EU

AIFM directive - why not just say no?

Bank of  EnglandBank of England
Open Europe reports that European finance ministers are expected to agree a draft of the EU's proposed AIFM Directive, aimed at regulating hedge fund and private equity managers, next Tuesday. It appears that "even the British government...has given up its blockade."

The UK is currently struggling to find enough allies among other member states to water down the Directive's restrictions on foreign funds and fund managers - restrictions that would cut off most foreign funds and managers from the EU market, and therefore radically limit the choice for EU-based institutional investors such as pension funds and charities. The FT reports that Tim Geithner, the US Treasury Secretary, has delivered a blunt warning to the European Commission that the protectionist elements of the Directive could cause a transatlantic rift by discriminating against US groups and restricting the access of EU investors to funds based outside Europe.

Paul Myners, UK Financial Services Minister, told a meeting of private equity executives yesterday that he would fight "line by line and minute by minute" to defend the free movement of capital. But he also warned that "nobody in this room is going to get the directive they want".

If this is going to have an adverse effect on the City of London, at a time when we have crippling debts, why not just say NO?

Outsourcing UK justice.

Our law soon?Our law soon?
The proposal to establish a European Public Prosecutor is gathering pace.The Spanish EU Presidency, backed by France and Germany, announced that it is going to propose the creation of this post next month using powers under the Lisbon treaty, see here.

If you think cases such as the attempt by the USA to extradite Gary McKinnon outrageous, then this is even worse because the UK legal system will be unable to play any part in the extradition of UK citizens. We have an opt out from EU Justice and Home Affairs which means that the European prosecutor will not be able to bring cases in this country, but he will still be able to issue European arrest warrants to force UK citizens to face prosecution in another member state – without asking the permission of the Government or the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer. I agree that our legal system does not seem particularly bothered about UK citizens and happily grants extradition requests but this means that the possibility of preventing such extradition is totally removed.

Let's pretend

Leave the big questions till later

Your future and oursYour future and ours
Gordon Brown has decided to pretend he's Tony Blair. Remember "Tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime"? When Blair trotted that one out he did it with eyes like dinner plates and a spooky manner that was supposed to indicate passion and concern. Actually what most people remember is Rory Bremner taking him off, the whole thing was ridiculous; but that won't put Brown off! Brown is in a hole and digging furiously. Whatever the result this election can only be a crushing defeat when we remember their majority of over 200, following the 1997 election. So he has come up with a diversion, talking about crime, telling half truths about CCTV and DNA retention.

The unelected Deputy Prime Minister is, as we know, always keen to help. He has started talking about Lord Ashcroft. Mandy is keen to suggest that Ashcroft represents some 'foreign' influence on UK politics. It is said that Mandy cannot criticise the euro or any aspect of the attempts to bail out the Greek economy as his EU pension might be affected. So foreign influence, it all depends what you want it to mean! Also Mandy will be happy to keep quiet about the UK economy too.

The reason for the diversion from Brown and Mandelson is to deflect attention away from the falling pound and the possible outcomes.

Silence descends on Corus

Desperate but damned

Corus, a desperate and big problem  Corus, a desperate and big problem
An interesting story on the BBC radio 4 'Today' programme this morning. This evening the Teeside Corus steel- making plant will close, to be mothballed. On the radio we heard the history of steel-making in this region and the huge impact its closure will have. It was a short report and we may assume that the BBC felt listeners needing more could go to their website, that report is HERE. From this, much longer report, we learn that -

Gordon Brown said he is "desperately looking" for investment and Corus claims it is open to "credible offers".

Power sharing in Northern Ireland

But not much to go around?

Peace? The contrabass at restPeace? The contrabass at rest
No doubt the 10 Downing Street back room staff will do all they can to present the Northern Ireland agreement as another of Gordon Brown's great achievements. Let them try. The rarefied atmosphere of the world of political people does strange things to their minds. In my part of the world I suggest it would be easier to find someone who could name, in order (see below), all the members of the saxophone family rather than find anyone willing, at length, to talk about this settlement.

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