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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

02.03.11: Croatia's justice system still not up to scratch, EU report says - 0 views

  • Brussels - Croatia's efforts to reform its judicial system, fight crime, prosecute war criminals and protect minorities are still not good enough for European Union membership, a report concluded Wednesday.
  • The negative findings meant the commission was unable to recommend closure of talks with Croatia on the judiciary and fundamental rights, a key step towards accession.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

12.01.11: Kroes: Commission 'not shy' on Hungarian media law | EurActiv - 0 views

  • Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said yesterday (11 January) that the European Commission would not make any compromise and would make sure EU law is implemented fully in the case of the controversial Hungarian media law.
  • But Kroes made clear that the directive was "an instrument to find the issues to tackle" and that if problems were identified, Reding would be called into play, in respect of Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty. Article 7 reads that after a reasoned proposal by one third of EU member states, by the European Parliament or by the European Commission, the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a member state of the EU values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

07.01.11: Brussels wants bondholders to help pay for future bank failures - 0 views

  • The public would be spared from further pain in bailing out banks in the future, with bondholders instead footing more of the bill under plans unveiled on Thursday (6 January) by the European Commission to give EU national regulators more powers to intervene ahead of any crisis.
  • "The impact on taxpayers is obvious," the EU executive said in a statement, adding that the existing arrangements covering how to deal with such crises retained "serious shortcomings." "We must put in place a system which ensures that Europe is well prepared to deal with bank failures in an orderly manner - without taxpayers being called on again to pay the costs," said internal market commissioner Michel Barnier.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

17.12.10: New European e-Government Action Plan: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. - 0 views

  • On December 15, in conjunction with the conference on Lift Off Open Government (see previous post), the European Commission issued its communication to to other European institutions (such as the Parliament and the Council) about the European eGovernment Action Plan 2011-2015. The subtitle of the communication is quite intriguing: Harnessing ICT to promote smart, sustainable and innovative government.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

17.12.10: EU's big three call for long-term budgetary restraint - 0 views

  • The EU's three largest member states - Germany, France and the UK - are set to publish a text on Saturday (18 December), calling for spending restraint in the bloc's long-term financial framework (post 2013). Initiated by British Prime Minister David Cameron, the letter will call for a freeze in the long-term spending plan, excluding inflation, and also seek to rein in the bloc's 2012 and 2013 annual budgets.
  • The move puts the group of large member states on a direct collision course with the Brussels-based EU institutions, already battered after their call for a six percent rise in next year's EU budget was cut in half by national capitals. With the commission not set to publish formal proposals on the multi-annual financial framework until June 2011, the EU institution may also perceive London's latest initiative as a move to undermine its right of initiative. Still undecided, the framework's period is likely to cover 2014-2020. It is then broken down into annual budgets. Poland and other eastern countries may also be horrified by the attempt to curb future EU payments of which newer member states are large recipients. But other EU members are also set to sign the austerity-letter, with Austria, Italy and Finland among the names suggested by diplomats.
  • European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso sought to downplay the letter's significance. "We know different groups of member states sometimes try to position themselves," he said. "What is important in the end is the commission's proposal that is being put forward [next June], and then the discussions on the basis of that proposal." European Council President Herman Van Rompuy was also phlegmatic. "If there are letters, we are very polite people, we read our letters we receive," he said.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

16.12.10: UK seeking concessions on long-term EU budget - 0 views

  • British Prime Minister David Cameron is pressing EU leaders in the margins of a European Summit in Brussels on Thursday (16 December) to support a declaration on limiting the size of the EU's future multi-annual budget (post 2013), diplomats have indicated. Although the budgetary issue is not formally on the summit's agenda, the UK leader is hoping to garner the support of enough member states in order to publish a letter later today or on Friday.
  • Mr Cameron is under pressure from elements of his own Conservative Party to limit future EU spending, especially as national governments implement thumping austerity packages back home. London recently lost its battle to freeze spending in next year's annual EU budget which is decided by majority voting among member states, unlike the long-term framework which needs unanimity.
  • A tie-up between the size of the future EU budget, Britain's EU budgetary rebate and funding for the common agricultural policy (CAP) is one deal rumoured to be under discussion between France and the UK. France is adamant that CAP funding should not be cut. Poland has been the leading opponent of attempts to limit the size of the multi-annual framework which is then subsequently broken down into annual spending plans. "What is the most important from our point of view is for the budget not to be reduced significantly, because we believe the funds flowing to Poland and other countries help us fight the crisis," Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told reporters hours before the summit.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

16.12.10: Neue eGovernment-Initiative der Europäischen Kommission - 0 views

  • Die Europäische Kommission hat auf der Lift-off towards Open Government Conference in Brüssel ihren neuen eGovernment Action Plan für die Jahre 2011 bis 2015 vorgestellt. Das Vorhaben soll die Teilhabe europäischer Bürger und Unternehmen am gemeinsamen Wirtschaftsraum verbessern und die Chancen der Informationsgesellschaft für die wirtschaftliche Entwicklung weiter erschließen. Dazu strebt der Action Plan unter anderem eine nahtlose Überführung der bisherigen eGovernment-Dienste in eine neue Generation von offenen, flexiblen und kollaborativer Services auf lokaler, regionaler, nationaler und europäischer Ebene an. Dazu sollen in den nächsten fünf Jahren insgesamt 40 verschiedene Maßnahmen durchgeführt werden.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

02.11.10: Brussels lays down plans for permanent bailout mechanism - 0 views

  • With the future of the euro currency in the balance, the European Commission on Wednesday (1 December) outlined details for a permanent strategy to help countries at risk of defaulting on their debts.
  • The European Commission presented plans for fundamental treaty changes that will extend the current aid mechanism – the European Financial Stability Facility – beyond its 2013 sunset provision. Details of the proposal will be debated by European leaders at their next EU summit on 16-17 December. The changes, which have been rumoured in financial markets for weeks, would increase risk for sovereign investors. Under the proposal, bonds issued after June 2013 would include a provision to allow creditors to renegotiate new terms if the country is on the brink of insolvency.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

30.11.10: EU-institutions say first ever citizens' initiative - organized by Greenpeac... - 0 views

  • The entry into force of the EU's new citizens' initiative (ECI) - a petition procedure under the Lisbon Treaty allowing European citizens to demand action in a particular area - is likely to be welcomed by a legal battle between Greenpeace and the EU institutions. The environmental NGO has successfully collected the required 1 million signatories in a petition calling on the EU to ban GMOs, but officials from both the European Commission and the European Parliament say the move is premature.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

26.11.10: Progress in talks about EU budget - 0 views

  • A series of compromises and a new draft of next year's EU budget has increased optimism that member states and the European Parliament can reach a deal on the 2011 spending plan before Christmas. But parliament's call for a role in discussions over the bloc's next multi-annual budget (post 2013) could still scupper a final accord.
  • A day earlier, member-state diplomats agreed to drop previous calls for unanimity voting on decisions to transfer money between EU budget headlines. Parliament has made the greater level of spending flexibility, provided by member state qualified majority voting, a key demand in the ongoing battle over the 2011 EU budget.
  • Officials from all sides will next meet on 7 December to discuss the budget draft, in a bid to enable a parliamentary vote on the final version at its 15 December plenary session, the last of the year. Sources say Mr Barroso's announcement this week to come forward with proposals on EU 'own resources' in June 2011 has enabled both parliament and member states to claim victory on the controversial issue by breaking the link with the 2011 budget debate but ensuring future discussion on the subject. Now the parliament's demand for a role in discussions over the EU's post-2013 multi-annual budget remains the main outstanding stumbling block.
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  • MEPs insist they are allowed a greater say under the Lisbon Treaty, while national capitals have appeared reluctant to hand the legislature a greater role in the already complex negotiations. If decision on this issue is left to European leaders meeting in Brussels for a summit on 16-17 December, parliamentary approval could be kicked to an extraordinary session just days before Christmas. Total failure to reach a deal between the two sides will see this year's EU budget rolled over into 2011 on a month-by-month basis.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

24.11.10: EU-Commission will put forward proposals as to own resources - strongly oppos... - 0 views

  • European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was cheered in the European Parliament on Tuesday (23 November) when he outlined plans to publish an official proposal on EU self-funding before the end of June 2011. A fresh draft of next year's budget is also expected before 1 December.
  • Parliament has said debate on the controversial 'own resources' issue is a key demand in the ongoing battle over next year's annual EU budget, but France, Germany and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy have all indicated they oppose the idea of an EU tax. "We will use our right of initiative to put forward formal proposals as to own resources before the end of next June," Mr Barroso told MEPs in the Strasbourg plenary chamber. "The proposals ... will make large endeavours to achieving a consensus in the future. We're open to any ideas," he added.
  • "I am against the introduction of an EU tax," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier this month. "I do not think that redesigning the way the EU get its revenue is a top priority," Mr Van Rompuy said a week later. Reacting to Mr Barroso's announcement, non-attached UK MEP Diane Dodds called on British Prime Minister David Cameron to clearly state that proposals for an EU tax would trigger a referendum in the country.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

23.11.10: Merkel - euro in 'serious condition'. Rehn - adoption of the Irish budget in ... - 0 views

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday (23 November) warned that the euro is in an "exceptionally serious" situation as the European Commission issued a veiled warning to the Irish political class not to topple the government. "I don't want to paint a dramatic picture, but I just want to say that a year ago we couldn't imagine the debate we had in the spring and the measures we had to take," she said in a speech in Berlin to the Confederation of German Employers, the BDA.
  • Meanwhile, EU economy commissioner Olli Rehn issued a veiled warning to Irish opposition politicians not to topple the government. Speaking to reporters in Strasbourg asking about worries the Fianna Fail-Green government in Dublin could fall, Mr Rehn said: "Stability is important." "We don't have a position on the domestic democratic politics of Ireland but it is essential that the budget will be adopted in time and we will be able to conclude the negotiations on the EU-IMF programme in time."
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

23.11.10: New Single Market Act needs to be pushed through - 0 views

  • The message was clear and universal: José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, needs to take a stronger leadership role to push through the Single Market Act, according to a debate on Thursday (18 November).
  • Simply put, the single market is the framework of rules that help goods, services, money and people move across borders. The single market means fewer hassles, taxes and paperwork at custom and immigration crossings. It's the reason mobile phone bills have declined 70% and airfares by 40% since 1992, according to the Commission. But too many European citizens and businesses don't see the benefits, and Lord Leon Brittan, a UK government trade advisor, said that's because the market has not fully delivered on its promises: "You can't buy goods online in other member states and small and medium-sized enterprises can't access other markets because of onerous requirements."
  • "Where are the concrete proposals?" he asked. Indeed, many of the 50 seem to lack punch, including: No. 7: Next year, the Commission will adopt a white paper on transport policy, which will propose a series of measures intended in particular to remove the remaining obstacles identified between national systems of transport. No. 10: Before 2012, the Commission will look into the feasibility of an initiative on the ecological footprint of products to address the issue of the environmental impact of products, including carbon emissions. The initiative will explore possibilities for establishing a common methodology to assess and label them. No. 32: The Commission will launch a consultation with the social partners (key labour and business representatives) in order to create a European framework for the advance planning of industrial restructuring.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

18.11.10: Commission outlines blueprint for forward-looking Common Agricultural Policy ... - 0 views

  • The European Commission has today published a Communication on "the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) towards 2020 – Meeting the food, natural resources and territorial challenges of the future". The reform aims at making the European agriculture sector more dynamic, competitive, and effective in responding to the Europe 2020 vision of stimulating sustainable growth, smart growth and inclusive growth. The paper outlines three options for further reform. Following discussion of these ideas, the Commission will present formal legislative proposals in mid-2011
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

05.11.10: EU enlargement reports reveal mixed progress for Balkan states - 0 views

  • The European Commission's latest progress reports on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo and Macedonia have revealed wide variation between these neighbouring Balkan states and mixed progress towards EU accession requirements.
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: Poor governance
  • The governance of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is one of the most complex problems facing the Balkan region, according to the European Commission's latest progress report on the country.
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  • Croatia: Praise for anti-corruption and competition policy Compared to its hefty critique of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the commission's assessment of Croatia is much more encouraging. The country made "steady progress" towards meeting the remaining criteria needed to conclude the accession talks that began five years ago. However, the commission does not give a target date for accession.
  • Kosovo: Weak judiciary and lack of media freedom Kosovo is reported to have made progress on meeting political criteria and decentralisation has improved. Even though there has been some progress towards eliminating corruption and organised crime, Kosovo continues to suffer from these problems. The commission has mainly expressed disappointment about the state of Kosovo's judicial system and the lack of media freedom – the judiciary remains weak and the appointment of judges is politically influenced.
  • Macedonia: Unsteady progress and paralysed by naming row Macedonia fulfils the political criteria for EU membership but has made "uneven" progress with reforms during the last year, the commission report on the country concludes. In 2009, Macedonia had been praised for its reforms, prompting Brussels to recommend the start of accession talks with the EU. Negotiations were then blocked by Greece because of the unresolved name dispute between the two countries. This year, the commission is more critical but does not revoke last year's opinion on the start of accession talks.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

04.11.10: A first look at the European Commission progress reports on enlargement due t... - 0 views

  • "The EU's enlargement process has gained new momentum since the [European] Commission adopted its last progress reports, notwithstanding the many other challenges the Union faces." These are the opening words of the European Commission's Enlargement Strategy, which will be officially presented next Wednesday (10 November) together with the progress reports for the Western Balkan counties, Turkey and Iceland. WAZ.EUobserver has seen the report in advance.
  • "All need to focus on good governance, improving the rule of law, speeding up economic reform and improving their capacity to adopt and implement the acquis. Several complex problems remain, including the governance of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the name question concerning the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Open bilateral issues remain and differences over Kosovo's status have held up regional co-operation," the strategy underlines.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

Parliament warns EU summit against backroom deals - 0 views

  • Ahead of an EU summit opening today (28 October), Liberal group leader Guy Verhofstadt warned that the European Parliament was determined to use its new powers under the Lisbon Treaty and would not let economic governance plans be "diluted" by Germany and France.
  • But Verhofstadt, who leads the Parliament's Liberal group, warned that such backroom deals were now over. The European Parliament, he said, would have full co-decision powers on legislative proposals that will come out later in the year to flesh out the EU's new economic governance. His warnings were echoed by other political groups in Parliament, including the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), which commands the largest number of seats in the Strasbourg assembly. Iñigo Mendez De Vigo, a Spanish MEP in charge of institutional issues at the EPP, said he welcomed the Task Force's proposals. But he added that "they should take into account that the European Parliament is now co-legislator and will play its full part in defining the reforms to come".  "I regret that the French-German proposal does not even mention the European Commission, which also has a say on this issue," De Vigo said, adding the Parliament should also be more involved. The Greens, the fourth largest group in Parliament, also backed the Liberals and the EPP, in a move which could herald a long battle with member states over the economic reform plans. The Parliament "will be a co-legislator on four of the six legislative proposals" on economic governance, said Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts, saying his group was "in favour of a more ambitious and broader economic framework than the Commission and Council". Verhofstadt said he hoped this new battle would not take nine months, referring to the time it took to pass a recent package of financial supervision laws through the assembly.
  • In a statement, Verhofstadt detailed the three key areas where the Task Force had diluted the Commission's initial proposal and on which he said Parliament was ready to pick a fight. First, the Commission had proposed to impose sanctions on member countries with excessive deficits or severe imbalances at an earlier stage, without delay. By contrast, the Task Force argues that a political decision should be taken on the proposed sanctions, meaning that they could be blocked by a country capable of putting together a blocking minority. The result is that there will be no preventive procedure and therefore no sanctions, the liberal group leader warned. Second, the Task Force foresees a "double filter" for decision-making, involving a political recommendation by the Council before the Commission can take action. In practice, this means the Commission will be allowed to take sanctions only after a certain period, Verhofstadt said. Finally, while the EU executive had proposed that corrective action or sanctions be initiated directly by its own services, the Task Force called instead for a recommendation that would need subsequent backing by the bloc's 27 finance ministers. "It's easy to change a recommendation, and far more difficult to change a proposal by the Commission, because in that case you need unanimity," Verhofstadt explained.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

14.10.10: EU states and MEPs clash over international talks - 0 views

  • Member states are considering taking the EU Parliament to court if it does not back down on demands for new powers on EU foreign policy and international agreements, EUobserver has learnt. Ambassadors representing member states at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday (13 October) signaled their discontent over an inter-institutional agreement between the European Commission and the EU legislature which may give fresh powers to euro-deputies, especially when it comes to international negotiations on behalf of the EU.
  • The draft report, according to an analysis by the council of ministers' legal services, could lead to a stand-off between EU institutions if adopted as such next week in Strasbourg. "The court option is not off the table," one EU source said. Ambassadors will come back to the matter in their meeting next Wednesday, following the MEP's vote in the plenary. The crux of the matter is to what extent MEPs can be part of EU delegations to multilateral and bilateral meetings and negotiations with other countries. According to the draft, the Parliament wants to have its representatives guaranteed participation in all multilateral, but also bilateral agreements "of particular political importance" - for instance on trade or fisheries.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

National interests creating tension in EU commission - 0 views

  • A group of EU commissioners from smaller member states is growing increasingly angry with a number of their larger-state colleagues, perceiving their actions as being driven by national interests rather than the greater European good. "We have sworn in front of the European Court not to work for our national governments back home and I am taking it seriously," a frustrated commissioner from a smaller EU country said in an off-the-record conversation with EUobserver last week.
  • "The bigger the EU becomes the more it becomes intergovernmental and the more the commission is regarded as an executive secretariat for the council," says Belgian MEP Derk Jan Eppink, a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists group in parliament. Author of Life of a European Mandarin – Inside the Commission, Mr Eppink previously worked in the cabinets of former commissioner Frits Bolkestein and subsequently that of Siim Kallas. "Commissioners from larger member states frequently feel they have to produce the goods for their governments back home, while those from smaller countries realise they don't have the capacity to do this," he said, pointing to former commissioner Gunter Verheugen's willingness to stand up for German industry.
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