Breaking News -- European Union
|European Union Sets Plan to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Europe sets climate change goals to be met by 2030
Leaders in Europe have agreed that 28 nations will cut greenhouse gas emissions to at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. The deal comes a year ahead of international climate negotiations next year and is designed to set an example for the rest of the world.
The European Union finalized the deal after hours of debate among leaders. They have also vowed that renewable energy will meet at least 27 percent of European countries’ needs and that energy efficiency will increase by a minimum of 27% in the next 16 years.
EU makes Britain pay for recovery
by Bruno Waterfield, and Matthew Holehouse in Brussels
The Prime Minister is ambushed with a demand for an extra £1.7billion because Britain has outperformed other European economies over past decade
David Cameron is fighting to stop Britain being forced to pay an extra £1.7billion to the European Union due to the success of the British economy.
The Prime Minister was ambushed with a demand from the European Commission for the extra cash because Britain’s economy has performed better than other economies in Europe since 1995.
The bill is due on 1 December and Mr Cameron is particularly enraged because Brussels accountants are also preparing to give France back £790million as its economy performed less well than Britain’s.
Tories have been stunned by the news which comes just weeks before the critical by-election in Kent next month, which they will fight against UKIP, and as the European Parliament seeks additional increases to next year’s EU budget, at a extra cost to British taxpayers of £680million.
The Prime Minister was holding talks at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday night in order to try and find allies to oppose the increase, which will push up Britain’s EU membership bill by 20 per cent this year.
“It’s not acceptable to just change the fees for previous years and demand them back at a moment’s notice,” a Downing Street spokesman told the Financial Times.
“The European Commission was not expecting this money and does not need this money and we will work with other countries similarly affected to do all we can to challenge this.”
A senior EU source told the Daily Telegraph that the scope for a legal challenge was non-existent.
“This at the commission’s discretion. It is automatic, there is nothing Britain can do about it,” said the official.
Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, was said to be onside, after the Netherlands was also asked to make top-up payment of £507million.
The payment, described by officials as a “surcharge” follows a change to the way the EU calculates gross national income to include previous hidden service industries, including such prostitution and illegal drugs.
Britain, which has a large service sector, has had its national income revised upwards to reflect a higher pace of growth compared to other countries.
“Britain’s contribution reflects an increase in wealth, just as in Britain you pay more to the Inland Revenue if your earnings go up,” said a commission spokesperson.
Nigel Farage said the latest blow to Mr Cameron would fan the flames of Tory unease ahead of the Rochester and Strood by-election on 20 November.
“Every single strategy the Prime Ministers has adopted on the EU has failed,” the Ukip leader said.
"He now has two choices: to hold a referendum before the next general election or to lose the election. He could possibly lose the leadership before that as the discontent is growing."
Eurosceptic Conservative MPs are infuriated by the latest setback which comes at a time when Mr Cameron is struggling to make the case for EU membership against Ukips calls for Britain to leave the Union
“The Prime Minister has been ambushed,” said Peter Bone, the Tory MP for Wellingborough. “This is a total disgrace. It is another reason we have to leave this EU superstate. The British people won’t put up with it. Roll on the referendum.”
“This comes as no surprise. The EU punishes economic success and rewards profligacy and failure. Britain is right to support the world’s poorest countries we shouldn’t be supporting some of the richest,” said Bernard Jenkin, Conservative MP for Harwich and North Essex.
Mr Cameron is fighting the budget battle with Brussels on two fronts after MEPs voted through an extra £5.4 billion in EU spending next year in defiance of British calls for cuts.
The European Parliament’s demand for extra cash means the Treasury will have to find an extra £680million from taxpayers to pay Britain’s EU membership bill next year.
The surcharge comes on top of the net UK contribution to the EU budget, which is expected to be around £10 billion by the end of this year.
In a note to EU member states explaining the adjustments, the commission said that it was “aware that in some cases this might have a significant budgetary impact in terms of cash flow”.
The Tories are feeling besieged after Mr Farage’s Ukip took its first seat in Westminster earlier this this month and senior EU officials have dismissed, as illegal, Mr Cameron calls curbs on immigration from Eastern Europe.
The new £1.7billion bill will be due less than a fortnight after the Rochester by election next month.
Up to 100 Tory MPs have threatened to rebel during a vote on Government plans to “opt-in” to 35 EU justice and policing measures, including the European Arrest Warrant.
“It’s going to be a stormy few weeks for Mr Cameron. This news could not be worse,” said a loyalist Conservative backbench MP.
George Soros: Russia threatens EU’s survival
by Williams Watts
Billionaire hedge-fund titan and philanthropist George Soros has long made clear he thinks the German-led push for unrelenting austerity across the eurozone endangers the survival of the European Union. Now he’s warning that Europe “is facing a challenge from Russia to its very existence.”
In an essay published in the New York Review of Books, Soros says it’s time for the 28 EU members to “wake up and behave as countries indirectly at war.”
But he fears European leaders and citizens aren’t fully aware of the Russian threat that he says extends beyond Ukraine, in part because the EU and the 18-member eurozone “lost their way” in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
“Now Russia is presenting an alternative that poses a fundamental challenge to the values and principles on which the European Union was originally founded. It is based on the use of force that manifests itself in repression at home and aggression abroad, as opposed to the rule of law,” Soros wrote. “What is shocking is that Vladimir Putin’s Russia has proved to be in some ways superior to the European Union — more flexible and constantly springing surprises. That has given it a tactical advantage, at least in the near term.”
Soros warns that unless the EU abandons its adherence to austerity and moves to shore up Ukraine, Russia’s influence will only grow in Eastern Europe, magnifying the threat to Europe.
He concludes the essay with a plea for the EU to examine itself.
““The bureaucracy of the EU no longer has a monopoly of power and it has little to be proud of. It should learn to be more united, flexible, and efficient. And Europeans themselves need to take a close look at the new Ukraine,” he writes. “That could help them recapture the original spirit that led to the creation of the European Union. The European Union would save itself by saving Ukraine.”
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