POLITICS & POLICY
The negotiations over a debt relief for the troubled Greek economy are under the spotlight. On Monday morning the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sigmar Gabriel, released an interview for the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, claiming that it is time Greece receives a debt relief. Gabriel argued international creditors should give in on Athens’s requests based on the reform efforts undertaken by the Syriza government over the past few years. However, Gabriel put himself on a collision course with his Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, who never agreed on any debt relief measures.
On Monday talks on the matter among Eurogroup members went far into the night, and ended without an agreement on releasing new funds for Greece. As the BBC reports, Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem said that the Greek government has not fully met its creditors’ expectations about reforms to stabilize the country’s finances.
In other news, the future of the Eurozone integration is making the headlines in France, Germany and Italy. On Monday morning, shortly before travelling to Brussels to attend the Eurogroup meeting, Wolfgang Schäuble met with new French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire in Berlin. The two leaders agreed on setting up a joint working group for developing new and concrete proposals to foster the integration of the Eurozone. The proposals will be presented at a German-French cabinet meeting in July, Schäuble and Le Maire announced. Highly sensitive political issues, such as a “fiscal convergence”, the “coordination of economic policies”, “public investments”, and “institutional changes” in the EU will be at the centre of reflections. Moreover, Le Maire came to Berlin to reassure his German counterpart that France will comply with the rules set by the Maastricht treaty, Thus reducing the public deficit of the country.
Meanwhile, the European Commission released its evaluations of the economic outlook of EU Member States. The EC approved Italy’s corrective measures on its 2017 budget, but announced that more corrections will be necessary in 2018 to meet the country’s deficit targets. Likewise, the French government was warned that it needs to improve labour market access by youth without qualifications and second generation immigrants. On the other hand, Portugal was left off the hook, as the country is no longer in breach of EU deficit rules. The result is all the more remarkable given that recently an anti-austerity Socialist government took power in Lisbon. Likewise, Croatia should no lo longer be at risk of an “excessive deficit procedure”. Nevertheless, Economic Commissioner Pierre Moscovici told the press that the European recovery remains uneven and fragile.
On Sunday evening, talian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni visited Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace. The two leaders discussed the prospects of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), as well as the issues that will be at the centre of the G7 meeting, to be held in the Sicilian town of Taormina, next weekend. The French president also praised Italy’s efforts in the rescuing of migrants in the Mediterranean sea. Over the weekend approximately 5,000 migrants were rescued outside Libyan waters, whereas another man died while attempting to cross the Italian-French border at Ventimiglia. Meanwhile, on Saturday, thousands of citizens took the streets of Milan to show moral support to migrants and refugees.
The tensions between the Spanish national government and the Catalonian regional administration, as well as the primary election of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) are making the headlines in the country. On Sunday, the former General Secretary of the PSOE, Pedro Sanchez, won the primary elections with an absolute majority of the party base vote. Susana Diaz, the President of the Andalusian Socialist Party, attained second place. According to a critical editorial published by El Pais, the result of the primary election can be considered as the “Brexit-vote” of the Spanish Socialists. The editorial board claims that Sanchez will not be able to unify the party. Sanchez was defined as the most “radical” of the candidates. Indeed, not even 24 hours after official results were released, the new Socialist leader confronted the leadership of the radical leftist party, Podemos, over competing no-confidence motions against the current Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy. The no-confidence motion was officially registered last week in the Spanish Parliament by Podemos.
Meanwhile, the Spanish daily El Pais revealed that a secret bill drafted by the Catalonian authorities could trigger the immediate independence of the State-region in case the central Government in Madrid will not allow a referendum vote on the matter. Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy commented on the news saying that the Catalonian act represents the “liquidation of the Rule of Law”.
The clash between the Hungarian civil society and Orban’s government is under the spotlight. On Sunday, thousands of Hungarian citizens took the streets of Budapest to protest against the illiberal policies of the executive. Citizens raised their voices to back the NGOs of the country, as new bills approved by the Governmental majority could endanger the activity of civil society organizations in Hungary. Last Saturday, another manifestation took place in Felcsut, near Budapest. Protesters targeted the massive levels of corruption that hit the public administration of the country.
“I want to change UK’s narrative of division”.
Brendan Cox, widower of MP Jo Cox.
Source: The Guardian, 21.05.2017
The expected growth rate of the Spanish economy in 2017, according to European Commission forecasts.
Source: Die Welt, 22.05.2017
Photo Credits CC EU Council Eurozone
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