29 October 2015

US Trade Representative warns against expectations of individual UK trade deal post-Brexit

The United States is not keen on pursuing a separate free trade deal with Britain if it leaves the EU, according to the US Trade Representative Michael Froman. “I think it’s absolutely clear that Britain has a greater voice at the trade table being part of the EU, being part of a larger economic entity,” he told Reuters. “We’re not particularly in the market for [free trade agreements] with individual countries. We’re building platforms…that other countries can join over time.” The US, which has just sealed a major trade deal with eleven other Pacific nations (TPP), wants to wrap up negotiations with the EU on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) by the end of next year.

Meanwhile, Andrea Leadsom, the UK Energy Minister, told BBC Radio 4, “Britain could make a good place for itself inside or outside the EU. Reform is essential and that’s what the Prime Minister is determined to get.” Open Europe Co-Director Stephen Booth appeared on ITV News at Ten noting that, based on previous EU free trade negotiations, talks over a new UK-EU relationship following Brexit could take several years to complete but this would ultimately depend on the type of relationship Britain sought to negotiate and how far this deviated from its current membership.

Source: Reuters The Guardian ITV News The Times The Daily Telegraph

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Berlin and Vienna trade barbs as Germany extends "temporary" border controls

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has written to Brussels to confirm that Germany will extend its temporary border controls for the second time until 13 November, accusing Austria of abandoning a bilateral pact to manage flows of asylum seekers in an orderly way. “Austria’s behaviour in all this in last few days has not been in order,” he said on Wednesday. Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann sought to play down fears that Vienna is considering fences at its borders, telling broadcaster ORF, “We will not fence ourselves in.”

The Times reports that almost a million people have applied for asylum in Europe and other industrialised countries this year, with Germany receiving over 200,000. Handelsblatt writes that Germany’s 2016 draft budget is at risk of imploding as an additional €3bn is needed for the costs of the crisis. Speculation is rife that members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU, could leave their ministerial posts in government unless a deal is brokered at a CDU/CSU summit this weekend. Meanwhile, Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar issued a statement yesterday urging other EU countries to help “in the next few days…or Slovenia, too will have to take additional measures on the border and other measures needed to curb the influx of migrants.”

Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung Spiegel Online Handelsblatt Cerrar Press Release Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung The Times The Financial Times

“Reform of EU lawmaking is now at least as important as any one-off repatriation of powers”

Andrew Tyrie MP, Chair of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, writes in The Guardian that the UK’s renegotiation presents an opportunity for the entire EU to regain legitimacy. “Reform of the process of lawmaking (and unmaking) is now at least as important as any one-off repatriation of powers. The legislative ratchet, embodied in the commitment to ever-closer union, must be ended,” he writes. Meanwhile, The Daily Mail accuses David Cameron of throwing away “his pretence” that he’s keeping an open mind over Britain’s membership of the EU, following his criticisms of a ‘Norway-style’ relationship with the EU. A leader in The Times argues that, “Euro-enthusiasts, Eurosceptics, Euro-realists: all now have a duty to present precise visions of how Britain should evolve in the next decade.”

Source: The Times: Leader The Guardian: Tyrie The Daily Mail: Leader Open Europe Blog

French Central Bank Governor: ECB asset purchase programme “is a long-distance run, not a sprint”

French Central Bank Governor told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the ECB’s asset purchase programme “is a long-distance run, not a sprint…The current programme is working well. One cannot expect [to see] its full effect after six months. One has to give it time so that it can bear its full fruit.” Separately, ECB Chief Economist Peter Praet said that the ECB will “re-examine the [policy] toolbox…I said to the economics department, you work without taboos.”

Source: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: Noyer Reuters

Greek government to submit new raft of measures to parliament in bid to unblock bailout cash

The Greek government is today expected to submit to parliament a new multi-bill including the remaining measures that Greece needs to pass in order to secure the next €2bn tranche of its EU/IMF bailout loan. According to sources quoted by Kathimerini, the money looks now unlikely to be disbursed until the next meeting of Eurozone finance ministers on 9 November.

Source: Kathimerini

Front National leader suspected of letting fellow MEPs vote in her place while absent from parliament

The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) group yesterday demanded that the European Parliament open an investigation into whether Front National leader Marine Le Pen let fellow MEPs from her Europe of Nations and Freedoms (ENF) faction vote in her place while she was absent – in breach of European Parliament voting rules. Le Pen said, “If these facts are proven, this person [who voted in my place] will have to answer for it.”

Source: Politico Le Figaro Le Monde France Info

EU member states grant carmakers more leeway on emissions

EU member states yesterday voted to water down proposals for a new testing framework for cars that would crack down on the techniques used by carmakers to doctor their emissions’ results in tests. According to media reports, the Netherlands was the only country that wanted to oblige new diesel models to conform to the EU limit. But France, Germany, and Italy – all countries with car industries – opposed strict conformity. Spain, Hungary, and Slovakia reportedly also favoured a watered-down approach.

Source: The Financial Times The International New York Times

MEPs reject Commission compromise on GMO opt-outs

The European Parliament yesterday voted by a huge majority (557-75) against a hard-fought compromise by the European Commission, that would have allowed member states to themselves decide whether or not to important Genetically Modified Organisms for use in animal feed and food.

Source: EurActiv EUobserver

German Vice Chancellor announces top-job ambitions

German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister, Sigmar Gabriel of the SPD has told Stern, “Of course I want to become Chancellor if the SPD nominates me. There is no question.” Only 16% of Germans say they can imagine Gabriel as Chancellor ahead of the 2017 German federal elections.

Source: Handelsblatt

FACT CHECK: What would a ‘Norway-style’ relationship with the EU entail?

In a change of tactics, David Cameron decided yesterday to take on those advocating UK withdrawal from the EU based on the ‘Norway model.’ Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe, discusses with Bloomberg why the Norwegian model would not be an option for the UK if it left the EU. Meanwhile, Open Europe’s Stephen Booth argues that, whether it’s the Norwegian, the Swiss or any other option, the central issue those advocating withdrawal face is articulating a model for the UK outside of the EU which balances continued access to the single market (particularly in services) and influence over the rules of the market on the one hand, with ultimate control over migration (i.e. not being subject to EU free movement of people) on the other. If this cannot be done, then life outside the EU will continue to look very unclear. Read the full analysis here.