Thursday, January 27, 2011

Open Europe


Government defeats crime, justice and immigration amendment to EU Bill
MPs last night voted, by 313 votes to 26, against an amendment that would have required the Government to get the approval of a referendum before it could waive the UK’s right to opt out of over 90 EU crime and policing laws in 2014. Amendments that would have required the Government to seek Parliamentary approval before opting in to new justice, policing and immigration laws were not pushed to a vote. As a result, under the Bill, Ministers will continue to have full discretion, without needing to seek a vote in Parliament, to decide to opt in to new EU justice and home affairs laws. Documents released last Friday revealed that out of the 13 times the new Coalition Government has had to decide whether to opt in or not to such laws, Ministers have opted in eight times.
Europe Minister David Lidington conceded that that the UK’s 2014 opt out on crime and policing “is important and sensitive for the United Kingdom” and that the Government will announce plans to give Parliament a vote on this decision. He also pledged to consult with Parliament over giving MPs and Lords more power to scrutinise and potentially vote on “significant” new EU justice and immigration laws.
Open Europe blog Open Europe briefing John Redwood's diary
Merkel’s coalition partners open to Greece restructuring;
Soros: Eurozone crisis could lead to political disintegration of the EU

Handelsblatt reports that the Commission is currently looking into how Greece could restructure its debt. According to the paper, the German government has now acknowledged that the restructuring of Greek debt is unavoidable. Reuters quotes German FDP MEP Wolf Klinz, who chairs the Europan Parliament’s Special Committee on the Financial Crisis, saying: “Greece will not make it without restructuring.” He added that his colleagues in the German coalition government are not opposed to such a move.
The FT’s Brussels blog notes that, at a dinner with Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel opposed demands to agree changes to the eurozone bail-out fund at next Friday’s EU summit, the deadline set by Barroso. Merkel is reportedly holding out until the scheduled March summit before agreeing any new short- or long-term bail-out arrangements. Le Monde suggests that Merkel cannot be expected to make significant concessions at the March summit, noting it will take place on the eve of crucial regional elections in Baden-Württemberg. Writing in Handelsblatt, Hermann Otto Solms, the FDP Deputy Speaker of the German Bundestag, argues: "We will continue to reject an economic government which goes into detailed government through unilateral orders of the Union."
Speaking on the BBC’s Today Programme, George Soros warned: "There is a real danger that the common currency could lead to the political disturbance of the EU. The crisis could inflict such hardship on slow-speed Europe that it may lead to disintegration." Expansión reports that EU Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia has warned that Spanish savings banks – the cajas – could need more than the €20bn in capital injections estimated by the Spanish government.
Meanwhile, the Irish Parliament’s lower house narrowly passed the government’s Finance Bill yesterday. The Irish Independent reports that independent MP Michael Lowry has revealed that he got “friendly advice” from a European Commission official that he would be doing his country a service by voting for the Bill. Meanwhile, in an interview with the FT, Irish main opposition party Fine Gael’s finance spokesman Michael Noonan said: “If you keep forcing such an expensive solution on to Ireland, despite our best efforts, we may not be able to make it”.
FT: Brussles blog Reuters: Dolan IHT 2 WSJ: Nixon Irish Independent: Keenan BBC: Flanders BBC AFP WSJ: Noyer Irish Independent Irish Independent 2 FT: Noonan Jornal de Negocios Diario de Negocios Jornal de Negocios RTVE Expansion WSJ BBC Today: Soros Reuters Irish Times Irish Times 2 Irish Times 3 FT Money Supply Blog Welt Welt 2 El PaisHandelsblatt Handelsblatt: Solms Cash FAZ Zeit: Schieritz Open Europe blog
Time magazine reports on the EU’s delayed and over budget Galileo project. Open Europe’s Mats Persson is quoted saying, "Everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong".
Open Europe research
In a speech to British MEPs, the US’ Ambassador to the UK Louis Susman said, "I want to stress that the UK needs to remain in the EU…we want to see a stronger EU, but also a stronger British participation within the EU… This is crucial if, together, we are going to meet all the global challenges facing us", reports the Parliament.

Working Time Directive compensation claims almost quadrupled in one year
The Mail reports that the number of compensation claims made by employees, involving the European Working Time Directive (WTD), almost quadrupled last year from 24,000 to 95,200. David Cameron is today launching an initiative to review laws on dismissal and compensation. Meanwhile, the Times reports that nearly three quarters of surgeons working in the NHS are contravening the WTD’s 48-hour week in order to cover for emergency operations, according to a report by the Royal College of Surgeons.

In a letter to the FT, UK MEP Sajjad Karim argues against European Commission proposals to create a system of European contract law warning, “Businesses will be burdened with substantial costs in complying with a whole new regime of contract law. These proposals will also introduce “alien” concepts of civil law traditions into the UK’s common law system”.
FT letter

Emission trading exchanges across Europe pushed back reopening dates to allow more time for increased security measures to the EU’s carbon trading scheme to be enforced, reports the FT.
The latest Stern-RTL poll reveals support for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party has risen to 37%, its highest rating since December 2009. FT Deutschland suggests this is because Merkel appears bolder and more conservative than before.
FT Deutschland
DPA reports that German opposition parties and national energy companies oppose EU Commission plans to closer coordinate renewable energy production in member states.
The Commission adopted a new initiative on ‘resource efficiency’ yesterday. EurActiv reports that setting national targets is currently under discussion in the Commission and could be proposed at the end of June.
The Polish leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists group in the European Parliament, Michal Kaminski, has announced he will resign.

In the Guardian, Assistant Editor Simon Tisdall argues, “Mollycoddling the Uzbek leader behind mass killing in 2005 is typical of Brussels's mixed message on human rights”.
Guardian: Comment
Elsevier reports that when Dutch PM Mark Rutte told Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso that the Netherlands wants to contribute less to the EU budget, Barroso responded that he should think about all the advantages the internal market has brought. A comment in Elsevier by its EU correspondent calls this “a strange remark: an internal market with rules about trade and services doesn’t necessitate pumping around billions of euros”.
Elsevier blog BNR

New on the Open Europe blog

Buying back eurozone bonds: Forever in your debt
Open Europe blog

Latest poll in Germany: In the EU we do not trust
Open Europe blog


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:, follow us on twitter @OpenEurope or call us on +44 (0) 207 1972333 (London) and +32 (0) 2 5408625 (Brussels).