30 April 2015

New poll finds majority of British businesses want to stay in the EU but with powers returned to Westminster

The latest British Chambers of Commerce EU barometer found that 63% of the 3,800 businesses surveyed said that withdrawing from the EU would have a negative impact, while 12% and 11% said it would have a positive impact or no impact respectively. The poll also found that 55% of businesses felt that remaining inside the EU but with specific powers transferred from Brussels back to Westminster would be a positive scenario compared to 10% who felt it would be negative. Open Europe Director Mats Persson is quoted in the Sun as saying “I think the Conservatives could reclaim some powers, strengthen the role of the UK Parliament and have more of a Common Market-style membership. That’s what the UK joined for in the first place.” Open Europe’s Brexit barometer, which estimated the prospect of the UK leaving the EU at 17%, is cited by Bloomberg.

Source: BCC press release The Sun Bloomberg Business

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La Stampa: Germany and ECB discuss plan to replace Tsipras

Italian daily La Stampa reports that Germany and the ECB are discussing a ‘Plan B’ that would involve replacing the government led by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras with a technocratic cabinet and allowing Greece to default without leaving the Eurozone. Meanwhile, a new GPO poll for Mega TV shows that 75.6% of Greeks want their country to stay in the Eurozone at any cost. According to a separate Marc poll for Alpha TV, 65.1% of respondents are in favour of an agreement between the Greek government and its creditors – while only 31% support a rift between the two sides.

Separately, Greek MPs yesterday passed legislation to re-open former state broadcaster ERT – which was shut down by the previous government. Kathimerini reports that technical talks between Greek government representatives and officials from the EU/IMF/ECB Troika will resume in Brussels today. EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici told El País, “With or without [Finance Minister Yanis] Varoufakis, Greece’s problem remains the same: Athens must present a conclusive list of reforms, and quickly. There’s no time to waste.” Asked about the recent reshuffle of the Greek negotiating team, Varoufakis told German weekly Die Zeit, “I set the tone. I’m still responsible for the negotiations with the Eurogroup.”

Source: La Stampa Kathimerini International New York Times Mega TV Alpha TV Reuters El País

German BND spy agency helped US target France

The BBC reports that a leaked German intelligence document shows the German intelligence agency BND helped US intelligence spy on French officials, the EU’s headquarters and European businesses.

Source: BBC

Juncker pledges to push for EU-wide refugee quota system

In a speech to the European Parliament yesterday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said, “I will call…for the establishment of a [refugee] quota system…It will need to be done. We can’t leave the management of refugees relocation only to the member states that are directly concerned. This is about shared solidarity.” Juncker also said that it was “a grave mistake” to put an end to Mare Nostrum – Italy’s own search-and-rescue operation in the Mediterranean.

Source: European Commission press release The Daily Telegraph Open Europe blog

Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage could both fail to win their parliamentary seats

A new Lord Ashcroft poll has found that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg trails the Labour in his Sheffield Hallam seat by one point while UKIP leader Nigel Farage trails the Conservatives by two points in South Thanet.

Source: Lord Ashcroft polls

Denmark: Justice Ministry Report says referendum unnecessary for Banking Union

DR reports that, according to a Justice Ministry report released today, a referendum does not need to be held on joining the EU’s banking union. The government’s position is that Denmark should join the banking union and will seek approval from a majority of the Folketing.

Source: DR

Italian government survives first of three confidence votes on new electoral law

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s government yesterday won the first of three confidence votes on its new electoral law by 352 to 207 votes. 38 MPs from Renzi’s party refused to cast their ballot – a much smaller ‘rebellion’ than expected. Two more confidence votes are scheduled for today, with the final vote on the bill due next week.

Source: La Repubblica La Stampa

MEPs criticise Hungarian PM Orbán over immigration questionnaire and death penalty comments

MEPs have criticised plans by Viktor Orban, Hungary’s Prime Minister, to poll Hungarian citizens on whether they agreed that immigrants endanger their livelihoods and spread terrorism as well as comments suggesting that the reintroduction of the death penalty should be considered.

Source: The Financial Times BBC