POLITICS & POLICY

The European far-right continues to make the headlines across Europe. On Sunday Marine Le Pen presented her political manifesto for the French Presidential elections in Lyon. The leader of the Front National party said that, if elected, she will call a referendum on France’s EU membership. Following her speech, the French newspaper Le Monde published an editorial arguing that Marine Le Pen’s political project is nothing but the destruction of Europe. Meanwhile, Francois Fillon, the Gaullist candidate, declared that he will continue to run for the Presidency, notwithstanding his involvement in a payment scandal that has severely affected his popularity among French voters.

In Poland, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the right-wing Law and Justice party, called for the EU to become a fully fledged atomic superpower. His comments were released shortly before a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will visit Warsaw on Tuesday. Relations between Europe and Russia are expected to be on top of the summit agenda.

A poll released on Monday and conducted by Ipsos Global Advisor shows that a majority of the citizens of the five biggest European countries does not trust national and international institutions. This widespread mistrust is believed to be fertile ground for populism: according to the poll, a majority of respondents wishes the emergence of a strong leader to “set things back on track”.

The refugee crisis continues to be one of the main concerns of politicians across Europe. Austrian Minister of Defence Hans Peter Doskozil said that the EU is not doing enough to protect its external borders. Doskozil pledged to kick off talks with the so-called Visegrad group–Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia–with the aim of setting up control mechanisms along the Balkan route. Meanwhile, the Hungarian government briefed European institutions that it will start detaining asylum seekers in “shelters” for the whole period of their asylum request procedure. Zoltán Kovács, the Government’s spokesperson, already anticipates new clashes with the European Commission over the matter.

Negotiations linked to the third bailout programme for Greece continue to make the headlines in Greece and Germany. On Tuesday, the German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, suffered a blow as a Procedural Committee of the German Parliament said not to be concerned about a potential IMF withdrawal from the bailout programme. The news represents a major breakthrough in the negotiation poker between Germany, international creditors and Greece. Indeed, over the past weeks, Schäuble put pressure on the IMF and international creditors arguing that a potential drop out by the IMF would make it compulsory for the German Parliament to approve a new bill backing the participation of the German government in the rescue of Greece.

Brexit remain a hot topic. On Monday, the UK House of Commons rejected a first set of amendments, proposed by pro-EU MPs, to modify the Article 50 bill introduced by the government last Wednesday. Pro-EU MPs are currently trying to attach extra conditions to the bill which would make it harder for Prime Minister Theresa May to negotiate a “hard Brexit” with Brussels. Meanwhile German Finance Minister Schäuble released an interview claiming that Britain should not be punished for its decision to leave the EU. From a different standpoint, French Prime Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve claimed that any final Brexit deal will make Britain worse off than EU membership.


THE STATEMENT

“The so called “Agenda 2010” welfare reform program, introduced in Germany by the Social Democratic party (SPD) under the leadership of Gerhard Schröder, is a story of limited success”

Gesine Schwan, Party member of the SPD

Source: Die Welt, 07.02.2017


NUMBERS

31%

The popular support for the German Social Democratic party (SPD), according to a new poll released by INSA. These figures place the party ahead of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union for the first time since 2010.

Source: Die Welt, 06.02.2017


Photo Credits CC Blandine Le Cain 


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