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Cameron: I will consider EU referendum but priority is renegotiation of membership terms

02 Jul 2012

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, David Cameron stated that “what I want – and what I believe the vast majority of the British people want – is to make changes to our relationship” with the EU. “Whole swathes of legislation covering social issues, working time and home affairs should, in my view, be scrapped,” he added, concluding, “As we get closer to the end point, we will need to consider how best to get the full-hearted support of the British people whether it is in a general election or in a referendum. As I have said, for me the two words ‘Europe’ and ‘referendum’ can go together, particularly if we really are proposing a change in how our country is governed, but let us get the people a real choice first.”

Former Defence Secretary Liam Fox has today called for urgent renegotiation with the EU. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, he argued, “I would like to see Britain negotiate a new relationship on the basis that, if we achieved it and our future relationship was economic rather than political, we would advocate acceptance in a referendum of this new dynamic. If, on the other hand, others would not accede to our requests for a rebalancing in the light of the response to the euro crisis, then we would recommend rejection and potential departure from the EU.” He concluded, “For my own part, life outside the EU holds no terror.”

The Times reports that Cameron will make a major speech in the autumn calling for powers to be returned from the EU. The Telegraph’s leader argues, “Mr Cameron needs to be clear about what he thinks is realistically attainable and to spell out how he proposes to go about achieving it.” Several backbench Conservative MPs have urged Cameron to make a commitment to a referendum before 2015. Meanwhile, Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, has called the idea “horribly irrelevant” at the present time.

Open Europe’s Director Mats Persson was quoted in Saturday’s Times discussing the impact of a eurozone banking union on the UK economy. He said, “A eurozone banking union is probably necessary in the long term, but is also a potential minefield for the UK. First, will it create barriers to UK financial firms doing business in the eurozone, in turn fragmenting the single market? Secondly, will supervision spill over to regulation, with the eurozone effectively writing the rules for all 27 countries? David Cameron could come under a lot of pressure to seek new safeguards.”

Mats also appeared on LBC this morning discussing the prospect of an EU referendum in the UK. Separately, Open Europe's recent briefing outlining the potential alternatives to EU membership if the UK decided to the leave the EU altogether is cited by Austrian daily Die Presse.
Open Europe research Saturday’s Times Die Presse Sunday Telegraph: Cameron Sunday Telegraph: Fox Times Mail Mail: Editorial FT FT 2 City AM WSJ Sun Express Sunday Telegraph Sunday Times Guardian Sunday Telegraph 2 Sunday Telegraph: Leader Guardian: Leader Comment is Free: Alexander Times: Montgomerie Conservative Home: Montgomerie Independent on Sunday: Rentoul Express: Carswell BBC Radio 4: World this weekend Independent Mirror EUobserver BBC Irish Independent Irish Times Telegraph FT 3 Telegraph: Editorial

Six legal challenges lodged with Germany’s Constitutional Court after Bundestag approves ESM and fiscal treaty;
Schäuble and Westerwelle at odds over longer term introduction of Eurobonds
In a vote held on Friday evening, the Bundestag approved both the ESM and the fiscal treaty, with both passing the two-thirds majority necessary due to their constitutional implications. Over the weekend, six separate complaints against either or both the ESM and fiscal treaty were lodged at Germany’s Constitutional Court on the grounds they limit the Bundestag’s ability to enforce democratic oversight and also its sovereign budgetary powers.

Sigmar Gabriel, the leader of the SPD group in the Bundestag, has said that his party would vote against changes to the ESM treaty allowing the fund to lend money to banks directly, if the necessary amendments were put to a vote in the Bundestag. However, EUobserver notes that the European Council’s legal services believe that the changes could be made without needing another round of parliamentary approvals.

German magazine Focus reports that the German government plans to make aid for banks conditional on the introduction of a financial transactions tax in the concerned countries. Open Europe’s Raoul Ruparel was quoted in Saturday’s Telegraph discussing the changes to the eurozone’s bailout funds agreed at last week’s EU summit.

FAZ reports that German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (FDP) are at odds over the possibility of eurobonds being introduced in the longer term, after Schäuble hinted that this could be a possibility given the fulfilment of certain fiscal conditions. However, Westerwelle responded, “This is not a question of timing but a stance that is wrong in principle and we reject it.”

Writing in City AM, Open Europe’s Pawel Swidlicki argues, “With each successive summit, Merkel is running out of room for manoeuvre across a range of fronts. Economically, the German economy is resilient but it cannot remain immune to the worsening crisis forever. Politically, her latest concessions are only likely to feed the restless mood of many of her backbenchers and natural allies in the German business community. Finally, on the legal front, the limits of the current constitution have been stretched almost to the limit, and any full debt-pooling…would require a referendum. This latest episode has left Germany seriously frustrated and with a feeling of an ever-increasing weight on its shoulders. This may only harden German resistance to putting even more of its money on the table.”
Saturday’s Telegraph EurActiv EUobserver EUobserver 2 FAZ Focus Focus 2 Focus 3 ARD MA City AM: Swidlicki

Greece to ask for cost of bank recapitalisation to be removed from government debt levels
The EU/IMF/ECB troika will return to Athens today to begin its re-evaluation of the Greek bailout programme following significant delays due to the elections. Kathimerini reports that the Greek government may request that the newly agreed powers to allow the eurozone bailout funds to lend directly to banks be applied retrospectively to the second Greek bailout – this would allow around €50bn to be removed from Greece’s debt level. Meanwhile, Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos has called for a parliamentary inquiry into Greece’s original bailout request following suggestions that Greek economic statistics were altered to make a bailout look necessary.
Kathimerini Kathimerini 2 Kathimerini 3 Les Echos EUobserver

France revises growth forecasts downwards and prepares for new budget cuts;
Italy planning to cut up to 100,000 public sector jobs by 2014
French Economy Minister Pierre Moscovici announced yesterday that the French government has put its growth forecast at 0.4% for 2012 and between 1% and 1.3% for 2013 – down from 0.5% and 1.7% respectively. In a new report published this morning, the French Court of Auditors has warned the government that budget savings worth between €6bn and €10bn this year and almost €40bn next year will be needed if France is to bring its deficit down to 3% of GDP by 2013, reports Le Figaro.

Meanwhile, Il Corriere della Sera reports that the Italian government is planning to cut up to 100,000 public sector jobs by 2014, of which up to 10,000 by the end of this year. La Repubblica reports that, according to new data by Italian statistics office ISTAT, youth unemployment in Italy stood at 36.2% in May – an all-time record.
Le Figaro: Moscovici Le Monde La Tribune EUobserver Corriere della Sera Il Sole 24 Ore La Stampa Repubblica El País Expansión Irish Times WSJ Review & Outlook FT: Munchau FT: Chancellor FT Weekend Editorial Irish Times: Donovan Sunday Telegraph: Booker Independent on Sunday: McRae Le Figaro

In an interview with Die Welt, EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger argues, “We have to transform the EU into a political union, into the United States of Europe…Germany’s Grundgesetz [constitution] allows for further steps towards European integration. But if the EU is to receive its own statehood the constitution will need to be amended.”
Welt: Oettinger

NRC reports that Dutch caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said that the next long-term EU budget, due to run from 2014 to 2020, should be cut by 10%, adding, “If we, as member states, need to save, the European authorities should also do with less.”
Open Europe research NRC

Steven Maijoor, the chairman of EU financial markets watchdog ESMA, told the FT that the supervisor has launched a probe into the way the big three credit rating agencies evaluate banks, in order to determine if the process is sufficiently rigorous and transparent.
FT

A fully-fledged EU embargo on Iran’s oil exports entered into force yesterday, the WSJ reports.
FT WSJ Irish Times

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