8 May 2017

Emmanuel Macron wins French Presidency, as Le Pen calls for “deep transformation” of Front National

Centrist Emmanuel Macron has defeated the far right candidate Marine Le Pen by 66.06% to 33.94% in the final round of the French Presidency. Speaking at his victory rally last night, Macron said, “I want it to be a page of hope and renewed trust,” he stressed that he had heard “the rage, anxiety and doubt that a lot of you have expressed” and vowed to spend his Presidency “fighting the forces of division that undermine France,” and to “guarantee the unity of the nation and… defend and protect Europe.” In her concession speech, Marine Le Pen said, “Front National…must deeply renew itself too, in order to be up to the task of this historic opportunity and of the expectations of the French. I will therefore propose engaging into a deep transformation of our movement, in order to constitute a new political force which numerous French are wishing for.” European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, tweeted his congratulations, saying, “Happy that the French have chosen a European future together for a stronger and fairer Europe.” Spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Steffen Seibert, said Macron’s victory “is a victory for a strong and united Europe and for French-German friendship.” Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, “The victory of President-elect Macron is a symbolic victory against inward-looking and protectionist moves and shows a vote of confidence in the EU.”

Source: French Interior Ministry BBC News The Guardian Le Monde

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Der Spiegel: Merkel angry with Juncker over leaked dinner details

According to Der Spiegel, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is angry with President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, over leaked details of a dinner between May and Juncker. She reportedly said the leaks are “not helpful in heating up the mood in this way.”

Separately, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has said that individuals legally residing in the UK today must be granted leave to remain after withdrawal, including in those cases when people have no documents to prove residency. He added that the same would apply to UK nationals living in EU-27 states. Barnier stressed that “no one should be confronted with a mountain of red tape.” He insisted that the EU “will not discuss our future relationship with the UK until the 27 member states are reassured that all citizens will be treated properly and humanely. Otherwise, there can be no trust when it comes to constructing a new relationship with the UK.”

Meanwhile, Brexit campaigner and donor Peter Hargreaves has called on Prime Minister Theresa May to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK. He argued, “I don’t think there should be a quid pro quo, I just think we should make the gesture. They would look pretty churlish if they didn’t [reciprocate by guaranteeing the status of UK nationals in the EU]. Most of those are in work and adding to our economy,”

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Verhoftstadt: A Brexit deal remains more likely than unlikely

Writing in the Financial Times, the European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, said, “I believe that a Brexit deal remains more likely than unlikely. There is more that unites the two sides than separates them.” He suggested issues on guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens were not “insurmountable,” but would not necessarily be easy to resolve. He also indicated talks on a financial settlement would be “complex and heated,” but added, “It would be wrong for EU taxpayers to be asked to pay Britain’s bar bill. A financial agreement should be in the UK’s reputational interest too, as it seeks to find a new role for itself in the world.” He concluded, “The EU and the UK should aim to achieve a future association agreement, which is ambitious and strong. This should be a positive partnership, which goes beyond trade, to include security and defence co-operation…[But] preliminary discussions about a future partnership can only start when there is clarity about how the existing relationship is dissolved.”

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Health Secretary warns of the impact a “bad Brexit outcome” would have on the NHS

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has warned that “a bad Brexit outcome” will be a “disaster” for the NHS. Speaking on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, he argued that some EU member states “appear to think that for the EU to survive, Britain must fail.” He added, “We’ve been very clear that no deal is better than a bad deal. I’m saying that a good deal would be best for the NHS, but obviously a bad deal would be the worst possible outcome for all our public services. It would be bad for the country.”

Hunt also said  it was “very plain for everyone to see” how the EU was seeking to influence the UK general election, highlighting the dinner between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Prime Minister Theresa May. “They didn’t have to leak these reports to newspapers of dinners that happened in the middle of an election campaign. It is the wrong approach to negotiations,” he said. Hunt added, “The answer is very clear that they are trying to leak reports that undermine Theresa May’s position.”

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Merkel’s party scores clear victory in regional election

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU won 32% of the vote in yesterday’s regional election in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany’s northernmost state. Martin Schulz’s SPD finished second on 27.2%, followed by the Greens on 12.9%, the liberal FDP on 11.5%, and the right-wing AfD on 5.9%. In 2012, the CDU and the SPD had finished neck-and-neck with 30.8% and 30.4% of the vote respectively – and the SPD went on to forming a regional government in a coalition with the Greens and a smaller regional party.

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Focus Magazine: Germany suggests making UK pay for access to single market

According to a German finance ministry report, seen by Focus Magazine, that looked at the impact of Brexit on Germany, Britain’s departure from the EU risked “serious economic and stability relevant consequences; effects in particular on the real economy.” Ministry officials estimated Berlin would have to pay an additional 4.5 billion euros a year to the EU as a result of Britain’s leaving. To mitigate the cost, officials proposed charging Britain for access to the single market.

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