The Political briefing column hosted weekly summaries of the main political and institutional events related to social Europe. Published on EuVisions.eu (March 2016 – October 2017).
POLITICS & POLICY
Brexit is making the headlines in the UK and Brussels.
On Tuesday night The Guardian published a leaked document from the UK Interior Ministry. According to the text of the document, the UK Government plans a breakdown on EU immigration.
Downing Street aims at restricting immigration from the EU to skilled workforce only. The news sparked panic across the Uk political and business landscape. Low skilled immigration from the East is a key factor for the UK agricultural sector to thrive. Likewise, the Government’s move threatens the future of EU citizens who live in the UK.
The Conservative move puts pressure on the Labour party. The centre-left wing party could step in and defend the rights of EU citizens. Yet, party leader Jeremy Corbyn did not challenge Theresa May on the matter during the PMQ.
The refugee crisis continues to be one of the main concerns of the political class across Europe.
On Tuesday the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) called for Hungary and Slovakia to abide by the EU refugee scheme. Over the past few years, the countries fell short of welcoming refugees from Italy and Greece.
Yet, the Hungarian and Slovakian authorities shrugged their shoulders. Ministers of the two countries defined the sentence as “meaningless”.
But the Green MEP, Ska Keller, said that at this point EU states have no excuses to withdraw from the agreement. Likewise, the NGO Amnesty International welcomed the decision of the Court.
Meanwhile, Greek authorities announced that immigration flows are up again. Analysts wonder whether Ankara is trying to put pressure on the EU and on Germany. Since early 2016, an agreement between the EU and Turkey reduced the arrival of migrants on EU shores. But earlier this week, Chancellor Angela Merkel called for the EU to slow down membership talks with the Anatolic country. However, the President of the EU Parliament, Antonio Tajani, said that the doors for Turkey need to stay open.
The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, blasted Anglea Merkel because of her comments.
The people of Catalunya eye the looming referendum of October 1.
On Tuesday the Regional Parliament approved a bill that paves the way for the popular vote to take place and have legal force. Yet, the national Government in Madrid condemned the decision of the regional deputies and called the act “illegal”.
The leader of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), Pedro Sanchez dismissed the vote. “This is not a referendum”, he said. Nevertheless, some intellectuals are defending the “democratic” nature of the decision.
At the national level, political parties are establishing a special Committee to discuss the Spanish federal model. But the leader of Ciudadanos, Albert Rivera, blasted the left-wing party, Podemos. Rivera accused the radical movement to flirt with independentist forces. Yet, the PSOE called for the PM, Mariano Rajoy, to include Podemos in the talks.
In Brussels, the EU Commission declined to comment on what is happening in Catalunya.
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Macron is heading to Greece.
The French President will meet with PM, Alexis Tsipras, and outline his vision for Europe.
The choice of Athens to hold a speech on the future of the Union holds symbolic significance. Nowhere else did the economic crisis hit hard as in Greece.
Earlier this week, EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, criticised the bailout negotiations of 2015. Moscovici said that at the time international institutions acted in “an undemocratic way”. Yet, the EC said it could not endorse the Commissioner’s words.
In Athens, the French Head of State is set to address the Economic governance of the Union. Macron will suggest new reforms to enhance the cohesion of the EU. Italy and Belgium are understood to already back Macron’s views. These should entail some sort financial risk-sharing among EU Member States. Still, any change to the status quo depends on the willingness of German elites.
During the past few months, Macron took the stage to push the EU to move ahead. At the end of August, the French leader toured as well Eastern European, with the aim of tackling the issue of social dumping across Europe.
The leader of La République en Marche (LREM) asked to change the rules of the so called Posted worker directive. The goal is to reduce the competition from Eastern workers in Western labour markets.
But the Polish PM, Beata Szydlo, said that Macron’s attempts would foster nothing but “protectionism”. The French President did not comprehend Warsaw in his tour across Eastern Europe.
“Given that we enter in a very Schumpeterian world, it is important to let the process of creative destruction to unfold”.
Emmanuel Macron, speaking about his controversial labour market reform.
Source: Le Monde, 06.09.2017
The percentage of EU citizens who are dissatisfied with the EU’s direction, according to a new study of the Bertelsmann Stiftung.
Source: Politico, 06.09.2017