Friday, 15 May 2009

Open europe

1. Lisbon Treaty: 82% want referendum in UK, even if all other countries ratify

A new Populus poll for the Times has found overwhelming support for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, even in a situation where it has already been ratified by Ireland and the rest of the EU. 82% of people agreed with the statement, "If Ireland and other countries ratify the Lisbon Treaty on the future of the European Union, Britain should hold its own referendum on the issue", with 52% strongly agreeing and only 14% disagreeing. 92% of Conservative voters, 76% of Labour voters and 85% of Liberal Democrats voters agreed that Britain should have a referendum on the Treaty. (Times, 13 May)

The poll also showed that 58% of voters believe that the balance of powers between Britain and the EU gives too much power to the EU, including a clear majority of supporters of all the main parties. 28% say the balance is about right and 6% say too little power has been given to the EU. In response to the question, "If the Lisbon Treaty goes through and the new post of President of the EU is established, the job should go to Tony Blair", only 34% of people agreed, and 63% disagreed. 51% felt that Britain benefits from its membership of the EU.

Meanwhile, a poll in Germany found that 70% of people want the Lisbon Treaty to be re-negotiated, and a separate poll found that 73% of Germans agree that "the EU takes too many powers from Germany". (Neues Deutschland, 15 May)

Germany is one of four countries that has yet to complete ratification of the Treaty - in addition to Ireland, the Czech Republic and Poland. German President Horst Köhler has said that he will not sign the Treaty into law until after the German Constitutional Court has given its opinion on whether the Treaty is compatible with the German Constitution, which it is expected to do after the European elections in June. (Focus, 5 May; European Voice, 6 May)

In Poland, President Lech Kaczynski is still to sign. Likewise, in the Czech Republic, the Treaty is awaiting the signature of President Vaclav Klaus, following the Senate's approval of the text by 54 votes to 20 on 6 May. (FT, Irish Times, 7 May) President Klaus has said that his signature is "not on the cards" until after Ireland holds a second referendum on the Treaty, expected in the autumn. The leader of the Liberals in the European Parliament, Lib Dem MEP Graham Watson, has attempted to pressure the Czech leader, saying, "Václav Klaus should now sign the document in blood - ahead of the EU summit in June." (WSJ, 7 May; Aktualne, 12 May)

Meanwhile, the Irish government is trying to fast-track work on the so-called 'guarantees' it plans to offer to Ireland in exchange for a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, reportedly in an effort to stop Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who is against the Treaty, from 'wrecking' an EU leaders' summit in June. Ireland hopes to persuade the other 26 member states to agree to the wording at a foreign ministers' meeting on 15 June, so that EU leaders meeting later in the same week can merely rubber-stamp the deal, without debate. In order to sideline President Klaus, the Czech government has decided that the EU leaders' summit will be chaired by the Prime Minister instead. (Irish Times, 14 May)

Irish Europe Minister Dick Roche has promised that the second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland will not be on the same text, saying "we cannot and will not put the same package to our people later this year." (Irish Times, 5 May) However, in reality, it is extremely unlikely that Ireland will be able to make any actual changes to the Treaty, since any change to the text at all will require re-ratification of the text by every EU member state - including the UK.

2. Lib Dems row back from 'in or out' referendum

Labour yesterday launched their European election campaign in Derbyshire with Gordon Brown suggesting that Britain risks becoming isolated in Europe if 'eurosceptic' parties succeed in the June elections. Brown said "I believe as we consider our future at these elections on 4 June it's also important to remember that we must work within the European Union, not be isolated in Europe." He added that "being outside Europe is a threat to jobs in this country." (El Pais, Reuters, BBC,15 May)

In response to the launch Shadow Europe Minister Mark Francois alluded to Labour's broken promise on holding a referendum on the renamed EU Constitution. He said, "What is the point of Gordon Brown launching a European election manifesto when he broke his main promise on Europe in his General Election manifesto? Labour's EU promises cannot be taken seriously while they are denying people their say on the renamed EU Constitution." (PA, 14 May)

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats launched their campaign on 12 May with the slogan "Stronger together, poorer apart." Leader Nick Clegg said: "We are stronger together and poorer apart, it's as simple as that." Asked whether the manifesto contained a commitment to hold a referendum on British membership of the EU - an idea the party has much vaunted over the past year in response to criticism that they went back on their promise to hold a referendum on the EU Treaty - Nick Clegg told a press conference, "Yes, it's in the manifesto."

However, in fact the manifesto contains no clear commitment to a referendum, stating only that the Lib Dems "have argued" for one. It says: "Liberal Democrats have argued for a referendum on whether Britain stays in or leaves the EU. We are the only party confident enough to put the pro-European case to the British people on the big issue facing us - and let the people decide. Britain will only win the case for a flexible, democratic Europe in Brussels if we settle our arguments at home on whether we should be part of the EU or not." (Lib Dem Manifesto, 12 May)

This represents yet another U-turn for the Lib Dems on Europe . At the last election, the Lib Dems joined Labour and the Conservatives in promising a referendum on the EU's Constitutional Treaty - which was later rejected by the French and the Dutch in referendums in 2005, and eventually renamed the Lisbon Treaty. However, instead of honouring that manifesto promise when the Treaty came up for ratification in the UK , Nick Clegg instructed his MPs to abstain from a vote on whether or not there should be a national referendum. He even sacked from his frontbench the handful of Lib Dem MPs who voted with their conscience in favour of the promised referendum.

When the vote moved to the House of Lords, Lib Dem Peers changed tack yet again, choosing not to stick to the line taken in the Commons and abstain, which would have helped the motion for a referendum succeed, and instead voting against a national referendum.

Throughout this episode, in an effort to pretend they were not going back on their promise, the Lib Dems claimed - and continue to claim - that they were instead in favour of a wider referendum on Britain 's membership of the EU. Nick Clegg said: "The EU could be a lot more liberal and democratic, and the Lisbon treaty would help it to do both. So let's trust the people with the real question: in or out?" (Guardian, 25 February 2008)

However, the failure to include a clear and undisputable commitment to such a referendum in the new manifesto proves that this was just a cynical ploy by the Lib Dems to distract attention from their decision to renege on the original manifesto pledge for a referendum on the Treaty.

3. News in brief

Italian bank receives more than €180 million in EU farm subsidies. A list has been published which discloses the largest beneficiaries of EU farm subsidies. These include an Italian bank in Milan, a French chicken farming giant and an Irish producer of Weight Watchers meals and Yorkshire puddings. The largest single payment, €140 million, went to the Italian sugar company Italia Zuccheri. The Italian bank ICBPI, received more than €180 million in five payments. EU member states were required to publish the recipients of subsidies on 30 April, although Germany has so far refused to do so on the grounds of privacy. (NY Times, EUobserver, Debate Materials, EU Farm subsidy millionaires 2008, Farmsubsidy, 8 May)

EU working rules mean Ministers need two limousine chauffeurs. The Government Car Service is to double the number of official drivers who act as chauffeurs for Ministers' limousines. This is because of European regulations on working hours, which mean that Ministerial drivers cannot drop a Minister off after a late Commons vote at 11pm, and pick them up at 9am the next morning. The Working Time Directive requires professional drivers have breaks of at least 11 hours between shifts. The rules mean that approximately 80 new drivers will need to be employed and existing drivers will not be able to boost their wages by doing overtime. (Sun, 12 May)

EU civil servants under investigation for benefit fraud awarded money from EU due to mishandling of investigation. 14 EU civil servants investigated for suspected benefit fraud have each been awarded €3,000 from the EU, after it transpired the EU's fraud watchdog, OLAF, failed to tell them that they were to face criminal proceedings in Italy. In a 2002 audit, 230 officials at the Joint Research Centre in Italy - one fifth of the total number of employees there - were found to be claiming a disability benefit. €5.7m was disbursed to staff between 1996 and 2002, an average of €25,000 each.

OLAF said that this "could appear, at first sight, suspect, and should be the object of an in depth review". However, on referring the case to the Italian judiciary to conduct an investigation, OLAF neglected to inform the civil servants. The EU's court for civil service employment disputes then ruled that this was in breach of their rights of defence, and awarded the 14 who brought a complaint €3,000 each in damages. (England Expects, Berlaymonster, 6 May)

French Finance Minister touted as new Commissioner. Speculation has been mounting over who could fill the available posts in the new Commission, due to installed in the autumn. There are rumours suggesting that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Commission President José Manuel Barroso agreed at the end of April that French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde could become the next EU Competition Commissioner. Some reports also suggest that Lagarde could also be in line for Internal Markets Commissioner, as well as French Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier. Spanish PM José Luis Zapatero reportedly agreed to support Barroso for another term as Commission President, in exchange for an important economic portfolio for the Spanish Commissioner, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also insisting that Barroso give Germany a top Commission portfolio. (Die Welt, Le Figaro, 13 May; Le Monde, FTD 14 May)

British family arrested over £1m EU regional funds scam. Five members of a Durham family have been charged with offences relating to a scam involving nearly £1m of European grants. Money paid from the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Regional Development Fund through the UK Government to companies based in County Durham, was supposed to be passed on to help people find work through various initiatives and training courses. It is alleged that the money was used by the family to buy land, houses, a vehicle and to finance building work, while large amounts of cash were also transferred abroad. (Newcastle Journal, Open Europe research, 11 May)

EP approves proposals for 'burden sharing' of asylum seekers in EU. The proposals introduced a 'solidarity clause' in order to assist member states that claim to be overburdened by asylum seeker demands. This provision foresees member states accepting a percentage of asylum applicants - possibly in accordance with their population size. (European Parliament, CDU/CSU, SPD, Die Presse, EUobserver, 8 May)

Proposed EU hedge fund regulations may lead to mass migration from the City. Hedge fund manager Crispin Odey has threatened to move his business out of Britain because of the EU's proposed directive to regulate hedge funds and the Government's new tax rate on high earners. Charles Price, founder of hedge fund business Palmer Capital, also admitted that he was weighing up his options, saying "firms have no choice but to consider moving given the lack of clarity about the regulatory environment." Kinetic Partners, which helps relocate hedge funds to Switzerland, have said they are advising 15 hedge funds that are actively considering leaving. (Sunday Times, 11 May)

4. Open Europe Brussels office

Open Europe has recently opened an office in Brussels, near the seat of the EU institutions, at 115 Rue du Trone, Brussels 1000. Journalists can contact Pieter Cleppe, Head of the Brussels office, on 0032 2 540 86 25 or 00 32 477 68 46 08.

5. Open Europe Events

Westminster or Brussels: Who rules Britain?

On 11 May, Open Europe held a debate in London, looking at the impact of EU legislation in the UK and how scrutiny of EU legislation works in Westminster.

The panelists included Gisela Stuart MP; Lord Trimble; Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP; and David Heathcoat-Amory MP.

To read a summary of the event, please visit our events page:

6. Open Europe in the news

Allegations raise concern over Eurojust's impartiality

14 May EUobserver 15 May Diario de Noticias

EUobserver reported on allegations that the head of the EU's judicial co-operation body Eurojust, Jose da Mota, put pressure on prosecutors in Portugal in order to stop a corruption investigation involving Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates. EUobserver quoted Open Europe's Stephen Booth saying, "These allegations are incredibly serious and, if proved, call into question the political independence and credibility of Eurojust".

Stephen was also quoted by Portuguese daily Diario de Noticias saying "If it is proven that Eurojust is not politically independent, then what is the system is a bad sign for citizens, which diminishes their faith in justice".

Lisbon Treaty being forced through Europe

11 May American Spectator: Bandow

Open Europe's Mats Persson was quoted in the American Spectator in an article looking at the future of the Lisbon Treaty. He said, "Ever since the Irish voted No to the Lisbon Treaty in June, politicians in Ireland and across Europe have tried to find ways to force this unwanted document through - against the clear will of the people."

Enough bureaucrats to fill a town

11 May De Pers

Following EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes' claim that the EU has no more bureaucrats than an "average town in the Netherlands", Dutch Socialist Party MEP candidate Dennis de Jong refuted the claim, and cited Open Europe's research, which found that the EU employs 170,000 people.

The cost of EU regulation to the UK

8 May Solihull News

The Solihull News cited Open Europe's research on the cost of EU regulation.

MEPs pass amendment to telecoms package

7 May WSJ

Open Europe's Pieter Cleppe was quoted in the WSJ following the European Parliament's vote to pass an amendment to the telecoms package, which would make it illegal for countries to disconnect people from the internet without a judicial decision. Pieter said that several members of Parliament "wanted to make a statement on upholding these rights" ahead of the European elections.

The cost of the EU's climate package

7 May Salon24

Open Europe's research on the cost of the EU's climate package was covered by Polish news site Salon24.

Coca Cola and EU propaganda

7 May Dagbladet Arbeideren

Denmark's Dagbladet Arbeideren cited Open Europe's research on EU communication policy, which showed that the EU was spending more on propaganda than Coca Cola spends on advertising each year.

Centralising tendency of the European Parliament

5 May BBC Today in Parliament

Open Europe Research Director Mats Persson appeared on BBC Radio 4's Today in Parliament discussing the centralising tendency of the European Parliament. Mats said, "It's very hard to find examples, and I can't think of any right now, where [MEPs] say, 'well, this is not for us, this is probably better decided on the national level'. You just hope that that will happen more often in the future because there are a lot of things that they decide on that, quite frankly, are better decided locally, regionally or nationally."

7. Support Open Europe

Open Europe is a small, lean operation which relies entirely on individual donations. We produce cutting-edge research on all aspects of EU policy, targeting both politicians and the media to campaign for radical reform of the EU. We unearth high-impact stories and hold high-profile events, and, uniquely for such a small team, we are quoted and interviewed several times a week in the media.

We believe there is a better way forward for Europe, and we need your help in trying to make our vision a reality.

If you support our work and would like to help us continue to do it, please click the link below to find out how you can donate. Anything you can give will go directly to helping us counter the spin from EU officials and EU-funded lobby groups, and allow us to make our case for a fresh approach to Europe.

Thank you for your support.

Open Europe is an independent think tank campaigning for radical reform of the EU. For information on our research, events and other activities, please visit our website: or call us on 0207 197 2333.

Monday, 11 May 2009


Recently there has been an annoying advert for 2Genuine Pear cider" on our tellys. Which claims that unlike other "Pear Ciders" it is made completely from pears.

well , what a bunch of Fuckwits...if it is made from pears it ain't fucking cider

Cider: A drink made from fermented apple juice

Perry; a drink made from pears



Saturday, 2 May 2009

Flu bunkum

On average there are 12,000 deaths per annum from FLU in England and Wales, when was the last time you saw that figure published?

That is quite a lot of people, why aren't people panicking about it ?

2.2 Excess Mortality
Excess mortality due to influenza occurs in most winter seasons but is especially marked
during epidemics. The average annual excess mortality attributable to influenza in recent
years is around 12,000 deaths per annum in England and Wales,(11) although there is
considerable yearly variation and some years are notably much higher than the average (est.
26,000 in 1989/90 epidemic). Excess mortality in England and Wales associated with the
three pandemics of the 20th century has also varied widely; this was estimated at 198,000
civilians in 1918/19, and 37,500 in 1957/58. In 1968/69 and 1969/70 (both seasons
considered to be associated with the influenza A/H3N2 pandemic) there were an estimated
31,000 and 47,000 deaths respectively.(7) Therefore the extent of mortality associated with
the next pandemic cannot be reliably predicted although it is reasonable to plan for a
scenario worse than a severe winter epidemic of normal influenza.

Read more here

So why are we getting upset about a very few cases of Flu in Mexico? It is NOT an epidemic, neither is it a pandemic.....In fact it isn't even a blip.......a barely noticeable outbreak of Flu.

I reckon the government are going to use this to impose their Nazi measures upon us still further.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Open Europe Bulletin: 1 May 2009

Open Europe

Open Europe Bulletin: 1 May 2009

* Former Labour MP laments failure to hold referendum on the Lisbon Treaty; Hague will not rule out retrospective referendum
* New EU regulation "a clear and present danger to the City"
* New Open Europe briefing: What does the European Parliament do and how does it affect your everyday life?
* News in brief
* Open Europe events
* Open Europe in the news
* Support Open Europe

1. Former Labour MP laments failure to hold referendum on the Lisbon Treaty; Hague will not rule out retrospective referendum

Veteran Labour Party member and Halifax MP for 18 years Alice Mahon has quit the party and said her reasons included a failure by the Government to deliver on promises in the 2005 Labour manifesto, including a referendum on the EU constitution. She said "That [2005] manifesto promised a referendum on the European Constitution, we renamed it the Lisbon Treaty and reneged on that promise also." (Independent: Mahon, 20 April)

Meanwhile, Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague has left the door open to the possibility of the Conservatives promising a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in their general election manifesto even if the Treaty has already been ratified by the EU's 27 member states by then.

Mr Hague said that, even if the Treaty had been ratified before a Conservative victory, the party would, nevertheless, spell out in its manifesto what action it would take to reverse European integration. Pressed on whether in those circumstances a referendum could still be promised in a Conservative manifesto, he said: "We would not rule anything in or out." (Times, Spectator: Coffee House blog, 29 April)

Conservative leader David Cameron launched a campaign renewing calls for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in the run up to the European elections in June. He said, "Where you stand on the referendum says a lot about your politics. It says a lot about how much you value trust between the government and the governed. I believe that if you make a promise in your manifesto, and the country votes on that manifesto, then you are honour-bound to keep that promise". (PA, 27 April; EUobserver, Open Europe blog, Irish Times, Telegraph, 28 April)

The Czech Senate has set 6-7 May as the date to hold a vote on ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. A three-fifths majority is needed to ratify the Treaty. (Javno, 29 April)

The EU is likely to postpone key decisions on the 'guarantees' offered to Ireland in return for a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty until mid-July, rather than allow Czech President Vaclav Klaus to chair the negotiations. Instead, a special summit will be held under the Swedish Presidency of the EU, due to begin on 1 July. (Waterfield blog, 27 April)

Please leave your comments on our blog:

2. New EU regulation "a clear and present danger to the City"

Serious concerns have been raised over an EU proposal, tabled by the European Commission this week, for tougher regulation of hedge funds and private equity groups. Critics have warned that the proposed directive could undermine the competitiveness of the City of London , slow down economic recovery and lead to job losses. The proposed regulation - which requires fund managers to seek government authorisation for the first time, while also introducing new reporting and capital requirements - will primarily affect Britain, since over 80% of Europe's alternative investment industry is based in the UK.

The proposal has also been criticised for being mistargetted. As pointed out in reports for both the Commission and the UK Government, hedge funds and private equity groups did not cause the current financial crisis.

Andrew Shrimpton, a partner at hedge fund consultancy Kinetic Partners LLP and formerly of the FSA called the proposal "a clear and present danger to the City". Florence Lombard, Executive Director of the Alternative Investment Management Association warned: "The unintended consequences of these measures may put thousands of jobs in several major European industries under threat and slow down any economic recovery." Meanwhile, Britain 's City Minister Paul Myners said that the proposal was not "as well informed as it should be."

But in Brussels MEPs have criticised the proposal for not going far enough and have vowed to insert even more stringent conditions on hedge funds and private equity. Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, President of the Party of European Socialists, said the proposal was so "light it was fly weight", adding "we will not accept such an ineffective regulation." Since the issue is decided by so-called co-decision, MEPs have the same powers as national ministers over the final decision. Crucially, the final decision will be taken by majority voting, meaning that the UK could be outvoted. (WSJ Telegraph Bloomberg FT FT2 FT-Lombard FT-leader Guardian EUobserver Euractiv European Socialists EPP-ED Coulisses de Bruxelles Le Monde, 30 April; Coulisses de Bruxelles Independent: Warner, 1 May)

3. New Open Europe briefing: What does the European Parliament do and how does it affect your daily life?

Looking ahead to the European Parliament elections, Open Europe has published a briefing on the European Parliament, seeking to answer basic questions voters may be asking themselves when deciding how, or if, to vote this June.

The briefing argues that the often repeated claim that Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) 'lack real powers', is largely inaccurate. In fact, MEPs now effectively have a 'veto' over national governments in about 75% of all European legislation, taking decisions on everything from working time to internet use. The Parliament has grown in power with every new EU treaty. The Lisbon Treaty will be no exception. If it is ratified, the number of areas where MEPs share powers with national governments will double.

However, despite the important role of the European Parliament, voter turnout has continued to decrease since the first direct elections in 1979. The Parliament has an image of being out of touch and distant from its electorate. This has left the public asking 'why should I bother voting in the European elections?'

The briefing argues that the Parliament could improve its reputation and gain more respect from voters by adopting some very simple and common sense reforms, including a complete overhaul of the system of expenses, allowances and pensions.

To read the full briefing, please click on the link below:

4. News in brief

UK's opt-out from the EU's 48 hour week remains intact. The UK 's opt-out from the EU's 48 hour working week will remain in place after negotiations between government ministers and the European Parliament broke down. The break-down means that the opt-out remains in place until a new proposal is tabled by the Commission. However, MEPs have vowed to make a new attempt to scrap the opt-out in the autumn.

Spanish MEP Alejandro Cercas, who led the European Parliament's drive to end the opt-out said, "We have left the future open and hope to have a solution with the new Commission and the new Parliament." German MEP Mechtild Rothe warned, "The opt-out cannot be forever." (BBC Open Europe blog EP press release, 28 April; WSJ Mail Telegraph Independent EUobserver BBC, 29 April)

MEPs hold 'sham' vote on controversial second pension fund. MEPs voted against bailing out their controversial second pension fund, which is facing a shortfall of around €120 million, with taxpayer funds. However, the vote is largely symbolic because the guarantee that taxpayers make up the shortfall can only be changed by a unanimous vote by member states. (RN, 22 April; Telegraph: Waterfield blog, AP, Welt, European Voice, 23 April)

€5 million gym for MEPs could power "pro-Europe messages". The EP is reportedly building a €5 million 'aqua gym' complex which will include a 'green' sauna, powered exclusively through solar energy, but which may only reach a temperature of 14 degrees. Other facilities will include steam baths as well as exercise bikes and treadmills which could be connected to the European Parliament's power grid to generate electricity and beam "pro-Europe messages from a beacon in Place Luxembourg ", according to reports. (New Europe, 20 April; Open Europe blog, 28 April)

Controversial cross-border healthcare plans could cost NHS "hundreds of millions". MEPs voted in favour of draft legisation which would guarantee patients who seek treatment in other EU countries reimbursement of their medical costs by the health system back home. A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "There are a number of important principles that need to be got right, including ensuring that where UK patients choose to travel abroad for care, the NHS retains the ability to decide what care it will fund."

Labour MEP Arlene McCarthy said the plan "could see hundreds of millions of pounds of NHS resources diverted away from local investment to fund private health treatment in Europe". (EUobserver, European Voice, 23 April; Mail, Irish Times 24 April)

Student loses extradition battle amid concerns over misuse of European Arrest Warrant. Andrew Symeou, the 20 year old student accused of a nightclub killing in Greece , today lost an appeal in the High Court against moves to extradite him from the UK to stand trial. The European Arrest Warrant system allows deportation of a suspect once basic information about identity and the alleged offence is provided. British courts are not required to assure themselves that an adequate case has been made for the accused to answer before agreeing to extradition.

Campaigns Coordinator for Liberty , Sabina Frediani said, "This alarming case highlights the dangers of summary extradition. No one should be sent anywhere, be it Europe, the US or elsewhere, without a case being made in a local court - British justice should not be circumvented in this way." (PA, 1 May)

ECJ ruling threatens property of thousands of Britons in Cyprus . The European Court of Justice has ruled that British Courts must enforce judicial decisions made in Cyprus , which uphold the property rights of Greek Cypriots who abandoned their property when they were forced out of the northern half of the island when Turkish troops invaded in 1974. The ruling means that thousands of Britons with property in Northern Cyprus could be forced to return their properties, or pay compensation to the original Cypriot landholders. The ECJ ruled that it did not matter that EU law did not apply to the area controlled by Turkish Cypriots. (Mail, WSJ, 29 April)

EU agricultural policy causes rainforest destruction. A new report from Friends of the Earth, entitled "Feeding the Beast", details how the EU's Common Agricultural Policy has fueled demand for imported animal feed, encouraging South American ranchers to clear rainforests for plantations of soy crops. Friends of the Earth's Executive Director Andy Atkins said, "Cash-strapped families have no idea that millions of pounds of their money is being spent on an industry that contributes more to climate change than all the planes, cars and lorries on the planet." (PA, 27 April)

5. Open Europe events

"Reforming the EU for the 21st century" - 14 May

Ahead of the European elections and the upcoming Swedish Presidency of the EU, Open Europe is hosting a seminar at this year's Europaforum in Hässleholm, southern Sweden . Europaforum is a conference co-hosted by the upcoming Swedish Presidency, the current Czech Presidency, the EU Commission and the European Parliament.

Open Europe 's seminar entitled "Reforming the EU for the 21st century" will take place on 14 May and run from 14.00 until 15.00. In the seminar, Open Europe will present ideas on how the EU can be brought closer to its citizens and reformed to meet today's challenges. The seminar will also feature Bruno Waterfield, Brussels correspondent for the Daily Telegraph.

Programme Registration

European Monetary Union : Second honeymoon or pending divorce?

On 28 April, Open Europe held a panel debate in Brussels in conjunction with The Centre looking at European Monetary Union and the challenges it faces in the future.

The panellists included Ignazio Angeloni, Advisor to the Executive Board of the European Central Bank; David Marsh, author of "The Euro: The politics of the new global currency"; and Derek Scott, vice-Chairman of Open Europe and former Economic Advisor to Tony Blair.

To read a summary of the event, please visit our events page:

6. Open Europe in the news

MEPs' lucrative second pensions

1 May Southern Star

Irish regional weekly, the Southern Star looked at the issue of MEPs' expenses and quoted Open Europe 's Pieter Cleppe on the issue of the controversial second pension scheme.

Deconstructing the EU budget

30 April Ekonom Parkiet

Open Europe 's research on the EU's budget was cited on Czech website Ekonom and Polish website Parkiet.

The EU needs reform

29 April BBC Northern Ireland

Open Europe's Mats Persson appeared on BBC Northern Ireland 's Talk Back show, discussing the need for reform of the EU.

The cost of EU regulation to the UK

28 April 2009 Mail: Synon blog

Mary Ellen Synon's Mail blog looked at the cost of EU membership to Britain and cited figures from Open Europe 's recent research on the cost of regulation.

The never ending Acquis Communautaire

22 April Derby Evening Telegraph

The Derby Evening Telegraph cited Open Europe 's research into the size of the Acquis Communautaire.

Three quarters of Irish MEPs refuse to publish expenses

20 April Mail Telegraph: Bruno Waterfield blog Finanzas ABhaber Sunday Times

Open Europe's findings about the number of MEPs signed up to the controversial second pension fund were reported on page two of the Sun, in the Mail, the Irish Sunday Times, and on Bruno Waterfield's Telegraph blog. Open Europe's Lorraine Mullally was interviewed on BBC Five Live. Open Europe 's Pieter Cleppe was quoted in an article on Spanish news site, saying, "The legality of this highly controversial fund has been repeatedly questioned over the last ten years by the European Court of Auditors".

7. Support Open Europe

Open Europe is a small, lean operation which relies entirely on individual donations. We produce cutting-edge research on all aspects of EU policy, targeting both politicians and the media to campaign for radical reform of the EU. We unearth high-impact stories and hold high-profile events, and, uniquely for such a small team, we are quoted and interviewed several times a week in the media.

We believe there is a better way forward for Europe , and we need your help in trying to make our vision a reality.

If you support our work and would like to help us continue to do it, please click the link below to find out how you can donate. Anything you can give will go directly to helping us counter the spin from EU officials and EU-funded lobby groups, and allow us to make our case for a fresh approach to Europe .

Thank you for your support.

Open Europe is an independent think tank campaigning for radical reform of the EU. For information on our research, events and other activities, please visit our website: or call us on 0207 197 2333.

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