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EU Trade Commissioner tells Open Europe: “No EU trade agreement has ever restricted the way member states organise their public services and TTIP will be no different”

12 Dec 2014

In a keynote speech to an Open Europe event in Brussels, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said that the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) “is not just any trade agreement, nor should we conceive of it as such. It's with our largest trading partner.” She argued that TTIP is needed now because “Europe is less able to influence high standards at a global level than before”.

Malmström also discussed the controversial issue of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), announcing that “the Commission will release a report summarising a public consultation on ISDS in mid-January”. She added that, “No EU trade agreement has ever restricted the way member states organise their public services and this one will be no different”. She explained that “since the 1950s, there are 1,400 European agreements with ISDS, and more than 3,000 globally, it is a German invention”, but added she was open to improving the system.

Meanwhile, Ken Levinson, the Executive Director of the Washington International Trade Organisation, an NGO, said that, “I don't think TTIP, particularly after something like the [US-Japan trade deal TPP], will have a hard time to pass [US] Congress.” Discussing the ratification process in the EU, Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake said that the European Commission “knows that the European Parliament has teeth and will use them.” 

The event was organised in cooperation with the German Friedrich Naumann Foundation. A full write up of the event and audio recording will be available on the Open Europe website shortly.
Open Europe events
Malmstrom speech EIN

Greek markets slide as politicians enter election mode
Greek stocks had another bad day yesterday, bringing the total decline in the Athens Stock Market to 20% in the past three days. Banks were hit particularly hard, while ten year borrowing costs rose to 9%. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras gave a strongly worded speech in the Greek parliament yesterday, warning MPs that failing to elect a President “would lead to a crisis in Greece. We spat blood in our efforts to stop foreigners using the term Grexit and now SYRIZA is bringing it back.” The IMF suggested yesterday that it will continue its programme in Greece on a “precautionary” basis, with the current Greek government not intending to draw down any further funding from the IMF.

Meanwhile European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said “I think that the Greeks … know very well what a wrong election result would mean for Greece and the Eurozone.”
Kathimerini Kathimerini 2 Kathimerini 3 Bloomberg Economist Economist: Leader Times

New Open Europe briefing: What are the legal implications of David Cameron’s proposed reforms to EU migration?
In a new briefing, Professor Damian Chalmers and Open Europe Research Director Stephen Booth assess the legal implications of David Cameron’s proposals to reform EU migration and how many of them require EU treaty changes. They argue that the Prime Minister’s speech contained a number of proposals which could either be achieved by changing EU legislation or domestic law. In November, the authors proposed that EU migrants’ access to in-work benefits be restricted for a number of years after arriving in a new member state. The briefing restates the authors’ case that this can be achieved via amendments to existing EU law rather than a Treaty change.
Open Europe briefing

According to leaked documents seen by the Guardian, the European Commission is planning to withdraw its proposals for a revamped Clean Air Directive and a Waste Directive that would set a waste recycling target of 70% by 2030.
Guardian European Voice Euractiv EUObserver EUObserver

EU bank capital shortfalls totalling nearly €25bn identified by EU stress tests are “just the tip of the iceberg,” Ignazio Angeloni, a member of the ECB Supervisory Board, said Wednesday. Speaking in Rome, Angeloni said that the ECB would soon begin assessments on the overall profitability of European banks.

Ukraine warns on financial crisis, while EU struggles with legal questions around sanctions
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk warned yesterday, “Without the help of our international partners, it is almost impossible [for Ukraine to exit its economic crisis]”, while the new Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko said that the country “needs urgent stabilisation of the financial system”. Separately, the WSJ reports that there are legal concerns around up to 16 of the 22 people targeted by the EU’s asset freezes and travel bans as part of the sanctions this year. Sanctions are expected to be removed from at least three of the individuals targeted, as the EU struggles against legal challenges to the sanctions at the European Court of Justice.
Open Europe blog WSJ WSJ 2 BBC

Polish Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak has told Polish news channel TVN24, that the level of Russian naval and air force activity in the Baltic Sea region this week has been “unprecedented” but that there was no need to put the Polish army on a state of high alert.

Euractiv reports that an advocate general to the EU Court of Justice has found Poland had failed to implement in full the EU renewable energy Directive and should be ordered to pay a daily fine.
Open Europe research: Energy Euractiv

The Times reports that UK Government figures show that the EU was responsible for the creation of 129 of 280 new criminal offences enacted by the Government in the year to the end of May. This represented 47% of new offences, a proportion that jumps to almost 60% when offences created as a result of EU decisions such as sanctions on Syria are included.

The Times reports that criminals and illegal migrants were among tens of thousands of foreigners given British citizenship, according to a report by Chief Border Inspector John Vine.
Mail Times

Bild reports that the German government is planning to send more than 100 troops to northern Iraq to help train Kurdish forces fighting against the Islamic State. The paper suggests that the move may require changing the German Constitution.
Bild Telegraph

According to new data published by the French national statistics office INSEE yesterday, the monthly inflation rate in France was -0.2% in November – while the annual inflation rate was 0.3%.
Telegraph INSEE

A general strike is taking place in Italy today in protest against the government’s planned reform of the labour market. Demonstrations are expected in more than 50 Italian cities, La Stampa reports.
La Repubblica La Stampa

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told a conference yesterday that “under many aspects, the [economic] crisis is history.”
El País

Asked about the LuxLeaks tax scandal, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told Libération, “Objectively speaking, I’m weakened because LuxLeaks suggests that I took part in manoeuvres that didn’t comply with basic ethical and moral rules. There are many doubts in the minds of numerous Europeans – something I’m deeply sad about.”
Libération: Juncker FT

The ECB will next week decide on the format for the ‘accounts’ of ECB meetings which it will begin publishing in 2015. The key decision will be on whether to disclose how each ECB Governing Council member voted.

Economic data released yesterday showed that the Irish economy expanded by only 0.1% in the third quarter compared to the previous quarter, below expectations of 0.3%. The results mean that Ireland is on course to grow around 5% this year.

The German government yesterday approved draft legislation aimed at curbing the power of labour unions. The legislation will allow firms to confine wage negotiations to the union with the largest number of employees, removing the power of smaller unions to strike legally.

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (Iosco) have launched a consultation on new rules which would see banks being able to hold less capital against certain simpler Asset Backed Securities, though more complex ones  could face more stringent rules.

Data released yesterday showed that, according to a measure known as Actual Individual Consumption (on a purchasing power standard), the UK has the fourth highest living standards in the EU behind Luxembourg, Germany and Austria.
City AM

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