Monday, April 19, 2010

Open Europe press summary: 19 April 2010



Hague: A vote for Lib Dems is a vote for EU "super-state";

YouGov poll: 65 percent of voters opposed to joining euro and giving EU more powers

Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague was quoted in the Sunday Times saying that a vote for the Lib Dems was a vote for the "European super-state". He said that Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg was ready to "sign up for anything that has ever been on offer or proposed from the European Union". He added that, "It is their policy to join the euro. That is completely out of step with the majority of people in the country."


A leader in Saturday's Telegraph argued that the Lib Dem's election manifesto conceals "all manner of obfuscation" on key policies, especially on Europe. The article argued that "a Liberal Democrat government would: End Britain's right to opt out of EU regulations governing justice and home affairs; Campaign to drag Britain into the euro as soon as the economy stabilises."


The Sun features a YouGov poll looking at Lib Dem policies, noting that 65 percent of voters are opposed to joining the euro and 65 percent are also opposed to giving the EU more powers over justice issues, banks, immigration, climate change and defence.


Writing in the Sunday Times Martin Ivens argued that Nick Clegg "would blackmail us into bending the knee to Brussels with in-or-out votes on European Union membership. Rather authoritarian for a liberal."


The Telegraph quotes Clegg saying that he is in favour of a "do we stay in or do we go" referendum on the EU. "When the issue of the UK's position in the European Union comes up again, as it no doubt will at one point, we think that should be resolved by having a referendum on the big underlying issue," he said.

Sunday Times Express Telegraph: Leader Sun Economist Charlemagne blog Telegraph Guardian: Ashley Sunday Times: Ivens


AFP notes that the Commission's proposal for stronger EU control over member states' budgets, which would require national governments to submit their budgets to Brussels before taking them to their own parliaments, could be extended also to non-Eurozone members, EU Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn has said.

FT EUobserver European Voice EU Observer El País ABC Expansión Handelsblatt AFP


EU declares "tourism is a human right" with holiday subsidies for poorer citizens

On page 2 of News of the World and in the Sunday Times it is reported that the EU is drawing up plans to subsidise holidays around the EU for poorer citizens, pensioners and students. The EU claims that "tourism is a human right" and that it would help promote cultural diversity. Financial incentives would be given for travel off-season to help boost the tourism industry. The plans could cost hundreds of millions of pounds. Open Europe's Mats Persson was quoted saying "The commission is literally considering paying people to go on holiday. In this economic climate, it's astonishing that the EU wants to bribe people with cheap holidays." Mats was also quoted in the National Post.

NOTW Sunday Times National Post


Greek government to decide on activating bailout in "next few weeks"

Following the informal meeting of EU finance ministers over the weekend, eurozone Chairman Jean Claude Juncker said technical progress on the proposed €45bn bailout deal for Greece was "satisfactory", although some eurozone members will need parliamentary approval before they could make bilateral loans to Greece.


Bloomberg reports that EU and IMF officials are due to travel to Athens this week to start laying down conditions for the bailout. Greek PM George Papandreou told Newsweek magazine that the Greek government will decide whether to activate the bailout "in the next few weeks."


Bloomberg quotes Louis Gargour, Chief Investment Officer at LNG Capital LLP, warning that "Greece is the tip of the iceberg. The more people scratch beneath the surface, the more they'll find countries in the same situation as Greece, which means the more they'll have to tap on the resources of Germany and their resources are not limitless."


Meanwhile EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said that Portugal faced economic risks, adding "If these risks materialise then a clear necessity is that Portugal adopts new additional measures of fiscal consolidation", reported the Weekend FT. Writing in the Telegraph Ambrose Evans-Pritchard argues that Portugal poses a greater "existential threat" to the eurozone's stability than Greece.


A leader in FAZ argues: "the [German] federal government provides a new definition of its role as helper with every escalation of the crisis in Greece. First, there should be no money. Then it said: We will provide money although it won't be claimed, but will calm down the capital markets. The current motto is: We - as a last resort - keep money ready, but it will cost the public nothing. But even this definition is likely to be shortlived."


According to an opinion poll conducted by Greek newspaper Eleftheros Typos, 65% of Greeks fear that EU and IMF-imposed austerity measures may have a negative impact on their lives should the proposed bailout plan be activated. 

Weekend FT Mail Guardian Bloomberg Bloomberg 2 Telegraph: Evans-Pritchard FT: Munchau WSJ: Stelzer WSJ Welt: Bolzen FAZ Welt Puls Biznesu Handelsblatt Die Zeit Tagesschau ANSA


Aviation industry criticises Europe's inability to co-ordinate response to plane groundings

Le Monde quotes the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Giovanni Bisignani saying the response to the volcanic ash cloud, which has grounded plans across Europe, is "an embarrassment for Europe and it's a European mess...It has taken five days to organise a telephone conference of Transport Ministers." The Telegraph's Brussels correspondent Bruno Waterfield writes on EUobserver: "It looks as if the European Union's famous precautionary principle is behind this absurdly risk averse air travel ban."


The FT reports that Brussels is considering suspending state aid rules for airlines. The crisis has reportedly resulted so far in €136m in losses for 313 European airports, according to the ACI, an airline industry trade group.

Telegraph Independent: MacShane BBC EurActiv FT  EUobserver EUobserver: Waterfield European Voice Bloomberg IHT Le Monde Les Echos Le Monde Le Monde El Pais 20 Minutos El Pais Europa Press EC Press Release Reuters


Small firms warn AIFM Directive could threaten investment in the real economy

350 small company bosses have written to MEPs protesting at the possible consequences of the proposed EU rules to regulate hedge funds and private equity funds. They claim that the cost of complying with the proposed rules would be around £30,000 a year which they claim is "a very significant outlay for SMEs. This is about the real economy," they warned MEPs.

FT OE research: AIFM Directive OE research: AIFMD and Investment Trusts


Swedish news site Europaportalen looks at a leaked report from the Commission, which has highlighted several flaws in the EU's Data Retention Directive. According to the report, there is no evidence that the Directive has actually led to more crimes being solved or less crime in general. It is understood that the report could lead to an overhaul of the Directive.

Europaportalen Leaked report


Committee of Regions defends regional policy status quo

Open Europe's Mats Persson is quoted by EurActiv criticising the recent Committee of the Regions' report calling to preserve current EU regional policy structures: "the EU's regional spending is off-target, inflexible, wasteful and out of sync with the current economic climate. It's extraordinary that the CoR continues to defend a system which sees some of the richest EU member states recycling money via Brussels at a huge deadweight cost to the European taxpayer - smack in the middle of the worst recession in a generation. A more common sense approach would clearly be to restrict funding to the genuinely poor regions and countries, and so make the EU's regional spending far more focused and cost-effective." Mats added, "In addition, we should have a discussion on the continued existence of the CoR itself, as it's far from clear what this body actually does, or even what it's meant to do, but it still costs taxpayers millions of euro every year."



Church of England warns of "mistrust" of citizens towards EU

The Sunday Telegraph reported that the Church of England has said in a new report that Europe has been left "more uncertain of its future and more mistrusted by its citizens than ever before", and that the European Parliament is suffering from a "democratic deficit".

CofE report


New research from the Institute of Directors, based on the experiences of business owners and directors, has estimated that Government regulation costs business £80bn a year. It found that directors were spending 13 hours a month dealing with regulation administration, while the business workforce as a whole was spending 73 hours a month on regulation.

Telegraph Independent City AM Open Europe research


Commission claims "broad support" for bank 'bailout funds'

European Voice notes that the European Commission claimed on Saturday that it had won "broad support" from EU finance ministers for plans to create national 'resolution funds', financed by the banking sector, that would be used to pay for insolvencies, and "early interventions" by regulators into failing banks. Olli Rehn, Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, said, "There was a recognition [among ministers] is important to develop consistent instruments that are as harmonised as possible".

European Voice


MEPs flex muscles again in the debate over the EEAS;

Baroness Ashton denies receiving dressing down from Sarkozy

MEPs released a statement on Friday saying that the EEAS should be politically accountable to the Parliament; that it's decision-making in key areas such as development aid is convoluted; and that the civilian mission part of the service is too entangled with the military part.


Meanwhile, the Daily Mail notes that EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton denied on Friday that President Sarkozy gave her a dressing down on how to do her job after he reportedly complained that the Baroness has lacked ambition and decisiveness in her new role. 

EUobserver Daily Mail


EUobserver reports that the European Union and its foreign partners have agreed to make the negotiating text for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) public.

EUobserver European Voice




Polls show election race tightening

A new BPIX poll for the Mail on Sunday put the Lib Dems on 32, the Conservatives on 31 and Labour on 28. A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times put the Conservatives in front on 33, Labour second on 30 and the Lib Dems on 29. A ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday put the Conservatives on 31, Lib Dems second on 29 and Labour on 27.

Mail on Sunday Sunday Times Independent on Sunday


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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