Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Open Europe press summary: 7 October 2009


EU drawing up plans to allow it to negotiate treaties and open embassies around world
The Telegraph reports that the EU is drawing up secret plans on how to implement the Lisbon Treaty, which have produced proposals to allow the EU to negotiate treaties and even open embassies across the world. A letter conferring a full "legal personality" for the EU has been drafted in order for a new European diplomatic service to be recognised as fully fledged negotiators by international bodies and all non-EU countries.

According to one confidential paper, the first pilot "embassies" are planned in New York, Kabul and Addis Ababa. The decision, taken shortly before Ireland's referendum last week, will mean a new European diplomatic service with over 160 "EU representations" and ambassadors across the world.

Open Europe Director Lorraine Mullally is quoted describing the move as "a huge transfer of power which makes the EU look more like a country than an international agreement. Giving the EU legal personality means that the EU, rather than member states, will be able to sign all kinds of international agreements - on foreign policy, defence, crime and judicial issues - for the first time".

She also pointed out that the 1975 referendum was on joining the EC, adding "British voters agreed to join the European Communities, not a political union with legal personality with the power to sign all kinds of international agreements. No one under the age of 52 has ever had a say on this important evolution and it's about time we did."

Meanwhile, EUobserver reports that member states - only slowly waking up to the foreign policy implications of the Treaty - are reluctant to let the European Parliament dictate the terms of the diplomatic service. MEPs are keen to have the service attached to the European Commission and part of the overall community budget rather than an independent service only answerable to, and funded by, national governments.

However, when asked about making the diplomatic service part of the European Commission structure, Swedish Europe Minister Cecilia Malmstrom said, "This is not something that has great support in the Council." The EP, which only has the right to be consulted by member states on the diplomatic service, believes it can influence the proceedings by playing hardball during its hearing of the Foreign Minister, according to the article.

A leader in the Telegraph argues that Britain should be wary of the EU having a coherent foreign policy, since its interests frequently do not coincide with Britain's.

Lorraine appeared on CNBC's Europe Tonight programme, discussing the implications of Lisbon.
Telegraph: Leader Telegraph EUobserver

Portuguese newspaper Publico quotes Open Europe's Stephen Booth talking about the EU's "Orwellian" surveillance plans.

Open Europe fringe event discusses priorities in Europe for a Conservative government
Open Europe today held a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester entitled, "What priorities for a Conservative government in Europe?"

David Rennie, European Union Correspondent for the Economist, argued that the Conservatives had to pick their battles wisely. He said that they had to stop "wallowing in the comfort of Opposition" and concentrate on protecting the City of London from the burden of EU regulation currently being negotiated in Brussels. He added that, "The UK is one of three big EU beasts...if it has a good idea and communicates it coherently it usually wins in Brussels."

Daniel Hannan, MEP for South East of England, criticised the recent media coverage of the Conservatives' new group in the European Parliament. He also said he was "cautiously optimistic" about getting a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Political columnist for the Mail, Peter Oborne, said that he thought that the EU, as a political prioirity, would be overshadowed by the UK's debt crisis and the recession. However, he said "there is a crisis" in the Conservative Party over Europe because the Lisbon Treaty would be ratified by the time they came to power. He said that if this was the case the Conservatives "should live with it" or risk a fight with other EU countries that could result in a Cameron government lasting only one term in office.

Mark Francois, Shadow Europe Minister, said that the Conservatives' priority in Europe would be to fight for an "open, flexible EU in favour of free trade, which resists protectionism." He said that combatting climate change and boosting economic innovation and growth were the key aims a Conservative government would seek to achieve at the EU level. He welcomed the idea that the Minister for Europe should be a full Cabinet Minister but said it was ultimately David Cameron's decision..
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EU meets to move implementation of Lisbon Treaty forward
The BBC reports that EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso is to meet with Czech PM Jan Fischer today to discuss progress towards ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

PA quotes an EU official saying, "The talks are on treaty issues but the hope must be that the Czech President will not hold things up beyond the time it takes the court to declare formally on the senators' objections".

Meanwhile, EurActiv reports that the Czech Republic's Constitutional Court yesterday rejected one challenge from Czech Senators against a law related to the Treaty, lifting a hurdle to final ratification in the country. However, the Court still has to pronounce itself over another motion by a group of senators, which questioned the compatibility of the Lisbon Treaty with the country's constitution. The first hearing on that challenge is expected at the end of October.

The 29-30 October EU summit is expected to extend the mandate of the European Commission, whose mandate expires at the end of October, it in a caretaker capacity, although the length of the extension period is unclear. The EU Presidency is insisting that a caretaker Commission cannot be a long-term solution.
BBC EurActiv DPA

Benelux countries indicate opposition to Blair EU Presidency
The Telegraph reports that Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have circulated a confidential paper on the EU permanent President, which would be created if the Lisbon Treaty comes into force. The paper does not mention Tony Blair by name, but says "The President must have the stature of a head of state or government. He must be someone who has demonstrated his commitment to the European project". The Telegraph reports that European diplomats have interpreted the paper as Benelux opposition to Mr Blair, because Britain is not a member of the eurozone or the Schengen area. It quotes one diplomat saying, "This is not a categorical veto on Blair, but a polite way of saying that he is not the best placed candidate".

Meanwhile the Times reports that Sir Kim Darroch, Britain's former Ambassador to the EU, is to lead Britain's fight to draw up a global role for the permament EU President, in the face of opposition from countries determined to limit the job, and to make way for the possibility that Tony Blair will want the job. The paper reports that the Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt indicated yesterday that he was wary of appointing a President who would put existing European institutions and small countries "in the shadows".
Telegraph EUobserver: Smyth blog Times

Church of England: EU's new financial regulations "will significantly restrict our ability to generate funds to pursue charitable missions"
In a letter to the House of Lords' EU Select Committee, the Church of England has criticised the EU's Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive. The Church wrote, "We are very concerned that the directive as currently drafted will significantly restrict our ability to generate funds to pursue our charitable missions and thus reduce our impact for public good." The Church was backed by other charitable foundations including the Nuffield Foundation and the Henry Smith Charity. In particular, the letter criticised the proposals to limit EU investors to investing in EU-domiciled funds, reuirements for funds to use EU-registered depository banks and limits on funds' use of leverage.
FT Telegraph Open Europe press release Open Europe research

Writing in the Times Roger Boyes notes that, "David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, recently declared that the [Lisbon] treaty would enable the EU to intervene more effectively in South Asia and the Middle East. But there is no political will in member states to deploy more soldiers or to boost development aid to Pakistan. The treaty cannot change that."
Times: Boyles

Writing in the FT Charles Grant argues that Tony Blair would make a good President of Europe.
FT: Grant

In the Times Carl Mortishead argues that the EU's carbon emissions trading scheme is causing billions of dollars of potential investment in heavy industry to move to the EU to less regulated markets in Asia.
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The Telegraph reports that Britain's watercress farmers have asked the EU for "traditional speciality guaranteed" status for their product, in the same way as Serrano ham and other regional food specialities.
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European Voice reports that the European Commission has carried out raids on several pharmaceutical companies it suspects of anti-competitive behaviour.
European Voice

In the FT Tony Barber argues that "eurosceptics now dominate the Tory party in a way never matched under [Ted] Heath, Baroness Thatcher or [John] Major."
FT: Barber

The Telegraph reports that Lord Turner, Chairman of the FSA, has warned that the success of the proposed European Systemic Risk Board would depend on bold political leaders, "willing to take its warning seriously and to countenance potentially unpopular responses."

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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