Friday, August 27, 2010

Open Europe press summary: 27 August 2010



Support for the EU falls to a nine year low;

Only 50% of Germans consider EU membership "a good thing" - down 10 points in less than a year

The Commission's Eurobarometer poll, published yesterday, has shown that support for the EU has dropped to its lowest levels in nine years. Only 49 percent of respondents from across Europe considered membership of the EU to be a "good thing" down 4 percentage points from last years poll, while trust in the bloc's institutions has dropped to 42 percent, six points down compared to autumn 2009. 18 percent considered EU membership to be a "bad thing", up from 15 percent last year. In Germany support for the EU fell 10 points to 50 percent, and in France and the Netherlands it fell by five points. The poll was carried out in May during the height of the financial crisis.


Open Europe's Mats Persson is quoted by EurActiv, criticising the Commission's attempt to present the new Eurobarometer poll as an endorsement of giving the EU more powers to monitor national budgets. The Commission's press release claimed that 75 percent of Europeans are in favour of "stronger European economic governance", based on a question asking whether "stronger coordination between EU member states" would be effective in coping with the economic crisis. Mats said, "The question doesn't even mention the EU institutions or even 'governance', only a vague reference to stronger coordination among member states, which is something different. By no stretch of the imagination can this be interpreted as 75% of all Europeans favouring more EU powers to monitor national economies, as the Commission seems to suggest in its press release. What the Commission should really be concerned about is why only 49% of citizens think that EU membership is a good thing."


A comment piece in FAZ also criticises the Commission's presentation of the poll findings, including the claim that almost all Europeans support the Commission's 2020 strategy based on a question whether respondents support "labour market modernisation". Looking at the drop in support for the EU, the article concludes, "only the British are more critical [of the EU] than the Germans...maybe more Europe is not the solution then."

Open Europe blog Eurobarometer EUobserver El Mundo ABC Express Le Figaro EurActiv Focus EU-info EC Press Release Reuters Repubblica


German Constitutional Court's ruling on Mangold case ends by strengthening the ECJ

EUobserver reports that yesterday the Karlsruhe-based German Constitutional Court issued its long-awaited ruling on the Mangold case, clarifying the conditions under which national courts are allowed to challenge decisions taken by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The case was about a previous decision by the ECJ, which found discriminatory - and therefore inapplicable - a German law allowing employers to give only temporary work to people aged over 52. At the time, the employer referred the matter to the constitutional court claiming that the ECJ had overstepped its powers.


However, the German supreme court yesterday gave the green light to the ECJ ruling, explaining that ECJ decisions can only be re-examined by national tribunals "if the breach of EU competences by the EU authority is obvious and the act in question leads to a structurally significant shift in the arrangement of competences between the member states and the European Union to the detriment of member states".


An article in FAZ titled "Karlsruhe shrinks its own powers", quotes Judge Herbert Landau criticising his colleagues in the German Supreme Court who ruled on the Mangold case. Landau argues that the Luxembourg judges have exceeded their powers, and the Federal Constitutional Court has now abandoned the notion that every judicial act must be democratically legitimised.

EUobserver Spiegel FAZ German Constitutional Court Press Release


An open letter from EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has called for an investigation into France's repatriation of the Roma people to see if the French government is breaking EU rules on free movement and if sanctions should be applied, reports La Razon

La Razon EUobserver Le Figaro Liberation Nouvel Observateur AFP


EU banking regulator issues guidelines for "reverse" stress tests

European Voice reports that yesterday the Committee of European Banking Supervisors (CEBS) announced an overhaul of the criteria for bank stress testing, the first since 2006. One key element of the reform is the introduction of the so-called "reverse stress tests", during which banks would essentially have to pretend that they have failed and look backwards to find out which vulnerabilities led to their hypothetical collapse.

European Voice EurActiv FT Le Figaro    


WSJ: EU proposes budget cuts for everyone else but itself

An opinion piece in the WSJ criticises the EU's 2011 draft budget which proposes a total budget increase of 5.8 percent. The article criticises an op-ed published earlier this week by EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn in the WSJ which made the case for austerity measures in member states, saying: "Still, it would behoove Mr. Rehn's cohorts to recall his wise words, and to remember that the EU's own means are tied to the economic output of its half-billion citizens, which shrank 4.2% last year and is only set to grow 1% this year and 1.7% in 2011. By Mr. Rehn's sound logic, that should make a 5.8% spending increase, or anything close to it, out of the question. Unless the EU is exempt from its own rules". Meanwhile, Daniel Hannan notes on his Telegraph blog: "other budgets face cuts, but our contributions to the EU have risen to £2 million an hour".

WSJ: leader Telegraph blogs: Hannan


In an article in FAZ, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble presents his ideas on financial policy, noting that "in the future we need more efficient ways to intervene in states which endanger stability in Europe [...] Germany and France have made proposals for that. According to those, countries which do no respect the need to rein in excessive budget deficits, would lose access to EU means and would also lose voting rights".

No link


President of American Chambers of Commerce in Germany warns of "growing flood of regulations"

Writing in Handelsblatt, Fred Irwin, who is the President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany, argues that "Europe and the USA are drifting further apart". He argues that "in the US a growing flood of regulations affects the industry [...] But in Germany and Europe it doesn't look much better. The many regulations concern all areas: environment, corporate low, data protection, labour protection, product liability, financial issues, security and corporate governance. Governments on both side of the Atlantic are engaging in a competition and are bidding up against each other with more and more regulations."

Handelsblatt: Irwin reports that the EU wants to set up a database to fight "radicalisation", noting that it targets not just terrorists, but also the far left, the far right, and anti-globalisation activists.


The European Socialist Party (ESP) has launched a campaign to change the way the European Commissioner is elected, proposing a system of primaries in order to create "a democratic pressure" in the EU and to find a strong contender to compete against the likely re-election of the current President José Manuel Durão Barroso in 2014.



AFP reports that Icelandic Minister of Fisheries Jon Bjarnason has described as "preposterous" the European Commission's allegations over mackerel overfishing.



The Greek government has discovered that millions of euros have been paid to deceased pensioners, reports the Guardian.

Le Figaro Guardian


Mallorca Zeitung reports that in order to comply with EU regulations on renewable energy, the Spanish Government is planning to construct wind energy parks on the island of Mallorca, despite facing strong resistance from local residents. 

Mallorca Zeitung


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