Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Open Europe press summary: 25 August 2010



Ashton's EU foreign service in talks to move to new €10m a year office

EUobserver reports that the EU is in talks to lease the so-called 'Triangle building' in Brussels for its new diplomatic service, with EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton's new office likely to look over the Commission and Council buildings. The Commission is expected to lease 50,000 square metres of the 60,000 square metre block for at least 15 years at a cost of around €10 million a year. Lady Ashton's European External Action Service (EEAS) will fill most of the space, with some room left for assorted Commission departments. "It's important for [Lady Ashton] to have her own premises, so that if she calls a meeting everybody is close to hand, but also to make the right impression when visitors come," an EU official said.



Wilhelm Hankel: Eurozone bailouts are "sinking money into a barrel without a bottom"

German Economics Professor Wilhelm Hankel has written to German Chancellor Angela Merkel arguing that the Greek bailout "is a case of breaking the law in the most severe way." He says of the wider €750bn eurozone bailout package, "Germany and the few other still economically stable countries in the Eurozone are sinking money into a barrel without a bottom." Professor Hankel, with four other professors, is co-sponsoring a legal challenge to the Greek bailout at the German Constitutional Court.

Hankel's letter (German) Hankel's letter (English)


Slovak PM: "When democratically elected politicians raise criticisms they have the right to do so. But European administrators do not have this right, not under any circumstances."

FAZ and Die Welt feature interviews with Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radicová discussing the Greek bailout package. Radicová is quoted in Die Welt saying, "we show solidarity and take on responsibility...but we don't want people who acted irresponsibly to get money." When commenting on EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Ollie Rehn's public criticism for not taking part in the bailout she says: "the way in which [he], a non-elected official from Brussels, spoke about the freely elected members of the Slovakian parliament was insulting. I will demand an official apology for this from Brussels during my visit to Berlin".


"Europe must not be constituted by a big brother and many satellites which have to obey the larger, more powerful and wealthier. We remember very well what it means to be a satellite...I don't want to compare, I only want to highlight that democracy also means to listen to the arguments of those who may be very small but are aware of their responsibilities", she says in FAZ. She continues: "Talk that Slovakia is acting irresponsibly must stop. To say it in all clarity: When democratically elected politicians raise criticisms they have the right to do so. But European administrators do not have this right, not at any time".

Welt AFP Dow Jones Les Echos Wirtschaftspresse


France and Germany support limited EU budget increase

Le Figaro reports that yesterday French Budget Minister François Baroin held talks with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble in Berlin. The two ministers agreed to fight side by side to ensure that the increase in the next EU budget be limited at 2.9 percent from the previous year, instead of the 5.9 percent initially proposed by the European Commission. Mr. Baroin is quoted by Reuters saying: "We can't ask for deficit reduction on the one hand, to adhere to the logic of the stability pact, and on the other hand make demands for increases which are objectively inadmissible. We confirmed this point". He continues: "I will take the same steps with my British colleagues in a few days so that the largest contributors [to the EU budget] are heard". Two weeks ago the UK voted against this reduced increase together with six other member states, calling for deeper cuts to the overall EU budget for 2011.  

Le Figaro Les Echos Reuters OE blog


EU member states continue to disagree on financial transaction tax and bank levy proposals

Handelsblatt reports that there is a fight ongoing in the EU about proposals for a financial transaction tax. Finance ministers are planning to come to an agreement on the issue in the Ecofin meeting on 7 September. France and Germany are in favour, but are isolated as "the UK and Sweden are strictly opposed. And all the other member states are silent", according to diplomatic sources. EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier has so far only expressed support for a bank levy. Although all member states agree on a bank levy in principle, there are disagreements over how to implement it in practice. The German government only wants the tax to cover national banks, whereas the UK Government favours a tax on all banks based in a member state, whether foreign owned or not.



EU Commissioner for Economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn announced yesterday in an interview with Bloomberg that the EU will discuss plans to initiate regular banking 'stress tests' to build confidence in the EU's financial sector.

Bloomberg Expansion El Pais Handelsblatt Reuters Italia


Finnish paper Helsingin Sanomat reports on a conference held by the UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and the Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Stubb. Stubb is quoted saying "There is no natural space for the EU in a multipolar world" and that "a gradual waning of human rights policy and a reduction of our influence are in sight as others grow tired of preaching by the EU".

Helsingin Sanomat


Rating agency Standard & Poor lowered Ireland's credit rating from AA- to AA explaining that "the rising budgetary cost will weaken the government's fiscal flexibility over the medium term".

ZeroHedge Les Echos Les Echos 2 Telegraph


Euractiv reports that, in a leaked opinion paper, the ECJ has said that the proposed unified EU patent is incompatible with the EU Treaties.



The Hungarian Economy Ministry confirmed yesterday that Budapest will resume talks with the International Monetary Fund over the country's loan program in the autumn.



Writing in the WSJ, Iain Martin argues that due to Germany's strong economic position, "in European terms, [Chancellor Angela Merkel] is very much in the driving seat".

WSJ: Martin


Europe's trade unions have announced that they are organising an EU-wide day of protest on 29 September against government austerity measures.

European Voice


EUobserver reports that according to an EU diplomatic source, Belgium, which currently holds the rotating EU Presidency, may reject France's invitation to a ministerial meeting for fear that Paris wants to use the event to support its position on the Roma people.

El Mundo EUobserver Telegraph The Parliament Il Giornale Liberation Le Point AFP Le Figaro


A leader in Handelsblatt attacks the low interest rates currently maintained by central banks, arguing that "growth is being stimulated by central banks, who are pumping money into the market around the globe, as if there were no tomorrow. The interest rates are far too low".

Handelsblatt Leader



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