27 November 2015

Large majority of Irish voters want UK to remain in the EU and back key UK reform demands

A new Ipsos MRBI poll for the Irish Times has found that 74.6% of Irish voters want the UK to remain inside the EU compared to 12.7% who would prefer to see the UK leave. In the event that the UK were to leave, 74% of Irish voters would want Ireland to remain in the EU regardless, while 13% would also want to leave. The poll also found a majority of Irish voters backed key elements of David Cameron’s renegotiation objectives; 58% backed giving national parliaments a collective veto right, 59% backed the right to opt out of further EU integration, 54% backed limits on free movement for countries joining the EU and 70% backed ending child benefit payments to migrants’ children who stayed in their home country.

Source: The Irish Times The Irish Times 2

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UK and 18 other member states call for targets to cut EU regulation

In a letter to European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, the UK, France, Germany and 16 other EU member states collectively accounting for over 80% of EU GDP, call for “a regulatory system fit for the 21st century. This means better and simpler regulation.” While recognising the progress the current Commission has already made in terms of improving competitiveness, the letter states that “we feel this could be further strengthened… Like you, we recognise the need to address the quality of EU legislation as well as to reduce its overall regulatory burden,” also adding that “one particular – and essential – reform is still missing: we now need to establish targets for reducing the burden of regulation in particularly burdensome areas.”


Dijsselbloem says ‘mini-Schengen’ may be only option, while Rutte warns of EU collapse without border controls

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the Eurogroup of finance ministers, has told a group of international newspapers that he is “not very optimistic” about the future of the border-free Schengen Area, adding that though he is not in favour of a ‘mini-Schengen’, “If the EU cannot better protect its external borders, then a smaller group of countries will have to do so.” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has warned that, unless the EU stops the “massive influx” of refugees, it could suffer the same fate as the Roman empire. “Big empires go down if borders are not protected,” he said. Meanwhile, a Dutch high court on Thursday upheld a government policy of refusing food and shelter to rejected asylum-seekers who refuse to be repatriated, giving legal backing to one of Europe’s toughest immigration policies.

Separately, the German EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger has accused his country’s asylum system for being “a magnet for refugees,” and that numbers can only be reduced by removing incentives. EUobserver reports that Sweden intends to deport 22,000 refugees – of which 14,000 have disappeared.


Dutch PM: UK’s EU membership “is vital” for the Netherlands

Speaking to foreign journalists in The Hague yesterday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte – whose country will take over the EU’s rotating Presidency on 1 January 2016 – said of the UK’s EU renegotiation, “I’m not sure we will get to a conclusion [at the EU summit] in December. That has to be seen. At least we should be able to make a very serious start.” On the issue of stronger safeguards to protect the rights of non-Eurozone countries, Rutte said, “I do understand that [David Cameron] wants some reassurance on how to deal with that. I’m not sure exactly how we are going to do that without hurting some of the other interests.” He also said of Cameron’s plans to limit EU migrants’ access to welfare, “We could find common ground: not to do exactly what [Cameron] has asked for, [but] something that would deliver what he needs within what is acceptable for eastern European countries. Where exactly that landing spot is, I don’t know. I can see it from here, but I cannot draw it from here.” He added, “For the Netherlands, the [EU] membership of the UK is vital because it is one of the few countries which is market and growth-orientated together with Sweden, Denmark and Poland. We need that outside-trade, growth-oriented look.”


Corbyn faces shadow cabinet revolt on military action in Syria as France ready to cooperate with Assad troops

David Cameron on Thursday made his case for airstrikes against the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) in the House of Commons, with Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn facing an open revolt from the majority of his Shadow Cabinet after he told MPs he could not support British military action in Syria. Only three of 31 Shadow Cabinet ministers voiced opposition to the strikes, with Corbyn expected to be forced to give his ministers a free vote when the issue to comes to the Commons next week. French Defence Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, writes in The Guardian today, “We need British defence capabilities to win this war…It is France’s hope that British forces will soon be working side by side with their British counterparts to take this fight to the very heart of Isis.” Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, told broadcaster RLT this morning, that while France is still in favour of removing Assad, “We can work with the Syrian Free Army, Sunni-Arab states, and why not [Assad’s] regime-units?”


Eurozone officials approve new list of measures Greece needs to pass to get next tranche of bailout cash

Eurozone officials in the Euro Working Group (EWG) yesterday approved a new list of thirteen ‘prior actions’ Greece is expected to pass by mid-December in order to receive the next €1bn tranche of its third EU/IMF bailout. According to Kathimerini, the measures include the settlement of non-performing loans, the new public sector salary system, and the set-up of a task force to deal with the creation of Greece’s new privatisations fund.


France experiences highest unemployment surge in more than two years

New data published yesterday shows that the number of jobless claims in France rose by 42,000 (1.2%) in October compared to the previous month – marking the highest monthly increase since April 2013. French President François Hollande has repeatedly said that he will not stand in the 2017 presidential election unless he manages to “reverse the trend” and reduce unemployment.


French Foreign Minister denied Schulz’s request to attend Paris climate change conference

In a feature piece on European Parliament President Martin Schulz, Contexte cites a senior diplomat as saying that during a meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Schulz said that he should be allowed to attend the COP21 Paris climate change conference, to which Fabius replied that it was reserved for heads of state and government, and that the European Parliament is not a country.