Open Europe press summary: 27 November 2009



EU officials set for inflation busting pay rise

The Telegraph reports that civil servants in the European Commission are to receive a 3.7 percent pay rise despite negative or near to zero rates of inflation across Europe, soaring unemployment, falling wages and austerity measures in most national public sectors. The article notes that most British public sector workers, including front line doctors and nurses, are facing pay freezes as the government reins in public spending that has been bloated by bank bailouts.


Baroness Ashton, the newly appointed EU Foreign Minister who is also a European Commission Vice-President, will pocket an extra £9,000 on top of her basic annual salary of £241,000. Lady Ashton will now earn over £52,000 more than Gordon Brown.


Open Europe’s Mats Persson is quoted saying that already well-paid officials need to wake up to “what’s happening outside the Brussels bubble. This is a PR disaster for the Commission. No wonder people find it hard to identify with the EU institutions.” He is also quoted on EUobserver.


The story is also on the front page of the Express, and in the Sun.  The Express notes that a Commission bureaucrat at director level will get an extra £6,500 on top of a salary of £182,000, and that the pay deal will add around £40 million a year to a total European Commission annual wage bill of more than £1 billion. Open Europe’s Lorraine Mullally is quoted saying, “How completely crazy that right in the middle of a recession taxpayers are being asked to cough up even more money for Brussels’ bureaucrats to have a pay rise.  Meanwhile, in the UK, public sector pay is being frozen for many people doing important jobs, such as NHS managers and GPs, because of lack of funds. It’s a disgrace.”


De Telegraaf quotes Dutch Europe Minister Frans Timmermans saying, “in times of economic downturn it would be a wrong signal that EU bureaucrats, who already make a lot of money, would get even more.” 15 member states are opposing the pay increase, according to Die Presse.


EUbusiness notes that the Commission’s Spokeswoman for Administrative Affairs, Valerie Rampi said that “rises and falls” in pay are equally likely, under a pay formula that measures the cost of living in eight EU countries – Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain. However, she was unable to give past examples when pay settlements had ever gone down. EUobserver notes that the Commission’s pay formula is based on data collected by the EU’s statistics office, Eurostat. But officials in Eurostat are also set to benefit from the requested pay rise, raising questions over a conflict of interest.

Telegraph Express EUobserver EUbusiness Telegraaf Die Presse Le Monde El Mundo


Latest reports suggest EU financial services portfolio will go to Spain or Finland

Following reports yesterday that Britain’s campaign to prevent France taking command of the European Commission portfolio responsible for banks and financial services appears to be heading for success, the Times reports that Commission sources have said that the financial services brief is likely to be removed from internal market and added to either competition or economic affairs. The competition portfolio is set to be handed to the Spaniard Joaquín Almunia, while the economic affairs job is likely to go to Olli Rehn of Finland. Euractiv quotes an EU diplomat saying, “Both men are two of Commission President Barroso’s top lieutenants and they are seen as safe pairs of hands. In making these appointments, Barroso keeps tight control on two top jobs and keeps Paris, Berlin and London’s hands off them.”


An article in Spanish daily La Razon questions whether France would be willing to accept a “stripped-down” internal market portfolio.


The final line up is still under speculation but, according to the Times, Karel De Gucht, the former Belgian Foreign Minister, is being tipped as the next Trade Commissioner, to start work on 1 December because Lady Ashton will take up her job as EU Foreign Minister on that day. Günther Oettinger, of Germany, is expected to clinch a “beefed-up” energy portfolio, while Connie Hedegaard, the Danish Climate and Energy Minister, is tipped to take on the EU’s new climate brief. The newly created justice and human rights portfolio is expected to go to Viviane Reding, of Luxembourg.


The FT notes that Mr Barroso could announce the make up of the new Commission as soon as today.

Times FT EUobserver Euractiv Euractiv 2 La Razón La Razon 2 OE blog


Pay curbs are watered down in draft AIFM Directive

The Swedish Presidency of the EU has published a second draft of the EU’s AIFM Directive, in which it has watered down controversial rules which would have seen curbs on hedge fund managers’ pay, similar to those now being introduced for bankers. Instead of a requirement to defer “40pc or 60pc” of any bonus for three years, as the Swedes’ original draft envisioned, there is now a requirement to defer bonuses “over a period which is appropriate in view of the life cycle and redemption policy” of the fund, the Telegraph reports.

Telegraph Telegrah: Hannan’s blog Euractiv Open Europe research


Economist: With the appointments of Ashton and Van Rompuy, “Europe’s leaders have made their union look ridiculous”

EUobserver reports that whilst the responsibilities of the EU’s new positions are still largely €, the draft rules indicate that new EU President Herman Van Rompuy will have wide-ranging powers including “the power to call special summits of EU leaders, draw up the agenda of the meetings, decide on whether to hold a vote, and whether EU summits should be attended by countries beyond the EU or other personalities.” A leader in the Economist argues that “By choosing two virtual unknowns, with paltry political experience, as the first permanent president of the European Council and as the new EU foreign-policy supremo, Europe’s leaders have made their union look ridiculous.”

EUobserver Economist: Leader Economist 2 Economist 3


The BBC reports that UKIP is expected to announce its new leader this afternoon.



European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, Chairman of the group of euro-zone finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, and European Economic Commissioner Joaquín Almunia will press China this weekend to allow its currency to rise against the euro, amid fears that the euro’s strength could undermine Europe’s recovery from the recession.

WSJ IHT: Thuman


The WSJ reports that the US has “toned down its once-strident criticism” of two controversial Russian-backed pipelines, Nord Stream and Nabucco, which will deliver gas to Europe whilst bypassing Eastern Europe.



The Mail reports that a French film about an illegal migrant who tries to swim to Britain has won a top EU award for its celebration of European integration.  The film, called Welcome, received the prestigious Lux Film Award, an annual prize given by the European Parliament for the film which best illustrates “the European integration process, topical European issues or cultural diversity in the Union.”



European Voice reports that Germany and Austria’s opposition to a deal with the US on access to European bank records could lead to the involvement of MEPs in the decision, as they will soon be granted powers in this area by the Lisbon Treaty.
European Voice


Guy Verhofstadt MEP, leader of the liberal group in the European Parliament, has proposed that Eastern European countries which are still outside the eurozone should immediately adopt the EU’s single currency as legal tender as protection against the crisis, reports Euractiv.





Open Europe is an independent think tank campaigning for radical reform of the EU. For information on our research, events and other activities, please visit our website: or call us on 0207 197 2333.


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