POLITICS & POLICY
The discussion on the future of the European Union continues to be one of the main concerns of European politicians across Europe. On Tuesday, the former French Minister of the Economy, Emmanuel Macron, expressed concerns over the sustainability of the current European Monetary Union. On the occasion of a meeting at Humboldt University, Macron outlined the weaknesses of the euro as a common currency. “Without major reforms, I doubt that the euro will last longer than ten years from now”, he said. Moreover, he claimed that the euro can be considered as a “weak German mark”, which puts Germany into competitive advantage with respect to other Member states of the Eurozone.
On Wednesday, in Berlin, some prominent European politicians gathered for a yearly meeting organized by Die Welt and centred around the current prospects of European politics and economy. Among the special guests were the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, Germany’s Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble, and the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond. Schäuble claimed that, contrary to popular belief, “Germany can’t save Europe on its own” and underlined the key role of France in the European project. Martin Schulz called for the Member States of the EU “to be united in tackling the current political crisis”. Philip Hammond argued that a “strong and successful EU and a stable European currency are in the interest of Britain” as well.
In other news, the sustainability of the National Healthcare System (NHS) continues to make the headlines in the UK. Over the past few months, many politicians from the opposition parties, as well as institutional representatives warned about the pitfalls of the NHS. On Wednesday, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and a group of hospital doctors sent Prime Minister Theresa May a letter calling for the government to rapidly act to solve the crisis. In particular, as The Guardian reports, May was told that “investment levels are not sufficient to meet current or future patients needs”. Earlier, the British Red Cross described the current NHS situation as a “humanitarian crisis”. Yesterday, on the occasion of the weekly question time in the House of Commons, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn put pressure on Theresa May asking for clarifications on how the Government intends to act. May dismissed the Red Cross’s description as overblown and inaccurate, but admitted that the NHS is under severe financial distress.
The Brexit debate too continues to be at the centre of British public debates. On Wednesday, University leaders of the UK claimed that a “hard Brexit” would have disastrous effects on the country’s international status. On the same day, a House of Commons select committee was briefed by Mike Johnston, the Northern Ireland director of Dairy UK, on the consequences of potential drop in international trade caused by Brexit. As reported by The Guardian, Johnston said that “Dairy farmers would have to go out of business”. Moreover, according to some leaked opinions from within the governmental Cabinet, it is likely that the executive will lose the legal case on the activation of Article 50 in Supreme Court. If confirmed, this would imply that the Parliament needs to approve the triggering of Article 50 to kick off the Brexit negotiations with the EU.
Meanwhile, in Brussels all eyes are set on the election of the new President of the European Parliament after Martin Schulz decided to shift his attention to German national politics. According to a report published by Vote Watch, a Brussels-based political observatory, the two candidates of the major European Parliamentary groups – the Social-democrats (S&D) and the European People’s Party (EPP) – are running head to head to win the crucial institutional seat. Antonio Tajani, the EPP candidate, seems to have a little advantage over S&D candidate Gianni Pittella, on the basis of an analysis of past voting behaviour of more than 700 MEPs. Meanwhile, the leader of the EPP group, Manfred Weber, called for the S&D and Liberal group (ALDE) to back Tajani in an attempt to contain the power of radical groups.
“Only if there is no suitable unemployed person in the country can [a job] be given to new arrivals without restriction”.
Christian Kern, Chancellor of Austria
Source: EUobserver, 12.01.2016
The growth rate of the German economy in 2016
Source: Handelsblatt, 12.01.2016
Photo Credits CC diamond geezer
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