POLITICS & POLICY
Brexit remains one of the main concerns of European politicians. On Tuesday, the British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to hold a much awaited speech, outlining her plan for the Brexit negotiations. In particular, May is expected to set out 12 key priorities that should define the UK path to reach a Brexit deal with the European Union over the next two years. For most of the European press, the PM will announce that the UK is heading towards a “hard Brexit”. This scenario would imply the UK leaving the European Single Market for good and in exchange of full control over immigration flows.
Meanwhile, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, spoke to the German newspaper Die Welt. Hammond argued that Britain will need to revise its economic model in the wake of an exit from the European Single Market, implying that the UK will need to restore its economic competitiveness by means of a low tax and regulation system. Hammond also claimed that the Government needs to respect the “message of the Brexit referendum” which calls for migration flow controls. On Monday, Andrew Tingley, a London based immigration lawyer claimed that the Government could make it indeed very hard for EU citizens to hold the same rights as British citizens in matter of, for example, employment and rental agreements.
On Monday, on the occasion of a parliamentary Labour Meeting, a majority of Labour MPs asked Jeremy Corbyn to clarify the party’s stance on Brexit. The MPs’ request comes only a few days after Corbyn said that “free movement does not represent a key principle of the Labour party”. Meanwhile, new critical views on the prospect of a hard Brexit were expressed by the Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Carolyn Fairbairn: “The UK risks disorderly crash landing”, she said in an interview with The Guardian.
The rise of economically protectionist forces remains one of the foremost political developments across Europe. On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel took a clear stance against any attempt to shrink the global economy and trade. Referring to the principles of economic liberalism and to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the United States, Merkel said that “who does not stand up for its principles, will never be successful”. The Chancellor argued that political forces should not give in to short term opportunism when it comes to steering economic policies, implying that open markets remain a core element of the Western economic system. Merkel’s words came only a few days after the US president-elect Donald Trump, called for the implementation of new protectionist tariffs in the US. More precisely, Trump said to be willing to introduce a new 35% tariff on any imported product. Meanwhile, partly as a response to Trump’s statements, the President of the German association of employers (BDA) Ingo Kramer, called for the civil society and mainstream parties to stand up against protectionism and nationalism.
In other news, the refugee crisis continues to make the headlines across the continent. According to the spokesman of the UNHCR, the United Nations agency in charge of refugee matters, on Saturday hundreds of migrants drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, in an attempt to reach the Italian coast. Meanwhile, according to Cologne based Institute of the German Economy (IW), about 90 % of the 1.2 million refugees who reached Germany over the past two years want to stay in the country. Moreover, the IW claimed that immigration had a positive impact on the growth rates of the German economy and will continue to do so in the next years.
“I will be forced to say to the German Chancellor that Germany need to decide what kind of relationship it wishes to establish with Poland. It is not possible to aim for good relationships, meanwhile blaming our country”.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the Polish Law and Justice Party
Source: Die Welt, 16.01.2017
The excess deficit in the Spanish 2017 budget, according to a recent assessment by the European Commission.
Source: El Pais, 17.01.2017
Photo Credits CC erik shin
Also published on Medium.