EM Germany Weekly Round-Up | week ending 26/09/2014
EM Germany weekly round-up – the week’s highlights in print, at EM Germany and on Twitter
20/09-26/09/2014 – A central topic in this week’s press was the terrorist organisation “Islamic State”. US President Barack Obama is making a case for a joint war on terror. Many countries in the Middle East are sceptical about plans to attack IS in Syria too. Two important regional powers, Shi’ite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia, have been waging proxy wars in Syria for years. Moreover, Saudi Arabia and Iraq are hostile to one another (New York Times). IS terrorists, on the other hand, are believed to also be intensifying plans to attack Brussels, which has resulted in a continued increase of fear in the heart of Europe as well (Süddeutsche Zeitung).
The EU wants to discuss the distribution of refugees, and the so-called Dublin Regulation on the registration of refugees persists. A large proportion of refugees are currently accepted by only four to five EU Member States, while 18 Member States do not take a share at all (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – FAZ). To accommodate refugees in a dignified way is the task of a modern Europe in a globalised world, according to Die Zeit.
Chief of the European Central Bank (ECB), Mario Draghi, defended his strategy of “Asset Backed Securities” before the European Parliament. However, Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann regards the new ECB policy as a dangerous method at the expense of the taxpayer. In addition, the former constitutional judge, Udo di Fabio, fears that through buying securities the ECB might be exceeding its mandate, and that by purchasing unreliable securities a joint liability could arise (FAZ).
On his visit to Berlin, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls promised reforms. France wants to save 50 billion euros and create jobs in the eurozone, in order to encourage growth impulses (FAZ).
The Front National in France is being supported by young voters, who are being reached through Facebook, more so than others. If someone refers to them as right-wing, they describe themselves as patriotic. Nevertheless, they are playing with people’s fears, says the Süddeutsche Zeitung. A similar development is being reflected by the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party in Germany. The Vice-Chairman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Armin Laschet was the first conservative politician to sit down with AfD party leader Bernd Lucke. AfD voters are said to be predominantly male, educated and unhappy. AfD is also attracting mainly young voters (Focus).
The transatlantic trade agreements TTIP und CETA have been keeping the Bundestag busy this week. The debate mainly revolved around the possibility for businesses to sue states before private arbitration courts. Opponents of the free trade agreement want to go all the way to the European Court of Justice. Angela Merkel appeared to be convinced, however, that the pros will far outweigh the cons (FAZ). Yet the new French Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, Matthias Fekl, demands the disclosure of the negotiating mandate about the free trade agreement between the EU and the US. The persistent lack of transparency could otherwise lead to the failure of the free trade agreement (EurActive). The negotiations between the EU and Canada on CETA are said to officially end today (Friday).
The tongue-in-cheek news about one million “ERASMUS babies” appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. The EU’s grant programme promotes not only the professional success of its alumni with international experience, but also bears fruit on a private level. Since the start of the programme in 1987 around a million “Erasmus babies” have been born.
EM Germany’s Secretary General Bernd Hüttemann travelled to Budapest to take part in a German-Hungarian Forum debate. Amongst other things, the debate was about the status of non-governmental organisations in Hungary. Hüttemann emphasised the dimension of participatory democracy. Against this backdrop, a few of EM Germany’s member organisations (Young European Federalists (JEF), German Federal Youth Council (DBJR)) and the initiative Europe+ criticised the appointment of the Hungarian Tibor Navracsics as EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Citizenship. In his Europolitical contribution, EM Germany President Dr. Rainer Wend says he has confidence in the power of the members of the European Parliament to “grill” all the Commissioners-designate in the forthcoming hearings, and also in the disciplinary force of the Council.
The United Nations General Assembly engages Twitter users with the hashtag #UNGA2014. The Federal Foreign Office has compiled a list of EU foreign ministries on Twitter. First questions and full information on the hearings of the EU Commissioners-designate in the European Parliament, which start on Monday, can be found under the search term #EPhearings2014.