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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">The EU needs new thinking. After eight years of stop-start negotiations, the Union finally has a new rulebook, the Lisbon treaty, which entered into force earlier this month. The member-states are waiting for a new European Commission and a new European Council president to take office early next year.</p>', created = 1503509044, expire = 1503595444, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:a27a3c9f01224c8cf11a5475b1351152' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<P style=\"TEXT-ALIGN: justify\">Many people in the EU tend to see Gazprom as a mighty giant that uses energy as a political tool on behalf of the Kremlin. They say that Russia has leverage because it controls 40 per cent of the EU’s gas imports.</p>', created = 1503509044, expire = 1503595444, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:c079132e590f36e795ca6ab9d793caa0' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">There is no doubt that governments had to take exceptional steps in response to the financial crisis. Without such unprecedented action, many economies would have slipped into slump and probably deflation.</p>', created = 1503509044, expire = 1503595444, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:7edbaa37f56486bfffe5fdb70cd1c71f' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">David Cameron, the leader of Britain\'s Conservatives and perhaps its next prime minister, has unveiled a new strategy for the European Union. </p>', created = 1503509044, expire = 1503595444, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:8e04e0aacbca0dad51d8414e68fc2800' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Dear David,</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">The day after the Czech Republic became the last country to ratify the Lisbon treaty, you abandoned your pledge to hold a referendum on it and you unveiled a new EU strategy that is skilfully balanced. <!--break-->You threw enough red meat to eurosceptics to convince at least some of them that you are serious about stopping the flow of sovereignty to the EU. But your measured and non-confrontational tone left Britain’s European partners hopeful that they will be able to do business with a Cameron government.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">If you win a clear majority in the next general election, you will be able to push through the three acts of Parliament you have promised: one requiring a referendum to approve any future treaty change; another insisting on a parliamentary vote before Britain gives up any more vetoes; and a third limiting future transfers of sovereignty to the EU.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">But your plans to opt out of the Lisbon treaty’s Charter of Fundamental Rights as well as treaty articles on judicial co-operation and social policy require the consent of every other member-state. You seem to think it will be quite easy to negotiate opt-outs in the form of protocols, but I am not so sure. The Lisbon treaty already gives Britain opt-outs from EU justice policy, as well as a protocol clarifying that the Charter does not create new social rights in Britain. Your EU partners may agree to strengthen these UK-specific provisions.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Opting out of treaty articles on social policy, however, will be very difficult. Many EU governments believe that Britain’s lax labour market rules allow it to attract an ‘unfair’ share of foreign investment. They have no intention of allowing Britain to cast off the few rules that the EU has adopted on employment and social policy. Moreover, they know that if Britain won an opt-out, the Central Europeans would insist on the same privilege.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">When John Major negotiated an optout from the Maastricht treaty’s social chapter (later revoked by Tony Blair), he had leverage: he was prepared to veto the treaty. When the Irish and Czech governments asked for clarifications to the Lisbon treaty this year, they threatened not to ratify it unless satisfied. You will have no such leverage, for the Lisbon treaty is now in force throughout the EU.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Wisely, you say you will move slowly and take your time to negotiate opt-outs, while you build friendships with other leaders. Newly-elected prime ministers are generally treated with good will. But that will be tempered by the ill will stemming from your decision to leave the European Peoples Party, the main centre-right group in the European Parliament. As you know, that upset Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy, the two most powerful figures in the EU. Their annoyance will diminish over time. But if your ministers resort to the kind of inflammatory eurosceptic rhetoric used by some members of the Major government, other leaders will be less willing to help you out. Hopefully you will make a better job of controlling your ministers than John Major did with his.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">My advice would be to take what you can get in opt-outs, but don’t ask for too much, lest you fail. The good news for Conservatives is that there are no new significant directives on social policy in the pipeline; you can dress up this legislative inaction as a victory. Save some gunpowder for battles in two areas unconnected to treaty change where British interests may be threatened.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">One is the EU budget. Don’t forget that in 2012 the Commission will unveil proposals for the next seven-year budget cycle. Ask for a cut in the proportion of the budget that is spent on farming, and for more to be spent on useful objectives like carbon capture and storage or pan-European energy grids. Demand that the budget rebate won by Margaret Thatcher in 1984 be retained.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">The other is the City, which hosts the biggest financial services industry in Europe. Since rules on financial markets are set by majority vote, other governments may be tempted to push for laws that harm the City. Insist on a political agreement giving Britain a de facto veto on directives affecting this vital national interest.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Whatever you do, you will fail to satisfy hard-line eurosceptics in your rank-and-file. One day you will have to confront them and explain how the EU has changed since your party was last in power. When you were a special adviser in Major’s government, the European story was about France and Germany setting the – sometimes anti- American – agenda, new treaties giving the EU more power, and the question of British participation in the euro.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">But a quarter century of treaty change has come to an end, and the EU is now focusing on external challenges like climate change, energy security, transnational crime, the impact of the China’s economic rise and the revival of Russian power. With the Nordics and Central Europeans in the Union, France and Germany, though still influential, no longer decide what happens. The EU’s centre of gravity is Atlanticist, broadly pro-market and opposed to the harmonisation of employment law. The euro exists but Britain is under no pressure to join. Federalism is a spent force, confined to the political elites in Belgium and Luxembourg, a few Italian and German politicians and people in EU institutions. Most European leaders are pragmatic about the Union, viewing it as a vehicle through which they can pursue national interests. In that they are not so different from Conservatives.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">But Britain’s European debate is largely stuck in the past and often one-sided. Some other governments worry that in the long run Britain could quit the EU altogether. You don’t want that. But if you allow the hard-line sceptics in your party and the populist media to set the tone of the debate, that outcome may not be so far-fetched. At the very least, a Britain that was locked into a confrontational relationship with the EU would be marginalised and deprived of influence. If you become prime minister, at some point you will have to stick your neck out and tell the British people that constructive engagement in Europe serves their interests.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Yours sincerely, Charles Grant</p>', created = 1503509044, expire = 1503595444, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:9bfc91e701f46f49307866561e33453a' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">The eurozone has suffered a deep recession – bigger than the US and about as bad as that in the UK. Public finances across the eurozone have worsened dramatically, and in some cases now look perilous. <!--break-->The eurozone’s average fiscal deficit is lower than that of the US or UK but public debt is much higher. Moreover, it is hard to see where economic growth in the eurozone is going to come from. It certainly will not come from indebted economies like Spain, which provided a disproportionate share of the growth in eurozone domestic demand in the run-up to the financial crisis. Nor will growth come from export-led economies like Germany.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Despite this inauspicious backdrop the euro is incredibly strong. The single currency is trading at around €1:$1.50, way above the level that would equalise purchasing power between the eurozone and US. In trade-weighted terms, the euro is at an all-time high. The UK is the eurozone’s biggest trade partner and sterling has slumped against the euro. China is the eurozone’s third biggest trader partner (after the UK and US), and the Chinese renminbi is effectively tied to the dollar, so it has weakened in line with the US currency. The currencies of the Czech Republic and Poland (the eurozone’s 6th and 7th biggest trade partners) have also depreciated sharply against the euro.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">A strong currency has advantages. For example, it reduces the prices of imported goods and hence inflation. But excessive currency strength spells trouble for exporters, and threatens to depress the eurozone’s already poor growth prospects. If the euro remains at its current level, eurozone firms will see their profit margins (and hence readiness to invest) squeezed, and many will be forced out of export markets. Of course some economies are more vulnerable than others. In relative terms, Germany is better able to cope with a very strong euro than Italy or Spain, but history shows that even in Germany there is a close correlation between export orders and the exchange rate.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">There is no doubt that the dollar needed to fall in order to rebalance the US economy. But the burden of accommodating a weaker dollar needs to be shared among America’s trade partners, rather than being borne largely by the eurozone. Some estimates suggest that the renminbi is now undervalued by as much as 40 per cent on a trade-weighted basis. If the Chinese (and other East Asians economies with currencies pegged to the dollar) were to allow their currencies to rise against the dollar, the euro would need to appreciate by much less in order to bring about the necessary fall in the dollar’s trade-weighted value. European frustration is mounting, exacerbated by the size of the eurozone’s trade deficit with China, which totalled €170 billion in 2008. Jean-Claude Trichet, ECB president, has called for orderly appreciation of East Asian currencies,as have Jean-Claude Juncker, the chair of the Eurogroup, and Joaquin Almunia, the commissioner for economic affairs.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">By contrast, the decline of sterling has generated little controversy within Europe, despite widespread concerns over the impact of currency movements on competitiveness. One reason for the apparent lack of concern is the widespread misconception that Britain does not make anything, and hence will not benefit from the weakness of sterling. But contrary to myth, Britain exports a similar volume of manufactured goods as France or Italy, and is easily the biggest exporter of commercial services in the EU.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Forecasting exchange rates is a fool’s errand: even the best forecasters struggle to get it right. Nevertheless, there are a number of reasons to believe that the euro could remain very strong for sometime. The first reason is divergence in monetary policies. The central banks of the US and the UK are less concerned about inflation than the ECB. As such, they will delay raising interest rates and withdrawing other monetary stimuli until they are confident that the economic recovery has taken hold, even if this runs the risk of a pick-up in inflation. All things being equal, this is likely to encourage investors to buy the euro because they believe it will be a better store of value.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">The second reason is China’s exchange rate policy. China has prevented the renminbi from appreciating against the dollar by purchasing vast quantities of the US currency. The country’s international reserves, at $2.3 trillion, are now equivalent to over 40 per cent of its GDP. As a result, China is exposed to huge exchange rate risk: at some point the renminbi will have to rise substantially, reducing the value of China’s foreign holdings. The Chinese authorities are also struggling to prevent massive inflows of capital from pushing up asset prices and causing a surge ininflation. However, they fear that a steep rise in the renminbi would hit economic growth and unleash social tensions. Att he China-US summit in November2009, President Obama’s call to allow the market to determine the value of the renminbi fell on deaf ears. At best, China looks set to concede a series of small revaluations against the dollar.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Where does this leave the eurozone? Any attempt to pressure the ECB into pursuing a looser monetary policy would backfire – the central bank jealously guards its independence. Demands that the US and UK adopt more conservative monetary policies are likely to be ignored too. If the medicine the British authorities have prescribed succeeds in stimulating the UK economy, monetary policy will be tightened rapidly and sterling will recover. But if the UK economy remains weak, so will sterling. However, Europe can step up pressure on China. Unlike the Americans, the Europeans are not dependent on Chinese capital to help fund their fiscal deficits. When the trio of Trichet, Juncker and Almunia visit Beijing in December they must not pull any punches. They should rule out granting ‘market-economy status’ – a longstanding demand of the Chinese –and make plain that China’s refusal allow a substantial rise in the renminbi’s trade-weighted exchange risks triggering a protectionist backlash.</p>', created = 1503509044, expire = 1503595444, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:76db9c117d112eaffd7ed326934e79d2' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">There is no rule for how a government desiring to join the EU should make its case. But countries that managed to accede in recent years had done so by observing a few simple guidelines: cultivate friends among EU governments, be prepared to make painful sacrifices and, above all, show patience and good faith.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Ukraine, the largest of the East European countries hoping to join, has broken every one of those principles over the past two years. As a result, it has fallen from the EU’s grace. EU countries like the Netherlands and Germany have always opposed offering Ukraine a ‘membership perspective’. But only two or three years ago, “the majority of EU governments were in favour of [Ukraine] joining,” said one European Commission official dealing with the country. “Today, EU governments have stopped caring.”</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Ukraine’s most recent own goal consisted of Kyiv apparently lying to Brussels about the situation in its gas sector. Kyiv (and Moscow) warned in May and June 2009 that gas levels in Ukrainian storage tanks were too low to guarantee uninterrupted supplies during the winter. The European Commission – worried about a repeat of the January 2009 crisis that left parts of Europe in the cold for two weeks – sprung into action. It lined up key financial institutions including the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to lend Ukraine billions of dollars to buy gas and reform its energy sector.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">The feared gas shortage probably never existed. At the end of August, Kyiv declared that its reservoirs, which hold about 27 billion cubic metres of gas, were full. Experts say that Russia could have only pumped about 6-7 billion cubic metres between May and August. This suggests that the gas tanks had been close to full all along.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">In creating a false alarm, Kyiv has shown complete disregard for itsreputation in Europe. This fits into a broader pattern. This year, Ukraine has also failed to act on promises it had made to the EU to raise gas prices, and make its energy business more transparent – not to speak of various other changes that the country would need to implement if it was serious about integrating with the EU.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">No wonder: Ukraine has been in a political crisis for years. President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko are not on speaking terms. Both are vying for the presidency in the January 2010 elections, and have spent more time campaigning than governing. Even though the country’s economy is contracting at a rate of over 15 per cent and the government is seriously short of cash, Yushchenko signed off a 10 per cent hike in public sector salaries in October. This prompted the International Monetary Fund to suspend its multi-billion lifeline for Ukraine. Like the EU, the IMF struggles to find anyone in Kyiv to talk to.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">Of course, EU governments are right to be disillusioned with Ukraine. But the EU must also shoulder some of the blame for Ukraine’s paralysis. With several EU governments calling for a stop to enlargement, more Ukrainians are giving up hope of ever being allowed to join. Ukraine’s politicians are responding by downplaying the virtues of EU accession: they do not want to be associated with failure.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">The leading candidate in the presidential elections, Viktor Yanukovich, wants Ukraine to abandon its pursuit of EU (and NATO) integration and draw closer to Russia. Two other candidates, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Volodymyr Lytvyn, are ambivalent about getting closer to the West. The main proponent of western integration, President Yushchenko, is deeply unpopular and certain to lose in the January election.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">The EU and Ukraine are getting locked in a vicious circle: the EU gives up hope for change in Ukraine, and politicians in Kyiv use the lack of EU incentives as an excuse for not addressing the mess the country is in. The EU should be tough on Ukraine, but also offer more attractive rewards in case reforms start happening.</p><p style=\"text-align: justify;\">The presidential elections present a chance to break the vicious circle. Tymoshenko, though currently polling second, stands a chance of winning in the run-off. She is more ambiguous than Yushchenko on EU membership but broadly in favour. Post-election, she will have fewer reasons to worry about upsetting voters. The EU should make it clear that if the new government reforms the energy sector, judiciary and constitutional law (all areas of concern) and completes a free-trade agreement with the EU (under negotiation but currently stalled), the Union would respond forcefully by offering the much-desired membership perspective.</p>', created = 1503509044, expire = 1503595444, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:0a1793633f4b85605fce86a30b0049d9' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">When the EU\'s first \'foreign minister\', Cathy Ashton, starts work on December 1st, she will find Iran on top of her \'to do\' pile. Earlier this week, Tehran turned down a proposal from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that would have seen a large part of the country\'s stock of uranium moved out of the country for further enrichment.</p>', created = 1503509044, expire = 1503595444, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:a7ef6c809206918304aea58472c23bf8' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './cer_staging/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p style=\"text-align: justify;\">It is 20 years since the Berlin Wall crumbled and political and economic freedom started spreading through Eastern Europe. Today, however, the region is mired in deep recession.</p>', created = 1503509044, expire = 1503595444, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '3:99a082af40fa55990b683ee10562d5df' in /home/cer/staging/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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