EM Germany Weekly Round-Up | week ending 10/07/2015
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
04/07-10/07/2015 – Europe stumbled into the new week after receiving a “slap in the face“ (Federation of German Industry President Ulrich Grillo) from Greece when it voted “No”. Citizens voted “Oxi” with a large majority (61.3%) last Sunday (Tagesschau). In plain language, this means that Greek citizens reject creditors’ demands, which could have helped Greece extend a bailout from Eurozone countries. The referendum was attributed some significance: many viewed it as a decisive step towards a “Grexit”.
The mood, however, changed again over the course of the week. Already on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande seemed positive (EurActiv). In addition, the European Central Bank announced on Tuesday that emergency loans under 90 billion euros would remain in place (Tagesspiegel). “Minister no more”, read Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis’s tweet on Monday, with which he unexpectedly announced his resignation. The news was received rather positively, mainly due to the announcement of his successor Euklidis Tsakalotos (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), Die Welt). Then on Wednesday, Alex Tsipras appeared before the European Parliament. In a long opening speech, he emphasised his efforts to find a quick solution, however he also pointed out that the previous government would carry more responsibility for the current situation. Afterwards, there was a heated debate in which MEPs appeared aggressive (Spiegel).
In the early hours of Friday, the Greek government submitted new reform plans. In return, it expects an extension to the bailout plan until 2018 and aid totalling just over 53 billion (Spiegel Online). On Friday, the Greek parliament will vote on the reform plans, at the same time the plans will be evaluated by the three Institutions. After that, the plans will go to the Eurogroup’s finance ministers on Saturday and the European Council on Sunday. Two of the submitted proposals in particular have caused some surprise: the extensive pension and tax reforms. Both points were always rejected by the Greek government, now, it goes beyond what was originally expected from creditors (Focus, Die Zeit).
This week one thing became clear: the situation in Greece is catastrophic, and not only because the banks are expected to remain closed until Tuesday (Handelsblatt). The increasing number of refugees seeking protection in Greece are bringing more and more national governments to consider humanitarian aid as well (Die Zeit). EM Germany Secretary-General Bernd Hüttemann commented on the German government and the EU’s crisis management in the Norwegian newspaper Morgenbladet. The creation of the banking union already shows that the instruments in place for crisis management are better now than five years ago.
With regards to refugee policy, the Hungarian parliament passed a law that tightens the rules on immigration (WELTonline). Furthermore, the foundations for a fence that is to keep refugees out have been laid. In doing so, the country ignores all external criticism of the scheme (Spiegel Online). European Movement International Vice-Presidents Bernd Hüttemann and Frédéric Vallier already expressed their criticism of the scheme last week and urged Hungary to tear down this plan. There were many reports this week of the desperate situation refugees face in the Balkans. The German government has promised its support in this regard(Deutsche Welle).
On the occasion of her visit to the Balkans, Chancellor Merkel stressed that the critical situation in Europe would not lower the chances of EU accession for Balkan countries (EurActiv). Merkel said that it is important that the Union develops and grows in a peaceful manner and that “such terrible events” such as the Srebrenica massacre are not repeated. The massacre, one of the worst war crimes since the Second World War, has its twentieth anniversary this month (Focus). During a breakfast with top representatives from Serbian NGOs in the German Embassy, Merkel also exchanged ideas with Maja Bobić, Secretary-General of EM Germany’s sister organisation, European Movement Serbia.
During this week’s plenary sessions, the European Parliament adopted two important changes. By 2017, roaming charges within the EU will be abolished (European Council). Equally tense was the decision on the transatlantic trade agreement TTIP. The last vote ended in turmoil. This time, however, the European Parliament fundamentally spoke out in favour of the treaty. However, the Parliament ruled out private arbitration courts from the negotiations and urged that the so-called ISDS system should be replaced by a new system. A ban on private arbitration boards did not achieve a majority (EurActiv).
“The future belongs to us, so listen up!“ is the name of the European Competition exhibition, which opened today (10/7/2015) and is based on the European Year for Development. A selection of the best works from Germany’s largest competition for schools can be viewed at the Permanent Representation of Bremen in Berlin until 7 August. Around 200 films, texts, pictures and audio pieces deal with topics such as poverty, flight, war, global trade, environmental protection and other aspects of European development policy.
The call for nominees for the “Woman of Europe Award” opened this week. The award is in its 25th year this year. Who will receive this anniversary award? EM Germany member organisations have been called on to put forward candidates for the award: the call can be found here.
A summary of EM Germany events in recent weeks can be found in our newsletter.
The current situation in Greece can be followed using the hashtags#OXI, #Greferendum, #Tsipras. Tweets about the German Chancellor’s visit to the Balkans can be found using #Merkel, #Serbia. Votes in the Parliament were commentated using #EPlenary, #TTIP and #EURoaming.