% of German voters want a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty
Judges at the German Constitutional Court are tomorrow due to rule on the compatibility of the Lisbon Treaty with the German Constitution. Ahead of the decision, Open Europe, in collaboration with the Institute for Free Enterprise in Berlin, has published a new poll which shows that 77% of Germans want to be given a say on the Lisbon Treaty in a national referendum. Voters were asked: "Do you think that German voters should be given the opportunity to have their say on the new EU Treaty in a national referendum?" 77.3% said yes, 20.7% said no, and 1.9% said they don't know.
Euractiv quotes Open Europe Director Lorraine Mullally saying, "This poll clearly shows that it is not only the Irish who want to be consulted on the Lisbon Treaty. This treaty transfers significant powers from the national to the EU level, and German voters want to be given a say".

"Politicians claim they want to see more debate about the EU at national level, and yet they have conspired to deny voters a say on the Lisbon Treaty. Research shows that referendums on European issues significantly improve the public's interest in and knowledge of the EU - so referendums should be encouraged, not avoided at all costs."

"If politicians want people to connect with the EU, they should give them a say on the big issues like treaty change. The public are crying out to be consulted - it is time to stop pretending that politicians know best, and inject some democracy into EU politics".

German daily Die Welt looks to the German Constitutional Court's decision and notes that for matters which will be decided in the Council with Qualified Majority Voting, the German parliament's assent will be needed. FAZ cites several experts criticising the scope of the Lisbon Treaty, with Law Professor Markus Kerber saying: "Brussels is acting like a nameless regime of selfish elites. The Commission has become the 'many headed serpent' of Europe, robbing ever more democratic power from the citizens."

Dietrich Murswiek of Freiburg University is quoted saying, "the Lisbon Treaty brings powers to Brussels in many essential areas. It is a gigantic camouflage", while Die Linke Co-Chairman Oskar Lafontaine believes the Treaty is a "programme for military armament and a step towards a 'Europe of corporations'". Euractiv Open Europe press release Press release in German Open Europe blog Welt FAZ DPA EU Observer

McCreevy: 95% of countries would probably have voted No in Lisbon Treaty referendums
Saturday's Irish Times reported on EU Internal Markets Commissioner Charlie McCreevy's comments last week, in which he said, "When Irish people rejected the Lisbon Treaty a year ago, the initial reaction ranged from shock to horror to temper to vexation. That would be the view of a lot of the people who live in the Brussels beltway. On the other hand, all of the [political leaders] know quite well that if the similar question was put to their electorate by a referendum the answer in 95 per cent of the countries would probably have been No as well."

Saturday's Irish Independent also reported that he said that Irish people should not be ashamed about how they voted, and quoted him saying "I've never been ashamed to stand up for the way we do our business here. We do it by referendum. That's democracy."

EurActiv quotes Open Europe Director Lorraine Mullally saying that the Irish Commissioner's "honesty" had "touched a nerve" and that his statement "probably reflects what most other EU leaders think themselves".
Open Europe blog Open Europe briefing Irish Times Irish Independent EurActiv Economist: Charlemagne blog Telegraph Sunday Telegraph Irish Times 2

Bruce Arnold: Ireland's "legal guarantees are worthless"
Under the headline, "Government has abandoned democracy to get a 'Yes' vote", Bruce Arnold argued in Saturday's Irish Independent that Irish PM Brian Cowen was "abandoning democracy the day after the vote. He was then servile in courting European countries, telling them how sorry he was that the Irish people had insulted Europe and assuring them of changed times ahead. He then isolated a few marginal issues, none sufficient for the size of the huge vote, invented a survey of the "real" Irish view on Lisbon and claimed that amending doubts about neutrality, abortion and taxation would do the trick. No need, he said, to look further into the more serious and fundamental EU drawbacks."

He continued, "The legal guarantees are worthless and do not change the treaty. However, they had the desired effect. A number of foolish and misguided public figures, respected for talk shows on television, selling groceries, writing poetry, went public and said they would vote 'Yes'."

In the Irish Independent, columnist Maurice Hayes writes "The clarifications [protocols] in this case are less an explanation of what is in the treaty, than an affirmation of what is not. More nuanced it may be, but the question remains the same -- as does the treaty."
Irish Independent: Arnold Irish Independent

Private equity says proposed EU directive is protectionist and discriminatory
The European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (EVCA) has strongly criticised the EU's proposed directive on alternative investment fund managers, saying the proposal would restrict free movement of capital and discriminate against private equity owners of companies, which would be subject to stricter requirements than other unlisted companies.

Jonathan Russell, EVCA chairman, was quoted in the Weekend FT saying, "The directive would be incredibly complicated - it could really be quite dangerous. You are in danger of clogging up the system [and] you are opening up the door to all sorts of responsive legislation [worldwide], not only in the US, but also Asia." However, Russell added that he was confident the proposal could be changed. "We can make quite a lot of difference. People in the European parliament and Commission don't want poor-quality legislation. Member states understand that and want ... a workable solution." he said.

Meanwhile, London-based hedge fund managers, who also oppose the proposal, have set up a 'fighting fund' to lobby against the draft directive across the EU and the UK, reports the Telegraph. Andrew Baker, head of industry organisation Aima, is quoted saying, "The industry needs to accept that the directive will not go away, but it needs to be substantially re-written. This means we have to effect change in the EU parliamentary process and within the EU Council."
Telegraph Weekend FT City AM

Mandelson opposed to more regulatory powers for the Bank of England
In a speech to the British Bankers' Association, Lord Mandelson will state his opposition to giving the Bank of England more regulatory powers. He will also say that the FSA and European Union "are both going to get a new rulebook" that will create new capital and liquidity requirements, better accounting for risk, and "reshape the landscape for derivatives".

European Ombudsman rues that Commission should interfere in Austrian national policy
PA reports that the European Ombudsman, P Nikiforos Diamandouros, has said that the European Commission must either take legal action against Austria, concerning a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, or give the European Circus Association a valid reason for not doing so. The Circus Association had complained that the ban, introduced four years ago, was a violation of the free movement of services and discriminatory because wild animals are still allowed on film sets in Austria.

The Commission started infringement proceedings against Austria but then decided to drop the case on the grounds that the protection of wild animals was best left to national authorities. The Circus Association then turned to the Ombudsman, who investigates complaints about maladministration by EU bodies. The Ombudsman's ruling said the Commission, as the guardian of the EU Treaty, was obliged to supervise the correct application of EU law in the member states.
Ombudsman press release

Baroness Vadera likely to be next UK Commissioner
The Times reports that Gordon Brown is considering the nomination of his former aide, Lady Vadera, for a five-year position in the European Commission. Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, is reportedly petitioning for a female Commissioner.

City law firms criticise EU employment regulations
The Sunday Times reported that some of the City's top law firms have criticised new EU employment regulations which prevent them from employing candidates from outside the EU. The EU regulations state that immigrants wishing to obtain a highly-skilled migrant visa must have a masters qualification, which many lawyers do not have. According to the article, various law firms have written a letter to the Law Society warning that the rules are restricting talent flow into the UK and will ultimately make the City's legal sector less competitive.
Sunday Times

Turkish PM restates EU accession goal
The Weekend FT reported that Recep Erdogan, Turkey's Prime Minister, lashed out at western European politicians for seeking votes in this month's European parliamentary elections by ruling out Turkish entry to the European Union. "Some narrow-minded politicians have used Turkey as election material, and we believe this to be very wrong and very populist," Mr Erdogan told reporters in Brussels.

Meanwhile, the BBC notes that both opposition inside the EU and insufficient democratic reforms in Turkey are hampering its accession bid. Turkey's EU accession talks risk suspension if Ankara fails to open its ports and airports to Cyprus this year. Euractiv quotes Erdogan as saying "Our goal is full membership".
Le Monde Weekend FT BBC EurActiv

EU warns Iran after British workers arrested
EU foreign ministers have promised a "strong and collective response" to Iranian intimidation, after nine British embassy workers were arrested in Tehran following protests over claims of vote rigging. The ministers met in Corfu, Greece, to review their strategy towards Iran, and urged to country to release the Iranian employees of the British embassy, as well as a Greek journalist; all detained on suspicion of instigating the unrest.
Guardian FT IHT Independent Irish Times

EPP group could have majority for Barroso with support from liberals and Conservatives' groupDe Standaard reports that some political groups in the European Parliament want to postpone the election of the next Commission President until autumn, but the incoming Swedish Presidency has objected. The newspaper notes that the EPP group in the European Parliament (264 MEPs) would be able to obtain a majority for Jose Manuel Barroso with support of the liberals (82 MEPs) and the group of the British Conservatives (55 members), who would still be willing to cooperate with the EPP, despite having left the group.
On his Coulisses de Bruxelles blog, Jean Quatremer writes that the European Socialists will have only themselves to blame if Jose Manuel Barroso is re-elected as President of the Commission - due to their inability to produce a viable alternative candidate.
Coulisses De Bruxelles Standaard

The News of the World noted that the Commission will tomorrow table a proposal which would ban smoking in certain outdoor areas, such as beer gardens and concert venues.
No link

EU officials confident about Nabucco pipeline deal
European Voice reports that EU officials are quietly confident that the Nabucco pipeline, which will pipe gas from the Caspian to Europe through Turkey, will be possible. The pipeline will provide Europe with an alternative to Russian gas, and would also give Turkey a pivotal strategic role. Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that he "hoped" that an agreement on Turkey's participation in the 3,300-kilometre pipeline project might be reached in July.
European Voice

A Euractiv article looks ahead to the Swedish Presidency of the EU, starting on 1 July, noting that Sweden's top three priorities will be responding to the recession, agreeing a global climate change deal, and developing EU cooperation in justice and home affairs.
EurActiv EurActiv 2 European Voice

The Independent on Sunday reported that the UK is failing to meet its sustainable living targets. Last Wednesday, the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) warned that Britain remains the EU's second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases and that it is unlikely to meet its 2010 target of reducing CO2 emissions by 20%. Britain also trails behind most European countries with regard to supplying renewable energy.
Sunday Independent

The twenty-year old EU legislation regulating the shape and size of cucumbers is to be abandoned this week, Die Presse reports.
Die Presse Mail

According to NorvegeFR, 40% of Norwegians are in favour of joining the EU - up from 33% in March.

In the FT, Wolfgang Munchau argues that if France and Germany are to pursue opposing fiscal policies it would create a fundamental imbalance within the eurozone, adding that, "you surely do not want to get into a position where a large member state has a rational economic reason to quit."
FT: Munchau

In the WSJ, Marcus Walker argues that "Germany, in the grip of a massive export slump, firmly believes it has no alternative to export-led growth. But there is an alternative - the country just doesn't have the stomach for the changes it would require."
WSJ: Walker

OECD monitors have said that Albania's elections appeared to have proceeded calmly, with fewer electoral irregularities than in the past, in an election described by the IHT as a "crucial test of Albania's democratic credentials and readiness to join the European Union."

The Guardian reports that low cost airlines such as Easyjet are ignoring the new EU ruling on travel insurance which was established in November. Easyjet is still making passengers opt out of travel insurance when booking flights.

In an interview with Le Magazine, Pavel Fisher, the Czech Ambassador to France says that criticism of the Czech Presidency of the EU was "unfair and offensive". He adds that the Czech Presidency has not suffered as a result of the difference of opinions on Europe between President Klaus and former Prime Minister Topolanek.
Le Magazine

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: openeurope.org.uk or call us on 0207 197 2333.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Metamorphoses (German foreign intelligence predicts shifts in global power constellations)

Newsletter 2009/06/19 - Metamorphoses

BERLIN (Own report) - The German foreign intelligence service is predicting shifts in the global power constellation and is demanding "a geo-strategic debate in Germany." According to a classified Federal Intelligence Service (BND) study, the collapse of the western national economies, whose recuperation is unpredictable, could lead to a drastic acceleration of China's rise and the decline of West Germany's long-term primary ally, the United States. This intelligence service paper is being currently discussed in Berlin and excepts have been leaked to the press to prepare public opinion for possible changes in global policy orientation. "A long-term global crisis" cannot, for the moment, be excluded, assesses the BND, who, if this happens, is anticipating "massive unemployment and movements of migration in unprecedented dimensions" as well as an escalation of nationalism and very serious international tensions. An essential question, for the future global conflict constellations, according to this paper, will be if Russia can be bound to the West or if Moscow will go over to the Chinese adversary.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Open Europe press summary: 26 June 2009


McCreevy admits most EU voters would reject Lisbon Treaty if they had the chance
According to the Belfast Telegraph, EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy has this morning admitted that the Lisbon Treaty would have been rejected in most member states if it had been put to a public vote, and that many EU leaders were glad they had no legal obligation to hold referendums on the treaty in their own countries.
Belfast Telegraph

Finnish MEP tipped for Conservative group over-claimed €200 for every trip to his constituency
Helsingin Sanomat reports that Finnish MEP Hannu Takkula, who recently left the newly formed European Conservative and Reformist group in the European Parliament, has claimed a total of €130,000 from the European Parliament to cover travel between Brussels and his constituency, but has instead travelled to his home town, claiming an extra €200 per trip. Under European Parliament rules, Takkula can receive money to cover the cost of travelling to his constituency, which is Rovaniemi, but instead, Takkula has been travelling to his home town of Turku, where his family have lived for several years. The newspaper notes that the cost of travelling to Turku is around €200 cheaper per trip than the cost of travelling to Rovaniemi, suggesting Takkula has made a profit on each trip he claimed for.

Over the five-year mandate, Takkula has reportedly claimed €25,600 per year. Takkula said "There is nothing unclear about this. I have officially changed my city of residence at the EP in spring this year".

Nelonen further reports that Takkula was not a legitimate candidate in last year's local elections, according to the Finnish court, because he ran for a city that was not his town of residence. "He should never have been allowed to stand for candidacy", the court announced.
Coulisses de Bruxelles HS Nykypaiva Nelonen Iltalehti Helsinki Times Helsingin Sanomat

Czech social democrat party considers suspending President Vaclav Klaus' powers over refusal to sign Lisbon Treaty
EU Observer reports that the Czech social democrat party is considering suspending President Vaclav Klaus' powers if he refuses to sign the Lisbon Treaty. The article notes "temporary suspension would require a simple majority of 41 votes in the country's 81-seat senate and would allow caretaker Prime Minister Jan Fischer to sign the document instead". The Lisbon Treaty has been ratified by the Czech Parliament and Senate but its compatibility with the Czech Constitution is currently being analysed by the Czech Constitutional Court with a decision expected in September.

Klaus has vowed to be the last to sign the Treaty and will wait until Germany, Poland and Ireland have ratified it in the hope that the Conservatives may be elected in the UK by then. Former Constitutional Court judge Vojtech Cepl said "There is nothing in the constitution that gives the president the right to veto decisions of the country's highest institutions." However, senate press spokesman, Petr Kostka said "The probability is very low. It's the opinion of just a few senators and not of the whole chamber. The president of the senate, Mr Premysl Sobotka [an ODS party member], has said he doesn't agree with the suspension."
EU Observer

WSJ: "In some countries they rig votes, in the European Union they repeat votes to get the desired result"
An editorial in the WSJ looks at the second Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and begins, "In some countries they rig votes, in the European Union they repeat votes to get the desired result." It goes on to argue, "To justify a revote, EU leaders put on a big show at last week's summit, giving the impression of tough negotiations in which Dublin supposedly won important concessions...Oh really? According to the EU summit's own conclusions, the protocol 'will clarify but not change either the content or the application of the Treaty of Lisbon.' So the Irish will vote on the same text they previously rejected by a seven-percentage-point margin despite assurances by their government as recently as last month that this would not happen."

Meanwhile Adrian Michaels in the Telegraph writes, "If democracy is about listening to the people, then Iran isn't the only place where things have got a bit strained. A year ago, 53 per cent of Irish voters declined to ratify the substantial increase of the European Union's powers and reach enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. Yet in early October, the country will be holding another referendum, in which the people will be given a chance to come up with a better answer."
Open Europe briefing WSJ Economist Telegraph: Michaels

City fears that squabbling between Treasury, BoE and FSA could damage UK's case in Europe
The Times reports that bankers and City lawyers fear that squabbling officials at the Treasury, Bank of England and Financial Services Authority may be damaging the reputation of London as one of the world's premier financial centres and that they may also be distracted from fighting Britain's corner in the debate over greater EU regulation for the financial services sector.

Robert Turner, a partner at law firm Simmons & Simmons, said: "There are many in the City who would like to see less infighting and more effort going into defending the interests of Britain in Europe."

European Commission wants database for all 500 million citizens, raising "big brother" concerns
The European Commission has proposed to set up a new agency to oversee all its large-scale IT systems, thereby bringing together management of three key systems - the Schengen Information System, Visa Information System and Eurodac - plus other related applications, into a single operational structure. Webwereld reports that human right groups have expressed fears for big brother implications, as this would mean that data on all 500 million European Union citizens and all illegal migrants would be merged into a database for "freedom and security". The cost of the system would be €113 million in the first 3 years, and later €10 million per year following that.
Computing.co.uk Webwereld

Turkish Minister: New French EU affairs Minister "could be a good catalyst" for Turkey joining EU
Le Monde reports that new EU Affairs Minister Pierre Lellouche has said he would follow "the government line" with regard to Turkey's EU accession and would like to see "Turkey with Europe", rather than Turkey in Europe.

Meanwhile, the Coulisses de Bruxelles blog reports that Ankara is rejoicing at Lellouche's appointment. Turkish EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis referred to Lellouche as "one of my great friends" and said "he could be a good catalyst". He said "If Nicolas Sarkozy, who knows him well, appointed him to this post, it is for good reason. I believe he will influence other members of the government and convince them of the advantages of the accession of Turkey and therefore good sense will prevail in the end". Bagis added that "Turkey will accept nothing less than full and complete accession" and that it is carrying out reforms to live "according to the democratic and economic standards of the Union".

The FT blog notes that Turkey's "entry into the EU is indisputably a long way off" despite creeping "forward one more inch" through formal talks with the EU on taxation next Tuesday.
Coulisses de Bruxelles El Pais European Voice FT: Brussels blog Le Monde Le Monde2

Economist: Conservatives' new EP grouping may be symptom of Britain's relationship with EU
An article in the Economist argues that the problem with the Conservatives' new grouping in the EP is "structural" because "Europe makes even centrist voters cross in Britain, yet centrists on the continent are overwhelmingly pro-EU. So to find allies who share their Euroscepticism, Tories have to seek out populists and angry nationalists. Mr Cameron's new band of allies may be a symptom of Britain's strained relationship with Europe rather than a solution to it."

Meanwhile, European Voice reports that Swedish Moderate Party MEP Gunnar Hökmark has lost his post of Vice-President of the EPP, which the article argues is a sign that the group is becoming less keen on enlargement and free market economics since the UK Conservatives and Czech Civic Democrats left the grouping.

Die Presse writes that the 'grand coalition' between the EPP and the socialist group is likely to crumble due to disagreements about the Commission President's appointment. Together the EPP and the socialist group account for 447 of the 736 seats in the new EP. At the same time, the Swedish 'Pirate Party' has joined the green group in the EP.
European Voice Economist Die Presse El Mundo

EU sues Germany for Bavarian resistance to publish CAP recipients
EU authorities have started proceedings against the Germany over the failure to publish a list of recipients of CAP subsidies, Süddeutsche reports. Bavarian resistance to publish recipients of EU farm subsidies may lead to massive sanctions for Germany. Bavaria's Agriculture Minister Helmut Brunner said "To me it is not about publishing the data, but rather to what extent privacy of the farmers is protected". Brunner himself received €10,000 in EU subsidies last year, but says "I am not only a politician, but also a farmer". The German government has one month to clarify the situation before legal action will be taken.
Süddeutsche Zeit ARD

UK wants global carbon emissions to peak by 2020
The Guardian reports that, in the run up to the Copenhagen climate change conference, Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband has said that greenhouse gas output should peak and begin to decline by 2020, to "irreversibly break" the trend of rising emissions.

The Copenhagen climate change conference in December will see negotiations intended to replace the Kyoto protocol in setting national limits on carbon pollution. Miliband said that Britain, which will negotiate the new agreement as part of the EU bloc, was pushing for the new deal to force emissions from developed nations to reach a peak by 2015. PA notes that the EU has pledged to cut its emissions by 20% and raise that to 30% by 2020 if a global deal is secured at Copenhagen.
Guardian Le Monde

EU environment ministers agree plan to cut industrial emissions
The FT reports that European environment ministers agreed yesterday on a plan which would reduce industrial emissions throughout Europe. New laws would aim to cut pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and dust emitted by industrial facilities by a third by 2020.

The plans were approved with a narrow majority after conflict between countries such as Sweden, Denmark and Germany, who pressed for tighter pollution targets, and the UK and Poland who have a heavy reliance on coal-fired power plants.

The regulations, when passed through the European Parliament, will demand that all operators of power generators, refineries and combustion plants must implement the most modern techniques to reduce pollution by 2020.

The Irish Times highlights a report published by the Centre for European Policy Studies which shows achieving the objective set by the EU to keep the rise in global temperatures below two degrees will cost the economy €400 billion
Irish Times

The WSJ discusses the EU's financial regulatory proposals, quoting Lord Mandelson: "Is it possible to preserve the benefits of open trade and an open global economy, addressing macroeconomic risk while totally respecting the choices of sovereign governments? Not really".

A leader in the Economist argues that Europe needs reform "to shift away from high taxes, generous and wasteful welfare states, and, most of all, overly regulated and inflexible product and labour markets", and that if Germany led the way it could be "not just Europe's biggest economy but also its intellectual leader."
Economist: Leader

In the FT, Tony Barber describes perceived Franco-German disagreements over monetary union and the role of the ECB as a "phoney tug of war", suggesting that "on the need for a strong currency, supported by a strong central bank, there is potentially more common ground between Berlin and Paris than meets the eye."
FT: Barber

The Economist's Charlemagne column looks at EU leaders' nomination for Jose Manuel Barroso's second term as Commission President and argues "If he does not enthuse some leaders, it is perhaps because Mr Barroso incarnates their bad conscience about their nationally minded behaviour. The more honest know they would not tolerate a commission boss willing to push their government into a corner and outvote them in the name of Europe."
Economist: Charlemagne

Le Monde reports that on Wednesday 24 June the European Commission published an action plan to combat terrorism, in particular weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological and chemical weapons).
Le Monde

In the Mail Tom Utley contemplates Dan Hannan's theory that Lord Mandelson helped prevent Gordon Brown being removed as PM in order to ensure the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. Utley argues "If you ask me, what we are witnessing here is the greatest conspiracy against our democracy in my 55-year lifetime".
Mail: Utley

The European Commission has said that it will refer Ireland to the ECJ over the exemption of the State-owned health insurer VHI from certain EU rules on non-life insurance, according to the Irish Times.
Irish Times

The EU Referendum blog reports that the European Commission has referred Italy to the ECJ for failing to respect a 2004 ruling that the country must recover illegal state aid.
EU Referendum blog

The FT reports that Russia is contemplating a huge bank bail-out.

European Voice reports that Romania has set its sights on the agriculture portfolio for the next Commission and that Foreign Minister Cristian Diaconescu has "let slip" that instead of lobbying European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, the Romanian strategy is to charm French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
European Voice

The FT reports that in a move that has raised European concerns, Gazprom, the Russian gas group has entered into a $2.5bn joint venture with Nigeria's oil company.

The European Commission is taking Luxembourg to court over tax haven concerns, as it is accused of trying to get around the EU Savings Tax Directive on savings interest payments, reports EU Observer.EU Observer

According to the Guardian, Poland will present an updated euro adoption timetable by early August, suggesting that the 2012 target date for euro entry will be pushed back.
Handelsblatt Guardian

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