POLITICS & POLICY
Brexit continues to be the main concern of politicians and institutional representatives in the UK and in Brussels. Over the past few days, tensions between Brussels and London reached new heights as the chief Brexit negotiator for the European Commission, Michel Barnier, called for the UK government to honour a bill of £100 billion to kick off the negotiations. However, on Wednesday, UK Prime Minister Theresa May rounded on the EU institutions. On the occasion of a press conference outside 10 Downing Street, May accused Brussels of seeking to influence the upcoming general election campaign. Moreover, the PM restated that a “no deal” scenario is still preferable to a bad deal for the UK. Indeed, on Thursday, John Kerr, a former UK ambassador to the EU, warned that the chances of ending up without a deal are high. On Wednesday, David Davis, the UK Brexit Secretary, said that the government has no intention to pay the 100 billion bill and defined the latter as part of the “rough and tumble of negotiations”. However, Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon called May’s intervention “irresponsible” and a “gratuitous attack on Europe”. Similarly, the leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, accused the PM of “playing a dirty game” with the EU.
Meanwhile, the rights of EU citizens living in the UK are under the spotlight. According to a report of The Guardian, Theresa May is going to challenge one of the main negotiation guidelines of the EU, namely the one that requires any deal on the rights of EU citizens to cover also family members who might join before or after the withdrawal date. On the same issue, a report published by the Institute for Government (IFG) on Thursday claims that, despite all announcements by the Tory government, it will just be impossible to introduce a new immigration law during the next two years of Brexit negotiations: “The scale of administrative challenge would be too great”, the report says. Likewise, Lord Judge, a former lord chief of justice, warned that Brexit is set to unleash a “legislative tsunami” that will challenge the Parliament’s ability to scrutinise legislation in detail.
In other news, the second round of the French Presidential elections is making the headlines in France and all over Europe. On Wednesday night, the two candidates for the run-off, Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, went head to head on a tv debate that was called by many international media a political “fight” beyond words. As expected the euro was one of the main topics of the discussion. Whereas Marine Le Pen called for France to exit the European Monetary Union, Macron accused the leader of the right-wing Front National (FN) to drive the country into uncharted waters. According to Le Monde, Marine Le Pen used a discursive strategy that was only aimed at destroying her political adversary.
Meanwhile, in an op-ed published on Thursday by EurActiv, 13 Europe Ministers of EU Member States called for the French citizens to cast their vote for Emmanuel Macron. They defined the upcoming run-off as a vote on the future of Europe. Likewise, the former Presidential candidate of the Socialist Party (PS), Benoit Hamon, wrote on Le Monde that En Marche! (EN) represents the only possible choice for the French Republic, given the political circumstances. According to Die Welt, 15% of the French electorate is still undecided on who to vote for.
“The negotiations for a technical deal were concluded on all issues… the way has now been paved for debt relief talks”.
Euclid Tsakalotos, Minister of Finance of Greece
Source: EurActiv, 03.05.2017
The GDP growth rate of the Eurozone in the first trimester of 2017
Source: Eurostat, 03.05.2017
Photo Credits CC Valsts kanceleja/ State Chancellery
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