EM Germany Weekly Round-Up | week ending 14/11/2014
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 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
08/11-14/11/2014 – Since the weekend, the papers have dedicated many column inches to the dispute between Great Britain and the EU about Britain’s scheduled top-up payment of billions of euros to the EU budget. EU finance ministers were able to reach a compromise at the start of the week. The Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) reported that “Cameron can pay later” and that Osbourne agreed that the British would pay the 2.1 billion euros in two instalments. In spite of this compromise, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) emphasised that the British have already been paying the EU less than other countries for years.
The debate about immigration of EU citizens fuelled a judgement by the European Court of Justice on Tuesday. The court’s judges ruled that Germany does not have to pay EU foreign nationals social security benefits if they are not actively seeking work (Der Spiegel). This ruling could be a test case for the entire EU and would justify David Cameron’s political campaign, commented The Guardian. Britain wants to limit immigration of (EU) foreigners, even though many studies show that the country’s economy massively profits from them. For this reason businesses are, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung, against the introduction of an immigration quota for EU citizens in Britain. According to FAZ, the German government is in the meantime arguing vehemently for the EU’s basic principle of freedom of movement.
The papers have continued addressing the Luxembourg tax deals. According to the Frankfurter Rundschau (FR), European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has accepted responsibility for the controversial tax agreements. “Everything that was done happened in accordance with national law and international rules”, he said in his defence on Wednesday (ICIJ). Despite this statement he admitted that, ethically speaking, it was possible that some practices were not completely sound, and added that he accepts political responsibility for everything that happened in his home country during his time in office (FR). After this declaration, the EPP, PES and ALDE confirmed that they continue to support Juncker. The EFD and PEL, however, do not (EUnews).
An important topic last weekend was the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago in Berlin. The NZZ, FAZ and SZ quoted Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was present at the celebrations in Berlin, as saying: “we can make things take a turn for the better – this is the message of the fall of the wall. This message is aimed in particular at the people of Ukraine, Syria and Iraq and in many other regions of our world, in which freedom and human rights are threatened or even trampled on“. Internationally the celebrations in Berlin were repeatedly interpreted as a message to the world. Aside from the positive mood there were also voices that warned of not looking to the past too virtuously, but to focus attention on the present and the future. Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said: “the world is on the brink of a new Cold War. Some say it has already started.” This sentence was quoted in many newspapers, including France’s Le Monde, Italy’s La Repubblica and Spain’s El Pais.
Furthermore, several papers occupied themselves with Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano this week. He is 89 years old and could bow out from politics at the end of the year, which would result in a vacancy in the post of President in Italy, write Le Monde and La Repubblica. This change could bring about a problematic situation for Italian politics, as Napolitano was the one who made Renzi Italy’s current head of government. If Napolitano were to leave his post, Renzi would in a way lack credentials, which in turn could stand in the way of his plans for reform which are very important to Europe, writes La Repubblica.
As of this week EM Germany’s website has made further developments in the area of European Public Diplomacy. After Czech Republic and Hungary, an overview of key Europolitical subjects in Turkey and Poland is also available online at EM Germany.
Nothing new on Twitter, where #LuxLeaks and #freemovement continue to shape Europolitical debate. Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans (@TimmermansEU) is the 27th of 28 EU Commissioners to join Twitter this week.