September 23, 2010

Press Summary Archive

17 former Commissioners still receive €96,000 per year in allowances from EU despite new private sector jobs

23 September 2010

FT Deutschland reports that 17 former Commissioners still receive at least €96,000 per year from the EU in transitional allowances, money intended to help them ease back into the labour market, despite the fact that some of them are also working as politicians or lobbyists. Among those named are former Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Charlie McCreevy and former Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Joe Borg. According to EU rules, former Commissioners are paid between 40% and 65% of their final basic salary (€20,278 per month) over a three year period. The transitional allowance is capped if the former Commissioner earns money from a new job, the rules determine that “the new job's salary, added together with the allowance, cannot exceed the remuneration as a member of the commission”.

Meanwhile, the Parliament reports that Alter-EU, a group supporting lobbying transparency and ethics regulation, have launched an online petition to tighten up rules and stop ex-commissioners and former EU Commission staff from moving into private sector jobs that "might entail conflicts of interest” for three years after leaving office.
FT Deutschland EUobserver Parliament

Lord Leach: “I can not think of any satisfactory solution which does not lead to a breaking up of the eurozone as it is now”
Following a series of round table events organised by Open Europe in the Netherlands, Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad features an interview with Open Europe’s Chairman Lord Leach. Asked about the euro, Lord Leach replied, “I’m not against European cooperation…A complete free trade area would be perfect, that brings about prosperity. But a monetary union is also a political union and there it goes wrong. The European system of supranationality comes at the cost of democracy.”

He added, “More and more Europeans are starting to express their dissatisfaction with their lack of influence on European decision making. One of the most important examples is Germany. A considerable part of the population didn't think it a good idea that Germany rescued Greece.”

When asked about the future of monetary union, Lord Leach said, “Politicians must understand that this isn't a temporary crisis, but a permanent problem. It is no banking or debt crisis, but a problem of competitiveness. The South of Europe is too far behind on the North and will never be able, within one monetary union, to close the gap…I can not think of any satisfactory solution which does not lead to a breaking up of the eurozone as it is now. That could however be either controlled or uncontrolled. Controlled means that vulnerable countries would be led to the exit...An uncontrolled exit means that financial markets force a break-up.”
NRC Handelsblad

MEPs approve the new EU financial supervisors
The European Parliament gave the green light yesterday to the creation of the three new European Supervisory Authorities for banks, insurance firms and securities markets. This will begin work in January 2011.

Speaking after the vote, Conservative MEP Kay Swinburne – who sits on the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs – said that "this package must be seen as the high-water mark of European financial supervision and not the first step towards handing over these powers to Brussels”. However, the press release from the European Parliament stated that the supervisors “will be able to grow as events require…MEPs ensured that the Commission will report back every three years on whether it is desirable to combine the separate supervision of banking, securities, and insurance on the benefits of having all the [supervisors] headquartered in one city and on whether [they] should be entrusted with further supervisory powers.”
FT EUobserver Euractiv Nouvel Observateur Il Sole 24 Ore CityAM El Pais ABC Irish Times Irish Independent EP press release Open Europe research

Mats Persson: Roma deportations show French government’s double standards on 'European principles'
In a letter to European Voice, Open Europe’s Director Mats Persson criticises the French government for having displayed double-standards during the controversy over the Roma deportations. He argues: “For years, the French government has preached the importance of ‘European principles’. It has lectured others on the need to play along nicely and hectored them not to ‘embarrass’ the EU family. Yet now, when it appears to have violated the EU's data-retention directive, the freedom-of-movement directive and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, it seems unwilling to correct itself and abide by those principles and those laws”. He goes on to note that: “This is hypocrisy. [French] President Nicolas Sarkozy pressured others – in Ireland, in Poland – to sign up to the Lisbon treaty, a document that enshrines the Charter of Fundamental Rights that France has now violated”.

He concludes, “France is breaking both the letter and the spirit of the EU principles that it has strongly advocated in the past. The French government should swallow its pride and halt the deportations immediately. If not, Sarkozy should forgive us for not taking his lectures on European principles seriously ever again”.
European Voice: Persson EUobserver Le Monde France Soir ANSA El Mundo

Open Europe is quoted in German weekly magazine Wirtschaftswoche in an article looking at the EU’s intelligence sharing body, SitCen, warning that it marks the first step towards an EU secret service.
Wirtschaftswoche Open Europe research

European Voice reports that Commissioner Olli Rehn’s plans for economic governance, to be presented next week, will include a proposal requiring eurozone member states to place an interest-bearing deposit equivalent to 0.2% of their GDP with the Commission if, for example, their spending grew significantly faster than their economy.
European Voice

Belga quotes Belgian Europe Minister Olivier Chastel criticising MEPs for wanting to substantially increase the size of the EU budget, arguing that there is little “room to manoeuvre.” He added, “Miracles are being asked to the Belgian Presidency, but we’re not in Lourdes
Belga EuroParl

The Irish Independent reports that Irish Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith said he is seeking alliances to defend the current level of EU funding for the Common Agricultural Policy during the upcoming negotiations for the EU budget 2014-2020.
Irish Independent AFP

The Irish Independent reports that EU Tax Commissioner Algirdas Semeta says he will push forward with plans to introduce an optional EU-wide corporate tax formula, which cross-border companies could choose to sign up to.
Irish Independent

German Foreign Minister at odds with Merkel over Turkey?
In an interview with the WSJ, German Foreign Minister and leader of the FDP party has said the EU should step up its efforts with Turkey’s accession negotiations. “Nobody should rashly snub Turkey by slamming the door in its face after all its efforts,” he said. His comments could cause difficulties within the German coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party continuing to say Turkey should become a “privileged partner” instead of a fully-fledged EU member.
WSJ EUobserver

Ahead of a meeting with EU defence ministers, Finish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb writes in European Voice that EU foreign policy is “confused”, and “one problem is that the Union and its member states practise conflicting policies”.
European Voice European Voice: Stubb European Voice 2

European Voice reports that Belgian Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne will push to reach an agreement on the EU patent at the next Council of Ministers meeting on 29 September. The proposal is strongly opposed by Italy and Spain, which consider the EU patent a threat to their competitiveness due to the fact that it would be translated only in English, French and German.
European Voice

A European Voice article notes that diplomats have questioned the value of holding the last EU summit, complaining it was badly prepared by Council President Herman Van Rompuy’s team and that there was minimal coordination with EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton.
European Voice

The WSJ’s Brussels Beat column notes that the Commission's forecasting unit says ending stimulus programmes will drag on growth but, at the same time, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and other Commission leaders say deficit-cutting is a precondition for growth.
WSJ: Dalton

The Commission yesterday unveiled its new five-year strategy for gender equality.

La Repubblica reports that EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos plans to ban sugar from fruit juice production.
Independent Le Figaro La Repubblica

The EU is aiming to lift visa requirements for citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania entering the Schengen area of border-free travel; interior ministers are expected to give their informal approval on 7-8 October.
European Voice

The European Parliament has approved a resolution calling for the EU to tackle illegal downloading.

The EU is threatening to ban third countries’ airlines from using European airspace from 2012 onwards unless they take part in the emissions trading system for air traffic, reports Handelsblatt.

AFP reports that, speaking at a debate in New York, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and his Spanish counterpart Miguel Ángel Moratinos have both called for the US to recognise the direct role played by the EU in the Middle East peace process.