POLITICS & POLICY

After Emmanuel Macron’s victory in the run-off of the French Presidential elections, the governance of the Eurozone is under the spotlight. In an interview released for the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the German Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble said that he looks forward to collaborating with the newly elected French President. Schäuble added that he does not see room for any major Treaty modifications at the moment. Nevertheless, he confirmed his intention to increase the statutory power of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). According to the German Finance Minister the ESM should ensure that Member States comply with the so-called Maastricht criteria and step in to monitor the execution of structural reforms across Europe with a right of intervention into national budgets. However, on the matter Schäuble has been harshly confronted by the European Commission (EC) over the past months, as his plans would reduce the powers of other EU institution, most notably the EC itself. Schäuble paved as well the way for the constitution of a Eurozone Parliament. The latter would, however, hold only a consultative role with respect to economic policies by the ESM.

As EurActiv reports, many other German political representatives reacted to Macron’s election. The leader of the political movement, En Marche!, is expected to visit Germany immediately after he will be officially sworn in as President. The leader of the German Liberal party (FDP), Christian Lindner, has been quoted to “expect uncomfortable discussions” with Macron on the destiny of the EU. Likewise, many members of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) are worried that Macron will push for a European transfer union, a scenario that has always been rejected by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. At the other end of the political spectrum, the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) is trying to seize the victory of Emmanuel Macron. Former party leader and current German Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, is understood to share most of Macron’s views on Europe. Likewise, the Chancellor candidate of the SPD, Martin Schulz, argued that the Eurozone needs shared financial resources to complement the Monetary Union. Nevertheless, it remains still unclear which institution should be accountable for the allocation of such common budget.

In other news the UK General elections of next June are making the headlines in the UK. Whereas Brexit continues to be the main issue in the electoral campaign, the Labour Party is trying to shift the focus on economic, social and educational issues. On Wednesday, a yet unofficial party manifesto was leaked and exposed to public attention by the right-wing newspaper, Daily Telegraph. According to the media, Corbyn’s plans foresee an increased unionisation across the workforce, the nationalisation of some key services of the British economy, the abolition of University fees, as well as, a partial turn in Labour’s official Brexit strategy. More specifically, the leaked document states that the UK would not walk away from the European Union towards a so-called “no deal scenario”. Moreover, the Labour party would refrain from setting precise immigration caps for the country. On the matter, the leader of the Liberal and Democratic party, Tim Farron, called for the UK to bring into the country more than 50,000 Syrian refugees from camps across Europe. Farron’s intention is to directly challenge the Labour party on the issue of “openness”. Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn received backing from Noam Chomsky, a leading radical leftist scholar of the US. Chomsky claimed that the future of the Labour party relies in the left-wing movement Momentum.

Meanwhile, Brexit remains one of the main concerns of politicians, institutional representatives and civil society actors in the UK. On Wednesday, the chief executive officer of Barclays Jes Staley, watered down the risks of Brexit and said that his bank has no intention to move away from the City. Staley’s words came in handy as many other private financial institutions claimed that they were planning a massive transfer of employees to Dublin and Frankfurt. On Thursday, a group of 50 British professionals living in Germany, raised concerns about their future rights in the EU. There are about 1.2 million UK citizens living across Europe. British in Europe, a coalition of different groups lobbying for the rights of UK citizens overseas recently sent a letter to the UK Prime Minister Theresa May to make sure their voices will be heard in the public debate.

The management of migration flows continues to be one of the main concerns of politicians and institutions across the EU. On Wednesday, the Cologne-based Institute for the German economy (IW) reported that the German economy is in dare need of high-skills professionals in the scientific, IT and engineering sectors. The IW added that migrants from other EU countries, as well as from Asia, are currently filling the gap. Meanwhile, the Swiss government announced that it will reduce immigration from Eastern European countries, such as Bulgaria and Romania, for the next 12 months. An Austrian cabinet member was quoted by EurActiv, claiming that “since introduction of full freedom of movement, Romanians and Bulgarian workers have been increasingly coming for seasonal jobs in sectors with higher-than-average unemployment rates”. The controversial measure was approved amidst a political crisis that saw the Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner resigning from his government and party related offices. Mitterlehner took the lead of the conservative Österreichische Volkspartei (ÖVP) in 2014 and brought the Conservatives into a coalition government with the Social Democratic Party. Meanwhile, on May 5, the European Commission released its numbers on the current EU migrant relocation program that expires in September of this year. According to the EU institutions, only two countries – Finland and Malta – have fulfilled their duties so far. The program aimed at relocating 160,000 migrants from Italy and Greece to other EU Member States within two years.


THE STATEMENT

“Wages are not only low compared to Western Europe but […] also tend to be lower than what the economic potential of these countries would allow for”.

Béla Galgóczi, European Trade Union Institute.

Source: EurActiv11.05.2017


NUMBERS

2.8%

The expected growth rate of Spain in 2017, according to the forecasts by the European Commission

Source: El Pais, 11.05.2017


Photo Credits CC Rasande Tyskar


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