POLITICS & POLICY
On Sunday, Emmanuel Macron, the leader of the political movement “En Marche!” was elected President of the French Republic. In the run-off of the Presidential elections, the former Minister of the Economy defeated the leader of the right-wing Front National party, Marine Le Pen. Macron’s success has been hailed as positive news by left-wing and right-wing liberal intellectuals across the Continent, as well as by a majority of political leaders. On Monday, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that “Macron raised the hopes of millions of European citizens”. Moreover, the German Chancellor said that her Government is ready to help French authorities in the fight against unemployment. Likewise, many other institutional representatives reacted with relief, from the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, to the Prime Ministers of the rest of EU Member States.
However, on Monday, Jean Claude Juncker stressed the need for the newly elected French President to tackle excessive public spending in his country. The President of the European Commission expressed critical opinions on French authorities on the occasion of a public conference aimed at sponsoring the new book by the German Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, in Berlin. Remarkably, the latter had been a key ally of the newly elected President, at a time when the two leaders were running operations as Ministers of the Economy, respectively of Germany and France. Indeed, although Macron was depicted as “the voice of Europe” during the French electoral campaign, his political manifesto for Europe entails some key reforms that are at odds with the views of the Conservative government in Berlin. Meanwhile, even the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, greeted the success of Emmanuel Macron. Nevertheless, several international media highlighted Macron’s strong views on Brexit. The newly elected President is understood to be a “hard Brexit” supporter, meaning that France will unlikely seek special British access to the European Single Market during the negotiations between UK and the EU.
In other news, elections are making the headlines in Germany. On Sunday the Christian Democratic Union party (CDU) of Angela Merkel won elections in the state region of Schleswig-Holstein, at the expense of the governing Social Democratic Party (SPD). The loss in Schleswig-Holstein represents the second in a row for the SPD since the beginning of the year. Many analysts cast doubt over the ability of Martin Schulz, the former President of the European Parliament who was recently elected as Secretary General of the party, to lead the SPD to a success in the General elections of next September. Nevertheless, Schulz reacted to the electoral defeat by restating that the SPD needs to continue to stand for more social justice in the country. Likewise, the Regional Prime Minister of Schleswig Holstein, Torsten Albig, defended the legacy of his government, especially in the policy area of immigration. Indeed, the refugee crisis played a key role in the regional electoral campaign. After the elections in Schleswig-Holstein, next Sunday, the citizens of the most populated German state region, Nordrhein-Westfalen, are called to the ballot box.
Brexit remains one of the main concerns of the political class of the UK. On Monday, Reuters said that some 9,000 employees of major international banking institutions are likely to move away from the City as a result of the uncertainties linked to Brexit negotiations. Moreover, in the research, Dublin and Frankfurt featured as the biggest winners from the potential relocation plans of London based financial institutions. Likewise, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) of the UK said that, as a result of the scenarios implied by an EU-exit, British employers are already struggling to fill key vacancies across a range of key professions, such as IT, care work and accounting.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Peter Hargreaves, a major donor to the “Leave” campaign during the EU-referendum, called for the PM to step in to defend the right of EU citizens in the UK. “I just think we should make the gesture, full stop. I don’t think there should be a quid pro quo, I just think we should make the gesture”, Hargreaves was quoted as saying by The Guardian. Meanwhile, Jeremy Hunt and Amber Rudd, two Conservative Ministers of the UK Government rounded on Brussels accusing EU representatives of interfering in the General election campaign in the UK. The criticism of the UK Ministers came in as Jean Claude Juncker expressed negative feelings over a meeting held with Theresa May at Downing Street, during an interview with German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Discussing his view over the Brexit negotiations, Juncker said that he left London “ten times more sceptical than before”.
“The posted workers directive applies to all economic activities including road transport. But [because of the specifics of the sector] we are preparing a special for transport workers”.
Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Transport, on the occasion of a EP debate on the social rights posted workers.
Source: EUobserver, 05.05.2017
The number of citizens that demonstrated against the Polish government in defence of the rule of law, on Saturday, in Warsaw.
Source: EurActiv, 08.05.2017
Photo Credits CC Jeso Carneiro
Also published on Medium.