Monday, August 09, 2010

Open Europe press summary: 9 August 2010



Commission to propose plans for an EU tax in September; UK rebate under threat

The front page of FT Deutschland reports that EU Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski has said he will propose different options for a tax to directly fund the EU budget in September. Possible sources of revenue include a financial transaction tax and a levy on air travel.


Lewandowski is quoted saying "Many countries want to be unburdened. In this way, the door has been opened to think about revenues that are not claimed by finance ministers," Furthermore, Lewandowski also questioned the UK rebate arguing that "the justification for the rebate is much less convincing now than it used to be".


"If the EU had more of its own revenues, then transfers from national budgets could be reduced. I hear from several capitals, including important ones like Berlin, that they would like to reduce their contribution," he added. EUobserver reports that the Commission hopes that an ambitious Danish EU Presidency in the first half of 2012 could seal a deal.

FTD Kleine Zeitung Spiegel Presse EUobserver AFP


UK raises most objections to European Arrest Warrants

Euro-correspondent notes that EU judicial agency Eurojust's annual report shows it was required to intervene in 256 European Arrest Warrant (EAW) disputes in 2009, up from 237 in 2008. Many EU countries are openly sceptical about the warrant, with some being "reluctant to surrender their own nationals to other EU member states," according to the report. Britain is the country that most often requests Eurojust's intervention.



EU spends £125 million a year on consultants

Saturday's Telegraph reported that the European Commission is spending an average of £125 million a year on consultants. Including spending £70,000 on a questionnaire asking EU officials about their future career plans, £11,000 on courses about "taking notes and writing minutes" and £44,000 on an employee survey monitoring the "working environment for Commission staff". Open Europe Director Mats Persson was quoted saying: "Far too much money is being squandered on all kinds of studies and evaluations which are either irrelevant or which cover areas that the EU should have no business in dealing with".



In an opinion piece in the Sunday Telegraph titled: "We are given virtual democracy in exchange for real power", Christopher Booker reports on Open Europe's finding that the European Parliament has commissioned an online virtual game where participants can play at being MEPs.

Telegraph: Booker Guardian


Irwin Stelzer: EU and IMF "had to ignore a few nasty facts" when approving Greece's progress

In the WSJ, Irwin Stelzer looks at the EU-IMF decision to recommend release of the next €9bn tranche of the €110 billion Greek bailout package. He argues, "Of course, to reach that conclusion, the only one available to those with a political stake in the durability of the euro, the authorities had to ignore a few nasty facts." The FT Adviser quotes Adrian Darley, Head of European Equities at Ignis Asset Management, saying that there is still much cynicism about the state of the EU economy, so global funds would be constantly monitoring official data on the progress of Greek fiscal reform.


Meanwhile, writing in the FT, Ralph Atkins looks at European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet's role in the eurozone crisis, writing, "In the absence of a single political authority, Mr Trichet took the initiative in urging bank and country rescue packages and fiscal austerity by governments."

WSJ: Stelzer FT Adviser FT: Atkins FTD Brabants Dagblad


Organised crime infiltrates EU wind industry

The Times reports that, according to the corporate investigations and security group Kroll, the EU's growing wind industry is gradually being penetrated by criminal organisations, some of which are linked to the Italian mafia. Kroll argues: "renewable energy is completely dependent on subsidies, so it is clearly an area for corruption. Wind farms are a profitable way to make money because of the [EU] subsidies, and they are also a great way of laundering it". Cases of bribery and misappropriation of funds have already been uncovered in the Canary Islands and Corsica.



EU Commissioner: Negotiations on climate change "have gone backwards"

The Parliament reports on research conducted by Friends of the Earth Europe which argues that EU member states' pledges on carbon emissions may only lead to a reduction of 17 percent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 - 3 percent below the proposed threshold of 20 percent. EUobserver reports that EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard has said that global negotiations on climate change have "gone backwards". Meanwhile, the European Commissioner for Energy, Günther Oettinger, has announced that he "wants to unify rules on renewable energy in the bloc", reports Noows.

EUobserver European Voice The Parliament Noows Business Week


Bagehot: "When it comes to farming, 'efficient' is a dirty word in Brussels"

Het Laatste Nieuws notes that a new OECD report disclosing that agricultural subsidies given to rich countries rose in 2009, with the biggest proportion going to large agribusinesses. An OECD press release notes that "support to farmers in the European Union fell in nominal terms as domestic prices in the region dropped more sharply than world prices last year however, in relative terms it increased slightly to 24% of their total receipts."

A spokeswoman for Oxfam Germany argued that the EU decision not to reduce subsidies for milk producers, "is destroying the livelihoods of farmers in the poorest countries in the world".


Meanwhile, the Economist's Bagehot blog examines the different approaches to agricultural policy in the UK and the rest of Europe, noting: "In Brussels, public debates about the EU dairy industry start and finish with angst about the fate of small family farms and hill farms, and how they are struggling to survive in the face of industrial agri-business. Ministers from places like France, Belgium and Germany fall over themselves to talk up milk price rises as a boon to farmers (rarely mentioning consumers). All the talk is of market management, price controls, income support, subsidies and 'solidarity' with family producers. When it comes to farming, 'efficient' is a dirty word in Brussels".

Het Laatste Nieuws OECD Press Release The Citizen Economist: Bagehot


Writing in the Sunday Times, David Smith looked at the debate over cuts to Government spending and noted, "The big cash increases in the next few years are social security, £30 billion, tax credits, £6 billion, public-sector pensions, £7 billion, and contributions to the EU, £4 billion."

Sunday Times Open Europe blog


Writing in the Times, author and former physician Raymond Tallis argues that the impact of the EU's Working Time Directive on doctors and surgeons has been "harmful".

Times: Tallis OE blog


AFP reports that Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf has said that joining the EU "would maybe be interesting and possible" if it develops into a looser "Europe of the regions" with a more devolved federal system.



EUobserver reports that EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said on Friday that the US plan to introduce a €10.50 fee for entry applications is regrettable and inconsistent with its goal to increase numbers of transatlantic visitors.

EUobserver European Voice Irish Times


A spokesman for Italian PM Berlusconi has informed that the ruling coalition will undergo a vote of confidence in September, when the parliamentary activities resume after the summer break.

Le Monde La Stampa Corriere della Sera


The Nouvel Observateur reports that French Europe Minister Pierre Lellouche has referred the question of Roma migrants to the European Council.

Nouvel Observateur


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