Prospect of new EU treaty leads to calls on Cameron to seek repatriation of powers from Brussels
Following yesterday's Franco-German deal to push for EU treaty changes to change the eurozone's rules, David Cameron has come under fresh pressure to ask for EU powers back to Britain in return for backing a new round of Treaty changes and hold a referendum should these impact on the UK. The FT notes that the UK Government said it would consider a "limited" change to the treaties, but "would not accept anything that involves a transfer of power from Westminster to Brussels".
Writing on the Spectator Coffee House blog, Open Europe Director Mats Persson argues, "Rather than instinctively reaching for the veto, David Cameron should back [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel's demands, in return for the repatriation of powers to the UK, along the lines of the original Tory election manifesto." He added, "This package could then, possibly, be put to a public vote, and be turned into a genuine referendum on EU reform. The net effect of a new EU treaty would then be fewer powers for Brussels and more for Westminster." On Conservative Home, Tim Montgomerie cites Mats' post and notes "Liberal Democrats won't like the idea...but as 'good Europeans' do they really want to oppose the need to improve the Eurozone's workings? In the constant horse-trading between the Coalition partners...Mr Clegg needs to be convinced of the importance of EU reform to the Conservatives. As long as the process is subject to popular vote how can the Liberal Democrats object? Open Europe is quoted in the Express saying that a new treaty would present "an ideal opportunity" for the UK to repatriate powers and Mats is also quoted in the Mail.
A leader in the Irish Times, argues, "For Ireland's political class the prospect of another treaty referendum is nightmarish. It had been hoped - indeed, promised - that Lisbon II would be the last for decades."
Spectator: Persson Open Europe blog Telegraph Mail Express Conservative Home Conservative Home: Melanchthon FT: Leader
German press: Sarkozy got the better of Merkel in EU Treaty change deal
In a front page editorial, FAZ columnist Werner Mussler describes the Franco-German deal as "a sham". He argues that while France has gained a clear victory, "the German government hasn't obtained any real concessions", as a treaty change is far from certain as it requires all 27 members to agree. RP quotes an EU diplomat saying "it was terrible - the Germans are like a poodle of the French". The article quotes German liberal MEP Silvana Koch-Mehrin saying, "It can be feared that now more German taxes are being sacrificed at the altar of the Franco-German friendship."
In Die Welt Jan Dams argues that the struggling eurozone countries "will be sure to prevent any treaty change, and Sarkozy knows this too." An article in Sueddeutsche Zeitung argues, "The talk of changing the treaties sounds promising but is in fact nothing but noises about what may come. A 'yes' from Paris won't suffice to persuade Britain, let alone highly indebted countries like Italy and Spain."
Dutch dailies Het Financieele Dagblad and De Volkskrant both note that many countries, including the Netherlands and Sweden, were concerned by Germany's willingness to water down the proposed debt and deficit rules. FAZ quotes Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg saying, "I'm a little bit surprised that we did not have the full 100% backing for fiscal discipline from Germany." The paper also notes that chairman of the eurozone Jean Claude Juncker has said that the value of the agreement is limited.
On his Economist blog, Charlemagne notes that, "More than 24 hours after the [task force] meeting, there is still no official text of the report that will be sent to the summit of European leaders next week. There seems to be much tweaking going on in capitals [...] The agreement seems further proof of the EU axiom these days: Franco-German agreement is necessary for any deal, but it is not sufficient."
Reuters.de French-German Agreement (in French) FD HLN Volkskrant: Leader Eurointelligence FAZ Handelsblatt FAZ 2 Spiegel Handelsblatt: Berschens Handelsblatt RP Le Monde FD Welt
AIFM Directive: Ministers reach agreement to give EU supervisor power over market access for offshore funds;
National marketing rules to be phased out by 2018
EU finance ministers yesterday reached a deal on the AIFM Directive, following concessions from both the UK and France. The compromise will see national rules on marketing rights for funds and managers based outside the EU being phased out by 2018. The new European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) will then be given exclusive powers to decide the rules under which funds and managers are allowed to enter the EU market and be granted pan-European marketing rights (a so-called passport).
EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier is quoted by the Times saying: "France accepted the idea of a passport and the UK accepted that ESMA would have a role. I think that everyone is coming out with their heads held high." City Minister Mark Hoban is quoted by European Voice saying that yesterday's agreement was a "significant advance" from the situation in May, when EU member states were about to agree on rules that would have "closed the EU market to funds from third countries, undermining competition and closing off a source of investment to the EU economy."
French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde is quoted by Reuters France arguing: "We could have undoubtedly done better, but this is a quantum leap." The proposal still requires the backing of the European Parliament before it can become law. The FT reports that diplomats said that a final deal with MEPs could be concluded within weeks or even days.
FT Telegraph EUobserver WSJ WSJ: Real Time Brussels blog BBC European Voice Reuters France El País Bloomberg Times Irish Times Irish Independent FAZ Handelsblatt Volkskrant Sueddeutsche OE research
European Commission announces proposals for an EU tax and a review of the UK's rebate
The European Commission yesterday announced its proposals for the EU budget post 2013. These include proposals for EU taxes, in a bid to reduce the EU's reliance on member states' direct contributions, and a review of the UK's rebate. Proposals for an EU tax include: a share of a financial transaction or financial activities tax; the auctioning of EU green house gas emission allowances; an EU charge related to air transport; a separate EU VAT rate; an EU energy tax; and an EU corporate income tax. The Commission also proposed issuing EU bonds to fund infrastructure projects. This would allow the EU to borrow against the EU budget, which is guaranteed by national governments.
Open Europe's Stephen Booth is quoted in the Telegraph and Rzeczpospolita saying: "It would be completely unacceptable for governments to hand the unelected European Commission the powers to raise taxes from citizens. The EU budget is in urgent need of reform and remains hugely wasteful, but this won't be solved by giving the EU new powers to demand more money". The BBC reports that the UK, Netherlands, Germany and France have all rejected the idea of direct EU taxes.
The Commission paper also launched a veiled criticism on the UK's rebate noting: "The 'juste retour' debate" has had a "negative impact on the quality of delivery and reduced the EU added value". MEPs will vote on the EU budget later today.
Open Europe press release European Commission European Voice BBC EU Observer Euractiv Euobserver Irish Times European Commission press release Telegraph NRC Handelsblad NOS EU Observer Handelsblatt Maerkische Allgemeine Rzeczpospolita
Mary Honeyball MEP: new EU maternity leave proposal will leave low earning women worse off financially
The European Parliament will today vote on proposals to extend maternity leave in the EU to 20 weeks at full pay. In an opinion piece in the Guardian, Labour MEP Mary Honeyball argues: "I am concerned that the legislation MEPs will vote on [...] will leave many women in Britain - especially low-paid women on the minimum wage - worse off financially." Le Figaro notes that the new rules on maternity leave, if adopted, would cost the French government €1.3 billion a year.
The House of Lords will tonight debate whether the EU's proposed directive on entry conditions for seasonal workers from third countries breaks the 'subsidiarity' principle. If nine national parliaments object to a proposal within an eight week window the European Commission must review the proposal.
The European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet warned yesterday that "while the government finance statistics of the overwhelming majority of the member states is reliable, this does not yet apply to all of them", reports Dow Jones.
The European Parliament will today vote on the revised staff rules for the EEAS, together with revised financial rules and the service's initial budget for the remainder of this year, reports European Voice.
Conservative Home reports that yesterday Timothy Kirkhope resigned as leader of Conservative MEPs.
The EU has suspended its complaint against France over their expulsions of the Roma.
Webwereld reports that five MEPs have presented a written declaration calling for complete openness on the EU's INDECT research project - aimed at supporting observation, searching and detection for security of citizens in urban environment.
The European Parliament is expected today to approve a Directive which would impose penalties on companies and public institutions for late payments, reports EurActiv.
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.