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Open Europe Klaus looks to delay Lisbon Treaty ratification with amendment on Charter of Fundamental Rights

(10/10/2009) The Times reports that Czech President Vaclav Klaus has demanded an amendment to the Lisbon Treaty, which could pose a further delay to ratification. Klaus is seeking unspecified guarantees on the Charter of Fundamental Rights - the declaration being incorporated into EU law by the Treaty.

Polish daily Rzeczpospolita quotes a Czech source saying, "We have expertise, which shows that in accordance with the Charter it will be possible to reclaim property rights in Czech Republic. We cannot allow judges from Malta or Spain, who know nothing about our history, to decide whether Sudeten Germans have right to their property."

The article notes that Klaus' move has sparked anger in other EU capitals, with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner saying, "We are not going to change the Lisbon treaty. It has been approved by the Czech parliament and by the Czech senate in the precise terms in which everybody has accepted it." Swedish Prime Minister and holder of the EU Presidency Fredrik Reinfeldt said, "I spoke by phone today with President Klaus. I told him this is the wrong message at the wrong time for the EU. I told him clearly it is his ink on the paper that counts, and I do not want this to delay the treaty going through as soon as possible." The Independent quotes Reinfeldt saying, "We need clarification on exactly what he is asking for...As I understand, it's linked to the Charter of Fundamental Rights. It's a footnote, but he didn't define it."

Meanwhile, after a series of contradictory statements over Polish plans to sign the Treaty, several newspapers report that the Polish President Lech Kaczynski will sign it this Saturday. The Polish President's Chief of Staff, Wladyslaw Stasiak, made the announcement on TVN24 yesterday: "The president will sign the treaty on Saturday at noon".

Times WSJ Telegraph Irish Independent Mail BBC: Hewitt's blog Euractiv Focus OE24 AFP Irish Times Independent BBC CoulissesDeBruxelles EUbusiness Ihned.cz Rzeczpospolita PRcenter Abendblatt EUobserver AFP

Liberal Group in EP urges Swedish President to appoint EU Foreign minister and President even before Lisbon Treaty is ratified

De Standaard reports that the leader of the Liberal Group in the EP, Guy Verhofstadt, has said that the Swedish Presidency should begin implementing the Lisbon Treaty and appoint an EU Foreign Minister and a President, despite the Treaty not yet being ratified in all member states. "We don't have to wait for Lisbon. Just start with the procedure for those appointments. That's the best way to put pressure on the Czech Republic". The newspaper also reports that Verhofstadt has urged the Swedish Presidency to start appointing the European Commission on the base of the current rules of the Treaty of Nice.

The Sun notes that Peter Mandelson could be lined up for a top job within the EU, if Tony Blair becomes President of the European Council. Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague is quoted saying that "It would be outrageous if the British people voted out a Labour Government only to find Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson setting themselves up in power in Brussels."

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn has said that "Tony Blair does not have the necessary profile on European Union issues or on the major questions of world politics," according to AFP. Sueddeutsche Zeitung reports that France and Germany may support Tony Blair for the role of EU President in reprisal at the Conservatives' decision to leave the EPP group in the European Parliament.

EUobserver notes that "It is widely agreed that a politician of Mr Blair's standing would take the post far beyond the largely administrative role foreseen in the treaty" and quotes Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso saying that "The European Commission will not accept the idea that the president of European Council is the president of Europe."

Standaard Standaard 2 Spiegel FR Sueddeutsche Der Standard

175m of EU funds to protect against dangerous landslides 'goes missing' in Sicily

Le Figaro reports that in the last seven years, 175 million has been given by the EU to the Italian region of Sicily for "the protection and strengthening of mountainside basins, urban centres and infrastructures" but the funds have been either used to finance the region's budget deficit or have disappeared. On 30 September torrential rain has caused landslides in the city of Messina which resulted in 25 deaths, 35 missing persons and 704 homeless people.

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Cameron pledges to return powers from EU

Yesterday David Cameron made his closing speech at the Conservative Party conference. The Telegraph reports that he did not promise a referendum on Britain's relationship with the EU but pledged to claw back powers. The article quotes from the speech: "Let's work together on the things where the EU can really help, like combating climate change, fighting global poverty and spreading free and fair trade...But let's return to democratic and accountable politics , the powers the EU shouldn't have."

Meanwhile, a leader in the Economist describes the Lisbon Treaty as "deeply shabby". However, it goes on to argue that if the Treaty is already ratified by the time a Conservative government came to power it "would be dangerous and pointless" to have a referendum. It adds, "It could soon turn into a debate about Britain leaving the union - a considerable worse result for everybody."

Telegraph Economist: Leader Express: Forsyth

An article in the Telegraph, looking at the Committee of European Securities Regulators criticism of the EU's proposed AIFM Directive, cites Open Europe's research which found that hedge fund and private equity industries contribute 7.9bn in tax to the coffers of EU governments each year - including 5.3bn to the UK Government alone.

Telegraph Open Europe research Open Europe press release

Con Coughlin: If you think the UK Foreign Office is useless wait until the EU gets its own foreign minister

In the Telegraph, Con Coughlin argues that "if you think the Foreign Office is useless at the moment, just wait until the EU gets its way and sets up a 'High Representative' for foreign and security policy - or a foreign minister, to you and me." He notes that "The representative will have the authority to negotiate treaties on behalf of the EU, which would give him greater powers than the president to shape its destiny", adding that "The fact that the federalist European People's Party, the largest group in the European parliament, is actively pressing for the EU's overseas missions to be given embassy status provides a clear indication of the direction in which the EU's diplomatic ambitions lie. The EPP also wants the EU to have a seat on the UN Security Council, taking the place of either Britain or France, or both."

Telegraph: Coughlin

EU accused of colluding with logging industry to downgrade protection of forests

The Irish Times reports that the EU has been accused of changing the text of the current REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) agreement after lobbying from the logging industry. This means "<...> that the industry could continue logging old forests, accelerating climate change", said Greenpeace's forest policy expert, Grant Rosoman.

Irish Times

A series of Judges have been appointed or re-appointed at the European Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance, the EU's top Courts, for a period until 2015, reports the EU Law blog.

EU Law blog

In the Telegraph, Charlie Brooks asks whether British farmers "would actually be any better off under a Tory government", noting that Nick Herbert, the Conservatives' rural spokesman, vowed at a meeting at the party's conference that they would be better than Labour at turning up to EU meetings to fight UK farmers' corner, and at fighting costly EU directives.

Telegraph: Brooks

Egemen Bagis, Turkey's chief negotiator for the accession to the EU has called the French proposal of a special partnership with Turkey "insulting".

Euractiv FR Euractiv EN

The Times reports that Lord Mandelson is withholding about 400 million worth of loan guarantees from the buyers of Vauxhall because he believes the UK is being shortchanged over jobs.

Times Telegraph

A "clean coal" power plant at Hatfield colliery in Yorkshire is in pole position to collect 165 million in funding from the European Commission to develop carbon capture storage technology.


The WSJ reports that European Union governments are divided over a plan to extend antidumping tariffs on Chinese and Vietnamese shoe imports.


The Telegraph reports that, after today's meeting of EU transport ministers, the UK is expected to be the only EU country to retain restrictions on taking liquids on aircraft.


EUobserver reports that the European Commission has said it will not initiate proceedings against Italy over the government's alleged breach of press freedoms, despite demands from Liberal, Socialist and Green parliamentarians.


Open Europe is an independent think tank campaigning for radical reform of the EU. For information on our research, events and other activities, please visit our website: openeurope.org.uk or call us on 0207 197 2333.

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