EM Germany weekly Round-Up | week ending 30/04/2015
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.
25/04-30/04/2015 – Two countries were in the spotlight this week – Greece and Ukraine. Greece’s efforts to carry out reforms were described by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble as “somewhat frustrating”. In an interview with the German paper Tagesspiegel, European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis showed disappointment at the Greek government’s actions (Tagespiegel). At the same time, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced new reform proposals for Wednesday, which in particular include the introduction of a luxury tax, instead of demands for raising value added tax. As EurActiv writes, the new proposals are rather about raising (tax) revenues than about reducing spending. The European Union’s worries about Greece’s economic situation were not evident from the recent lowering of Greece’s growth forecast. As Commission Vice-President Dombrovskis explained, a clear scaling down is necessary. With that said, the German Green Party especially warned of the consequences of a Greek exit from the European Union (EurActiv). Tagesspiegel added that from now it must become apparent whether Prime Minister Tsipras can stick to his path of rejecting his predecessor Samaras’ policies. In the difficult situation that Greece finds itself in this is doubtful – the “moment of truth” is approaching (Tagespiegel). Reports that Yanis Varoufakis’ is said to have been deprived of his powers caused further commotion. These reports have been denied in the meantime. Even though he has been appointed a coordinator to remain at his side, he is said to remain responsible for negotiations (Handelsblatt).
Regarding the Ukraine crisis the EU announced, meanwhile, that a military mission in Eastern Ukraine was “impossible”. In talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, EU Council President Donald Tusk held out further humanitarian aid. Poroshenko consequently showed his disappointment at the EU-Ukraine summit, also because his request for a visa exemption for Ukrainian citizens was not approved (Tagespiegel). At the same time, Chancellor Merkel declared an extension of the current sanctions against Russia. As announced by Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, an increase in the severity of the sanctions is possible. This will be decided in June (EurActiv).
German news magazine Spiegel reported on last weekend’s meeting of finance ministers from 28 EU member states in Riga. One of the key topics discussed included coordinating measures to tackle tax-saving tricks, especially by large companies in the EU. The topic came to light during the “Lux Leaks” affair, when it became apparent that Luxemburg had enticed large companies with obligatory tax rulings (tax agreements between individual member states and companies). The so-called “Lux Leaks” affair also put Luxemburg-born European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker under pressure. In order to combat such tax agreements, more transparency must be considered (Spiegel Online).
EM Germany’s ‘EBD Exklusiv’ event took place on Wednesday. It was a constructive meeting: although EM Germany members from differing sections of civil society met here, there was verbal consensus in certain policy areas about how EM Germany is to position itself politically in 2015/2016. The report can be found here.
At European Movement International‘s Federal Assembly in Riga, the Helsinki Final Act, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, was one of the many topics discussed. The follow-up report on European Movement International’s Federal Assembly can be found here. An article about the conference on the CSCE Helsinki Final Act can be found here. Tweets from the event can be followed und using the following hashtags: #Helsinki40 and #EMIFA15.
The hashtags #EUUkraine, #Ukraine, @EU_Commission and @JunckerEU were used by the Twitter community for the EU-Ukraine summit in Kiev. The wrangling surrounding the Greek crisis can be followed via #Griechenland, #Schuldenkrise and #Troika. All tweets on Russia/Ukraine can be followed using the hashtags #Ukraine, #UkraineConflict and #Russland, #Putin.