Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Open Europe


France calls for sanctions against LibyaFrench President Nicolas Sarkozy today called on the EU to adopt “swift and concrete” sanctions against Libya. He said that such “measures [should] concern notably the possibility of bringing them to face justice, barring them from the Union's territory and surveillance of financial movements.” "I would also like to be examined the suspension until further notice of economic, commercial and financial relations with Libya," he added.
During his tour of Middle East countries, David Cameron has called for “radical reform” of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), a set of aid and development programmes targeted at the EU’s neighbouring countries. The Telegraph notes that countries in the Middle East and North Africa receive around £1.4bn a year from the ENP, and that the UK’s annual contribution to the scheme is estimated at around £180m. The Guardian quotes a British official saying: “We have to recognise the policy has failed. It has been successful in helping eastern European countries prepare for EU membership. But it has completely failed in this region. The EU has to be brave enough to turn the taps off if it does not see results.”
Meanwhile, as the demonstrations in Libya continue, the EU is struggling to agree on what actions need to be taken against Moammar Gaddafi’s regime. Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters yesterday that “the Libyan Government is trying to stop the world seeing what is happening in Libya, but we will do everything we can to make sure they are held accountable for their actions.” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said: "If Libya continues to use force against its own people, sanctions will become inevitable."
However, the Times of Malta notes that the EU is still divided over whether to impose sanctions. Asked, during an interview with Radio Zet, whether Gaddafi will end up like former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who was executed following the Romanian revolution, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski sarcastically said: “It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.” EUobserver notes that the EU’s latest report on arm exports shows that in 2009 EU countries granted €343.7m worth of licenses to Libya, although the figures for actual shipments are incomplete.
La Repubblica reports that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has called Gaddafi and has asked him to stop the violence in order to avoid civil war in Libya. The Italian government fears an exodus of up to 300,000 migrants from Libya to its shores. Italy was also forced to shut down the Greenstream pipeline from Libya – which provides for 13% of its daily gas imports – due to safety concerns for Italian energy firm ENI’s workers based in Libya.  
EUbusiness Guardian EUobserver EUobserver 2 EUobserver 3 Economist: Bagehot BBC: Today La Repubblica La Repubblica 2 Radio Zet: Sikorski ANSA Straneuropa blog BBC BBC: Hewitt El Mundo El Mundo 2 Telegraph Economist: Bagehot blog
De Standaard: “Ashton can’t do it”An article in De Standaard criticises EU Foreign Minister Baroness Catherine Ashton in the light of recent events in the Middle East and argues: “Ashton can’t do it…[she is] hardly dynamic… Maybe that’s what a Baroness should be, but is it what the EU needs?” On his La Stampa blog, Marco Zatterin argues: “Lady Ashton can now do two things: either raise her head up and stop being a puppet in the hands of [European] capitals…or resign…and send a message to EU governments, so that they stop pretending that they have a common foreign policy.”
De Standaard Straneuropa blog
Merkel considers extending Greek bail-outFollowing a meeting yesterday with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that “there certainly is a discussion about whether to consider extending the running time of the Greek [bailout] program”. However, she added that any decision on the issue is unlikely before the EU summit at the end of March. Kathimerini reports that Greek diplomats said they are confident that the repayment period will be extended to 10 or 11 years, but are not sure if the interest rate will be decreased.
The ECB yesterday criticised eurozone leaders for moving too timidly against countries whose excessive spending and borrowing had endangered the euro. In the Irish Independent, columnist David McWilliams argues that “If we the Irish people hold a referendum on the bank debts now, we can go to the EU with a mandate from the people which says NO. This will allow our politicians to play hard-ball.”
On his Telegraph blog, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard comments that outgoing Bundesbank president Axel Weber’s criticism of eurozone economic policy in yesterdays’ FT makes it clear he prefers the option of “letting EMU die”, as the alternative would be a full European fiscal union, spelling “the end of Germany as a self-governing sovereign nation”.
Expansion 2 Expansion 3 Jornal de Negocios 2 Expansion FT EUobserver Le Figaro Irish Times Kathimerini Die Welt Times IHT Irish Independent: McWilliams Vanity Fair: Lewis Times: Kaletsky Dan O’Brien: Irish Times Irish Independent FT Comment: Wolf FT Editorial Editorial Comment: Irish Times Handelsblatt WSJ Telegraph: Evans-Pritchard
Euractiv France notes that, in a report sent to the European Commission, France has insisted on the “priority of reducing the share of the EU budget devoted to the cohesion policy,” arguing that this would be the natural consequence of the greater economic convergence achieved by EU regions and member states over recent years.Euractiv France
A leader in the Times argues that “bold deregulation” is needed to bolster growth in the UK, particularly regarding employment regulations. The article notes that the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations (TUPE), a gold plated version of the EU’s Acquired Rights Directive (ARD), is a significant deterrent to competition.No link
In the Times, former Home Secretary Michael Howard argues that human rights law should be decided by “elected, accountable politicians” rather than “unaccountable, unelected judges.”Times: Howard
Dutch central-bank Chief Nout Wellink has signalled his interest in the presidency of the European Central Bank, saying in an interview that his decades of international experience and record for fighting inflation qualify him for the job.WSJ WSJ 2
A WSJ editorial notes that “Iceland's voters will once again get to have their say over whether they should bear the cost of the 2008 bailouts of British and Dutch depositors in Icelandic banks…But it's unclear why Iceland should bear the costs of bailing out the Dutch and British at all.”WSJ: Editorial
The Telegraph reports that member states yesterday voted to allow imports into Europe that consist of 0.1% genetically modified seed.No link
An FSA director, Verena Ross, has been chosen as chief executive of the new EU financial services watchdog, the European Securities and Markets Authority. Despite being a German national it is likely that the appointment will ease fears over Britain not having any high ranking officials in the ESMA despite London being the EU’s financial capital.FT City AM FT: Westminster blog
According to the official EU statute, European Commission officials are not allowed time off in order to make up for working overtime. Despite this, the Commission has introduced a new arrangement called ‘flexitime’ which allows officials to accrue hours and in return gives them time off.Bild
A European Parliament spokesman has responded to criticism on how the EP is hiring extra staff, claiming: "most of the proposed new posts are related to the accession of Croatia”Parliament
Writing in the name of the European Liberal Party (ELDR), Sweden’s Europe Minister Birgitta Ohlsson, has called for reforms of the EU budget, writing: "Rather than preserving past priorities, the EU should redirect expenditure”, which should be financed through “reduced expenditure on agriculture. (…) Structural funds should focus on the parts of the Union most in need. "
The EU granted the Cornish pasty protected status yesterday, meaning only those produced in Cornwall, to a specific recipe, can be described as ‘Cornish’.
Independent Times Guardian