We’re in a game of who blinks first. If Mr Tsipras holds firm then I think it likely that Greece will be asked to leave the euro before the end of this year, writes UKIP Leader Nigel Farage in the Daily Express.
• SO the great game of poker between Greece and Germany begins, while the IMF, European Central Bank, and other European institutions watch on nervously. The question is, will Greece fight back?
I first noted in a speech in 2008 that Greek interest rates were diverging wildly from German interest rates - and that things we about to go wrong in the Mediterranean [see video medley, Trapped Inside an Economic Prison].
The architects of the euro thought fiscal and political union would follow an economic and monetary union as night follows day.
The suffering of the Greeks at the hands of the eurozone project has been incredible - including having a prime minister removed for daring to suggest a referendum, and on top of that, a 25 per cent decline in the economy with youth unemployment rates consistently over 50 per cent.
Allied to this has been a genuine growth in poverty, suicides, and large sections of Greek society remain desperately troubled and deeply unhappy.
The economist Milton Friedman once said of currencies that were trapped inside the wrong economic union: either you devalue the currency or you devalue the country.
• Some time ago I was able to address a question on energy prices to Miguel Arias Cañete, described as “Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy”. His only response was to suggest the completion of a single EU energy market, which I described as “fiddling at the margin”.
On Monday January 26th, I attended a meeting of the ITRE Committee in Brussels, and had an opportunity to question Maros Sefcovic, a Commissioner and a Vice President (no less) of the Commission. I put essentially the same question to him, but with a summary of the huge damage which energy prices are doing to European competitiveness, driving jobs and investment out of Europe altogether.
Sefcovic at first did not reply (he’d had questions from each of the political groups), but the Chairman, the excellent Jerzy Buzek reminded him to do so.
As a more senior Commissioner, he made a better hand of the answer than Cañete – but still failed to reach the nub of the problem. He offered four ideas:
The “Market Stability Reserve” (MSR) was deliberately designed to raise the cost of energy still further. Incredibly, the advice from the British Government to UK MEPs was to support both the MSR and an earlier date of implementation, writes UKIP Energy Spokesman Roger Helmer MEP.
• Just a couple of days ago I wrote about the disaster of European energy policy, which is creating “an Industrial Massacre in Europe” (former Commissioner Antonio Tajani). It is driving jobs and investment and industry — and emissions — out of Europe altogether. Often they go to jurisdictions with lower environmental standards, so we may also be increasing global emissions as we undermine EU competitiveness.
In steel, and aluminium, and petroleum refining, and glass, and chemicals, and cement, plants are closing and hundreds of thousands — maybe millions — of jobs are being lost across Europe. And this is the result not of bad luck, or an act of fate, but as a direct consequence of deliberate policy decisions which have forced up the price of energy.
•In response to the Goldman Sachs President, Gary Cohn, saying that the UK should stay in the EU, UKIP Leader Nigel Farage said: "EU politics is dominated by big banks, big business and big government.
"Goldman Sachs was politically involved in getting Greece into the Euro and having a former employee appointed as the puppet Prime Minister of Italy.
"Goldman Sachs represents the governing status quo and not the global trading capital that the City of London needs to be."
Recognising the on-going failure of the ETS programme, the EU institutions are now debating yet another sticking-plaster solution: the “Market Stability Reserve”, or MSR, writesUKIP Energy Spokesman Roger Helmer MEP
•The EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) was introduced in 2005 as a “Cap & Trade” scheme to reduce emissions. The theory was that the right to emit CO2 would be traded, and therefore permits would go where they were most economically useful. The price of the units would send a “signal” to the market, which would promote energy conservation and new low-carbon technologies.
It was anticipated that the price would start out around €25 a ton (a level at which very “dirty” fossil fuels like lignite would start to be squeezed out), and progress over the years to €75, which would virtually exclude all fossil fuels.
The ETS was hailed as “a market system” that would allocate a scarce resource – the right to emit CO2 — in an efficient way. In fact, for almost all of that time the price has languished below €10. It has failed to give the market signals intended. But it has created a huge administrative burden on industry, and spawned a new (and totally non-productive) business in “carbon trading”, in which many people have made a lot of money without benefiting the economy in any way.
• No one need be reminded so soon of the Paris attacks that left 12 dead last week. And yet the lumps returned to our throats last night as we heard breaking news of terror raids in Verviers in Belgium.
Another atrocity avoided, perhaps – but sadly a stark reminder that the enemies of freedom will not stop until we stop them, and tackle the causes at the root of these heinous crimes.
I gave a speech in the European Parliament this week which I hope you might watch.
It was, broadly, about the solidarity that we must show with the people of France – but also, I mentioned that the sort of posturing that is often done by political figures in perilous times is not enough — the people of respective European nations want action.
David Cameron's renegotiation of Britain's EU membership terms will be worthless if certain conditions are not met, writes UKIP MEP Roger Helmer.
•It’s becoming clearer that Cameron knows he can’t achieve any significant outcome from his much vaunted “renegotiation” of our EU terms. The fact that he’s floated an earlier referendum date of 2016 (in an attempt to recover voters lost to UKIP) is evidence enough of that. There’s no time for a serious renegotiation.
So what’s his game plan? My feeling is that he’s digging himself a hole. Any concessions he comes back with (the old cliché: Neville Chamberlain waving the piece of paper: “It will be peace in our time”) will be nugatory, and will be ripped apart by the media. He speaks of Tory Cabinet Ministers being dragooned to vote “IN”. Not just “voting for the government line”. No. It’s simply taken for granted that the government will campaign for “IN”. Let’s hope that a few have the courage to resign rather than sell their birth right. But sound folk like Owen Paterson have already been summarily swept aside.
But there is another view. Even though the concessions will be trivial – acceptance of some curtailment of social security rights for new EU immigrants here, a couple of temporary opt-outs there – they may be talked up by sections of the media as a great breakthrough. Why? Because some sections of the media believe that UKIP’s success may leave the door open for a Labour (or Labour/SNP?) government, and they see a Labour government as a worse outcome than continued EU membership.
"What remains to be seen is what sort of trickery Cameron can conjure up with his allies in Europe to deceive people long enough to drag him through the next election on a promise to deceive the British public and kick a referendum into the long grass."- UKIP Leader Nigel Farage MEP
•Reports that the EU Commission will block any attempt to change Free Movement of People as part of David Cameron's renegotiation plans are unsurprising according to UKIP Leader Nigel Farage.
The Prime Minister has suggested he will ensure all EU migrants must have a job as a condition of entry into the UK, but sources in Brussels have disclosed that the Commission is likely to reject the proposals on the grounds that it goes against the fundamental principles of Free Movement of Labour.
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, who has already aired concerns over the UK carving out its own rules over EU migrants, is meeting the Prime Minister tomorrow to discuss his renegotiation strategy. The UKIP Leader anticipates smoke and mirrors from Downing Street to disguise the fact that this proposal will be rejected in Brussels.
Nigel Farage said: "Germany is facing its own problems at the moment and would not want Britain to start turning away EU jobseekers, potentially redirecting them to seek work there. If Chancellor Merkel agreed that UK can close the door on EU jobseekers she would also have to recognise that a great many that were Britain bound would instead seek work in Germany as the continent's biggest economy, and that is a risk she is likely to be unwilling to take.
In Brussels, they call it “carbon leakage”. This is a polite euphemism for driving energy-intensive businesses off-shore, and it results directly from the eye-watering energy prices that are undermining European competitiveness, writes UKIP's Energy Spokesman, Roger Helmer MEP •It’s the holiday season. So a web-site called “Science2.0” has come up with a helpful list of twelve ways to respond to those infuriating climate change deniers that you’re likely to meet in the bar while on holiday. Not the top holiday problem on everyone’s list, but I guess they’re trying to help. Even though I’ve yet to meet anyone who denies that the climate changes.
There is all the usual tendentious stuff about junk science and tabloid slogans. They recycle the old “97% of scientists” myth that has been comprehensively rebutted. But they come up with one point that perhaps justifies a response. Author Will Grant suggests: Ask them this: “What’s worse, the majority of climate change scientists being wrong but we act anyway, or climate change deniers being wrong and we don’t?”
Well, Will, there is a powerful case that even if the IPCC is right, which looks increasingly unlikely, the actions which are proposed in response are futile, counter-productive and economically damaging.
Speaking from Strasbourg, Mike Hookem MEP said, “With the heightened security situation around the world following a number of terrorist incidents this week, I am extremely worried about British personnel stationed at the Brunssum base."
• Following recent attacks by Muslim extremists in Australia, Pakistan, Canada and the USA, UKIP’s defence spokesman, Mike Hookem MEP has today said he has ‘grave concerns’ about the safety of British troops based at NATO’s Brunssum command complex in the Netherlands.
Officials were alerted to a potential threat in September after an officer stationed at the base said he was anxious about the safety of his family, following reports of a jihadist surveillance operation taking place in the area of the base and around the living quarters. This has left military personnel and their families feeling intimidated and threatened.
According to reports, much of the threat seems to centre on a local mosque, which is located 100 yards from the base and is said to be radicalising local Muslims.
•It was a cautionary tale in Canterbury last night.
As Hillare Bellc put it, 'The stocks were sold; the press were squared: The Middle Class were quite prepared', but in the end it blew up in his face when a member of the audience asked Mr Brand a pretty simple question. 'If you want to change the world', he said 'stand for election!'
Brand, darling a of a million Twitter feeds was stumped. This hair-sprayed fop, who moments before coming on stage had his personal stylist - no license fee paid BBC worker was as good enough for him, oh no - had his personal stylist straighten his chest hair and precisely apply his lip salve with her fingertips, Mr Brand could not respond?
In fact almost nothing he said was relevant or apt. It was if he had stumbled across Mao's little red book and fed it through a booky-work word generator.
The Question Time production team must have been deeply disappointed.
But importantly the audience brought forward one of the key questions of our time. Why are we failing our children?
Government admits total defeat in its efforts to protect small businesses from Brussels' new demands on VAT
"For now these new VAT demands apply only to online services. The European Commission has plans to apply these demands to all services, perhaps as soon as 2016" - UKIP MEP Margot Parker MEP, UKIP skokesman for small business
• From January 1st all small business entrepreneurs who sell online across the EU will be forced to register for VAT.
The new regulations were designed to take more VAT from online giants such as Amazon but will now load new regulations and burdens onto small businesses.
Online microbusinesses which sell anything to EU customers will be forced to register for VAT even if their turnover is under the £81,000 threshold.
A spokesman for the UK Permanent Representation to the EU admitted today: "The UK argued strongly for cross-border threshold so that the smallest businesses would be outside the system, there was no support from other Member States or the Commission."
Government admits it is powerless to reverse the changes. In a briefing for MEPs, the spokesman said: "We have to be realistic here. We can't do anything without a proposal from the EU Commission and the unanimous agreement of all 28 member states." (See email attached).
"VAT is an EU tax - some of the revenue from VAT is regarded by the EU as part of its 'own resources' and goes directly to the EU rather than to the Member State – this explains why they are so keen on this harmonisation and so indifferent to the plight of small businesses,"wrties UKIP MEP Margot Parker in a letter to constituents about VAT.
•We are aware of the problem with VAT MOSS and UKIP has delivered a Written Parliamentary Question to the EU Commission on this matter, we hope to have a reply before Christmas. We suspect in practice that where internet sales of the type caught by the new rules form a part of a small business the only solution, to avoid the need for their whole business to collect VAT, is to incorporate a separate company to conduct the VAT MOSS related internet business – far from ideal.
The EU Commission is the only body that can initiate new EU laws, begin repeal of or start any amendment to EU laws, or negotiate trade agreements. The EU Commissioners are not elected, but appointed. MPs and MEPs have no binding way to force the Commission to do anything it doesn't want to do. So, once an EU law passes there is nothing a voter or a MP or even a MEP can do to change it. EU Commissioners are required by Treaty to ignore national interest and to act only in the interests of the EU as a whole. In a normal democracy, if you don't like a law or a set of politicians, every 5 years or so everyone gets to vote for someone else who can change the law. This doesn't happen in the EU because the elected MEPs don't have those powers.
"There is a double illegitimacy in the commission imposition of boardroom quotas," writes UKIP MEP Janice Atkinson.
•The European commission must be one of the world's greatest forces for imposing policies that are not actually wanted. A long list would not be hard to compile, but gender quotas in the boardroom would have to be on anyone's.
We might we ask, 'who actually wants to see this happen?' The lazy assumption would be that this is a deeply held demand from female voters. That's often taken for granted in the way quotas are discussed, when the very opposite is true. I can tell you it's certainly not something that you hear on the doorsteps, and pollsters report the same finding in very emphatic numbers.
Across all social breakdowns, all regions of the country, all age categories, and among supporters of all the main parties, YouGov found that voters straightforwardly and comprehensively reject gender quotas. And yes, more women are opposed than not, by no small margin – 51 per cent against to only 30 per cent in favour. One of the few groups in which actual support for quotas could be found - admittedly overwhelmingly - are academic theorists of gender, the metropolitan media, and, of course, the 27,000 -strong bureaucracy of the European commission in Brussel.
"Nothing at all is being done to slim down the bloated EU bureaucracy, or to cut down on the money that is wasted year in, year out." - UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott
•The UK Independence Party has reacted to news of a deal being reached on the European Union's budget for 2015, with spokesman Jonathan Arnott MEP describing the agreement as a 'classic EU fudge'.
The deal will allow the European Union to enter into commitments to pay 145.3 billion euros, with actual payments coming in at 141.2. The figures are a compromise between the European Council (which wanted little if any increase to the budget) and the European Parliament, which wanted to spend even more taxpayers' money on the European Union. Neither side has got what they wanted, but it seems that the taxpayer will be the big loser in this deal.
UKIP's EU Budget spokesman Jonathan Arnott MEP said "This is another classic EU fudge, and was entirely predictable. The full detail has yet to emerge, but it seems that some monies from fines normally returned to member states will now be going to the EU budget - so yet again we will effectively be paying more by the back door.
"In UKIP we take the view that climate mitigation on the Kyoto model is probably unnecessary, certainly ineffectual, and ruinously expensive" - UKIP MEP Roger Helmer
•I recently attended an 'exchange of views' with the European commission on their negotiating position for the upcoming climate talks in Lima, ahead of next year's Paris conference, and I shared with them some unpopular views. Part of the package seems to be a proposal for an €8bn fund to help developing countries deal with 'the effects of climate change'. In UKIP we take the view that climate mitigation on the Kyoto model is probably unnecessary, certainly ineffectual, and ruinously expensive.
Unnecessary, because the science underpinning climate alarmism is highly speculative. There has been no global warming for nearly two decades. The computer models on which it is based have repeatedly failed to deliver on their predictions. Far from being settled, there is a lively scientific debate about the sensitivity of the climate system to atmospheric CO2. The UN intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) favours a figure of three degrees centigrade per doubling of CO2. Many scientists, looking at recent temperature trends, believe that one degree centigrade would be nearer the mark. The IPCC figure depends on heroic estimates of positive feedback effects. But there is both positive and negative feedback, and many scientists suggest that the net balance may be negative.