POLITICS AND POLICY
The people in Norway have voted to renew their national Parliament. The ruling Conservative party has secured a second term in a row at the expenses of the Labour-led opposition. Still, the centre-left party will hold a relative majority of seats in the Parliament. Prime Minister Erna Solberg campaigned on a liberal-conservative platform. The Conservative party pledged to reduce taxes and spur growth.
The German elections are under the spotlight. According to recent polls, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) holds a strong lead over the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Angela Merkel is set to win her fourth term in office, twelve years after her first electoral success.
During the weekend the leader of the SPD, Martin Schulz, outlined his party’s conditions for a coalition government. The move has been understood as a public acknowledgment of the upcoming defeat. Yet, on Monday Schulz suggested that Angela Merkel could become Vice-Chancellor in a Cabinet led by the SPD.
Meanwhile, mainstream parties rounded on Alice Weidel, the leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. During the campaign, Weidel allegedly sent out emails holding “unconstitutional” views. The Minister of Justice, Heiko Maas, said that some parts of the electoral program of the AFD itself are unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Party (FDP) is understood to be in financial trouble. According to media reports, the party needs to enter the Bundestag to raise fresh cash to pay out old debts.
On Friday, former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), Nigel Farage, visited Germany. Farage campaigned side by side with the AfD. The British leader expressed his view on Brexit on the occasion of his trip abroad.
In Spain, the clash between the national Government in Madrid and the authorities in Catalonia is making the headlines. On Monday Catalonia celebrated its national day, the Diada. Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Podemos, intervened in a public event in Barcelona calling for a “sovereign and free Catalonia”.
Last week, the Spanish Constitutional Court said that the October 1 referendum is unconstitutional. But Catalan Prime Minister Carles Puigdemont rebuffed the sentence. Puigdemont argued that there is “no alternative to the vote”.
Meanwhile, all European Member States took the side of the national Government. On Monday the international rating agency Moody’s said that the struggle may have a negative effect on the financial prospects of both Spain and Catalonia.
In other news, Brexit is making the headline in the UK. On Monday the UK Parliament decided to move ahead with the approval of the repeal bill. With this vote lawmakers decided to kick-off a second reading of the bill. At this point, MPs from all parties can propose amendments to the text. Yet, the vote of the Parliament confirms the intentions of the UK to leave the Union.
On Sunday the British Trade Union Confederation (TUC) said that the UK Government should consider the option of staying in the European Single Market long-term. “British workers’ rights are best guaranteed within the Single Market”, General Secretary Frances O’Grady said. On Monday, Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn argued that the door for the UK staying in the Single Market is still open. Earlier this summer, the leader from Chippenham rejected the very same possibility. Meanwhile, a report from the Institute for Government claimed that post-Brexit custom checks could cost traders up to 4 billion pounds per year.
On Sunday, former Labour leader Tony Blair said that London could limit immigration to the UK without leaving the European Union. A similar pledge was made by former Prime Minister David Cameron shortly before the start of the Brexit referendum campaign.
Last week, a leaked document from the UK Home Office exposed the future plan of Downing Street. The text of the document showed that the UK Government plans a crackdown on EU migration after 2019.
The refugee crisis continues to tear apart EU Member States. On Monday, Joachim Hermann, a prominent MP from the German Christian Social Union (CSU), said that Greece should no longer be part of the Schengen area. Hermann said that if Athens is unable to safeguard its borders it can no longer stay in the area of free movement of the EU.
Meanwhile, Vincent Cochetel, Chief officer for the Mediterranean sea at UNHR, said that some camps in Libya do not fulfill humanitarian standards. Even so, Cochetel defended the agreement between the EU and the Libyan authorities.
In other news, Hungarian Minister of Justice László Trócsányi criticised the European Court of Justice (ECJ), after the latter called for eastern Member States of the EU to abide by the EU refugee relocation scheme. On Monday Angela Merkel said that Hungary’s refugee policy is “unacceptable”.
Meanwhile, EU Commissioner for Industry Elzbieta Bienkowska blasted her own Government. Bienkowska warned that Euroscepticism tendencies are on the rise in countries such as Poland. The Commissioner rounded on Warsaw’s decision not to follow international agreements.
Tomorrow the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker is set to deliver his traditional State of the Union speech. Meanwhile, on Saturday the pan-European leftist movement, DIEM 25 will stage an “Alternative State of the Union” event in Brussels. The leader of DIEM 25, Yanis Varoufakis, said that the EU is on a path towards “disintegration and degeneration”.
Varoufakis called for the setup of a European New Deal. The European Investment Bank (EIB) should direct a EU-wide investment initiative. The Greek leader also touched on the establishment of a proper “federative” model for the EU.
The relationship between the EU and Turkey continues to be one of the main concerns of politicians across the EU. Last week, Angela Merkel called for Brussels to interrupt accession talks with Ankara. But the French President, Emmanuel Macron, said that a similar option is off the table.
“Imposing an exit from the euro, even if it is a very, very bad currency, is not a good thing in the sense that public opinion does not want it. In a democracy, you don’t win against public opinion.”
Gilbert Collard, MP from the French National Front party.
Source: Politico, 08.09.2017
The percentage of Poles who support their Government in a complaint against Germany linked to World War II reparations. Warsaw claims that Berlin needs to compensate the people of the Eastern country for damages dating back to 1945.
Source: Politico, 11.09.2017
Photo Credits CC: jtstewart
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