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Norwegian FM: UK needs to consider loss of political influence outside the EU; Mats Persson: UK can’t afford to give EU free rein to set the rules of the single market

08 Jan 2013

On a visit to Ireland, Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide has warned that the UK should look at the downside of leaving the EU, the Irish Times reports. “What we do not get is the same level of political influence we would have had as a member. It is good in that it gives you access to a market but it is problematic from a democratic perspective.” He also said Norway was not “80% but 100%” a member of the internal market, which includes regulation of financial services. Since this issue was of concern to the UK, it should be aware of how Norway adopts such regulations, he added.

On his Telegraph blog, Open Europe Director Mats Persson discusses why the ‘Norwegian model’ of EU cooperation “simply wouldn't work for the UK.” He notes that “Oslo has exceptionally limited ability to influence” EU law and that the UK is more vulnerable to protectionist EU rules as its economy “is more oriented towards highly mobile services industries.” Had the UK been like Norway, it would have been unable to lead a blocking minority against the European Commission’s original proposal to regulate hedge funds, private equity firms and other ‘alternative’ investment. “This would have erected massive barriers to investment flows between the City and the rest of the world (and probably an exodus of UK financial business)”, Mats writes.
Telegraph blogs: Persson
Irish Times

New polls: Stable majority in the Italian Senate after the elections is far from certain;
Lega Nord leader: Berlusconi won’t be Italian PM if we win the elections
New IPSOS/Il Sole 24 Ore polls conducted in five big Italian regions show that none of the coalitions which will contest the upcoming general elections may be able to secure a stable majority in the Italian Senate – due to the way seats are assigned under Italy’s electoral law. Meanwhile, Lega Nord leader Roberto Maroni said yesterday that, as part of the electoral deal struck with Silvio Berlusconi’s party, Berlusconi would not become Italian Prime Minister if the centre-right coalition wins the elections.
Open Europe blog La Stampa Il Sole 24 Ore Il Sole 24 Ore 2 Repubblica Repubblica 2 EUobserver Corriere della Sera FT WSJ City AM Telegraph

Following the Coalition’s mid-term review, the Sun argues, “Europe remains the elephant in the room. It is the subject on which the Tories and Lib Dems cannot agree, and which could yet prove their undoing.”
Guardian Independent Sun: Kavanagh Sun: Leader Coalition mid-term review

Greek banks may need a larger recapitalisation than expected
Kathimerini reports that, according to unnamed senior bank officials, Greek banks could require a larger recapitalisation than currently planned, due to the increase in bad loans on their books. Ernst & Young estimates that, at the end of 2012, non-performing loans reached 24% of all loans on Greek banks’ books. The article also notes that the bond buyback scheme has increased the capital needs of Greek banks, as it cost them up to €1.5bn in interest revenue.

Meanwhile, a report published by the European Commission yesterday noted that the shadow economy in Greece amounted to 25% of GDP, the eighth largest in the EU. Separately, the IHT notes that Greece remains the second largest spender on defence within NATO.
Open Europe Research Les Echos Kathimerini Kathimerini 2 Kathimerini 3 EUobserver IHT: Dempsey

The House of Commons yesterday issued a ‘reasoned opinion’ that the draft EU Directive setting a mandatory minimum female quota of 40% among non-executive directors on the boards of listed companies does not comply with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality contained within the Lisbon Treaty.
Hansard BBC

Die Welt am Sonntag reported that an error in valuing collateral at the ECB and the Banque de France meant that some French banks received €550m extra in liquidity than they would have if the correct valuations were applied.
Welt am Sonntag Zerohedge

Catalonia’s ruling nationalist parties will propose asking the Spanish government to raise the 2013 deficit target for Spanish regions from 0.7% to 1.5% of GDP, Europa Press reports.
El País El Mundo La Vanguardia La Vanguardia 2 El Economista

Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Mundell – who is considered to be the intellectual “father of the euro” – has warned against a ‘fiscal union’ in the eurozone, arguing, “It would be insane to have a central European authority which controls all taxes and expenses of states…in the union.”

The FT notes that shares in French and German banks rallied yesterday on the expectation that they stand to benefit most from the Basel Committee’s decision that banks would be given until 2019 to comply with new liquidity rules.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said yesterday, “I think we can say that the existential threat against the euro has essentially been overcome.”
Guardian Mail  

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