EM Germany Weekly Round-Up | week ending 09/01/2015
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
03/01-09/01/2015 – Solidarity with “Charlie Hebdo”: politicians and media across Europe condemned the assassination on staff at the French satirical magazine – a magazine that in the past had also been critical of religion. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel commented that the attack is an “attack on everything, that is dear to us” (Welt), while El País and La Repubblica described it as an attack on European values and the heart of the West. In reference to the attacks, Presidents of European Movement Germany and France, Dr. Rainer Wend and Jean-Marie Cavada MEP respectively, call on their governments to safeguard European values internally and to protect them more effectively externally through a strengthening of CFSP. Their statement also urges Franco-German impetus for combatting unemployment on the Continent, for an EU-wide financial transaction tax and a real European immigration policy.
The EU’s heart beats in Riga this week, where Latvia officially took over the EU Council Presidency on Thursday. Celebrations for the opening of the European Year for Development 2015 followed on Friday. At EM Germany’s briefing in Berlin, Latvian Ambassador Elita Kuzma introduced the programme for the Latvian EU Council Presidency. Priorities include fostering the EU’s competitiveness and making full use of the European economy’s digital potential. A central theme is therefore the digital internal market, internet security and telecommunications package. A further goal is strengthening Europe’s role in the world.
Greece will elect a new parliament on 25 January. A potential victory for Alexis Tsipras’ left-wing coalition, a known opponent of the Greek policy of cutbacks, caused a fuss at the weekend. A Greek exit from the Euro is no longer a taboo for the German government, according to Spiegel Online last Saturday, citing government circles. Chancellor Angela Merkel denied this on Wednesday, saying she has always acted based on Greece remaining in the Eurozone. Solidarity amongst Euro partners and Greece’s own efforts continue to remain a part of this (Tagesschau).
Greece’s elections will also influence the European Central Bank‘s (ECB) decision about bond purchases. ECB President, Mario Draghi, has been intensively campaigning – especially in Germany – to stimulate the economy and avoid the Eurozone sliding into deflation by buying up government bonds on a large scale. German media consider the planned bond purchases as a step in the right direction, which is “not overly risky” (Die Zeit).
In Dresden, Cologne, Hamburg and for the first time also in Berlin anti-Islamic protests by the “Pegida” movement continued on Monday. Meanwhile, a social alliance for counter demonstrations formed across Germany, which blocked the protest marches (Spiegel Online). A decision by public institutions to switch off the lights at landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate and Cologne Cathedral, to avoid giving the Pegida demonstrations a backdrop, was recognised across Europe (rbb).
UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, has announced that he is in favour of bringing forward the planned Referendum on Britain’s EU membership in 2017. The quicker he can make good his promise on renegotiating Britain’s membership and a referendum, the better, Cameron told the BBC on Sunday (Euractiv.de). In the framework of their meeting in London David Cameron and Angela Merkel demanded greater stability and competitiveness for the EU, which is why the EU internal market’s potential must be better exploited (Euractiv.de).
There was also news concerning TTIP. Christian Schmidt is said to have triggered “anti-free market hysteria“, commented Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on the Federal Agriculture Minister’s statement that protected designation of origin (PDO) for agricultural products (such as Black Forest ham) could be dropped with the introduction of the transatlantic trade agreement. The European Commission promptly denied this: it wants to keep the seal for regional specialities (Handelsblatt). Moreover, further negotiation documents on TTIP were published on Wednesday (European Commission).
On Twitter the hashtag #EU2015LV accompanied Europolitical debates on the start of the Latvian EU Council Presidency and #EYD2015 the European Year of Development. The discussion at EM Germany’s briefing on the priorities of the Latvian EU Council Presidency could be followed by the hashtag #EBDbrief. Millions of Twitter users expressed their solidarity with the victims of the terror attack on the editorial offices of “Charlie Hebdo” via the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie.