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Boris Johnson: UK-EU relationship does not boil down to in/out question; Conservative MP proposes Tory-UKIP pact for 2015 general election

26 Nov 2012

Appearing on BBC Five Live yesterday, Conservative Mayor of London Boris Johnson argued that in terms of the UK’s relationship with the EU, he could not see why "an in/out referendum now… would be necessary". He added that “I don't think it does boil down to such a simple question".

The Independent reports that Conservative MP Michael Fabricant has called on David Cameron to form an electoral pact with UKIP at the next general election which would see UKIP standing down in exchange for a firm commitment to hold an in/out referendum on the EU. However, the suggestion has been rejected by UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

In a feature on refashioning the UK-EU relationship, the Sunday Times quoted extensively from Open Europe research, including proposals to repatriate the EU’s structural funds for wealthier member states. Open Europe Director Mats Persson was quoted as arguing that “Britain’s ideal relationship with the EU could be described as single market plus…It would allow free movement of capital, services, people and goods, plus cooperation on genuine cross-border issues such as crime and environmental matters.” Meanwhile, the Observer reported that in a speech this week, Tony Blair will warn that any disengagement from the EU’s “top table” would be a disaster for the UK's economy.
Open Europe Research: Trading Places FT Times Guardian Telegraph Sun Conservative Home Independent Independent: Editorial Mail Telegraph 2 Telegraph 3 Conservative Home 2 FT: Davis Guardian: Ashley Sun: Leader Times: Montgomerie Spectator Coffee House: Hardman

Mats Persson: Don’t blame Cameron for the breakdown in EU budget talks
FAZ: David Cameron was saying what everyone was thinking in EU budget talks
Following the breakdown of EU budget talks, on his Telegraph blog Open Europe’s Director Mats Persson argues that “France and Germany struggled to reach a common position, with Berlin leaning towards London on several points, including on cutting the EU’s admin spending. So forget the 26 vs. 1 narrative.” A leader in Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung argues David Cameron was simply the one to say clearly what the other net contributors were thinking: that it's strange cutting jobs and saving billions at home to see money being liberally distributed in Brussels.

Mats was also quoted in the Independent on Sunday saying “Cameron got a bit of sympathy for administration spending from Germany...Both Germany and Britain are in favour of prudent use of public finances”.

The Sunday Times reported that over 3,000 EU officials earned more gross that David Cameron. Open Europe’s Pawel Swidlicki is quoted as saying: “These figures show that there is ample scope for savings within the EU’s staffing expenditure.” The paper also cited several examples of wasteful spending identified by Open Europe. Open Europe’s Raoul Ruparel appeared on BBC 5 Live, RTE and LBC discussing the budget negotiations.

Open Europe's Pieter Cleppe told French news channel BFM TV "Jacques Delors provides no proof for his claim that a euro spent at the EU level is spent better than at the national level. A quick glance at the EU's regional and agricultural spending shows a different picture".
Sunday Independent Mail Sunday Times Sunday Times 2 Telegraph: Persson

The Independent on Sunday reported on tomorrow’s London launch of Open Europe Berlin, Open Europe’s new independent German partner organisation.
Open Europe Berlin Independent on Sunday

Catalan President Artur Mas’s centre-right pro-independence CiU party won the Catalan elections yesterday, but lost twelve seats compared to 2010. Mas said he would still push ahead with plans for a referendum on independence, suggesting he could seek parliamentary support from the left-wing ERC party – which won 21 seats, eleven more than in the previous elections – and other smaller pro-independence parties.    
Open Europe blog La Vanguardia El País El Mundo Independent WSJ Times Guardian Irish Independent Guardian Telegraph Euractiv BBC

Eurozone finance ministers still at odds over Greek debt write-down
Eurozone finance ministers will today meet in Brussels to discuss the disbursement of the next tranches of the Greek bailout. Divergences remain over possible options to reduce Greece’s debt burden, meaning that a final agreement could be pushed back to the next Eurogroup meeting on 3 December, reports Kathimerini. Meanwhile, a number of German economists and politicians have criticised the intermediate financing the ECB provides to Greece, with Prof. Dr. Ansgar Belke of the University of Duisburg-Essen – a member of the advisory board of Open Europe Berlin – describing it a “state financing”.
Kathimerini Euractiv BBC Welt am Sonntag FAZ Süddeutsche FTD FT Le Figaro Welt: Schäffler Reuters Romandie FAZ

MPs urge action against EU rules’ threat to patient safety and doctor training
In the Times, Charlotte Leslie MP writes that “The seeping effects of EU directives are devastating doctors’ training and patients’ safety” within the NHS. A report for the Fresh Start project, co-authored with Andrea Leadsom MP, identifies the Working Time Directive and the recognition of professional qualifications directive that stops the General Medical Council making ability to speak English a requirement for medical registration of EU doctors as areas in need of action. Leslie concludes, “We should simply stop applying elements of EU law that harm patients. We can always remind critics that health systems were not supposed to be touched by the EU at all — so in applying the spirit of the law, we are simply being good Europeans.”
Times: Leslie

The FT reports that Matthew Elderfield, deputy governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, plans to back concerns shared by Open Europe the UK and other non-eurozone members that the European Banking Authority needs new governance mechanisms to deal with the fact that the 17 eurozone countries would effectively have a blocking vote on all rules.
FT Open Europe research

In an interview with FAZ, Stephan Werhahn – former CDU politician turned lead candidate for the independent and euro-critical Freie Wähler party and grandson of former German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer – argues that "the euro is breaking Europe open", proposing instead to allow struggling eurozone member states to undergo an organised default and to temporarily exit the euro.
FAZ: Werhahn

Le Figaro reports that former French President Nicolas Sarkozy will likely be asked to mediate between the two candidates to succeed him as the leader of centre-right UMP party – Jean-François Copé and François Fillon – after former Foreign Minister Alain Juppé failed to do so. The internal election saw a victory for Copé, but Fillon has claimed irregularities in the counting of votes.
Le Figaro WSJ

According to a new report presented by Capital Economics, there is uncertainty as to whether the EU/ECB/IMF Troika can find an agreement to launch a €17 billion aid package for Cyprus. The Troika questions the pace and scale of savings presented by Cyprus in their savings blueprint. In addition, last week the credibility of the country's credit was reduced from BB + to BB- by the Fitch agency.
Rzeczpospolita

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