Monday, August 02, 2010

Open Europe press summary: 2 August 2010



Government says it wants to renegotiate impact of EU's Working Time Directive on NHS;

Surgeons warn that rules are creating a generation of "clock watchers"

The Sunday Telegraph looked at the impact of the EU's Working Time Directive and the 48 hour week on NHS surgeons. It noted that among responses from more than 500 senior surgeons taking part in a Royal College of Surgeons' (RCS) survey were repeated warnings that the rules were creating a generation of "clock-watchers" with a "lazy work ethic" who no longer felt personal responsibility for their patients. Among consultants who did comply with the 48 hour limit, 56 percent said they had only done so at the expense of patient safety. Many of the risks came from the increased numbers of "handovers" from one shift to another, and the use of inexperienced locums to cover gaps in rotas. The BBC quotes RCS President John Black arguing, "To say the European Working Time Regulations has failed spectacularly would be a massive understatement."


Today's Telegraph notes that the Department of Health indicated that it was determined to renegotiate Britain's position in relation to the Working Time Directive, including an opt-out for some NHS workers. Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, will urge Vince Cable, the Business Secretary -- who will play a leading role in negotiating any changes -- to take a "robust approach" to the matter. A Department of Health spokesman said, "the way the directive now applies is clearly unsatisfactory and is causing great problems for health services across Europe."


In the Mail, Melanie Phillips looks at the Coalition Government's pledge not to cede more powers to Brussels and the Conservatives' pre-election promise to repatriate powers over some social and employment legislation. Noting the impact of the EU's Working Time Directive and the Government's decision to opt in to the controversial European Investigation Order, Phillips argues, "It looks increasingly as if none of their promises to safeguard British power is going to be kept. Indeed, the coalition Government even seems to be going in precisely the opposite direction."

Sunday Telegraph Sunday Telegraph 2 Telegraph Mail Mail: Phillips Mail on Sunday: Hitchens BBC Open Europe research: Working Time Directive Open Europe blog


UK to challenge increasing cost of EU bureaucracy

The Telegraph reports that the UK is demanding a review of EU officials' pay after the Commission was accused of breaking its own limits on the number of senior staff. "Given the current economic and financial situation, the EU institutions need to ensure that they are not out of step with the situation across the continent, where millions of employees have faced pay cuts or even lost their jobs in recent months," said a British diplomat.


A Commission spokesman said the latest round of promotions were part of EU plans to step up fiscal "surveillance" to make sure governments were cutting their national "sovereign" budgets after the Greek debt crisis. In 2010, the British taxpayer's share of the £6.5 billion cost of the Brussels bureaucracy amounted to £891 million, a bill that is projected to rise 4.5 percent next year.



Liam Halligan: Cameron is right to look beyond the EU to boost trade;

Observer: Coalition cannot ignore plans for EU economic government

David Cameron's foreign trips to Turkey and India received widespread media coverage. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Liam Halligan praised Cameron's vision for a trade-orientated foreign policy but noted that "More than 50pc of the UK's trade is with the EU. Yet Western Europe, for all its current wealth, is a low-growth region where populations are declining and consumers, firms and governments are mired in debt...The question is, can we avoid a far more painful decline in our absolute levels of income. The only hope we have of doing so is by broadening our horizons, reducing our trade reliance on old Europe and the US and embracing the rest of the world".


Peter Hitchens, writing in the Mail on Sunday, and Nick Ferrari, writing in the Sunday Express, were both critical of Cameron's positive endorsement of Turkish accession to the EU. In the Weekend FT, Christopher Caldwell argued that "Europeans have reasons other than prejudice" for their concerns about Turkish accession.


Meanwhile, a leader in the Observer noted that extending the UK's global influence has the side-effect of allowing the Coalition to avoid Europe. However, it added, "But Brussels will not necessarily agree to be so discreet. The eurozone is in crisis, with radical new economic integration planned to shore up the single currency. Britain will need to take a position."


In the Times, William Rees-Mogg argues, "Britain's position in Europe has inevitably been enhanced by the pressures on the EU itself. Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy are both in political difficulties. With a new coalition Government with a large majority, and a self-confident leader, Britain has gained greater weight in the EU balance."

Irish Independent Sunday Telegraph: Halligan Independent on Sunday: Miliband Observer Mail on Sunday: Hitchens Weekend FT: Caldwell Telegraph: Hannan's blog Times: Rees-Mogg Sunday Express: Ferrari


Government estimates EU regulation will cost UK businesses nearly £10bn this year

The Express reports that the Government has estimated that EU regulation will cost British businesses between £8.6 billion and £9.4 billion this financial year. The figure represents 31 percent of the average annual cost of regulation set out in the Government's Forward Regulatory Programme for April 2010 to April 2011, estimated at £27.8 to £30.3 billion. The Government has not estimated the cost of all regulation for this year.

Express Hansard Open Europe research


Former German Chancellor warns that EU leadership at its lowest ebb for 60 years

Over the weekend, former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt argued that the EU is suffering from a leadership crisis. "At the moment, there is no real leadership personality here. This is a worse situation than we have ever experienced in 60 years of European integration." Moreover, Schmidt criticised the most recent EU enlargements, "to accept [the eastern European countries] into the EU without accordingly amending the rules of the game in the EU, this huge organisation, that was a catastrophic mistake."

Welt Focus


Investors warned that eurozone austerity drive will send currency to new lows

Irwin Stelzer: Eurozone's problems "lurk below the surface"

Bloomberg reports that FX Concept LLC - an $8 billion hedge fund - is recommending that investors get out of the euro, since the single currency is expected to reach a four-year low against the US dollar by the end of September due to the gradual implementation of tough austerity plans by eurozone governments.   


Writing in the WSJ, Irwin Stelzer compares the eurozone economy to an iceberg and argues: "Seven-eights of icebergs - the lethal, unseen part - are below the surface". He goes on: "Look below the surface of the glowing reports on the stress tests and it is clear that the piper has yet to be paid." An article in Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet calls the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) an "illusionary trick" and "history's greatest finance experiment", questioning how long the markets will buy into the bluff.


Meanwhile, writing in Die Zeit, George Soros argues that the euro is an inherently flawed construct. He adds that Germany's desire for a strong euro and a balanced budget inevitably forces the eurozone into a deflationary spiral. "These are the results of the policies desired by Germany, and since Germany calls the shots, it is the policy which is forced upon the eurozone."


The FT Deutschland's Chief Correspondent Wolfgang Proissl argues that the economic crisis has strengthened Germany's preeminent role in the EU: "Whether the Germans like it or not: Its size and economic power make Germany the hegemonic power of the eurozone."


An article in the Observer noted that Greece could soon be entering a new phase of political violence, as a result of fiscal austerity measures.

Bloomberg Telegraph WSJ: Stelzer Observer Zeit: Soros FTD: Proissl Proissl essay in English Svenska Dagbladet: Leader


FT: Hunhe's desire to increase EU renewables targets "looks costly and uncertain in terms of energy security"

A leader in the FT looks at the Coalition Government's energy policy, set out last week by Chris Huhne, and argues, "Even though the UK is far from meeting its EU-set target of generating 15 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2020, he wants to jack it up further." It adds that "green dogma threatens to saddle it with the wrong energy policies...the strategy looks costly and uncertain in terms of energy security."


Meanwhile, Euractiv reports that many member states in Eastern Europe are struggling to meet the EU's renewables and emissions targets.

FT: Leader EurActiv


Commission spends €608m on consultation projects

Germany's Bild has published a selection of EU Commission expenditures on studies and consulting projects, stating that over €608 million was spent on such contracts between 2005 and 2008.The studies included €79,305 to quiz EU officials over 50 about their career plans and €46,080 on a study about the adoption of low cost analyses.



The WSJ reports that the new Hungarian government is determined to set its own economic agenda, even if that costs it the support of the International Monetary Fund and the EU.



The Sunday Times noted that Britain will enjoy stronger growth than both the US and the eurozone, despite tax rises and spending cuts, a new Goldman Sachs report has claimed.

No link


In an interview with the WSJ, Laurence Parisot, head of French employers' organisation Medef, says she thinks the EU needs to harmonise taxation. She also criticises the EU's emissions targets, saying, "To reduce by 20% our CO2 by 2020 is a big step which costs a lot and which is quite harmful in competitiveness."



A WSJ editorial argues that the inflows to and recent exodus of migrants from Ireland demonstrates the "result of open borders has been a more flexible and productive labour force."

WSJ: Editorial


The Sunday Telegraph reported that an obscure, 30-year-old treaty between the EU and Turkey, which mainly deals with import duty on fruit and vegetables, has prevented the UK from deporting Ali Osman Gok, a senior member of an international drugs gang, who attempted trafficking £30m of heroin into the UK.

Sunday Telegraph


The FT reports that far-right leader Geert Wilders is set to support the new Dutch centre-right minority government. The deal to be agreed with the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats would leave Wilders with no formal government role but with the power to exert remarkable influence over the new cabinet's immigration policy.

Weekend FT EUobserver


The Mail on Sunday reported that the Belgian EU Presidency's proposal to extend EU employment rights to employees of shipping companies could threaten the UK's Merchant Navy.

Mail on Sunday


In Saturday's Mail, Quentin Letts noted that the Foreign Office has said William Hague is "keen to challenge" rules requiring the UK to fly the EU flag and "highlight the added value of the intervention of the Community" at sites supported by the European Development Fund.

Mail: Letts


An article in the Irish Times highlights that the pan-European enforcement of road traffic fines is a priority of the current Belgian rotating EU Presidency.

Irish Times


Saturday's Guardian reported that Amnesty International has warned that the EU has "turned a blind eye" to discrimination against Gypsies and Roma.

Guardian Le Monde Nouvel Observateur


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