The Great Debate UK

Cohesive Europe

By Konrad Niklewicz, Spokesman for the Polish Presidency of the EU. The opinions expressed are on behalf of the organisation he represents.

How should the EU distribute €370 billion? The new cohesion policy rules proposed by the European Commission provide a good basis for further debate, but some of their components are clearly questionable.

The philosophy behind the application of European funds is known. Heads of state and governments of the EU, debating on 23 October in Brussels, confirmed it: in the context of the crisis, funds must be directed at accelerating economic growth, competitiveness and employment. The European Commission has respected this political message. In recent weeks, it presented specific pieces of the puzzle which together constitute the “new” cohesion policy for the years 2014-2020.

Changes

The Commission forecasts a total budget for cohesion policy of €336 billion, representing a theoretical reduction compared to the previous five-year framework’s €354.8 billion.  But the total amount will in fact increase if we take account of the newest idea from the Commission, the Connecting Europe Facility, representing a separate fund worth €50 billion, of which €10 billion would come from the Cohesion Fund. Under the new Cohesion Fund, 57 per cent of the funds would be spent in the least developed regions of the European Union, but if we also take into account the Connecting Europe Facility, it turns out that expenditure for the poorer regions is proportionally less advantageous than the previous budget.

from Global News Journal:

Can a European diplomatic service really work?

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As experiments in political unity go, Europe's External Action Service takes some beating.

The budding diplomatic corps of the European Union, with a name that sounds like an off-shoot of Britain's SAS, is supposed to represent the unified interests of the EU's 27 member states to the rest of the world.

from Global News Journal:

EU to tackle gender pay inequality

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By Sangeeta Shastry

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding

Men are still paid more than women in Europe but the European Union is promising to narrow the gap.

The executive European Commission set out its plans to address the pay gap between men and women at a news conference to coincide with International Women's Day, saying women were on average earning only 82 percent of male rates in the EU.

Too soon to predict that EMU will wobble

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foley-Jane Foley is research director at Forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.-

The budget crisis facing the Greek government has drawn an array of comments and responses from various parts of the European Central Bank, the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the financial markets.

from Commentaries:

A camel for EU president?

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camelsA camel, says an old Middle East joke, is a horse designed by a committee.

The European Union is in danger of getting camels for its two new leadership positions -- president of the European Council and foreign policy High Representative -- because of the dysfunctional appointment process created by the Lisbon Treaty.

The secretive horse (or camel)-trading by which EU governments choose the 27-nation bloc's top office-holders seems designed to deter strong candidates and produce lowest-common-denominator outcomes. Some of the most able potential contenders would rather stay at home than take the key jobs to Brussels.

from Breakingviews:

EU looks lonely on climate high ground

icebergNegotiations to save the planet from catastrophic climate change are heading for trouble, five weeks before a crucial U.N. conference in Copenhagen.

The European Union has been at the forefront in pressing for binding, internationally monitored reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and funding from industrialised countries to help developing nations switch to clean energy.

from Commentaries:

Germans vote for change; will they get it?

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angieGermans have voted for change. A centre-right government with a clear parliamentary majority will replace the ungainly grand coalition of conservatives and Social Democrats that ran Europe's biggest economy for the last four years.

This should mean an end to "steady as she goes" lowest common denominator policies, and at least some reform of the country's tax and welfare system. The liberal Free Democrats, who recorded their best ever result with around 14.7 percent, will try to pull the new government towards tax cuts, health care reform, a reduction in welfare spending and a loosening of job protection in small business.

from Commentaries:

Re-elected Barroso faces market challenge

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bozoJose Manuel Barroso promised the European Parliament that as re-elected president of the European Commission he will have more authority to fight for Europe and defend its single market against economic nationalism.

But after five years of toadying to the big member states, he will need to show more spine to enforce state aid and competition rules on Germany, Britain and France in the teeth of strong national financial or commercial interests.

from Commentaries:

French PM eyes Barroso’s job?

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fillonIs France trying to stymie Jose Manuel Barroso's re-election for a second term as European Commission president?

An intriguing story in Le Monde reports that French Prime Minister Francois Fillon (pictured left with Barroso and President Nicolas Sarkozy) is considering offering his services as head of the European Union executive if Barroso fails to win majority support from the European Parliament this month. Le Monde quotes an unidentified French minister and an anonymous senior diplomat, with a comment from Fillon's office declining to speculate on a Barroso failure and saying that of course, the prime minister is interested in Europe but he hasn't put himself forward as a candidate.

from Commentaries:

Barroso’s EU vision lacks levers for change

Could the European Union be among the big losers of the global financial crisis?

Despite signs that recession in Europe may be bottoming out, the 27-nation bloc risks emerging from the turmoil with its economic growth potential stunted, its public finances shackled by mountains of debt, and its international influence weakened.

That is the backdrop to Jose Manuel Barroso's campaign for a second term as president of the executive European Commission.  In a manifesto sent to EU lawmakers last week, he warns that unless Europeans shape up to the challenge together, "Europe will become irrelevant".

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