EM Germany Weekly Round-Up | week ending 19/06/2015
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
13/06–19/06/2015 – While some see Greece as heading for bankruptcy(Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)), others are remaining calm since the country is contractually bound to the Eurozone even after it goes bust and cannot be thrown out so easily (Süddeutsche Zeitung). Negotiations, meanwhile, have been tough and slow to progress. One of the most controversial points are the planned pension cuts (Neue Zürcher Zeitung). Neither Greece nor the EU seem prepared to back down. Eurozone finance ministers left the latest round of talks in Luxembourg without any concrete results. Greek PM Alexis Tsipras is acting warlike and is confident about Greece remaining in the Eurozone. Another special summit for EU leaders on Monday will show what Greece’s future, and indeed Europe’s future, will really look like (Spiegel).
The leader of the French political party Front National, Marine Le Pen, presented the newly established European Parliament group “Europe of Nations and Freedom” this week. After a first attempt at forming the group failed due to not reaching the minimum number of member states required, three MEPs from Britain and Poland provided the necessary numbers in order for the right-wing populist parties from France, Belgium, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands to form the group. The newly attained group status means more rightists for the extreme right-wingers and right-wing populists and secures them EU funds of up to 17.5 million euros(EurActiv). The group has already grabbed everyone’s attention with its first demand: a breakup of the Eurozone (EurActiv).
On Thursday, the Danes also experienced a lurch to right during the “Folketingswahl”, the Danish parliamentary elections. The social democrats – the “red” bloc – led by Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt received the most votes, however missed out on a majority. The “blue” bloc headed up by the opposition leader Lars Rasmussen outstripped the ruling party (Die Zeit). Thorning-Schmidt called the elections three weeks ago as it appeared to be the right moment and her popularity could be strong enough to win the elections. From the start, it promised to be an election thriller, in which the “red” bloc drew the short straw (Spiegel).
The Justice and Home Affairs Council in Luxembourg took a large step towards reforming EU data protection rules, which is set to replace 28 national laws. Privacy will be better protected by the new EU regulation and the “right to be forgotten” will be introduced. In future, consumers will be able to contact national data protection agencies to claim their rights(Die Welt). During EM Germany’s debriefing, attendees emphasised that despite very different positions a good compromise was found in the end. However, this is linked to lengthy trilogue negotiations. In interior affairs, ministers have provisionally accepted the system of allocation for refugees. This is based on the population of a country, gross domestic product, unemployment quota and the number of asylum seekers accepted thus far (Neue Zürcher Zeitung). Despite efforts from all sides, a solution still could not be found. During an appearance after the negotiations, interior ministers from France, Italy and Germany stressed the common representation of interests. Nevertheless, it still seems like an obligatory acceptance quota does not stand a chance (Deutsche Welle). During EM Germany’s debriefing the general tone was one of Europe having to do more, especially considering the number of refugees accepted by non-EU states such as Turkey or Lebanon. A four-meter-high border fence between Hungary and Serbia also does not help to bring an agreement any closer (EurActiv).
The Agriculture and Fisheries Council also met this week and in particular negotiated reform of the EU-Eco-regulation. This includes improving consumer protection relating to organic food. However, there are still over 500 applications for amendments from MEPs on the table. Whether these will foil plans for the regulation, time will tell. Opinions from civil society actors could not be more different, and range from exceedingly positive to total rejection (top agrar online). This regulation was also hotly debated at EM Germany’s debriefing.
The Danish parliamentary elections can be followed on Twitter via the hashtag #danishelections. The most important points discussed at EM Germany debriefings can be found with the help of the hashtag#EBDDeBrief. Other hashtags concerning content from the Justice and Home Affairs Council are #Datenschutz, #EUdataP, #MigrationEU and#Asylpolitik. Discussion from the Agriculture and Fisheries Council can be followed using #Agrarpolitik and #Ökoverordnung.