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The Pope, politicians and think-tankers weigh in

May 9, 2016 11:44 AM
By Peter Morris, European Movement

VATICAN CITY -Pope Francis…on Friday gave a speech on Europe that the bloc's leaders hope will convince citizens - including Brits - that the EU is worth fighting for, according to senior EU officials. Politico reports: http://www.politico.eu/article/pope-francis-europe-speech-a-boost-to-anti-brexit-campaign/

Chatham House Director, Robin Niblett, argues that leaving the EU would present far greater risks than opportunities for Britain, reports Politico Morning Exchange. In a paper released Friday, Niblett writes that apart from EU immigration, the U.K. government determines the vast majority of policy on every issue of concern to British voters - including health, taxation, education, pensions, welfare, monetary policy, defense, foreign policy, and border security. Regardless of how the Leave campaign has been trying to paint these, they are not decided in Brussels. What matters, according to Niblett, is not "absolute" but "effective" sovereignty, with which governments can ensure the security and prosperity of their citizens. And the U.K.'s effective sovereignty is enhanced by EU membership: https://dub129.mail.live.com/?tid=cmHVR8JrgV5hGNmCxZ5UTs4A2&fid=flinbox

A British exit from the EU would have "unforeseeable consequences" for European cooperation, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker has warned in an interview with German media. EurActiv reports: http://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/juncker-says-brexit-would-have-unforeseeable-consequences/

Britain's referendum could trigger a domino effect of similar votes on EU membership, with a significant majority of French and Italian voters wanting to take the issue to the ballot box, writes the FT, picked up by Politico: https://dub129.mail.live.com/?tid=cm7Sb4qqMV5hGRgWw75af61g2&fid=flinbox

Nearly half of voters in eight big European Union countries want to be able to vote on whether to remain members of the bloc, just as Britons will in a referendum next month, according to an opinion poll published on Monday (9 May). 45% of more than 6,000 people surveyed in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain and Sweden said they wanted their own vote, and a third would opt to leave the EU if given the chance, poll firm Ipsos-MORI said. EurActiv reports: http://www.euractiv.com/section/future-eu/news/nearly-half-of-europeans-in-poll-want-own-votes-on-eu-like-uk/

Austrian right-wing leader Heinz-Christian Strache wants there to be a referendum on a "common Tyrol" and has signalled his intention to campaign to bring it about. EurActiv Germany reports. The proposal adds even more "music" to the ongoing presidential race, in which the FPÖ's leading candidate, Norbert Hofer, has already made it clear that he is in favour of direct democracy and the holding of referendums: http://www.euractiv.com/section/all/news/austrian-nationalist-calls-for-referendum-on-tyrol-unification/

APPEAL BY LEADING EUROPHILES - RENAISSANCE: [E]urophiles have banded together to publish a call for change in nine European national newspapers this morning, including Le Figaro, El Pais, Die Welt, la Repubblica, and Gazeta Wyborcza. Signatories include former commissioners, current MEPs…and former heads of EU institutions, reports Politico. Key quotes: "Whatever is the outcome of the British referendum, Europeans need change now." More controversially the "precondition for new dynamics is to acknowledge our common successes," (read: applaud the EU's achievements). They have six recommendations including ruling out a looser union: "Europe à la carte is not an option." They want beefed up policing and border security, "a neighbourhood stabilization policy," expansion of EU investments into housing to improve affordability and quality in everyday living, and a version of the Erasmus student exchange program for teenaged school students: https://dub129.mail.live.com/?tid=cm7Sb4qqMV5hGRgWw75af61g2&fid=flinbox

Around a quarter of a million Poles flooded central Warsaw on Saturday (7 May), marching to defend their country's place in the European Union and protest against moves by the right-wing government, which they claim undermines democracy, reports EurActiv: http://www.euractiv.com/section/central-europe/news/240000-poles-join-landmark-pro-eu-march/

Farmers in the U.S. and Canada are shunning GM crops that lack international approval - and international really means EU, says Politico Morning Agri and Food: https://dub129.mail.live.com/?tid=cm2Da6IaIV5hGSktidZ19jmA2&fid=flinbox According to a Monsanto spokeswoman quoted in the piece, projected use of some GM crops in North America falls each week that the EU dallies on authorization. Reuters has the story: http://reut.rs/1T5Zajz.

A massive-scale project proposed by the African Union, partly funded by the EU, will see a wall of trees erected at the edge of the Sahara, in an attempt to prevent the desert encroaching further. EurActiv's partner El País - Planeta Futuro reports.

Courtesy of Peter Morris, European Movement in North East