Tuesday 16 September 2014

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Climate action will help the economy, report says

Posted by on 11/09/14

By Jason Anderson, Head of EU Climate and Energy Policy, WWF European Policy Office

A Cambridge Econometrics report released yesterday responds to the simple question: what would the economic implications be of meeting the UK’s carbon reduction goals to 2025 (the ‘fourth carbon budget’), compared to a scenario where they slow down their mitigation efforts?

The answer, of course, is not so simple to come up with, which is why the modellers’ expertise was necessary. The implications of cutting carbon are broad – more investment in low-carbon infrastructure and industry, increases in the associated employment, a faster shift from fossil to renewable energy, lower health costs due to reduced air pollution, and so on.

The net result is a major benefit to the economy, with household income rising £565 per year by 2030, heathcare costs down as much as £288m per year, a £5.7bn increase in government revenue, a 1.9% rise in production in energy-intensive sectors and a cut of £8.5bn in oil and gas import bills.

The biggest issues to contend with are, first, ensuring that energy efficiency measures are implemented even among the less well-off in society so that their fuel bills fall even as unit costs rise. This implies more robust programmes around fuel poverty. Secondly, a small number of energy intensive industries will similarly need to see enhanced investment in low-carbon technologies during a period in which they may need to be insulated from the full costs of transition, an approach already being undertaken through EU policy, though in a manner that requires considerable improvement.

As negotiators work behind the scenes to prepare for a European Council meeting later in October that will likely define the outlines of EU climate and energy policy through to 2030, this report adds to the stack of economic studies demonstrating the benefit of climate action and associated changes to industry and energy. At this point it’s clear that any failure or reluctance to reap the benefits of a low-carbon transition shows a singular inability to take the initiative needed to navigate change successfully.


Lord Hill is the EU’s new financial services Commissioner – but what is his remit and who does he report to?

Posted by on 10/09/14
With the future of the UK seemingly hanging by a thread it is understandable that events north of the border are dominating attention, but today's announcement of the new European Commission also has far-reaching consequences for the future of the UK's EU membership and the EU itself.

As we set out in our flash analysis, the appointment of Lord Hill to the key financial services portfolio (pending approval by MEPs) is a win for the UK, and the general reformist outlook of the Commission, with other crucial posts (Internal Market and Competition) held by liberal, pro-free trade, non-eurozone countries, provides grounds for cautious optimism.

What will Lord Hill's portfolio include?
  • Overseeing the creation of the banking union – a crucial policy for the eurozone but also one which threatens to split the EU into euro-ins and outs. In his new role, Lord Hill can ensure this does not happen. That being said, this is a very tricky role to manage (with numerous competing interests), especially for a non-eurozone country.
  • Power to review the role of the European supervisory authorities, institutions which have been controversial in the UK since their creation.
  • Responsibility for a 'Capital Markets Union'. While this remains vague it could be a good initiative for the UK since London is already the centre of European capital markets. Lord Hill can base the union around the single market rather than the eurozone.
As the charts below show, the Commission has also been re-organised with a series of policy clusters, with the UK being at the heart of all the major decisions relating to the single market, jobs and growth and the Eurozone. Each 'cluster' will be headed by a Vice-President, previously a largely meaningless role but now with additional agenda setting powers and the ability to stop legislative proposals from other Commissioners.

Lord Hill will 'report' to two Vice Presidents who will "steer and co-ordinate" depending on the issue at hand - the new "Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness" VP Jyrki Katainen and the "Euro and Social Dialogue" VP Valdis Dombrovskis (both of whom are former PMs). In terms of the two VPs, Dombrovskis is likely to supervise the banking union aspects of Lord Hill's post while Katainen will oversee the more single market aspects, although even here, there is plenty of scope for overlap.

Lord Hill's portfolio also has some overlap (and therefore potential conflict) with France's new Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici .The potential for Anglo-French clashes within the Commission is relatively limited since Moscovici will be primarily tasked with macroeconomic eurozone policies rather than financial markets, but one potentially fraught area could the be Financial Transaction Tax or a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base. Juncker has asked Moscovici to finalise negotiations over both.

It remains to be seen how the relationship between VPs and different clusters will work in practice, especially as Juncker himself has insisted that "In the new Commission, there are no first or second-class Commissioners", and since decisions in the College of Commissioners have traditionally been taken by a majority of all Commissioners in a secret vote. However, Juncker also made clear that the Vice-Presidents “can stop any initiative, including legislative initiatives” of other commissioners – effectively acting as “a filter”.

Time will tell how potential disputes play out or are resolved and to what extent the VPs can truly veto proposals. What is clear is that the relationship between these four men could be crucially important.

Jean-Claude Juncker unveils his new European Commission, and it’s good news for Britain

Posted by on 10/09/14

Whitehouse Consultancy Political Consultant Alessandro Fusco provides an analysis of the new European Commission unveiled yesterday in Brussels by President Jean-Claude Juncker.

To read Alessandro’s article, please click here.

The Whitehouse Consultancy is one of Europe’s leading public affairs and communications agencies.

Das Europa am 18. September 2014

Posted by on 10/09/14

Die Frage am 18. September lautet simpel: “Stimmen Sie zu, dass Schottland eine unabhängige Nation werden soll?” Nationalisten können also freudig Ja sagen – deren Gegner sind hingegen zu Neinsagern abgestempelt. Dieses Handicap hat der Dachverband der Unionsbefürworter “Besser gemeinsam” nie abgelegt, im Gegenteil: Von Anfang an klang die Kampagne negativ, warnte vor Risiken, malte Schwierigkeiten an die Wand – anstatt das Positive der Gemeinsamkeiten in der sechstgrößten Industrienation der Welt zu betonen. Hingegen setzen Salmond (der Vorsitzende der Nationalpartei SNP) und seine Leute auf sonnigen Optimismus. Alle Probleme des Landes – die alternde Bevölkerung, die Schwierigkeiten im Gesundheitssystem, die mangelnde Produktivität – schieben sie London in die Schuhe.

Immigration no threat to British jobs

Posted by on 08/09/14

Whitehouse Consultancy Chairman, Chris Whitehouse, discusses the results of a recent education-focused ComRes opinion poll, the findings of which show that young Britons don’t see immigration as an employment threat despite UK politicians ramping up the rhetoric on the issue.

To read Chris’s article, please click here.

The Whitehouse Consultancy is one of Europe’s public affairs and communications agencies.

New book: Next Europe

Posted by on 01/09/14

Next Europe – How the EU can survive in a world of tectonic shifts

After many months of interviewing, research and writing, I am happy to announce the launch of my fourth book: Next Europe.

It is already downloadable from Amazon, the Apple StoreGoogle BooksKobo BooksBruna and Smashwords. Other ebook stores will follow soon. 

Next Europe cover


The EU is in deep trouble. As the eurozone crisis keeps raging on, the European dream lies shattered on the ground. Euroscepticism and nationalism are on the rise, tens of millions are unemployed, Great Britain is heading for the exit door, while Russia flexes its muscles and the Middle East burns.

Is there any hopeful future for the European Union? Are we going to lose the race with the BRICS? Will Europeans ever truly engage with the EU institutes in Brussels?

Next Europe gives some compelling answers to the big questions of our time. EU Watcher Joop Hazenberg, a young Dutch writer who has been based in Brussels since early 2013, takes the reader on a venture across the globe to gain insight into the position of Europe in the 21st century.

His findings are surprising. The old continent is stronger and richer than we are inclined to think. Though the EU is in a mess, so is the rest of the world. Many of the rising giants will stumble and may even fall before they can do Europe harm. But it is also true that we are no longer the coolest dudes on the planet and that new (and old) dangers threaten our security and well-being.

Based on extensive research and interviews with leading experts, Next Europe soothes the unease that looms over our future. Joop Hazenberg also formulates a bold and strong agenda for reform of the EU. If we want to survive the coming age of uncertainty and tectonic shifts, then the European Union needs a restart. Not only in Brussels, but also in the capillaries of our society.

By acting now, Europe could become, once again, a leading continent. Next Europe is the starting point for a better understanding of our world, whether you are a student, Commission bureaucrat, a voter for UKIP or a Chinese businessman.

Praise for Next Europe

‘A spirited and courageous work’ – Jonathan Holslag, Professor of International Politics at the Free University in Brussels

‘Joop Hazenberg is a young thinker with the wisdom to realise that Europe has taken a wrong turn and the courage to want to change things’ – Philippe Legrain, author of European Spring: Why Our Economies and Politics are in a Mess and How to Put Them Right

Launch details

The official launch is in Brussels on Monday 22 September. I will hand over the ‘first copy’ to Constantijn van Oranje-Nassau, Head of Cabinet of Commissioner Kroes.

If you want to know more about the programme of the presentation or attending, please contact me.

I am also available for (media) interviews, lectures and panels.


Le CEDH, le Royaume-Uni et les tensions avec le nouvel arrêt sur le droit de vote des détenus

Posted by on 25/08/14

C’est une longue, très longue, affaire qui remonte, pour le moins à 2005 date de la première condamnation, condamnation suivie d’un « sursis » qui expirait le 23 novembre 2013. Le délai a donc largement expiré. L’arrêt vient donc de tomber, sans pour autant être nécessairement la fin de l’histoire (cf. infra « Pour en savoir plus ») Chacun sait que les relations ne sont pas bonnes, les tensions ont connu leur exaspération la plus forte avec la conférence de Brighton. Depuis chacun vit dans une sorte d’armistice armée. Cependant cet arrêt s’inscrit aujourd’hui dans un contexte politique fort différend par rapport au passé. (more...)

British officials in Brussels and the UK’s policy leverage

Posted by on 29/07/14
By Gergely Polner The UK still holds a high number of senior civil servants in the EU, but their number is in decline. The foreign office should encourage young civil servants and graduates to work in Brussels.

30 July 1966, England beat Germany 4:2. It won’t happen again

Posted by on 27/07/14

The UK Government should be proactive in seeking reform of football if the national team is to have any real prospect of future success, argues Whitehouse Consultancy Chairman, Chris Whitehouse.

The United Kingdom’s Minister for Sport, Helen Grant, has come in for strong criticism on a leading UK political blog site for her “silence” on the crisis in English football.

Writing on Conservative Home, owned by former Tory donor, Lord Ashcroft, and edited by former Conservative MP, Paul Goodman, one of the site’s regular correspondents, Chris Whitehouse, criticises Conservative Minister, Helen Grant, for not speaking out more loudly on the need to ensure that there is a sufficiently large pool of talent from which to select the English team. He accuses the Minister of “tokenism” for focusing instead on the issue of women’s representation in the board rooms of the sport.

Whitehouse, who is a Conservative councillor (Newport West, Isle of Wight) and Chairman of leading lobbying agency, The Whitehouse Consultancy, writes ahead of the 30th July anniversary of England’s historic World Cup win against Germany in 1966 and says: “I want to see our Minister for Sports asking how soccer is going to reform its structures and systems to make success a possibility in future rather than just an increasingly distant memory from the past. Helen Grant must cease threatening to remove public grassroots funding for soccer if it doesn’t meet her tokenism targets and instead use her influence to secure grassroots investment and changes in the game’s approach.”

Reviewing the recent proposals from English Football’s Chairman, Greg Dyke, for reform in the sport, Cllr Whitehouse goes on to say: “A Minister who spoke up for the lower league fans and positively championed their issues whilst ensuring that the big problems are addressed, rather than just turning out for the occasional photo-shoot, could be popular. Many of these clubs are in smaller towns and on the fringes of larger cities in the Midlands and the North – just where we [the Conservative Party] need to win marginal seats if we are to have a chance of a Parliamentary victory next May. It’s time to speak up for the consumer, not the powerful clubs.”

“Greg Dyke sought to kick off an important debate” observes Whitehouse “Ministers should now run with the ball. If they do, then maybe the dismal memories of Brazil 2014 can be the precursor to a match in which our national game is the winner and our Party is seen to be interested in an area of national life which matters greatly to a huge, growing and passionate section of the population. In Government, we have possession of the ball, and such is a prerequisite to scoring. Are we to do nothing with it until after the final whistle of the General Election is blown?”

The full text of the article can be found here.

The Whitehouse Consultancy is one of London’s leading public affairs agencies playing a key role in bringing the Olympic Games to London in 2012. Case study and testimonial from BOA.

Getting rid of ECHR: Good for Cameron, bad for the rest of Europe

Posted by on 20/07/14

As it is well known, David Cameron is ready to do everything in order to stay in Downing Street after next year’s general election. With his latest proposition, however, he sets new standards in terms of unreason and is directly threating Europe as value-based community at its very core.

Mr Cameron and his party intend to sideline the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) by enabling the House of Commons to veto its verdicts. In this way the United Kingdom is basically riding itself from the judical surpremacy of the Strasbourg court, since such a mechanism is barly compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights.

Inducing the Tories to such an unprecented move are the general backlashes of the court’s verdict onto British legislation. More immediately, however, the British government seeks to be able to expel convicted foreigners from its country.

Mr Cameron’s plan is widely criticised – even within his own party. Last week, two major opponents in his ranks, the liberal-minded Attorney General Dominic Grieve and fromer Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, lost their jobs in the Cabinet due to a comprehensive reshuffle by the Prime Minister. Although Downing Street is neglecting any link between their replacements and its ECHR plans, it can hardly be sold as an unhappy coincidence that his strongest and vocal opponents ,of all people, suddenly find themselves out of their jobs. According to reports, the party’s convention in October should clear the tracks for the endeavor.

It is the latest display of unreason that Mr Cameron hopes would help secure his re-election. And it, again, comes at a very high price.

The European Court of Human Rights has been established in the early 1950s as a supranational court, that monitors the compliance of the European Convention of Human Rights and imposes sanctions in case of violations. It was founded on the idea that the reading of human rights should not be subjected to the political arbitrariness in every single European country, but should follow common standards and subjected to the jurisdiction of an independent supranational body.

And that is exactly what the court has done ever since. In this month alone, the ECHR has passed its judgement on the controversial imprisonment of reporters in Turkey, on keeping defendants in cages during court proceedings in Russia and on the marriage ban for transsexuals in Finland.

47 European states have ratified the respective convention and thus subjected themselves to the jurisdiction of the ECHR. If the United Kingdom were to leave, as the Prime Minister obviously intends, it would join an exquisit club with Belarus, Europe’s last dictatorship. Furthermore, observers on both sides of the Channel consider the recognition of the ECHR a requirement for EU membership. Britain’s sidelining could thus lead to its exit from the European Union which notoriously is not a frightening scenario among the Conservatives.

If Europe today is legitimatised to present itself as a champion of human rights, it is solely due to the European Convention of Human Rights and the Strasbourg court that guarantees for its compliance.

The European Union, on the other hand, is almost powerless with regard to the adherence of human rights. Yes, there is the Charter for Fundamental Rights that proclaims the values and freedoms of the Union and its citizens. But neither is the Charter legally binding for national legislation nor has each member state sign up to it. Poland and the UK have opted out. For countries like Hungary or Romania, it is does not make for a proper instrument to curb undemocratic developments.

For years, European politicians and jurists have been discussing legislation to create a legally binding instrument out of the Charte. Until now, they have not been able to come up with a tangible and feasible way to do so. Jean-Claude Juncker, President-elect of the European Commission, announced in his speech before the European Parliament that he intends to appoint a Commissioner of Fundamental Rights in his Commission. How such a Commissioner could do anything to improve the situation, has yet to be seen.

Today, the ECHR remains the sole guarantor for human rights in Europe. If the European Union by itself is not able to contribute to that task, it should at least support the ECHR at the very utmost. Consequently, there must be an unambiguous response to David Cameron’s intentions – if not for the sake of Britian’s future in Europe, then at least in order to avoid such intentions from catching on in other member states. Otherwise there is serious concern for human rights in Europe get subjected to political arbitrariness of single countries and for the idea of Europe as a community based on humanitarian values to remain nothing but a rhetoricial figure.

This peace first appeared on TheEuropean.de on July 19th (in German). Follow me on Twitter @brnshnwd

Halte aux idées reçues en matière d’immigration

Posted by on 17/07/14

Dans un rapport intitulé « Is what we hear about migration really true ? » édité par le sociologue et démographe Philippe Fargues, le Centre d’études des politiques migratoires de l’Institut universitaire européen de Florence revient sur huit stéréotypes faux qu’il importe de démonter préalablement à tout débat éclairé sur la question. Les politiciens qui exploitent ces préjugés à des fins électoralistes ou pour prôner une hypothétique fermeture totale des frontières seraient avisés de s’y référer.

 Huit stéréotypes à démonter pour établir un débat débarrassé de préjugés trompeurs

« Nous n’avons pas besoin des migrants ». Cette assertion est fausse, voire dangereuse, lorsque l’on considère le déclin démographique européen. En 2050, sans immigration supplémentaire, la population européenne aura décrue de 58 millions ! Or, comment avoir voix au chapitre des grandes puissances si la population est en déclin ? La population est également vieillissante, rendant les systèmes de retraite et l’Etat providence insoutenables à brève échéance (2030). L’immigration est donc une solution rapide et incontournable pour le maintien des systèmes sociaux et le développement économique.

« Les migrants volent nos emplois ». C’est une idée partagée par près de la moitié des citoyens de l’UE. Ce faux « bon sens » s’oppose à la rationalité du comportement des migrants : ceux-ci évitent généralement les pays avec un fort taux de chômage pour s’installer. On observe par conséquent une corrélation majoritairement négative entre l’immigration et le chômage après la crise de 2008. Un chômage élevé ne saurait donc être imputé à l’immigration sans tordre la réalité.

« Nous n’avons pas besoin d’immigrants peu qualifiés dans l’UE ». Si les Etats membres ont progressivement orienté leur politique migratoire vers les migrants qualifiés, il n’en demeure pas moins que l’économie européenne a besoin de migrants peu qualifiés, ne serait-ce que pour occuper des emplois peu prisés par les natifs. La réalité des Etats membres est toutefois hétérogène, selon la structure de l’économie et la main d’oeuvre recherchée pour y répondre.

« Les immigrés minent notre système social ». Les migrants sont accusés de profiter des allocations chômages, logement ou familiales. Ces dépenses sont néanmoins faibles pour les Etats, eu égard aux dépenses de santé ou de retraites. Or, les migrants sont souvent jeunes, actifs. Il en résulte que les immigrés sont des contributeurs nets aux comptes sociaux.

« Les immigrés entravent notre capacité d’innovation ». Empiriquement, il apparaît que les pays avec des politiques migratoires ouvertes à destination des immigrés qualifié ont de meilleures performances en matière d’innovation.

« Les côtes Méditerranéennes sont noyées sous le flot de demandeurs d’asile ». Contrairement à l’image médiatique, les réfugiés ne « débarquent » pas massivement sur les plages européennes. La majorité des flux est entre les pays du Sud. L’idée que l’Europe prenne une part aux conséquences des désastres et des guerres du monde est une obligation résultant de la Convention de Genève.

« Ceux qui immigrent pour des raisons économiques essaient de tromper notre système d’asile ». Cette idée est également fausse. Hormis des chiffres plus erratiques ces dernières années (pics en 2011 et 2013, creux prononcés en 2010 et 2012) liés à la conjoncture internationale, aucune arrivée massive n’est relevée. L’augmentation des risques de périr au cours du voyage (évalués à 3%) témoigne que ceux qui fuient leur pays cherchent davantage à fuir des persécutions qu’à gagner l’Europe uniquement pour des raisons économiques. Les migrants érythréens, nigérians, somalis, syriens ou afghans constituent désormais part conséquente des demandes d’asile, ce qui reflète les crises internationales davantage que les problèmes économiques dans ces pays.

« Nos enfants subissent la présence d’immigrés dans leur classe ». Là encore, le faux bon sens ne tient pas face à la réalité : ce n’est pas l’origine qui détermine le niveau scolaire, mais le niveau de ressources disponibles. Les moindres résultats scolaires constatés chez les enfants immigrés s’explique donc davantage par la situation socio-économique de leurs parents que par leur origine culturelle.

 Un document à mettre entre toutes les mains pour lutter contre des mythes de plus en plus diffusés

Si le document n’a pas toute la rigueur et la précision d’une étude scientifique approfondie, il permet de dissiper quelques malentendus par des données empiriques. Pour éviter que le climat délétère de racisme et de xénophobie ne se propage davantage, il est nécessaire d’agir sur notre perception de la réalité. En matière d’immigration particulièrement, il est impératif que chacun face le devoir citoyen de s’informer et de s’ouvrir plutôt que de se fier à un soit disant « bon sens ».

Emmanuel Buttin

Pour en savoir plus :

-       Page de présentation du rapport : [EN]

-       Le rapport : [EN]

Classé dans:IMMIGRATION, Politique d'intégration

What now for the UK and Europe?

Posted by on 13/07/14
by Vicky Pryce, chief Economic Advisor at the Centre for Economics and Business Research and former Joint Head of the Government’s Economic Service. /// Cameron’s decision to oppose Jean-Claude Juncker’s nomination to be the new head of the European Commission has been viewed with bemusement in some quarters and with disbelief in others. With bemusement [...]

Free press is essential to democracy

Posted by on 10/07/14

Whitehouse Consultancy Chairman, Chris Whitehouse, discusses the the implications for the United Kingdom’s media industry of the conviction for phone hacking of Andy Coulson, former media advisor to British Prime Minister, David Cameron, in his latest article for The Universe magazine. He argues strongly in defence of a free press, but criticises state broadcaster the BBC for bias,

To read Chris’s article, please click here.

The Whitehouse Consultancy is one of Europe’s leading public affairs and communications agencies.

Anti-union & pro-union in Scotland: total confusion

Posted by on 06/07/14
By Kathleen Garnett With the Scottish vote for independence just a few short months away EU Perspectives examines the role-reversal effect this is having on some Conservative and UKIP politicians. A phenomena resembling a pantomime farce but which to all intents and purposes is masquerading as serious politics.

British Referendum on EU in 2017 could break the mould of UK politics

Posted by on 06/07/14
By Chris Whitehouse British citizens may well vote “no” to continued EU membership when offered a referendum. This would set in stone the great schism in the Conservative Party, leaving David Cameron - who will support membership in the end - and the pro-EU faction redundant and cast out into the political wilderness. That outcome smashes the mould of British politics for generations to come.