EM Germany Weekly Round-Up | week ending 29/05/2015
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
23/05–29/05/2015 – The presidential election in Poland determined the headlines at the start of the week. Andrzej Duda of the national conservative “Law and Justice” (PiS) party is the country’s new head of state. He takes over from Bronislaw Komorowski. It is still unclear how the change in presidency will affect Poland’s role in the EU. International observers have come up with different scenarios (Zeit). Whether there has truly been a swing in the political mood in Poland will only become clear after the parliamentary elections in the autumn. Should the election results be in favour of the National Conservatives, it cannot be ruled out that Polish policy would once again become more Eurosceptic and Germany-sceptic (taz).
UK Prime Minister David Cameron, re-elected for a second term last month, has been on a European tour this week, to tell member states about his reform ideas for the European project. After welcoming European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday, he scheduled meetings with French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday and Friday. With his “charm offensive” (DW) Cameron is campaigning for more independence for national states from EU legislation. He is preparing for a UK referendum, set to happen in 2017 at the latest, which overcame its first hurdle on Wednesday when a corresponding draft proposal was announced in the Queen’s speech. Meanwhile, in France and Germany they are working on an alternative plan to Cameron’s. Paris and Berlin have “a further, step-by-step deepening of the Eurozone in mind, without changing the Lisbon Treaty” (FAZ). Instead of giving member states more sovereignty again, cooperation in economic, financial and social-political issues should be strengthened without abandoning contractual principles. An interim assessment of the negotiations could be made as early as June during the EU summit in Brussels. It should not be assumed, however, that Cameron will be able to win against existing Community interests with his reform offensive (Welt). Next week, EM Germany will address the matter in its EBD Exklusiv “Reform or repatriation? What does the UK election and Cameron’s agenda mean for the EU?”.
The situation in Greece continues to be a difficult one. Reports about the state of the EU country alternated between good and bad this week. Greece must make several repayments to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the coming weeks. Given the Greek government willingness to reform, international creditors are prepared to again grant billions of euros in aid, in order to avert the threat of national bankruptcy (Tagesspiegel). The scenario of a Greek exit from the Eurozone is still possible. A government spokesperson for the Southern European country already threatened to refuse payment (FAZ).
Midweek, the European Commission made everyone sit up and take notice with its advance in the current refugee debate. The Commission wants to set a precedent and distribute tens of thousands of refugees in Italy and Greece over EU member states for 24 months using a quote system(Süddeutsche). It concerns a preferred measure of the planned quota system for asylum seekers, which will be adopted as a law later this year. In the affected member states, particularly the United Kingdom and the Eastern EU member states, however, there is still in part categorical opposition to these resettlement measures (DW). Besides structural changes, the financial security of refugee policy should be broadly established in future. The German Development Minister, Gerd Müller, proposed a European special fund, which could contain up to 10 billion euros in aid money. The current EU budget produced these figures, according to Müller (Euractiv).
On Friday, the European Commission’s investment programme, also known as the “Juncker plan”, cleared the next hurdle (Spiegel). The plan worth billions, which will ensure project-based growth impulses in EU countries, has at the same time reignited debate about the power of the EU institutions. EM Germany’s demand for a more transparent EU legislation process, also included in the draft proposal for 2015/2016, will now without doubt come up for discussion in Brussels more often. European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly announced an investigation of the trilogue process. EM Germany President, Rainer Wend, was pleased to hear the announcement (EurActiv): legislation must “be made as open as possible, instead of in speed dating style behind closed doors!” Many are not against Europe at all. “They miss the transparency during the legislation process, in which it is often not possible to see why laws have come into being, or not as the case may be”, Wend writes in his latesteuropolitical article. European policy cannot become a project for the elite, EM Germany’s President added. EM Germany has been campaigning for opening up the secret meetings for a long time. An open and democratic dialogue with civil society must be an important objective, especially for the European Parliament. The use of trilogies has gradually increased in recent years and now accounts for 80 per cent of all EU legislation passed. As far as the EU institutions that are involved in the legislation process are concerned, the informal method of negotiation is more efficient than the normal lengthy process with two readings and consultations on a broader level.
The hashtag #Trilogue leads to the debate about the controversial legislation process. The hashtags #migrationEU and #Flüchtlingspolitik are keeping the Twitter community busy with refugee policy. Everything about the UK PM’s reform offensive can be found via #Cameron and #Brexit, and the discussion on EU reform via #EUreform. The hashtags #Duda and#Polen summarise the results of the Polish presidential election. The latest developments in Greece can be followed via #Griechenland, #Troika,#Schuldenkrise and #Grexit.