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Open Europe :Lisbon Treaty will create embryonic EU 'Home Office'

(28/10/2009) Open Europe's research on the EU's impact on civil liberties, published yesterday, is reported in the Mail, Telegraph and the Express. EU ministers and the European Commission are currently negotiating a raft of controversial proposals, which are expected to radically increase the EU's role in policing, criminal and security matters.

They include a target to train a third of all police officers across the EU in a "common culture" of policing, and the mass collection and sharing of personal data - including DNA records - into an EU-wide database. The Mail notes that money from the EU's £1billion justice and home affairs budget for 2010 alone is also being used to look at whether CCTV cameras can be installed to predict whether somebody is about to commit a crime - not just to catch them if they do so.

The Express notes that the Lisbon Treaty will see the creation of a committee on EU 'internal security' - the equivalent of a fledgling EU home office.

Open Europe's Stephen Booth is quoted saying, "Ratification of the Lisbon Treaty will see powers over justice and home affairs policy almost completely shifted to the EU level. We are fast approaching a situation where the EU will have the full coercive machinery of a state, but without the proper democratic controls or robust checks on power that citizens should expect.''

The Telegraph notes Open Europe's argument that the UK's so-called 'opt-out' from justice and home affairs under the Lisbon Treaty is a "smokescreen" concealing the UK Government's role in promoting a common approach to EU home affairs policies. It quotes the report saying: "In practice, the UK has often been a key driver of policy, and has in some instances even exported domestic initiatives to the rest of the EU, particularly those that increase the power of the state over the individual."

Mail Express Telegraph Ziua.net Open Europe press release Open Europe research

€50 billion to make External Action Service the "top diplomatic network in the world"

El País reports that EU foreign ministers yesterday approved plans for the EU External Action Service (EAS), to be created if the Lisbon Treaty comes into force, confirming it will consist of 7,000 employees, and will require an investment of €50 billion before 2013. EU High Representative Javier Solana declared that it would be "the top diplomatic network in the world".

Under the EAS the 130 Commission delegations currently spread around the world will be converted into European Union delegations, with the view of establishing in 10 or 15 years communal consular services. The article reports that one Ambassador indicated that, while individual countries would continue to maintain their own embassies, the EAS would allow for the integration of activities and resources, now currently dispersed between distinct parts of the Union and individual governments. The plans will be approved by heads of state on Thursday.

El País El País 2 La Vanguardia OE blog

Brown assigns senior officials to lobby for Blair as EU President

The Guardian reports that Gordon Brown has asked two of his most senior civil servants to lobby discreetly throughout the EU for Tony Blair to become its new president amid warnings that the former prime minister will lose his chance unless he launches a dynamic campaign.

John Cunliffe, the prime minister's most senior Europe adviser, and Kim Darroch, Britain's EU ambassador, are taking soundings at senior levels. The article notes that senior Whitehall sources are warning that the post will slip away unless Blair becomes involved. "Tony is in considerable difficulty unless he actively engages," said one senior figure familiar with the workings of Whitehall and the EU.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband yesterday also gave his firm backing to Blair. The Times quotes him saying, "Member states have to ask themselves if they want a powerful or a weak Europe. If they want to establish a strong European voice, then the question becomes, who are the candidates? It would be good for Britain and for Europe if Mr Blair was that man."

The front page of the Independent asks whether his "pro-EU speech" was "a job application" for the job of EU Foreign Minister.

Guardian Times Independent Independent: Richards Independent: Leader

Merkel favours low-profile candidate for EU President but could 'live with' Blair

The Mail reports that a "foreign backlash is growing" against Tony Blair's candidacy for EU President, noting that leading political figures in France, Germany, Austria and Poland warned yesterday that the former prime minister was an unsuitable candidate. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is thought to be the most unpredictable factor in Blair's potential appointment, with the Economist's Charlemagne noting that reports in Germany suggest that she favours ex-Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel for the job.

The Telegraph quotes a source close to Merkel saying that she "can live with" Blair but would prefer a low profile candidate rather than a world leader. The Economist's Charlemagne notes that "I wonder if I can sniff the beginnings of a consensus that it is easier to have a less than superstar candidate for president, balanced by a high-achiever from a big country for High Rep."

In an interview with Le Monde, Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg's Prime Minister and president of the Eurogroup, said that he could "not distinguish the areas where the United Kingdom has given proof of a true European spirit in the last ten years, excluding defence". Mr Junker described the role of the EU Foreign Minister as "more international ...International relations in Europe have stopped to pass solely through the Berlin, London and Paris channels."

In the FT, Gideon Rachman argues "Mr Blair is particularly controversial, but any high-profile European president would be a divisive figure. For unlike the Chinese president, the president of the EU would not speak for a unified polity...it is too soon to appoint a high-profile 'president of Europe'. If the new president claimed to speak for the nearly 500m citizens of the Union - without a direct mandate - he would invite a backlash in Europe and humiliation in the rest of the world."

Mail Telegraph FT: Rachman Guardian 2 Guardian: Monbiot Guardian: Leader FT: Brussels blog Telegraph: Hannan blog FT: Rachman blog BBC: Hewitt blog BBC: Today programme Irish Times Irish Times: Hennessy Spectator: Coffee house blog Mail: Hastings Telegraph 2 AP El Mundo Telegraph: Riddell Economist: Charlemagne notebook Die Welt El Mundo EurActiv Economist: Charlemagne notebook Le Monde

This morning Open Europe held a panel debate, entitled: "Eurozone: out of the woods, or off the cliff?" with Otmar Issing, former member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank; David Marsh, Chairman of the London and Oxford Group; and Derek Scott, former Economics Advisor to Tony Blair, and Vice-Chairman of Open Europe. A summary of the event and a link to a recording will be available on the events page of our website by the end of the day.

Telegraph OE events page

Lord Heseltine: Cameron will need to "reach an accommodation" with the EPP

The Times reports that Lord Heseltine, the former Deputy Prime Minister, predicts that, if he wins power, David Cameron will have to rejoin the European People's Party (EPP) in the European Parliament soon after the election. He is understood to have warned the party leadership at a private meeting last week that its current stance would be deeply damaging to Britain's foreign policy interests. He suggested that the Conservative leader would inevitably have to "reach an accommodation" with the EPP - even though that would be extremely difficult to achieve without losing face and enraging party activists.

Times Independent: Dejevsky

Czech Constitutional Court meets today to hear complaint against Lisbon Treaty

The Telegraph reports that the Czech Constitutional Court will hold a hearing today to consider a complaint against the Lisbon Treaty from 17 Czech senators, with the senators calling for a 15-member panel to assess whether the Treaty could lead to the creation of a European "superstate". The BBC reports that several observers have said the Court is unlikely to decide on the complaint in one day. AFP quotes Czech PM Jan Fischer saying, "My forecast is that the court will not decide in this matter (on Tuesday)".

The Prague Daily Monitor quotes Czech Europe Minister Stefan Fuele saying the "Benes decrees" will not be mentioned in the opt-out from the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The article notes that Hungary had previously threatened to block a possible exemption for the Czechs if the decrees were mentioned in the text.

Prague Daily Monitor Telegraph Irish Times AFP BBC

EU debating whether to send its own mission to space

Spanish newspaper El Mundo reports that the EU is considering whether to send its own mission to space, the topic of the "Space exploration" conference beginning last Friday in Prague and the first joint meeting between the EU and the European Space Agency which will count 29 countries. Future plans for missions to the Moon and Mars will be debated.

On the same topic, French Education and Research Minister Valerie Pecresse gave a speech on 23 October in Prague declaring that "with the international space station, we have taken the first step. We have to go even further...And the role of the European Union can only be reinforced with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. Therefore, Europe is legitimated to take this international cooperation initiative in the exploration of the solar system."

FrenchForeignMinistry El Mundo

French MEP slams Commission's 'major review' of EU budget

EUobserver notes that French MEP Alain Lamassoure (EPP), Chairman of the European Parliament's Budget Committee, has criticised the Commission's review of the EU budget, which foresees less money for EU farmers. He condemned the "very innovative" nature of the proposal, saying it "sometimes comes close to provocation".

Meanwhile, Bruno Le Maire, France's Agriculture Minister, declared during questioning in the French National Assembly that "The biggest support to French agriculture is the European Union. In addition, France is the main beneficiary of the CAP; it is essential to guarantee that it will continue to benefit from it since the CAP constitutes France's principal mean of getting its contribution back from the European budget."

The EU's post-2013 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) may well include a 'third pillar' on climate change and make direct support for farmers subject to the delivery of "public goods" such as biodiversity or sustainable farming practices, according to a draft European Commission proposal seen by EurActiv.

French Foreign Ministry Euractiv Euractiv 2

The IHT reports on the scale and financial cost of fraud within the EU's sugar markets and notes that the EU invests €50 million of aid annually in the sugar market and argues, "no commodity is more susceptible to fraud, chicanery and rule-bending, experts say, than simple household sugar".


EP President defends travelling circus to second seat in Strasbourg

Euractiv reports that the EU Parliament President, Jerzy Buzek, has defended the Parliament's second seat in Strasbourg seat. The European Parliament's rotating seat is estimated to cost tax payers 200 million Euros a year, as parliamentarians travel between Brussels and Strasbourg. Buzek commented that Strasbourg is a "symbolic city" representing the European Union in miniature.


Far-right moves towards forming a grouping in European Parliament

EUobserver and Euractiv report that right wing parties from across Europe have formed a coalition inside the European Parliament. Five parties including France's Front National, Italy's Fiamma Tricolore, Belgium's Front Nationalists, and Jobbik all signed up to a nine-point declaration at the weekend. The British National Party and Austria's Freedom Party have also expressed an interest in joining, whilst negotiations are also taking place with far right groups from Spain and Portugal. To form a formal grouping in the European Parliament, and gain access to additional resources, would require a minimum of 25 MEPs from at least 7 member states.

EUobserver Euractiv

Private Eye's Brussels Sprouts column considers the German court ruling on the Lisbon Treaty saying that Germany's highest court can, in principle, overturn judgements from the ECJ, and and writes, "Germany starting to say no if it does not like a Brussels edict could open the door to other countries picking and choosing EU laws...David Cameron, and others looking for Lisbon wriggle-room, should watch closely."

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Dutch financial group ING is to sell its insurance assets valued at €22 billion in a bid to repay the €10 billion it received state aid last October. In the Irish Times, Chris Hitchings, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, is quoted saying, "The reason selling the whole lot is because Kroes told them to...They don't want to." So it seems.

FT FT: Lex Guardian City am Times WSJ Telegraph Irish Times El País El País 2 Cinco Dias

The Commission has ruled out a mandatory requirement that firms sign up to its lobbyist register.


Dutch daily Trouw suggests that, "Angela Merkel used to be known as the Climate Chancellor. But not any more, surely not in Brussels". The article suggests that the proposed new German EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger will seek an economic portfolio in the next Commission and quotes him saying that the Commission "should not trespass its competences with regards to environment".

Trouw Hamburger Abendblatt Hamburger Abendblatt 2 SZ Online Bild

The European Commission has set a deadline of 27 November to decide whether to approve Germany's €4.5bn of state aid for Magna's takeover of Opel.


FAZ reports that Poland wants to sell its rights to produce carbon emissions and the Polish Environment Minister has declared they want to sell a part of those for €40 million.


The EU is to increase civilian aid to Afghanistan to over €1bn a year, following NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Ramussen's claim that, "In Afghanistan, the Europeans have to do more".

Le Figaro Financial Times

A campaign has been launched in Belgium by human right groups and federations of lawyers, doctors and journalists, urging Belgium not to implement the EU's Data Retention Directive.

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