POLITICS & POLICY
Brexit is still at the top of the agenda for British institutions and politicians. On Wednesday, the House of Lords amended the text of the Brexit bill approved by the House of Commons, on the grounds that EU citizens’ rights within the UK need to be preserved. The Lord’s decision is seen as major blow to Theresa May’s plans to proceed as fast as possible with the notification of Article 50.
The Brexit process is wreaking havoc in Ireland were politicians kicked off a debate about the possibility of a reunification of Éire and Northern Ireland. On Wednesday, a reportage by Euractiv highlighted the economic damage a hard border between the two countries could create. Last week, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, claimed that in order to preserve access to EU funding opportunities for Northern Ireland, Brussels should grant a special status to the northern territory of the island. Moreover, Kenny hinted at the possibility to emulate the reunification process that Germany experienced in the early ‘90s, in which the East Germany was automatically brought into the EU.
Meanwhile, Knight Franck, a consultancy firm, played down the risks for the City of London to lose its attractiveness as financial hub in the eyes of the global élite. The report of the consultancy firm hints at factors such as “accessibility, convenience, connectivity, and openness” to explain why London will keep a leading role in the future.
The future of the European integration process is a top concern of politicians all over the Old Continent. On Wednesday, the President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker held a speech in front of MEPs outlining the contents of a EC white paper on the relaunch of the Union. Juncker sketched five different scenarios for the future, ranging from the “federalist option”, to a so called “multi-speed” EU, wherein some countries would move ahead at a faster pace than others.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, French and German authorities officially pushed for the “multi-speed” option. The Foreign Ministers of the two countries are now expected to move further in this direction at the European summit in Rome at the end of March. Earlier this year the German Chancellor Angela Merkel evoked the same scenario.
A new report released by Sentix (a German data-analytics company) and cited by Die Welt, slammed Greece, Italy and France as the three countries whose economic outlook could eventually lead to the breakup of the Eurozone. On Wednesday, the Finance minister of the German state region Bavaria, Markus Söder, called for the European Central Bank to end its expansionary monetary policies. In his critique, Söder pointed at the rising inflation rates in the country.
The refugee crisis is back under the spotlight. A few days ago, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbàn spoke about the necessity of “preserving .ethnic homogeneity” in his country. The controversial wording was used on the occasion of a meeting at the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce in Budapest. Meanwhile, the Hungarian government is moving ahead with the construction of a second fence along the southern border of the country.
A few days ago, on the occasion of a diplomatic meeting between Germany and Austria, even the Austrian Interior Minister Sebastian Kurz, underscored the “hard” approach of his own government in dealing with illegal migrants. Somehow unexpected backing came from the European Commission, as the Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos called for EU countries to act coherently with the provisions of national and European laws and to expel migrants to who did not obtain asylum.
“The European Union is the democratic and social acquis, without which it cannot exist […] we are trapped in austerity mathematics, indicators and numbers”
Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece
Source: Euractiv, 02.03.2017
The percentage of German citizens who sees the European Union with positive eyes, according to a recent poll released by the representation of the European Union in Berlin.
Source: Die Welt, 02.03.2017
Photo Credits CC UK Parliament
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