POLITICS & POLICY
Scotland to demand new vote before Brexit. On Monday Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to set a date for a second Independence referendum by Spring of 2019. The UK government answered that a plebiscite on the matter shall not be prevented. Meanwhile in Brussels Margaritis Schinas said that an independent Scotland would need to apply for EU membership as any other country.
The House of Commons approved the article 50 bill rejecting the amendments that were introduced by the House of Lords. The UK government is now expected to notify Parliament’s decision to the European institutions no later than the last week of March. The notification will officially kick off the negotiation between Britain and the EU. However, last week, several MPs criticized May for not having outlined a credible plan, should negotiations with the EU fail. A new report commissioned by Pat McFadden, a British Labour MP, warned that a “no deal” scenario would put the UK in troubling waters. The report claims that as of today no member of the G20 interacts with the EU without some trade agreement. Even in the Labour party some MPs voiced against their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, for not making a strong case against the prospects of the UK leaving the Single Market.
However, on Friday, the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, expressed his firm belief that Britain will join the Union again one day. Meanwhile, the Spanish government said that France, Germany and Italy will need to increase their contribution to the European budget as a consequence of the departure of the UK. On Monday, László Majtényi said that the prospects of Brexit have damaged civil society organisations and democracy in Hungary, just as the political arena is being undermined by the rising tide of illiberalism.
The shape of the European integration to come is under discussion among institutional leaders across the Continent. As soon as the EU Heads of State confirmed Donal Tusk as President of the EU Council, the Polish government fought back against Brussels’ institutions. On Sunday, Polish Foreign Affairs Minister Witold Waszczykowski described EU policy as made up of “double standards and cheating”. Even before the last EU Council summit, the Chairman of the Polish ruling Law and Justice party (PIS), Jarosław Kaczyńsk, said that a “multi-speed Europe represents a path towards disintegration”. However, on Friday, the 28 European leaders decided to put the multi-speed scenario on hold.
Meanwhile, in France Benoit Hamon, the presidential candidate of the Socialist party (PS), called for the EU to change its institutional treaties. More specifically, Hamon pledged for the creation of a democratic assembly of the Eurozone. The latter should be composed by almost 400 MPs from national governments and replace the Eurogroup in the steering of economic and fiscal policies for the Monetary Union. Over the weekend thousands of citizens took the streets of cities in Germany, the Netherlands and the UK to show their support to the European integration project. The campaign goes under the name of #PulseofEurope and aims at gathering Europhiles every Sunday in attempt to fight rising populism and anti-EU rhetoric across the Continent.
On Wednesday, the Dutch people are called to vote for the renewal of their national Parliament. According to recent polls, the Conservative-Liberal party (VVD) is expected to become the first party, closely followed by the right-wing populist Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders. Yesterday night, the Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, clashed on televisions with Geert Wilders, on the occasion of an election debate. The EU was one of the main items of the discussion. Wilders pledged for a Nexit, whereas Rutte warned such a prospect would put into danger about 1.5 million jobs in the Netherlands.
“It’s not just a question of what is right, it’s about growth and what’s productive. And it’s not just about justice, it’s about explaining to the other leaders how [workforce gender equality] can help Europe”.
Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven (Spokesperson)
Source: Euractiv, 13.03.2017
The number of Syrian refugees’ family members that could be brought to Germany according to the Social Democratic party.
Source: Die Welt, 13.03.2016
Photo Credits CC First Minister of Scotland