Monday, November 01, 2010

Open Europe press summary: 1 November 2010


Merkel convinced that Cameron will back new EU treaty;
74% of Conservative members polled feel PM is missing chance to repatriate powers from Brussels
The FT reports that, following a weekend meeting with David Cameron at Chequers, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is reassured that the UK will back a change to the EU treaties to establish a permanent eurozone rescue mechanism. FAZ carries the headline, "Cameron: No EU referendum necessary", and notes that the two leaders also agreed that the next multi-annual EU budget should not increase significantly. The paper reports that Merkel described the results of last week's EU summit as a "quantum leap" for the stability of the euro. She added that, "In the future, the Council will now really work as an economic government."

Saturday's Sun quoted David Cameron hailing last week's EU summit a "spectacular success" after he won backing to limit the EU's 2011 budget increase to 2.9%. However, a poll of 1,447 Conservative Party members by Conservative Home found that 74% think the Prime Minister should have used Merkel's request for a Treaty amendment as an opportunity to get some powers repatriated to Britain. Of those wanting to remain members of the EU (totalling 51%), 42% said "we should stay in the EU but aim to get powers back". 85% agreed that the EU budget should have been cut.

On Friday, Open Europe's Pieter Cleppe appeared on Newsnight, warning that David Cameron may have missed an opportunity to repatriate powers or achieve post-2013 EU budget reforms by allowing a Treaty change to go ahead without asking for long-term concessions.

Meanwhile, EUobserver quotes a Danish diplomat saying that the treaty change envisaged was "small, small, small - the smallest order to ensure there is no possibility of referendums." RTE quotes Irish PM Brian Cowen saying that a referendum in Ireland may not be required. De Morgen quotes Belgian liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt saying, "If there is treaty change, the European Parliament should seize the momentum in order to sharpen the proposals that are on the table...The goal should be to give the Commission more power in order to start the procedure for sanctions as soon as possible."

The Weekend FT reported that European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet warned EU leaders that the new rescue system they are designing for future Greece-style bail-outs could inadvertently drive up short-term borrowing costs, endangering struggling eurozone debtor nations. His comments reportedly angered French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Open Europe's Stephen Booth appeared on Andrew Pierce's LBC radio show discussing the EU budget and argued that Cameron should use any new treaty to repatriate powers.

EU summit comment round-up
Looking at last week's EU summit, the Weekend FT commented that "This was the latest lesson in how the eurozone's debt troubles have propelled Germany into a leadership role even more prominent than in the pre-crisis days."

Writing in Saturday's Times, Conservative MP Douglas Carswell argued that, "Rather than any kind of diplomatic win, we have managed to give more money to the EU...It is difficult to imagine how such a strong negotiating hand could have been played more badly." In Saturday's Mail, Stephen Glover wrote that Cameron "has already effectively dropped a Tory manifesto promise to repatriate powers from Europe as part of the Coalition agreement with the ­­Euro-fanatical Lib Dems."

Meanwhile, in FAZ, Editor Holger Steltzner warns that creating a permanent rescue mechanism for the eurozone will change the euro area "from a monetary union to a transfer union". He argues that "the attempt to bring about political union through the backdoor of a fiscal transfer union is endangering the monetary union, and risks being rejected by citizens."

Handelsblatt reports that, according to the Centre for European Policy Studies, trust in the European Central Bank is at its lowest level among EU citizens since the introduction of the euro.

EU spending subject to fraud is on the increase
The News of the World reported on the Commission's 'Fight Against Fraud' report, noting that fraudulent use of EU funds is costing European taxpayers £3.3 million a day. The worst cases are to be found in the EU's cohesion policy.

The Sunday Times reported on the rising EU budget for 2011 noting that money will be spent on transforming the news broadcasting service Euronews, currently part funded by the EU, into a totally funded "European BBC". The plan was outlined in a strategy to "improve the daily life of EU citizens" by Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. Open Europe Director Mats Persson was quoted saying: "This funding looks suspiciously like the EU trying to achieve favourable news coverage with taxpayers' money, bordering on propaganda".

Mats was also quoted in Saturday's Times commenting on the wasteful spending of the EU's €200bn European Regional Development Fund. "While some EU funding leads to jobs and growth, huge sums of money are squandered on projects with very little or no economic value" he said.

EU's new foreign service wastes up to £33m on cars for new ambassadors
The Sunday Times reported that the EEAS has ordered 150 bomb-proof limousines costing up to £33m for its new ambassadors - equivalent to £130,000-£219,000 per car. The article notes that the EU may deploy the same armoured vehicles to "soft" areas where there is little or no terrorist threat as it assigns to missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Mail on Sunday featured an article examining the escalating costs of Catherine Ashton's new EU foreign service, noting that Ashton is paid almost two and a half times more than the UK Foreign Secretary William Hague. Open Europe's Mats Persson was quoted saying: "The EU's diplomatic service risks becoming an expensive flag-waving exercise, drawing vital funds away from national foreign and defence budgets at a time when money is in short supply in the UK and across Europe...[It] is simply creating more, not less, confusion about who's speaking on behalf of Europe".

The Telegraph quotes Open Europe's Stephen Booth commenting on the expenditure saying: "We were told that the EU's new foreign service would be 'budget neutral' but this promise has been broken in its first year. At a time of widespread austerity, taxpayers shouldn't be asked to pay for the EU's pretensions to global power status."

In an opinion piece in the Mail on Sunday, Daniel Hannan MEP noted that the EEAS's annual budget is £5.8 billion - more than twice the UK's own Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The Sunday Express reported that MEPs receive, on average, £406,037 per year in salary and perks, compared to UK MPs who receive £225,580. Open Europe's Stephen Booth was quoted saying: "MEPs get far more generous salaries, pensions and expenses than MPs in Westminster and yet they have the gall to demand a huge increase to the EU budget."

The Independent on Sunday reported that Chief Executives from Credit Agricole and BNP Paribas said at a hearing in London last Friday that the EU rules' on bankers' bonuses were stricter than those proposed by the global Financial Stability Board and would not create "a level playing field".

FAZ reports that EU negotiators are sceptical of any breakthrough at the Cancun climate change talks. The article notes that the EU will not propose to up its emissions reductions to 30%.
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In the Sunday Telegraph, Defence Secretary Liam Fox argued for greater defence cooperation with France but added, "This is not, I must point out, a repeat of Tony Blair's trip to St Malo, where he called for deeper military co-operation through the EU. Nor is it a push for an EU army, which we oppose."

The Telegraph reports that Greece saw an increase in Turkish migrants crossing the border over the weekend, two days before the EU sent in rapid intervention teams to police the border.

The Independent on Sunday reported that campaigners are urging David Cameron to opt in to EU legislation on human trafficking.

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