19 November 2015

Juncker endorses EU with different levels of integration

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told an event in Brussels yesterday, “I think that, eventually, it will no longer be possible that 33, 34 or 35 [EU member] states will proceed with the same speed and the same impetus in the same direction. One day we should rethink the European architecture – with a group of countries that will do things, all things, together and others who will position themselves in an orbit different from the core.” He added, “I don’t like the expression ‘hard core’ [of the EU], because if you are in a family you must love those who live with you in the same way. You can’t say, ‘I have a family with my daughter, I have a family with my grandson’. No. It’s a family. But when the kids grow up, they distance themselves from their parents. They choose another orbit. Some member states believe that it is too hot in the European kitchen. Over time, one needs to give them the possibility to find their place on an orbit that better suits their sense of temperature. But Brexit won’t happen. Brexit won’t happen.”

Source: EBS Audiovisual Services Reuters

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France demands tighter controls of Schengen’s external borders ahead of emergency summit

France has called for tighter and more systematic checks on anyone entering or leaving the 26-country Schengen area, including travellers from EU member states such as Britain who are not in the border-free zone. Dimitris Avramopoulous, the EU Commissioner for Migration, yesterday insisted that no such change is necessary to current rules that say EU passport-holders should be subject to the “minimum checks,” when they enter Europe. EU interior ministers, will discuss these proposals and other French demands in response to the Paris attacks – including the retention of passenger information, and intelligence-sharing on names of felons and people denied entry to member states – at a summit in Brussels tomorrow.

Separately, French President François Hollande yesterday confirmed that France will stick to its agreed quota of accepting 30,000 refugees over the next two years, saying the government “will do the necessary checking before allowing them on our territory.”

Source: The Daily Telegraph Handelsblatt Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung The Wall Street Journal The Guardian

House of Lords vote for votes at 16 in EU referendum could blow government’s timetable off course

The House of Lords yesterday voted to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the EU referendum by 293 votes to 211. The Daily Telegraph reports that Tory MPs who want to leave the EU and who had been considering supporting the Lords amendment in a bid to delay the referendum – a move they believe would boost the prospect of a Leave vote – have changed their minds and will support the government in the Commons in voting against the measure. The Times cites a spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission as saying that the enrolment of 1.5 million teenagers to the electoral register would take less than a year.

Source: The Daily Telegraph The Times

Lord Rose: UK business should “speak up about Britain’s place in Europe”

Lord Rose, who chairs the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign, writes in the Financial Times, “British businesses large and small are employers, innovators and investors. Their decisions are shaped by the terms on which they are able to trade in 28 European markets. Today I have one clear message to them: speak up about Britain’s place in Europe. As someone with four decades of business experience…I refuse to accept that British business should be a silent partner.” He goes on to argue, “Those who want Britain to leave Europe need to explain how their plans to stop contributing to the EU budget and end the free movement of citizens between Britain and other EU states are compatible with the full, unfettered single market access we now have. They need to provide evidence of how Britain’s trading position would be improved in the future settlement they imagine.”

Source: Open Europe Intelligence: Ten questions for the ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ campaigns The Financial Times The Financial Times: Rose

Germany debates upping military response to terrorism at home and overseas

Spiegel Online reports that Angela Merkel’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU, and the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), are in favour of increasing the powers of the German army to combat terrorism domestically – a measure that is opposed by the centre-left SPD. The Paris attacks have also started a debate on whether or not Germany should commit soldiers to combat IS in Syria and Iraq. Separately, Klaus Witt, Deputy State Secretary at the Interior Ministry, has told Handelsblatt of the government’s plan to build a secure system to register all asylum seekers arriving at its borders.

Source: Spiegel Online Handelsblatt

Hungary to launch case against EU refugee quotas at ECJ

The Hungarian parliament has approved a bill that will allow Budapest to challenge the EU’s refugee-quota at the European Court of Justice. The Slovakian government says it will do the same.

Source: EUobserver

Russia tables UN proposal for West to combat IS alongside Assad

Russia has submitted a new proposal at the UN Security Council to fight the Islamic State, despite a previous draft being rejected by the US, Britain and France due to the proposed participation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The new proposal contains a similar provision, however, Russian UN representative Vitaly Churkin said he hoped world powers would now reach a consensus.

Source: EurActiv Reuters Deutschland Süddeutsche Zeitung

Commission warns a number of states may not reach renewable energy targets in 2020

The European Commission yesterday released an update on the state of the EU’s ‘energy union,’ calling for “an urgent political push” to create an alternative to Russian gas supplies. The report also highlighted that Hungary and Poland look unlikely to meet their targets for renewable energy in 2020, while doubts remain over France, the UK, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Malta. Despite this, the Commission insisted that the energy project union remains “on track.”

Source: Open Europe Intelligence: Rotten Foundations? Europe 2020 European Commission Press Release Politico

Greek government makes final tweaks to ‘multi-bill’ ahead of parliament vote

Following objections to a proposed consumption tax on wine by the Independent Greeks, the junior coalition partner of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the Greek government has been forced to tweak the new multi-bill including measures Greece has to pass in order to receive the next tranche of its third EU/IMF bailout loan. The Greek parliament is expected to vote on the multi-bill tonight. Tsipras has this morning asked SYRIZA MP Gabriel Sakellaridis – the government’s former spokesman – to resign after the latter said he would not take part in tonight’s vote. Separately, Greek MPs yesterday voted to cut their gross salary by 10% as part of the 2016 budget.

Source: Kathimerini Kathimerini 2

Portuguese President to consult parties again over formation of new government

Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva will tomorrow hold another round of talks with all parties represented in parliament to discuss the formation of the new government. According to Diário Económico, Cavaco is considering offering Socialist leader António Costa the mandate to form a ‘transitional government’ – meaning that Costa would have to commit to stepping down next year in order to allow for new elections.

Source: Diário Económico Diário de Notícias Jornal de Negócios