Daily Press Summary
Iain Duncan Smith: There is a “crisis” over rules on EU migrants’ access to services and welfare; Ed Miliband: Previous Labour government “got it wrong” on immigration
Speaking in Parliament yesterday on the issue of Bulgarian and Romanian migrants’ access to health services and welfare in the UK from next year, Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith argued that “there is somewhat of a crisis over this… I inherited a habitual residency test which simply isn't fit for purpose." Duncan Smith stressed that the government was doing everything to ensure that people who came to the UK “solely” to claim benefits would be “locked out”, for example by looking at the length of leases some migrants take out in rented housing.
In the party’s first ever immigration-focused party political broadcast to be aired tonight, Labour leader Ed Miliband will claim the previous Labour government “got it wrong” on immigration, and that a future Labour government would bring in English language tests for migrants working in the public sector and bolster enforcement of the minimum wage to prevent foreign workers undercutting UK residents. Meanwhile, Open Europe this morning presented the findings of its research on EU migration and free movement to the APPG on EU reform.
Open Europe research Telegraph Times Guardian: Leader Sun Sun 2 FT New Statesman Bild
Dutch EU referendum campaign gathers enough signatures to force debate in parliament
A Dutch campaign in favour of making it mandatory to hold a referendum on any new transfer of powers to the EU has mustered the 40,000 signatures needed to force the Dutch Parliament to debate the issue. The Dutch Lower House will now debate the issue on Thursday, where the Socialist Party will submit a motion for a mandatory referendum, though it will almost certainly be voted down. Ewald Engelen, one of the organisers of the campaign, told Dutch NOS Radio that the campaigners are now aiming to get 300,000 signatures, the threshold for a non-binding referendum on whether an ‘EU referendum lock’ should be introduced.
NOS Radio Volkskrant Volkskrant 2 NOS Burgerforum-eu.nl Maurice de Hond poll
EU pushes ahead with bank bonus cap despite UK objections
The UK government yesterday failed to secure any substantial changes to the EU bank bonus cap, with EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier saying it is “crystal clear” that the rules will come into force. The UK did receive some support from Germany and Italy to use the remaining negotiations over the technical details to tweak the proposals in an attempt to gain a consensus on the issue. The Times notes that, at yesterday’s meeting, UK Chancellor George Osborne failed to publicly challenge the plans to impose the rules on subsidiaries of EU banks located outside of Europe. Numerous states expressed support for delaying the implementation of the rules until July 2014.
City AM reports that, according to sources at the FSA and the Treasury, the rules on bonuses will apply to all 2,700 firms covered by the FSA remuneration code, not just banks as originally thought. The final decision on the scope of the rules may, however, be left to national regulators to decide.
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German polling institute says that the new anti-euro party ‘Alternative für Deutschland’ has “little chance” in the upcoming general elections in September as euro opponents in Germany are scattered in multiple small parties which makes it unlikely that one of them will reach the 5% threshold to enter the Bundestag.
Open Europe Blog DWN
Cypriot Central Bank looks for alternative ways to fund bank bailout
In an interview with the WSJ, Panicos Demetriades, Cypriot Central Bank Governor, said that Cyprus could, at least partly, finance its own bailout package by imposing a 10% “special solidarity levy” on interest income, reducing the banking sector by 20% and raising €4.5bn through privatisations. Demetriades rejected writing down depositors or imposing any retroactive taxes. Corporate and household deposits in Cyprus fell by 2.1% in January as talk of losses for depositors increased. Kathimerini reports that the EU/IMF/ECB Troika is currently in Cyprus reviewing the health of state run enterprises.
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Academic Koen Geens has been appointed new Belgian Finance Minister. His predecessor Steven Vanackere resigned over allegations of lack of impartiality in his handling of a transaction between state-owned Belfius Bank and a workers’ organization of which Vanackere is a member.
Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos told the press yesterday that, according to the European Commission, a further relaxation of Spain’s deficit targets is “potentially possible.”
Expansión El País Euobserver
Writing in this month’s Prospect Magazine, Labour MP and former Europe Minister Gisela Stuart argues that the party must “finally acknowledge that at some stage we too will have to ask the people to give their consent to our relationship with the EU. It won’t make them love Europe, but at least the terms of engagement will be by popular approval.”
Italy’s centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani has this morning presented his list of eight priorities for the next Italian government – which includes the “correction” of EU austerity policies. Bersani is likely to be the first person tasked by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano with forming the new government.
Espresso Il Sole 24 Ore Corriere della Sera Repubblica La Stampa
Eurozone finance ministers have agreed “in principle” to give Ireland more time to repay its bailout loans, although it remains unclear what share of the total €67.5bn Ireland received would be covered by the agreement and whether the new arrangement would require approval from the German Bundestag and other national parliaments.
EUobserver Reuters WSJ Irish Independent
ECB Executive Board member Jörg Asmussen said yesterday, “We don't see any threat to our independence while we are participating in the troika...The ECB participation in the troika is key.”
Bloomberg reports that Greek government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou has dismissed reports of a government reshuffle after Pasok suggested it could seek to place members of the party in government positions – a move it previously rejected.
Kathimerini Kathimerini 2 Bloomberg
In an interview to be published tomorrow by French magazine Valeurs Actuelles, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy suggests he may be “obliged” to make a comeback to politics. He says his successor, François Hollande, has “broken what I managed to build with [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel.”
Le Monde Bfmtv Le Figaro Les Echos Le Soir
Finnish Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen has backed Germany's plan to veto Bulgaria and Romania's entry into the passport-free Schengen area, claiming that there were still “too many questions left unanswered”.
EUobserver Welt Welt: Seibel FAZ: Schwarz
Die Welt reports that the European Parliament is next week prepared to reject the deal negotiated by national leaders on the EU’s long term budget unless it obtains concessions. It is thought MEPs will not demand changes to the headline amounts but seek a mandatory revision of the seven year framework at its halfway point so that the EU can “respond to new challenges with greater flexibility”.