Monday, October 25, 2010

Open Europe press summary: 25 October 2010


Open Europe will host an event tomorrow - 26 October at 17:00-19:00 - in cooperation with the Bertelsmann Foundation in Berlin entitled "How does the euro crisis affect Germany's relations with the EU?" Speakers include: Frank Schaffler (German Liberal MP), Gerhard Schick (German Green MP), Gisela Stuart MP, Stefani Weiss (Bertelsmann Foundation) and Derek Scott (Vice-Chairman Open Europe). Places are limited, to attend please contact Pieter Cleppe on 0032 477 684608 or

New Open Europe report: Cost of EU agencies has tripled since 2005 and is set to reach £2.1 billion in 2011
A new Open Europe report released yesterday reveals that the cost of EU agencies and committees has tripled since 2005 and, according to the European Commission's proposed budget, is set to reach £2.1bn in 2011 - an 8% increase from 2010. Of this cost, the UK will pay £300mn in 2011. EU agencies and committees currently employ 9,640 people - a number which is set to increase with the creation of five new agencies in 2011. The report calls for the EU to cut agencies and committees that duplicate work, which could save the EU €709mn in 2011.

The Sunday Telegraph quoted Open Europe's Siân Herbert saying: "The radical increase in the cost of EU quangos stands in stark contrast to the deep cuts facing government agencies in the UK and other member states." EUobserver quotes Siân saying, "Many of these agencies are mere talking shops or deal with issues that shouldn't concern the EU in the first place,"  The report also featured on BBC news bulletins, Sunday's Irish Independent, the Sunday Express, the News of the World, in today's Telegraph, Mail, Express, and in the Hungarian magazine HVG.

David Cameron vows to block 6% increase to the EU budget
Saturday's Mail reported that David Cameron will use this week's EU summit to oppose the EU's plan to increase the 2011 budget. "It is outrageous that the European Parliament claims it's being responsible by having a six per cent rise in its budget," he said. "It is completely irresponsible and unacceptable. We need an alliance to block increases".

In a comment piece in News of the World, Open Europe's Mats Persson argued: "If the money Britain sends to Europe was put back into our Treasury's coffers, the government could afford to reverse a large chunk of its plans to cut child benefits...David Cameron has said he will work hard to block the ludicrous hike in wasteful EU spending. But he needs to work even harder. British and European taxpayers deserve better".

Christopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph noted that despite last week's spending review, Cameron omitted to mention the £16 billion a year we already contribute to "EU institutions". A leader in the Times today argues "European institutions are seeking more money from the UK and more responsibilities for themselves. Mr Cameron must stand against these centralising moves".

Meanwhile, De Telegraaf quotes Dutch liberal MP Han Ten Broeke saying that "the EU is losing credibility. The European Parliament really is from another planet and ridicules itself." He added that Cameron and Dutch PM Mark Rutte should use the threat that if no agreement can be found the 2011 budget will be at the - lower - level of this year.
NOTW Telegraaf Elsevier Express Mail Times: Leader Conservative Home: Goodman Conservative Home Sunday Express Times Sunday Telegraph Sunday Express Irish Times FT Sunday Telegraph John Redwood's diary Express: O'Flynn

Franco-German deal on treaty change provokes "uprising"
FTD reports the Franco-German deal on EU treaty change is facing "an uprising". Luxembourg's Foreign Minister, Jean Asselborn is quoted saying, "To me it seems like this time only the national interests of these two countries mattered. And that is not in the European interest." Asselborn is quoted in Handelsblatt saying it is "politically ludicrous" to opt for a treaty change now. He describes the demand for treaty change as "absolutely not enforceable". The Irish Times reports that Merkel is facing opposition from an alliance of EU member states, including Britain, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Ireland.

Another diplomat is quoted in the FT saying, "We're more or less used to Germany and France cooking things up. But this was really flagrant." Stern quotes German Economy Minister Rainer Brüderle warning of difficult times ahead for the EU. "It won't be easy," he said.

The front page of FT Deutschland notes that the Franco-German deal, which would create an 'orderly default procedure' for eurozone countries, calls the current 'no bailout' clause into question. An EU diplomat is quoted saying, "the Bundesbank will not approve of this."

Meanwhile, the Sunday Telegraph noted that Conservative backbenchers could seize on the re-opening of the Lisbon treaty and pressure the Coalition government to demand powers back to Britain in return for giving its approval to a new round of Treaty changes, over which the UK would have a veto.  Conservative MP Douglas Carswell, was quoted saying: "France and Germany will use this to get what they want - we should use it to get what we want, such as free trade."

German government asks EU to propose cuts to Galileo satellite
Reuters reports that the German government has asked the European Commission to find ways of cutting the cost of the EU's Galileo satellite project. Handelsblatt cites Open Europe's recent briefing on Galileo's rising costs, which estimates that the project will cost EU taxpayers €22.2bn to operate over a 20 year period. Open Europe's report was also featured in the Irish edition of the News of the World.

HLN reports that European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has warned on Belgian TV Kanaal Z that during the Greek crisis, "we were standing right before the total collapse of the financial and economic system (...) It was a matter of survival, because the end of the Eurozone would have also meant the end of the European Union." He added: "Now the crisis is over, but the problems aren't over".

Writing in FT Deutschland, ECB Chief Economist Jürgen Stark argues that "Europe needs stricter rules. Only hard sanctions can force Eurozone member states to reduce debt" He adds that therefore the stability pact must be made unpolitical, whereby "countries should be classified in risk groups. The higher the risk, the more binding the recommendations to reduce imbalances should be."No link

FAZ reports that EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger will propose the introduction of "energy efficiency certificates" in the model of emission trading certificates in mid-November. National energy efficiency goals may also be imposed, with "ambitious goals" for mandatory energy consumption reduction.
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The Parliament reports that the European Parliament has established a 'working group' to look into the controversial two-seat arrangement between Brussels and Strasbourg.

In the Irish edition of the Sunday Times, columnist Matt Cooper argued, "The European Commission and European Central Bank (ECB) are already acting as joint receivers, calling the shots on running the country's finances."

FTfm reports that Efama, the European asset managers' trade body, has warned that "it would be completely inappropriate for the fund industry to be caught" by the Commission's proposal for a financial activities tax, on the grounds that no asset manager received a government bailout.

The BBC reports that the EU is for the first time deploying border guards to help Greece stem an influx of migrants entering across the land border with Turkey.

Il Sole 24 Ore reports that the European Commission could take Italy to the European Court of Justice again after the Italian government failed to solve garbage disposal problems in Naples. Italy may also face fines from the Commission for the same reason.

AFP reports that last week Hungarian scientist Diana Bánáti was re-elected as chief of the European Food Safety Authority in spite of the conflict of interest allegations raised by French Green MEP José Bové last month. Ms. Bánáti did not disclose that she used to sit on the board of directors of the International Life Science Institute, a pro-GMO lobby group including among its members several food multinationals.

El País reports that the European Commission may be considering a reduction of CAP financing between 5% and 10% in the next EU budget period due to start in 2014.  

The Telegraph reports that non-EU spouses of EU citizens living and working in the UK will be able to avoid the preliminary English language test that will be introduced from next month for all foreigners who want to marry a Briton or other UK resident as a means to combat sham marriages, under EU freedom of movement rules.
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