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Open Europe’s partner organisation, Open Europe Berlin gGmbH, to launch tomorrow

30 Oct 2012

Open Europe Berlin gGmbH, a new independent think tank with a cross party advisory board of prominent figures from the German and European business, academic and policymaking communities, will launch tomorrow. Open Europe Berlin will work in partnership with, but independently from Open Europe, and seek to inject fresh thinking into the German debate about the future direction of the EU. The two organisations will bring together a network of experts, exploring alternatives to more European centralisation. Open Europe Berlin will be directed by Prof. Dr. Michael Wohlgemuth.

On 31 October, Open Europe Berlin will host a launch event in Berlin featuring a keynote speech by Prof. Dr. Otmar Issing, the former Chief Economist at the ECB. The full list of board members will be announced at the launch.

A feature in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung trails the launch, noting that Open Europe Berlin advocates a more decentralised, liberal, flexible, and democratic Europe, which is globally competitive and locally accountable. The paper quotes Prof. Dr. Michael Wohlgemuth as saying that it is possible to be a “good European” while still considering alternatives to “a uniform Europe under Brussels administration”.
Open Europe Berlin press release

Angela Merkel: The British are “for free trade, for greater competitiveness, so they are a very good partner”;
Schäuble: The British voice is “sorely needed in the European competition of ideas”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a meeting of her centre-right CDU party ahead of her visit to London next week to meet Prime Minister David Cameron that "Britain is an important partner in the European Union ... Britain has to some extent other ideas [about Europe], it does not want such close integration. But from the German perspective, from the point of view of our interests it is an important member of the EU… They are for free trade, for greater competitiveness, so they are a very good partner."

Separately, in a speech at Oxford University later today, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble is expected to say that a “British voice is sorely needed in this [European] competition of ideas”, adding that “Europe would be the poorer without this input to our debates. Britain should retain and regain a place at the centre of Europe because this will be good for the European Union."

Meanwhile, writing in Handelsblatt, the newspaper's chief economist Dirk Heilmann argues that "if Great Britain were to leave the EU, not only core Europe, but also the EU, the protectionist leaning South-West Group will get the upper hand".
EU Observer Reuters Reuters 2 Handelsblatt: Heilmann

Conservative MPs join forces with Labour to call for EU Budget cuts
Backbench Conservative MPs have tabled an amendment to a Government House of Commons motion calling for David Cameron to argue for a real terms cut to the EU’s next long-term budget. The non-binding motion, which will be voted on on Wednesday, calls on “the government to strengthen its stance so that the next MFF is reduced in real terms.”

David Cameron’s current position is not to support any increase in EU spending for the period 2014 to 2020, over the level of 2011 payments as adjusted for inflation. The EU Commission has proposed a 5% increase for 2014-2020.

Meanwhile, Will Straw, Associate Director at IPPR, writes on Conservative Home, “Open Europe have shown that cutting CAP payments by 30% and restricting structural funds to countries with below 90% of EU GDP, as Tony Blair proposed in 2005, could save £35bn per year from the EU budget. This saving would mean that Britain could give up its rebate and still end up saving £1.2bn per year on our EU bill. That would be enough to compensate all the regions in the UK that would lose out from an end to structural funds.”

Separately, the Cypriot EU Presidency has circulated a new EU budget proposal that would reduce the EU Commissions’ proposed rise in the seven year 2014-2020 budget framework by €50bn euros. The EU Commission is proposing €1033bn. Member states will discuss the draft tomorrow in preparation for a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on 22-23 November.
Telegraph WSJ Euractiv Mail Mail 2 Times Express FT Independent City AM Conservative Home: Will Straw Mark Reckless blog Spectator Coffee House Spectator Coffee House 2 Conservative Home: Mark Reckless Telegraph: Hannan City AM: Patel FT FT European Voice Presidency’s proposal Presidency’s PR EUobserver Wiener Zeitung

Spain unveils ‘bad bank’ details;
Draghi will be invited to explain ECB’s bond-buying scheme in Spanish parliament
Spain yesterday unveiled plans for a ‘bad bank’ to house the toxic real estate assets currently held by Spanish banks. The ‘bad bank’ will buy assets worth up to €90bn. It will apply average haircuts of 45.6% on real estate loans and 63.1% on assets already seized by banks after the owners failed to pay back their loans. Meanwhile, new data published by Spain’s statistics office INE this morning show that the Spanish economy contracted by 0.3% during the third quarter of the year. Expansión reports that ECB President Mario Draghi will be invited to explain the ECB’s new OMT bond-buying programme in the Spanish parliament.

Separately, in a letter to Spanish Europe Minister Íñigo Méndez de Vigo seen by El País, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding says she agrees with the view that the EU could not recognise Catalonia’s independence, if it were declared unilaterally.
OE Blog El País El País 2 El País 3 Expansión Expansión 2 Expansión 3 El Mundo La Vanguardia EUobserver Irish Times Irish Independent Le Monde Sole 24 Ore WSJ  

Writing on Conservative Home, Dominic Raab MP, author of an Open Europe report on EU crime and policing published this week, argues that, following a block opt out from EU crime and policing law, the UK can and should seek to renegotiate the European Arrest Warrant to “insert modest safeguards to protect the innocent, without jeopardising our ability to catch crooks and terrorists.”
Open Europe report: EU crime and policing Conservative Home: Raab

According to a new PwC study published yesterday, 85% of managers have not started implementation programmes to comply with the EU’s Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFM) Directive, due to enter into force in July 2013.
City AM

Süddeutsche reports that a poll among finance directors of medium-sized companies shows that investing in Greece is viewed as riskier than in Syria.
Süddeutsche DWN

Le Figaro reports that French President Francois Hollande has said a new package of measures, which will include cuts to labour costs, will be unveiled in November.
FT Le Monde Le Figaro

Rosario Crocetta, supported by the centre-left Democratic Party and centre UDC party, has been elected as the new governor of Sicily. Italian comedian Beppe Grillo’s Five-Star Movement was the biggest party, while turnout was 47.4%.
Repubblica Repubblica 2 La Stampa FT WSJ  

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