24 July 2015

Obama: UK’s EU membership important to maintaining strength of transatlantic union

In an interview with the BBC, US President Barack Obama argued that “having the UK in the EU gives us much greater confidence about the strength of the transatlantic union…[The EU] has made the world safer and more prosperous, and we want to make sure that the UK continues to have that influence.” Open Europe’s Stephen Booth appeared on BBC Radio London this morning arguing that Obama’s comments illustrated that in the eyes of the US President, without Britain, the EU would be weaker economically, politically and militarily. It is therefore in the EU’s interests to make the reforms that would increase the likelihood of British voters backing EU membership in the forthcoming referendum.

Source: BBC

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Cameron: UK exporters need to look to new markets outside Europe

Writing in The Daily Mail, UK Prime Minister David Cameron says that he wants Britain to be the “most open, trade-minded nation” in the world. He writes, “To do that, we must tap into markets outside Europe; to look to the Commonwealth and beyond. There’s plenty of potential…For too long, Britain has seen the weather-vane pointing to these far-flung lands, but continued to rely on our European neighbours for trade and investment.” He adds, “The EU must do more, too. That is why I’ve put competitiveness and cutting European regulations right at the heart of my plan to renegotiate our relationship with Europe.”


Third bailout negotiations set to begin in Athens amid rumours of SYRIZA split

Discussions between EU/ESM/ECB officials and the Greek government will restart in Athens today with growing concern that there is not enough time to finalise a deal before 20 August, meaning Greece could require a second bridge loan. However, in an interview with Le Monde, Banque de France Governor Christian Noyer said that he wanted to see a Greek bank recapitalisation before the autumn and suggested that the signature of the bailout deal “is expected on 11 August.”

Kathimerini reports that a deal would need to be sealed by 12 August to allow for national parliamentary approvals. Meanwhile, rumours are growing that SYRIZA – the party of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras – could split, with the hard left leaving to form a new party which is against the third bailout. Former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said that the government should “hand over the keys” to those that actually believe in this bailout. Separately, the Greek stock market will remain closed until at least Monday.


Senior CDU MP steps down as Bundestag’s Home Affairs committee chair in protest over third Greek bailout

Senior CDU MP Wolfgang Bosbach yesterday resigned from his position as chair of the Bundestag’s Home Affairs committee in protest at the government’s decision to start negotiations over a third bailout for Greece, although he would remain as an MP following appeals from his local party executive. Speaking to journalists yesterday, Bosbach complained that people who questioned whether the Greek bailouts were working were “quickly put into the anti-European corner”.

Writing in Bild, Florian Kain argues, “Democracy needs MPs that do not only nod their heads to everything from the government front bench but who rely on their own heads – also when this leads to criticism and opposition. Wolfgang Bosbach is such an MP…The CDU leadership should be glad they still have such a popular politician in their ranks.”


Beppe Grillo: Italy needs Plan B to leave the euro

Beppe Grillo, the leader of Italy’s anti-establishment Five-Star Movement, wrote on his blog yesterday, “A Plan B for [euro] exit is essential for Italy, whoever is in government”, adding that the country should “use its enormous [public] debt as a threat” in any future negotiation with its Eurozone partners and “be prepared to nationalise its banks”. Open Europe’s Vincenzo Scarpetta is quoted by The Guardian and Portuguese business daily Jornal de Negócios as saying, “The Greek deal and negotiations have helped [Italy’s anti-euro parties] make the case that it is impossible to reform the euro from the inside.”


Commission launches antitrust proceedings against Sky and six Hollywood studios

The European Commission yesterday issued formal antitrust objections against Sky TV and six US movie studios for using “territorial restrictions” which limit EU consumers’ access to certain paid services that are available to consumers in the UK and Ireland.


UK temporarily lifts EU ban on neonicotinoid pesticides

The Guardian reports that, following lobbying from the National Union of Farmers, the UK has agreed to temporarily lift an EU-wide ban on two neonicotinoid pesticides on around 5% of England’s oil seed rape crop to protect against the cabbage stem flea beetle. The EU-wide ban was imposed after the pesticides were linked to the decline in the number of bees, although the UK disputed the scientific evidence at the time.


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