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Eurobriefs: The latest from Brussels

Germany shrinking

The German economy contracted by 0.2 per cent in the second quarter of this year, while the French economy had zero growth. German business newspaper Handelsblatt warned, “Germany is no longer a champion: the domestic economy is shrinking and is pulling Europe down with it.”

From lobbyist to Commissioner

The EU Commission has given the financial services portfolio to Cameron’s friend Lord Hill, a neoliberal former PR lobbyist. This gives the government, and with it the City, a decisive say in how further eurozone integration will affect the single market in financial services across the entire EU. Key court cases are also looming on bankers’ bonuses and the ability of London institutions to deal with trades in euros.

Migration up

According to new data from the Office for National Statistics, 560,000 people migrated to Britain in the year ending March 2014, up from 492,000 in the previous 12 months. Overall net migration rose to 243,000 from 175,000. EU citizens account for two-thirds of the gross increase; 28,000 Romanian and Bulgarian citizens came in that period compared to 12,000 the year before.

EU referendum

Olli Rehn, a Vice-President of the European Parliament and a former European Commissioner, predicted that a vote for Scottish independence would set back an EU referendum here. So now the vote has gone against, do we expect to see any move in Westminster to hold a meaningful referendum and prepare to leave the EU? Not unless the working class presses for it.

Commitment claim

After the Scottish referendum result, European Commission president José Manuel Barroso welcomed the fact that “during the debate over the past years, the Scottish government and the Scottish people have repeatedly reaffirmed their European commitment”. So any result was fine as long as the Scots wanted to stay in the EU.