EM Germany Weekly Round-Up | week ending 12/12/2014
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 EMGermany’s activities and topics trending globally on Twitter. German version here.
06/12-12/12/2014 – The Council and the European Parliament agreed the EU budget 2015 at the start of the week. Next year’s budget totals 141.2 billion euros – a compromise between the Parliament’s and EU member states’ expectations. In order to settle the controversial unpaid invoices member states could make up to 4.8 billion euros extra available over the course of next year (Die Zeit).
On Tuesday, Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported on German projects that have been sent to the EU Commission in the framework of Juncker’s investment programme. The investments, which amount to 89 billion euros, focus on the development of faster internet connections, wind energy and expansion of motorways. The plans were met with criticism from the opposition because there has been no consultation outside government, writes SZ. On Thursday, Handelsblatt emphasised that it is necessary to finance specifically European, and not just national, projects through the investment programme.
Fresh allegations against European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in the LuxLeaks affair: Wednesday’s Süddeutsche Zeitung says “the extent of tax avoidance in Luxembourg is clearly bigger than previously known” and referred to 35 international companies that founded foreign subsidiaries to avoid tax payments in other countries. In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Juncker commented on the allegations, saying that “companies and tax offices used any leeway available to them in order to avoid tax. That goes for 24 EU states as well. We need some consolidation there.” The Commission President said he would not be resigning over the matter.
An aid programme for Greece will be extended by two months, and not finish at the end of the year as originally planned. The Eurozone minister responsible added that it is a “technical extension”. Earlier, Greece had passed a near-balanced budget for 2015. However, the European institutions and the International Monetary Fund doubt the validity of the figures presented and want to use the extra time to verify the budget (Süddeutsche Zeitung). Die Welt calls for further reform, and writes: “if the government does not want to squander previous reform successes, it will have to go the extra mile, instead of shaking off international financial inspectors as quickly as possible.”
In addition, the Greek government announced it is bringing forward theelection of a new State President to 17 December. This would avoid months of political uncertainty. Should the Parliament’s election of a new President in the Parliament fail, however, new elections are imminent.Südwest Presse sees Greece as facing a crucial decision and predicts: “if Samaras’ calculations do not add up and the presidential vote fails, Greece may face heavy turbulence”.
EM Germany’s Treasurer Peter Hahn had cause for celebration on Friday. He received Germany’s Order of Merit for his longstanding engagement in association politics – including at EM Germany. EM Germany is delighted and congratulates Peter Hahn on his award!
On Twitter the week was, amongst other things, ruled by #cdupt14. At theChristian Democratic Union’s party conference Chancellor Merkel assured in the “Welt am Sonntag” that European standards would be guaranteed in negotiations for the transatlantic trade agreement #TTIP. Despite criticism from the public and increasingly from members of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, the Chancellor has made up her mind about the trade agreement (Die Welt).