EM Germany weekly round-up| week ending 17/07/2015
EM Germany’s weekly round-up summarises the past week’s key European issues in a brief press review, which also includes a look at EM Germany’s activities and topics trending globally on Twitter. German version here.
The week’s highlights in print, at EM Germany and on Twitter
11/07-17/07/2015 – The new week started with a (hoped for) bombshell: on Monday, Greece and its creditors agreed a new bailout, which would set the tone for the week. In the next few years, 82-86 billion euros will be made available by the EU, IMF and ECB (Spiegel). What surprised many was that the reforms go even beyond what the Greek people had rejected in an earlier referendum (Die Zeit). Greece will first reform its VAT and legal system, tackle parts of the pension reform, make the statistical agency Elstat more independent and apply EU regulations in order to monitor the financial system better (Handelsblatt). On Wednesday night, the Greek parliament voted through the bailout, receiving the necessary majority, as well as encountering some rebels, as was to be expected (DW). A medium-term 50 billion euro privatisation fund filled by selling off Greek state property, which will act as a financial guarantee, has proved controversial. EU finance ministers are now tasked with working out the details. Despite a general compromise, it is not expected to end quickly (Die Welt). Another expectation is that the far-reaching concessions will leave their mark on Greek domestic policy. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is already considering a cabinet reshuffle, after his own party – including several ministers – was no longer showing a united front (Tagesspiegel). Observers are not ruling out new elections (Handelsblatt). Even in other member states, public interest will focus on the national parliaments in the coming days. Early votes on the new Greek bailout are revealing growing rifts between supporters and opponents – also in the German Bundestag (FAZ).
The terror attacks on the offices of the satirical magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’ in January were remembered during this year’s Bastille Day, France’s national day on 14 July. In his traditional interview given for Bastille Day, President François Hollande called for a eurozone government and “wants to press ahead with proposals for deepening the monetary union” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)). France has emerged as a spokesperson for even stronger integration in Europe and vehemently declared itself against a Grexit during the talks about Greece. Observers therefore fear damage already sustained to the Paris-Berlin axis (Spiegel).
Before European politics started its summer break, EM Germany had three more exciting events lined up this week. Those who wanted to find out more about the European objectives of the next six months first hand, EM Germany’s briefing on the new EU Council Presidency on Monday was the right place to be. Luxembourg’s Ambassador in Berlin, Georges Santer, informed the audience of the Presidency’s future priorities. Furthermore, EM Germany used the occasion of Luxembourg’s Council Presidency to publish its webpage on civil society networking concerning Luxembourg. This week, the UN Conference on Financing for Development took place in Addis Abeba, which fit in well with the new Presidency’s focus on development. A shift in direction will take place this year, where the “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDG) will replace the UN’s 15-year-old Millennium Development Goals. At the same time, financial aid for developing countries will be significantly increased – billions in aid money no less (DW). And finally on Tuesday, First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, took part in a dialogue on Better Regulation with around 200 stakeholders. Timmermans wanted to not only see the new consultation initiative limited to technical details such as cutting red tape, and spoke of a process that should enable transparency, trust and participation far beyond the inter-institutional framework of the EU – in the member states, the European public and not least the population. Social partners attending the event approved of the political foray, and called for a correct implementation. EM Germany President Rainer Wend used the discussion to once again point out the non-transparent trilogue process of the EU institutions, a cornerstone of EM German policy. Better Regulation and the proposal for new regulations on genetically modified organisms were also key topics during EM Germany’s debriefing on agriculture.
The current situation in Greece can still be followed using the hashtags#Griechenland, #Rettungspolitik and #Reformen. Tweets from our event on Better Regulation, co-organised with the European Commission Representation in Berlin, can be found using #EBDDialog and#BetterRegulation. Our Briefing on the new Council Presidency can be followed via #EBDBrief and #eu2015lu, the ‚EBD De-Briefing‘ via #Agrifishas well as #EBDDebrief.