POLITICS & POLICY
Italy – Debt crisis:
The importance of flexibility According to Matteo Renzi, EU budget rules need to be interpreted flexibly in order to avoid economi and political crises. At a news conference in Berlin, he reminded that ‘flexibility was a promise’ made by European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, and which now needs to be maintained. According to the Italian Prime Minister, austerity is restraining economic growth in the country. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on the other hand, maintains that budgetary discipline can be a matter of interpretation but that final decisions on the matter will be made in Brussels.
Source: The local, 29/01/2016
Greece – Debt crisis:
Protests Labour unions are increasing pressure over the government regarding its pension reforms, as there are no real signs of compromise. Indeed, the International Monetary Fund is unsatisfied with current reforms and maintains that cutting future pensions is not sufficient for guaranteeing Greece’s financial future. Greece’s prime minister Alexis Tsipras declared nonetheless that ‘there is no way’ his government will touch the pensions of existing retirees. German Finance Minister Schaeuble is, similarly to the IMF, reluctant to allow any concessions in regards to the implementation of the bailout program.
Source: Ekathimerini, 31/01/2016
Spain – Independence:
Different opinions Thousands of people gathered in central Sant Jaume square in Barcelona to protest against secessionism, carrying banners stating that ‘The Independence Process Robs Us Of Our Identity’. According to Rafael Arenas, president of the Catalan Civil Society Organisation, pro-independence politicians are ‘promising heaven and earth’ to gain support without considering Europe’s current difficulties. However, Catalonia’s parliament new leader Puigdemont declared that he is determined to secede from Spain by 2017.
Source: Timesofmalta, 31/01/2016
“I consider [the migration crisis] more serious than the so-called “euro crisis”. Why? Because what is at stake is not just economic matter, it’s about political acceptance and because the very sudden and massive inflow of refugees and illegal migrants is being used by some nationalistic or xenophobic forces against Europe. And so this may cause political problems in Europe”.
Manuel Barroso, former President of the European Commission
Source: Agerpres, 29/01/2016
The percentage by which Spanish economy grew in 2015.
Source: El pais, 29/01/2016
The number of people that Dutch firms estimate to employ this year.
Source: Dutchnews, 29/01/2016
Photo Credits CC: Lisbon Council