Thursday, August 27, 2009

Open Europe: 27 August 2009


Ryanair to spend €500,000 promoting Yes in Lisbon Treaty referendum
The Irish Times reports that Ryanair is to spend €500,000 on advertising and cheaper airline seats in its campaign for a Yes vote in the second Lisbon Treaty referendum. Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said that if the campaign was left to "Brian Cowen, Micheál Martin, and all the other incompetents", there was a possibility that people could vote No again. He also added, "I can think of no better reason to vote 'Yes to Europe' than doing the opposite of that recommended by some of the headbangers who are calling for a no vote", according to online business news service Business and Leadership.

When asked if he had read the Treaty, O'Leary said "Yes I have read the treaty. It is a f***ing pain in the arse of a document. I nearly died of boredom from reading it, but yes I have read the treaty".

Meanwhile, on Conservative Home's Centre Right blog, Conservative MEP Charles Tannock looks ahead to the European Parliament's next term and writes that, if Ireland were to vote No, "the EU, equally mindful of a likely Tory [general election] victory by the middle of next year, may seek some other emergency measure to push through the treaty before mid-2010 by in particular exerting pressure on the Czechs and Poles to sign the treaty, because while Ireland can be browbeaten and coerced quite easily on account of its size and influence, the UK is another proposition entirely."

Under the headline, "People of Ireland, vote 'Yes' for sex with Eastern Europeans", European Voice reports that a comedian has launched a book "100 reasons to vote yes to Lisbon II", which includes "Carla [Bruni] wants us to. And what Carla wants, Carla gets" and "it encourages a wider gene pool".
Conservative Home: Tannock Irish Independent EUobserver Business and Leadership Irish Times RTBF European Voice Open Europe blog

Darling under pressure to follow Sarkozy's lead on bankers' bonuses
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has unveiled new rules that aim to restrict bankers' bonuses, as well as delaying them until they can be seen to have been earned in order to end the emphasis on rewarding short-term performance. The regulations, which have the strong backing of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, would create some of the toughest ever regulation, with banks obliged to pay bonuses over three years, with no more than 50 percent paid upfront.

The Mail reports that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alastair Darling, has come under pressure to follow France's position, which is far stronger than the current system of guidelines from the UK's Financial Services Authority. In the FT, Peggy Hollinger argues that Mr Sarkozy's plans are not as harsh as they may seem, as they do not significantly differ from current practice and he could not risk "damaging competitiveness at the very moment when Paris hopes to snatch business from London". The issue of bankers' bonuses will be high on the agenda at September's G20 summit in Pittsburgh, where Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to lobby for the wider implementation of French rules.

Meanwhile, Le Figaro reports that Sweden, the holder of the EU presidency, is considering holding a mid-September EU summit in advance of the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh. It claims the reaction of member states has been 'positive'.
WSJ: Analysis Mail FT FT: Hollinger French Foreign Office Le Figaro

EU Commissioners to retire with millions
The Parliament magazine reports on Open Europe's findings that EU Commissioners retiring this year will leave with over £1 million each in pension, transition and resettlement payments. This is in addition to the salary they earn, which also tops £1 million for a five-year term, and a host of other perks that Commissioners receive during their service, such as family allowances, subsistence and entertainment allowances.

The article quotes Open Europe's Sarah Gaskell saying, "Taxpayers around Europe, whose pensions have been swallowed up in the recession, will rightly question why they are footing such an enormous bill for a handful of remote officials who they never voted for in the first place."
The Parliament Open Europe press release Open Europe blog

Wide acceptance among German parties on the law to ratify Lisbon Treaty after first reading in the Bundestag
Following weeks of intense negotiations among the various political parties in Germany, an official reading on the new law, which is required by the German Constitutional Court in order to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, took place in the Bundestag yesterday.

Except for the Left Party or Die Linke, all parties agreed to ratify the required law before the German parliament elections on 27 September. That would subsequently enable the German government to ratify the Lisbon Treaty before the Irish referendum on 2 October. Maerkische Allgemeine reports that Gregor Gysi, head of the Left Party, accused the other parties of striving for a "Europe of elites" and of ignoring the critical opinion that huge part of the population holds on the EU.

The CSU continues to demand a resolution which obliges the German government to clarify that the Lisbon Treaty is only valid within the interpretation of the Constitutional Court judgment. Unlike before however, the CSU does not require such a resolution before agreeing to the new law to ratify the Lisbon Treaty. The SPD continues its strict opposition of the resolution.

The new law is split into four different bills. The main draft law - the so called law on "integration responsibility" (IntVG) - sets out parliamentary rights in case of EU treaty changes (simplified revision procedure), extension of EU law-making competences (flexibility clause), or when new voting procedures are introduced (the 'passerelle' clause). Before the government starts such negotiations in Brussels, it requires approval by law from the Bundestag or Bundesrat. Without such a law the government must refuse to agree such changes. The government can only differ from its mandate on grounds of important integration or foreign policy reasons, which requires extensive justification to the parliament.

Two further laws will lay down the cooperation between the federal government and the Bundestag as well as between the federal government and the Bundesrat (upper house). These laws shall ensure that the government notifies the parliament as early as possible on EU legislative initiatives and that its rights to issue statements on EU legislative acts will be strengthened. The fourth law includes the implementation of an amendment of the German Basic Law which has already been adopted by the parliament. This amendment will enable the Bundestag and Bundesrat to file constitutional complaints, as soon as the Lisbon Treaty comes into force, if they consider that EU legislative acts are in breach of the principle of subsidiarity.

The four draft laws will be finally decided on 8 September in the Bundestag and on 18 September by the Bundesrat.
Maerkische Allgemeine TAZ Berliner Morgenpost Der Westen FAZ Sueddeutsche Julian Frisch Blog The four new laws

EU's REACH Directive will lead to surge in animal testing and cost €9.5bn to implement, scientists warn
Reuters reports that scientists have warned that the European Union's REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) legislation, which came into effect two years ago, requiring companies to assess the toxicity of chemicals that date from before the era of mandatory testing, will lead to a surge in animal testing and should be urgently reviewed. Euractiv reports that researchers at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found that the regulation may need 54 million research animals and cost €9.5 billion to implement over the next 10 years - 20 times the number of animals and six times the cost previously anticipated.
Reuters EurActiv Helsingin Sanomat

Commission to publish proposals for resettlement of asylum seekers next week
European Voice reports that the European Commission will next week publish its proposals for the resettlement and burden sharing of asylum seekers throughout the EU. The article notes that the scope of the proposed scheme is likely to disappoint the Italian government, which has been calling for more EU help in dealing with the thousands of people who each year make the journey from North Africa to Italy.
European Voice

Prospect magazine's Brussels Diary notes that the UK's EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton is fighting competition from Shriti Vadera to keep her job when the next Commission is appointed in the autumn. The article suggests Ashton's close relationship with Commission President Jose Barroso will strengthen her chances.
No link

European Voice reports that Iceland's Parliament is expected to vote today on a proposed loan agreement to reimburse Dutch and British savers who lost money in the financial collapse. The loan is considered critical to Iceland's EU membership bid.
European Voice

EUobserver reports that the United States is set to abandon plans to house anti-missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, according to a senior White House lobbyist.

The Irish Independent reports that the EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner Maglena Kuneva is expected today to announce plans to protect consumers who book their own holidays instead of using packages from travel agents. The paper reports that the overhaul of the EU's Package Travel Directive will begin in the autumn and that there may be difficulties in avoiding unnecessary costs to industry.
Irish Independent

Der Spiegel reports that there is growing concern about a 'war of words' between Bratislava and Budapest after Slovakia told the Hungarian President not to enter the country for a statue-unveiling ceremony.

El Mundo reports that EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has said that it would be difficult for the EU to accept the incorporation of new official languages such as Catalán. He has said however that "there are other ways in which we can consolidate Catalán on the European scale".
El Mundo

General Motors Europe, the owner of Vauxhall and Opel, has sought professional insolvency advice to prepare for the possibility that it may not attract a firm buyer in time to rescue the carmaker.

An article in the WSJ looks at Poland, one of just three EU countries - along with Slovakia and Greece - to avoid recession this year.

El Pais reports on the meeting between President of the Galicia region, Alberto Núñez Feijóo and the Spanish Secretary of State for the EU, Diego Lopez Garrido, in which they discussed Galicia's role during the upcomming Spanish EU Presidency. In the meeting, Feijóo emphasized the need for reform of the dairy and fishing sectors.
El Pais


The FT reports that the UK Justice Secretary Jack Straw is to amend the proposed constitutional renewal bill to prevent politicians "chamber-hopping" between the House of Lords and Commons, effectively blocking the possibility of Lord Mandelson leaving the House of Lords to stand for Parliament and potentially become Labour leader.

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: or call us on 0207 197 2333.

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