Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Spain Still Feeling Unloved In Brussels

Spain looks likely to get a hug, but no second base, with the European Council tomorrow. At a pre-Summit briefing in Brussels, Council representatives seemed unwilling to commit to any form of solid review of Spain's deficit reduction plan. 

This morning, Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, said he would wait for budget data before deciding any further review of Spain's deficit reduction targets. The issue looks likely to embarrass Spanish premier, Rajoy, unless a fudged commitment is found which convinces the Spanish electorate that a softer form of austerity will be acceptable to the European head's of state. 

Failing to reconcile long-term budget austerity with immediate social needs risks isolating the Commission and weakening support for the European project. The likelihood is positive sounds but no promises just yet. Spain will continue to feel the pain; sweet talking won't diminish her embarrassed condition.

Friday, 17 February 2012

European Council Eases Myanmar Restrictions

Citing "...the remarkable programme of political reform undertaken by Myanmar..." the European Council today lifted certain restrictive measures against Myanmar. The Council called this "a first step in the EU's response to developments in Myanmar." 

The Council suspended admission restrictions concerning 87 people, comprised of the president, the vice presidents, cabinet members and the speakers of the two houses of parliament and their family members. Those individuals remain subject to a freeze of their assets within the EU.

Speaking of historic changes in Myanmar, Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said: "We strongly encourage the authorities to continue this process. I have launched a full review of our policy towards

Myanmar, and today's decision to suspend certain restrictive measures is a reaction to the positive signs coming from the country. I will visit Myanmar in April after the by-elections, by which time I hope we will have had the chance to complete the review and to have made decisions at an EU level to respond to what I hope will be continued progress."

Today's decision gives legal effect to the Council conclusions of 23 January and does not alter the remainder of the EU's restrictive measures.  A review of all EU restrictive measures on Burma is ongoing, given that they are due to expire on 30 April 2012

Financial Tax, Not An Attack On London, says Semeta

Speaking in London, Algirdas Semeta, EU Commissioner for Taxation referred to the Financial Transaction Tax, he said: "I am well aware that there has been some controversy over this proposal in the UK, focused mainly within this Square Mile. Let me reassure you: the FTT is not an attack on the City of London."

He added: "As Europe's largest financial centre, the City is integral to the Single Market and it is in all our interests for it to be strong and stable. We have been extremely careful in the design of this tax. The competitiveness of Europe's financial sector will not be harmed."  Read Full Story

Monday, 13 February 2012

Hungary Devalues Its European Membership

Democracy, freedom and the rule of law in Hungary were the focus of a Civil Liberties Committee hearing on Thursday with representatives of the Hungarian media, civil society and government. Some MEPs called for a "fundamental rights check" to on whether there is a risk of a serious breach of EU values, while others suggested awaiting the outcome of the European Commission's dialogue with the Hungarian government... Read More and Watch The Report