POLITICS & POLICY
On Wednesday, the European Commission fined three major banks, JP Morgan Chase, Crédit Agricole and HSBC for a total of almost €500 million. The three private financial institutions were found guilty of manipulating the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (EURIBOR), thus failing to comply with the EU antitrust rules. In 2013, another four banks accused of participating in the cartel–Barclays, Deutsche Bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Société Générale–settled the case with the EC.
Margarethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for competition, released an official press statement, claiming that “financial markets need to be competitive. The financial products concerned by this cartel, euro interest rate derivatives, are highly important not only for banks but for many businesses in the EU”. “You can imagine what is at stake if this market is rigged to benefit only a few”, she added.
Brexit continues to be one of the main topics of discussion in Europe. On Wednesday, the British House of Commons approved Prime Minister Theresa May’s intention to trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017. In what can be defined as a sort of political trade, the Prime Minister gave in on the Labour party’s request to make the government’s plan on Brexit public before the official start of negotiations with the EU. However, the Labour party’s leadership faced an internal revolt on the matter, as many backbenchers claim that the government’s “Brexit plan” has not been defined in sufficient detail. Moreover, on Wednesday, the leader of the UK Liberal Democratic party, Tim Farron, called for the organization of a second referendum over Brexit. According to this plan, British citizens should be asked whether they want to give “carte blanche” to the government in the negotiations.
Meanwhile, by Friday the Supreme Court of the UK is expected to express its opinion on the government’s appeal against the High Court’s previous ruling on the Parliament’s involvement in the activation of Article 50. On Wednesday, rumours sparked that the European Court of Justice will still hold relevant jurisdictional powers over Britain, even after the end of the Brexit negotiations. If confirmed, the news could embarrass the Government, as Theresa May always stated that the UK would not leave the EU to remain enchained in the jurisdiction of the ECJ.
After recent political developments in Britain and Italy, European leaders are paying increasing attention to France, as the date of the Presidential elections gets closer. On Monday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls resigned from his position in order to run for the primaries of the left, becoming the most prominent candidate in the race. On Wednesday, Valls called for the January primary elections to become a key moment for the whole progressive area to choose its candidate. Indeed, recent polls show that the left will have little chances to win the elections, unless it backs a strong common candidate. However, on Thursday morning, the former Minister of the Economy, Emmanuel Macron, shut the door to any similar prospect.
After the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, the relations between the EU and Russia are back under the spotlight. On Wednesday, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs (and soon-to-be president) Walter Steinmeier met with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov in order to discuss, among other international developments, the situation along the EU’s Eastern border. Steinmeier asked Lavrov not to let the situation in Ukraine escalate, and called the Russians to hold discussions about how to ease-off diplomatic tensions in the region. Meanwhile, as Bulgarian, Hungarian and Slovakian citizens elected political leaders close to Moscow over the last year, the Chairman of the Paris-based think tank, Centre for the Study and Research for Political Decision (CERAP), called for the EU to support “the last pro-EU bastion” in the region, namely the Romanian government.
“Brexit was only the first brick of [EU] the wall to fall down”.
Nigel Farage, former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)
Source: Die Welt, 07.12.2016
The percentage of Italian citizens who “do not feel at home in their own country anymore” because of perceived rising immigration.
Source: The Independent, 08.12.2016
Photo Credits CC Number 10
Also published on Medium.