Bolkestein: "I was the first eurosceptic politician";
"Guy Verhofstadt should shut up"
In an interview with Belgian magazine Knack, former European Commissioner and leader of the Dutch liberals Frits Bolkestein strongly criticised Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the liberal group in the European Parliament. He called Verhofstadt's proposals for EU taxes and EU bonds "ridiculous", saying: "If they do that, then we don't know where it will end". He added that "Verhofstadt should shut up. I have told Hans Van Baalen - who leads the Dutch liberals in the EP - that he needs to resist [Verhofstadt's proposals]. They should bring that up in the group. They should not let that happen. They need to tell Verhofstadt: you speak in the name of who? Then he will have to acknowledge that he is only speaking for himself".
On Greece and the euro, Bolkestein said: "How is it possible that Greece has become a member of the eurozone? Who has been sleeping? I have done my best to keep the Italians out. I have pressed [former Dutch Finance Minister] Gerrit Zalm, although that didn't take much. In Italy he was known as 'Il Duro' [the Bully], as 'Il Perfido' [the Perfidious]. Ah, it hasn't gone the right way".
He said that one of his three main achievements in politics was that "I have given a different turn to opinions on the EU. I was actually the first eurosceptic politician".
Commission accused of hypocrisy after serving 'protected' bluefin tuna in its own restaurant
The Sun reports that environmental campaigners have blasted the Commission for hypocrisy after it has been revealed that its restaurant has been serving the endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna. The Commission has called for the bluefin tuna to be protected, supporting a ban on trading the fish until stocks recover.
Leading economists warn ECB against low interest rates
Handelsblatt reports that leading economists have warned the ECB against keeping interest rates too low. Chief Economist of Barclay's Capital Germany Thorsten Polleit is quoted saying that "this is an intervention into the core of the market economy". He argues that artificially low interest rates lead to unsustainable investments and increased consumption while depressing the savings rate.
Meanwhile, the WSJ notes that the ECB more than halved its purchases of government bonds last week, bringing total transactions under its Securities Markets Program down to €81 million.
EU urged to tighten rules on food from cloned animals
The Guardian reports that the EU was under pressure last night to rule on whether food derived from the offspring of cloned livestock should be banned, as reports suggested a British dairy farmer was selling milk from a cow bred from a cloned animal. EU regulations state that meat and dairy products from clones and their offspring can be sold if farmers receive prior permission -- a rule that gives "mixed messages" to producers, according to animal welfare group the RSPCA. MEPs last month demanded for a definitive ban on food from clones and their descendants until new legislation is in place.
Political crisis and economic risks cast a shadow over Italy's future
EUobserver reports that on Wednesday the lower house of the Italian Parliament will vote on a no-confidence motion against Italy's justice undersecretary Giacomo Caliendo. A negative outcome of the vote could trigger a governmental crisis and pave the way for early elections.
Meanwhile, in the Telegraph Ambrose Evans-Pritchard examines Italy's current economic situation and argues: "Italy is clearly trapped with an overvalued exchange rate within EMU. It has lost 30 percent in unit labour cost competitiveness against Germany since the exchange rates were fixed in perpetuity in the mid-1990s. This will be extremely hard to claw back without going through the pain of wage deflation. The risk is perma-slump along the lines of Japan".
Spanish news agency EFE reports that specialists from the IMF, the EU and the European Central Bank have advised Greece that it must speed up the implementation of required structural reforms. 13 additional recommendations have been made to the government, including the liberalisation of 'closed' professions, liberalisation of the energy sector and privatisation.
EUobserver reports that French Europe Minister Pierre Lellouche has urged Romania to tackle the question of integration of Roma communities in a more effective way. He pointed out that EU development funds "also apply to minorities. You cannot have on the one hand financial transfers from the west to the east and transfers of minorities whose problems are not addressed by the east to the west".
Die Welt reports that the introduction of legislation to simplify cross-border enforcement of fines for drivers in the EU will be delayed until the end of the year.
The European Commission yesterday approved a €10 million allowance to help retrain 1149 industrial workers in Denmark who have recently lost their jobs. The allowance will be paid from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund.
The Telegraph reports that plans are being drawn up for the Regulatory Policy Committee to be more closely involved in the early stages of legislative planning, a move business leaders hope may result in less red tape.
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