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Open Europe : Cut through the chatter
Greek banks request emergency liquidity as election approachesKathimerini reports that two systemic Greek banks have requested access to the Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) – the Greek Central Bank’s lending of last resort – partly due to €3bn in outflows of deposits in December. Meanwhile, in an interview with the Financial Times, Greek Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis warned over “complacency” around Greece’s ability to pay its bills, warning that the government will face severe constraints saying, “The timeline is very pressing and the money isn’t there.” To Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis suggested yesterday that he would go all out to prevent a second round of elections. Separately, Open Europe’s Vincenzo Scarpetta and James Forsyth discuss the impact the Greek elections could have on British politics in the Spectator’s weekly podcast.Source: Kathimerini, The Financial Times, Kathimerini 2, The Spectator Podcast
Merkel: Germany and UK share “common ground” over abuse of free movement
In an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, asked about concessions she could give to David Cameron to keep the UK in the EU, German Chancellor Angela Merkel replied, “We will not put into question Europe’s fundamental principles, including that of free movement. We do however share common ground on the abuse of free movement. We have made proposals in this area and also Great Britain will present its proposals.”
Source: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Swiss National Bank shocks markets by removing currency floor between Swiss Franc and Euro
The Swiss National Bank shocked markets yesterday by deciding to remove its exchange rate floor of 1.2 CHF to the Euro. The move saw a sharp appreciation of the Swiss currency with the euro weakening against the dollar.
Source: Handelsblatt, Süddeutsche Zeitung, The Financial Times
Suspected Islamic militants killed in Belgium
Two suspected Islamic militants were killed and one arrested following a firefight with police forces in Belgium last night. The suspects had returned from Syria and were allegedly planning an imminent attack. Die Welt reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pushed the European Commission to present a new version of the data retention directive which was struck down by the ECJ. Meanwhile, the latest ARD-Deutschlandtrend poll finds that 45% of Germans are concerned about attacks on German soil.
Source: BBC News, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Welt, Handelsblatt
EU split on review of Russia sanctions
The Times quotes an EU diplomat warning that a paper circulated by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on the bloc’s approach to Russia, ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday, was “exposing the split between the north and the south of the EU.” Mogherini’s document suggests a distinction between sanctions on individuals and companies, “where no change is expected in the short term,” and those on Russian industries. The latter, it said, the EU “should be ready to scale down as soon as Russia implements the Minsk agreements”.
Source: The Times, Euractiv
Commission expected to say Amazon tax deals 'illegal state aid'
The European Commission will today publish its ‘opening decision’ of its investigation into Amazon’s tax arrangements in Luxembourg. The decision is likely to argue that a 2003 tax deal granted to the company amounts to illegal state aid.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, EUobserver
Ed Balls uses Washington visit to warn UK is “sleepwalking” out of EU
Speaking in Washington DC yesterday, Ed Balls broke with an aging convention that opposition politicians do not criticise their government while abroad by warning that Britain was “sleepwalking to exit from Europe” and David Cameron was “playing fast and loose” with the UK’s EU membership.
Source: The Times
Bulgaria starting talks to join euro
Bulgarian Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov yesterday announced that his country will begin talks on adopting the euro, adding that Bulgaria may join the preliminary exchange-rate mechanism for Eurozone-entry by the end of 2018.
Source: Handelsblatt Euractiv
Genetically modified produce will need to be marked – EU Commissioner
Speaking in Berlin on Thursday, EU Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan said that if a product contains genetically modified corn, it will have to be labelled as such in the future. Separately, the UK’s head of GM policy and regulation, Sarah Cundy, said that following the European Parliament vote to loosen rules on GM crops, genetically modified maize could be fast tracked for approval in the UK.
Source: Euractiv, Open Europe Blog: New rules on GMOs: a step towards a more flexible EU?, Euractiv 2
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