Political Briefing #46/2017
POLITICS & POLICY
The refugee crisis is under the spotlight. On Monday, the Italian Coast Guard welcomed some 1,000 migrants who took off from the Libyan coast to reach Europe. Overall, between Friday and Sunday, more than 2,000 people reached the Italian shores. In spite of that however, a ship carrying some 120 migrants sunk in the Mediterranean Sea. The accident was reported by 4 persons who survived the accident. Meanwhile, in France, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo called for the national Government to take urgent actions to solve migrant crisis. Apparently, many asylum seekers are still stranded on the streets of the French Capital. In an open letter on Friday, Hidalgo addressed three Ministers of the newly formed Government.
Meanwhile, the migrant crisis continues to drift apart Central and Southern European Member States from their Eastern allies. In an interview, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo claimed that the Europe-wide relocation scheme creates incentives for people to reach to the Old Continent. Instead, the EU should foster humanitarian aid. Likewise, on Monday during a meeting in Warsaw between the so-called Visegrad Member States — Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia — and the Benelux countries, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban claimed that he sees little chance for a common European migration policy. Orban stressed the need of preserving the different national identities in face of the migrant influx. During the meeting, his words have been criticized by Prime Ministers of other countries, such as Luxembourg. Last week the European Commission initiated a legal procedure against the Eastern countries who are currently not complying with the EU-wide relocation scheme agreed upon in 2015.
In other news, Brexit continues to make the headlines in the UK and across Europe. On Monday, EU and UK officials kicked off the negotiations, by agreeing on a common timetable. In what appeared as a softening of his political stance, British Brexit Secretary David Davis said that “there is more that unites the EU and the UK, than what divides them”. Nevertheless, the first hurdles lie already ahead as the two parties need to find an agreement on the so called “divorce bill” that the UK would owe to the EU budget. For the moment being, there appears to be an agreement at least on the end of negotiations, set for March 2019.
Over the Channel, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned that UK’s economic output will slow down in the medium term and that a pay squeeze might lie ahead. Over the past year, the weakening of the pound and the rise of inflation have damped the optimistic outlook that followed the referendum vote of June 2016.
Meanwhile, speaking in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for the 27 Members of the European Union to hold a common position in face of the UK. The German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble is understood to have said that “one day, the Brits will regret to have left the EU and will come back”. The French newspaper Le Monde revealed that in 2016, the year of the Brexit referendum, the number of UK citizens asking for a French passport increased by 254%.
“It is definitely a good signal that the newly elected [French] President wants to put reforms back on the political agenda”.
Jens Weidmann, President of the German Central Bank
Source: Handelsblatt, 19.06.2017
The new income levy for German citizens who earn more 250,000 euro per year, according to the tax reform plan presented by the Social Democratic Chancellor candidate, Martin Schulz. The levy has been increased by 3% points and should cover investments in education and infrastructures.
Photo Credits CC IFRC
Originally published at EuVisions.