POLITICS & POLICY
The evolution of Brexit remains one of the main concerns of British and European politicians. On Friday, the UK High Court ruled against the Government’s decision to trigger unilaterally Article 50 – the Lisbon Treaty clause regulating secession from the EU. The High Court said that the Parliament must vote on the activation of Article 50. However, Prime Minister Theresa May, decided to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of the UK. The latter is expected to express its opinion on December 7.
The High Court’s ruling triggered strong reactions from the right-wing press and parties. The Lord Chancellor, Liz Truss was accused of failing to react to the public blaming of the judiciary power. Ad interim UKIP leader Nigel Farage, warned the entire British political class has no idea of the potential anger it could create by blocking Article 50. On Monday the pro-Brexit group Leave EU claimed that on December 7 Nigel Farage will lead a 100,000-strong march on the streets of London. Meanwhile the Labour party took yet again an ambivalent stance on the matter. Shortly after the High Court’s ruling, Labour defended the result of the Brexit referendum of last June, claiming that blocking Brexit would be pointless. However, on Sunday, Jeremy Corbyn said that he might oppose the activation of Article 50 should Prime Minister May be unable to guarantee the UK’s stay in the EU’s Single Market. Corbyn’s statement were later contradicted by Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, who said that the Labour party would not go against the referendum vote in any case.
Across the Channel, the European Commission kept a low profile on the issue, by abstaining from commenting on the decision of the UK High Court. Meanwhile, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker warned European businesses not to strike independent deals with the UK government, as the unfolding of institutional negotiations remains unclear. Juncker’s statement came a few days after the UK government was accused of granting special treatment to Nissan. The Japanese carmaker had previously warned that it could move production away from its current location, Sunderland, because of the growing economic uncertainty caused by Brexit.
Meanwhile, on the occasion of a meeting with his British counterpart, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Walter Steinmeier, confirmed Germany’s opposition to any “cherry picking” over the final Brexit deal. However, the German Council of Economic Experts claimed in its yearly advisory report for the Government that the country should do as much as possible to keep the UK within the European Union.
In other news, the refugee crisis continues to make the headlines all over Europe. On Sunday, the German Ministry of the Interior said that it wants migrants seeking protection in Europe to be blocked at sea and brought back to African coasts. Asylum request processes should consequently be offloaded to non EU-member states, such as Tunisia. Moreover, the German social-democratic party wants the Bundestag to approve a new immigration law before the General elections of 2017. The proposed framework would foresee an Australian-like management system, whereby immigrants would have to demonstrate possession of a set of basic skills considered to be key for their own integration. Meanwhile, last week unrest broke out again in Greek migrant detention centres.
Greece is back under the spotlight as the Eurogroup gathered in Brussels on Monday to discuss the evolution of the “second review” of of the third bailout agreement signed between the country and its international creditors in 2015. The review is meant to prove the positive implementation of a second set of key reforms by the Greek authorities. A positive evaluation should trigger debt reduction talks in 2017. Last week, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reshuffled his cabinet in order to guarantee the smooth execution of the second review. However, political pressure is mounting as protesters are taking the streets against the reforms involved in the process. Moreover, shortly before the start of the Eurogroup, rumours started over a potential clash among international creditors.
“We have fallen into the trap of identity politics. If the driving force of the European construction is national, cultural or ethnic identity, then it will not survive. For the first time in 30 years, I really believe that the European project can fail. I am not just being pessimistic, but the European Union is not eternal. We have to fight to live together.”
Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission
Source: EurActiv, 07.11.2016
The number of signatures gathered by Dutch activists requesting to hold an advisory referendum on the CETA agreement between the European Union and Canada.
Source: EUobserver, 07.11.2016
Photo Credits CC Stephen Downes
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