Member states propose €3.6 billion cuts to the EU budget for 2011;
UK and six other member states want further cuts
European Voice reports that EU member states yesterday agreed a blueprint envisaging €3.6 billion in cuts to the EU budget proposed by the European Commission for 2011. However, the new total figure - €126.6 billion - still represents a 2.9 percent increase from the previous year's budget. Some of the biggest envisaged cuts would affect the EU cohesion funds (minus €1.1 billion) and farm subsidies (minus €820 million). A 1.85 percent pay increase for EU civil servants has also been ruled out, while the new External Action Service (EAS) is not mentioned at all in the document, notwithstanding a proposed €590 million reduction in the amount available for the EU's external policies.
EUobserver notes that the UK - together with six other member states - has voted against the proposals, calling for deeper cuts to the overall budget. Meanwhile, in a joint press conference following bilateral talks in Downing Street, David Cameron and his Danish counterpart Lokke Rasmussen yesterday said that they would work together to try and reduce the cost of the EU to taxpayers. PA quotes David Cameron saying: "As we reduce our deficits, I think it is very important that we both argue to make sure that the European budget is, over time, reduced rather than increased. We cannot ask our members of the public to pay more in the UK and have to pay more in Europe as well. We are going to work together in these important European Council meetings coming up this autumn".
An article in Deutsche Welle suggests that the upcoming negotiations between member states, the Commission and the European Parliament are expected to be particularly tough and quotes Patrizio Fiorilli, a spokesman for Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski, saying: "It is not our intention to redo our numbers".
EU finance ministers to contemplate sanctions for Slovakia over bailout u-turn;
German government: "Everybody should know that one day one might have to rely on the solidarity of others"
The FT reports that Slovakia's new government came under fire from its eurozone partners, particularly Germany, yesterday after its MPs voted overwhelmingly to reject taking part in the eurozone's Greek bailout. Handelsblatt reports that, as a consequence, EU finance ministers are now contemplating a reprimand or financial sanctions. An EU diplomat is quoted saying that "in the group of the euro countries it is political suicide that the Slovaks back out". FAZ reports that the eurogroup must now decide whether other countries will increase their contribution or if the aid to Greece will be cut accordingly.
FT Deutschland reports that Chancellor Angela Merkel will try to bring Slovakia "to reason", with the Slovak PM Iveta Radicova expected to receive some plain talking on her visit to Berlin on 25 August. German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said: "everybody should know that one day one might have to rely on the solidarity of others".
EU ambassador to US: I'm "leading the show" among European representatives in Washington
The Telegraph reports on the comments by the newly appointed EU ambassador to the US, Joao Vale de Almeida, reported in Open Europe's press summary yesterday, in which he claimed to now be "leading the show" among European representatives in Washington. On his Telegraph blog, Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation argues that the comment reveals "in stark terms exactly what the Treaty of Lisbon is all about in the minds of the unelected Brussels elites - a golden opportunity to dramatically expand the supranational powers of the EU over the affairs of independent European nation states, including that of Great Britain."
New fears over Ireland and Greece worry investors;
ECB: Expect slow eurozone growth over next two years
The FT reports that concerns about the eurozone's weaker members returned yesterday following weaker than expected Greek growth figures and a near-doubling in interest rates paid by Ireland compared with three weeks ago. The Irish Times notes that the European Central Bank was reported yesterday to be buying Irish government debt in an effort to halt a marked slide in its price over the course of the week.
The WSJ reports that investors' concerns have been compounded by suggestions that the eurozone will grow very slowly for the next two years despite recent signs of a German-led pickup in activity, according to a survey of forecasters released by the ECB.
Meanwhile, writing in the WSJ, columnist Charles Forelle notes that the Greek authorities were reporting wildly underestimated budget deficit figures as late as three weeks before the true figures were announced in October 2009.
US and EU discussing possible summit for November
The FT reports that an EU-US Summit may be held in November, "to make up for" the summit that President Barack Obama declined to attend earlier this year, amid European criticism that President Obama hasn't prioritised his relations with EU allies. "Not being a problem does not mean we should not be a priority," said João Vale de Almeida, the EU's Ambassador to Washington. However a "senior administration official" is quoted in the article saying, "This president is not a schmoozer - he doesn't hang out...We don't feel the need to profess love because it's a fact of life that Europe is our main partner, in everything that we do in the world ... Do you need to say that all the time?"
Head of Sarkozy's party calls for reintroduction of border guards to fight illegal immigration
The Economist's Charlemagne reports that according to Frontex, the European Union's border-security agency, the total number of detected entries of illegal immigrants into the EU is at its lowest since the agency's records began in 2008. Despite this, the Mail reports that the head of French PM Nicolas Sarkozy's party, Xavier Bertrand, has said "Better regulation is indispensable, on the European level, where we must put back coast guards and border guards' to fight illegal immigration."
The Telegraph reports that the European Parliament has agreed to spend £5m on mouse mats, mugs, t-shirts and umbrellas with the Europe logo.
The Guardian reports that EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton has put relations with Pakistan at the top of the EU agenda.
Brazil's Agricultural Minister Wagner Rossi complained yesterday that Brazilian exports are suffering from EU agricultural restrictions. He said he hoped that reignited EU-Mercosur free trade negotiations will resolve some of these issues.
The WSJ reports that the European Commission said yesterday it would investigate whether US biodiesel is being shipped through third countries to avoid tariffs placed last year on direct shipments from the US to the European Union.
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