Thursday, October 08, 2009

Open Europe press summary: 8 October 2009


Cameron warned by Swedish PM not to hold referendum on Lisbon;
Hague: Lisbon Treaty is "against the spirit of our age"
The Telegraph reports that Conservative leader David Cameron has been warned by Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt that if he wants to keep any friends in Europe he should not offer a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, if it is already in force. Reinfeldt, who currently holds the EU's rotating Presidency, is quoted by the Times saying, "I hope to see him as the next prime minister of Britain. I have already spoken with him on this and we know we have a difference on the Lisbon treaty and European issues. Once he becomes prime minister he will need friends in Europe to achieve the things he wants to see. I want to be his friend in that capacity." He added, "That is why I say [that] if everything goes to plan, hopefully we will have everything in place for New Year's Eve - well before any British elections."

PA notes that Shadow foreign secretary William Hague has today set out his party's opposition to the Lisbon Treaty, telling the Conservative Party conference it was "against the spirit of our age". He added, "In its lack of accountability and legitimacy it goes against our fundamental belief that people should only be led and governed with their consent."

Open Europe's Lorraine Mullally appeared on BBC Radio 5 this morning to argue that the Conservatives should hold a referendum on an EU reform package.

In the Mail, Andrew Alexander calls for referendum on Lisbon and argues "Who, exactly, is David Cameron so frightened of offending?" He adds, "A Tory Government, if it wants concessions from the EU, must be prepared to walk away...There would be no better way of making the EU ready to accept other, and overdue, British demands for concessions - apart, that is, from threatening to leave the EU altogether."

The New Statesman reports that Conservative MP Bill Cash has declared that most of his colleagues in the Commons would seek to hold Cameron to his promise on holding a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.
Times New Statesman Mail: Alexander

Czech PM promises ratification of Lisbon Treaty before next year
Several newspapers report that the Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer has promised the EU that Czech President Vaclav Klaus will sign the Lisbon Treaty before the end of the year. After a video conference with the President of the Council, Commission, and the EU Parliament, Fischer was quoted in the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung saying that "in the Czech Republic the problem is not whether yes or no, but when". He continued saying: "I believe all conditions for the ratification [of the Lisbon Treaty] by the end of the year are fulfilled".

On his BBC blog, Gavin Hewitt writes that "If some Tories were hoping that the Eurosceptic Czech President Vaclav Klaus would delay signing the Lisbon Treaty until they were in power next year, today was not encouraging." He adds, "It seems that the Czech Constitutional Court has agreed to fast-track its examination of a complaint that the treaty violates the Czech constitution. As early as next week the court may name the date for the full hearing and that could come within weeks."

Meanwhile, amid speculation that Polish President Lech Kaczynski would sign the Treaty as early as this Sunday, the Independent reports his twin brother Jaroslaw has said that this is not the case.
Mail BBC: Hewitt's blog Irish Times NYTimes Suedeutsche Mitteldeutsche RP Euronews Independent EUobserver EUobserver 2 Le Figaro Le Monde Zeit NZZ Le Figaro 2

Ken Clarke: hedge fund managers aren't "losing any sleep" over stricter EU rules;
MEPs and regulators criticise the broad scope of the AIFM Directive
The Times reports that Ken Clarke, the Shadow Business Secretary, has claimed that hedge fund managers are not "losing any sleep" over the EU's controversial proposal for stricter regulation of hedge fund, private equity firms and other alternative investment funds - the co-called AIFM Directive. Clarke also said that while the draft AIFM directive would be a disaster if it were to be implemented as it stands, the proposal is certain to be diluted through the course of the negotiations in the Council of Minister and the European Parliament. Andrew Baker, head of industry organisation AIMA, has refuted Clarke's claims, saying "to declare an early victory is very premature" and that "Our experience is that it is the No 1 topic raised when we speak to our members."

Europolitics reports that the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) within the European Parliament on Tuesday held its second meeting to discuss the AIFM directive, with several MEPs criticising the broad and arbitrary scope of the proposal. UK Labour MEP Peter Skinner said "the scope is very broad. I wonder whether we could be injuring things, such as the Lisbon agenda, in terms of venture capital".

The Committee is currently producing two separate impact assessments on the proposal. The first will be published at the end of October and the second at the end of November.

Meanwhile, Eddy Wymeersch, Chairman of the Committee of European Securities Regulators - a body advising the EU Commission - has admitted that the AIFM Directive is flawed, Reuters reports. He said, "I hope they will come forward with something more balanced. It really doesn't work. They have pooled everything together, the scope is absolutely too wide, everything is caught."

At a meeting hosted by City of London Corporation Financial Services Authority chairman Lord Adair Turner also criticised the Directive, warning of the "danger of overly prescriptive regulation."
Open Europe research Open Europe press release Reuters Times Europolitics

MEPs seek Commission control over EU's new diplomatic service
EUobserver reports that MEPs are keen to have the EU's new External Action Service, to be set up under the Lisbon Treaty, 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. The article notes that the MEPs' move demonstrates "the union's perennial struggle between those who want an EU foreign policy that is a result of intergovernmental co-operation and those who want a 'communitarian' approach, with the involvement of the commission and MEPs."

German MEP Elmar Brok is quoted saying, "The External Action Service should be administratively and budget-wise within the Commission, formally a part of the Commission." Swedish Europe Minister Cecilia Malmstrom said that, "This is not something that has great support in the Council."
Europolitics EUobserver

Former EU Commissioner: EU citizens deserve better than Blair as President
In an article in European Voice, former French EU Commissioner Pierre Defraigne sets his case against Blair for EU President. He writes: "Yo Blair.' Who would truly like to see a man addressed with such condescending familiarity by US President George W. Bush become the occupant of the EU's highest office?" He adds, "EU citizens should expect the selection of a decent national statesman, a statesman with impeccable European credentials, a respected and experienced politician...Blair is not that man."

In the article he notes that it is not yet clear whether the new job will involve being "a leader, a deal-maker, or simply a spokesperson for Europe."

According to Swedish Daily Dagens Nyheter, the Finnish government is opposed to Tony Blair as EU President.
European Voice European Voice: Defraigne Dagens Nyheter

Latvian government expresses "incomprehension over misleading statements" by David Milliband
Latvian Foreign Minister Andris Teikmanis has sent out a press release in response to David Millband's portrayal of the Latvia's LNNK -- the Fatherland and Freedom party, which is also a part of the country's five-party government coalition -- as right-wing extremists who honoured the Nazis. The press release says that the Latvian government "deems unacceptable the misleading statements by British politicians, which have been published in the international press, on a member of the coalition of Latvia's government and the tragic events of World War II...Diplomats of the United Kingdom received information on soldiers who in the territory of Latvia during World War II were recruited by force, and it was repeatedly stressed that Latvia has always condemned the crimes committed during World War II." The Guardian reports that the Latvian foreign ministry earlier in the week summoned the acting British ambassador, Anthony Stokes, and complaints have also been lodged in London.
Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Guardian FT: Westminster blog

European Parliament creates economic crisis committee
EUobserver reports that MEPs have voted to set up a new temporary committee to assess the damage to Europe's economy by the financial crisis. The new economic crisis committee will come forward with proposals to prevent future crises, including recommendations on the necessary measures to ensure the long-term reconstruction of stable financial markets.

Austrian Chancellor calls for future EU referendums
Several Austrian newspapers report that Chancellor and head of Social Democrats Werner Faymann demands referendums in Austria for future EU Treaties or treaty amendments. He says: "If the Czech Republic insists on its No to the Treaty of Lisbon and not everything should stay as it is with the Treaty of Nice, the EU has to do considerable amendments - or to set up a new treaty. But in both cases the Austrians should then vote on this".
Die Presse Kurier Der Standard

El Mundo reports that Javier Solana will continue to serve as EU High Representative until the new EU Foreign Minister will be elected.
El Mundo

In a comment piece in the FT, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde argues that the recession is not over and urges EU leaders to keep on taking measure to tackle the downturn, including implementing "exit strategies" in a co-ordinated manner to deal with budget deficits, and requiring banks to hold more and better quality capital.
FT: Lagarde

EUobserver reports that a group of MEPs have said that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's influence on the Italian media has created a climate of media intimidation and have called for the EU to issue punitive sanctions against Rome.

The Tagesspiegel reports that the EU Commission is again starting an excessive deficit procedure against Germany as well as against 8 other EU member states that have breached the stability and growth pact.
Tagesspiegel Le Monde El Mundo

Italy's Constitutional Court on Wednesday ruled that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, as well as other top officials, should not have immunity from prosecution while in office.
EUobserver Le Figaro Le Figaro2 Le Monde Times Guardian

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