August 23, 2010

Press Summary Archive

Number of people in Britain extradited under European Arrest Warrant increases by more than 50%

23 August 2010

The Sunday Telegraph reported on its front page that the number of people in Britain seized under the controversial European Arrest Warrant rose by more than 50 percent last year, according to figures obtained from the Home Office. In total 1,032 people – almost three a day – were detained and extradited by British police on the orders of European prosecutors in the 12 months to April, up from 683 in 2008-09. The Home Office expects a further 70 percent rise, to 1,700 cases, next year.

David Blunkett, the former Home Secretary who introduced the European warrants was quoted saying, “I was right, as Home Secretary in the post-9/11 era, to agree to the European Arrest Warrant, but I was insufficiently sensitive to how it might be used.” A current Home Office spokesman said: “The Government is committed to reviewing the UK’s extradition arrangements.” In a separate article, Lib Dem MEP Graham Watson was quoted saying, “The European Arrest Warrant should not be feared. It is a crucial tool in ensuring criminals cannot hide behind national borders. It has brought justice to the perpetrators of murder, rape and terrorism.”

A leader in the paper argued, “We have every sympathy with the authorities’ efforts to track down vicious criminals who have fled these or other shores. But the price of speed and efficiency has, all too often, been injustice.”
Sunday Telegraph Sunday Telegraph: Leader Sunday Telegraph 2 Sunday Telegraph 3 Sunday Times Mail

100 of EU’s new diplomatic staff will earn more than William Hague
Saturday’s Telegraph reported that more than 100 of the EU diplomats working for the new European External Action Service (EEAS) will be paid more than William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary, with salaries over £134,565 per year. At least 50 of these senior officials will earn more than David Cameron, with salaries of up to £171,000. Open Europe Director Mats Persson was quoted saying: “If the EU really wants to strengthen its voice on the world stage, it should drop its obsession with new, grand institutions and instead focus on becoming more competitive and dynamic, with policies that will boost global security, trade and growth. At the moment the EU's foreign policy expansion risks becoming an expensive flag-waving exercise funded by the taxpayer”.
Telegraph Express

Slovakian Foreign Minister: “I was always told solidarity means that the rich help the poor. GDP per capita in Greece is almost twice that in Slovakia
Der Standard quotes Slovakian Foreign Minister Mikulas Dzurinda criticising the financial aid to Greece as “solidarity of the responsible with the irresponsible.” He added, “I was always told solidarity means that the rich help the poor. GDP per capita in Greece is almost twice that in Slovakia.” Dzurinda also spoke about the austerity programme he implemented in Slovakia as Prime Minister between 1998 and 2006: “Do you remember that back then we had real wage losses of 8 percent? And the unemployment rate reached 20 percent. But in the end we rehabilitated our economy and were the first former eastern bloc country ready to join the eurozone.”

Meanwhile, several papers report that President of the Bundesbank Axel Weber has made the unexpected recommendation that the ECB should continue its expansive monetary policy until the end of the year. Handelsblatt argues that the comments are surprising as Weber is known as a ‘hawk’ in the ECB council, who has previously voiced concerns about the bank’s bond buying programme, for example.

In the Telegraph, Managing Director of Capital Economics Roger Bootle argues, “The euro crisis has not gone away. It has merely been masked by other factors. It is still brewing away, ready to re-emerge…its weakness is internal divergence, which threatens a massive financial crisis in parts of the system, even as the northern core does reasonably well.”
Standard FT El Pais Handelsblatt Telegraph: Bootle Handelsblatt 2

EU’s staff pensions bill to rise to over £1bn within three years
The Telegraph reports that the cost of pensions for EU staff is expected to rise by 16 percent in the next three years making an annual bill of £1.3 billion. This will rise by 97 percent by 2040 to over £2 billion per year, according to Commission figures seen by the paper. This increase means that in 2013, British taxpayers will have to pay £177 million to fund EU pensions; and over £350 million by 2040. EU officials are allowed to retire at the age of 63, younger than their counterparts in the UK and many other member states.

A Government spokesman is quoted saying: “We are concerned about the cost of EU officials' pensions because, like national governments, EU institutions face an ageing workforce and an increasing pensions burden. We have called on the European Commission to finalise as soon as possible a now-overdue report on the pensions system for EU staff”.

French minister heads to Berlin then London for talks on EU budget;
FAZ: “EU tax is attempt to reduce transparency in EU Budget”
It is widely reported that French Budget Minister François Baroin will travel to Berlin tomorrow to meet German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. In an interview with Le Figaro, Mr Baroin explains that “this meeting is part of Nicolas Sarkozy’s idea to reach a Franco-German fiscal convergence as soon as possible…This visit, which will be followed by a trip to the UK, also aims to prepare the upcoming talks on the next EU budget”. He reiterated France’s opposition to an EU tax, arguing: “This proposal, made in the midst of summer, surprised us, to say the least. We are not in favour of it.”

Meanwhile, a leader in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung argues that “the EU doesn't need its own tax”. It notes “how much member states and thereby taxpayers give to Brussels and how much they get from Brussels is already known: the EU costs each German 265 euro per year and 170 euro per head is obtained back from the EU's coffers. The difference between the two figures, the net payers’ position, is always causing trouble - especially in Germany. These figures, which show the true burden on member states, would only be harder to calculate if the EU had a direct tax. The Commission is correct in that…It doesn't want more, but less transparency.” The article adds that “instead of hiding the true costs of the EU, the Commission should reduce the burden and cut its spending”.
La Tribune  La Tribune 2 Le Figaro

The Telegraph reports that the UK’s Nursing and Midwifery Council has been told that, under EU freedom of movement rules, it cannot force European nurses to pass its examinations before they are allowed to work in the UK.

Top Agrar reports that France remains the largest beneficiary of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. In the financial year 2009, French farmers received €9.87 billion or 17.4 percent of the total.
Top Agrar Online

Commission launches new €1m communication programme to construct “an ever-closer Europe
The EU’s Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) has launched a new call for proposals from public policy research organisations and think-tanks. The new programme will have a budget of around €1 million and will include among its objectives “giving citizens the opportunity to interact and participate in constructing an ever-closer Europe” and “fostering a sense of ownership of the European Union among its citizens”.
EACEA call Il Sole 24 Ore

Commission considers new regulations on mortgage and construction loans which could raise building costs
FAZ reports that the European Commission is considering a proposal to introduce stricter consumer protection rules for mortgage loans, which would impose extensive information obligations, warning obligations in advertising and the imposition of standardised contracts. The regulations would also affect construction loans. A comment piece in the paper argues “what Brussels now does under the banner of consumer protection, raises the fear for extra costs of bureaucracy, which will raise the cost to build.”

Poland to resist changes to European Social Fund
Wirtschaftsblatt reports that “Poland & Co” want to kill any attempts to restructure the European Social Fund (ESF), part of the EU’s Structural Funds. “This would mean an end to the cohesion policy as it is at the moment, which is advantageous for us” argues Polish Secretary for Europe Mikolaj Dowgielewicz. In the current budgetary period, Poland is the largest beneficiary of the ESF, receiving €9.2bn.

European Parliament to debate plans for environmental road pricing
The Sunday Express noted that a directive has been presented to the European Parliament calling for road pricing, or taxes, for lorries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The Department for Transport has already announced the Government’s commitment to introducing a lorry road user charge. Transport Secretary Philip Hammond ruled out a similar scheme for other vehicles but could be outvoted in negotiations with EU partners.
Sunday Express

A EurActiv article argues that, “Old rivalries, new Lisbon Treaty processes, and major short and long-term economic and financial challenges are making it difficult to draw the [Commission’s] power map six months after the new team took office”.

Le Monde reports that French President Nicolas Sarkozy admitted Friday that his country’s new estimated growth rate for 2011 has been redrawn to 2 percent of GDP, down from a previous 2.5 percent.

Italian daily La Repubblica reports that Giovanni Errani is suspected to have been favoured in the assignment of €1 million in EU farm subsidies when he was the chairman of the agricultural cooperative Terremerse due to the fact that he is the brother of the President of the Italian Emilia Romagna region, Vasco Errani.

EUobserver reports that Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni has backed the French deportation of Roma, saying that “if anything, it's time to go a step further” and referred to the mandatory expulsion of EU citizens who do not meet certain criteria.
EUobserver EurActiv Les Echos

EUobserver reports that EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger has sided with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s domestic plans to tax nuclear power plant operators in exchange for an extension of their plants' lifetimes.

The WSJ notes that polls are showing that the German business community’s support for Chancellor Angela Merkel is declining.

The Guardian reports that UK fishermen and MEPs are calling for the EU to impose sanctions on Iceland and the Faroe Islands in a dispute over mackerel fishing.