2 October 2015

New Open Europe research finds majority of Tory MPs have not yet made their minds up about EU membership

Ahead of the Conservative party conference, Open Europe has today published an analysis of where Conservative MPs stand on EU membership based on their recent public statements on the issue. The research finds that 14 and 44 MPs are ‘Firmly In’ or ‘In leaning’ respectively, 203 are swing voters, while 47 and 22 MPs are ‘Out leaning’ or ‘Firmly Out’. Many of the MPs classified as swing voters said they were waiting for the final results of Prime Minister David Cameron’s renegotiation.

The findings were featured in The Times, with Open Europe’s Pawel Swidlicki quoted as saying, “The number of proponents and opponents of EU membership within the Tory party is relatively balanced. However, the number of undecided MPs easily outnumbers both of these groups, underlining how important it will be for Cameron to secure a comprehensive and ambitious reform package.” Open Europe’s findings have also been widely cited in the domestic and international media including by Reuters, Bloomberg, City AM, Le Figaro and the Dutch National News Agency.

Source: Open Europe blog The Times Reuters Bloomberg City AM The Daily Telegraph Le Figaro

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New poll shows falling support for EU membership as rival Brexit camps fall out

A new ICM poll released yesterday found that 45% of voters favour Britain remaining in the EU compared to 38% who back the country’s withdrawal. This compares to 61% supporting continued membership and 27% backing withdrawal back in June. Meanwhile, Leave.EU, the UKIP-affiliated ‘Out’ campaign hit back at former Conservative chancellor Lord Lawson after he announced he would be leading Conservatives for Britain as part of the rival cross-party ‘Out’ campaign, and warned against ceding the field to “less moderate, xenophobic voices.” UKIP donor and Leave.EU founder Arron Banks argued that “It would be better if the Eurosceptic Tories just shut up as they are going to alienate the vast majority of people who will look at this campaign as a Tory stitch-up.”

Source: The Daily Telegraph The Daily Telegraph 2 The Daily Mail The Sun

Schäuble: Germany will not balk at Treaty changes for ‘two speed Europe’

In an interview with Die Welt, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble is questioned about the migration crisis noting that the EU needs a “European asylum law and European asylum policy – quickly!” Questioned on the hesitancy of member states to give up national sovereignty to battle European challenges, Schäuble notes, “this willingness is developed differently in various EU member states… that is why we need to pick up the idea of ‘two-speed Europe’ again. The Germans are prepared to give up national rights when it comes to asylum policy…I also see this willingness in France – even for financial questions. Germany will not balk at Treaty changes in these matters.”

Source: Die Welt: Schäuble

Majority of Germans afraid of large number of refugees while Merkel’s popularity rating at lowest since 2011

A new ARD-Deutschlandtrend poll shows that 51% of Germans are afraid of the large number of refugees coming to the country – a 13 percentage point increase compared to last month. This coincides with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s popularity rating dropping by 9 percentage points to 54%, which is her lowest score since December 2011. The rating of CSU Chief and Minister President of Bavaria Horst Seehofer, who has been criticial of Merkel’s refugee policy, has increased by 11 percentage points to 39%.

Source: ARD-Deutschlandtrend

Greece should not expect big debt write-down, head of Eurozone rescue fund says

Klaus Regling, the Managing Director of the Eurozone’s rescue fund, the ESM, told the Financial Times, “The Greek government realises there will be no nominal [debt] haircut – and for good reasons. The Greek government should sell what has happened already…very positively to their electorate, to the Greek population, because the benefits are there in any case.”

Source: The Financial Times: Regling

Russian strikes in Syria to dominate Paris Summit of ‘Normandy Four’

Western leaders have criticised Russia’s airstrikes in Syria after reports that it has been indiscriminately conducting military operations against the Syrian opposition (including groups backed  by the West) rather than against Islamic State (IS) militants. German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier criticised Moscow’s intervention saying that Russia “now needs to put efforts into ending the ‘deadly standstill’ in Syria,” while French President François Hollande said that it was essential to ensure that “the strikes, regardless of who is carrying them out, target Daesh [IS] and not other groups.” Russian President Vladimir Putin today travelled to Paris for a meeting of the ‘Normandy Four’ which also includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko. The talks were meant to focus on the situation in Ukraine, but Syria is now expected to dominate. Open Europe’s Nina Schick appeared on Bloomberg TV this morning discussing the summit.

Meanwhile, Ukraine and Russian-backed rebels in the country’s east have agreed to withdraw all remaining heavy weapons and combat equipment from the front line, in a move that a separatist official said could herald “the end of the war”. Stepan Poltorak, Ukraine’s Defence Minister, said on Thursday that the withdrawal would begin on Saturday if a two-day ceasefire holds. “We are working to prepare the withdrawal,” he said. “Ukraine insists that we are complying with all provisions of the Minsk accords.”

Source: The Financial Times The Guardian EurActiv The Daily Telegraph The Wall Street Journal

New Portuguese election poll predicts inconclusive outcome

According to a new Eurosondagem poll, Portugal’s centre-right governing coalition would win between 102 and 108 seats in Sunday’s general election. The Socialist Party would secure between 89 and 95 seats. This means neither of them would command an absolute majority in the Portuguese parliament, making government formation more difficult.

Source: Open Europe Blog SIC Notícias

Majority of EU states ask to ban genetically modified crops

Fifteen of the EU’s 28 member states, including Germany and France, have requested to be allowed to ban genetically modified crops in their territories by using EU rules that came into force last April. The rules will allow them to ban GMO crops on their territories even if that GMO has the required EU-wide stamp of approval. The UK has requested a partial opt-out, applying only in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Source: Open Europe blog EUobserver Greenpeace Euronews

Spanish PM confirms general election will take place on 20 December

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy used an interview on TV channel Antena 3 yesterday to officially announce that the Spanish general election will take place on 20 December. “The reason is that, if [the election] were held on 13 December, we would have to constitute the new parliament during the Christmas period”, he argued.

Source: El País El Mundo

EU states to scrutinise each other’s corporate tax regimes

EU finance ministers meeting in Luxembourg next week are expected to reach political agreement on the automatic exchange of tax rulings, a proposal launched by the European Commission earlier this year in the wake of the Luxembourg Leaks scandal. The proposal will oblige states to share details of their tax rulings with other member states, as part of a broader move towards greater corporate tax transparency across the EU.

Source: Irish Times

Open Europe at Conservative Party Conference

Open Europe invites you to join us for a series of events on EU reform, the renegotiation and the referendum at the 2015 Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. On Sunday, we will be hosting an event entitled ‘EU reform, renegotiation and referendum – where do we stand?’ Speakers include David Frost CMG, CEO of the Scotch Whisky Association, and Chris Heaton-Harris MP. On Monday, alongside the Institute of Directors, we will host a panel including Bruno Macaes, the Portuguese Europe Minister, and Jaqueline Foster MEP to discuss ‘How to build a coalition for EU reform.’ We will also return with our popular ‘Beers of Europe’ evening reception – kindly sponsored by JD Wetherspoon – with short remarks by Andrea Leadsom MP. Finally, on Tuesday, alongside IPPR, we will host a panel including Thérèse Coffey MP and John Longworth, Director-General of the British Chambers of Commerce to explore what ‘In’ should be and what ‘Out’ could be.

(Please note that these events are in the secure zone, and you will need to apply for your pass on the Conservative Party Conference website. Open Europe cannot provide you with a pass. Seats will be allocated on a first-come first-serve basis.)