Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Open Europe


Open Europe: EU ruling could increase insurance costs by £1bn from 2012As expected the ECJ ruled this morning to ban the use of gender in determining different risks for insurance products. The ruling will take effect on 21 December 2012, meaning insurers can no longer offer different products and prices to men and women based on their sex. In a briefing note published earlier in the week, Open Europe estimated that, on average, a 17 year old female driver will now have to pay an extra £4,300 in insurance premiums by the time she is 26 as a consequence of the ruling. The briefing also notes that the insurance industry in Britain may need to acquire an extra £1bn in capital to account for the increased uncertainties in the market. The ECJ’s ruling was based on the Lisbon Treaty’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, from which the UK was claimed to have secured an “opt-out” by the previous government.
Open Europe’s findings continue to receive widespread coverage, and are cited in today’s FT, De Telegraaf, on Conservative Home and on several consumer websites.In the Telegraph, Philip Johnston looks at the ruling and notes, “The same happened with the working time directive. Its scope has been extended eight times by the ECJ at a cost to the UK economy of between £3.4 billion and £3.9 billion a year, according to calculations made by the campaign group Open Europe.”
Open Europe’s Stephen Booth appeared on the BBC World Service, BBC Radio Sussex, ITV News and ITV News Online, arguing that the ruling pushes anti-discrimination legislation “beyond the realms of common sense” and that EU judges had “shot themselves in the foot” as the ruling will only anger ordinary citizens. Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe also appeared on AP TV.
ECJ press release BBC: World Service ITV News online Independent: Prosser Telegraph De Telegraaf Open Europe press release Open Europe briefing Conservative Home FT BBC: Today Insurance Daily Moneywise Mirror Independent: Meade The Parliament
Ashton confirms sanctions on Libyan regime;
EU Commissioner: EU should have acted faster on Libya
EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele yesterday made an unprecedented statement criticising Europe's approach to the crisis saying, “'Several of us would have liked to see sanctions decided during the council and applied even faster”, reports DPA. “Europe was not vocal enough in defending human rights and local democratic forces in the region", he added. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy may convene an extraordinary EU summit to discuss the crisis on Thursday.
Speaking after a UN council meeting yesterday, EU Foreign Minister Baroness Catherine Ashton confirmed that the EU will impose sanctions on Libya, including an arms embargo, an asset freeze and a travel ban on Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi plus 25 family members and associates.
EUobserver reports that further measures are being weighed up by EU and US officials including the possible use of fighter jets, aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean, a no-fly zone and arming the opposition in Libya. In the Commons yesterday, David Cameron said, "We do not in any way rule out the use of military assets. In France, Prime Minister Francois Fillon confirmed that "all options are on the table". The US State Department suggested that a no-fly zone could be enforced through NATO as China and Russia could block the measure at the UN level.
In an interview with Il Messaggero, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi argued that caution is needed on evaluating the possibility of Gaddafi’s exile. However, he said, “We are and will be perfectly in line with what the international community will decide.”
Guardian Express Mail Times Telegraph Evening Standard EUobserver EUobserver 2 EUobserver 3 AFP Euractiv.fr BBC: Hewitt BBC BBC: Robinson Straneuropa WSJ European Voice EurActiv Irish Times Open Europe blog Il Messaggero: Berlusconi EEAS press release Il Messaggero: Berlusconi BBC Today: Major DPA
Irish bail-out renegotiation to face resistance from eurozone partnersThe FT reports that, according to diplomats and EU officials, opposition to Ireland’s demands for renegotiation of the bail-out terms is growing among other eurozone countries, particularly Germany, Finland and the Netherlands. A diplomat is quoted saying: “The ink is hardly dry yet. Politically, it’s very difficult.” Meanwhile, Irish Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has been given the green light from his party to start coalition talks with Fine Gael.
An editorial in the FT notes: “Enda Kenny, Fine Gael’s leader and presumptive Taoiseach, claims he will renegotiate the [bail-out] deal. The likely outcome is a face-saving but useless compromise: in return for a lower interest rate, Mr. Kenny will stand by his predecessors’ suicidal conflation of bank and sovereign debt. The Irish tragedy will come full circle – but a new act will open in Europe’s drama.”
Irish Independent El Pais FT Editorial FT European Voice Irish Independent FAZ
Lukewarm response to revised eurozone ‘Competitiveness Pact’New proposals on joint economic governance put forward by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council chief Herman Van Rompuy on Monday received a lukewarm response from member states. A diplomat from one northern European country said: "There definitely wasn't a breakthrough, but it also wasn't a flop either". The fact that questions still remain, despite the pact being watered down significantly, increases fears that eurozone leaders may be unable to reach an agreement on economic and bailout package reforms by the 25 March deadline. Meanwhile, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt criticised the upcoming meeting of eurozone leaders, saying: "I think we should not divide the European Union, but stick at the 27 members being present when it comes to heads of state and government".
Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates said yesterday that Portugal was ready to implement the necessary economic reforms but added: "I fear that if Europe does not take the necessary steps, all this effort may have been in vain". Earlier, Portuguese Finance Minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos argued: "There is a deficiency in the construction of the euro. There is one leg missing and that is the budgetary or fiscal element. We have a single currency but we do not have a budgetary or fiscal instrument at a European level."
El País reports that credit rating agency Moody’s has warned that Spain’s savings banks, the cajas, will need to raise €50bn to meet the stricter capital requirements recently established by the Spanish government, rather than the government’s own estimation of €20bn.  
WSJ Reuters WSJ 2 Le figaro El Pais EUobserver Le Figaro Les Echos FT Money Supply Blog Reuters EurActiv FD WSJ 3 Irish Independent Reuters WSJ Opinion Irish Independent Bloomberg Coulisses de Bruxelles Le Monde Les Echos: Delpla WSJ 4 El País 2 Expansión Le Monde
EU ministers will today meet in Brussels to discuss possible ways to end EU rules on throwing back dead fish that exceed EU quotas. The Guardian reports that Scottish Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead will not be able to attend today’s meeting, despite Scotland being particularly affected by the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, since EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki has insisted that only one minister per member state could attend.  Guardian EUobserver BBC Today: Damanaki
FT Deutschland: EU Directive on online trading will be “a feast for litigious lawyers”FT Deutschland reports that the European Parliament is to vote next week on legislation which would force online retailers to offer their goods in all EU states. According to legal experts, this would mean companies having to adapt their terms and conditions to comply with the consumer protection laws of 27 countries, and run the risk of being sued in any one of them; posing a significant business risk to smaller operators in particular.
FT Deutschland FT Deutschland2 Internetworld.de
EU to consider legislation to get more women into the boardroomIn an op-ed in the IHT, European Parliament president Jerzy Buzek and EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding argue that not enough progress has been made in Europe towards ensuring greater female participation on company boards. They say that if businesses fail to address this situation voluntarily, the EU will introduce “legally binding quotas that can be enforced …starting in 2012”.
IHT: Buzek and Reding
The IHT notes the disparity in pay-scales and other benefits between public officials at the EU level, compared with national officials. The paper cites the case of Andris Piebalgs, Latvia’s member of the European Commission, who earns €248,006 a year, around seven times more than the man who appointed him, Latvia’s Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, who earns €32,640 a year.IHT
Writing in the Telegraph, Programme Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs, Professor Philip Booth, criticises the concept of “fair trade”, and the activities of the Fairtrade Foundation. He argues it is “risible” that the EU is helping to finance the foundation's campaigning, “given how the EU undermines farmers in poor countries through agricultural protectionism”.Telegraph: Booth
Euractiv reports that the Macedonian government has said that it is ready to agree to change the country’s name, but that the decision would have to be approved by citizens in a referendum. The long-standing dispute with Greece over Macedonia’s name has so far been a major obstacle to the country’s EU accession.EurActiv
EUobserver reports that EU energy ministers faced criticism yesterday over a decision not to set out tougher energy efficiency targets for 2020, as EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told the European Parliament that a pledge to cut carbon emissions by 20% over the next decade lacked ambition.EUobserver EurActiv
EUobserver reports that MEPs are concerned that EU officials, in particular in Europol, have reneged on their agreement with the European Parliament to provide data on how the EU-US data sharing deal – Swift – is being implemented.  EUobserver

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