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European Commission scraps 80 proposed EU laws; Contentious directives on air pollution and recycling to be re-tabled next year

17 Dec 2014

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Vice-President for Better Regulation Frans Timmermans yesterday presented the Commission’s ‘Work Programme’ for 2015 comprising 23 new initiatives aimed primarily at boosting jobs and growth. As part of the exercise, the Commission reviewed over 450 measures left over from the Barroso Commission and decided to scrap or amend 80 of them. The list includes contentious legislation on tackling air pollution and boosting recycling rates, although the Commission has promised it will re-table “ambitious” new versions of these next year. The Commission has also set a six-month deadline for member states and the European Parliament to agree the controversial Maternity Leave Directive or it will also be withdrawn.
European Commission press release Reuters Guardian EUobserver FD Volkskrant Telegraaf

Malmström: I believe we can agree the “bare bones” of TTIP by end of 2015
European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström yesterday said that she believes the “bare bones” of the EU-US free trade agreement (TTIP) can be agreed by the end of 2015. However, the FT reports that only four or five formal negotiating rounds are planned for next year in contrast to the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations which have been “meeting almost nonstop” since the middle of this year. Meanwhile, Le Monde’s Berlin correspondent Frederic Lemaitre argues that the TTIP negotiations are imperilled by anti-American sentiment in Germany.
EurActiv FT

In an interview with Bild, German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel argues that mainstream politicians need to reach out to the citizens taking part in the recent anti-Islamisation ‘Pegida’ protests – seen as a proxy for wider concerns about immigration and asylum policy. The FT reports that while Alexander Gauland, the deputy-chairman of the anti-euro Alternative für Deutschland joined the protest in Dresden, AfD leader Bernd Lucke is wary of formally endorsing the protests.
Bild FT

The Telegraph reports that a new report from the EU’s financial watchdog – the European Court of Auditors – has found that over £100m of EU funding to build airports has been “wasted”, and that a further £165m represented “poor value for money.” Of the total £3.6bn spent between 2000 and 2013, 28% of the spending was “wasted” on airport infrastructure that has never been used.
Court of Auditors report Telegraph European Voice

The Russian Rouble fell by 11% yesterday despite the decision by the Russian Central Bank to hike interest rates to 17%. The Times reports that Russian banks are rapidly depleting their US dollar reserves and that Apple has suspended online deliveries to Russia due to the Rouble’s instability.
FT Times Telegraph BBC Irish Times

The Irish Independent reports following the ECB’s decision not to participate in the Irish Parliament’s inquiry into the banking crisis, Michael McGrath, the finance spokesman of Ireland’s main opposition party Fianna Fail, claimed that “Proper examination of the ECB is an indispensable part of any comprehensive inquiry…. Their decision is unacceptable and unforgivable.”
Irish Independent

The EU’s second highest court – the General Court – this morning ruled that Hamas should no longer be included on the EU’s list of international terrorist organisations as its inclusion was not based on a “concrete examination” but on "imputations derived from the media and the internet”. However, the Court agreed maintain the effects of the measures for three months in order to ensure that any possible future freezing of funds would be effective.
Reuters Independent

In an interview with Conservative Home, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg argues that “I think going into [an EU] renegotiation without giving any indication of what you want is a pretty weak position”, adding that he would want to see the UK be part of a “free trade [area] rather than [the] single market… the restoration of authority to the House of Commons [and] control over our borders.”
Conservative Home: Rees-Mogg

Le Figaro reports that the centre-right UMP party will vote against laws brought forward by French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron aimed at liberalising the legal profession.
Le Figaro

The BBC reports that UK Ministers have welcomed an EU deal which includes new fishing quotas and rules requiring fleets to land all the fish that they catch in order to reduce discards.

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