Daily Press Summary
Corriere della Sera: Internal polls put anti-euro comedian Beppe Grillo second; Frattini: Grillo finishing second would be “a tragedy”
Italian daily Il Corriere della Sera reports that, according to some internal opinion polls carried out by centre-left parties, the Five-Star Movement led by anti-euro comedian Beppe Grillo could emerge as the second-largest party in the 24-25 February Italian elections. These polls also question whether Mario Monti’s centrist bloc would win enough seats to be decisive in the Italian Senate.
In an interview with Le Figaro, Italy’s former Foreign Minister Franco Frattini says, “I don’t rule out [Grillo’s Five-Star Movement] finishing second…This would be a tragedy comparable to [far-right leader] Geert Wilders’ irruption into Dutch politics. One would then need to take into account the failure of the European idea in Italy.” Separately, Italy’s left-wing leader Nichi Vendola – centre-left candidate Pier Luigi Bersani’s main ally – said yesterday that Italy “must renegotiate the fiscal treaty”, Reuters Italia reports.
Open Europe research Reuters Italia Corriere della Sera La Stampa Guardian: Foot Independent: Popham Economist Le Figaro: Frattini Times Times: Leader EUobserver EUobserver: Prodi La Stampa blogs: Zatterin FT WSJ WSJ 2 Bild
The European Commission today published its winter economic forecasts, which estimates that Spain’s public deficit will be 6.7% of GDP in 2013 and 7.2% of GDP in 2014 – well above targets of 4.5% and 2.8% respectively. The forecasts see Cyprus contracting by 3.5% this year, Greece by 4.4% and Italy by 1%, all above the previous estimates.
EC winter forecast El País Expansión Cinco Días El País 2 El Mundo FT
Commission takes UK to ECJ over reduced VAT rate for energy efficient goods
The UK Government is being taken to the ECJ by the European Commission for offering reduced VAT rates to encourage homeowners to make their houses more energy-efficient. The European Commission claimed yesterday that, under EU rules, such VAT reductions must be linked to “social policy.” A spokeswoman for the Treasury said it would defend the reduced VAT for energy saving materials, but withdraw the reduced rate from 2013 for buildings used only for charitable purposes. Meanwhile, the Commission will take France and Luxembourg to court for having lower than usual VAT rates for e-books.
Business Green Huffington Post FT City AM
Head of German exchange operator: EU FTT plan is “crazy”
Financial News reports that Reto Francioni, the Chief Executive of German exchange operator Deutsche Börse, has labelled the plan to introduce a financial transactions tax (FTT) in eleven EU countries as “crazy”, and said the general effect on the market would be “diametrically opposed to the political objectives.” Separately, a leader in The Economist argues, “the European Commission’s proposals for a financial transactions tax…are a masterpiece of bad design.”
Open Europe blog Economist: Leader Financial News
An FT article questions whether David Cameron’s EU referendum pledge would be a red-line issue in any future coalition talks after he told voters in the Eastleigh by-election campaign, “To get an EU referendum you need to vote for a Tory-only government.”
ECB books €1.1bn profit on holding of peripheral eurozone bonds
The ECB released its annual accounts for 2012 yesterday, which showed that it made a profit of €1.1bn from interest on its holding of bonds purchased under the Securities Markets Programme (SMP). The ECB’s total net profit for 2012 was €998m, which will be distributed to national central banks in the eurozone. The ECB also published details of its SMP holdings for the first time, which showed it had purchased almost €103bn in Italian bonds.
ECB Annual accounts ECB SMP EUobserver Times FT WSJ Süddeutsche
The Greek statistics office confirmed yesterday that Greek debt stood at €305.5bn (157% of GDP) at the end of 2012, down from €368bn (176% of GDP) in 2011 thanks to two debt restructurings.
European Voice reports that EU member states and MEPs have reached a deal on new safety regulations for offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction.
European Voice Euractiv
According to sources cited by Süddeutsche Zeitung, the German government sees a Cyprus bailout as unavoidable, but is looking for a “more elegant” solution than a haircut to win the Bundestag’s support.
Süddeutsche FAZ Welt
The FT reports that the Commission is stepping up its investigation into the rigging of Libor, yen and euro interbank rates. If a bank is charged in all three areas it could face fines worth up to 30% of its global turnover.
Opposition forces in Poland want the compliance with the Polish Constitution of legislation passed to ratify the ‘fiscal treaty’ to be checked before the new law is signed off by Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, reports Rzeczpospolita.