23 June 2016

Germany said to push for further EU reform irrespective of referendum outcome, as Hollande warns Brexit would be “irreversible”

The Times reports that Germany is pushing for a change of course in the EU whether Britain leaves or stays with a series of reforms to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the founding Treaty of Rome next year. Belgium’s Prime Minister, Charles Michel, said yesterday, “There is this clear signal all over Europe, not only in Britain, of discontent.” A senior source in Berlin said that the anniversary of the Treaty of Rome in March next year “would be a moment to restart” the European project, which could be the start of a new treaty that would deepen Eurozone integration. Spain’s caretaker Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo has penned an op-ed for El País entitled, “More Europe, whatever happens.”

UK Prime Minister David Cameron told the BBC yesterday that he intended to reopen the discussion over EU free movement in the event of a ‘Remain’ vote. Meanwhile, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said that, in the event of a ‘Leave’ vote, “We have concluded a deal with the [British] Prime Minister. He got the maximum he could receive, [and] we gave the maximum we could give. So there will be no kind of renegotiation, nor on the agreement we found in February, nor as far as any kind of [EU] Treaty negotiations are concerned. Out is out.”

French President François Hollande said, “If the choice is to leave the EU…that would be irreversible…There would be a very serious risk for Britain to lose its access to the single market and everything that goes with the European Economic Area. Everyone needs to be well aware of this.”

Separately, Leave campaigner Boris Johnson MP told The Daily Telegraph “Our campaign has been about optimism and self-reliance. This is an absolute turning point in the story of our country because I think if we go on with being enmeshed in the EU it will continue to erode our democracy. That is something that worries me.” He added, “If this is the end of my political career…I’ve done eight years as Mayor of London, I enjoyed it hugely, it was a massive privilege. Fine by me.”

A YouGov poll for The Times put Remain on 51% against 49 for Leave. Of the “don’t knows” polled by YouGov, 27% said when pushed that they would probably vote Remain; 13% opted for Leave and the rest did not know or planned not to vote. Polls from Opinium and TNS both put Leave on 51% and Remain on 49%. However, a ComRes phone poll found 54% for Remain compared to 46% for Leave – once weighted for turnout. There will be another YouGov poll tonight once voting finishes, but this will not amount to an ‘exit poll’.

Open Europe’s Raoul Ruparel took part in a Sky News debate on the economics of Brexit. Raoul also appeared on the BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback show, where he fact-checked some of the claims made by both sides in the referendum campaign.

Open Europe’s Vincenzo Scarpetta appeared on France 24 and Class CNBC, arguing, “The worst mistake would be to see a ‘Remain’ vote as a blank cheque to continue with business as usual in the EU. A ‘Remain’ vote in the UK should instead boost momentum for further in-depth reform of the EU.” Vincenzo is also quoted by Spanish business daily Cinco Días.

Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe was interviewed by Belgian Radio 1, France24, Al-Jazeera English and Swedish TV4, saying, “Europe should wonder why it has become so unpopular…Given the likely high support for Brexit in the UK, as well as widespread scepticism on the continent, the wrong thing would now be to transfer more powers to the EU. The opposite should happen.”

Source: The Daily Telegraph: Johnson The Wall Street Journal Reuters NOS Al-Jazeera English: Inside Story Cinco Días

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Bild makes creative effort to convince Brits to vote ‘Remain’

The front page of Germany’s largest-selling daily Bild reads, “Dear Brits, if you stay in the EU, we will even acknowledge the [1966] Wembley goal…stop doing jokes about Prince Charles’ ears…stop using sunscreen at the beach out of solidarity for your sunburns…do without our goalkeeper in the next penalty shootout so that it stays interesting…set back our clocks by one hour….implement an EU regulation which prevents foam on beer…reserve the armchairs for you at the hotel pool in the morning…and we all come to the Queen’s 100th birthday.”

Sven Afhüppe, the Editor-in-Chief of German business daily Handelsblatt, argues that “only reforms save Europe”, adding that “a return to business as usual is impossible…After the debate about Brexit, politicians have to dare a new beginning.” Italian columnist Aldo Cazzullo writes in Corriere della Sera, “This day threatens to be a defeat for everyone, but also promises to turn into the opportunity to relaunch the European ideal. The one hypothesis to rule out is to continue as nothing ever happened.”

The front page of Italian daily La Repubblica runs with the headline, “Europe’s longest day.” An editorial in Spanish daily El País argues, “Many continental Europeans would also like to vote today, in a sign of appreciation for British democracy…to strengthen our ties rather than fraying them. Brits, vote in our name too. Please.”

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Erdoğan says Turkey might hold referendum on whether to continue negotiations with EU

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday, “Just like the UK, we could also ask our people whether to continue or end negotiations with EU.” He added, “Turkey is not after visa-free travel or the shipping back [to Turkish territory of migrants who arrive in Greece]. However, you are after Turkey right now. You are thinking about what would happen if Turkey was to open the gates and let the refugees pass. You are losing your temper because Erdoğan throws off your mask and reveals your true, ugly face. That’s why you are thinking of ways to get rid of Erdoğan.” He concluded, “Europe, you do not want us only because the majority of our people are Muslims.”

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Brexit would increase Germany’s gross EU budget contribution by €2.5bn per year, new research shows

The German Ifo institute has calculated that, if the UK were to leave the EU, the annual gross contribution to the EU budget would increase by €2.5bn for Germany, €1.9bn for France, €1.4bn for Italy, €0.9bn for Spain, €0.5bn for The Netherlands, and €0.3bn for Poland.

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ECB allows Greek bonds to be used as collateral again, reducing funding costs for Greek banks

The ECB yesterday reinstated its waiver for Greek bonds, meaning that they will once again be accepted as collateral in the ECB’s liquidity operations. This is expected to reduce the cost of borrowing for Greek banks. Meanwhile, in an interview with the Financial Times, the leader of the opposition New Democracy party in Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said, “I think Greece has the potential to grow at close to 4 per cent annually in the next few years if we have a truly reform-oriented government that will also restore the government’s credibility. But we need to make it clear to our partners that we are going to do all the structural reforms and there won’t be any dissent on growth-enhancing measures.”

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CityUK draws up draft contingency plans to protect the City in the event of Brexit

The Daily Telegraph reports that, according to a draft internal document seen by the paper, CityUK, a group which represents businesses in the City of London, has already drawn up a list of demands to improve financial services post-Brexit. The main aim is for the City to maintain as close as possible a system to the one the UK has now, but the document also notes that “opening up markets outside of the EU is crucial”, as well as “rethinking the UK’s regulatory approach…to support jobs, growth and competitiveness.” The document also highlights the need for continued immigration, saying, firms must press “the case for continued access to skilled talent from the EU and the rest of the world in order to boost the UK’s competitiveness.” Meanwhile, yesterday saw a large jump in demand at currency exchanges with Brits buying euros and dollars amid concerns the value of the pound might fall if the UK votes to leave the EU.

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S&P warns UK would lose AAA credit rating in the event of Brexit

S&P chief sovereign ratings officer Moritz Kraemer told German daily Bild, “If Great Britain decides for a Brexit in the EU referendum on Thursday, then the AAA credit rating would come due and would be downgraded within a short period of time.”

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Check out Open Europe’s comprehensive guide of what to look out for on EU referendum night

Open Europe has published a comprehensive guide of what to look out for tonight, as the results of the UK’s EU referendum start coming in. Using publicly available data on EU voting attitudes from the British Election Study, as well as demographic data, we have been able to gauge how favourable individual voting areas are towards Brexit. We have also picked out 20 areas from across the country that we think are worth paying particular attention to as they could give us a good idea as to the broader national picture. We have observed that Leave is expected to perform well in less affluent areas populated by lower skilled and older voters, particularly in Eastern England, while Remain is expected to do well in London and other cities, particularly those with a large proportion of university graduates. Closer than expected results in areas declaring early could give us an indication of how the national vote has gone.

Open Europe’s guide featured in The Times’ Red Box and Politico’s Brussels Playbook this morning. It is also cited by Reuters, The Daily Mirror, and a number of regional newspapers.