Monday, October 05, 2009

Open Europe press summary: 5 October 2009


Ireland votes to ratify the Lisbon Treaty
Ireland voted on Friday in favour of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, by 67 percent to 33 percent, with turnout at 58 percent. The BBC reports that Ireland is set to get a substantial portfolio in the next European Commission as a "reward" for voting "Yes" so decisively.

Open Europe Director Lorraine Mullally was quoted in several papers responding to the result, including the Irish Independent on Sunday, the Irish edition of the Sunday Times, the Scotsman, the IHT, the Irish Examiner, the Express, EurActiv, and Czech daily papers Ceske Noviny and Hospodarske Noviny. She said, "This is a sad day for democracy in Europe. The Lisbon Treaty transfers huge new powers to the EU and away from ordinary people and national parliaments.""EU elites will be popping the champagne and slapping each other on the back for managing to bully Ireland in to reversing its first verdict on this undemocratic Treaty. But most ordinary people around Europe will not welcome this news, as they were never given a chance to have their say on the Treaty."

She added that the Yes side ran a "deeply dishonest" campaign, pretending the referendum was a vote on Ireland's membership of the EU: "This was the only way they could hope to get Lisbon passed - being honest about the loss of powers from national parliaments and citizens to unaccountable EU institutions would have lost it for them."

In the Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard argues, "The methods being used to force this treaty through after electorates have already spoken cross a line that may not be crossed. The European Project has become the enemy."
Irish Times Irish Times: de Breadun Irish Times: Sheridan Irish Times 2 Irish Times: Leader Evening Standard: Leader Guardian BBC Irish Independent BBC 2 EUobserver WSJ WSJ: Leader Margot Wallstrom's blog WSJ: Jolis Hospodarske Noviny Khabrein Irish Independent on Sunday Impuls Express Scotsman IHT EurActiv Ceske Noviny Irish Examiner Sunday Times Telegraph: Evans-Pritchard Open Europe press release

Telegraph: "Cameron pledges to seek new deal on Europe"
On Saturday David Cameron sent a memo to party members saying there would be no change in policy on Europe as a result of the Irish referendum and no new announcements at the Conference. He said: "I have said repeatedly that I want us to have a referendum. If the Treaty is not ratified in all Member States and not in force when the election is held, and if we are elected, then we will hold a referendum on it, we will name the date of the referendum in the election campaign, we will lead the campaign for a 'No' vote. If the Treaty is ratified and in force in all Member States, we have repeatedly said we would not let matters rest there. But we have one policy at a time, and we will set out how we would proceed in those circumstances if, and only if, they happen."

However London Mayor Boris Johnson has called for a referendum on the Treaty even if it has already been ratified by the time the Conservatives come to power. He told the Sunday Times: "If we are faced with the prospect of Tony Blair suddenly emerging, suddenly pupating into an intergalactic spokesman for Europe, then I think the British people deserve a say on it." He added, "It will be a matter for William Hague and David Cameron to work out how to give effect to the consultation that I think the people want. I think there should be a referendum on this as soon as possible. I think we should do this before the process is concluded."

The Sunday Express quoted Open Europe's Mats Persson saying, "It's very unlikely the Tories would hold a referendum because the treaty would already have been ratified. It [would] actually cast into doubt Britain's entire membership of the EU if people voted no."

An article on the front page of the Mail reports that Open Europe has suggested that a Cameron government could hold a referendum on a proposed package of reforms, rather than on the Lisbon Treaty. Saturday's Mirror quoted Director Lorraine Mullally saying, "A way out would be to hold a 'referendum on reform'. They could ask: 'Are you in favour or against withholding agreement to the EU budget until the European Reform Package has been adopted?'"

The Telegraph today reports that "David Cameron has promised to renegotiate Britain's fundamental relationship with the European Union, to try to win back control over social and employment policy." It says: "Privately, senior Tories say a Conservative government could even hold a popular vote on a renegotiated British relationship with Europe."

It quotes him telling the BBC Andrew Marr Show: "I don't believe in going into any situation or any negotiation thinking that you're going to fail. I mean Margaret Thatcher was told frequently, 'You'll never get any money back from Europe. That's not the way it works. You just have to give in and take what you're given'. I don't accept that." He said: "We think that the social and employment legislation, we think that's an area that ought to be determined nationally rather than at the European level. There are many things in the Lisbon Treaty - giving more power over home affairs and justice - that we don't think is right."

The Independent on Sunday reported that "In an attempt to concentrate minds yesterday, Mr Hague warned that a Tory government could call a referendum in Britain to take back powers from Brussels... He also suggested the Tories would use a Blair presidency as a tool to mobilise anti-European sentiment in the UK."

The FT reports that if the Conservatives do not hold a referendum on the Treaty, they are expected to try and "repatriate" powers from Brussels, in fields including employment, social policy and home affairs.

Writing in the Guardian, Tim Montgomerie, Editor of Conservative Home, denies the idea that there is a rift within the Party over whether to hold a referendum, and argues that Party members don't want the issue to overshadow their conference this week. A poll of Conservative Party members conducted for his website found that only 16% said that ratification of the Lisbon Treaty should be accepted. The poll also found that 39% said that the UK "should leave the EU in favour of a simple free trade relationship." 29% said that the UK should remain a member but "seek fundamental renegotiation of [the] relationship", 20% said the UK should "stay a member and fight to repatriate power back to Britain" and 9% said the UK should "stay a member but oppose any further loss of sovereignty." Only 3% said that Britain "should play a full part in building an 'ever closer union'".

A leader in the Times argues, "The only sensible course, if ratification has finished, is to let Lisbon rest. To reopen that process after it had run its course would be tantamount to refusing to co-operate in the procedures of the European Union."

In an interview with the Weekend FT French Europe Minister Pierre Lellouche said that any attempt to unpick the Lisbon Treaty would be "akin to reneging on Britain's word." He added, "I don't dare believe this is serious. It is the height of ridicule...Why not rewrite the whole Treaty of Rome?" He also said: "This strategy can only weaken the UK in Europe. Look at what happened with the EPP group. They have marginalised themselves. They have fundamentally shot themselves in the foot."

The paper also reported that employers' groups have warned that Conservative hostility to the Treaty could leave Britain "sniping from the wings", with Miles Templeman, Director-General of the Institute of Directors, arguing that a Conservative government should focus on maximising the UK's influence in Brussels, rather than trying to unpick institutional arrangements.

In an analysis for the Mail Mary Ellen Synon quotes Martin Howe QC saying: "If it is ratified by all 27 member states before the time of the general election, legally it takes effect and supersedes earlier treaties. Then it cannot be amended or revoked except by further treaty. Britain would need to get agreement of all other member states for that."

The Irish Times and Edward McMillan Scott MEP, writing in the Independent on Sunday, mention Open Europe's fringe meeting at the Conservative Conference on Wednesday, where the issue of Lisbon is likely to feature heavily.
Mail: Leader Times: Leader Times Mail: Phillips Times: letters Spectator: Coffee House blog Spectator: Coffee House blog 2 Mail: McKay Times FT FT 2 FT: Leader FT: Miliband Sun Mirror Express Guardian: Ashley Guardian: Montgomerie Guardian: Leader Independent Independent: Leader Independent: Anderson Guardian Guardian: White Independent on Sunday: McMillan Scott Irish Times Mail Mirror Times: Riddell Independent: Brown Independent: Montgomerie Independent Guido Fawkes blog Telegraph: Hannan blog Telegraph: Hannan blog 2 FT: Brussels blog Mail: Synon blog FT: Westminster blog BBC: Robinson blog Sunday Times FT: Westminster blog Mail Weekend FT Weekend FT 2 Open Europe: Analysis Conservative Home Conservative Home 2 Sunday Express

President Klaus says it's "too late" to stop Lisbon
The Times reports that the last hurdles for the Lisbon Treaty seemed to fall away yesterday when the Poles pledged to sign and the Czech President warned David Cameron that it was "too late" for him to stop the document taking effect. The article notes that, after Ireland's Yes vote, the Polish President, Lech Kaczynski, said that he would sign the Lisbon Treaty Bill, "without undue delay", although he set no date.

However, PA notes that Conservative Party Chairman Eric Pickles told BBC Five Live that it was "very unlikely" that the Treaty will have been fully ratified by the time of the General Election. He added, "We know from the Czech Republic that they are going to take between three and six months, we have yet to hear from Poland, so the likelihood is that we will have a general election within seven months and we will be able to name the day of the referendum during the election campaign."

The Treaty is currently subject to a court case in the Czech Republic and it is uncertain how long this will take. However, the Times quotes Czech President Vaclav Klaus saying, "I am afraid that the people of Britain should have been doing something really much earlier and not just now, too late, saying something and waiting for my decision." On his BBC blog, Gavin Hewitt writes "That sounds like a politician who knows he'll be signing soon. We shall see. If his words are borne out it leaves David Cameron with an awkward question to answer. What will he do if all 27 countries have ratified the treaty?"

Writing on his Coulisses de Bruxelles blog, Jean Quatremer quotes a Czech diplomat saying, "To wait for the British elections...would imply that the president, who is in favour of national independence, is ready to admit that he depends on a foreign country, that he will somehow accept being the hostage of another state. It is unthinkable."

Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt - who holds the EU's rotating Presidency - and Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will on Wednesday meet with Czech PM Jan Fischer in a bid to pressure the Czech Republic into ensuring that the Lisbon Treaty is signed as soon as possible, Europaportalen reports.
Times Conservative Home BBC FT: Brussels blog BBC: Hewitt blog Irish Times FT FT 2 FT 3 Irish Independent Irish Times 2 Irish Times 3 Independent: Mock Europaportalen Coulisses De Bruxelles

Conservatives vow to stop Blair becoming EU President;
Role could be worth £3.5million over five years
Saturday's Times reported that the Conservatives have vowed to try and block Tony Blair from becoming the first President of Europe after Ireland approved the Lisbon Treaty. Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague declared that, "The other European governments need to be aware that the easiest way to turn the British people against the European Union and underline the lack of legitimacy and democracy of what would be created by the Lisbon treaty is to make Tony Blair the president."

Saturday's Mail noted the EU President, who will be appointed by EU leaders, is expected to receive an annual salary of about £270,000, slightly less than US President Barack Obama. As well as the use of a chauffeur, a plush car and 20 members of staff, the President of Europe is also likely to get a £15,600 entertainment allowance. The total benefits could reach £3.5million over five years.

The paper noted that Mr Blair may be deterred from accepting the job if it were to hit his other money-making activities. Since leaving Downing Street he has taken on various roles including, getting £2 million from investment bank J P Morgan and £500,000 from Zurich Financial Services. The article quoted Open Europe's Mats Persson saying, "If he takes up the position, Tony Blair must make sure that the many political and commercial interests that he's currently entwined in are not allowed to shape his agenda as EU president. He must stay well clear of all types of conflicts of interest."

Writing in the Sun Trevor Kavanagh notes, "British voters might kick Labour out, but its beaming ex-leader will still be running the country from Brussels. That's democracy, EU-style. A stinking deal stitched up behind closed doors by faceless bureaucrats and failed ex-politicians." In the Times, William Rees-Mogg argues, "No single decision could do more to damage the European Union in Britain than his appointment as an unelected president of Europe."

An article in the FTDeutschland notes that President of the eurozone Jean-Claude Juncker has said that the EU President should have a "European policy biography", which the paper describes as an indirect snub to Mr Blair. In the Telegraph, London Mayor Boris Johnson argues that Blair is unlikely to get the job, writing, "Can you really imagine Nicolas Sarkozy being willing to share the international limelight with our Tony."

In Sunday's Scotsman Eddie Barnes noted that it is still not clear what the EU President's role will entail in practice. The article quoted Open Europe's Lorraine Mullally saying, "The problem is that the Lisbon Treaty doesn't say what the role is really about."

Meanwhile, the Times reports that France and Germany have begun jockeying to land the new EU Foreign Minister role, which will also be established under Lisbon. The article notes that Germany's candidate is likely to be Wolfgang Schäuble, the Interior Minister.
Mail Mail 2 Sun Express: McKinstry IHT EUobserver Scotsman Times Mirror Telegraph Weekend FT Mail: Synon blog BBC: Hewitt blog EurActiv Times 2 WSJ Times 3 Times: Rees-Mogg FTD Telegraph: Johnson

Only 40% of politicians support EU's controversial AIFM Directive
The FT notes that a Populus survey of 112 "opinion formers" has shown that only 40% of politicians and non-governmental organisations support the EU's proposed AIFM Directive, which would impose stricter regulations on private equity firms and hedge funds. 60% of City and business figures interviewed oppose the Directive. Meanwhile, the article notes that London's share of the global hedge fund assets fell from 20% to 18% last year.
FT Open Europe research Open Europe press release

"Flawed" EU regulations on working hours for airline crew will raise risks of accidents
The Mail reports that new EU regulations on maximum working hours for airline crew are "flawed" and will raise the risk of accidents, according to the British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA). BALPA says that "commercial airlines put pressure on pilots to fly when they are unfit to do so - and EU aviation regulators let them". The EU regulations allow up to 14 hours flying during the day and 11 hours 45 minutes at night. BALPA points out that 15 percent of accidents are caused by pilot fatigue.
Mail Guardian

In a letter to the Times the Chairman of the Joint Commonwealth Societies' Council Sir Peter Marshall argues that the Lisbon Treaty should be referred to the UK's new Supreme Court writing, "Our German partners have seen fit to refer the treaty to their supreme legal authority. Why should we not do the same?"
Times: Letters

The Sunday Times reported that the EU's draft directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes has shocked British civil servants by the degree of suffering to animals permitted, allowing animals to have their bones broken and undergo paralysing electric shocks.
Sunday Times

The Irish Independent reports that Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny is pressuring Irish PM Brian Cowen to appoint former PM John Bruton as Ireland's next EU Commissioner.
Irish Independent Irish Times: Smyth

The Irish Independent reports that Libertas Chairman Declan Ganley is considering running for a seat in the Irish Parliament.
Irish Independent

The Sunday Times reported that the EU is preparing to sweep aside British objections and allow 60-ton foreign "mega-lorries", a third longer and heavier than those currently allowed, to be driven on roads in the UK. The new regulation could be adopted by the European Parliament as early as next year.
Sunday Times Telegraph

The FT reports that, a year after taking over as EU Trade Commissioner, Catherine Ashton faces her stiffest challenge as she decides whether or not to extend the anti-dumping import duties on footwear from China and Vietnam, introduced by her predecessor Lord Mandelson in 2006.

Saturday's Irish Times reported that EU Tax Commissioner Laszlo Kovacs has said that the Commission will propose an EU wide carbon tax early next year, which would incorporate households as well as the transport, agriculture and forestry sectors.
Irish Times Welt EurActiv EurActiv 2 Zeit Kurier Der Standard

The Greek opposition Socialist party comfortably won Greece's general elections on Sunday.
Le Figaro Le Figaro 2 Le Monde WSJ

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