Monday, April 26, 2010

Open Europe press summary: 26 April 2010



German Finance Minister says Greek bailout conditional on further austerity

The Times reports that German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble has warned that his government may block the Greek rescue package until the country agrees to tougher austerity measures. "The fact that neither the EU nor the German Government has taken a decision means that the response can be positive as well as negative," he said. "It depends entirely on whether Greece goes through with the strict austerity in coming years." Wall Street Italia quotes Amadeu Altafaj Tardio, a spokesman for the EU's Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, saying, "any member State can block. It is their right if they still think that it's not yet needed and the financial stability of the euro area is not at stake."


The WSJ notes that Mr Schauble is due to meet with the Bundestag's parliamentary parties' floor leaders later today to discuss the bailout. Hermann Otto Solms, a finance spokesman for the FDP, a junior member of the governing coalition, said: "Our party is very concerned that it is not going to be a one-off rescue, but will turn into continuous, automatic help for any country that ends up like Greece. That we cannot accept". Die Zeit quotes him saying, "We do not want an EU monetary fund." Guido Westerwelle, the FDP Foreign Minister said: "Greece cannot receive a blank cheque".


Hans-Peter Friedrich, head of the CSU group, said Greece should "seriously consider leaving the eurozone," according to the Telegraph. The Chairman of the SPD opposition, Sigmar Gabriel, is quoted in Die Welt saying, "[Chancellor Angela] Merkel has deceived the Germans."


A Die Welt leader argues, "The German chancellor can make as many admonitions as she pleases. She could even threaten to turn down the request for aid. But this is no more than politically motivated banter. In the end, Germany will transfer its billions over to Greece - the pressure from European partner states and the financial markets is too strong".


The Guardian notes that ministers have again warned that the EU-IMF bailout package will end up being far more than the initial €45bn promised with French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, pointing out that the €30bn pledged by the EU for the €45bn bailout was just for the first year of a three-year deal.


In the Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard argues, "Europe is at last paying the price for fudging the true implications of EMU 19 years ago in that Medieval city on the Maas, gambling that it would one day be able to lead Germany by the nose into a debt union." A WSJ editorial argues "a bailout would, of course, end nothing. What it would do instead is open a wide new world of moral hazard - for Greece, for the countries providing aid, and for the future of the entire euro-zone."

Telegraph Wall Street Italia EU Business IHT IHT: Editorial IHT: Kaplan WSJ WSJ 2 WSJ 3 FT FT 2 Irish Independent Guardian Saturday's Telegraph Weekend FT Weekend FT 2 Weekend FT 3 Weekend FT 4 Sunday Telegraph Sunday Times Sunday Times 2 Handelsblatt FAZ Frankfurter Rundschau  FTD Deutsche Welle Die Zeit Die Welt 2 FAZ Die Zeit FTD FTD 2 Le Figaro Times Times: Bremner City AM FT FT 2 Independent FT: Brussels blog BBC EUobserver EUobserver 2 BBC: Hewitt blog European Voice Irish Times Irish Times 2 FT: Munchau Independent: King WSJ: Stelzer WSJ: Editorial WSJ: Gros Telegraph: Evans-Pritchard


Lord Leach: British policy towards the EU needs a "healthy dose of realism"

In a letter to the FT, Open Europe Chairman Lord Leach of Fairford argues that the "mantra of the importance of being at 'the top table', working 'in the mainstream' of too vague to be of value in shaping British policy towards the European Union. What is needed is a healthy dose of friendly realism and reform of an EU that is failing on many fronts." He added, "A thoughtful British administration would recognise that the robust defence of our own interests, far from marginalising us, would put us in the same camp as France, Spain and many other member states, including (as the Greek crisis is making clear) the hitherto self-denying Germany - that is, at the heart of Europe."


He concluded: "By promoting our established belief in the values of democracy, free trade, a strong City of London, less EU interference and better targeted environmental policies, the UK would help equip the Union better to compete in markets increasingly dominated by more adaptive and cost-conscious Asian, American and Brazilian enterprises. This would benefit both Britain and Europe as a whole and would do much to reverse the impression of a remote and irrelevant EU."

FT: Letters


Le Monde: A Lib/Lab coalition would be the "most favourable political scenario for Europe"

A leader in yesterday's Le Monde argued: "Gordon Brown's Euro-realism plus Nick Clegg's Euro-enthusiasm, a 'Lib/Lab' coalition, like they call it in London: this would be the most favourable political scenario for Europe".


An article in the Sunday Express looked at the voting record of Lib Dem MEPs and noted that in 2008 they voted for a single rate of corporation tax throughout the EU, and in 2007 they voted to end Britain's £4billion annual rebate from the EU budget.


The Sunday Telegraph reported that when he was an MEP, Nick Clegg co-signed a proposal calling for "decriminalising the use of certain substances" and "partially decriminalising the sale of cannabis". The proposal also condemned "repressive" laws cracking down on drugs and said anti-drugs legislation harmed "freedom and civil liberties". In the Sun Trevor Kavanagh has a column under the headline, "Vote for Clegg is vote for Brussels".


A leader in the Sunday Times argued that, "A glance at the turmoil affecting Greece and other eurozone members confirms the folly of joining the single currency, yet that is Lib Dem policy. Mr Clegg's proposal for an 'in or out' referendum on EU membership, supposedly to settle the question once and for all, would do nothing of the sort. A yes vote would result in a further significant drift towards Brussels having greater control over our affairs."


An article in Saturday's Mail cited Open Europe's findings that Nick Clegg made around £1.6 million during his ten years in Brussels. Open Europe's Mats Persson appeared on German television ARD discussing the EU and the UK General Election.

Sunday Express Sunday Telegraph Sunday Times: Leader Conservative Home Mail ARD Le Monde Open Europe briefing


Scandinavia's largest financial news site E24 cites Open Europe research on the impact of the AIFM Directive. The report was also recently cited in FT Deutschland.  

E24 Open Europe research Open Europe research-investment trusts


Controversial EAW case will see EU co-operation on justice issues "extensively examined"

The Independent on Sunday reported that a former British journalist, Ian Bailey, has been arrested in Ireland under a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by France over the murder of a French citizen in Ireland 14 years ago. There was an Irish investigation into the case, but the Irish Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to prosecute.


Writing in the Irish Times the paper's Legal Affairs Editor Carol Coulter argues that there is a lot at stake in the case, adding: "the way in which European co-operation on justice matters operates will now be extensively examined in the courts, with possible implications for the future operation of the European arrest warrant system...Ultimately, if the courts decide that Bailey can be extradited to face trial in France, the European arrest warrant will itself come under scrutiny. Fundamental to its smooth operation is the assumption that each member state of the EU acts in good faith in its operation of its criminal justice system. Can this assumption survive a rejection by one member state of the validity of a decision not to prosecute in another?"

Irish Times Independent on Sunday Irish Times 2


MEPs accuse EU Foreign Minister of lack of transparency over funding

The Sunday Times reported that MEPs have accused EU Foreign Minister Cathy Ashton of not being transparent over the funding and budget of the planned European External Action Service (EEAS), which is expected to eventually employ more than 7,000 people worldwide. Ashton's aides have insisted that it will be "budget neutral", meaning it would use only funds that have already been allocated to EU institutions, and would require no extra financing.


The article added that once fully operational, the service will cost up to an estimated £5 billion a year to run. Ingeborg Graessle, a German MEP who sits on two EP budget committees, was quoted saying: "You can only believe the claims that the service will be budget neutral if you believe in Santa Claus." It also quoted a senior official in Ashton's service, who said nobody took seriously the claim that the service would remain budget neutral: "That's simply not realistic, not even in the mid-term, but the notion has to be maintained for reasons of political acceptability."


Meanwhile, Le Figaro reports that a source close to Lady Ashton has said that negotiations over the EEAS "need a boost" before the UK election on 6 May, fearing that a potential Conservative victory may cause delays to negotiations over the service. It also quoted the source saying: "It's straightforward: we must move on now [with negotiations]. Otherwise, everything will be postponed to the end of summer".


In an interview with FT Deutschland, Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb has criticised the "internal bureaucratic wars" between the Council and the Commission that have characterised the development of the EEAS and have sometimes made it "resemble a kindergarten". Such "institutional fundamentalism" harms the EU, says Stubb: "International politics will not wait for the EU institutions. It is high time we got the ball rolling".

Sunday Times Le Figaro TVP EUobserver FTD


EUobserver reports that the Commission is refusing to back calls from the Spanish EU Presidency for a proposal for a "European protection order", guaranteeing women subject to domestic violence the same legal protection across the EU.



Writing in the Observer Jonny Dymond, Europe correspondent for the BBC, argued that: "those who long for a single European language to replace the armies of interpreters and translators in the EU are in for a long, long wait. Language still matters, dividing and unifying Europe at the same time."

Observer: Dymond


The centre-right Fidesz Party won Hungary's runoff parliamentary election on Sunday with the widest majority in the country's post-communist history.

WSJ EurActiv


Austria re-elected Social Democrat Heinz Fischer as President yesterday, with 79% of the popular vote.


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