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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

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

16.11.10: EU budget talks collapse after MEPs seek new powers - 0 views

  • A last attempt to reach an agreement for the 2011 EU budget failed on Monday (15 November) due to reluctance by member states to grant MEPs extra powers in future multi-annual budget negotiations. The EU commission will now have to draft a new proposal, while the first months of next year will be funded on the basis of the 2010 budget.
  • The final collapse was mainly due to disagreements over procedures and extra powers granted to MEPs under the Lisbon Treaty, the EU's new rulebook. Junior ministers from Britain and the Netherlands insisted that the only issue on the table was the budget for 2011 and declined to discuss contentious issues for the long-term budgetary perspective, such as raising more EU "own resources" through supplementary taxes or the "flexibility" of the budget when unexpected expenses arise. Shortly after announcing €95 billion in domestic budget cuts, Britain has spearheaded demands for next year's EU budget to stay frozen at 2010 levels or go up by a mere 2.9 percent, or less than half the MEPs' original request.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

03.11.10: EU leaders back 'limited' treaty change, budget cap - 0 views

  • Britain and other European Union countries put their weight behind Franco-German calls for tougher eurozone rules at a summit today (29 October), agreeing on "limited" changes to the EU's main treaty in return for a cap on the EU budget.
  • Officials struggled to deliver the message that legal tricks could accommodate both Germany's push for treaty change and conflicting calls from several other countries which had rejected the idea. Regarding treaty change, the key word is "simplified", officials explained. A simplified provision, enshrined in Article 48, Section 6 of the Lisbon Treaty, allows member countries to unanimously adopt a decision amending all or part of the main elements of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU), which governs how the Union carries out its work. Such a procedure would avoid the need to call a constitutional convention, experts explained. In addition, the European Parliament would only be "consulted" instead of enjoying full voting rights as part of the normal co-decision procedure. The changes to the treaty are to be settled by mid-2013, before the expiry of the present emergency fund agreed earlier this year to deal with crises such as the one that hit Greece. The objective is to replace that with a permanent mechanism. The simplified treaty change procedure will not enter into force until it is approved by member states in accordance with their constitutions. Most EU countries are expected to ratify the decision by a simplified procedure in their parliaments. As for Ireland, it remains unclear whether a change effected in this way would require another referendum.
  • UK Prime Minister David Cameron appears to have been instrumental in forging a deal, lending his backing to Franco-German calls for treaty change in return for keeping a lid on the EU's 2011 budget. 11 member states, including Britain, France and Germany, will send a letter to the European Commission and Parliament today saying that their plans to increase the EU budget by 5.9% in 2011 are "especially unacceptable at a time when we are having to take difficult decisions at national level to control public expenditure". The letter was signed by the leaders of the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Austria, Finland, Slovenia and Estonia. The bloc's finance ministers had earlier voted for a limited increase in the EU budget of 2.9%. "We are clear that we cannot accept any more than the 2.9% increase proposed by the finance ministers," the leaders say in the letter. Cameron argued that a planned increase in the EU budget would cost his country's taxpayers the equivalent of one billion euros. The 2.9% rise would still cost them £435m (500m euros). Parliament to fight back By agreeing to cap the budget, EU leaders set themselves on a collision course with the European parliament, which has the power to approve or reject the proposed budget. Negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council, which represents the 27 member countries, over the EU's 2011 budget kicked off on 27 October (see 'Background'). "If Cameron is prepared to give up the British rebate [...] then we can for sure discuss a reduction of the budget," said Martin Schulz, leader of the Socialist & Democrats group in the European Parliament, speaking to EUX.TV, the European policy news channel powered by EurActiv. "The European budget is not to be compared with national budgets," said Schulz. "There are no own resources. We have no European taxes. We have no own money. It is money coming from the member states. We can make no debts. The British budget must be reduced because there is enormous debt. Europe has no debts," he said.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

01.09.10: Final agreement between Serbia and EU over Kosovo in Brussels? - 0 views

  • Serbia President Boris Tadic agreed yesterday with British Foreign Minister William Hague that ‘Brussels is the address at which a compromise over resolution that Serbia has filed to the UN General Assembly should be looked for’, ‘Blic’ learns from High Serbian source. The same source also says that Hague has not requested from Tadic directly that Serbia withdraws its resolution, but expressed doubt that a resolution can be amended.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

26.07.10: Iceland membership talks formally begin Tuesday - 0 views

  • At their last meeting before the summer break, EU foreign ministers on Monday (26 July) gave the greenlight for the start of negotiations on Iceland's membership bid. Talks will formally begin on Tuesday. The small north Atlantic island, with a population of just 320,000, has aligned itself with many EU laws and is seen as fitting snugly with the slightly more ineffable European 'norms', but negotiations on a few key issues - such as fishing rights and its traditional whale hunting - are expected to be difficult.
  • In addition, the UK and the Netherlands have linked actual membership with resolution of a dispute over the €3.8 billion in British and Dutch savings, lost in the banking crisis that consumed the nation in 2008. After the Icelandic Icesave internet bank collapsed two years ago, depositers in the UK and the Netherlands were compensated by their governments. The Hague and London now are demanding Reykjavik pay them back.
  • Icelanders themselves in a recent referendum rejected a payout plan that would have cost each household tens of thousands of euros. The disagreement has soured the population's sentiment towards the EU. Immediately after the crisis, a majority of Icelanders looked to the EU as a solution to their problems, but the bitter fight with London and the Hague has slashed support for EU membership on the island. In addition to potential controversial policy issues, there is also the increasingly negative opinion of Icelanders towards EU membership.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

17.06.10: Iceland gets EU green light, but Dutch PM warns of 'hard demands' ahead - 0 views

  • European leaders have finally given the green light for Iceland to begin EU accession negotiations, but the Dutch Prime Minister has indicated it will be hard for the country to join if it does not pay for losses incurred in the Icelandic banking collapse. Mid-afternoon on Thursday (17 June), the summer European Council in Brussels signed off on language approving the start of official talks. The British and the Dutch insisted however on wording that made implicit mention of the ongoing banking dispute.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

10.03.09: Crisis straining EU relations as never before, says UK foreign minister - 1 views

  • The economic crisis is putting relations between EU member states under strain and testing the fundamentals of the European Union to an unprecedented extent, UK foreign secretary David Miliband has said. "The sense of solidarity within Europe, between east and west, rich and poor, new and old is under strain," he said in a speech at the London School of Economics on Monday (9 March).
  • His comments come as there has been increasing talk of divisions between richer western EU nations and some of the poorer nations in the east.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

14.01.09: UK opposition leader vows Lisbon referendum - 0 views

  • David Cameron, the leader of the opposition Conservative party in Britain, has pledged to hold a referendum on the EU's Lisbon treaty if his party is elected later this year.
  • An early election by Mr Brown - the last date by which the government has to call an election is June 2010 - would hand the Conservatives an opportunity to derail the EU's latest treaty, although it has already been ratified by British Parliament and approved by the queen. Britain's Conservative Party, which is generally eurosceptic, is a strong opponent of Lisbon and has long campaigned to hold a referendum on the document.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

27.10.08: EU defence minister supports EU army - 0 views

  • The freshly appointed UK defence secretary has publicly supported the idea of a European army, a key ambition of the French EU presidency.
  • In 2007, during French Bastille Day celebrations in which troops from every EU member state marched down the Champs-Elysees, Mr Sarkozy said the EU should construct a unified military. The Bastille comments followed similar remarks from German Chancellor Angela Merkel in March of the same year on the occasion of the EU's 50th birthday. At the time, she said in an interview that she supported the idea of a unified EU army. However, the UK, the largest of the EU's big-three military spenders ahead of France and Germany, has until now opposed the idea of a common EU force, arguing that it would unnecessarily duplicate tasks performed by NATO. According to the Lisbon Treaty, rejected in June by the Irish in a referendum, the North Atlantic alliance "remains the foundation of the collective defence of [EU] members," with NATO always headed by a US general, however.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

03.07.08: UK foreign minister backs French defence plans - 0 views

  • UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Wednesday (2 July) backed French plans to boost European defence, saying they were not incompatible with NATO and stressing they did not mean creating a European army.
  • Mr Miliband's statements are the first to openly support Mr Sarkozy's defence plans coming from a UK politician of this rank. Britain has traditionally been wary of such ideas – fearing they could undermine NATO, or pose a threat to its national sovereignty.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

26.06.08: UK ratification of Lisbon Treaty confirmed; "Treaty cannot come into force - ... - 0 views

  • UK millionaire Stuart Wheeler's attempt to force a referendum in Britain on the Lisbon Treaty via a High Court order have been defeated.
  • "We have found nothing in the claimant's case to cast doubt on the lawfulness of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty without a referendum," said the judges in their decision, with the treaty now set to become UK law after its parliamentary and royal approval earlier this month.
  • Separately, while the Lisbon Treaty may have received good news from the UK court, Czech president Vaclav Klaus has said the treaty "cannot come into force."
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  • "Any attempt to ignore this fact and make recourse to pressure and political manipulation to move the treaty forward would have disastrous consequences for Europe," he added.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.06.08: UK ratifies Lisbon Treaty ahead of EU summit - 0 views

  • The British parliament has ratified the Lisbon Treaty amid unruly protests, with the country's queen set to approve the document on Thursday (19 June) morning, in time for it to become UK law before the EU summit opens in Brussels. The British upper chamber, the House of Lords, on Wednesday evening voted down by 277 votes to 184 a Conservative Party proposal to delay ratification until October in view of the Irish No referendum last week.
  • With the queen set to approve the so-called EU Amendment Bill by pronouncing the Norman French formula "La Reine le veult" over the document today, the treaty will become British law around 10:00 local time, ahead of the EU meeting this afternoon.
  • Two legal challenges remain to the treaty, with Conservative MP Bill Cash calling on the High Court to rule whether the treaty is "incapable of ratification," and millionaire Stuart Wheeler awaiting a High Court decision on whether Britain should have called a referendum.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.06.08: Irish No to be discussed by EU summit - 0 views

  • The EU's 27 leaders are gathering in Brussels to chew and swallow two hot potatoes - how to respond to Irish voters' rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, a set of EU internal reforms, and to the record high oil and food prices. Precisely one week ago, Ireland put on ice the EU's latest attempt to undergo wide-reaching institutional changes aimed at simplifying the way the 27-nation bloc is run and allowing it to absorb more new member states.
  • So far, EU heavyweights - France and Germany - have insisted that the ratification marathon continues. On Wednesday (18 June), the legal document was ratified by the UK parliament, bringing the overall number of countries to 19. But one diplomat has suggested EU leaders are likely to tiptoe around the eurosceptic government of the Czech Republic, seen as the most unpredictable player when it comes to the ratification process.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

14.06.08: Brussels calls vor Lisbon treaty ratification to continue - 0 views

  • The European Commission has called for ratification of the Lisbon treaty to continue, despite the No result in Ireland's referendum. "This vote should not be seen as a vote against the EU… [It] has not solved the problems which the Lisbon Treaty is designed to solve," commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said in Brussels on Friday (13 June).
  • "The ratification process is made up of 27 national processes, 18 Member States have already approved the Treaty, and the European Commission believes that the remaining ratifications should continue to take their course," he added.
  • In a joint statement later on, France and Germany also called for the ratification of the Lisbon treaty to continue. "The ratification procedure has already been achieved in 18 countries. Therefore we hope that the other member states will continue the process," the Franco-German declaration reads. Britain has already said it would press ahead with the ratification, according to the BBC.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

22.01.08: Brown passes first hurdle in EU treaty debate - 0 views

  • The UK government on Monday (21 January) passed the first hurdle in what is expected to be a tough few weeks of political battle on the EU treaty when MPs backed a second reading of the European Union bill.

    The bill - which ratifies the Lisbon Treaty - was passed by a majority of 138 after five hours of heated debated, according to British media.

    The vote (362-224) means there will now be a further 20 days of discussion on the issue throughout February and March
  • Mr Brown's government argues that a referendum is not needed as it is sufficiently different from the original constitution. But this argument has been dealt blows by two parliamentary committees. The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee over the weekend concluded that there was "no material difference" between the treaty and the foreign policy aspects of the constitution.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

21.01.08: UK Parliament ups pressure on EU Treaty referendum - 0 views

  • Rebel Labour MPs are expected to join forces with the Conservatives today (21 January) in a bid to force through a referendum on the new EU Reform Treaty, after a report by the House of Commons' Foreign Affairs Committee concluded that the text is the same as the abandoned EU Constitution.
  • The case for a referendum was further strengthened yesterday (20 January) with the publication of a report by the House of Commons' Labour-dominated Foreign Affairs Committee, which claims that the British government is misleading the public by playing down the significance of new institutions, such as the creation of a new full-time EU President and foreign affairs chief.  "We conclude that there is no material difference between the provisions on foreign affairs in the Constitutional Treaty, which the government made subject to approval in a referendum, and those in the Lisbon Treaty, on which a referendum is being denied," concludes the report. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

05.10.07: UK secures justice opt out at tough price - 0 views

  • The UK has secured its opt-out from EU justice measures in the bloc's new Reform Treaty but with tough conditions attached. Under draft rules agreed earlier this week by EU legal experts, the UK could be excluded from EU justice laws that are already signed up to by other member states
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

11.06.07: Mounting pressure for UK referendum on new EU treaty - 0 views

  • Speaking to the Sunday Times (10 June), the Conservative leader David Cameron suggested the British public would follow every move by the current UK prime minister and his successor Gordon Brown regarding the revised EU constitution. "Any treaty that is about the transfer of powers to the EU must be put to the country in a referendum," he said. Similar signals came from some Labour MPs, with Frank Field, a former Labour minister, arguing that any back down on a former promise to hold a popular vote on the new EU treaty would be "against all the rhetoric of a government that says it wants to reconnect with a disillusioned electorate."
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