EM Germany Weekly Round-Up | week ending 19/12/2014
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.
The week’s highlights in print, at EM Germany and on Twitter
13/12-19/12/2014 – Around 15,000 “patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West” marched with their “PEGIDA” flags in Dresden on Monday – 5,000 more than a week ago. The media and politics are at odds over how to handle this initiative. Are they right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis? Or concerned/anxious/angry citizens? PEGIDA refuses to enter into dialogue, commented MDR in reference to demonstrators who will not talk to the “lying press”. The TAGESSPIEGEL advises an offensive tactic: “to take the offensive, it is important to gather all positive arguments to be able to use them with force.” A quick fact check by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitungshow PEGIDA’s arguments do not stand up to scrutiny. Not more than 0.1% of the population of Saxony are Muslim. Islamisation? No chance!
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker presented theCommission’s work programme for 2015 on Tuesday. The programme focuses on growth and jobs. Around 80 out of 450 bills proposed by the last Commission will be changed or axed. This caused strong criticism, as some environmental protection programmes will be thrown out (Spiegel). An automatic exchange of information between authorities and countries for tax agreements has also been announced. However, the plans have been criticised as being too flimsy and not bold enough (Deutschlandfunk).
Federal Minister for Transport Alexander Dobrindt’s plans for road tolls, which were agreed by the cabinet this week, have been labelled as contradicting EU law by Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Transport. Her main criticism is that adding the toll to car tax gives an advantage to German motorists (FOCUS). Dobrindt rejected this criticism (Die Zeit). Berliner Zeitung added that in introducing the toll, the Federal Government may damage German’s reputation. Germany wants to have a voice and veto rights in several issues and evaluates other states’ budgets and reforms. However, in its own dispute with EU law it is said to be “not that bad at all, Brussels has just got it wrong.”
The European Parliament has declared it is in favour of the fundamental recognition of the independent State of Palestine. However, it is on the condition of successful peace talks, and only a symbolic value of the vote can be referred to at this point, as recognition of the state must happen at national level (Die Zeit).
The rouble has stopped rolling: following the crash of the Russian currency, the European Union appears worried. Indeed, the EU wanted to put pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin these past months, in order to make him back down on the Ukraine crisis. A collapsing economy, however, would have far-reaching consequences that would also damage the EU (Süddeutsche Zeitung). Despite this, Europe will stick to its sanctions, as agreed at the EU summit on Thursday. “The sanctions have been imposed for specific reasons, and they can only be removed if these reasons are not there anymore”, said Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (Abendzeitung München). In addition, the European Council agreed the EU’s investment programme, which will provide up to 315 billion euros for investment projects in the EU.
It was also an exciting week for EM Germany. During two EM Germany debriefings on the council meetings “Education, Youth, Culture and Sport“ and “Agriculture and Fisheries“, EM Germany reported on the Council decisions and the state of negotiations. It is worth taking a look at our summaries! On Monday, two debriefings, one on the European Council and one on Environment will conclude the format for this year. All expert panel discussions on Council of Ministers meetings and EU summits are accompanied by EM Germany on Twitter using the hashtag #EBDdebrief.
Just in time for the start of the Latvian Council Presidency on 1 January 2015, EM Germany’s overview of key subjects for European policy inLatvia is ready to view online. All important contacts for the subject area Latvia are compiled here as of now. In this way, EM Germany contributes to strengthening “European Public Diplomacy”.
The next weekly round-up will appear on 12 January 2015.