POLITICS & POLICY
The Brexit debate continues to be one of the main concerns of British and European politicians. Over the past few days, the UK government has been facing a legal challenge in front of the High Court over the decision to unilaterally trigger Art. 50, thus excluding the Parliament from the decision. However, on Wednesday, James Eadie QC, said that the government foresees a Parliamentary vote to ratify the final Brexit deal between the United Kingdom and the EU institutions. Although many pro-EU MPs claimed victory, the new governmental stance might leave the Parliament with a tough choice: accepting the deal negotiated by the government or moving ahead with no deal at all. On Wednesday, on the occasion of the traditional PM question time, Theresa May admitted that negotiations could last more than two years. Moreover, new rumours about a potential split within the government cabinet begun as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, said that EU students should not be officially counted as migrants by the national statistic offices in their future census. Meanwhile, across the Channel, Elmar Brok, a veteran German MEP, blasted the UK government by saying that “ministers have no idea of what plans for Brexit should be”.
In other news, the refugee crisis continues to make the headlines across Europe. In Madrid, on Wednesday, 40 migrants set to be relocated to their home countries in North Africa protested against poor conditions in detention. In Germany, some 17,000 Syrian refugees who had not been granted refugee status and successively had sued the German state later this year, won their cases, thus acquiring the right of stay in the country. Meanwhile, in France, Robert Ménard, the mayor of the city of Béziers, followed through on a bill establishing a referendum whereby local residents are asked whether they want to welcome refugees. Ménard is backed by the far-right party, Front National. Last but not least, Turkey came back to put pressure on the EU. Omer Celik, the Turkish EU Affairs Minister, said that the country might cancel part of the refugee deal if visa liberalization for its citizens does not move ahead by the end of the year.
As we are approaching October 27—the official date set for the signature of the CETA treaty between Canada and the EU—discussions on free trade are gaining more prominence in Europe. At the beginning of this week, the German Constitutional Court authorized the government to sign CETA. However, on Tuesday, Belgium’s French speaking region of Wallonia put its veto on the current formulation of the deal. The decision of the Wallonian Parliament triggered a harsh reaction from European institutions. Brussels set October 21 as new deadline for the Belgian region to ratify the text of the treaty. However, Paul Magnette, the regional minister-president, replied to the EU saying that Wallonia “won’t be able to sign before Friday”. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, even Bulgaria and Romania put a partial veto on the treaty. Both countries called for Canada to not discriminate their citizens when it comes to visa-free circulation.
“We are deeply worried about the disrespect for the rules in the Stability and Growth Pact […] the tendency to make the rules more and more flexible and to create additional loopholes is a cause of concern”.
Magdalena Andersson, Finance minister of Sweden
Source: The Local, 19.10.2016
The number of attacks against refugees and their homes that has taken place in Germany as of October 17.
Source: Die Welt, 19.10.2016
The quota of public investments over GDP foreseen by the Spanish government in its 2017 budget.
Source: El Pais, 18.10.2016
Photo Credits CC cactusbeetroot