POLITICS & POLICY
Brexit and the upcoming UK General elections are under the spotlight. On Wednesday, Gina Miller, a well-known pro-Europe activist and entrepreneur, announced that she has been able to raise £300,000 so far to finance the electoral campaigns of pro-Europe candidates across the UK. Many political commentators expect Brexit to to be at the heart of the electoral debate in the upcoming months. The Lib-Dem party said that it is ready to challenge the hard Brexit option endorsed by Theresa May’s conservative government. Similarly, the Labour party will advocate a Brexit negotiation that comprehends some sort of access to the European Single Market.
Nevertheless, Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn announced that he wants to put social issues, such as schooling, the National Health Service (NHS) and housing at the centre of its electoral campaign. Many commentators in the UK wonder if this will be enough for the Labour party to recover in the polls. On Thursday, former PM Tony Blair made it clear that he will not endorse Corbyn for Prime Minister. Blair’s comments once again highlight the deep tensions within the Labour party. Meanwhile, former PM David Cameron said that he regrets the result of the Brexit referendum, but that the snap elections come in handy for Theresa May to settle any misunderstandings within the Conservative party and clarify the Brexit negotiation strategy of the UK.
In other news, the refugee crisis and the integration of migrants are making the headlines in Germany and Austria. On Thursday, Armin Schuster, an MP for the German Christian and Democratic Union (CDU), claimed that national authorities need to secure the border between Germany and Switzerland as ever more migrants are entering the country via the latter country. Meanwhile, the German Education Minister, Johanna Wanka, argued that German schools might take into consideration limiting the number of students with a migrant background in each class, in order to smoothen the integration process. The German tabloid Bild released new public data on Thursday, arguing that the share of non-EU citizens who claim social benefits in Germany has increased threefold over the past year. On the occasion of a public roundtable on societal integration, the newly elected Austrian President, Alexander Van der Bellen warned against the rising islamophobia affecting Western societies and his country.
Discussions on the social dimension of the EU are back. On Wednesday, the European Commission presented a proposal for a work-life balance policy aimed at balancing the participation rate between men and women on the labour market. The EC’s move is part of a wider effort that has the objective of strengthening the social dimension of the EU. The European Commission also announced that it wants to kick off a dialogue with European social partners aimed at revising the working contract directives originally conceived in the 1990s. According to EU officials, labour market directives “need to be adapted to the emerging ‘gig economy’”. Meanwhile, Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Cretu stressed the need for increasing the visibility and attractiveness of the EU cohesion policies. The Commissioner laid out a plan involving a EU-wide networking and communication campaign.
“We find the Western straightjacketed, dull political language sometimes appalling and meaningless, unable to express the existing differences”.
Letter in defence of Viktor Orban, sent by Hungarian center-right MEPs to the
European People’s Party group (EPP)
Source: EurActiv, 26.04.2017
The percentage of Spanish citizens currently at risk of poverty or social exclusion.
Source: El Pais, 25.04.2017
Photo Credits CC European Parliament
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