EuropeNew Open Europe briefing: Prisoners’ right to vote. The blurred line between the European Convention on Human Rights and the European UnionOpen Europe has published a new briefing highlighting how human rights law is now locked at the European level in two separate, but linked, forms: the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the EU. The briefing shows that even if the UK decided to withdraw from the ECHR, it may still remain subject to the rulings of Strasbourg judges, since the EU has its own Charter of Fundamental Rights and is set to join the ECHR as a separate entity.
If it wanted to avoid potential conflicts between national law and European human rights law – including on prisoners’ voting rights – the Government would therefore have to seek cast-iron opt-outs from both the ECHR and the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Open Europe briefing Open Europe press release
Special eurozone meeting set for mid-March;
EU Commissioner to propose common corporate tax base “very soon”It is widely reported that an extraordinary meeting of eurozone leaders will take place around 11 March. The meeting has been set as the deadline for the group to reach a consensus on issues such as the expansion of the eurozone rescue fund and the Franco-German “pact for competitiveness”, with the final proposal due to be unveiled at the end of March.
EUobserver reports that yesterday, following a speech by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy in the European Parliament, German Green MEP Rebecca Harms likened his declarations to the statements made by the “Politbureau”, the main decision-making body in the Soviet Union. "No matter how meagre the results are, we always get reports of how smooth everything went. We need more honest declarations which pinpoint the problems," she said.
The Irish Independent reports that the new government-appointed chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, Alan Dukes, warned yesterday that Ireland will have to go to the IMF or EU for another €15bn to sure up the banking system.El País reports that, according to figures published yesterday by the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade, in 2010 Spain lost 0.3% of its competitiveness relative to its eurozone partners.
A report released on Monday by the Bruegel think-tank concludes “that Greece has become insolvent and that further lending without a significant enough debt reduction is not a viable strategy.” The report suggests that the current proposals on the table for restructuring Greek debt would be insufficient.
Meanwhile, EU Taxation Commissioner Algirdas Semeta said yesterday that he intends to table proposals “very soon” to introduce a common corporate tax base in the EU.
EUobserver EUobserver 2 AFP Irish Times FT Money Supply Blog FT Brussels Blog Irish Independent Reuters Irish Independent 2 EurActiv Irish Times AFP: Juncker AFP: Vanackere AFP: Semeta El Pais 2 FAZ
Eurozone comment round-upIn the Irish Independent, economic commentator David McWilliams argues: “Germany and France want to introduce a common corporate tax rate and rules about government spending. They are trying to make Europe look more and more like Germany. But these are the concerns of creditor countries, with old populations who are in the business of wealth preservation. Countries like this need slow steady growth and low or no inflation – both designed to make savers richer. This is all very well if you are owed money. In contrast, if you owe money these policies will make your predicament untenable.”
In the Times, Anatole Kaletsky writes: “The proposed harmonisation of tax, labour and pension policies has no direct relevance to the euro crisis and will do nothing to make Greece or Ireland more credit-worthy […] In short, last week’s proposals were not so much an attempt to solve the euro crisis as an effort to exploit it to advance the eurofederalist agenda that had been stalled for years.”
In an interview with Der Spiegel, Mohamed El-Erian – CEO of Pimco, the world’s largest bond investor – suggests that Greece will be unable to finance its current debt requirements due to the “typical debt trap” it finds itself in.
Spiegel: El-Erian Times: Kaletsky Irish Independent: McWilliams BBC: Hewitt IHT: leader
Commissioner calls for limited increase in EU institutions’ administrative expenditure
EU Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski has sent a letter to all EU institutions and agencies calling for them to cap the nominal increase in internal expenses in 2012 to less than 1%. La Tribune quotes Patrizio Fiorilli, a spokesman for Commissioner Lewandowski, admitting: “This is above all a symbolic measure, because we can’t touch cohesion funds or farm subsidies.”
EUobserver reports that MEPs intend to write back to Lewandowski arguing that they will not be able to meet the 1% target because they need to hire extra staff to carry out new duties under the Lisbon Treaty.
EUobserver La Tribune Euractiv France
Brazil's Ambassador to the EU says CAP is a “drain” on EU budgetThe Parliament magazine reports that Ricardo Neiva Tavares, Brazil's Ambassador to the EU, has strongly criticised the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, arguing: "Currently, agricultural policy takes up about half of the EU budget even though it accounts for only 4% of EU GDP. This is a real drain on the budget and the EU's ability to invest in those areas that will lead to a more competitive economy in Europe.”
Lobbying continues for Croatia’s EU accession despite rampant political corruptionIn a comment piece for EUobserver, Natasha Srdoc and Joel Anand Samy of the Adriatic Institute for Public Policy note that Austria and Germany are lobbying hard to accelerate Croatia’s accession to the EU, despite the fact that the 2010 EU Progress Report warns of rampant political corruption and an unreformed judiciary. They argue: “Nearly €4 billion of EU taxpayer funds are being prepared as a hand-out for Croatia's politicians to spend when the candidate country joins the EU. Brussels is sending an unconditional €472 million in pre-accession aid to Croatia. Funds would be better used by deploying visiting judges and prosecutors from countries with a strong rule of law tradition to assist in creating Croatia's independent judiciary.”
EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle said yesterday that the Commission’s review of the EU’s Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy will consider the recent Tunisian revolution, with a possible increase in funds in return for pledges of reform, reports El País.El Pais FT
Writing in the Express, former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe urges caution in the debate about whether Britain ought to leave the EU, arguing: “I know what we would be running from but not what we would be embracing. A planned and regretful divorce is one thing but an impetuous departure leaving the future to chance is quite another.”Express: Widdecombe
Il Corriere della Sera reports that prosecutors in Milan will today make a formal request that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi immediately go on trial for allegedly having relations with an underage prostitute.Corriere della Sera La Repubblica
New on the Open Europe blogEU leaders’ reactions to the Franco-German plan for stronger economic governance in the eurozone: Saying ‘nein’ to Angie - Part IIOpen Europe blog
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