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Mark Rutte and Christian Lindner: Reduce Brussels to core tasks; EU should “stay out of social security”

21 May 2014

In a joint op-ed in Die Welt, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Christian Lindner, leader of Germany’s liberal FDP party, argue that “a thicket of European regulation has emerged over the years”, and that, in order to achieve a Europe fit for the 21st century, the EU must concentrate on reducing its powers to “core areas”.

They write, “In future, the EU should stay out of fields in which it has no formal competences…To enforce this subsidiarity, we need better rules: the [European] Commission should only get new competences if it is expressly authorised by the national parliaments of the member states. It is important to strengthen the influence of national parliaments: in addition to the European Parliament, we need a second centre of power as a parliamentary counterweight to the Commission and the European Council.”

Rutte and Lindner also argue that the EU “should largely stay out” of social security, adding, “Because we perceive the right to freedom of movement as one of the most important fundamental rights of Europe, we must not allow ourselves to damage this by standardising the social systems. This means for example for Germany: we should examine the proposal that newly arrived EU citizens should only receive the legally prescribed subsistence benefits. And for the Netherlands, there is the proposal: social assistance must be earned first.”

Separately, Rutte also told Dutch daily BN De Stem that he is planning to submit a “priority agenda” for the new European Commission to other EU leaders during their informal dinner on 27 May.
Welt: Rutte and Lindner BN De Stem NOS RTL

Mats Persson: The new European Parliament and Commission President could become Cameron’s biggest obstacle in Europe
Writing in the Telegraph, Open Europe Director Mats Persson argues that “centre-right and socialist MEPs may gang up to freeze out those they see as extreme to vote for ‘even more Europe’”, adding that “an anti-reform European Parliament could surpass Paris as Cameron’s biggest obstacle to successful renegotiation.”

Mats argues that Britain’s second challenge is to secure enough allies to put in place a sensible candidate for European Commission President, because the “three main candidates the European Parliament has proposed make José Manuel Barroso, the current President, look like a raving Eurosceptic…If one of these men bagged the job, it would massively complicate the EU reform agenda and serve as a running recruitment campaign for UKIP.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with the Sun, David Cameron said, “I'm going to get another [EU] treaty”, adding that “the Germans and others need a banking union and a fiscal union, so just as they need some changes I am perfectly at liberty to say, ‘All right guys, you can have some changes.’ But I need some changes too.”
Telegraph: Persson Sun: Cameron

Open Europe Research Director Stephen Booth appeared on Deutsche Welle’s Agenda programme arguing that the only way to tackle the EU’s democratic deficit is to increase the role of national parliaments in EU decision-making. German FDP MEP Alexandra Thein, who also appeared on the programme, said that the idea of a ‘red card’ system, whereby national parliaments could combine to block EU legislation, “is a proposal [the FDP] could support.”
DW: Booth

German government to adopt new legislation to tackle welfare abuse;
OECD: Germany is the world’s second most popular immigrant destination after US
Draft legislation by the German government, seen by Reuters, foresees that people who abuse the welfare system may be refused re-entry into German territory for up to five years. The bill, expected to be approved in June, also envisages that child benefits would be restricted to people who have a German tax number. Meanwhile, a new OECD study shows that Germany has become the world’s second most popular destination for immigrants after the US, with the number of permanent immigrants, mainly from other EU countries, having increased by an annual 400,000 – or 38% – in 2012.
FAZ EUobserver WSJ Reuters FAZ Welt: Haubrich

In a speech to the CBI, UK Chancellor George Osborne will today criticise the Labour party and UKIP for their “deeply pessimistic, depressing, anti-business agenda.” The New Statesman notes that Osborne will seek to appeal to business by pushing a pro-EU reform agenda, echoing his speech to Open Europe’s EU Reform Conference in January.
George Osborne’s Open Europe speech New Statesman Telegraph Times Mail Mail: Leader

On Dutch news site De Dagelijkse Standaard, Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe debunks “five myths about the European Parliament”, such as “citizens aren't interested because they have insufficient information” and “an elected European Commission President will bring voters closer to the EU.”
Dagelijkse Standaard: Cleppe

Despite reports overnight that Russia had failed to reach an agreement for Gazprom to supply China with gas, talks continue today with a deal remaining possible. Separately, Reuters reports that the Russian Foreign Ministry has said that Sunday’s Ukrainian presidential election could “worsen hostilities” in the country and increase instability if no clear road map is laid out.
FT FT 2 City AM WSJ Reuters FAZ FAZ: Veser Süddeutsche: Nienhuysen Reuters 2 FT 3 WSJ 2

A new Survation/Mirror poll finds that UKIP are on course to win the European elections with 32% of the vote. Labour is on 27%, the Conservatives 23% and the Lib Dems on 9%.
Mirror Express: Farage

FAZ’s Foreign Editor, Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger writes that, although the majority of Europeans are “in favour of close partnership and cooperation”, the idea that “the EU should one day transform into the United States of Europe…scares off the majority” of European voters.
FAZ

Borrowing costs in the eurozone periphery have risen to the highest level in more than six weeks, in part due to concerns that anti-EU and protest parties will have a strong show in this week’s European Parliament elections.
WSJ Diário Económico Jornal de Negócios

EU competition authorities have officially charged three more banks – HSBC, JP Morgan and Crédit Agricole – with participating in a cartel to fix the Euribor interest rate benchmark. The three banks rejected the offer of a settlement last year.
FT WSJ NYT

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