Thursday, 30 June 2011

Trichet Advocates A New European Confederation

Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank, spoke Wednesday of the need for a new European confederation of sovereign states during an open session of the European Parliament’s Monetary Dialogue in Brussels. The outgoing ECB chief was praised by MEPs for his steady tenure and was received gracefully despite his refusal to answer many of their Greece-focused questions.

Trichet repeatedly asserted the ECB’s role is concerned principally with the Euro-Zone’s 17 members, and with clear consideration for the EU’s 27 Member States. It is the role of the ECB to deliver economic stability, but it is not the Bank’s role to interfere with the sovereign decisions of individual Member States.

His confidence in the ECB’s work to date was illustrated with comparisons vis-a-vis the United States. Trichet used the example of the USA as a means to explain some good models to follow, especially in relation to the transparency of Government data. He established that the US model of federation is not appropriate for Europe, but that changes to Europe’s economic and political governance will be needed to ensure future economic stability.

Full Article: Trichet Advocates A New European Confederation

Friday, 24 June 2011

Napolitano Lauds 'Program Global Shield' In Brussels

Over 33 metric tons of chemicals that could have been used to make thousands of explosive devices have been seized in 'Program Global Shield', an international operation to stop the trade in these bomb-making materials, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said June 23 in a speech in Brussels.

Napolitano joined World Customs Organization Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya and European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud Algirdas Šemeta at the WCO to announce the results of this program, which marks the first time that participating WCO members have joined forces to keep bomb-making chemicals out of the hands of organizations involved in terror and other transnational organized crime.

In 2010, approximately 50,000 people were killed or injured by terrorist attacks, and the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center says that more than half of these deaths and injuries were caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that use certain chemicals - such as ammonium nitrate and hydrogen peroxide - as key ingredients.

While in Brussels, Secretary Napolitano also signed a joint statement with European Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas, Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström, and Commissioner Šemeta that aims to boost U.S.-EU cooperation on supply chain security.

Following her remarks to the WCO Council , Secretary Napolitano was joined by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Alan Bersin, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton and National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Under Secretary Rand Beers to participate in an event hosted by the Transatlantic Policy Network, bringing together industry, policy makers and shapers, and legislators to discuss the importance of a secure and resilient supply chain to transatlantic and global security.

Earlier this week, Secretary Napolitano traveled to London she met with international counterparts to discuss global collaboration to ensure the security and resilience of the global supply chain against possible threats and disruptions, and the Netherlands where she toured operations at Schiphol Airport and the Port of Rotterdam and met with customs, maritime, airline, shipping and security leaders to discuss the importance of a resilient and secure global supply chain.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Parliament and Commission to launch new register for lobbyists

Parliament and the Commission will launch their joint "transparency register" for lobbyists and other interest groups on Thursday 23 June. This new register, which merges the two institutions' existing ones, will mean that lobbyists need register only once. It will also provide a "one-stop shop" for citizens seeking information on lobbyists.

The transparency register will provide more information than its predecessors, such as how many people are involved in any activities relating to the register, and any EU funding or support received by the registrant. It will also set out procedures for handling complaints and sanctions. Registration in the joint register will not be mandatory, but MEPs have decided that all lobbyists wishing to enter Parliament's premises will have to register.

Vice-President Diana Wallis, who led Parliament's negotiating team on the issue, said: "By launching this joint register for interest representatives between the Commission and the Parliament, I hope that we will help to instill a more solid culture of transparency in Brussels. Up until now, there may have been some confusion. Now there can be none: one register, one place to sign up."

Ms Wallis added: "For all those who want to take part in the EU policy-making process, this register will also demonstrate that our institutions are working together. This is why I am thrilled that the Council has now announced its willingness to take steps in joining us."

A joint press conference of Vice-President Wallis and Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič will take place on Thursday 23 June at 13.00h in the Commission.

Economic governance debate: ideological differences and a need for real change

MEPs from all parts of the spectrum also called on Member States to not shy away from decision-making systems which would end political back-scratching, this being the only way to achieve a truly revamped governance system.

The six MEPs responsible for shepherding the package through Parliament took the floor at the start of the debate.

According to Corien Wortmann-Kool (EPP, NL), "We need credible decision-making procedures for the new rules to work. If Member States do not undertake effective reforms we need to have measures which will truly kick in."

Diogo Feio (EPP, PT) argued "The new rules will place more attention on indebtedness and not only deficits. We will also be able to have an efficient system to reduce the debt which has piled up. Member States with their finances in shape see their economies grow."

In the view of Elisa Ferreira (S&D, PT), "This package is not the response which the EU needs because it does not alter the excessive focus on austerity. On the other hand we have new tools to correct imbalances before they become real problems and that is to be welcomed."

Sylvie Goulard (ALDE, FR) maintained "We are pushing for discipline not for discipline's sake but to protect the Euro. Markets will not buy an agreement just because it is concluded quickly. They do not want superficial solutions. And the ECB is also backing our ambition."

According to Carl Haglund (ALDE, FI), "We are at a crossroads to change our past. We need automatic procedures because the last years have shown that when decisions were needed, they were not taken."

Vicky Ford (ECR, UK) believed that "Bad budget planning has contributed to the crisis we are in. The new standards we will have for drawing up national budgets will instil the necessary discipline."

Philippe Lamberts (Greens/EFA, BE), shadow rapporteur for his group on all texts of the package, contended that "We do need fiscal discipline but also discipline to invest. The new rules being tabled are only about austerity. Citizens will prove us right in the election booths of France in 2012 and Germany in 2013."