EM Germany weekly round-up
13/09-19/09/2014 -Tensions surrounding the independence referendum in Scotland rose over the course of the week. Even during the final days of the tug of war on Scottish independence it was not possible to predict a clear winner. Finally on Friday came the bombshell – 55 per cent of Scots voted against an independent Scotland. The EU and NATO welcomed the ‘No’ vote by Scottish people to a secession from Great Britain. European Commission President Barroso also reaffirmed that the result is good for a united Europe.
At the start of the week, German media was dominated by the German state parliament elections in Brandenburg and Thuringia. The new political party Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland – AfD) achieved massive success in both federal states (Süddeutsche Zeitung). The question of how one should deal with the party’s sudden election success was, sometimes hotly, debated. In most cases however, the party was dismissed as being unable to provide a serious political alternative for a considerable proportion of Germans in the long term. In addition, Chancellor Merkel revealed that she was unmoved by AfD’s success and is instead focussing on “good governance” and “successful problem solving” (Spiegel).
Ukraine takes a step closer to Europe – The parliaments of Ukraine and the EU have ratified their Association Agreement. “In doing so, the EU assured Ukraine of its status as candidate country and demonstrated the will in Ukraine to belong to a democratic Europe…” wrote Die Welt. The agreement is regarded as contentious given the current situation in Ukraine. Moreover, the EU had brought in new sanctions against Russia on Friday. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov accuses the EU of “undermining the peace process in Ukraine” (Die Welt).
The Ebola epidemic is an international crisis – The pandemic disease in West Africa is spreading ever further, which is why Liberia’s President has aimed a desperate plea for help at wealthy governments, amongst them the German government. Chancellor Merkel announced an increase in German assistance on Wednesday. Die Zeit praises Merkel’s approach: “after months of ineffective appeals the epidemic is now being treated like other international crises. Finally. An epidemic may not be a war like in Iraq or in Syria, not a geopolitical conflict like in Ukraine. And yet the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is a crisis of comparable size and force…” (Die Zeit)
To celebrate UEFA’s 60th anniversary, the European Football Championship in 2020 will for the first time be staged not in one country but in the whole of Europe. UEFA decided on Friday which thirteen cities will win the bid. Nineteen countries altogether competed for the thirteen places to host the championship matches. The final as well as the semi-finals of Euro 2020 will take place at Wembley Stadium in London. Munich will host three group games and one quarter-final.
EM Germany hosted its sister organisation from Norway at the start of this week. European Movement Norway visited in order to inform itself about EM Germany’s way of working and to strengthen international cooperation. Euroscepticism in Norway was mainly talked about during a constructive discussion in Berlin.
On the social media platform Twitter the hashtag #indyref was especially popular, which tracked the discussions and opinions on the Scottish referendum on independence on 18 September. In the German Bundesrat debate on the controversial #Asylkompromiss (asylum compromise) the majority are for the government’s planned changes to asylum law. The German-Hungarian Forum in Budapest, in which our Secretary General Bernd Hüttemann took part, could be followed under the hashtag #duforum14. New and exciting video contributions for the conference commemorating the fall of the Berlin wall will be published by us under the hashtag #WallFall25. Current tweets on our policy can be viewed under #EBDPolitik.