Wednesday

18th Oct 2017

German EU presidency to fight red tape, says Merkel

Cutting EU red tape will be a top priority when Germany takes on the EU presidency in 2007, German chancellor Angela Merkel has announced.

Speaking on the first day of the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos she said obsolete EU legislation should be abolished and that future EU directives should carry an expiry date.

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Bureaucracy often stifles innovation, she indicated "We must get away from the idea that a directive is in place for all time and can never be reconsidered."

"Some 6 percent of the turnover of small and mid-size companies in Germany is spent on bureaucratic costs," she added. "We must learn to measure the cost of bureaucracy."

In her half hour speech to a packed audience of chief executives and policy makers she also made a strong pledge to agree on a global framework of rules to govern competition between old industrial and quickly-developing economies.

"There is a need for a new social market economy," Ms Merkel explained.

"I think bilateral agreements between individual groups in the world ... will not get us very far," she said and pointed instead to international organisations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation.

Ms Merkel also renewed her calls to revive the frozen European constitution "The constitutional treaty is of great importance for the EU because it looks beyond regulations and helps us to reach agreement," she said.

She called on the EU to consider alternative energy technologies and said this was necessary because the industrialized world consumes 70 percent of the world's energy, while accounting for only 20 percent of its population.

Without mentioning nuclear power by name, she said good technologies could be a "creative imperative" and that Europe must look to new alternatives.

Catalonia to declare independence in a few days

Spain's king, Felipe VI, said Catalonia's leaders were breaking up the country's unity as hundreds of thousands of Catalans rallied against police violence at Sunday's referendum.

EU Commission's credibility eroding, says Catalonia

A former commission official who now represents the Catalan government says some European commissioners do not agree with the EU commission's official statement on Catalonia's bid for independence from Spain.

EU stays mute on Catalonia

EU leaders and institutions largely remain silent, despite calls to condemn the brutal police crackdown at polling stations in Catalonia during its disputed independence vote.

Austrian voters reject liberal status quo

Counting continues, but conservative leader Sebastian Kurz is likely to form a coalition with the far-right and could become one of the EU's most vocal critics.

Brexit 'deadlock' prevents move to trade negotiations

EU negotiator Barnier also said after the latest round of Brexit talks that with political will, progress can be achieved in the next two months - in time for the December EU summit to give the green light.

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