Political Briefing #60/2017
POLITICS & POLICY
Brexit continues to be one of the main concerns in Brussels and across Europe. The second phase of the negotiations between the European Union and the UK are set to start in October. Nevertheless, recently the EU institutions voiced concerns about the ability of the British government to keep pace with the negotiation schedule. More precisely, institutional representatives in Brussels argued that Downing Street needs to agree on the so-called divorce bill before claiming any right to discuss the future trade partnership between the EU and the UK. The criticism came after the UK Government published a new position paper in August outlining its Brexit stance.
Meanwhile, the German and British Chambers of Commerce released a joint statement calling for both parties involved in the negotiations to make some clarity over the proceedings of Brexit.
In what has been interpreted as a major attempt to weaken the stability of the UK Government, the Labour party shifted its official Brexit position. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, together with shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer, announced that Labour will back a “soft Brexit” deal with the European Union from now on. The new positioning implies that the Labour party now explicitly campaigns for keeping the country within the European Single Market.
In other news, the refugee and migration crisis makes the headlines across Europe. On Monday French President Emmanuel Macron invited the heads of state and government of Germany, Italy, Spain, Libya, Chad and Niger to Paris to discuss a new approach for limiting the influx of illegal migrants into Europe. According to the reports of the press, European leaders agreed to work on a “revolutionary” solution to the crisis. In the near future, migrants shall be hosted in hotspots located in the African continent. These centres should discriminate between economic migrants and refugees so as to hinder the activity of migrant smugglers across the Mediterranean Sea and the Balkan route.
Meanwhile, in Brussels, European Commissioner Günther Oettinger called for EU Member States to support with more financial means the refugee agreement with Turkey. The President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, said that the partnership with Turkey should become the blueprint for a similar agreement with Libya.
In other news, the European Commission once again invited Poland to comply with the European relocation scheme for refugees. The Commission’s intervention came after the Government in Warsaw voiced its anger against the infringement procedure that Brussels activated last June. Indeed, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary have yet to comply with the relocation agreement they signed back in 2015.
“I would recommend that we do not make the date of German elections a landmark for this sort of questions […] [Eurozone] finance ministers have long ago agreed upon a timetable which foresees that the issue of the structure of debt will be on the agenda next year”.
Jens Ploetner, Germany’s ambassador to Greece, talking about the German elections and potential debt relief for Athens
Source: Ekathimerini, 28.08.2017
The share of UK manufacturing firms which have seen applications by EU workers fall since the Brexit referendum of June 2016.
Source: The Guardian, 29.08.2017