EM Germany Weekly Round-Up | week ending 15/05/2015
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
09/05-15/05/2015 – The week kicked off with a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels to try to reach an agreement in the negotiations with Greece. Prior to the meeting, the parties involved went through various negative scenarios ranging from “third bail-out package” to “Grexit”. Although some progress was made during the negotiations, there is still talk of a “big gap” between the two sides (Handelsblatt). German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble appears open to Greek PM Alexis Tsipras’ proposal to hold a reform referendum in Greece. He sees it as a possible way out of the deadlocked debt dispute. In order to pay back a loan of around 750 million euros to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on time, Greece withdrew 650 million euros from its own IMF emergency account at the start of the week. This emphasises how urgently the country continues to need help from the IMF and its euro partners, writes Die Welt.
Deliberations over reforming refugee policy were still a key topic in the media this week. On the one hand, the EU is considering a “refugee quota”(EurActiv). A system of distribution taking into account GDP, population, unemployment rate and the past number of asylum seekers in respective member states is to meet the growing number of refugees. This quota system is to be tested as a pilot project with immediate effect. However, in the UK, Hungary and Poland the European Commission’s plans have aroused opposition. “We will reject any proposals by the Commission to introduce involuntary quotas”, said a Home Office (UK) spokesperson. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban even referred to the implementation of an allocation formula as “crazy” (Süddeutsche Zeitung).
The Commission’s proposal was welcomed by EMI Vice-Presidents Frédéric Vallier and Bernd Hüttemann, who not only see it as a positive sign, but also as an attempt at finding a European solution. Furthermore, the European Commission is debating a military operation against people traffickers in the Mediterranean. The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, made her case for such a mandate before the UN Security Council this week. A 40-page deployment concept on this has already been met with internal EU approval (EurActiv).
A week after David Cameron’s election victory in the UK general election, the UK’s relationship with the EU was in the spotlight of Europe’s media. If possible, a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU will take place as soon as 2016, a year earlier than planned. To speed up the process, Cameron’s finance minister George Osbourne has been entrusted with the task of negotiating the UK’s EU reform demands in Brussels. The UK’s demands include enhanced rights for national parliaments to block EU laws. Moreover, refugee policy plays an important part in the negotiations. The Brits are demanding e.g. tougher access to social security benefits for EU migrants. As already indicated, London is clearly opposed to the EU’s planned refugee quota (Spiegel).
In addition, the presidential election in Poland made the headlines this week. The Conservative Andrzej Duda (34.8%) was ahead of incumbent Bronislaw Komorowski (32.2%). The run-off takes place on 24 May(EurActiv).
European crisis management using the examples of Greece and Portugalwas the topic of EM Germany’s ‘EBD Exklusiv‘. The Agriculture and Fisheries Council as well as the Economic and Financial Affairs Council were mirrored in EM Germany’s work: on Wednesday, stakeholders discussed the respective topics in the framework of the corresponding EM Germany debriefings.
The hashtags #EUreferendum, #GE2015 and #Brexit accompanied the UK general election on Twitter. Tweets concerning EU refugee policy can be found via #migrationEU and the discussion surrounding Greece can be followed using the hashtags #Griechenland, #Schuldenkrise and #Troika. The hashtag #Polen leads to the latest news about the presidential elections.