Margarida Vasconcelos

Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, presented last April the 2013 Report on the Application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. While highlighting “the importance and prominence of the EU Charter”, she reiterated her ambition of having all fundamental rights directly applicable in all Member States. According to Viviane Reding “…one day citizens in all Member States will be able to rely directly on the Charter – without the need for a clear link to EU law”, whish “would effectively mean abolishing Article 51 of our Charter of which currently restricts its applicability.” This would entail the application of the Charter to member states national law. In this way the Commission would be able to bring infringement procedures on fundamental rights against Member States even if they are not acting in the implementation of EU law. It would be then able to launch infringement procedures on any alleged breach of any of the rights provided in the Charter and the CJEU would have jurisdiction to hear all these cases of member states allegedly breaching fundamental rights. Consequently, the CJEU would be provided with unrestricted jurisdiction, as every single policy would be subject to it. This would be unacceptable and clearly shows the Viviane Reding’s drive for a EU federal state. ...continue reading

 According to The Financial Times, Olli Rehn, the EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner, has recently said that there is no reason to fear that eurozone member states will impose protectionist regulations on the UK and that there was no reason to believe that a banking union in the eurozone would have “any major conflict of interest with the City of London”. However, this is not true, in fact, several financial regulations have already been adopted, such as a cap on bankers’ bonuses, against the UK interests, and likely to drive businesses out of the City of London. The UK is losing control over financial services and banking in the City of London. The situation will exacerbate when the banking union is up and running. It is important to note that the CityUK fears that the EU banking union, chiefly the creation of a single supervisor, as well as other EU financial regulations proposals will damage the single market and hurt the UK financial sector, which will become less competitive. The City is therefore in great danger.

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The Financial Times reports: “A former adviser to European Commission president José Manuel Barroso has accused the commission of embracing Germany’s austerity-focused response to the eurozone debt crisis in a “strategic” bid to enhance its own powers.” In fact, the sovereign debt crisis has opened the door for further economic and fiscal policy integration.

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The European Parliament is the discharge authority. Each year it must close the financial year on the basis of the recommendation of the Council and the Statement of Assurance (DAS) provided by the Court of Auditors. By granting a discharge the European Parliament approves the implementation of the budget in respect of the relevant financial year. Hence, the MEPs declare that a particular EU institution or agency has spent EU taxpayers’ money in line with EU rules that govern the implementation of the EU budget. It is well known that the European Court of Auditors for the 19th year in a row has not given the EU’s accounts a clean bill of health. Yet, the European Parliament has recently given discharge to the Commission for implementation of the EU’s budget for 2012.

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The Council has recently adopted a directive regarding the European Investigation Order (EIO) in criminal matters. The draft directive would create a single instrument for obtaining evidence located in another Member State in the framework of criminal proceedings - the so-called European Investigation Order.

The Government was successful in introducing important changes to the original proposal nevertheless UK authorities will be obliged to provide information about British citizens including bank accounts, as any judicial authority from any EU member state may ask the UK police to gather any criminal evidence. In fact, issuing authorities from other member states would be able to give instructions to the UK police officers. The EIO provides police and prosecution authorities from EU member states with the power to demand UK police forces to gather and share evidence with them within mandatory time limits.

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In July 2013 the European Commission put forward a proposal to establish a European Public Prosecutor's Office. The European Public Prosecutor’s Office would be a judicial body in charge of investigating, with the power to order national police forces to initiate investigations, assembling all the evidence in favour or against the accused and responsible for conducting and coordinating prosecutions. Moreover, he/she would have the power to bring to judgment perpetrators, and accomplices, of offences against the Union’s financial interests, deciding in which Member State the trial will take place. The EPPO jurisdiction would prevail over the jurisdiction of the Member States enforcement authorities. The creation of such a post is being made in complete disregard of the different legal systems within the EU and it is likely to have a severe impact on Member States criminal systems. In fact, the Commission’s proposal breaches the subsidiarity principle.

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The sovereign debt crisis has opened the door for further economic and fiscal policy integration. Several new rules, intended to strengthen economic governance in the EU, have been introduced mainly through the so-called Six Pack, the Two Pack as well as the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance. The Commission is allowed, despite the lack of legitimacy, to interfere with member states’ budget decision making and to control national economic policies.

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The Regulatory Policy Committee has recently published its annual report, which clearly shows that EU regulations are undermining the Government’s plans to cut red tape. The Committee reviewed 36 EU measures in 2013, but the report particularly focus on the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive, which had added costs to businesses of £1.24 billion each year.

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The Daily Mail reports: “EU Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski said Brussels overspent its budget by an astonishing £20billion last year” and that “the cash would be taken from this year’s budget in the short term.” The article points out that “A request on this scale would cost British taxpayers about £2.5billion this year – more than the entire annual budget of the Foreign Office.” Bill Cash described the situation as ‘completely unacceptable’. He was quoted as saying ‘They are stretching the patience of the British taxpayer beyond breaking point. We cannot go on just paying up every time they come back with their begging bowl.’

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The idea of a federal Europe is not new; in fact it goes back to the early days of the European Community. And then Jacques Delors started talking about it in the early 90s. As Margaret Thatcher said, in her statement to the House of Commons on the European Council held in October 1990, Jacques Delors "wanted the European Parliament to be the democratic body of the Community, he wanted the Commission to be the Executive and he wanted the Council of Ministers to be the Senate”. Hence, the European Commission’s drive for a EU federal state is not new but it has been revived due to the euro crisis. Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and particularly Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission are doing everything they can to drive the EU towards a political union as they believe that a creation of a federal Europe is the only possible way to address the causes of the sovereign debt crisis. In fact, they believe that a democratic and effective EU must be based on a stronger political union between its member states. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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