Political Briefing #15/2017
POLITICS & POLICY
Brexit remains the top priority for British politicians. On Sunday, UK Minister of the Interior Amber Rudd announced that she would kick off talks with the country’s business representatives during the summer in order to define a new immigration system. Rudd also said that there will be no dramatic fall in immigration numbers once the UK will exit the European Union. However, last week, Martin Paul, Chairman of the management board of the University of Maastricht, revealed that there has been a 20% increase in UK applications to the Dutch institution. On Saturday, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK Labour party, spoke to the members of the LENA media alliance. Corbyn claimed that far from having being settled by the vote on Article 50, “the fight for EU citizen rights is about to begin”. On Monday, fresh criticism to the UK government came also from former Conservative leader and Prime Minister John Major, who accused the executive of using “cheap rhetoric”.
As Brexit moves ahead, the chances for a new Scottish independence referendum are increasing. On Saturday, the mayor of London Sadiq Kahn, intervened in the debate, arguing that nationalism “can be as divisive as racism and religious bigotry”. Kahn’s words triggered an immediate reaction from Scottish authorities. Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Prime Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), tweeted that Kahn’s words were “an insult to all those who supported independence for reasons of inclusion and social justice”. Kahn also said that a new Scottish independence vote would be as destabilizing as Brexit. Meanwhile, Nigel Farage, the former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), claimed that Brexit and Trump’s vicotry are the awakening of a “global revolution”.
In other news, the Dutch electoral campaign is making the headlines in Europe. Most parties, both from the left and the right, are taking Eurosceptic stances. On Sunday, the leader of the Christian Democratic party, Haersma Buma claimed that he would slam the EU-Ukraine association agreement, if he will nominated Prime Minister. Last week, the lower house of the national Parliament ratified the treaty, despite Dutch citizens voting against it in a 2016 non-binding referendum. On Friday, a new poll suggested that the “erosion of traditional Dutch values” is the main concern of voters in the Netherlands.
EU workers circulation continues to be one of the main concerns of politicians all over Europe. Last week, the Austrian government announced that it will draft a bill aimed at increasing the employment chances of Austrian citizens and long-term residents of the country. The measure might affect negatively commuters from Bavaria, the southern German land. Meanwhile, even the Dutch socialist party is explicitly running on a political platform that is against labour immigration from Eastern EU member states.
In Germany, the so-called Agenda 2010 welfare reform is back under the spotlight. Martin Schulz pledged to undo parts of the controversial reform that was introduced by Gerhard Schroeder’s Social-Democratic government at the beginning of the new century. Following Schulz’s claims, the leftist party Die Linke said that it would be open to a coalition agreement with the SPD after the General elections. Meanwhile, the Director of the German Institute for the World Economy, Henning Vöpel, warned the leader of the SPD against canceling the economic reforms introduced over the past 15 years, as this would undermine the competitiveness of the country.
In other news, the refugee crisis continues to make the headlines in Austria, Germany and Hungary. On Monday, the Foreign Ministers of Germany and Austria, Sigmar Gabriel and Sebastian Kurz, met to discuss the prospects of the refugee crisis. During the press statements the two ministers underlined that they have different visions on the matter. In particular, Kurz pledged for a strict anti-refugee policy. Meanwhile, the Hungarian government started the construction of a second fence along the southern border of the country.
“If you are not able to work in a team and you just leave the room, shutting the doors behind you, you can’t reach any concrete result. You will keep facing the same old problems of before, but isolated”.
Dacian Ciolos, former Prime Minister of romania, talking about Brexit
Source: Die Welt, 25.02.2017
The average daily number of attacks against refugees in Germany.
Source: Die Welt, 26.02.2017