POLITICS & POLICY
The refugee crisis continues to be one of the main concerns of the European political class. According to the UK Home Office statistics, out of 1,900 minors that were registered at the former Calais refugee camp, only 750 have been granted entrance to the UK eventually. Media were told that the rest has been invited invited to apply for temporary residence in France or elsewhere in Europe. Meanwhile, in Greece, Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas stated to be willing to establish “closed” reception centres for migrants on the Aegean islands. According to Mouzalas, the measure is aimed at reducing the risk of delinquent behaviour and protect Greek local communities. Over the past weeks many violent clashes between migrants and EU officials took place on Greek islands. Nevertheless, the leader of the European People’s Party (EPP) Manfred Weber called for the European Union to welcome some new 20,000 refugees from Syria in the wake of a dramatic escalation of the ongoing civil war.
The politics of austerity is back under the spotlight. In the UK, the state of the National Healthcare Service (NHS) became one of the main concerns of the British political class. On Saturday Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sent a letter to Theresa May asking the Prime Minister to meet and discuss the urgent funding needs of the healthcare sector. Indeed, the social care budgets have suffered cuts of £4.6 billion since 2010. Earlier this month, in a bid to tackle the crisis, the Government allowed local councils to raise taxes in order to finance social care structures. However, the Labour party reacted to the measure, warning that it could jeopardize the standards of healthcare services across the country.
Moreover, Sean Hoyle, the President of the RMT, a trade union of the rail transport sector, warned that his organization plans to conduct strikes on the Southern Rail network over the Christmas period. The RMT’s aim is to oppose the current government and, above all, denounce worrying safety standards for passengers on trains. On Monday the Government accused the trade unions of causing “disruption” for ordinary people with their initiative. Later on during the day, Len McCluskey, leader of Unite, the main British trade union, claimed that Downing street is only “demonising working men and women” with its comments.
Meanwhile in Spain trade unions and leftist movements and parties took the streets over the weekend to protest against the labour market policies of the conservative minority government. Last week, the Socialist party (PSOE) proposed a Parliamentary motion to invalidate the labour market reform approved by the previous conservative government. The motion was backed by a majority of MPs from the left. However, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy claimed that he has no intention to reverse the course of reforms kicked off by his previous government.
In other news, the evolution of populist and right-wing forces makes the headlines across Europe. In Germany, Claudia Martin, a regional member of the right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland (AFD), resigned her seat in the Parliament. Martin accused the AfD for its radical views on migration. In a video message that was shot to explain her decision to leave the party, she claimed that some of the policies proposed by the AFD evoke measures undertaken by the Nazi regime.
Meanwhile, in Poland, the conservative government tried to introduce a law limiting the freedom of the press. In response, over the weekend hundreds of citizens took the streets to protest against the government’s attempt. On Saturday, the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, called for national institutions to respect the people and the constitution of the country. Eventually, on Tuesday, Polish President Andrzej Duda announced that he had received requests from the ruling Law and Justice party not to follow through with the proposed law.
“Frontline countries such as Greece need more support, and not to be sent back migrants and refugees”
Frances Fitzgerald, Justice Minister of Ireland
Source: Ekathimerini, 17.12.2016
The number of vacancies that have not been opened in Germany since 2015 because of the minimum salary, according to a study by the IW research centre of Köln.
Source: Die Welt, 18.12.2016
Photo Credits CC Michael Gubi
Also published on Medium.