Thursday, June 10, 2010

Open Europe press summary: 10 June 2010



Poland calls for "common standards" of economic governance for entire EU

The FT reports that Polish PM Donald Tusk has warned that steps to improve the economic governance of the eurozone should not lead to a 'two-speed EU'. He said, "As a country that is aspiring to join the eurozone, we would like the eurozone to be a leader but not an exclusive elite within the EU." Adding, "Common standards for everyone [are] the essence of the European Union."


Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso echoed the comments saying, "The general framework should be the same for the eurozone as for the non-eurozone countries. We can't have a split in the EU." However, the UK has already insisted that EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy's proposal to vet national budgets before they are delivered to national parliaments should only apply to eurozone countries, rather than the EU as a whole.


European Voice notes that Tusk's comments were directed at French President Nicolas Sarkozy's aspirations to have regular formal meetings of what he calls "the Eurogroup Council" - the leaders of the 16 eurozone countries. Tusk said: "There is no acceptance for creating separate institutions. The [Lisbon] treaty is quite precise." Last month, the Polish government, together with Sweden but unlike the UK said that it would contribute to a €440 billion stabilisation fund being set up to help eurozone countries that have sovereign-debt problems.


Writing in the Independent, David Prosser urges George Osborne to pick his battles in Europe. He suggests that the Chancellor should consider accepting the proposal to peer review national budgets and concentrate on combating Franco-German proposals for crackdowns on short-selling and credit default swaps.


Meanwhile, writing in Belgian daily De Morgen, Economist columnist David Rennie argues, "Euro-dreamers say a fiscal transfer union could be built on the legitimacy of the European Parliament. In the real world, few voters know or care who represents them in the EU's bloodless, artificial parliament. Build too weighty a project on those democratic foundations, and the edifice will crumble to dust."

European Voice European Voice 2 FT EUobserver Independent: Prosser De Morgen: Rennie Economist: Charlemagne


Report shows damage to junior doctors' training under EU working time rules

A new report into the effects of the EU's Working Time Directive by Professor Sir John Temple, conducted under the last Government, has shown that junior doctors are having essential training compromised because of the limitations on working hours entailed in the Directive.


Under the EU rules, junior doctors' hours were capped at a maximum of 48-hours a week in August 2009, and now they are spending much of their time at night and unsupervised, missing out on crucial learning, the Telegraph reports. Launching the review, Sir John warned: "Training is patient safety for the next 30 years... the status quo cannot continue if we are to train...the professionals of tomorrow for continued high quality healthcare delivery and patient safety."


Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: "We will not go back to the past with tired doctors working excessive hours, but the way the directive now applies is clearly unsatisfactory and is causing great problems for health services across Europe."

Times Independent Mail Telegraph OE research


Treasury Minister says new EU financial regulators are best placed to deliver "common rule book"

The FT reports that Treasury Minister Mark Hoban has said the Government is committed to the creation of three EU financial regulators - for banking, insurance and markets - to deliver a "common rule book". Speaking to the Association of British Insurers, Hoban said, "National supervisors remain best placed to regulate the markets they know: but the new agencies will be best placed to deliver the common rule book, underpinning the single market." He added, "We are therefore committed to the creation of EIOPA, the European supervisory agency for insurance, in 2011. Likewise we are committed to ensuring it has appropriate rule-making capacity."


Meanwhile, an editorial in the WSJ looks at EU calls for a European credit rating agency, arguing: "creating a captive rater to rubber-stamp Spanish or French debt is unlikely to fool those who have to put their own money on the line. Brussels might be able to intimidate the Big Three into soft-pedaling their criticism, but that won't make Europe's economic problems go away".

WSJ: Editorial FT


MEPs question legality of €60bn eurozone loan facility

European Voice reports that MEPs have said they doubt whether EU finance ministers' decision to use the EU budget as collateral for a new €60 billion financial support facility for eurozone governments is permitted under the EU treaties. The €60bn aid facility was agreed by EU finance ministers as part of the wider €500bn loan mechanism. Polish MEP Sidonia Elzbieta Jedrzejewska, who drafted a report on the European Parliament's negotiating mandate on the 2011 budget, said: "We have this treaty provision that makes it possible to use the EU budget as a guarantee only in cases of calamities or a force majeure. I don't think the economic crisis fits this definition."


Meanwhile, the FT reports that Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou was yesterday forced to reject speculation that the country was headed for a sovereign default and would be forced to leave the eurozone, dismissing the claims as "ridiculous". City AM notes that Greece will receive the second instalment of the €110bn (£90bn) EU-IMF bailout package in September. The FT reports that Portugal was yesterday forced to pay borrowing costs that could force the country to turn to the recently agreed €440bn emergency funding package for struggling eurozone countries.

European Voice FT 2 City AM FT 3


Germany accused of trying to muscle in on Brussels' Nato HQ

The Telegraph reports that the former Belgian Defence Minister André Flahaut has accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of trying to exploit fears over the political stability of Belgium to push for Nato to relocate its headquarters - which is being rebuilt over the next three years - from Brussels to Bonn. Germany has apparently offered former government buildings in Bonn for free, offering immediate cost savings to the cash strapped Alliance.



New proposals on short-selling to be unveiled by summer

Reuters Italia reports that the European Commission has welcomed the joint letter written by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, calling for the Commission to speed up the improvement of financial regulation at the EU level. A spokesperson for President Barroso is quoted saying: "We welcome the support to our ideas expressed by this letter...As regards short-selling, we are in the final stage. We will present new proposals in the summer".


An article in Handelsblatt reports on the joint letter and suggests that it did not mention any important topics, because the two leaders cannot find even the smallest common denominator between them at the moment.


In the WSJ Patience Wheatcroft argues that "the idea of President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany getting together to pen a begging letter conjures up a touching picture. These leaders have had their disagreements recently about how best to deal with the Greek problem, but now they are united by a shared nervousness. They fear the weakness of their currency".   

Reuters Italia Asca WSJ IHT Independent Telegraph Handelsblatt


MEPs ready to approve tough new rules on bankers pay

European Voice reports that the European Parliament's ECON Committee will on Monday vote to increase banks' capital requirements sharply, and to impose tough restrictions on pay in the financial services industry. The vote will be followed by negotiations between MEPs and governments, with the aim of securing a deal on the law by early July. The article notes that industry and some member states are concerned that the EP may try and impose remuneration restrictions beyond what has been agreed internationally.


UK Labour MEP Arlene McCarthy, who is drafting the EP's report on the proposed legislation, has put forward restrictions, including that 50% of a banker's bonus should be paid in shares that must be retained for three years, and for a ban on banks from offering bonuses that make up more than 50% of total annual salary.

European Voice


US blames EU for Turkey's eastward shift in foreign policy

The BBC reports that US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has accused the European Union of pushing Turkey East after the country voted against a US-backed resolution at the United Nations Security Council mandating new sanctions against Iran. "I personally think that if there is anything to the notion that Turkey is, if you will, moving eastward, it is, in my view, in no small part because it was pushed, and pushed by some in Europe refusing to give Turkey the kind of organic link to the West that Turkey sought," Gates said during a visit to London.

FT BBC EUobserver El Mundo WSJ


Agreement on EEAS unlikely to be reached before Monday

European Voice reports that EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton expects to secure a political deal on the European External Action Service (EEAS) with senior MEPs before the end of the month, according to a senior official, but a breakthrough appears unlikely before member states' foreign ministers meet on Monday.

European Voice


The centre-right Liberal Party (VVD) has emerged as the largest party with 31 seats following yesterday's elections in the Netherlands, one seat ahead of the centre-left Labour Party. Geert Wilders' Freedom Party, the PVV, increased its number of seats from nine to 24. The ruling centre-right Christian Democrats (CDA) got 21 seats, losing half their support.

Guardian Times FT Irish Times Deutsche Welle Reuters BBC EUobserver EurActiv European Voice WSJ Le Monde Le Figaro Il Sole 24 Ore Telegraph


Writing in the Independent Adrian Hamilton argues that "It is perfectly feasible for a Tory-led government, with Liberal Democrat support, to forge a pluralist, non-federalist future for Europe - a multi-speed one if you like - that would suit its European views...But it will require a British government that looks and acts as if it cares about Europe, wants it to succeed and is prepared to get in there and work to make it so."

Independent: Hamilton


Germany's Economics Minister Rainer Brüderle yesterday said the country would not provide the €1.1 billion in state aid that it had indicated it would make available for restructuring GM's Opel operations.

Times FT BBC Süddeutsche Zeitung FAZ Handelsblatt Reuters


European Voice reports that the Dutch government will drop its objections to the ratification of a pre-accession agreement between the EU and Serbia next week, following its co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

European Voice


A leader in the New Statesman looks at the austerity measures across Europe and argues that 'the 'European social model' is "under grave threat."

New Statesman


The FTD features a profile of Klaus Regling, who it describes as "one of the best paid civil servants", and who will become head of the European Financial Market Stabilisation Facility.



EUobserver reports that the Commission will unveil new outlines today on what constitutes sustainable biofuels production, to ensure that further environmental damage is not caused by their production.

EUobserver European Voice


Le Monde reports that the EU's rotating Presidency will move to Belgium on 1 July, which will be without a government. It quotes German Socialist MEP Jo Leinen saying that Belgian instability "is not a good signal at the time when we have to handle the financial crisis, budget difficulties, and we have to fight against climate change. In all these subjects the Union needs leadership".


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.