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Bundestag votes to approve Spanish bailout; Former East German dissident compares Bundestag to parliament of the DDR

20 Jul 2012

The German parliament yesterday voted to approve the €100bn bailout package for Spain with 473 of the 583 MPs who attended the extraordinary session voting in favour, 97 voting against, and 13 abstaining. 23 coalition MPs either voted against or abstained, meaning that Angela Merkel lost out on the symbolically important Chancellor’s majority - an absolute parliamentary majority based only on government MPs. During the debate, the SPD’s parliamentary leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier – whose party voted in favour – warned that the SPD would not continue to support bailouts for banks unless creditor involvement was agreed. Open Europe’s coverage of the vote was cited by the Guardian’s live blog.

Bild’s headline is “Adios Milliardos! Will we ever see our money again Mrs. Merkel?” Meanwhile, commenting on the bailouts, former East German dissident and CDU MP Vera Lengsfeld told Handelsblatt that “If MPs allow the government to withhold information but still vote with the government, even after repeated reminders, the Bundestag is abdicating its control function and increasingly resembling the ‘People’s Chamber’ of the DDR.”
FT WSJ WSJ 2 IHT BBC Irish Times Irish Independent Telegraph Guardian: Live Blog Bild Welt Welt 2 Spiegel FAZ FAZ: Göbel Süddeutsche Handelsblatt

David Cameron’s EU renegotiation strategy questioned
The Telegraph and Mail report on Conservative MPs’ continuing concerns over David Cameron’s apparent move to rule out of ever campaigning for an ‘Out’ in an EU referendum would weaken his negotiating hand. The Mail however reports that Number 10 is briefing journalists that “What the Prime Minister really meant… was that pulling out right now would be unwise. Of course, future events might change his mind.”

The Telegraph reports on Open Europe’s suggestion that David Cameron should frame the renegotiation of the UK’s membership terms as a bid to save the UK’s EU membership. The paper cites Open Europe’s blog post which argued that “David Cameron should have said that demands for Britain to leave were not a negotiation ploy but were real, and would grow stronger unless there were new EU membership terms… instead of ruling out an exit, Mr Cameron should be telling fellow EU leaders that while he was not an advocate of leaving, public opinion in Britain was hardening and, without significant concessions, a British withdrawal could be inevitable.”

Separately, writing in City AM, Open Europe’s Christopher Howarth argues that “Although the brightest future opportunities for UK export growth lie in the emerging economies, Britain should not give up on the EU, which will remain its single largest market for the foreseeable future... We therefore need to expend energy to ensure that the EU remains economically liberal and open to our trade, while simultaneously reducing the costs of unnecessary regulation.”
Telegraph Mail Mail: Comment Conservative Home: Montgomerie Economist: Charlemagne Open Europe blog City AM: Howarth

Following last week’s support by the parliamentary Select Committee for Communities and Local Government for the principle of repatriating regional policy funding back from Brussels after 2020, Open Europe's Director Mats Persson was interviewed by BBC Radio 4's ‘File on 4’ programme discussing the merits of devolving regional development policy back to the UK and other wealthier EU member states.
File on 4 CLG Committee: Full Report Open Europe Research: EU Regional Policy

Potential renegotiation of Irish bailout becoming increasingly complex
Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan said yesterday that if the cost of the Irish bank bailouts were to be transferred off the books of the state as part of a renegotiation of the Irish bailout, the Irish government would seek a price "significantly in advance" of the current valuations of the banks from eurozone partners. The Irish Times reports that any such deal could face opposition from Germany, Finland and the Netherlands since the renegotiated package would likely need to be approved by the parliaments in these countries – something which the governments would prefer to avoid.  Noonan also stated that the government could borrow up to €5bn from Irish pension funds in order to ease the country’s transition back to borrowing from the markets.
Irish Independent Irish Times

Speaking in Washington yesterday, French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici reiterated his calls for faster integration in the eurozone, first with a banking union only later moving to a political union.
WSJ WSJ Brussels Beat FT: Phelps

Following the Spanish parliament’s approval of a new €65bn austerity package, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in cities across Spain.
Guardian BBC Welt Süddeutsche Spiegel

The Czech coalition government narrowly won a confidence vote in Parliament on Wednesday, but will face an uphill battle to survive the next two years in office due to continuing corruption scandals and a weak economy reports the FT.

Le Figaro reports that according to a survey of UMP supporters, former Prime Minister François Fillon has an overwhelming lead over the party’s general secretary Jean-François Copé to take over the leadership of the party vacated by Nicolas Sarkozy.
Le Figaro Le Monde

The Irish Independent reports that the Irish government is seeking corporate sponsorship to help reduce the cost of its EU presidency due in the first half of 2013.
Irish Independent

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