Thursday, September 16, 2010

Open Europe press summary: 16 September 2010



Euro "a bad thing" for the economy say majority of French, Germans and Spaniards

EUobserver reports that a fresh survey, conducted by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, has shown that 60 percent of the French, and more than half of German, Spanish and Portuguese respondents said that the euro was "a bad thing for their economy". Outside the eurozone, 83 percent of the British, 53 percent of Poles and 42 percent of Bulgarians thought that using the euro would be bad for the domestic economy. The only exception was Romania, where 54 percent of respondents are in favour of the common currency.


Only in Germany did the majority of respondents (54 percent) agree that the European Union should have the primary responsibility for economic decision-making in tackling the economic crisis. This option was the least popular in the United Kingdom (25 percent) and in new member states Bulgaria (24 percent), Slovakia (22 percent), and Romania (15 percent). The French were divided on the issue. The article notes that the results sharply contradict a recent European Commission survey that Brussels interpreted as saying that European citizens are in favour of "European economic governance".


Meanwhile, the poll found that 20% of Turks believed their primary partners should be Middle East countries, while 13% favoured the EU. Compared with last year, that almost halved support for the EU while doubling the figure for engagement with the Middle East.

German Marshall Fund poll EUobserver NRC Le Monde Guardian EUobserver blogs: Persson


Germany wants economic governance to apply to all member states;

Debate on sanctions leaves Treaty change on the agenda

EU leaders will meet in Brussels today for a one day summit. Euractiv reports that Germany is pushing hard for changes to economic governance to be applicable to all EU countries, while the UK insists they should only apply to the 16 eurozone members. Talks have so far reached a dead-end over what sanctions to apply for countries breaking the EU's budget discipline rules, with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy to give an update to EU leaders at today's summit.


The FT reports that the European Central Bank Executive Board Member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi said some of the Commission's powers over competition policy should "also be applied" to police member states' economic and financial policies.


Meanwhile, Euractiv notes that Jean De Ruyt, Belgium's top diplomat to the EU, whose country holds the EU Presidency, has said "In fact, at the eurozone level, you cannot do much more than what is already in the treaty. And at the EU level, you can't do more without changing the treaty."


Germany is still pushing for a possible treaty change to strengthen the Stability and Growth Pact, calling for the suspension of member states' voting rights if they break the rules. "Germany thinks that it is important to make progress on extending the scope of possible sanctions within the Stability and Growth Pact," a diplomat added. "In our view, this is something that is still on the agenda and should be elaborated."


Belgian Radio 1 quotes European Council President Herman Van Rompuy saying, "If the euro had failed, there wouldn't be an EU any more."

EurActiv Radio 1 FT FT 2 WSJ FT 3 Irish Times AFP


Barnier: New rules on derivatives and short-selling will put an end to "Wild West" speculation

Lord Turner: It is "vitally important" that new EU watchdogs do not get involved in day-to-day supervision  

It is widely reported that EU Commissioner for Internal Market Michel Barnier yesterday unveiled new proposals for regulation of over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives and short-selling, due to enter into force by the end of 2012, with a key role for the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) in directly banning certain activity if it is perceived to threaten the financial system. "No financial market can afford to remain a Wild West territory. The absence of any regulatory framework for OTC derivatives contributed to the financial crisis and the tremendous consequences", Barnier said yesterday during a press conference.


The proposals have already attracted criticism, especially with regard to temporary bans on Credit Default Swaps (CDS) and naked short-selling. Andrew Baker of the Alternative Investment Management Association (AIMA) is quoted in the Telegraph saying: "We do hope however that new powers to ban short selling are never used. Such bans have never worked, and indeed all the evidence is that the shorting bans during the crisis made the situation even worse".


Meanwhile, Reuters reports that yesterday FSA Chairman Lord Adair Turner said that it is "vitally important" that the three new EU financial watchdogs do not get involved in day-to-day supervision of financial institutions, adding: "We are clear that the fundamental process of supervision has to occur where expertise is, with the national authorities". However, the Commission's proposal on derivatives appears to be giving ESMA day-to-day supervisory powers over clearing and trade repositories.

WSJ IHT Guardian FT FT 2 Telegraph Mail City AM City AM: Sidwell Handelsblatt RTBF El Pais Irish Independent Irish Times BBC EUobserver European Voice Reuters Open Europe research Open Europe press release


Mats Persson: Coalition must urgently seek renegotiation of the Working Time Directive and European Arrest Warrant

On Conservative Home, Open Europe's Mats Persson argues that the UK's Coalition government must urgently seek renegotiations of the EU's Working Time Directive and the European Arrest Warrant. He argues, "These two laws are textbook examples of EU legislation gone out of control: both are hugely disproportionate and have evolved in a way that was not at all foreseen when UK ministers first signed up to them, in turn creating a range of unintended and negative consequences." He goes on, "For both the WTD and the EAW, there are allies to be found in Europe, if the Coalition decides to go for it...A failure to achieve substantive results will only add to the disquiet already felt among certain sections of the Conservative Party and an even larger slug of the electorate. The time for idle chat is up."

Conservative Home: Persson


Sarkozy: Luxembourg should take the Roma

In response to EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding's remarks, which compared France's expulsions of Roma with Second World War deportations, EUobserver quotes German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitting that "there will definitely be discussions about [France's Roma policy] at this summit. It's of course the right of the Commission to check if countries respect the law, but I find that the tone and especially the comparison with historical events was not quite appropriate".


In an interview with Le Figaro, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi also criticises Ms. Reding, arguing that she "should have discussed the matter with France privately before talking in public the way she did". EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy however told Belgian Radio 1 that "France is a sovereign country and has the obligation to keep up the rule of law".


Meanwhile, French President Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly said during a meeting with politicians from his party that Luxembourg - Commissioner Reding's home country - could offer to welcome Roma people expelled from France. The Telegraph quotes French UMP Senator Bruno Sido revealing: "[Sarkozy] said he was only applying European regulations, French laws, and France was irreproachable in the matter but that if the Luxembourgers want to take them he had no problem".


AFP notes that Commissioner Reding has now said she "regretted" her comparison to Second World War deportations.

Guardian Times FT FT: Leader Telegraph Le Monde Le Monde 2 EUobserver  EurActiv BBC Le Figaro El Pais Irish Times BBC: Hewitt Le Figaro: Berlusconi AFP European Voice Radio 1


The Commission endorses €476 million draft budget for the EU's foreign service;

Ashton appoints first tranche of EU diplomats

The European Commission yesterday endorsed a draft budget of €475.8m for next year's operations of the European Union's new diplomatic service. €5.2m of the proposed budget is additional money; €359m will be transferred from the European Commission's draft budget for 2011 and €82m from the 2011 draft budget of the Council of Ministers, European Voice reports.


Meanwhile, EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton announced the first tranche of EU ambassadors within the new diplomatic service yesterday. Four of the appointees are from new member states while 22 of the posts went to men and seven to women, EUobserver reports. Five Spaniards but no British were amongst the appointees, while Germany secured the most prestigious post in Beijing.


FT Deutschland comments on Europe's "weak leadership", arguing that "EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton comments on every small issue, but she has to keep herself out of it when world politics is being discussed." Meanwhile, when asked by Belgian Radio 1 if he had received a phone call from US President Barack Obama, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy didn't answer the question, instead saying: "I have met Barack Obama at the G8. Then, there were ten of us together on one table during two days. That's more than just a phone call".

EUobserver EurActiv European Voice European Voice 2 IHT FT Radio 1 EurActiv 2 European Voice 2


Hamish McRae: Excessive regulation contributing to Europe's unemployment "catastrophe"

In the Independent, Hamish McRae writes "Unemployment is Europe's catastrophe". He argues, "Well-intentioned labour legislation designed to protect the rights of people already in work has undermined the willingness and ability of employers to create new jobs. So countries with weaker protection, the UK being a good example, have been better at generating employment."

Independent Independent: McRae Open Europe research


Writing in Le Monde, Simone Veil and Hans-Gert Pöttering, both former Presidents of the European Parliament, call for a boost to the Franco-German engine of European integration.

Le Monde


The Guardian reports that David Cameron is pressing the EU to agree new trade concessions with Pakistan, but has run into opposition from more protectionist EU countries.

Guardian FT


The IHT notes that European leaders have said that the WTO's finding in the Boeing case showed that the United States had relied on subsidies in the fight for plane sales.

IHT Telegraph


Le Monde reports that the UK and France will hold a summit on 5 November to discuss possible joint security and defence projects.

No link


UKIP MEP Marta Andreasen has lost her legal appeal of unfair dismissal after being sacked by the Commission as Chief Accountant, following her complaints about the EU budget being vulnerable to fraud, reports European Voice.

European Voice


European Commissioner Viviane Reding has called for wider use of citizens' consultations to "increase citizens' knowledge and enthusiasm towards the EU".

European Voice


Handelsblatt reports that the Commission plans to introduce new measures to bolster the internal market under "The Single Market Act".



A certain percentage of the EU's structural funds should be earmarked for urban policies, as cities host 70 percent of the bloc's population and account for most of its GDP, according to Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn.






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