Government must decide on controversial EU investigation order by 28 July
The Telegraph reports that the Home Office has until 28 July to decide whether to opt in to plans for a European Investigation Order, which would allow police officers from an EU country to demand information from UK officers on anyone they suspect of a criminal offence. The directive would see UK police almost powerless to prevent the handing over of personal details such as DNA, bank account or even telephone records. The article notes that some senior Conservatives are understood to be concerned about the directive but Whitehall sources suggested the Liberal Democrat members of the Coalition are more supportive.
Justice ministers resist Commission plans for burden sharing on asylum
The Irish Times reports that EU justice ministers are resisting proposals from the European Commission to deepen the reach of the EU's asylum system. Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström's proposal would relax a measure known as the Dublin Regulation, which compels member states to take responsibility for asylum seekers who first apply for asylum on their territory and to take back those applicants who subsequently move to another member state. But Malmström believes exceptions should be made in cases where member states face "particular migratory pressure". There are fears among member states that the proposal could lead to 'asylum shopping' and that more relaxed rules could create greater migratory pressures.
Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter quotes Malmström saying she is unsure about whether agreement can be reached by 2012: "It's going to be very difficult. There are big differences between the positions taken by the Member States." Deutsche Welle reports that Germany's Deputy Interior Minister objected to the Commission's call to provide asylum seekers with welfare during their application process, saying this could turn Germany into a "magnet" for asylum seekers from around the world.
Commission report shows that irregularities are on the rise in EU agriculture and regional spending
In its annual report on the protection of the EU's financial interests, the European Commission has noted that the number of reported irregularities with EU spending has considerably increased in areas including agriculture, cohesion policy and pre-accession funds, Belga reports.
15 MEPs check out of EP early and head to Seychelles
The Parliament reports that 15 MEPs are currently on a trip to the Seychelles for a two-day ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly meeting, just a few weeks after the EP's so-called "external parliamentary activities" session, the week when MEPs are given the opportunity to attend such meetings, and in the last week before the EP breaks for a six-week recess. The article quotes one unnamed MEP saying: "You have to ask why it is necessary for so many members to be taking part in this event. At a time of sweeping cuts in many member states it does not look great, does it." Open Europe's Sarah Gaskell is quoted saying: "Some MEPs never waste an opportunity to reward themselves with trips to exotic locations like the Seychelles", adding that "They would do better to spend a little more time concentrating on the issues their constituents at home face".
Business leaders hit out at calls for tougher EU emissions targets;
Member states agree to single EU carbon auctioning system
The FT reports that business leaders have reacted angrily to yesterday's call from the environment ministers of France, Germany, and the UK to raise the EU's emissions target to a 30 percent reduction by 2020. Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of EEF, the UK manufacturers' organisation, said: "The EU already has the toughest targets in the world, but ... the very nations against whom we are said to be competing [on renewable energy] - China, Japan and the US - are hardly falling over themselves to set targets.
A leader in the paper argues, "In their wish to tighten the emission corset unilaterally, the ministers leave open the possibility of carbon leakage...Reductions must come from areas such as transport and energy efficiency. Different tools will be required, including a carbon tax (which would ease the pressure on stressed government budgets)." Climate expert Bjørn Lomborg argues in an opinion piece in Die Welt that "the EU's climate policies are expensive and absurd".
Meanwhile, EUobserver reports that EU member states have unanimously backed Commission proposals that will see carbon-emitting industries buy roughly half of their emission allowances under the third phase of the emissions trading scheme (ETS) from 2013. Under the plan, the Commission is also pushing for a single European auctioning system to sell pollution permits, which member states have agreed to in theory but also insisted on the right to opt out of and hold their own auctions later on if they desire.
The aviation sector will be brought into the ETS from 2012, with 15 percent of allowances to be auctioned. The draft regulation will now go to the European Parliament for a three-month scrutiny period.
A new report from environmental NGO Sandbag says that European industries are subsidising direct competitors in China and India by buying UN Clean Development Mechanism credits to offset their carbon dioxide emissions. EU companies spent around €860 million last year buying 78 million CDM credits in order to meet their emission caps under the EU's ETS.
Slovakia drops opposition to eurozone fund but won't take part in Greek bailout
The WSJ reports that yesterday the Slovakian government announced its backing to the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) - the €440 billion emergency rescue fund for struggling eurozone countries. However, Slovakian Finance Minister Ivan Miklos made clear that his country "will give its approval to the actual launch of the mechanism only if the EU remarkably strengthens the Stability and Growth Pact". In addition, Prime Minister Iveta Radicova said that Slovakia will not contribute to the joint EU/IMF €110 billion bailout package for Greece, since "the Greek loan is about irresponsible government policies, irresponsible behaviour of the banking sector".
The Times reports that Foreign Secretary William Hague has rejected warnings from Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso over the state of EU-US relations, and insisted that whatever the difference between "European structures" and the US, relations between Washington and the major European capitals were "exceptionally strong".
Ashton to name top officials in EEAS in October
EUobserver reports that EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton will soon unveil the names of 31 senior diplomats who will be appointed as heads and deputy heads of new EU delegations. The names of the officials - including the three Secretaries-General - who will be given the top 10 jobs in the European External Action Service (EEAS) will be disclosed in October.
Open Europe's Pieter Cleppe is quoted in Belgian magazine Knack in an article on the European Parliament's travelling circus between Brussels and Strasbourg, saying that he is in favour of abolishing the Brussels Parliament, and moving it completely to Strasbourg. He said he was in favour "of the theory which prefers to have different institutions at different locations. That's how the European Parliament avoids becoming a spokesbody for the European Commission."
Following the news that UK MEPs have the worst attendance record in the European Parliament, Open Europe is quoted by The Parliament arguing that, "Helping to fight the general election campaign is all very well but MEPs' first duty is to make sure that EU laws coming out of the European parliament are good for the UK."
EU Fundamental Rights Commissioner Viviane Reding's threat to legislate on gender quotas in boardrooms receives further coverage in the UK and Swedish press.
In the WSJ, Stephen Fidler outlines the various EU plans on financial regulation and supervision.
On his Telegraph blog, Washington Correspondent Nile Gardner argues, "The march towards an EU seat at the United Nations as well as an EU UN Ambassador may ultimately spell the end of Britain's seat on the UN Security Council."
In the WSJ, Terence Roth writes, "With warning lights still flickering red, doubts put the market's full focus on next Friday's stress test results of euro-zone banks," while a leader in the Economist argues that "regulators must redouble their efforts to make the tests work."
The Economist's Charlemagne column considers the social welfare system in Europe and argues: "Retirement at 60 in an ageing society is not a sign of civilisation, but a cruel joke played on the next generation. The euro-zone crisis has exposed such hypocrisy. It may still take time before Europeans conclude that they must compromise their ideals in order to secure the growth needed to preserve what they can of their lifestyles."
De Standaard reports that MEPs have urged the Belgian Presidency to make reducing Iceland's fishing quota a priority in EU accession negotiations.
EU Commissioner for taxation and fraud, Algirdas Semeta, stated yesterday at a joint press conference with British American Tobacco, that tobacco companies will pay a total of €134 million over the next 20 years to the Commission to fight against smuggling and counterfeiting of branded cigarettes.
The Dutch city of Maastricht was within its rights to bar so-called coffee shops from selling marijuana and hashish to foreigners in an effort to clamp down on drug tourism, an adviser to the European Court of Justice said yesterday.
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: openeurope.org.uk or call us on 0207 197 2333.