Monthly Archives: January 2013

Finland's Jyrki Katainen, right, with Cameron during a visit to Downing Street last year.

In the run up to Friday’s big speech by British prime minster David Cameron on his country’s future in the EU, some of the loudest voices of concern have come from the UK’s closest allies, including Washington, Dublin and Warsaw.

In a meeting with a small group of reporters today in Brussels, Jyrki Katainen, the Finnish prime minister, added his voice to that list, saying that he cannot see what kind of competences Cameron could pull back from the EU.

“Being a member of the EU, and especially in the single market, you cannot kind of pick the raisins out of the bun,” said Mr Katainen, whose National Coalition party is closely aligned with British Conservatives on most major policy issues. “It’s very difficult to say what would be the competences that could be repatriated.”

Katainen added: “The EU without Britain is pretty much the same as fish without chips. It’s not a meal any more.” After the jump, we’ve transcribed the Finnish leader’s full remarks. Read more

Ireland's Kenny, right, with European Commission chief Barroso at start of the Irish EU presidency.

Ireland appears to be taking advantage of the comparatively positive sentiment in the eurozone that has marked the start of the year by moving back into the bond markets in a major way.

Last week, Dublin raised €2.5bn by issuing additional five-year government bonds, and then days later was able to convince private investors to buy €1bn in debt it holds in one of the largest banks nationalised at the peak of its banking crisis. This morning, the government was at it again, announcing a €500m auction in short-term t-bills will take place tomorrow.

Despite the winning streak, there’s still a lot of nervousness in official circles about whether Ireland can fully emerge from its bailout when its €67.5bn in rescue loans run out in November. All this has led to a debate in Dublin about whether Ireland should seek additional aid, such as a line of credit from the International Monetary Fund or the EU – which would be backed by the European Central Bank’s new limitless bond-buying programme – to provide a backstop to new Irish bonds.

The Irish website TheStory.ie got its hands on the new European Commission report on the Irish bailout, which makes clear on page 44 that Dublin is in discussions with the troika about whether the ECB’s bond-buying programme – known as Outright Monetary Transactions – can be accessed: Read more

Britain not likely to leave EU. Getty Images

On a recent visit to Washington, a top British diplomat began his presentation to American colleagues by assuring them that there is no way that Britain will leave the EU. His declaration had the opposite of the intended effect. “Until that,” said one of the Americans present, “it had never occurred to us that Britain would leave. Now we’re really worried.”

In fact, everybody should calm down. The threat of Britain actually quitting the EU remains small. The current atmosphere of crisis is real enough. But once you start thinking through the likely chain of events, continued British membership of the EU remains easily the most probable outcome.

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