POLITICS & POLICY
On Monday, the Frakfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published an interview with Jeroen Dijsselbloem, wherein the President of the Eurogroup said that “if countries spent all their money on women and alcohol, he would not grant them financial support”. Dijsselbloem’s comments rapidly made the headlines all over Europe as they were interpreted as a major offence to southern Member States of the European Union. On Wednesday, former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called for the President of the Eurogroup to resign from his position. Similar criticisms were voiced by Antonio Costa, the Portuguese Prime Minister, and by Luis de Guindos, Minister of Finance of Spain. Eyebrows have been raised even among EU institutions’ representatives: Competition Commissioner, Margareth Vestager labeled Dijsselbloem’s comments as “wrong”. Meanwhile, the Dutch Finance Minister claimed that he has no intention to resign and that his words have been misunderstood. In any case, given the dramatic drop in support shown by Dijsselbloem’s Labour party (PVDA) in General elections in the Netherlands, the Dutch Presidency of the Eurogroup has been questioned from more than one side.
The institutional development of the EU remains a key concern for politicians and institutional representatives across the Continent. On Wednesday, the Italian Head of State, Sergio Mattarella, called for the EU institutions to undergo a profound period of transformation. Ahead of the meeting in Rome for the 60 years anniversary of the Rome Treaties, Mattarella insisted on the need for incisive changes in the architecture of the Union. At the same time, Mattarella ruled out the viability of any scenario that involved the breakup of the Union. Likewise, the Socialist candidate for the French Presidential elections, Benoit Hamon, visited European leaders in Brussels, on Tuesday. Benoit met with the leader of the Social & Democrats group (S&D), Gianni Pittella, as well as with Jean Claude Juncker and Pierre Moscovici. Hamon’s proposal to further democratise the European institutions by means of a new Assembly linked to the Eurozone has been welcomed by Juncker, whilst Commission’s representatives cooled it down.
The refugee crisis continues to make the headlines in Germany and all over Europe. A report from the Council of Europe, expressed concerns about the treatment reserved to minor refugees by European states: “[t]he abysmal treatment of refugee children […] will increase the danger of their later radicalisation and drift into criminality”. Meanwhile, the authorities of German state region Bavaria established three new centres aimed at relocating refugees outside of the country. After weeks of tensions between Germany and the Netherlands on the one side, and the Turkish government on the other, the Vice President of the German Parliament, Claudia Roth, called for a suspension of the migration deal between the EU and Turkey. Considering that the breakup would probably spur a new crisis, Roth claimed that Europe needs to learn to deal with such issues, without relying on unstable regimes outside of its borders. Meanwhile, in France, the Administrative Court of the city of Lille, ruled against the decision of the Mayor of Calais to forbid voluntary assistance to migrants. The ruling was welcomed by many non-governmental-organisations that operate in city.
Discussions on Brexit are constantly under the spotlight, as Prime Minister Theresa May announced the UK governments will trigger article 50 on the 29th of March. However, European Commission’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned that a failure of talks between the EU and Britain would have worrisome consequences for both parts. Meanwhile, UK- based airlines, such as Ryanair and Easyjet, were told that they risk serious damages to their activities if they don’t move their headquarters to Europe.
“If the declaration [of Rome] does not include the issues which are priorities for Poland, we will not accept the declaration”
Beata Szydło, Prime Minister of Poland
Source: EurActiv, 23.03.2017
The number of new employees who will enter the Spanish public sector over the next three years, as agreed between social partners and the Spanish government.
Source: El Pais, 22.03.2016
Photo Credits CC EU Council Eurozone
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