POLITICS & POLICY
Brexit continues to be the one of the main concerns of the British and European political class. After Jeremy Corbyn said that Labour will not push for the UK to stay in either the Single Market or the European Economic Area (EEA), many left-wing MPs voiced their concerns about the Labour leader’s stance. According to a recent poll, a majority of Labour backers would like the country to retain a formal connection to the European Union by means of the EEA. More generally, some Labour and Conservative MPs are understood to be ready to form a cross-party alliance in order to make sure that the UK will have a place in one of the several economic arrangements of the Union.
Meanwhile, the UK cabinet once again appears to be split over how to conduct Brexit negotiations. More precisely, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond announced that Britain will aim for a two-year transition period after 2019, during which trade and migration flows across the Channel should continue as currently. Nevertheless, Downing Street rebuffed Hammond’s views. Prime Minister Theresa May made it clear that after 2019 “free movement” of EU citizens will come to an end.
Due to ongoing conflicts within the main British political parties, rumours over a second Brexit referendum are spreading across the European public sphere. However, back in Brussels, the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, reassured that the Commission’s working hypothesis remains that “Brexit will happen”. In fact, French ambassador to the UK, Sylvie Bermann, added that the UK snap elections of June 2017 paved the way for a real Brexit.
In other news, the constitutional crisis in Poland makes the headlines in Warsaw and Brussels. Last week Polish President Andrzej Duda partially vetoed the judicial reform of the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party led by Beata Szydło. After some prominent figures of the PiS party voiced their anger against the President’s veto and confirmed their intentions to push the bill through Parliament, the European Commission decided to move ahead with an infringement procedure against the Eastern European Member State.
In an interview for the Brussels-based website EurActiv, Przemysław Żurawski vel Grajewski, a member of the Polish president’s Advisory Council and adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, described the Commission’s actions as grotesque. More precisely, Żurawski vel Grajewski argued that the EC “emerged as an opponent to reform and a protector of the post-communist nomenclature and mentality, combined with oligarchic corruption and nepotism”.
In another controversial move announced by the Polish authorities, the PiS party said that it is looking forward to the conclusions of a legal review aimed at evaluating whether Germany still has to disburse economic compensations for damages dating back to the second World War.
“One of the priorities of the European Commission is to enforce the rules against private companies striking deals that prevent a competitive dynamic from unfolding.”
Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, commenting on the EC’s proceedings against the German car industry cartel
Source: Der Spiegel, 01.08.2017
The percentage of European citizens who trust the European Union, according to the August 2017 Eurobarometer survey.
Photo Credits CC: Number 10
Also published on Medium.