POLITICS & POLICY
On Monday, Martin Schulz was named chancellor candidate by the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) with 100% of the vote. Martin Schulz’ return into German politics has triggered an astonishing increase in support for the German centre-left, to the point that smaller parties, such as the Greens, are now experiencing a ten-year low in the biggest state region, Nordrhein-Westfalen. In this district, regional elections will take place at the end of May. Meanwhile, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) reacted ironically to the election of Martin Schulz. According to Conservative MP Peter Taube, Schulz represents 100% of uncertainty for Germany. Moreover, Taube blames the new leader of the Social Democrats for looking to the past when it comes to the definition of economic policies for the country.
The SPD party conference created havoc as well in France, as Sigmar Gabriel, the former leader of the SPD, officially praised Emmanuel Macron, just before giving the floor to Schulz. “Imagine that Macron becomes president in France, and Schulz chancellor in Germany. All the things are going to change”, Gabriel said. Meanwhile, on Sunday, the Candidate of the Socialist Party, Benoit Hamon, talked to the French people on the occasion of a key party meeting in Bercy, Paris. Hamon called for European institutions to proceed in the direction of a treaty revision. More specifically, Hamon pledged the establishment of a new Parliament tailored on the Member States who are part of the Eurozone. Meanwhile, on Monday night, the five top candidates for the French Presidential elections, participated in a heated television debate.
The institutional development of the EU remains a key concern for politicians and institutional representatives across the Continent. On Monday, the President of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, released an interview for the German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Dijsselbloem claimed that it would make sense to transform the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) into a sort of European IMF. His words follow the opinions recently voiced by the German Minister of Finance, Wolfgang Schäuble, who entered a row with European Commissioner for Economic Affairs, Pierre Moscovici, over the future role of the Eurogroup and the European Commission.
In other news, Brexit continues to make the headlines in the UK and in Brussels. On Monday, Downing Street announced that Prime Minister Theresa May, will trigger Article 50 on Wednesday 29 March. Meanwhile, after Scotland expressed its willingness to hold a second independence referendum, May kicked off a trip across the UK, aimed at restoring a constructive dialogue with the devolved administrations.
The EU representatives in Brussels, reacted promptly to the news coming from London. The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, wrote that he will “present the draft Brexit guidelines to the EU27 Member States, within 48 hours of the UK triggering Article 50”. The Spokesman of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas said that EU institutions “are ready to begin negotiations”.
The refugee crisis is back under the spotlight, as the deterioration of diplomatic relations between Ankara, Berlin and The Hague casts dark shadows over the refugee deal of March 2016. Indeed over the weekend, 443 refugees entered illegally the Greek islands via the Aegean sea. According to official statistics, the daily average number of migrants reaching European borders in March was 35. Meanwhile, major international NGOs such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International claimed that the refugee deal with Turkey represents a total failure, given the deplorable living conditions of migrants on the Greek islands. On Sunday, more than 3,000 migrants were rescued in Lybian waters by the Italian and European coast guards and NGOs.
“[After Brexit], the remaining member states will fall in love with each other again and renew their vows with the European Union.”
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission
Source: EurActiv, 20.03.2017
The percentage of Polish citizens between 15 and 24, who share positive views about the European Union, according to a new survey by the Bertelsmann Stiftung.
Source: Bertelsmann Stiftung, 21.03.2016
Photo Credits CC Parti Socialiste
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