POLITICS & POLICY
In Germany, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) announced its official electoral programme for the General elections of September 2017. Speaking about the prospects of European integration, party leader and Chancellor candidate Martin Schulz rounded on Prime Minister Angela Merkel. Schulz claimed that after only two months in office, the newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron showed more Europeanism than Merkel has in 12 years. Moreover, Schulz accused the Chancellor of damaging electoral democracy by avoiding any public debate over electoral programmes.
Schulz’s words triggered harsh reactions among conservatives from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU). Earlier this year, German Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble compared Schulz’s public tone to that of Donald Trump during the 2016 US presidential campaign.
Meanwhile, the German and French governments are set to meet in Paris on July 13. After the European Council of last week, the two governments are expected to discuss the prospects of the Eurozone and potential reform paths. Although the German government recently praised the reform plans outlined by Emmanuel Macron during the French electoral campaign, Wolfgang Schäuble has warned that any scenario including a change of the EU treaties remains unlikely.
In the UK, negotiations over a parliamentary majority have made the headlines over the past few days. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Theresa May struck a deal with the Norther Irish DUP party to form a government majority in Westminster. As reported by The Guardian, the deal between the Tories and DUP entails an increase in funding for Northern Ireland. The news triggered criticism from other devolved authorities, such as Scotland and Wales, who are now asking for a similar treatment.
However, Brexit continues the be one of the main concerns in British politics. On Monday, a survey conducted by Lloyds showed that the number of companies struggling to find skilled workforce has increased from January 2017. Earlier this month, the National Farmer’s Union raised concerns about the potential shortage of seasonal workers coming from Europe. Another study by Deloitte, released on Tuesday, revealed that 47% of high-skilled workforce is considering leaving the country after Brexit.
Meanwhile, Downing Street announced that EU citizens living in the UK will need to register in a special ID list after Brexit. On Monday Theresa May presented a 15-page policy paper dealing with this matter in the House of Commons. May claimed that EU citizens will need apply for a “settled status”. The opposition and Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn rounded on the PM’s plan, calling it “too little, too late”. Moreover, MPs from the Labour, SNP and Green party are understood to be forming common front to resist exit from the European Single Market. Likewise, Michel Barnier, the Chief Brexit negotiator for the European Commission, called Downing Street to outline a more ambitious plan over the treatment of EU citizens living in the UK.
In other news, the refugee crisis is making the headlines across Europe. On Tuesday, the German tabloid Bild claimed that European Union Member States are systematically taking in more refugees from Turkey than originally required by the so-called “migrant-deal”, signed by the EU and Ankara in 2016. More specifically, the German newspaper points his finger at Greek authorities, who are accused of not sending back enough migrants to Turkey. Meanwhile, in France, the Administrative Court in Lille, refused to give its green light to the establishment of a refugee centre in the Northern city of Calais.
In other news, the state-driven rescue of two Italian banks, Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca, made the headlines in Italy and across Europe. Over the weekend, the European Commission (EC) authorized the public intervention to save the two financial institutes through a public injection of €17 billion. According to the EC, the rescue is in line with European rules, as all stakeholders and debt holders shared the costs. Nevertheless, the process triggered critical comments among Northern European countries. In particular, some of the German press underlined that the decision will hit most of all Italian taxpayers.
“Leading indicators of financial distress point to financial booms that in a number of economies look qualitatively similar to those that preceded the great financial crash”.
Claudio Borio, Chief economist, Bank of International Settlements
Source: The Guardian, 25.06.2017
The percentage of votes with which Edi Rama’s pro-EU Socialist Party won general elections in Albania.
Source: Financial Times, 27.06.2017
Photo Credits CC: SPÖ Presse und Kommunikation
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