Greece pays 1.059 bln eur bond coupons-cenbank source


ATHENS |
Tue Oct 25, 2011 8:41am EDT

ATHENS Oct 25 (Reuters) – Greece fully paid two bond
coupons amounting to 1.059 billion euros ($1.47 billion) that
came due on October 24, a central bank official told Reuters on
Tuesday.

Athens, which has said it has enough cash to pay its bills
until mid-November, is awaiting the disbursement of an 8.0
billion euro loan tranche under its first bailout after EU/IMF
inspectors completed a performance review.

“The coupons were paid as scheduled,” said the official who
did not want to be named.

Greece paid a 527 million euro coupon on a 5.9 percent
October 22, 2022 government bond and another 532 million euros
on a 6.5 percent 2019 bond.

European Union leaders are due to adopt a plan to reduce
Greece’s debt burden, fortify European banks to withstand bond
losses, and scale up the euro zone rescue fund to prevent market
contagion on Wednesday.


Greek tourism revenue grows 6.5 pct y/y in Aug


ATHENS |
Mon Oct 24, 2011 7:45am EDT

ATHENS Oct 24 (Reuters) – Greece saw a 6.5 percent rise in
tourism receipts in August compared to the same month a year
ago, helped by a jump in the number of German visitors, the
central bank said on Monday in its monthly balance of payments
data for the sector.

Tourism is a key for Greece’s 230-billion-euro economy and
accounts for about a fifth of gross domestic product (GDP). It
has helped reduce the country’s current account gap, which
shrank to 10.5 percent of GDP last year.

Overall, the sector’s balance of payments showed a surplus
of 2.071 billion euros in August, up by 49.8 million
year-on-year.

The Bank of Greece said travel receipts grew to 2.378
billion euros in August with visitors spending an average of 709
euros per trip, up 0.2 percent from the same month a year ago.

It said the number of travelers visiting the country rose
6.2 percent in August to 3.353 million.

Tourism receipts from European Union residents visiting
Greece grew 8.7 percent year-on-year in August with revenue from
non-EU travellers up only 0.9 percent.

Looking at Greece’s two main tourism markets, receipts from
German tourists rose 26.4 percent, while those coming
from British travellers were down 11.4 percent.

The Bank of Greece said revenue from Russian visitors grew
11.5 percent from the same month a year earlier.
**************************************************************

August (euro, billion)

2010 2011 Change (%)
Tourism receipts 2.233 2.378 6.5

Payments 211 307 45.2
Net receipts 2.022 2.071 2.5
– % of trade balance 99.6 95.5
– % of services balance 78.9 73.8
Number of visitors (mln) 3.156 3.353 6.2
——————————————————–

source: Bank of Greece


EU referendum: David Cameron in crisis as PM faces 100-strong rebellion

  • PM tells parliament: ‘Our national interest is for us to be in the EU, helping to determine the rules governing the single market’
  • Defiant Tory rebels call themselves ‘patriots’ for opposing Mr Cameron
  • ‘Those who oppose this motion may well win this battle, but they most certainly will not win the war,’ said David Nuttall, who is behind it
  • Labour leader Miliband says Tory ‘squabbling’ shows party is ‘out of touch’
  • ‘Clearly an in/out referendum is not the right idea,’ says William Hague
  • Number of potential Tory rebels continues to rise in run up to the vote
  • Eurosceptic MP Philip Davies: ‘This is the perfect time to make it clear we want to renegotiate or leave’
  • EU vote is ‘the least the British people deserve’, says Ukip’s Nigel Farage
  • 49% of people ‘would vote to leave the EU’ in a referendum
  • ‘It’s too early to speculate’ on future EU treaty, declares Nick Clegg
  • Eurozone crisis continues as new data shows manufacturing slowdown

By
James Chapman, Jason Groves, Hugo Gye and Martin Robinson

Last updated at 10:08 PM on 24th October 2011

David Cameron today told Parliament that ‘this is not the time to walk away’ from Europe, as up to 100 Tory MPs prepared to defy a three-line whip by voting for a referendum on Britain’s future in the European Union.

Speaking to this afternoon as he set out his opposition to the referendum, he said: ‘Our national interest is for us to be in the EU, helping to determine the rules governing the single market – our biggest export market which consumes more than 50% of our exports and which drives so much of investment in the UK.

‘This is not an abstract, theoretical argument, it matters for millions of jobs and millions of families and businesses in our country.

‘That is why successive prime ministers have advocated our membership of the EU.’

David Cameron in HOuse of Commons

 Ed Miliband

Debate: David Cameron (left) gives a statement to the House of Commons this afternoon. He was challenged by Labour leader Ed Miliband, but his party and the Lib Dems will also not back the motion

Dramatically one Tory ministerial aide resigned in the Commons during the debate this evening.

Adam Holloway, Conservative MP for Gravesham, pointed out that both Mr
Cameron and Mr Clegg promised a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty before
the last election.

The Parliamentary Private Secretary to David Lidington, the Minister of State for Europe and NATO, said: ‘Don’t rebel against the people who sent you here. You don’t have the right to give away
powers granted to us by our constituents’.

He has never previously
rebelled against the Government, and is an enthusiastic supporter of Mr
Cameron’s leadership.

Despite pressure from his party The PM maintained it was also ‘not the right time – at this moment of economic crisis – to launch legislation that includes an in/out referendum,’ he added, ‘When your neighbour’s house is on fire, your first
impulse should be to help them to put out the flames – not least to stop
the flames reaching your own house.

‘This is not the time to argue about walking away, not just for their sakes, but for ours.’

Pressure has been mounting on the
Prime Minister as critics have attacked his handling of backbenchers and
his decision to have a confrontation with them over Europe. One rebel
has even gone so far as to describe it as a ‘monumental failure’.

In a direct message to would-be rebels, Mr Cameron said: ‘I share the
yearning for fundamental reform and I am determined to deliver it.

‘Those who are supporting today’s motion but don’t actually want to
leave the EU, I say to you this: I respect your views, we disagree about
ends not about means. I support your aims.

United: Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague in the House of Commons at the start of the debate today - they all oppose the motion

United: Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague in the House of Commons at the start of the debate today – they all oppose the motion

‘Like you, I want to see fundamental reform. Like you, I want to
refashion our membership of the EU so it betters serves our nation’s
interest.

‘The time for reform is coming. That is the prize, let us not be distracted from seizing it.’

Rebels are still giving him a hard time, saying that they are ‘patriots’.

David Nuttall, who is the Conservative MP for Bury North, is behind the motion putting the case for an EU referendum.

Although it is unlikely to get a Commons backing tonight, he said: ‘Those opposing the motion may well be smiling today, but winning votes in this House using strong arm tactics does nothing to help rebuild trust in politicians, or persuade the public the majority inside this House are reflecting their views.

‘Those who oppose this motion may well win this battle, but they most certainly will not win the war.

‘Remember the saying, “He who laughs last, laughs longest.”‘

Tory MP Mark Field added: ‘As we have
all witnessed with increasing dismay, the events of the past week amount
to the most monumental failure of Conservative Party management.’

However, senior figures have stood
firm in opposing the referendum vote. Foreign Secretary William Hague
insisted this morning that the referendum was ‘the wrong question at the
wrong time’, claiming that it would create ‘economic uncertainty’.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said the UK ‘could not afford’ to leave the EU at the moment and should concentrate on pushing through reforms.

But he attacked Mr Cameron over his claims that the Government now wanted to help the EU deal with its debt crisis, claiming that both he and Chancellor George Osborne had been ‘grandstanding on the sidelines’.

During this weekend’s summit, Mr Miliband said the Prime Minister had written ‘the euro version of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People’.

Serious: Douglas Alexander, Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and Harriet Harman. They agree with the Government about not needing a referendum but have attacked David Cameron's handling of the issue

Serious: Douglas Alexander, Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and Harriet Harman today. They agree with the Government about not needing a referendum but have attacked David Cameron’s handling of the issue

To cheers of ‘more’ from the Tory backbenches, Mr Miliband added: ‘You went in to a summit lecturing the Germans and came out of it being shouted at by the French.

‘Apparently, President Sarkozy, until recently your new best friend, had had enough of the posturing, the hectoring and your know-it-all ways.

‘Mr President, let me say that yesterday you spoke not just for France but Britain as well.’

Mr Miliband added: ‘You know the Prime Minister was in Brussels but his mind was elsewhere. The Tory party on Europe suffering another nervous breakdown.

‘A Prime Minister making frantic phone calls home, PPSs threatening to resign and it’s not just the Stone Roses on a comeback tour because (senior Tory eurosceptic John Redwood) is back on the circuit touring the television studios.

Resigned: Adam Holloway has quit as a ministerial aide in order to vote for a referendum

Resigned: Adam Holloway has quit as a ministerial aide in order to vote for a referendum

‘All of your present difficulties are of your own making because what did he say in 2006? Instead of talking about the things that most people care about, you were banging on about Europe.

‘You have spent the last five years telling your backbenchers that you may not be banging on about Europe but deep down you were really one of them.

‘You were warned that you may start dabbling with euroscepticism but it was a slippery slope and that is exactly what happened.’

Mr Miliband said the Prime Minister was not invited to a dinner at the weekend’s summit of European centre right parties, adding that Britain was ‘paying the price’ because the Government was losing influence in Brussels.

He said the Coalition Agreement meant that the option to repatriate powers on employment rights and other regulations, which Mr Cameron said was still on the table, was actually not going to happen.

‘The position is totally unclear,’ Mr Miliband said. ‘This goes to the heart of your ability to fight in Europe on behalf of your country.

‘Like your predecessors, you are caught between the party interest and the national interest, which is a re-run of the old movie of the out-of-touch Tory Party tearing itself apart over Europe and all the time the British people are left to worry about their jobs and livelihoods. You should stop negotiating with your backbenchers and start fighting for the national interest.’

With Tory backbenchers frustrated by the party leadership imposing a three-line whip on the debate and moving it forward from Thursday to allow the Foreign Secretary to take part, Mr Hague said: ‘We cannot treat this motion, as some have suggested, in a casual way.

David Nuttall made the opening argument for an EU referendum

David Nuttall made the opening argument for an EU referendum

‘To do so would not do justice to the importance of the issues or to the significance of motions presented in this House.’

Mr Hague, a eurosceptic member of the Cabinet, said he had called for the public to be given a say in the past but ‘this proposition … is the wrong proposition at the wrong time’.

He gave six reasons why the motion should be opposed:

  • The eurozone was ‘clearly in crisis’ and piling further economic uncertainty upon that was ‘not a responsible action for Her Majesty’s Government to take’.
  • The Conservative Party election manifesto did not advocate an in/out referendum.
  • Parliament had just passed the European Union Act, setting out ‘in minute detail’ the factors that would trigger a referendum.
  • The referendum called for would not take place before 2013 and ‘we would lose important opportunities to protect or further our own national interest in the mean time’.
  • The three-way choice offered by the referendum was ‘seriously flawed’. Referendums were usually based on a simple yes/no decision not a ‘multiple choice among vaguely defined propositions’.
  • There were various degrees to which the UK was involved in the European Union, for example opting out of some policies and not adopting the euro. ‘I don’t believe most people in Britain want to say yes to everything in the EU or no to everything in the EU.’

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said it was a time of ‘great peril and great uncertainty’ for British and European economies.

He said the debate had ‘already revealed … the scale of division’ in the Tory party.

Labour opposed the motion, Mr Alexander said, telling the Commons: ‘I do not believe Britain’s national interest would be served by spending the coming months and years debating the case for Britain leaving the world’s largest single market.’

He added: ‘Businesses deciding whether or not to invest in Britain at this crucial time would have to make that decision not knowing if it would still be within the European Union by the time that investment came to fruition.’

Mr Alexander said that Conservative MPs’ ‘disappointment in their front bench was so great because their hopes were so high’ as a result of eurosceptic rhetoric from the leadership.

‘Along with the rest of the front bench, the Foreign Secretary is marooned between past pandering and their present position, between the rhetoric of opposition and the realities of government.’

A
new poll found today that 70 per cent of people wanted to see a
referendum on Britain’s EU membership – and 49 per cent would vote to
withdraw from the EU, compared to only 40 per cent who would choose to
stay in.

Conservative
voters were shown to be more eurosceptic than others, with 56 per cent
saying they would vote to leave the EU. Among all voters, over a third
say they would ‘definitely’ leave the EU if given the choice.

Mr Cameron was expected to hold
face-to-face meetings with potential rebels today as he makes a last-ditch attempt to
quell the threat to his authority.

The
Prime Minister argued that ‘getting out of Europe would do real damage
to our economy’, pointing out half of Britain’s international trade is
with EU countries.

Writing in London’s Evening Standard, he said: ‘It’s the wrong time to have this debate. We’re in the middle of dealing
with a crisis in the euro zone – a crisis that if left to escalate
would have a major impact on our economy.

David Cameron

Opposition: Leading figures such as Chancellor George Osborne see today's vote as a distraction from the economic crisis

Crunch vote: David Cameron faces a huge threat to his authority as he and George Osborne, right, battle to fight the eurozone crisis at the same time as a Commons vote on referendum to leave the EU

‘If you’re putting out the flames on a burning building you need to
focus on the job, rather than give up and start a whole new project. You
deal with the emergency at hand. That’s what we need to do today.’

Mr Cameron added that holding an in/out referendum could ‘blow this chance to negotiate a better deal for our country’ by repatriating some powers from Europe.

However, in the House of Commons he defended his eurosceptic credentials and once again promised to hold a public vote before handing over more power to Brussels, adding: ‘It was wrong we didn’t have referendums on Maastricht and on Lisbon.’

Addressing those who want to reconsider Britain’s relationship with Europe, he insisted: ‘I share the yearning for fundamental reform and I am determined to deliver
it.’

A spokesman earlier confirmed that all Tory MPs were expected to vote against the EU referendum, saying: ‘It is Government policy and we expect people to support Government policy.’

However, the spokesman refused to discuss what sanctions would be taken against rebels. It has been rumoured that MPs who defy the Government could be barred from ministerial office until the next election – and even face shorter Christmas holidays.

Labour leader Ed Miliband mocked the
divide within the Conservative party, saying that Tory ‘squabbling’ on
Europe shows the party is ‘out of touch’ with ordinary voters.


Enlarge


'The wrong vote at the wrong time': William Hague says that today's vote could undermine efforts to boost the economy

‘The wrong vote at the wrong time’: William Hague says that today’s vote could undermine efforts to boost the economy

During crisis talks at a Brussels
summit, David Cameron last night agreed discussions should begin over
allowing countries in the stricken eurozone to move towards a ‘United
States of Europe’.

Eurosceptic Tories will seize on the
Germany-inspired initiative as a once-in-a-generation opportunity for
Britain to recast its relationship with the EU. But Deputy Prime
Minister Nick Clegg insists it is ‘too early to speculate’ about
Government policy on a new European treaty.

Ahead of today’s hugely symbolic Commons vote on Britain’s future in Europe, Mr Hague warned that an EU referendum could undermine the already fragile economy.

‘I’ve argued for more referendums than almost anybody else, I’ve argued against the euro more comprehensively than almost anybody else,’ the eurosceptic Foreign Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘But this proposition is the wrong question at the wrong time. It wasn’t in the manifesto of either of the governing parties. It cuts right across the rules for holding referendums that we have just agreed by large majorities.

‘It would create additional economic uncertainty in this country at a difficult economic time.

‘Europe is undergoing a process of change and in an in/out referendum people would want to know where the change was going to finish up before they voted. Clearly an in/out referendum is not the right idea.’

He added: ‘Our whole relationship with the European Union is a matter that concerns the Government as a whole, and not just something for the House of Commons to put up some graffiti about.’

The Prime Minister is now attempting
to face down a mutiny by Tory MPs in the vote over whether a referendum
should be held on Britain’s future ‘in or out’ of the EU or if ministers
should seek a looser relationship by renegotiating powers.

As
this afternoon’s Commons debate draws nearer, Tory backbenchers have
refused to back down on their threats to oppose the Government on the
referendum issue.

At
least 60 MPs are already expected to defy a three-line whip to vote
against a referendum, which would mark the largest revolt on Europe
endured by a Conservative prime minister.

Another
33 have signed compromise amendments which ministers say also run
counter to Government policy, meaning the total number of rebels could
end up being as high as 100.

The previous record was set by John Major, who saw 41 of his MPs rebel over the Maastricht Treaty in 1993.

Tory backbencher Mark Pritchard said
‘several more’ backbenchers and two ministers had told him they were
considering backing the motion.

'Too early to speculate': Nick Clegg has refused to confirm that Britain will repatriate EU powers

‘Too early to speculate’: Nick Clegg has refused to confirm that Britain will repatriate EU powers

But
Labour’s Mr Miliband said that although he understood people’s
‘frustrations’ with Europe, pulling out of the EU was not the answer –
and he accused Mr Cameron of putting party ‘squabbles’ ahead of the
national interest.

Speaking
in South London, he said: ‘The problem with the Prime Minister is that
he has actually spent the last six years putting his party interest
before the national interest.

‘Even
today he is giving a nod and a wink to his backbenchers that maybe he
can start a renegotiation of the terms of Britain’s membership, get out
of some of the employment and social rights which I think are actually
necessary for Britain, things like four weeks’ paid holiday.

‘Actually what he should be doing is fighting for jobs and growth in Europe to help Britain and he’s not doing it. The Conservative Party looks out of touch, turning inward and squabbling among themselves. That is not what our country needs.

‘And
frankly, the Prime Minister only has himself to blame because he has
spent the last six years pandering to the eurosceptics in his own party
and now he is getting his comeuppance.’

He
added that senior Conservatives such as Mr Cameron and Chancellor
George Osborne were ‘obsessed by the internal disputes of the Tories,
the Conservative Party’s collective nervous breakdown.’

Tory MP Mark Field condemned the ‘monumental failure of Conservative Party management’ being witnessed by the public.

The
backbencher, who has signed the referendum motion, wrote on his blog
that the Government should be ‘entirely relaxed’ about the vote.

‘If
we are to rebuild trust in politics (which the e-petition concept was
designed to do) then open debates with a free vote must be the way
forward,’ he insisted. ‘Handled properly it would also provide a
priceless opportunity for Party management.’

The
Cities of London Westminster MP went on: ‘Instead, as we have all
witnessed with increasing dismay, the events of the past week amount to
the most monumental failure of Conservative Party management.’

In the run-up to the crucial vote, Iain Duncan Smith’s reputation as a euro rebel was mocked in Parliament earlier today.

The Work and Pensions Secretary was a right-wing backbencher in the mid-1990s when he defied then Prime Minister John Major over Europe’s Maastricht Treaty.

And in the Commons today, his Labour opposite number Liam Byrne raised concerns over unemployment and joked that the last time so many people were out of work, Mr Duncan Smith was voting against the Government.

Mr Byrne said: ‘The last time unemployment was this high, it wasn’t the Member for Altrincham [Tory MP Graham Brady] that was trying to bring down the Government on Europe, it was the Secretary of State, the commander-in-chief of the Maastricht rebels.’


Enlarge


 Under law, a referendum must be held if a new EU treaty is designed which transfers powers from Britain to Brussels

Under law, a referendum must be held if a new EU treaty is designed which transfers powers from Britain to Brussels

Mr Cameron has argued that with the eurozone economy in flames, now is not the time to present EU leaders with a list of demands from Britain for the return of powers over employment law, social regulation and other areas.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly pledged to use any treaty negotiation to claw back powers from Brussels but insisted no one in Europe wants to open such a discussion.

That case was dramatically undermined when the Brussels summit agreed that countries in the eurozone need to ‘deepen economic union’ to prevent another crisis and said ‘limited treaty changes’ would now be explored.

Eurosceptic MP Philip Davies said
confirmation that EU leaders are preparing major treaty changes ‘blows
apart’ Mr Cameron’s claim that this is the wrong time to press for a
referendum. ‘The argument over timing was a feeble one already – this is
an issue of principle, not timing,’ said Mr Davies. ‘The fact that a
new treaty is now firmly on the cards just blows it apart.

‘Now
is exactly the right time to start paving the way for a referendum,
because the eurozone is pressing for ever-closer union. This is the
perfect time to make it clear we want to renegotiate or leave.’

Mr
Cameron also admitted there was now a ‘possibility’ that treaty change
could be on the agenda as early as December, and hinted that he would
use the talks to ‘advance the national interest’. He said: ‘Treaty
change can only happen if it is agreed by all the 27 member states of
the European Union.

‘Any
treaty change is an opportunity for Britain to advance our national
interest. The last limited treaty change, which brought about the
European stability mechanism, gave us the opportunity to get out of the
euro bailout fund that the last government opted into.

‘We used that to advance our national
interest. Any future treaty change we would use to advance our national
interest once again.’

MILIBAND GRAPHIC.jpg

Looking
flushed and less composed than usual, the Prime Minister again told his
MPs that Britain’s focus should be on resolving the problems of the
eurozone rather than staging a popular vote on Britain’s future in the
EU.

‘I don’t think this is the right time
to legislate for an in/out referendum,’ he said. ‘I think this is the
right time to sort out Europe’s problems, sort out the eurozone problem,
defend your national interest and look to the opportunities in the
future to repatriate powers back to Britain.’

Last night the Liberal Democrats made
it clear they would not agree to Mr Cameron exploiting the eurozone
crisis to begin reclaiming powers from Brussels.

Tory
MP David Nuttall, who will lead today’s debate after agreeing to
propose a motion based on the public petition, said it was ‘baffling’
that the Government was so determined to stop people having their say.

‘Almost two-thirds of the United Kingdom electorate have never even had
the opportunity to vote on this issue,’ he said. ‘The estimated number
of those alive today who voted Yes back in 1975 is approximately eight
million. This represents just 16 per cent of the current voting-age
population – leaving a staggering 84 per cent who have never voted in
favour of Britain’s continued membership of the EU.’

This
view was supported today by Bernard Jenkin, MP for North Essex, who
said on BBC Breakfast: ‘This is basically about democracy. The British
people have long wanted a referendum on the European Union.

‘We
haven’t had one since 1975. We tried to get a referendum on Maastricht.
We wouldn’t be in this mess in Europe now if there had been a
referendum then.

‘David
Cameron is not just taking on the Conservative Party, he’s taking on
the whole of public opinion. The vast majority think it’s time we had a
say on our membership.’

LOGGERHEADS.jpg

Graham Brady, the influential chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee of Tory MPs, is still lobbying Downing Street to relax the three-line whip, the toughest possible instruction to MPs, and its threat of the sack for any member of the government who steps out of line.

But Mr Brady, a former shadow Europe minister, is expected to side with the rebels even if Mr Cameron refuses to back down. Stewart Jackson, the first parliamentary aide to indicate he would resign over the issue, yesterday confirmed he would defy Mr Cameron.

He and other parliamentary private secretaries were summoned to a meeting with Mr Cameron today when they will be ordered to fall in to line. But rebels believe a handful could quit today to vote for their principles.

The meeting is said to have been stormy, as the Prime Minister was told that the issue of the EU could act as a ‘lightning rod’ for backbench dissent. However, the most dramatic development at the meeting is believed to have come when Mark Menzies, MP for Fylde, fainted and was taken to hospital.

Fellow Tory George Eustice, who has tabled a ‘compromise’ amendment, accused Downing Street of creating resentment over Europe by trying to put the issue in the ‘deep freeze’.

Another Conservative backbencher, Peter Bone, said there was a feeling among his colleagues that Mr Hague was ‘no longer Eurosceptic’.

‘The trouble with William Hague is that people just don’t believe him on the back benches,’ the Wellingborough MP said.

‘We think Hague has gone on a travel. He has gone from being Eurosceptic to someone who has got into this ministerial, political world of Europe and loves it.

He went on: ‘I think the back benches feel that time and time again we have said we are Eurosceptic and we are going to do something about this. Now we are in power, we are just as bad as the other lot.’

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said: ‘It is fascinating watching the Conservatives tear themselves apart over this.

‘Polls over the last few days have clearly shown that the general public believe MPs should be able to vote how they like regarding an EU referendum.

‘I urge all MPs across the parties to vote with their conscience today, ahead of their party or career. It is the least the British people deserve.’

In addition to the Tory rebels, up to a dozen Labour MPs are set to defy their party’s three-line whip and support today’s vote. The only party whose official policy is to vote for a referendum is Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which holds eight Commons seats.

Simon Heffer, journalist.COMMENTARY BY SIMON HEFFER

The summit may not have saved the euro – that was never going to happen. But it has opened the way, it seems, to a fundamental change in the EU which could have far-reaching implications for Britain.

David Cameron announced, without giving any details, that there is the prospect of a treaty change. This means that on the very day when MPs will debate whether to hold a referendum on our membership of the EU, significant developments which may legally require such a public vote could be imminent.

What is for sure is that the £87billion recapitalisation of banks announced on Saturday is only the first element of a drastic action plan that the EU must take if it is to hope to save its single currency. A full rescue package could cost an estimated £1.75trillion.

But a condition of such a deal would
be European fiscal union – a single treasury and economic policy, in the
way that the EU now has a single foreign policy. Such a major change to
the structure of the EU is presumably the reason for all the talk about
the need for a treaty change.

Far-reaching implications: David Cameron announced, without giving any details, that there is the prospect of a treaty change

Far-reaching implications: David Cameron announced, without giving any details, that there is the prospect of a treaty change

The truth is that any treaty change would require an inter-governmental conference. This, in turn, would provide the opportunity for the British government – with massive support from the public – to seek to change our relationship with Europe.

The introduction of a single EU economic policy would be a gigantic step. Every member of the euro would have to abide by a centrally drawn-up plan, or get out. This is the Fourth Reich solution – so called because it would need to be underwritten, and have its rules dictated, by Germany.

For Germany is the only economy in the eurozone that the financial markets would take seriously as guarantor of such a project.

The reason that negotiations in Brussels are currently so protracted is twofold. First, there has been the belated recognition that the markets will finish off the euro if credible steps to shore it up are not taken urgently, so cobbled-together half measures are no longer feasible.

For too long the EU has had the arrogant idea that the euro is so intrinsically sound that no one would speculate against it. But now finance ministers have realised that the problem extends beyond Greece, market speculators are ready to pounce.

The second reason for delay is German nervousness about its role in any rescue package. This is even more problematical.

Angela
Merkel, the German Chancellor, is struggling to square the desire of
Europe’s ruling class for the survival of the euro with the
unwillingness of her taxpayers to keep funding that survival.

Greece has already had two huge bailouts and is seeking a third.

However,
it will never be able to pay its debts. But the real question for
Europe’s leaders is not whether German taxpayers can afford to bail out
Greece again, which they probably can, but whether they can afford to
bail out Italy, too, which is sinking fast. The cost of refinancing
Italy’s debts next year will be £218billion.

Germany is the only economy in the eurozone that the financial markets would take seriously as guarantor of such a project

Germany’s Angela Merkel. The country’s economy is the only one in the eurozone that the financial markets would take seriously as guarantor of such a project

Meanwhile, EU leaders watched with alarm TV footage of strikers in Greece protesting against the latest round of austerity measures. If the EU agrees to fiscal union, it will mean that Greek-style stringency – or possibly worse – will have to be imposed across the whole eurozone.

The possibilities of widespread political unrest are obvious. Indeed, if voters in eurozone countries are given a vote on fiscal union, it is far from likely that they will welcome it.

It is in this context, with the core of the EU in meltdown, that the Commons votes on a referendum today. And it is no wonder Tory MPs have reported an increasing number of their constituents urging them to vote in favour of a referendum.

Today’s vote is not binding, and in any case the motion to let the public have a say will be defeated because of overwhelming opposition by Labour and Lib Dem MPs – and because of the order to government ministers to oppose it, too.

However, the Prime Minister has chosen to pick a fight with his eurosceptics over the issue, which can only damage him and his party. The imposition of a three-line whip is a gamble. If several dozen MPs refuse to support the Government, their action can only be construed as an assault on Mr Cameron’s authority.

He is often accused of being remote from his backbenchers, and the decision to have a confrontation with them over Europe seems to prove the point.

This whole episode seems to prove that the Government does not see what the public sees – a political and economic disaster taking place in the EU, on which voters are demanding an urgent say.

Under law, a referendum must be held if a new EU treaty is designed which transfers powers from Britain to Brussels. Any new treaty may not transfer power but a fiscal union would have a profound effect on Britain as an EU member.

It would, therefore, be morally bankrupt – and politically highly dangerous – for Mr Cameron to deny the electorate a say in approving any new treaty that reshaped the future of the EU.

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cameron saying we cannot have a vote, instructing his party members to vote against this motion with threats, stinks of a dictatorship.

Its time that that pompous pr–t Cameron resigned, and someone who actually knows how to run the country like David Davies was given the job. Oh! sorry I forgot, he’s not a public school boy though is he.

Its time that that pompous pr–t Cameron resigned, and someone who actually knows how to run the country like David Davies was given the job. Oh! sorry I forgot, he’s not a public school boy though is he.

This whole thing isn’t rocket science. The ordinary man on the street can recognise a stinking set up a mile away. Cameron is insulting when he refuses to acknowledge that the ‘commoners’ of this country actually have an ingrained sense of what is good for us and what is not AND especially for what is RIGHT and WRONG. WE ARE NOT STUPID so stop treating us like we are for your own selfish ends.

So no referendum then, one more lie by these despicable politicians, politicians it has to be said of all the major parties.
Perhaps I should make a list of all the lies told by this present bunch of conmen…..oh, no, can’t do that I’ve got less than 700 characters left….well lets do just a few. Controlling and lowering fuel prices, same for Petrol prices, not taking advantage of the elderly, same for the less well off.
And biggest of all saying to all of us ‘I understand how you feel’, Dopey, you don’t understand how I feel, you are a millionaire, you don’t have to worry about paying your heating bills.
You drive around in your official car using fuel that is at least partly paid for by me, and then you take away from me my cheap coach fares that I use to visit my 91 year old father, who enjoys my visits and fought in the Second World War…trust me you’ve no idea how I feel, I am angrier than I can remember in my 65 years and you and the other clown are the reason.

The economy was in “crisis” during the general election. Cameron pledged he would have an EU Referendum if he were elected. This deluded individual thinks he can talk and bully himself out of anything.

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Athens Airport Passenger Traffic Drops 5% Through End-September

October 24, 2011, 3:55 AM EDT

By Natalie Weeks

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) — Athens International Airport SA passenger traffic fell 5 percent in the first nine months of this year as Greek travel was set back by the economic crisis.

The number of people passing through the country’s biggest airport dropped to 11.5 million from 12.1 million a year earlier, according to a statement on the company’s website today.

Tourism, Greece’s biggest industry, will account for almost 16 percent of gross domestic product and almost one in five jobs in 2011, according to the London-based World Travel and Tourism Council.

Domestic passengers in the first nine months declined 11 percent to 3.9 million and international traffic dropped 1.3 percent to 7.6 million. In September, the number of domestic passengers fell 3.7 percent to 486,065 while international traffic dropped 1.3 percent to 990,338 million.

International arrivals at Greek airports rose 9.7 percent in the first nine months of 2011 from the same period last year, according to data collected from 13 airports by the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises, also known as SETE. The biggest increases were on the islands of Rhodes and Kos, which each saw a 22 percent rise, according to a statement posted on SETE’s website.

Athens airport was the only one to record a drop from abroad in the nine-month period, SETE’s data showed. Data were collected from the 13 airports that account for about 95 percent of all arrivals by air from abroad

–Editors: James Kraus, Peter Branton

To contact the reporter on this story: Natalie Weeks in Athens at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Angela Cullen at [email protected]