EM Germany Weekly Round-Up | week ending 20/03/2015
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
14/03-20/03/2015 – The euro crisis has kept everyone in suspense once again this week. Right at the start of the week, Greece transferred 588 million euros to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This timely transfer was the first repayment of a 30 billion euro loan, which the IMF had made available to the country five years ago (Spiegel).
Since Greece’s reserves are threatening to dry up, however, EU investors met with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday for a special meeting parallel to the EU summit in Brussels. According to Tsipras, an agreement was reached during the nighttime talks. In return for further financial help, Greece promises to implement fast and concrete reforms (Tagesspiegel).
A picture of Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, showing his middle finger to the camera – and supposedly to Germany, caused a stir this week. For a long time it was not clear whether the picture was real or a fake. The photo also caused lively debate on social media, and quickly sent the hashtag #varoufake trending. Clarity finally followed on Thursday, with the ZDF satirist Jan Böhmermann admitting to having faked the photograph (Tagesschau).
Greece’s demands for Germany to make reparations payments dating back to the Nazi era were still open until the German government reacted on Friday: the government is against reparations payments, however is for providing more money for a German-Greek reconciliation. The Federal Foreign Office is open to ideas to expand the German-Greek fund for the future (EurActiv).
On Monday, a year to the day after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko visited Berlin. During a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Poroshenko spoke in favour of realising the Minsk treaty. He criticised, however, that separatists were not adhering to the agreement and urged more pressure be put on Russia (Süddeutsche Zeitung). Chancellor Merkel did not rule out measures in the form of further sanctions, however firstly wanted to concentrate on implementing the Minsk treaty (Tagesschau).
On Wednesday morning, there were massive riots at the Blockupy protest in Frankfurt. The opening of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) new headquarters caused the protests. More than 200 people were injured and up to fifteen arrests were made during the riots. The German government as well as Blockupy’s organisers were left shocked by the riots and admitted they did not expect such a severe situation (Zeit Online).
The Justice and Home Affairs Council met again in Brussels on 12 and 13 March. The most important point on the agenda was strengthening Europe’s migration and asylum policy. Ministers urged interlocking foreign and domestic policy, in order to respond to rising numbers of refugees and to find effective and lasting solutions. Besides migration and asylum policy, counterterrorism and data protection ordinance were further priorities at the Council meeting. At Tuesday’s EM Germany debriefing of the Justice and Home Affairs Council around eighty representatives from interest groups discussed the Council meeting’s controversial topics.
The Agriculture and Fisheries Council also met in Brussels this week. Points on the agenda included a proposal for the Eco regulation, the implementation of a common agricultural policy and the milk quota system, which is to be abolished in April after more than thirty years. As is tradition, an EM Germany debriefing also took place for this council formation, at which head of division and European representative of the Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture (BMEL), Rolf Burbach, was present to speak to and field questions from attendees.
Twenty-eight European heads of state and government met on 19 and 20 March for an EU summit in Brussels. The summit focused, as is usual in the month of March, on economic questions: the energy union, concluding the first phase of the European Semester 2015, structural reforms in EU member states and the TTIP negotiations. Representatives from the Federal government and the European Commission Representation in Berlin will report on the outcome of the summit at EM Germany’s European Council debriefing on Monday.
Are you interested in a career in the EU institutions? The European Personnel Selection Office‘s (EPSO) competition opened on Thursday, in which highly motivated and qualified graduates can apply for an official position in the EU institutions. EM Germany and the Federal Foreign Office jointly support the promotion of German staff presence in the European Union, so that Germany will also in future be represented according to its size and importance. More information available here!
Pictures of the partial solar eclipse in Europe were mainly circulating on Twitter on Friday (#SoFi2015, #sunecli). The debate about Greece and the euro crisis can be followed via #Griechenland, #Eurogroup, #Grexit and #Troika. The hashtags #Ukraine and #UkraineConflict and #Russland provide a look at the latest developments in the Ukraine crisis. The latest events from the protests outside the ECB in Frankfurt can be read using the hashtag #Blockupy. Discussion on this week’s EM Germany debriefings can be found here #EBDdebrief.