Friday, October 02, 2009

Open Europe press summary: 2 October 2009


Ireland to vote again today on Lisbon Treaty at a cost of €20 million;
Catholic Church warns the EU threatens countries' identities
Irish voters go to the polls today in their second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, with results expected by mid-afternoon tomorrow. A leader in the Telegraph argues that "All democrats should hope for a 'No' vote in Ireland today. Not only would it slow the EU juggernaut, but it might even allow the British people a chance, at long last, to have their own say." The BBC reports that, "In the end it may boil down to 'who scares wins'."

The Irish Independent reports that the cost to the Irish state of the second referendum is expected to exceed €20 million, according to figures from the Irish Ministry of Finance.

The Polish News Bulletin reports that Polish Minister Pawel Wypych has said that, "If the Irish support the Lisbon Treaty referendum [today], President Lech Kaczynski will sign it on behalf of Poland in the middle of next week. I am unable to state an exact date but he will do it right after the official results of the Irish referendum are announced. I don't know whether this will happen the day after or after three days but he will definitely not wait until 11 November". Polish paper Rzeczpospolita is reporting that the Czech Republic might receive an influential post in the new European Commission in exchange for the completion of ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, which still needs the signature of Czech President Vaclav Klaus.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that, during the Pope's visit to the Czech Republic, the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has warned that the EU threatens countries' traditions and identity. He said, "Individual European countries have their own identity. The EU prescribes its laws or views to them and they do not have to fit with their traditions and history. Some countries are logically resisting this - for example, Ireland".
Mail: Glover Sun Sun: Leader WSJ European Voice EurActiv BBC Independent-leader
Providence Journal Express Express: McKinstry Times Telegraph Telegraph: Leader FT: Barber BBC 2 FT: Stephens Irish Independent Irish Independent 2 EUobserver Irish Independent 3 Irish Independent 4 Irish Independent 5 Irish Independent 6 Irish Times Irish Times 2 Irish Times 3 Irish Times 4 IHT Telegraph: Hannan blog EU referendum blog Telegraph 2 Euobserver: McKenna and Bonde OE blog

Times: Blair for EU President means we need a referendum
There is widespread coverage of the fact that Tony Blair could be the EU's first permanent President "within weeks" if the Irish vote Yes to the Lisbon Treaty today. The front page of the Times reports that senior British sources have told the paper that President Sarkozy has decided that Mr Blair is the best candidate and that Angela Merkel has softened her opposition and may be "biddable" if Germany and France get plum posts in the new European Commission. The paper also reports that the President's remuneration package is expected to include a €267,000 (£242,000) salary, chauffeur-driven car and a personal staff of about 20.

A leader in the paper argues: "the very fact that Mr Blair's appointment is a possibility makes the case for a British referendum on the Lisbon treaty... Mr Blair may well make an outstanding president of Europe, but his authority would rest on a broken promise."

The Economist's Charlemagne blog suggests that the Swedish EU Presidency's preference for the way forward is for Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt to call other EU heads of state and invite each of them to give him one or two nominations for the posts of President and Foreign Minister, respectively, a few days before the EU summit on October 29 and 30. Then Mr Reinfeldt would work out whether a consensus had already formed around two or three names for each post, and ask them if they were interested in the job. The blog also reports that, even if the Treaty has not been signed by Czech President Vaclav Klaus by then, "I am told that several big governments think it is fine to push ahead with selections, because once Ireland has held its referendum, there are no more votes being held anywhere on Lisbon."

Meanwhile, the Mirror reports that Mr Blair has been accused of a serious conflict of interest, as he is an adviser to Mubadala, the sovereign wealth fund which invests Abu Dhabi's oil profits. Critics said it is incompatible with Mr Blair's position as the international peace envoy to the Middle East. The paper suggests that it threatens to derail his ambitions for the job.
Mirror Times Times 2 Times: Leader Metro Times 3 Mail Economist: Charlemagne's notebook OE blog

BBC: Open Europe event will ensure that there is "lots of talk about Europe" at Conservative conference
The BBC notes that while Conservative strategists are planning plenty of announcements for their party conference next week they do not intend to make one on a Lisbon Treaty referendum. The article notes that Open Europe has put forward the idea that if the Treaty is already ratified by the time a Conservative government comes to power they should announce a referendum on a package of EU reforms.

The article reports that Open Europe will be hosting the Conservative Shadow Europe Minister, Mark Francois, at a conference fringe event where he will be in discussion with one of the party's best known MEPs - Daniel Hannan - adding that "whatever Conservative HQ intends, there will be lots of talk about Europe at the party conference." The Evening Standard reports that senior Conservatives are worried a Yes vote in Ireland would prompt civil war between Kenneth Clarke and William Hague, with the position still unclear regarding what a Conservative government would do on the Treaty.

Open Europe's fringe event, "What priorities for a Conservative Government in Europe?", will be held at the Derby Suite, Midland Hotel, Peter Street, M60 2DS on Wednesday 7 October between 8am and 9.10am, and is open to all accredited conference delegates.
BBC Evening Standard

In an article in Der Standard about the "opinion makers on the Emerald isle", Martin Ehrenhauser, Austrian MEP for the list Hans-Peter Martin, mentions Open Europe as part of the "No" campaign in Ireland.
No link

ECJ ruling on UK's stamp duty regime could cost taxpayers £5bn
The FT reports that the European Court of Justice has ruled against the "cornerstone" of Britain's stamp duty regime on shares, in a case that is expected to trigger big refund claims by multinationals against the Treasury. The so-called "stamp duty reserve tax" was brought in by Britain in 1986 with the aim of collecting stamp duty on share issues by British companies in other European countries or in the United States. The paper notes that the UK taxpayer could face a bill potentially as high as £5bn from companies claiming refunds dating back to 1986.
Guardian Independent Times Telegraph FT

Chairman of European securities regulator: EU's AIFMD is "a monster"
On his blog, the EU Correspondent of Dutch daily Het Financieel Dagblad quotes Eddy Wymeersch, Chairman of the Committee of European Securities Regulators, saying that the EU has created "a monster" with its Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD). Wymeersch said he thinks the proposal was poorly formulated because it has "been drafted by an EU commissioner who is at the end of his term who wanted to push this through quickly".

Meanwhile, Peter Clarke, CEO of Man Group PLC, has told Handelsblatt that the planned EU hedge funds regulation "will cause additional costs", adding that small funds would be most affected by the Directive.
FD Blog Handelsblatt Open Europe press release Open Europe Research

Statewatch: EU's security research programme driven by a conflict of interest that disregards civil liberties
EUobserver reports that civil liberties group Statewatch has warned that decisions on the expansion of the EU's 'homeland security' sector are taking place with minimal democratic scrutiny and are being made by the very companies that will ultimately profit from them. On Tuesday and Wednesday, 'security research stakeholders' met in Stockholm for the annual European Security Research Conference to discuss the EU's €1.4 billion European Security Research Programme (ERSP).

Statewatch criticised the conflict of interest inherent in the programme due to the fact that the design of the ERSP has been "outsourced to the very corporations that have the most to gain from its implementation," highlighting defence giants Thales, Finmeccanica, EADS, Saab and Sagem Défénsé Sécurité.

Irish Yes to Lisbon could lead to Danish referendum on EU opt-outs
The Danish media notes that should Ireland vote Yes to the Lisbon Treaty today, the Danish government will seek to hold a referendum on the country's opt-outs from the EU's defence and justice and home affairs polices, as well as on eurozone membership. "Clarification about the Lisbon Treaty means a Danish referendum is moving closer," Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller has said. However, Møller also made clear that a public vote on the opt-outs would only be held if it is absolutely certain that voters will approve scrapping them, meaning that all main parties will have to agree to support getting rid of the opt-outs before a vote is held.
Jyllands-Posten Jyllands-Posten2 Jyllands-Posten3 Politiken Politken2

MEPs vote to oppose €1.8 billion cut to EU's 2010 budget The European Parliament's Budget Committee has voted to reinstate €1.8 billion worth of cuts to the EU's 2010 budget, which had been agreed by national governments. An EP press release says that "MEPs have voted to restore the figures from the Commission's preliminary draft budget for most of the budget headings, rather than follow the Council's draft budget which cut the payments by €1.8 billion." It adds that "in some priority policies and actions they even went further than the figures in the Commission's preliminary draft budget."
EP press release

David Miliband's speech reignites row over Conservatives' allies in the European Parliament
The Telegraph reports that William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, accused his counterpart of "shoddy politics" and "cheap party spin" following an attack from David Miliband on the Conservatives' partners in the European Parliament in his speech to the Labour Party conference. The Conservatives also demanded that the Foreign Secretary withdraw an "indecent" accusation that Eric Pickles, the Conservative Party Chairman, had defended members of the Nazi SS. In his speech Mr Miliband extensively attacked the Conservatives saying, "I don't want people laughing at my country because a bunch of schoolboys have taken over the government."
Mail Telegraph: Brogan blog Guardian Express Telegraph Conservative Home Spectator: Coffee House blog Guardian: Kettle Miliband's speech

French Agriculture Minister: it is necessary "to regulate the dairy market following Franco-German proposals"
Le Monde reports that, following a roundtable meeting to prepare the EU agriculture ministers meeting of 5 October in Brussels, French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire declared that there is a "really strong agreement" within the dairy sector for new EU regulation that will supplant the quotas-based system and will "better organise the French dairy industry...before the end of 2009." The Minister continued saying that a "consensus" had been reached on "the necessity to regulate the dairy market following Franco-German proposals".

Der Standard reports that Austrian Constitutional Court President Gerhart Holzinger wants further important steps of EU integration to be decided by referenda to involve the citizens in the opinion-forming process.
Der Standard

European banks 'pass' stress tests but patchy data means doubts remain
The WSJ reports that the EU's long-awaited financial-system stress tests have shown that Europe's large banks have sufficient capital to handle "a severe macroeconomic deterioration." However the article notes that banking supervisors who carried out the tests did not provide country-by-country breakdowns or other details, raising questions about the rigour of the exercise and its usefulness.
FT WSJ European Voice EUobserver

The EU is considering standardising cigarette packages, which would only allow white and grey ones packets, without logo or illustrations, following a recommendation by the European Commission, reports Volkskrant.

The mobile phone industry's attempts to block EU regulatory caps on roaming charges have been dealt a severe blow after a key legal adviser told the European Court of Justice that the price caps were valid.

A leader in the Economist looks at the German election result and argues that with "Mr Westerwelle likely to be foreign minister in place of the SPD's Frank-Walter Steinmeier, there is also more chance of the government responding to Germany's growing dependence on Russian gas not by pandering to the Russians but by helping to liberalise the energy market in the European Union."
Economist: Leader Economist Economist

Writing in the Telegraph, Tracy Corrigan argues that it is astute of the Government to "lead the way" on the issue of bankers bonuses, adding: "It needs all the clout it can muster to fend off impending EU legislation, some of which does pose a genuine threat to the City's competitiveness."
Telegraph: Corrigan

EUobserver reports that Croatia's EU membership talks are due to resume today.
FT EUobserver

European Voice reports that the EU Commission will announce next week that nine member states, probably including German and the Czech Republic, have deficits beyond the limits set by the Stability and Growth Pact. They will join another 11 countries that have already been placed under the EU's 'excessive deficit procedure'.
European Voice Deutsche Welle Welt Spiegel AFP Focus DW

The Economist's Charlemagne column argues that the 'honeymoon' between Europe and Barack Obama's America is over, noting that issues such as a new climate change deal and the war in Afghanistan continue to cause tension on both sides of the Atlantic.
Economist: Charlemagne

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet has said EU member states' economic stimulus exit strategies should start "at the latest in 2011". However, EU finance ministers are reluctant to set a date fearing that the economic recovery is still fragile.
Irish Times European Voice EurActiv EUobserver

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