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New Open Europe report: How the Coalition can repatriate 130 EU crime and policing laws overnight

30 Jan 2012

Open Europe has published a new report setting out how the Coalition could, during the lifetime of this Parliament, use a one-off opportunity to unilaterally repatriate up to 130 EU laws on crime and policing, including controversial measures such as the European Arrest Warrant. Under a complex provision in the Lisbon Treaty, the Government must decide before June 2014 whether a whole raft of EU police and justice laws, adopted before the Treaty took force, will continue to apply in the UK beyond December 2014.

Under this arrangement, if the Government opts out of any one of the existing laws, it has to opt out of the entire lot. It can though, in future, opt back in to individual laws. However, in contrast, if it decides to keep these laws as they currently stand, ultimate and full jurisdiction over them will for the first time be irreversibly transferred from the UK courts to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. Open Europe argues that the UK should opt out of the laws and pursue one of the following options: rely on existing international crime and policing agreements outside the EU framework; opt back in to selected EU laws of particular importance; or, seek to negotiate a new arrangement (a variant of Denmark’s position) whereby the UK could cooperate with other EU member states on crime and policing but outside the EU legal framework and therefore without the jurisdiction of the ECJ.

The Sunday Telegraph noted that Open Europe’s report will be discussed by the all-party parliamentary group for EU reform this Tuesday, and is expected to gain widespread support among MPs. Today’s Sun also features the research and quotes Open Europe’s Stephen Booth as saying, “Deciding to keep these laws after 2014 – and transferring ultimate jurisdiction to EU judges – would be irreversible. But using the block opt-out would let the UK pick the EU laws that are crucial to British security.” Also in the Sun, Conservative MP Dominic Raab writes, “We don’t need reams of EU regulations for police to work together – just professionalism and the right attitude. Giving more power to Brussels over crime and policing won’t strengthen co-operation. It would just lead to more bureaucracy and less democratic control.” In their editorials, both papers back the report’s recommendation that the Government take advantage of the block opt-out. The report is also cited by the FT, Mail, City AM, Express, Sunday Times online and Politics.co.uk.
Open Europe press release Open Europe research Sunday Telegraph Sunday Telegraph: Leader Sunday Times Sun Sun: Leader FT Mail Express City AM Politics.co.uk  

Former Labour cabinet ministers back Open Europe’s report arguing regional policy should be devolved back to the UK
In a letter published in the Guardian today, 17 Labour MPs, including former Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary Jack Straw, and former Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth, have backed the conclusion of Open Europe’s report published last week which argued that regional spending ought to be devolved back to the UK; a move which could save the UK £4.2bn over seven years. The letter argues that: “it is interesting to note that Gordon Brown – while he was Chancellor of the Exchequer – argued strongly for the repatriation of EU structural funds [from richer member states]… The [Coalition] seems to have abandoned any attempt to change EU structural funding to concentrate on trying to freeze the EU budget – a strategy which has already failed. Perhaps this government could take a look at what was being argued for a few years ago – it could benefit us all.”

Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin appeared on BBC Radio Essex this morning to discuss the report, citing Open Europe’s finding that Essex pays in over £8 for every £1 it receives back from the structural funds. Separately, EUobserver reports that in anticipation of a likely demand from EU leaders at today’s summit to re-deploy allocated - but as yet unspent - structural funds for employment related projects, the Commission has suggested that up to €82bn could be available, providing member states are able to reach an agreement between themselves.
Open Europe Research Guardian: Letters EUobserver La Stampa  

David Cameron expected to agree to limited role for EU institutions under ‘fiscal treaty’;
Hague: We are reserving our position on the use of EU institutions
Italian daily La Stampa has published the final draft of the new European ‘fiscal treaty’ on budgetary discipline, which is due to be discussed by EU leaders at today’s meeting in Brussels. In a bid to persuade Poland and Sweden to sign up to the ‘fiscal treaty’, under the new draft, non-euro countries will no longer need to accept at least part of the rules set out by the agreement in order to be invited to future eurozone summits. In order to win Denmark’s approval, fines imposed by the ECJ under the ‘fiscal treaty’ will be paid into the eurozone’s permanent bailout fund, the ESM, but only if they are imposed on eurozone countries. Otherwise, the money will go to the EU budget.

David Cameron is likely to accept a role for the ECJ under the ‘fiscal treaty’, effectively clearing the way for the agreement to be finalised at today’s meeting of EU leaders. Open Europe Director Mats Persson was quoted in Saturday’s Times as saying, “Having the ECJ involved in enforcing these rules, albeit in a limited way, clearly means that the euro pact cuts right across the existing EU treaties, which is exactly what the UK wanted to avoid. Using the ECJ in this way clearly is a legal stretch under the EU treaties, but it’s still far from certain that the UK would be successful if challenging it at the courts. Cameron’s options are therefore very limited.”

However, commenting on these reports, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday, “I wouldn't let speculation go too far. The fact is the prime minister vetoed them using the institutions and he has always said that veto was because we had no guarantees that what they are proposing would not damage the single market, or for that matter, would actually cause problems for the financial sector…The Prime Minister has already made it clear about that because he vetoed any such possibility of that happening. I absolutely trust the Prime Minister on this, I know where he stands.” On the BBC’s Today programme, Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed, “We do have some problems with the use of EU institutions...We are reserving our position. If it is used in any way which cuts across the single market or is used against the interests of the UK...we have the option and the right to take action.”

FAZ reports that Angela Merkel is facing opposition from CDU and CSU MPs who are concerned that the fiscal treaty has already been watered down too extensively. Meanwhile, a poll published by the Sunday Business Post showed that 72% of Irish voters want a referendum on the ‘fiscal treaty’. In an op-ed in the Irish Times, Micheál Martin – the leader of Fianna Fáil, Ireland’s main opposition party – argues, “If the final draft of the [fiscal] treaty actually does something significant which goes beyond the principles of what has already been passed in a referendum, then let us have a referendum and not be afraid to make a pro-EU case.

Discussing today's summit on Belgian Radio 1, Open Europe's Pieter Cleppe argued that "aside from the UK, Poland isn't sure whether to agree to the fiscal treaty. Significantly, France is pushing for Poland not to be included at eurozone meetings, showing that this is really a discussion between the eurozone and the non-eurozone and about France trying to avoid having other major countries involved in the decision making process."
Saturday's Times Saturday's Mail Saturday's Guardian FT Weekend FT Weekend 2 Guardian Times EUobserver Express  Irish Times: Martin BBC Today: Hague Times: Fleming FAZ Radio 1: Cleppe Bloomberg  

Greece reacts angrily to German calls for EU control over Greek budget;
Second Greek bailout hanging in the balance as German and IMF demands grow
According to a leaked document obtained by the FT on Friday, the German government wants Greece to “accept shifting budgetary sovereignty to the European level for a certain period of time” after failing to enact the necessary cuts to its debt and deficit. Greece would also have to adopt a law committing it to servicing its debts “first and foremost”. Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos reacted angrily to the proposal saying it forced Greece to choose between “financial assistance” and “national dignity,” while it also “ignores some key historical lessons.” Greek Education Minister and former EU Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou labelled the idea "the product of a sick imagination". EU Economics Commissioner Olli Rehn also resisted the idea saying, "Executive tasks must remain the full responsibility of the Greek government."

German Economy Minister Philipp Rösler, a member of the FDP, was the first German minister to support the proposal, saying, “If the Greeks cannot do it themselves, there must be stronger leadership and supervision from outside, for example from the EU.” In an interview with the WSJ German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble suggested that “Greece needs to decide” whether it wants to meet the fiscal and structural adjustments necessary to gain a second bailout or face default. German officials have suggested the proposal is just one of many under discussion.

Reports suggest that negotiations on the voluntary Greek debt restructuring progressed over the weekend, although a deal will not be ready for today’s summit. Persisting disagreements over whether budgetary gaps would be met by an austerity drive, an increase in EU/IMF support, or an agreement by the ECB to write down its holdings of Greek debt, delay a resolution. Negotiations over the second Greek bailout continue. The IMF has recently presented Greece with a list of demands, which includes cutting 150,000 public sector jobs over the next three years. Open Europe’s Raoul Ruparel was quoted in the Sunday Telegraph saying, "If there is no agreement on the Greek restructuring, this summit will be little more than a sideshow."

On Friday evening the Fitch rating agency downgraded Italy, Spain and Slovenia by two notches and Belgium and Cyprus by one notch. Over the weekend the Spanish government called for ‘realism’ over its deficit targets for this year.
FT FT Weekend Saturday's Independent Independent EUobserver Guardian BBC Irish Times Express Le Monde Mail on Sunday WSJ Sunday Telegraph WSJ 2 FT 2 WSJ 3 FT 3 WSJ 4 Sunday Telegraph 2 Observer Sunday Telegraph 3 Saturday's Telegraph Sunday Times Independent on Sunday IHT Irish Times 2 EUobserver Saturday's Guardian Weekend FT 2 Saturday's Guardian 2 Saturday's Times Saturday's Times: Leader Bild FTD: Leader Bild 2 ARD FTD Kathimerini Independent: Leader Independent: Sieghart Telegraph: Editorial Telegraph: Johnson BBC: Hewitt BBC: Flanders CityAM: Rohac WSJ Review& Outlook Sunday Times Editorial Sunday Times: O’Connell Sunday Times: O’Connell 2 Sunday Telegraph Editorial Sunday Telegraph: Little FT Weekend: Osborne FT Weekend: Editorial

Merkel announces she will actively back Sarkozy’s re-election bid
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has promised to support Nicolas Sarkozy on the campaign trail, even though he is yet to officially declare his candidacy for re-election. Berlin appears to have snubbed Francois Hollande’s offer of an entente cordiale, after the Socialist frontrunner, who has campaigned on a platform of growth as opposed to austerity, vowed to renegotiate the fiscal treaty. Hermann Gröhe, Secretary-General of Merkel’s CDU party, commented that Hollande would “hinder further European integration and endanger the future of the EU.”

Meanwhile Sarkozy announced an ambitious programme of economic reforms in a televised appearance yesterday, including a series of measures designed to increase the competitiveness of the French labour market. Among others, the 35 hour week could be scrapped in favour of negotiations between businesses and employees. Sarkozy also announced the introduction of a FTT of 0.1% in August, arguing that France was ready to go it alone and “create a shock to set the example”. The tax - a weakened version of previous proposals – will be levied on stock purchases and one category of Credit Default Swaps, and is expected to raise €1bn. According to a French government source quoted by Reuters, the government is set to revise down its growth estimates for 2012.
Le Figaro BBC Guardian Irish Times Les Echos Le Monde Le Monde 2 FT CityAM WSJ WSJ 2 Telegraph Independent on Sunday: Lichfield EUobserver Le Figaro Nouvel Observateur Liberation Spiegel Welt

George Osborne has said that he wishes to see the "colour of Europe's money" before the UK contributes more to the IMF’s bail-out fund.  The Chancellor went on to set out four conditions he wishes to see fulfilled before providing funding before saying "I think we can now see a way forward.” Saturday’s Express reported that a YouGov poll found that two thirds of voters opposed giving any extra funding to the IMF.
Saturday's Sun Saturday's Guardian Saturday's Telegraph FT Weekend Sunday Times Saturday's Express

Member states fail to make progress on size and shape of next long term EU budget
EUobserver reports that initial discussions last week on the shape of the EU’s next long term budget, due to run from 2014 to 2020, failed to achieve any consensus between net contributors, who want to see the projected budget reduced by around €100bn, and net recipients, who want to preserve their allocations under the Common Agricultural Policy and the Structural and Cohesion Funds. Member states have also raised concerns about the fact that the Commission has omitted €58.3 billion of EU spending from the formal budget.
EUobserver

The Telegraph reports that following the European Parliament’s consent to a new trade agreement easing restrictions on the importation of fruit and vegetables from Morocco last week, it has emerged that the single biggest beneficiary of the deal will be the King of Morocco, who is a significant landowner in addition to heading one of the country’s three largest agricultural producers.
Open Europe Research Telegraph

FT Weekend reported that Google has said that proposals by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, which would require people to give explicit consent for the storage and use of their personal data could “break the internet”.
FT Weekend

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