EuropeAxel Weber pulls out of race to become ECB President
It is widely reported that German Bundesbank Chief Axel Weber has decided to withdraw his candidacy for the position of President of the European Central Bank, although the FT reports that, according to Bundesbank sources, Weber has only announced that he will not serve a second term as Germany’s Central Bank governor, while keeping the ECB option open. An article in the WSJ quotes an EU official saying that he might opt for a top job at Deutsche Bank.
The reasons for the withdrawal remain unclear. Reuters reports that Weber has ruled himself out after being told by the German government that he didn’t have the support of enough countries. La Tribune suggests that Germany might have agreed to give up the ECB’s top post in exchange for France’s support for the “pact for competitiveness” and quotes a senior German official saying: “We can’t deal with the ECB presidency now: we first want to reinforce the stability of the euro by the end of March.”
FAZ quotes a German government source saying that Merkel “will not send another German into the arena.” Italy’s Central Bank Governor Mario Draghi is widely seen as Trichet’s likely successor.
WSJ WSJ: Smith WSJ FT FT 2 European Voice IHT Irish TimesGuardianTimesEl Pais: Vidal-FolchEl PaisLa TribuneIrish IndependentLes EchosLe MondeFAZSüddeutsche Zeitung
Writing on Conservative Home, David Davis MP argues that “Today's vote on prisoners' rights is an historic opportunity to draw a line in the sand on European power.” In the Times, Jack Straw MP writes, “There is no democratic override of [the] Strasbourg [Court of Human Rights’] decisions; no practical way in which its unilateral extension of jurisdiction can be corrected.”
Open Europe blog Open Europe briefing Conservative Home: Davis John Redwood's diary Times: Straw Times: Pannick BBC: Hewitt BBC: Today
Merkel accused of bypassing German MPs on 'competitiveness pact'
Die Welt reports that Germany’s CDU ruling party has drafted a position paper on the single currency in an attempt to counter growing internal divisions on how to stabilise the euro. While the coalition’s junior partner, the FDP, has long opposed expanding the rescue package, tensions are now also building within the CDU itself, which reportedly resulted in a “heavy exchange of blows” within the party. The paper notes that FDP finance spokesman Hermann Otto Solms has warned the government that if new proposals for the eurozone go too far, it will not be guaranteed a majority in the Bundestag.
EurActiv reports that opposition MPs and MPs from junior coalition partner FDP are claiming that German Chancellor Angela Merkel broke the law by proposing the ‘pact for competitiveness’ at the EU summit last Friday. A German Constitutional Court ruling on the Lisbon Treaty in 2009 stated that the Bundestag has a right to be more involved in EU affairs.
EU’s two parliaments cost taxpayers €180m with an annual carbon footprint of 19,000 tonnes
A report commissioned by MEPs released today reveals that the European Parliament’s second Strasbourg seat costs taxpayers €180m a year with an annual carbon footprint of 19.000 tonnes. A survey of MEPs and assistants by Zurich University shows that 88% want the EP to have the right to decide where it meets, with 91% preferring the Brussels building. If the European Parliament had a single seat, 317 full-time staff posts could be abolished, according to the report. Hotels in Strasbourg have also been accused of profiteering by increasing prices when MEPs are in town.
Brussels-Strasbourg Seat Study Group report
Markets’ need for EFSF news raises stakes around EU talks
The WSJ reports that the decision by eurozone leaders to meet on 11 March has increased market expectations that a concrete eurozone rescue package will be agreed. “By calling the extra meeting, they are really putting pressure on themselves," said Simon Penn, market analyst at UBS
Meanwhile, the first IMF review of Ireland’s progress following its bailout agreement was broadly positive, stating that Ireland was experiencing an “export lead recovery” but noted that the banks remained “under stress”. In an interview with the FT, Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, an ECB executive board member, has said that a debt default “would be quite dramatic for the Greek people”. He recommended that Greece stick to the current plan but did not rule out a renegotiation of the bailout terms.
Portuguese bond yields hit a record high of 7.63% yesterday, following a recent rally, amid growing fears that eurozone leaders will fail to create a credible eurozone rescue plan by the March deadline. The ECB restarted its purchases of Portuguese bonds today.
An editorial in the Irish Times argues, “The European troika should realise that we live in a parliamentary democracy and politicians do compete for votes in elections. In a State where our independence was hard won, the bailout is not simply a financial issue. We have to be given space to come to terms with our loss of economic sovereignty”. An article in the Irish Independent by columnist Brendan Keenan argues, “Forget the election, we know who will really be in charge”.
Irish Times: editorial Irish Independent: Oliver Irish Independent: Keenan Irish Independent Le Figaro: Robin Les Echos: Verhofstadt Euractiv France Dow Jones AFP Irish Independent Irish Times Irish Times 2 Irish Times 3 Irish Times 4FTOpen Europe research FT 2 Reuters Expansión
Northern Ireland policing powers to be overhauled following European Court of Justice ruling
The Irish Times reports the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s (PSNI) powers to search people at random are to be overhauled by Northern Ireland Secretary of State Owen Paterson, after they were ruled illegal by the European Court of Justice last year. In 2009, the PSNI stepped up searches as efforts to tackle dissident republicans intensified.
Irish Times Open Europe blog Open Europe briefing
The Mail reports on the “UK’s most useless wind turbine” which cost £130,000 in subsidies last year despite only generating electricity worth £100,000. Britain has around 3,000 wind turbines. Another 10,000 will go up over the next nine years to meet EU climate change targets.
Egypt rejects visit from Baroness Ashton
EUobserver reports that according to a senior EU official, the Egyptian authorities have requested that EU Foreign Minister Baroness Catherine Ashton not visit Egypt saying, "The foreign minister has said he doesn't want visitors in Cairo in February because their calendar is too heavily loaded”. Meanwhile, EUobserver reports on a recent survey by Burson Marsteller revealing that 62% of respondents rate the Barroso II Commission’s overall performance as “average or below” average. The Times reports that EU Foreign Minister Baroness Catherine Ashton came bottom of a list rating EU Commissioners according to “overall performance” and “achievement of commitments”. 25% of respondents identified themselves as EU officials.
EUobserver Independent: Butler Times EUobserver
The EU is planning to introduce tougher capital rules for OTC derivatives trading, according to a consultation paper presented by EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier in Brussels yesterday.
The WSJ reports that EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier has said the EU will use its new supervisory powers to ensure that banks do not return to a risky bank-bonus culture. Barnier also said he is considering measures to increase female representation on boards of financial sector companies.
Speaking at the European Parliament yesterday, the UK’s Prince Charles argued that climate change sceptics are playing “a reckless game of roulette with the future inheritance of those who come after us".
BBC EUobserver Express
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Van Rompuy’s comments reminiscent of the Politburo?
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