EM Germany Weekly Round-Up | week ending 08/05/2015
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
01/05-08/05/2015 – Europe has been closely watching Britain this week, which elected a new parliament on 7 May. Britain’s exit from the EU, or Brexit, dominated the election campaign. Prime Minister David Cameron has promised EU reforms and a referendum on EU membership in 2017. The second favourite in the House of Commons election was the EU-friendly Labour Party led by Ed Miliband. Just days before the election, Ukip had to remove a candidate from the contest for making a murder threat of a racist nature (Euractiv). The Tories and the Labour Party were running neck and neck in the opinion polls. It came as a big surprise then, when the results came in and showed that Cameron had won a clear majority. Election night proved to be a disaster for Miliband and led to his resignation on Friday. The outcome of this election is not without its worries for Europe, since separatist and Eurosceptic voices were a deciding factor in bringing Miliband to resign and Cameron into the next government (Tagesspiegel).
Greece remained in the spotlight of the European media this week, as the country presented the new outcome of negotiations with its creditors to the council meeting of the European Central Bank on Wednesday. Yanis Varoufakis maintained that Greece would also manage without new loans (Euractiv), while experts could only cautiously agree with him (WELT). In addition, the European Commission lowered its expectations of Greece in its spring projection, which led to a further intensification of the situation. In the end, it became apparent that Greece could meet its obligations to the IMF and is even able to finance them itself, probably until the end of June (WELT). On Friday morning, however, it came to light that contracts on the privatisation of ports and airports, amongst others with Fraport, must already be agreed in May. Varoufakis also promised a readiness to reform, as the next instalment of 750 billion euros to the IMF is due on 12 May. Moreover, this arguably happened in view of the next credit negotiations with EU finance ministers on 11 May.
TTIP was also a big topic this week. For the most part, it concerned the arbitration courts, which would invoke TTIP. The Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, for example, explained that he regards the new special rights for companies as “dangerous” (Süddeutsche Zeitung). In reaction to the criticism, which has often been expressed by other critics of TTIP, and the ascertainment that the anti-TTIP movement is no longer a “Austro-German phenomenon”, the European Commission has now made new proposals. Instead of arbitration courts, a new fixed multilateral court (FAZ) is to be set up, which will guarantee “cases are dealt with in a transparent and independent way” (Welt). This concept comes closer to the concept submitted by Sigmar Gabriel last week, which in turn was presented to EU Commissioner Malmström in an edited form. However, there was renewed criticism, as according to the European Parliament’s Green Party spokesperson, Ska Keller, the “proposals are nothing new“(WELT).
On Wednesday, Günther Oettinger presented his sixteen-step plan to completing the digital internal market (FAZ). Important points include, above all else, the harmonisation of consumer rights, the alignment of copyright, ending geo-blocking and investigating market power; all in all a critical examination of internet giants (Spiegel). This long-awaited programme on the one hand means a confrontation with Google, and on the other hand, means playing catch up with the US. The measures should lead to a drastic reduction in barriers in online shopping (WELT), as well as around 3.8 million new jobs and 415 billion extra GDP (Handelsblatt).
On Tuesday, EM Germany and the European Commission Representation in Berlin organised a consultation on aviation with João Aguiar Machado, Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE).
The hashtags #UKelection2015, #GE2015, #Brexit, #brexiteu kept the Twitter community informed during the UK parliamentary elections. Tweets about Greece can be found via the hashtags #Griechenland,#Schuldenkrise and #Troika. The hashtags #DigitalSingleMarket, #EUDataPand #DigitalerBinnenmarkt provide insight into the discussion surrounding the European Commission’s innovations. #TTIP and #Schiedsgerichte will lead to the current debates on TTIP.