EM Germany Weekly Round-Up | week ending 03/07/2015
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
27/06-03/07/2015 – The week kicked off with EM Germany’s Network Day including the EM Germany General Assembly at the Hertie School of Governance. As is tradition, the day started with an EM Germany debriefing on the European Council, which met in Brussels on 25-26 June. Besides TTIP, the Digital Agenda and the European Semester, migration and future challenges of asylum policy were in the spotlight as well. The Council achieved some good first results: dialogue with countries of origin and transit countries will be strengthened in a sustainable way, and the causes of flight and migration will continue to be looked into. Furthermore, national experts will set up hotspots on Europe’s borders that will deal with identifying and registering migrants. The introduction of a quota system for distributing refugees could not be agreed on, however, there was consensus on the relocation of 40,000 people arriving at the EU’s external borders in Greece and Italy and who require international protection. All member states will participate in this.
After the Greek government broke off negotiations with the Eurogroup last weekend and announced a referendum for Sunday, Greece was a hot topic at EM Germany’s Network Day. Panelists including Petros Fassoulas, European Movement International’s (EMI) new Secretary-General since 1 July, and Michael Roth, Member of the Bundestag and State Minister for Europe in the German Foreign Office, found clear words for the difficult situation in Greece: “It will not work with less Europe, it will only work with more cooperation!”, appealing to EU member states’ cohesion, solidarity and mutual trust. A comprehensive report on EM Germany’s Network Day can be found here.
In the Greek crisis, events finally followed in quick succession: marathon summit, breakdown in negotiations, referendum announcement. Polarised in the press and subject of controversial public discussion – the countless attempts at negotiating a reform package and new financial aid will not leave policymakers cold. It recently became clearer and clearer that there was frustration, outrage and vanishing hope. There was great interest in Greece’s situation during Friday’s well-visited EM Germany debriefing on the Economic and Financial Affairs Council. It became clear: negotiations will continue whatever the outcome of the referendum, a “grexit” is not a logical consequence. Eurozone countries want to continue talks with Greece after the Greek referendum. Meanwhile, Tsipras is campaigning for a “No” to the EU Institutions’ reforms plans, in order to, in his view, strengthen the Greek government’s position. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Chairman of the Eurogroup, explained the break in negotiations was down to Greece’s rejection of reform proposals from the ECB, IMF and the European Commission, as well as the recommendation from Athens to vote “No” in the referendum (EurActiv). Greece’s economy is hanging by a thread. Only the ECB is keeping Greek banks alive right now (EurActiv). According to a survey, the Greek referendum indicates a “Yes”, just: 44.8% of those surveyed said they would vote “Yes” and 43.3% declared themselves against the demands for budget cuts, and 11.8% were still undecided. The referendum – independent of the outcome – does not necessarily mean an exit from the Eurozone or a lasting break in negotiations.
Two days before the Greek referendum, European Movement International (EMI) published an open letter to the Greek people: “stay in Europe. We stand by your side”, read the urgent appeal, also signed by EM Germany President Dr. Rainer Wend.
Luxembourg takes over the Council Presidency from Latvia on 1 July. Latvia received much praise for its presidency: it managed to bring the European Parliament and the Council closer together, according to the Council. Latvia’s presidency was also praised during the handover of the Council Presidency from Latvia to Luxembourg at the European Commission Representation in Berlin for its input in important future topics such as the Digital Single Market and the Energy Union. Both presidencies are characterised by the European Year for Development (EYD), the handover is therefore pursued in a new stage – the so-called “post-2015 agenda” – thus further revaluating European developmental policy. The European community must now practice solidarity and take in more refugees independent of debates on quotas. In addition, the cause of migration flows, poverty and human rights violations must be determined more efficiently and better aid must be developed locally. This at once encapsulated the necessary agenda and challenges for the Luxembourgish presidency.
The EMI board met in Brussels this week. Petros Fassoulas officially started his new position as EMI Secretary-General. He takes over from Diogo Pinto, who is now Secretary-General at Fondation EurActiv PoliTech.
On Twitter the debate surrounding Greece can be followed using the hashtags #Griechenland, #Grexit and #Greferendum. Discussion on refugee policy can be followed via #MigrationEU and #Asylpoitik. Everything from the past week’s EM Germany General Assembly and debriefings can be found using the hashtags #EBDMV and #EBDDebrief.