Monday, September 20, 2010

Open Europe press summary: 20 September 2010



Greece's bailout package could be extended beyond 2013;

Alistair Darling: Germany's initial hesitancy "will have consequences" for euro's future

Greek newspaper Ta Nea reported over the weekend that EU officials are considering an extension of the aid package for Greece beyond the agreed three years, due to fears that the country's economy will not have sufficiently recovered by 2013. Greece's public debt is expected to reach 150% of GDP in 2013. Handelsblatt notes that Germany is opposed to any extension, quoting German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying, "first of all, a prolongation of the current aid package will not involve Germany".


Meanwhile, the Irish government and the IMF have both dismissed a report issued last week by Barclays claiming that Ireland would need to draw on financial assistance from the EU and the IMF. However, the Weekend FT reported that the European Central Bank was forced to step in again with new purchases of Irish bonds on Friday afternoon in a bid to calm the markets.


Saturday's Telegraph reported that former UK Chancellor Alistair Darling has said that Germany's reluctance to intervene rapidly at the peak of the eurozone debt crisis earlier this year has permanently damaged the single currency and "will have consequences" for the political future of the euro area.


The Independent notes that, in its Quarterly Bulletin, the Bank of England has warned that "Concerns about sovereign default risk in some European countries" persist. The FT reports that the IMF, European Commission and ECB have agreed with Greece's central bank to delay testing the solvency of the country's struggling bank sector by one month to the end of October.

Weekend FT Saturday's Telegraph Telegraph Guardian: Elliott Times Irish Independent BBC: Flanders Independent FT FT 2WSJ FT: Munchau WSJ: Annunziata Irish Times Sunday Telegraph 2 Telegraph: Evans-Pritchard EUobserver Saturday's Independent German government press release FT Les Echos


MEPs demand investigation into claims former Commissioner has breached rules banning lobbying

The Sunday Times reported that MEPs are demanding that the European Commission's ethics committee investigate whether former Commissioner Günter Verheugen is in breach of rules banning lobbying by recently retired officials. Verheugen, who retired in February, received the Commission's approval to take up posts with Fleishman-Hillard, a public relations firm, and the Royal Bank of Scotland, but he did not seek permission for the European Experience company. The company's website promises clients "expertise and vast experience in the area of EU policy".


MEPs are calling for tougher new rules, similar to Whitehall regulations that bar former officials from taking lobbying jobs for a two-year cooling-off period. The campaign was launched after it emerged that six out of 13 members of the former commission have taken up posts in industries they used to regulate. Verheugen received a salary of £225,000 as a Commissioner and now enjoys an annual pension of more than £95,000.

Sunday Times Telegraph: Hannan's blog


Centre-right coalition re-elected in Swedish election but anti-immigration party holds balance of power

Sweden's four party strong centre-right coalition government, the Alliance, was re-elected for a second term in yesterday's general elections - marking the first time in modern Swedish political history a centre-right government has secured a second term in office. However, at 49.3% of the votes (against 43.6% for the centre-left bloc) the Alliance narrowly missed an overall majority, with the anti-immigration party Sweden Democrats instead holding the balance of power with 5.7% of the votes. The Alliance will now rely on the Green Party for support in the Riksdag. Open Europe's Mats Persson analyses the election results on Conservative Home.

Swedish Television Svenska Dagbladet Dagens Nyheter Conservative Home: Persson WSJ FT Euractiv EUobserver European Voice Le Figaro


On Conservative Home, Vicky Ford MEP argues that Conservative MEPs have successfully defended the interests of the City in the formation of the EU's three new financial supervisors. Meanwhile, writing in the Weekend FT, columnist John Authers looked at the EU's plans to ban short-selling and argued, "Chasing the short sellers suggests that European regulators have their priorities wrong".

Conservative Home Weekend FT: Authers Open Europe research Open Europe press release


The European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (EVCA) has said that small venture capital funds should be allowed to opt in to the AIFM Directive under lighter rules, still allowing them to benefit from EU-wide access to investors, as opposed to a full exemption for funds that are smaller than €500m.

FT Open Europe research


Majority of French opposed to Sarkozy's policy on Roma

The Sunday Times reported that an opinion poll has showed that 56% of French think that the European Commission is right to criticise French President Nicolas Sarkozy's Roma policy. Meanwhile, the Weekend FT reported that EU Social Affairs Commissioner Laszlo Andor said that Romania has so far failed to make adequate use of the European Social Fund to integrate its Roma population.


On his Coulisses de Bruxelles blog, Jean Quatremer criticises French Europe Minister Pierre Lellouche's duplicity in the recent row with the European Commission over the Roma issue. He argues that Lellouche's recent statement about the French people being the guardian of the EU treaties was incomprehensible, as it came from a politician who campaigned for the 'Yes' vote at the referendum on the European Constitution in 2005.

Sunday Times EUobserver AFP El Mundo Weekend FT Coulisses de Bruxelles


El Pais quotes Spanish former Prime Minister Felipe González saying: "I am not that optimistic about the future of Europe, because I think that [European leaders] are not facing the crisis with the same feeling of urgency as I do [...] They do not give the crisis the same importance as I do".

El Pais 


Writing in the FT, columnist David Gardner argues that, "It is less than a year since the Lisbon treaty took effect, creating a new foreign policy chief (as well as a permanent president of the European Council). But there is little sign the EU has got any better at projecting itself as a power to be reckoned with."

FT: Gardner


In and interview with FAZ, EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said that Eurobonds or an EU tax could be used to finance large scale energy projects.



Online advertisers and technology companies must act "quickly and responsibly" to install new mechanisms for protecting consumers' privacy if they are to avoid regulation, EU Commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes has said.

Weekend FT





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