Sunday, November 25, 2012

As there will now be another meeting of the eurozone finance ministers next Monday (November 26), the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has postponed a visit to the wealthy Gulf state of Qatar, which was due to happen next week. "The prime minister will stay in Athens to coordinate things," spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told Reuters. Samaras was due to meet Qatar's emir and prime minister as well as top officials from Qatar's sovereign wealth fund to discuss investment in the country's recession-mired economy.  The German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble also spoke after the meeting. He told lawmakers at a closed-door session that Greece's lenders remained divided over how to fill a €14bn hole in the country's finances through 2014 and how to define debt sustainability for the eurozone's weakest link, participants told Reuters. Schaeuble met members of parliament on Wednesday morning to explain the failure of the negotiations. One participant said Schaeuble had told members of his conservative party that lenders had failed to resolve the issue of whether 2020 or 2022 would be used as a benchmark for Greek debt sustainability. The source said Schaeuble had explained that the ECB believed Greece could raise €9bn itself by issuing short-term debt. Another Christian Democrat lawmaker said the minister had told participants that a debt buyback could be part of the solution.


Anonymous said...

in meetings with Herman Van Rompuy, president of the EU Council of the 27 governments, and José Manuel Barroso, head of the European Commission, the EU executive arm. As they entered the meeting Friday, many were pessimistic that a deal could be struck.

After the meeting, Mr. Van Rompuy said he is "not excluding at all that we can go further" in reducing the budget. His latest proposal Thursday left the total budget ceiling roughly unchanged compared with a previous plan, at just below €1 trillion ($1.28 trillion).

"It's already a very restrictive budget," Mr. Van Rompuy told reporters. "There were some who wanted less cuts, some who wanted more, so I kept the line. My feeling is we can go further, but it has to be balanced and well prepared."

His new proposal added spending on agriculture and on funding for the EU's lower-income, mainly East European members. The increases were offset by proposed cuts in a range of areas, including development and foreign policy, and projects aimed at connecting national transport and communications infrastructures.

Anonymous said...

In Wednesday's speech, to the Business for New Europe coalition of business leaders pushing for reform in Europe, Blair will argue that the EU needs to promote a "grand plan" about its purpose, driving home the message that member states can best take on these huge economic powers as a united bloc. He will highlight statistics showing that 47% of UK exports go to EU member states while 50% of foreign direct investment is from EU countries.

Blair's move, ahead of a keynote speech on Europe by David Cameron expected next month, is likely to be seen as evidence that having failed in 2009 to become the first permanent president of the EU council he still hankers after a prominent role in European politics. Friends of Blair say he believes that the EU still lacks effective leadership and too often fails to promote a "big vision". Instead it too often gives the impression that it is obsessed with arcane, if important, institutional reform. Referring to moves to reform Europe's institutions to end the euro crisis, a source said: "He will say that of course you have to get the politics and economics aligned but this has to be part of a grand plan not a series of incremental changes."

Anonymous said...

enior Brussels official said: "We always hear that the UK has special demands but never that Europe has special needs."

Tory chairman Grant Shapps became the latest high-ranking Tory to entertain the idea of the UK leaving the EU when he said that the prime minister should not be afraid to use a threat to quit as a way to force other member states to allow repatriation of powers to Britain.

Tory Eurosceptics praised Cameron's performance in Brussels but warned that the battle was only just beginning. Bernard Jenkin, chairman of the public administration select committee and a leading Eurosceptic, said that the breakdown of the summit showed "how dysfunctional the EU has become and underlines the fact that there needs to be a new relationship for those who do not want to be part of the federal eurozone".

Jenkin said that he and other Eurosceptics would now back calls for there to be a "mandate referendum" before the next general election to find out what sort of relationship the British people wanted to have with the EU.

Cameron will make a statement on the outcome of the Brussels budget summit in the House of Commons on Monday.

Anonymous said...

European Parliament President Martin Schulz began losing his temper as time wore on. It is "extremely irresponsible," he told the 27 European Union heads of state and government gathered in Brussels, when EU member states deny the bloc necessary funding. The €1.091 trillion budget proposed by the European Commission, he said, is commensurate because it will also stimulate growth.


Schulz spoke just before midnight as the European Union budget summit, aimed at agreeing on bloc funding for the seven-year period between 2014 and 2020, finally got underway after a three-hour delay. His plea had little effect, though. British Prime Minister David Cameron, his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte and Swedish Premier Fredrik Reinfeldt continued to demand billions in cuts. German Chancellor Angela Merkel likewise found the proposed budget to be too large.

Anonymous said...

Still, EU leaders made clear on Thursday night just how little respect they have for the European Parliament. Recently, EU parliamentarians had rejected the nomination of Luxembourgian Yves Mersch to the European Central Bank's governing council, insisting that a woman be appointed instead. The 27 heads of state and government, however, ignored the appeal and installed Mersch anyway.

Anonymous said...

Hours of talks failed to bridge big gaps between richer countries and those which rely most on EU funding.

The UK said current EU spending levels must be frozen.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote
Angela Merkel and I both agreed that it would be better to take some time out”
End Quote
Francois Hollande

French president

The EU's divisions are very clear and have become even more stark at a time of economic crisis, says the BBC's Chris Morris in Brussels.

Mr Van Rompuy had reshuffled the allocations in his original proposed budget during the summit, but he kept in place a spending ceiling of 973bn euros (£783bn; $1.2tn).

With the eurozone's dominant states, Germany and France, unable to agree on the budget, UK Prime Minister David Cameron had warned against "unaffordable spending".

The failure to decide on a budget came just days after the finance ministers of the 17 eurozone states failed to agree on conditions for releasing a new tranche of bailout money to Greece, raising questions about the union's decision-making process.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile Merkel is taking on the role of intermediary between net contributors and the beneficiary countries. It seems unlikely, however, that net contributors will be able to push through cuts beyond those included in the Van Rompuy proposal. A compromise that comes to less than €1.01 trillion would have no chance of being passed by European Parliament, warned the body's President Schulz -- a warning that must be taken seriously given parliament's veto over budgetary matters

Anonymous said...

In a series of remarkably candid comments, Prince Charles hinted that he feared his legacy as king would be cut short.

During a visit to Dumfries House, the stately home in East Ayrshire which the Prince helped save for the nation, he joked about his reputation for pursuing projects with notorious vigour but made a poignant reference to his mortality.

He said: “Impatient? Me? What a thing to suggest! Yes of course I am.” He added: “I’ll run out of time soon. I shall have snuffed it if I’m not careful.”

The comments, which were recorded for a film on the Clarence House website about the Prince’s involvement with Dumfries House, will fuel ongoing speculation that Prince Charles, 64, is more eager than ever to take the throne after 60 years of waiting.

Anonymous said...

BRUSSELS — A summit of the European Union’s 27 national leaders, charged with agreeing on a long-term budget for the bloc, broke up Friday afternoon without being able to reach a deal.

Coming just days after the 17 eurogroup finance ministers failed, yet again, to agree on the conditions for releasing badly needed bailout money for Greece, the failure of the two-day summit raises questions about how the bloc makes important decisions. In most cases, unanimity is required, meaning that each country wields veto power.

The EU’s top officials, who put in long hours trying to soften up the national leaders individually before putting them together in the same meeting room, tried to put a brave face on the budget deadlock.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who presides over the summits, said the “constructive discussions” at the summit meant an agreement could be reached early next year. He added that the national leaders had instructed him and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to continue working toward consensus over the coming weeks.

Barroso, too, called the talks constructive. But he added, “we are not yet at the point of reaching consensus.”

The prospect of failure had hung over the EU leaders’ summit, charged with agreeing on a long-term spending plan of around €1 trillion ($1.25 trillion) for the 27-country bloc, even before the meeting began. Some countries wanted the budget to rise, while others insisted it had to fall.

Read more: EU summit ends without budget deal - Washington Times
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

Anonymous said...

Goodness me there are some ill-informed opinions below. The Prince as Prince does a wonderful job - he reaches areas behind and beyond the work of government and has an inclusive approach to all he does. His comments on 'time' are in no way a desire to let it be known he wishes to be king but a desire to live long enough to see as many of his initiatives develop as he hopes they will. As king he would have to reassess all of what he currently does.
I daren't start on the more general criticisms below as I imagine no amount of reason on my part would have any effect.

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