La Treizième Étoile: 12/12/10 - 19/12/10 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
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Agreement reached over permanent Eurozone rescue fund set up by tiny treaty tweak

Saturday, 18 December 2010
In the final European Council summit of the 2010 calendar year and the final under the current Belgian presidency, the 27 leaders of the EU member states finally agreed on Thursday night to set up a permanent mechanism to ‘bail out’ any member state whose debt problems threaten the Eurozone.

The permanent mechanism will succeed the Eurozone's current €750bn temporary ‘bailout’ fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), in 2013 and to set up this facility, the European Union had to revise its governing treaty. The hope was this could be done in such as way as to avoiding referendums in each of the 27 member countries, all of which will have to ratify the revision, and so avoid many many months of further uncertainty and wrangling that recently plagued the EU until the Lisbon Treaty was finally adopted last year.

The solution: two sentences that will be inserted into the Treaty. They read:
"The Member States whose currency is the Euro may establish a stability mechanism to be activated if indispensable to safeguard the stability of the Euro area as a whole. The granting of any required financial assistance under the mechanism will be made subject to strict conditionality."

In order to reach the agreement, it is clear that Germany had to compromise over its demand that the language spelt out the fund would be used only as a last resort, and David Cameron managed to seek assurances that Britain (which of course is outside of the Eurozone) would not be required to take part in any future Eurozone ‘bailout’ funds.

Following the meeting, the President of the European Council, Belgian Herman Van Rompuy, said leaders were ready to do whatever was required to protect the currency: yet clearly not Mr Cameron (although to his credit he has allowed an agreement to be reached). While it still remains a mystery as to why such ‘bailout’ mechanisms were not in place from the start of the single currency, such a move should be welcomed by all – even the Eurosceptics who would just love to see the currency fail, plunging the whole continent into a huge economic depression, just so they can taunt “I told you so”…

The agreed revision will now be sent to the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Central Bank, all of whom have to give their opinion on proposals to change the treaty even though their views do not bind the European Council. The treaty change will be approved at the European Council in March, if the three institutions have given their views by then. The text will then be sent to the 27 member states for ratification.

Is the end of the ECR Group nigh (again)?

Wednesday, 15 December 2010
Ever since its creation, the European Conservative and Reformist (ECR) Group has had to fight off speculation that it is to disband; and again today, according to theparliament, 11 MEP members of the ECR Group are set to leave and join the EFD Group in the Parliament, which is home to the UKIP MEPs headed up by the ever-charismatic Nigel Farage.

The 11 MEPs in question are the Polish members that belong to the Law and Justice Party – the same party that the Polish ECR group leader himself Michał Kaminski quit last month saying it was becoming too extreme (three other MEPs have since followed suit).

Besides being a further embarrassing development for David Cameron and his Conservative MEPs who formed the ECR Group, what would happen if this report is true and these Polish MEPs leave?

Well, according to Rule 30.2 of the Parliament's Rules of Procedure, a political grouping in the chamber requires a minimum of 25 MEPs from seven different member states in order to exist. If the Polish contingent leaves, only six member states would be still represented by the remaining members in the grouping: those being the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and the UK. So while the group will still have 39 members, they would no longer be considered a group by the Parliament.

If the story is untrue, as affirmed by the ECR group this evening, and the Polish MEPs remain then the grouping would survive… for now. But surely it’s simply a matter of time before Mr Cameron is forced to admit he was wrong to move his MEPs out of the majority EPP grouping to form a new group on the sidelines?

The ECR saga continues…

UKIP MEP Bloom fined £1,800 for disruptive Nazi outburst

Tuesday, 14 December 2010
UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom has been stripped of his €300 daily expenses allowance for one week as punishment for interrupting last month's session of the European Parliament with an outburst of Nazi motto "Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer (‘One People, One Empire, One Leader’) towards German MEP Martin Schulz.

Jerzy Buzek, the Polish incumbent President of the Parliament, told the assembly on Monday evening as it convened for its final session of 2010 that Mr Bloom would not be allowed to receive a per diem of the next seven days because of his "behaviour during the last session" and his refusal to apologise.

In response, Mr Bloom has posted a scathing message on his Twitter account that reads: “Been fined £1799 for calling a fascist a fascist! Why did Schulz not get fined when he insulted other MEPs?

Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.