7 April 2016

Large victory for ‘No’ camp forces Dutch government to reconsider ratification of EU-Ukraine deal

In the referendum that took place yesterday, Dutch voters rejected the Association Agreement establishing closer economic and political ties between the EU and Ukraine by 61.1% to 38.1% – with 0.8% of blank ballots. Turnout was low at 32.2%, but above the 30% threshold required for the referendum to be valid. Commenting on the result, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the ratification of the EU-Ukraine agreement “can’t simply go ahead. We will now begin a step-by-step process. The cabinet will discuss [the result]. There will then be consultations with the lower house [of the Dutch parliament] and our European partners. We will take time for that. It will take weeks, rather than days.”

Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko said that “strategically, [the result] does not imperil Ukraine’s path towards Europe”, while the country’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said, “While we would have hoped for a better result, when it comes to the practical implementation nothing has changed. The Agreement, as up until now, continues to apply provisionally.”

Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe was interviewed by Danish newspaper Berlingske and described the ‘No’ vote as “the result of EU reform not being taken seriously.”

Source: The Financial Times The Guardian

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Two new polls give Remain one point advantage as government sends anti-Brexit leaflet to every household

Two online polls published yesterday give the Remain side a one point lead over Leave. A YouGov poll has Remain on 39% (-1%) and Leave on 38% (+1%) with 23% undecided, while an ICM poll has Remain on 44% (-1%) and Leave on 43% (no change) with 13% undecided.

Meanwhile, the government has come under fire after announcing yesterday that it would send out a pamphlet to 27 million homes at a cost of £9.3m warning that an EU exit would cause an “economic shock”, “risk higher prices of some household goods and damage living standards” and put jobs at risk. Justice Secretary and Vote Leave Chair Michael Gove described it a “disgraceful” use of public money. Meanwhile, Vote Leave also come under pressure after sending out a leaflet purporting to contain neutral information about the EU and containing none of the group’s standard branding, prompting Shadow Leader of the House Chris Bryant to lodge a complaint with the Electoral Commission. Open Europe’s Raoul Ruparel appeared on Sky News yesterday, discussing the veracity of various claims made by both sides in the referendum campaign.

In a speech later today addressed at young voters, Prime Minister David Cameron will argue that “young people are less likely to vote than older people. Yet you’re the ones that are going to be most affected by the outcome – more than any other vote in your lifetime. The jobs you’ll do, the prices you’ll pay, the chances you’ll get to work, study and travel – so many of your future opportunities are connected to whether Britain is in or out of Europe. And remember: it’s widely accepted there would be an economic shock if we left. Who gets hit hardest by those shocks? Young people.”

Source: The Daily Mail The Daily Telegraph The Times

European Commission’s asylum reform plans trigger mixed reactions

The European Commission yesterday unveiled plans to overhaul the EU’s current asylum system. Under one set of proposals, the so-called Dublin system – which allows migrants to be deported back to the country in which they first entered the EU – would be upheld but a “corrective fairness mechanism” would be introduced to redistribute migrants in emergency situations. Under another more radical option, the Dublin principle could be replaced completely with a mandatory “distribution key” to enforce EU burden-sharing of asylum claims. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras welcomed the measures calling them a “positive step forward.” However, Czech Europe Minister Tomas Prouza tweeted, “Permanent quotas once again? How long will the EU Commission keep riding this dead horse instead of working on things that really help?” Both Hungary and Slovakia have pending legal challenges against the EU’s quota system.

Meanwhile, UK Brexit advocates warned that, if the Dublin system is scrapped, it will hamper the UK’s ability to deport migrants. Chris Grayling, leader of the House of Commons said, “It’s a clear sign that even in areas where we have opt outs, decisions taken elsewhere will affect us anyway. Our national interest is likely to be of secondary importance when sorting out challenges like this.”

Source: European Commission EUObserver Twitter: Prouza

New poll: Frankfurt’s financial hub would be the biggest beneficiary of Brexit

A poll among the 12,000 members of the ACI Financial Market Association – a trade group for the currency market – shows that two-thirds of respondents think a Brexit would weaken the City of London’s position in the currency market, while 13% say a vote to leave the EU would be good for the City. Most respondents believe that Frankfurt’s financial hub would be the biggest beneficiary of a Brexit – followed by Paris, New York and Dublin. 80% of respondents said they think the UK will vote to stay in the EU.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of JP Morgan, Jamie Dimon, has warned in a letter to shareholders that, although the EU is “bureaucratic and dysfunctional”, Britain should stay in as “the range of outcomes of a Brexit is large and potentially unknown.”

Source: Reuters Deutschland The Times

Sturgeon: In event of Brexit, independent Scotland could negotiate continued EU membership from within

Speaking to BuzzFeed News, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon claimed that “if we’d voted Yes [to independence] in 2014, [we] would have remained within the EU while we transitioned from being a member as part of the UK to being an independent member. I think that same route would be possible if the UK votes to come out – and we’re talking ifs along the way here – if the UK votes to come out and if Scotland then opted to be independent.” However, she added, “I wouldn’t choose for [Scottish independence] to come about in the circumstances where the UK comes out of the EU…I don’t want to see the rest of the UK to do something I think would be really damaging for them.”

Source: BuzzFeed News

Leaked German police report: EU-Turkey migrant deal not yet working

The recently concluded EU-Turkey deal is not yet deterring migrants from coming to Europe, according to a leaked report from the German police’s task-force for migration seen by Die Welt. “The current lower number of arrivals is primarily due to the bad weather conditions and there is currently no indication that policy packages are having their desired effects”, the report states.

Meanwhile, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the President of the African Union Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma warn in a joint-op-ed in Die Welt that “Europe and Africa are sitting in one boat. Unless the EU helps tackle Africa’s problems, they will come to Europe.”

Source: Bild Die Welt Die Welt: Juncker and Dlamini-Zuma

Cameron personally intervened to water down EU tax transparency drive in 2013

The Financial Times reports that UK Prime Minister David Cameron personally intervened in 2013 to weaken an EU proposal that would have forced member states to create national public registers that disclosed the true ‘beneficial’ owners of shell companies and trusts. In a letter written to then President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, Cameron said, “It is clearly important we recognise the important differences between companies and trusts. This means that the solution for addressing the potential misuse of companies, such as central public registries, may well not be appropriate generally.” The article notes that this resulted in the EU placing less scrutiny on trusts than was originally intended.

Source: The Financial Times The Times

Fine Gael offer Fianna Fáil a deal to form government as Irish MPs fail to elect new PM

Irish MPs yesterday failed to elect a new PM for the second time, with current caretaker and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin both falling short of a majority. Both parties are expected to meet later today to discuss a proposed deal that Fine Gael has offered Fianna Fáil. Kenny called on Martin to participate in a “full partnership” government, and Minister for Agriculture, and member of the Fine Gael negotiation team, Simon Coveney said, “I think it is a generous offer, it is not a political manoeuvre.” The Irish Times reports that, while there are many on the Fianna Fáil front benches who favour the deal, Martin and others in the party’s organisation remain opposed. However, the paper also reports that Fianna Fáil would be prepared to support a minority Fine Gael-led government if Enda Kenny can get a majority in the lower house of the Irish parliament with Fianna Fáil abstaining. This would require Kenny securing 58 votes, seven more than he received yesterday.

Source: The Irish Times

French Economy Minister launches his own political movement

French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron yesterday launched his own political movement, called ‘En Marche!’ (Forward!). He said, “I am in a left-wing government…but I also want to work with people who see themselves as right-wingers.” However, he added, “This is not a movement to have yet another candidate to the [2017] presidential election. This is not my priority today.”

Source: Europe 1