POLITICS & POLICY

The refugee crisis is again under the spotlight. On Wednesday, the European director of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Eugenio Ambrosi, warned European leaders that new policies need to be enacted to solve the migration crisis. Ambrosi called for the establishment of legal routes to Europe, as he claimed that illegal attempts to reach the continent depend upon the lack of concrete alternatives. Ambrosi’s words came right after the European summit in Valletta, Malta, of last week, when EU leaders agreed to strengthen programmes to bring migrants blocked in Libya to their countries of origin.

Meanwhile, in Germany, the Social Democratic party (SPD) released a position paper titled “We need controlled immigration”, which focuses on new strategies to halt illegal influx of migrants from Africa. Inter alia, the SPD pledges to put in place a broader approach to refugee policy, in which priority would be given to tackling the causes of flight from African countries.

On Wednesday, the Chief Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, rounded on EU Member States’ governments for not having relocated enough refugees from Italy and Greece to their own territories. By September 2016, only 12,000 refugees had been taken to Central and Eastern Europe.

Brexit continues to make the headline in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. On Wednesday the British House of Commons approved the Article 50 bill after a third and final reading. The bill will now go to the House of Lords. A vast majority of MPs approved the bill without any major amendment. The process, however, triggered new defections from the Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn. On Wednesday, shadow cabinet Minister Clive Lewis resigned from his position.

As Brexit moves ahead without major hindrances, the Scottish government is weighing its chances to call a second independence referendum. Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned Theresa May to not proceed with a “hard Brexit” strategy several times over the past few months. Right before the approval of Article 50 by the House of Commons, the Scottish regional Parliament voted against the proceedings of Brexit. Meanwhile, Daniel Mulhall, the Irish ambassador to the UK, said that reintroducing border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will not be possible. According to Mulhall, the chief Brexit negotiator for the European Commission, Michel Barnier, said that the case deserves a special negotiation and detailed agreement.

European Leftist parties are also making the news lately. Over the weekend, new opinion polls in Germany have put Social-democratic candidate Martin Schulz ahead of current Chancellor Angela Merkel, ahead of the Bundestag elections. On Thursday, the SPD also released new membership figures, according to which, since Martin Schulz’s designation as the party candidate, the SPD gained almost 5,000 new party members nationwide.


THE STATEMENT

“[A two-speed Europe] would lead to the breakdown, and in fact the liquidation, of the European Union in its current sense”

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Chair of the Polish right-wing Law and Justice party

Source: EurActiv, 09.02.2016


NUMBERS

1,7%

The inflation rate in the Netherlands as calculated by the national statistics office (CBS) in January 2017. The rate was 0.7% in December 2016.

Source: DutchNews.nl, 09.02.2016


Photo Credits CC Ron F.


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