It has been a quiet summer for the EU and its institutions after the European Parliament elections and before the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty on 2 October. Little changes: despite the economic crisis, the main concern is with jobs (theirs) and money (ours). Take the EU Presidency. Blair announced he wants to be EU President. The next person to take that job will get an extra £113,016 to rent a home plus £43,704 for entertaining on top of the current £36,778 annual living allowance. According to EU documents this is to give the President “more dignity”.
They love Brown
Mandelson is determined to prop up Brown in office until after the Irish referendum to protect the Lisbon Treaty, even if it damages Labour’s poll chances. He fears that the Tories would call a referendum in the UK. An EU diplomat said, “People are learning to love Gordon Brown here. They want him to hang on as long as possible.”
The German Constitutional Court called the Lisbon Treaty an “illegal power grab”, because it takes away sovereignty from nation states, denying them the right to set laws on defence, taxes, policing and education. The Treaty cannot be ratified in Germany until the German parliament has approved a new law guaranteeing its rights in the EU decision-making process.
The European Commission ruled that the French government paid illegal subsidies to farmers up to 2002. Hard-pressed fruit and vegetable growers have been told to repay €500 million to their government as a result. After protests, the French agriculture minister, Bruno Le Maire, promised to get more EU subsidies in compensation, but farmers weren’t impressed with his offer of €15 million “emergency” aid.
This August should have seen the end of Britain’s opt-out from EU Working Time Regulations, which set a maximum average of 48-hours a week. But no agreement was reached, so the opt out continues.