Monday, March 29, 2010

Open Europe press summary: 29 March 2010



Merkel: The Conservatives cannot expect to repatriate powers if EU reopens treaties to create economic government

Saturday's press featured widespread coverage of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's calls for an EU "economic government" and possible EU treaty changes in return for agreeing to bail out Greece. Saturday's Guardian reported that senior sources said that Merkel sought, but failed, to insert language into last week's EU Summit Communique on the possible need to reopen the EU treaty. EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy has instead been asked to form a special "task force" to look at "all options" for economic measures including a European Monetary Fund and an expulsion procedure for euro members that break the rules.


The Telegraph quoted Ms Merkel saying, "I think we will not be able to bypass possible treaty changes, I think we need them." She added, "I do grant you that ratification in 27 member states is not an easy matter but Europe should not lean back and be complacent. It should be open-minded. I have always said that economic governance for all 27 member states is what we are after."


The article noted that Ms Merkel insisted that an incoming Conservative government would not be allowed to use new treaty negotiations to ask for powers to be returned to Britain. "I will not speculate on the outcome of the British elections," she said. "Treaty changes are agreed by unanimity so I am not worried about something changing that I do not want - to put it bluntly. That's the way it is."


The Times quoted Mark Francois, the Shadow Europe Minister, saying: "There is no clear proposal on a treaty. As we have set out, we would change the law so that any treaty that handed over areas of power from Britain to the EU would be subject to a referendum. That is our firm and clear position."


Open Europe Director Mats Persson was quoted in the Saturday's Mail saying, "Merkel's vision is quite clear - countries which run persistently high deficits should face heavy sanctions. These would be imposed by the European Council in a vote in which there would be no veto and the member state concerned would be excluded." He added, "It is a massive step, giving the EU powers over a country's economy, which has been a no-go zone until now." Saturday's Express quoted Mats saying, "This smacks of economic federalism."


Mats also appeared on LBC Radio yesterday discussing the proposals for EU economic government.

Express Mail Telegraph Telegraph: Leader Times Telegraph Independent Guardian Weekend FT EUobserver Telegraph 2


IMF to take lead on financing for Greece

The FT reports that if Greece is forced to seek financial assistance under the deal agreed at the European Council meeting last week, the IMF would be the first to issue the lending, rather than eurozone members, although the conditions and surveillance of any such programme would be decided by European institutions and the IMF together, as a "joint mechanism".


Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou has played down speculation that Greece will make another bond issue in the next few days, saying no decision has yet been made, according to the Telegraph.


Writing in the FT, Wolfgang Münchau argues: "This agreement does not solve the problems of Greece, or any other country in trouble...At no point during the summit did EU leaders even contemplate the idea of trying to solve the double threat that hangs over the future of the eurozone - the lack of an effective resolution regime and the problem of the eurozone's internal imbalances."

Writing in the Times, Josef Joffe, Editor of Die Zeit, argues that Angela Merkel "has not turned against Europe, but against those whose extravagance threatens the euro...she rightly insists that the profligate must get their house in order instead of angling for multibillion-dollar handouts."

City AM Telegraph Guardian FT FT 2 FT 3 FT 4 FT: Thornhill BBC: Hewitt blog FT: Münchau Telegraph: Evans-Pritchard Times: Joffe IHT: Starbatty Le Figaro WSJ: Stelzer WSJ Focus Kathimerini: Zira Eurointelligence Fistful of euros FAZ: Gerken


French MEP: 'I won't be sad' at job losses resulting from AIFM Directive

Saturday's Times and Guardian both reported that French MEP Jean-Paul Gauzes, serving as rapporteur for the EU's proposed AIFM Directive on hedge funds and private equity, has said that he would not be "sad" if the proposed hedge fund rules resulted in job losses in the City of London. The Guardian quoted him saying, "If the directive wipes out two or three thousand speculators, I am not going to be sad." The Times cited Open Europe's estimate that the hedge fund industry contributes £3.5 billion a year in tax to the Treasury.


Open Europe's Mats Persson was quoted by Business Week saying, "It's a very revealing remark that shows he thinks the only negative impact of the directive will be on hedge funds and private equity funds in the UK. It could have a much wider impact."

Times Guardian FT Bloomberg OE Research: AIFM Directive OE research: AIFM and Investment Trusts OE press release


NATO Secretary-General: Europe becoming a "paper tiger"

PA reports that NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has warned that Europe will be a "paper tiger" in military terms unless it reverses the decline in its defensive capabilities. He said that shrinking defence budgets during the economic downturn are causing a growing discrepancy in military capabilities between the US and Europe's NATO members, adding that most European nations are not even meeting the minimal requirement of devoting 2% of their GDP to defence.
PA Standaard BBC Guardian Reuters


Pascal Lamy: When too many Europeans speak on one issue "no-one listens"

The Economist's Charlemagne blog notes that WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy has asked EU member states to arrange ahead of meetings for only one EU representative to speak on each topic in the name of the EU. Speaking at the Brussels forum yesterday he added, "If one European takes the floor on one topic, and then another European takes the floor on the same topic, nobody listens. Nobody listens because either it's the same thing and it gets boring, or it's not the same thing and it will not influence the result at the end of the day....So the right solution, if I may, is at least to make sure that they speak with one mouth. Not one voice--one mouth--on each topic on the agenda. That would be a great improvement."


It also quotes US Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats saying: "Europe increasingly wants to be seen as a unified force, but it also wants a lot of seats. Europe would be more effective in these meetings if it had one person speaking for it on specific issues."

Economist: Charlemagne notebook FT: Rachman blog Le Monde


MEPs jet to Tenerife to discuss climate change

Saturday's Express reported that six MEPs, including five from the UK, have flown to Tenerife at a cost of £550,000 on a junket to discuss climate change. Lib Dem MEP Fiona Hall was quoted saying it was Spain which chose Tenerife as it holds the EU Presidency. She added: "It is ridiculous that we have to go all the way to Tenerife."



Turkish Prime Minister accuses Merkel of "hatred against Turkey"

Die Welt reports that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of anti-Turkish sentiment prior to a meeting between the two scheduled for tomorrow, saying "Why this hatred against Turkey? I don't understand it...I would not have expected this from Chancellor Merkel."


The comments come after Ms Merkel rejected Mr Erdogan's calls for Turkish schools in Germany, emphasising instead the need for immigrants to learn German. Ms Merkel has also rejected the idea of full EU membership for Turkey, calling instead for a "privileged partnership", which Turkey's Minister for European Affairs, Egemen Bagis, has labelled an "insult".

EUobserver BBC Reuters Die Welt  FTD FTD 2 Die Zeit FTD 3 Die Welt 2 

Handelsblatt Standaard


The Weekend FT reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has no plans to meet David Cameron when she travels to London this week for talks with Gordon Brown, "in what could be seen as a snub to the Conservative leader."

Weekend FT


NRC Handelsblad reports that a secret European Council document being discussed today contains details of possible EU implementation of a "controversial" web filter, which is already implemented in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, New Zealand and Italy.

NRC Handelsblad RTL Techeye AK Zensur Secret Council Document


The NOTW reported that anti- fascist group Searchlight is writing to the EU anti-fraud office OLAF to request a probe into a £111,000 EU grant given to BNP fundraiser James Dowson for a "victim support group" in Northern Ireland which is seemingly dormant.

News of the World


Die Welt reports that the Gunther Krichbaum, head of the Europe committee in the German parliament, has called for an examination of the generous salaries and spurious expenses of EU employees.     

Die Welt  


The WSJ notes that, prompted by difficulties retrieving flight-data recorders after recent fatal airliner crashes, European aviation regulators want to start using satellites to transmit critical safety information about accidents.



EU-US summits will no longer take place automatically, but only when "both [sides] feel the need for one" said EU foreign minister Catherine Ashton at a conference attended by foreign policy officials from Brussels and Washington.





An ICM poll for the NOTW put the Conservatives on 39, Labour on 31 and the Liberal Democrats on 19, while a BPIX poll for the Mail on Sunday put the parties on 37, 30 and 20 respectively.

Mail on Sunday News of the World 


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: or call us on 0207 197 2333.

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