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Bert Koenders, the Dutch Foreign Minister, has told Dutch daily De Volkskrant that, in the wake of the Paris attacks, his country has opened negotiations with neighbouring EU governments to seek a radically scaled-down version of the passport-free Schengen travel area. Under the plan, a borderless territory of Austria, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands would be formed. Passport checks would be carried out at frontiers with other EU countries such as France, Italy and Poland. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière acknowledged that talks had taken place but added, “Our political goal must be that the Schengen area as a whole functions.”
The Times Politico De Volkskrant
Members of the terrorist cell which carried out the attacks in Paris took advantage of the refugee crisis to “slip in” to France, according to the country’s Prime Minister, Manuel Valls. He said the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone would be “undermined” if Europe did not tighten security at its external borders. The French lower house yesterday passed a bill to increase police powers as part of a three-month extension of the country’s state of emergency.
Meanwhile, French officials at the UN have circulated a draft declaration calling on countries to “redouble and co-ordinate their efforts” against Isis. France’s bid came after Russia submitted a revised text of a separate draft resolution that calls for fighting Isis with Syria’s consent. That draft has been rejected by the US, Britain and France, which are refusing to co-operate with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph: Leader
The Wall Street Journal
The Financial Times
Peter Cruddas, the Conservative Party’s former treasurer, is donating £1m to Vote Leave – one of the two groups campaigning for Britain to leave the EU. Meanwhile, The Times reports that the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign is in talks to hire Jim Messina – the US campaign strategist for Barack Obama in the 2012 US presidential election and the Conservative Party in the 2015 UK general election. Separately, The Irish Independent cites Open Europe research estimating that, in a worst case scenario, Ireland could see a permanent loss to GDP of 3.1% in 2030 if the UK were to leave the EU.
Open Europe Intelligence
The Financial Times
Writing in Die Welt, London correspondent Thomas Kielinger argues that the attacks in Paris will “discernibly change the climate of the negotiations over the British EU referendum. The events in Paris shore up Cameron’s intuition that there is no alternative to staying in a reformed EU, if only from a security perspective… However, given the need for unity with regards to the terrorists’ claim to power, the Europeans will also reconsider what Britain’s continued membership is worth to them.”
Die Welt: Kielinger
A new Ipsos-Mori poll has found that 65% of Scots want to stay in the EU – the highest level ever. Only 22% of respondents are in favour of leaving.
A group of 29 journalists from several EU member states has lodged a case against the European Parliament at the European Court of Justice over its refusal to disclose how MEPs spend their so-called general expenditure allowance of €4,299 per month. The money is intended to cover office costs but it is paid out as a lump sum without any need to provide receipts. Some MEPs have tried to introduce a more transparent and rigorous scrutiny regime but the moves have been defeated by the two largest blocks in the Parliament. EUobserver reports that the European Parliament’s secretariat says that additional transparency would require hiring between 40 and 75 new staff members, something which MEPs have said they do not want to pay for.
The Financial Times reports that the potential deal between the EU and Turkey on managing the refugee crisis has run into trouble after both sides demanded the other make the first move in terms of delivering on their respective pledges. At a meeting on Monday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk pushed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a timetable for measures intended to discourage refugees in Turkey from continuing their journey to Europe including tighter border controls and awarding work rights to two million Syrians. The meeting turned “sour” after Erdogan demanded that the EU deliver the €3bn in financial support it has promised and set a clear political path to open several chapters in its stalled EU membership talks.
The Financial Times
The Greek parliament yesterday adopted the ‘multi-bill’ including the remaining measures Greece needed to pass in order to be paid the next tranche of its EU/IMF bailout loan. Two government MPs – one from SYRIZA and one from junior coalition partner ANEL – refused to back the bill, and were therefore expelled from the respective parliamentary groups. This means the Greek government’s parliamentary majority has shrunk to only three MPs.
The minutes of the October ECB meeting, published yesterday, show that the Governing Council discussed the possibility of boosting stimulus measures immediately in light of weak regional and global growth. “Against this background, the view was put forward that a case could be made for considering reinforcing the ECB’s accommodative monetary policy stance already at the current meeting and, in any case, to act sooner rather than later”, the minutes read. The Governing Council agreed to re-examine its entire stimulus strategy at the upcoming meeting on 3 December.
Open Europe’s Raoul Ruparel appeared on CNBC’s Worldwide Exchange programme this morning discussing the EU response to the Paris attacks and highlighted that serious divisions remain between member states over how to deal with the security and refugee challenges facing the EU. Meanwhile, Nina Schick noted on LBC radio that EU Interior Ministers will today agree on measures to beef up the external borders of the Schengen Area. Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe told Australian Radio ABC on its RN Breakfast programme, “Raising borders would impose a high cost for very little gain in terms of fighting terrorism, which can be done more effectively by intelligence agencies. Open Europe’s Vincenzo Scarpetta appeared on BBC World Service arguing that “it’s too early to tell” whether we are going towards the end of the passport-free Schengen travel area, adding, “I would expect some changes to the rules governing Schengen, similar to what already happened in 2011 at the request of French President Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi. However, one should not underestimate the huge symbolic importance Schengen has – meaning that many EU leaders are prepared to go the extra mile to avoid scrapping it altogether.”