Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Open Europe press summary: 20 April 2010

German government putting 'non-urgent' legislation to help long-term unemployed on hold over fears of budgetary implications of Greek bailout
The WSJ reports that Bundesbank President, Axel Weber, has told a small group of German MPs that Greece may require financial assistance of as much as €80 billion to avoid default, much more than the €45 billion promised by the eurozone and IMF so far. FTDeutschland reports that the German government has decided to postpone all 'non-urgent legislation', such as a new law to provide emergency funds to the long-term unemployed, until there is more clarity over the potential Greek bailout, described as a 'budgetary risk'.
The Telegraph notes that German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble has warned that a failure to bailout Greece would have "incalculable" risks. The consequences of a national bankruptcy would be incalculable. Greece is just as systemically important as a major bank," he said in an interview with Der Spiegel. Handelsblatt notes that the German think-tank Centrum für Europäische Politik has warned again that "loans with a politically defined interest rate that is lower than the market conditions are an illegal subsidy."
Meanwhile, the Guardian notes that investors have been concerned at the delay in bailout talks between Athens and a visiting group of EU and International Monetary Fund officials due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland, sending premiums on Greek government bonds to a record high.
The Irish Times reports that Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker has said that the European Central Bank, Commission and IMF would discuss whether Greece should impose new austerity measures as part of the rescue deal. However, the Tribune de Geneve quotes a Greek government spokesman saying, "Measures and decisions we have taken for 2010 are 'hypersufficient'. They go beyond what we would be asked for by the IMF and the other organisms participating in the bailout mechanism."
Tribune de Geneve Handelsblatt CEP Study Le Monde Zeit Spiegel Business Week Bloomberg Finanznachrichten Tijd FTD WSJ Le Monde 2 El Pais Bloomberg 2 Les Echos Le Monde 3 Irish Times Guardian WSJ: Sinn WSJ FAZ Telegraph
EP to hold Strasbourg session without any votes
Because of the disruption caused by the Icelandic volcano eruption, the European Parliament's Strasbourg session will go ahead with debates, but all votes have been postponed until the 5-6 May session. El Pais reports that the EU/Pakistan summit has been cancelled due to the travel problems. Jean Quatremer's Coulisses de Bruxelles blog notes that around 100 of 736 MEPs made it to Strasbourg.
Meanwhile Belgian newspaper Nieuwsblad reports that Belgian Transport Minister Etienne Schouppe has said that the upcoming Belgian EU Presidency will look into loosening EU rules on airlines' obligations to travellers.
Nieuwsblad AFP FAZ Standaard EP Press Release DW Guardian The Parliament Telegraph: Hannan's blog IHT AFP EurActiv.es EurActiv.es El Pais Coulisses de Bruxelles FT  
Commissioner for Justice unveils JHA priorities, calling to "create a common zone of rights"..."equal to the construction of a single market"
EurActiv reports that the Commission will today unveil its legislative priorities under the Stockholm Programme in justice and home affairs.
In a note, the Commission suggests that it will start next year "to review the member states' national asylum systems and identify the issues related to capacities which will enable member states to support each other in building capacity". A new proposal on the "joint processing of asylum applications," aimed at enforcing mutual recognition of refugees' rights, will not be presented until 2014. EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström also said that the Commission will present a legislative proposal next year to regulate EU-wide access by third-country seasonal migrants to Europe.
In a letter to EurActiv, Commissioners Malmström and Reding write: "EU solidarity means setting up a common asylum system but also ensuring the successful integration of legal migrants." They also pledged to overhaul the EU's Data Protection Directive, and review the Data Retention Directive.
Polish paper Rzeczpospolita also quotes Viviane Reding saying: "This is a project equal to the construction of a single market" and suggests that it will change the European continent, as it will create a common zone of rights.
Rzeczpospolita EurActiv EurActiv letter OE research FAZ
Football players' union concerned by pressure to exempt sport from EU law under the Lisbon Treaty
ESPN notes that the international football players' union FIFPro is urging sports ministers to block a move by sports bodies FIFA and the Olympic Committee to push for professional sport to be treated separately from business in European law. EU sports ministers will meet in Madrid today and tomorrow for their first informal meeting under the Lisbon Treaty, which brought sport under the EU's competence. FIFPro has said it fears that giving sport special status will lead to players losing their rights to privacy enshrined in European law.
Warning over threats to e-commerce under new EU rules
EU consumer groups are warning that new EU rules to be unveiled today, allowing manufacturers to choose how their goods are distributed and sold, could jeopardise the growth of e-commerce and online-retailing. The rules will be formally announced and approved this afternoon, and are likely to include a clause that will allow a manufacturer to require that retailers it supplies have a "bricks and mortar" presence.
Unanimous Swedish Riksdag criticises MEPs' generous allowances
The Swedish parliament, Riksdag, has strongly criticised MEPs' generous daily allowances, urging the Swedish government in, an unanimous resolution, to impose a tax on the allowances. Currently, the money comes tax-free. "It's very odd that you can have such large allowances that aren't being taxed", Lars Johansson, MP for the Social Democrats said, according to Europaportalen.
European Commission calls for energy tax
In an interview with Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung, European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard calls for an EU energy tax, saying: "energy taxes are among the instruments we should use for climate protection in the EU, because that's how energy consumption is reduced."
UPI Euractiv Neue OZ
Euractiv notes that a spokesperson for EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier said that the US fraud case against Goldman Sachs had strengthened "the belief and determination that Europe needs to act in the area of derivatives."
Il Sole 24 Ore FT EUobserver Euractiv
The Express reports that the UK Government has been fined £160 million after the European Court of Auditors discovered "financial irregularities" in the regional development fund accounts dating from 1997.
The FT reports that the British Chambers of Commerce have criticised all of the UK parties' manifesto pledges on regulation, saying they fail to properly account for the impact of EU legislation. The BCC's new report on the issue is due out this week.
FT OE research
Key vote on AIFM in European Parliament delayed due to Icelandic eruption
Financial News reports that the volcanic ash has delayed a vote on the AIFM Directive in the European Parliament, scheduled for 27 April, until at least next month.  Meanwhile, in a letter to the FT, the Chairman of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association argues that the AIFM Directive is still damaging to the industry, despite recent amendments. He notes, "As well as massively raising capital requirements for what are relatively small funds, the directive imposes disclosure and depositary measures likely to cost up to €100,000 annually per investee company...The directive directly undermines EU policy initiatives designed to promote sunrise technologies such as biopharmaceuticals, clean energy and open-source software."
FT: Letters Open Europe research Financial News
El Pais reports that Spain will endorse the creation of a common EU legal framework concerning digital piracy. Spanish Minister of Industry Miguel Sebastián also called for a single electronic ID valid throughout the EU, describing it to be an achievement "as important as the euro".
El Pais Euractiv.es
The Guardian reports that strip clubs could use the Human Rights Act and the European Court of Justice to oppose legislation which came into law this month allowing councils greater freedom to turn down lap-dancing licence applications.
The European Commission on Monday finally approved Poland's plan for allocating CO2 emission permits to its power and industrial sectors.
EurActiv European Voice Les Echos
European Voice reports that Croatia has closed another chapter in its EU membership bid, marking the halfway point in the number of chapters closed.
EurActiv European Voice Wiener Zeitung
China has voiced criticism over the EU's decision to launch an 'anti-subsidy investigation' into their exports of paper.
According to a report by credit insurance agency Euler Hermes, EU GDP is predicted to grow by 2 percent in 2010 and 2011, less than China (7 percent) and the USA (2.9 percent).
Times: Is it honest for Lib Dems to change their position on EU two weeks before election?
A leader in the Times looks at Lib Dem policies and argues, "On liberty, the Liberal Democrats are at their best, articulating the concerns of many people about free speech and civil liberties. Strangely at odds with this is their warm embrace of the euro, the Lisbon Treaty and the European Union, which many of the same people feel is another kind of tyranny...Is it stretching the definition of 'honest politics' to change the party line on the EU, two weeks before a general election? Mr Clegg's remarks on Europe feel as opportunistic as his statements last Thursday that it is possible to send immigrants only to regions where they are needed".
The Independent reports that a new ComRes poll for the paper and ITV shows that most Lib Dem voters would prefer the party to work with Labour in a hung Parliament, rather than the Conservatives, with 46 percent saying they would be happy if Gordon Brown remained Prime Minister after a hung Parliament, and 31 percent saying they would be happy for David Cameron to be Prime Minister.
Speaking on the BBC Daily Politics show yesterday, Lib Dem housing spokeswoman Sarah Teather reiterated the Party's support for the euro, saying: "In the long term we think that the euro is in the best interests of Britain, but not at the moment, the economic conditions are not right, and we would only do it after a vote in Parliament and after a referendum...I think in the long term it's best for stable interest rates and for investment for the country."
Times: Leader Telegraph: Riddell Independent Telegraph: Tebbit blog BBC iplayer Bloomberg

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