Daily Press Summary
Cameron “confident” and “optimistic” he will secure new EU deal; 47% of UK businesses would prefer “looser relationship” with the EU
Speaking on the BBC’s Today Programme, David Cameron said that “We will have a new settlement and then will put that to the British people in a very straightforward way so that they can give or not give their consent to those changes". He added, “Those who say this is very dangerous, you are putting at risk the relationship with Europe… I don't agree with that, because this debate is happening anyway.” Cameron said: “The Dutch and German Prime Ministers have both been making arguments” on the need for certain powers to flow back to national governments.
The FT notes that Cameron’s EU speech, initially scheduled for 22 January, will now “most likely” be moved to the following day, in order to avoid a clash with the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Franco-German Elysee treaty. Labour leader Ed Miliband said that “The question for now is should we have a referendum, should we commit to a referendum, should we promise one. I’m saying very clearly to you, ‘no’ is the answer”.
Meanwhile, according to a poll conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce, 47% of its members would prefer “a looser relationship...but with the UK remaining a member of the EU.” Only 9% of firms want closer integration, 12% want to leave the EU altogether, 26% want the relationship to stay as it is and 6% are unsure. The Sunday Times quoted Open Europe’s Mats Persson as saying “A lot of big business people don’t have a firm view yet: they just know they want all the trade benefits of EU membership and they don’t want uncertainty.” Mats was also quoted in the Independent on Sunday. Lord Wolfson, Chief Executive of Next, told the Sunday Telegraph: “Britain should stay in Europe, but only on the right terms.”
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Fresh Start Conservative MPs to call for treaty changes on EU crime and financial services powers
The Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times reported that the Fresh Start Group of Conservative MPs will publish their manifesto on Europe this Wednesday. It will call for the UK to opt out of EU crime and policing laws and a new emergency brake on EU laws covering financial regulation. Andrea Leadsom MP, the co-founder of the Fresh Start Group, said: “The status quo in the EU is no longer an option. Returning powers to member states is not an impossible task.” In the foreword to the manifesto, William Hague described the document as “full of powerful ideas for Britain’s future in Europe and, indeed, for Europe’s future.”
Sunday Telegraph Independent on Sunday Sunday Times
German Finance Minister Schäuble anticipates fundamental EU reforms in 2014
Writing in Die Welt, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble argues that “we have to complete the political union” pointing out that 2014 offers a window of opportunity for fundamental reform of the European Union. He specified that the European Commission has to develop into a “democratically legitimate executive” with direct elections of its president. Separately, in a speech at the University of Heidelberg on Friday, Schäuble stressed that further European integration will require flexibility, including opt-outs, as well as initial intergovernmental cooperation, which he views as preferable to a deadlock.
Welt: Schäuble FAZ
The Sunday Times reported that former Downing Street advisor Steve Hilton has revealed that 30% of government activity was devoted to implementing government policy while 40% was driven by the EU and another 30% “random” stuff generated by the civil service.
Il Sole 24 Ore notes that 4,421 cases of either irregularities or fraud involving EU structural funds in Italy were reported to OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud office, between 2003 and September 2012. The total amount affected was €1.07bn.
Il Sole 24 Ore
New opinion poll confirms Berlusconi is gaining ground ahead of Italian elections
A new Tecnè/Sky Tg24 poll on the Italian elections puts the centre-left coalition led by Pier Luigi Bersani on 37.8%, followed by Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right coalition on 26%, up 1.6% from the previous poll, with Mario Monti’s centrist bloc on 14.5%. Meanwhile, the economic spokesman of Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party, Stefano Fassina, told the FT that he sees no need for the next Italian government to implement new labour market reform, adding, “It is not difficult for businesses to fire people in Italy. What does not work is the application of the law… [But] the structural reform agenda should move on. We want to open up the insurance market, pharmacies, legal services.” Separately, the leader of left-wing SEL party, Nichi Vendola, said yesterday that his party entering a coalition with Mario Monti is “fantasy politics”.
FT Corriere della Sera Repubblica Repubblica 2 SkyTg24
Appearing on the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles refused to reveal the number of migrants from Bulgaria and Romania officials estimated would arrive after 2014, as he was “not confident on the figure”. Pickles added that “Given that we’ve got a housing shortage, any influx from Romania and Bulgaria is going to cause problems.”
Sun Telegraph Observer Open Europe research: Free Movement
FT: Eurozone refuses to shift burden of bank bailouts off government books
According to draft plans seen by the FT, the eurozone is looking to implement a burden sharing proposal between the ESM, the eurozone bailout fund, and national governments for any future bank bailouts. The proposal suggests that if a country wishes to receive ESM aid to help bail out a struggling bank the government will also need to contribute to the bailout or guarantee the ESM against losses. The proposals further dampen the hope that eurozone members will be able to shift the burden of bank bailouts off their books and onto the ESM.
French unions and large employers agreed to broad changes to French labour laws on Friday, aimed at making the French labour market more flexible. The proposals will now be sent to the French parliament for approval.
WSJ Telegraph France24 Les Echos
According to a new Metroscopia poll published by El País yesterday, support for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Partido Popular has now fallen to 29.8%. The party won 44.6% of votes in the November 2011 general elections. A separate article in the paper reports that the Spanish government is not planning a legal challenge against the ‘declaration of sovereignty’ the Catalan parliament is due to vote on next week.
El País El País 2
Writing in FAZ, Professor Dr. Roland Vaubel argues that the European Court of Justice has its own political agenda towards further EU centralisation, and that this could be countered by the establishment of a ‘Subsidiarity Court’.
The FT reports that Angela Merkel’s CDU, which is set to win regional elections in Lower Saxony this weekend, could still end up out of power due to the collapse in popularity of its coalition partner the FDP, a result that would likely lead to the resignation of party leader Philipp Rösler.
Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece’s opposition Syriza party, will meet with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble in Berlin today in an attempt to improve the international credibility of his party, reports the FT.
Kathimerini reports that shots were fired at the Athens headquarters of governing party New Democracy early this morning. The shots were reportedly targeted at the office of Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, although no-one was injured as the building was empty at the time.
Die Welt reports that EU requirements to reduce CO2 emission for new cars by 2020 will cost European car manufactures €1,000 per newly produced car, according to a study by the International Council on Clean Transportation.
Welt Welt: Eder
The first round of the Czech presidential elections saw the surprise exit of former PM Jan Fischer, who had led in the polls, as he finished third with 16.4%. The second round, due to take place on January 25-26 will be contested by the centre-left candidate Milos Zeman who won the first round on 24.2% and the conservative Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who came second with 23.4%.
Dutch Radio station BNR reports that Portugal has been providing passports to rich immigrants who invest at least €1m in the country, with many Turks expected to make use of the procedure.