POLITICS & POLICY
The diplomatic crisis between the EU and Poland over the attempt by the Polish government to reform its judiciary system continues to be one of the main concerns of leaders in Brussels and Warsaw. On Tuesday Polish President Andrzej Duda gave a partial green light to the reform process. More specifically Duda signed two out of four reform bills that were approved last week by the national Parliament. At the same time, the President maintained the promised veto over the remaining two.
The ambiguity of Duda’s decisions has been criticised by some prominent Polish political leaders. For instance, former Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski accused the Head of State of acting only in the interest of himself by partially vetoing the bill.
Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo exercised heavy political pressure upon the President of the Republic, Handelsbatt reports. Andrzej Duda was Member of the governing PiS party before being elected as Head of State.
Nevertheless, on Wednesday the European Commission strengthened its criticism towards Warsaw and issued a precise warning: the Polish government has one month to reassure European partners over the compliance of its reform with the fundamental European principle of the “rule of the law”. If Poland fails to deliver upon Brussels’s requests, the European Commission will trigger Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty, Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans said. According Article 7, European institutions can revoke the voting rights of a member state if the latter does not comply with the fundamental values of the Union.
In other news, the refugee crisis continues to make the headlines across Europe. On Wednesday, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) rejected the legal appeal of the Slovakian and Hungarian governments against the application of the European migrant relocation scheme. According to the EU agreement that was signed in 2015, around 120,000 refugees and asylum seekers who arrived in Italy and Greece will need to be relocated to other member states by September 2017. However, the so-called Visegrad countries – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – so far have been reluctant to execute the plan.
In other news, Austrian Prime Minister Christian Kern rounded on the Eastern member states of the European Union who, Kern argued, do not comply with the agreed measures of solidarity, and therefore should not be entitled to financial aid under the current social and cohesion policies of the EU.
After the Italian Government quarreled with the Austrian counterpart over the management of refugees along the Austrian-Italian border, European leaders are now trying to calm down waters.
On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the Italian authorities can count on logistic and financial support from Berlin in the management of the migrant crisis. Similarly, Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader, Martin Schulz, issued messages of solidarity to Italy over the past few days. On Thursday, Schulz will be visiting the country in order to show his personal commitment to the cause.
Nevertheless, in an attempt to shift away the focus on southern European member states in the public debate on the issue, German administrative authorities argued that the number of migrants reaching Italy via the Mediterranean is equal to those arriving to Germany via the so-called Balkan Route.
In a second ruling, the ECJ ruled that the exceptional refugee crisis of 2015-2016 does not justify a breach of the so-called Dublin regulation of the European Union. According to the latter, asylum seekers need to present their asylum application to the administrative offices of the first country of arrival.
The ruling draws a line in the diplomatic conflict between German and Greek authorities over the past months. The bone of contention was the question of who should deal with the asylum requests of migrants who reached the European territory via Greece, but later went to Germany. Meanwhile, Greek authorities announced that more than 60,000 migrants are waiting to be granted asylum in the country.
“[The formal admission to the ECB quantitative easing program] still lies ahead and yesterday’s [bond’s sale] brings it closer […] Now conditions to ask access [to the programme] are much more favourable.”
Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece
Source: EurActiv, 27.07.2017
The year until which real interest rates in the Eurozone will continue to be close to zero should the ageing of the Eurozone population not be reversed, according to a recent study by the European Central Bank.
Source: Handelsblatt, 24.07.2017
Photo Credits CC:Public Radio International
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