POLITICS & POLICY
On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron released his first interview after the French Presidential and Legislative elections. Macron said that France will have a pragmatic attitude towards the Brexit negotiations. “Until the moment you walk through”, says Macron addressing to the UK, the door will be open should the UK decide to come back into the Union. Moreover, Macron stressed the need for a closer cooperation among EU Member States on matters such as social protection, foreign policy and the defence of democratic values. Now all eyes are set on the European Council starting in Brussels on Thursday. Many political commentators expect a French-German tie to emerge as a result of the meeting. On Tuesday, speaking at a Conference of German business leaders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel backed Macron’s reform plans for the EU.
The chronicles of the new French Government are making the headlines in France and Europe. Suspicions were raised in the last few days over the possibility that two Ministers could have used European funds to pay national Parliamentary assistants, and now Minister of Justice Francois Bayrou and Minister of Defence Sylvie Goulard resigned from their offices. The two Ministers were key political figures in Macron’s Cabinet. Bayrou said that he resigned “not to damage the President he supports”. Goulard and Bayrou were replaced respectively by Nicole Belloubet –an academic– and Florence Parly, a former Socialist state secretary.
Turning to the Brexit matter, official negotiations between the UK and the EU took off in Brussels (the European media outlet Politico.eu mapped the key influencers of the Brexit negotiations). On Wednesday, the Queen exposed the Governmental program on behalf of Prime Minister Theresa May. The Queen said that striking the best possible deal with the EU becomes priority number one for Downing Street. Nevertheless, in a heated Parliamentary debate, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn rounded on the Conservative Executive. Corbyn claimed that the UK Government could have guaranteed full rights to EU citizens living in Britain from day one of unofficial talks with Brussels in an attempt to ease-off future Brexit negotiations. Meanwhile, the trade union of British farmers warned that prices in the sector could rise in the near future as a result of the immigration cap on the number of EU citizens entering the country.
The refugee crisis remains one of pressing issues in the European political debate. On Tuesday, UN agency UNHCR issued a warning claiming that over 2,000 people died in the Mediterranean Sea in attempts to reach European borders since the beginning of 2017. Meanwhile, the death of a Polish truck driver near Calais became a European news, as the accident was caused by a barricade allegedly set up by migrants on the French A16 highway. By obstructing the roads, migrants try to slow down vehicles heading towards Britain and ease off their attempts to jump aboard. Meanwhile, the Greek Government refuses to comply with the Dublin regulation. After an extraordinary 2 years exemption, Greece has been judged fit by the European Commission to enter again the policy scheme. Nevertheless, German newspaper Die Welt reported that authorities in Athens are not collaborating with the German Government on the matter.
“Debt relief has to be combined with at least a temporary departure from the eurozone […] A separate currency for Greece carries risks, but also marks a strategic change with new opportunities for Athens.”
Jens Weidmann, President of the German Central Bank
Source: Politico.eu, 21.06.2017
The number of months in office after which the Rumanian Social Democratic Prime Minister, Sorin Grindeanu, was forced to resign as a result of a no-confidence vote in the national Parliament. Grindeau was accused of inacceptable delays in carrying out economic and social reforms in the country.
Source: TheGuardian, 21.06.2017
Photo Credits CC: French Embassy in the U.S.
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