EM Germany weekly round-up
06/09-12/09/2014 – “Back to the Cold War” read the headlines in the weekly news magazine Focus about the situation in Ukraine. The week following the NATO summit brings a fragile ceasefire, criticism of manoeuvres in the Black Sea and discussions on a Ukrainian defensive wall. In the EU, the economic sanctions announced on Monday against the important trade partner were debated until the bitter end, as several EU governments feared it might aggravate the crisis. For the association agreement between the EU and Ukraine, which is currently being voted on in the European Parliament, Russia is pressing for changes to 2370 points, so that there is not much of the original deal left (Süddeutsche Zeitung – SZ).
Furthermore, print media has been occupying itself with the Scottish independence referendum (18 September). After pro-independence campaigners were ahead in the polls at the start of the week, there is currently a narrow majority against Scotland’s secession being projected. The concessions from Prime Minister David Cameron for Scotland, but more so the concerns about the economic risks of an independent country, appear to be working (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung). In Spain, the Scottish vote is fostering protests by the Catalan population for their independence (Handelsblatt).
Since Wednesday, the composition of the new European Commission has dominated the media. In Germany it’s being discussed whether Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker snubbed Chancellor Merkel in giving German Commissioner Günther Oettinger the Digital Economy and Society portfolio (Die Zeit) and whether by making the former French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici the Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs he is criticising German fiscal policy (Die Welt).
Not uncontroversial are also the appointments of the British candidate Jonathan Hill as Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union and that of the current Hungarian Foreign Minister Tibor Navracsics as Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Citizenship (Tagesspiegel). EM Germany President Dr. Rainer Wend declared the new European Commission to be a seamless European government. Other EM Germany member organisations are also behind Juncker’s team (Federal Association of German Industry (BDI), European Federalists (EUD)). Environmental associations heavily criticised the consolidation of the climate and energy portfolios (WWF).
Two large European obstacles already await Juncker: on one side the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership TTIP, which is criticised mainly by civil society organisations, on the other side the Eurozone states’ new debt. Most recently the European Commission received criticism for the rejection of the European citizens’ initiative “Stop TTIP” for formal reasons (Frankfurter Rundschau). EM Germany Secretary General Bernd Hüttemann spoke in Belgrade on Friday at an international discussion about the meaning of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership for EU accession countries, which was co-organised by European Movement International and European Movement Serbia.
Regarding the topic budget management, the Eurozone is drifting apart: while Angela Merkel introduced a budget plan without new debt for 2015 to the Bundestag and was criticised for a lack of investment in infrastructure and education, France’s President François Hollande announced that the country could only comply with the euro convergence criteria of maximum three per cent new debt in 2017. For 2014 a new debt of 4.4 per cent is expected (SZ).
EM Germany sifted through more #WallFall25 videos this week: young EU citizens born in 1989 are called to describe in a short video which walls – physical as well as cultural – still need to be torn down in Europe. A representative of generation 1989 from each EU country will be invited to Berlin for a weekend in early November, where they will together develop a vision for Europe for today and tomorrow and will discuss this with representatives from all three EU institutions. All information and contributions to the project #WallFall25 are being collected in a Vimeo group. The competition will close on 21 September.
In his contribution to the Federal Foreign Office’s self-critical Review 2014 process, EM Germany Secretary General Bernd Hüttemann urged #PublicDiplomacyEU instead of diplomatic statism! This has already been EM Germany policy since 2013.
The European community on social network Twitter applied the hashtag #TeamJunckerEU to the introduction of the future European Commissioners and their portfolios. 24 of the 28 Members of the European Commission are represented on Twitter. Discussions surrounding the Scottish independence referendum on 18 September can be followed under #indyref. Current tweets on our policy can be followed under #EBDPolitik. New videos submitted by people born in 1989 for the conference commemorating the fall of the Berlin wall will be published by us via Twitter under the hashtag #WallFall25.