POLITICS & POLICY

On Thursday morning, Martin Schulz announced that he will leave the European Parliament in 2017. Schulz had already revealed his intentions on Wednesday night, in a phone interview with the German media outlet Süddeutsche Zeitung. Schulz confirmed that he is set to run for a seat at the Bundestag in the 2017 general election in Germany. Moreover, as he moves back to the German political scene, some analysts are wondering whether or not he will run for Chancellor on behalf of the Social-democratic party (SPD) as well. Angela Merkel confirmed to run for a fourth mandate on Sunday. Amid growing pressure from the media, the general secretary of the SPD, Sigmar Gabriel, called for the party not to rush things and wait until February 2017 to outline its leading candidate.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Angela Merkel held a speech in front of the German Bundestag, urging the political class to stand up in an effort to fight political radicalism. Remarkably, Merkel addressed the importance of new forms of communication among the younger generations, and warned against the risks of an opinion-making process in which social media act as reinforcing device of preexisting opinions. Consequently, Merkel called for the institutions to endorse new forms of regulation of the public debate.

The President of the European Commission (EC), Jean Claude Juncker, declined false news he would be ready to leave the Commission in case of Schulz’s departure from European politics. On Wednesday, the Paris based think tank Contexte, released a long interview with Juncker, touching upon many topics, including Brexit, Hungary’s concerns about migration, the Republican presidential primary in France and EU-Russia relations. On Brexit, Juncker said “he had not been surprised by the results of the referendum”. Asked to address the growing divisions between EU member states, the EC President argued that “there are growing tensions between the centre, eastern and western Europe”. “However, we need to build bridges between different cultures”, he added.

In other news, Brexit continues to make the headlines in the UK and all over Europe. On Wednesday, PM Theresa May said for the first time that “the June EU-referendum was not legally binding”. However, during question time, May confirmed as well that the Government will follow through on his intention to trigger article 50 by March 2017. On the same day, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, made his first Autumn Statement outlining the economic policies of the Tory government and the economic targets that UK shall achieve in 2017. Hammond lowered GDP growth forecast for 2017 and abandoned Osborne’s objective to achieve a budget surplus by 2019-2020. Secondarily, Hammond confirmed the will to slash corporation tax to 17 per cent and to raise the National Living Wage. Meanwhile, over the Channel, the UK keeps facing barrels of criticism from European leaders. On Wednesday, Manfred Weber, a leading conservative MEP, blasted the UK government for not having a concrete plan for executing Brexit. However, earlier this week, Philip Hammond warned that the EU should really think carefully before letting the UK out of the door. For example, the European economy benefited greatly from London financial services being able to access the single market. Hammond claimed that there’s a lot of rhetoric and little economic reasoning going on in Brussels.

The development of the Greek bailout negotiations are under the spotlight again. On Wednesday, Alexis Tsipras called for international creditors to act rationally and not to expect the Government to follow through on irrational demands. Moreover, Tsipras argued that the lack of an agreement on debt relief would trigger snap elections in Greece. Meanwhile, the main opposition leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, blasted Syriza by saying that the international community is treating Greece with pity and compassion. Earlier this week, a Greek government spokesman called for the International Monetary Fund to stop sitting on the fence and decide whether it is still on board in the bailout process, or not.


THE STATEMENT

“I am moving [to Brussel] to call for [the EU] to change its strategy. And to let [the Political class] reflect on how much regions of southern Europe, such as Andalusia, suffered the economic crisis”

Susana Diaz, member of the Spanish Socialist party and President of Andalusia

Source: El Pais, 23.11.2016


NUMBERS

9.5 million

The number of patients who could be denied access to the National Health Care System (NHS) under proposal to ask them to show passports.

Source: The Independent, 23.11.2016


Photo Credits CC Parti socialiste


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