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Following a meeting yesterday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron indicated that France is prepared to revise the EU treaties. He said, “In the past the subject of treaty change was a French taboo. It will no longer be the case…What the Eurozone needs is an investment policy…We have to introduce new, fresh money as a budget. That requires convergence rules, real structural reforms…That is the goal of the joint road map we are working on.” Merkel said, “From the German point of view it is possible to change the treaty if it makes sense…If we can say why, what for, what the point is, then Germany will be ready.” Merkel acknowledged her differences with the French President, but said also, “We are at a moment where people are looking tentatively at the European Union and realising it does us a great deal of good, it is important …we should use this moment to push forward the strengthening of Europe.”
In a blog prior to the visit, Open Europe’s Vincenzo Scarpetta argues that, despite talk of reviving the Franco-German axis in the EU, “The underlying differences between France and Germany on what ‘more Eurozone integration’ means are still there.”
Meanwhile, Macron has appointed Édouard Philippe from the centre-right Les Républicains as the new French Prime Minister. Macron is expected to name the rest of his cabinet today. Open Europe’s Aarti Shankar writes in a blog, “The nomination [of Édouard Philippe] is symbolically very important to the Macron presidency. After receiving consistent endorsements from heavyweight Socialists throughout his campaign…[Macron’s] decision to select a Prime Minister from Les Républicains is a clear effort to rebalance his base towards the centre-right.”
Elsewhere, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has said the election of Macron is “a positive signal for Europe…signal of hope.” On Brexit Juncker said, “Brexit will show how much more attractive it is to be a member of our Union. Thanks to Europe, people enjoy the freedom to live, buy, love and trade across borders.”
Open Europe blog: Scarpetta Open Europe blog: Shankar The Times Politico Politico
According to documents obtained by Bloomberg, the EU has refined the language of its draft Brexit negotiating directives on transitional arrangements, citizens’ rights and judicial oversight. The document is said to demand that a transition period must be “clearly defined, limited in time and subject to effective enforcement mechanisms,” and that the European Court of Justice must oversee the delivery of the terms of any agreement reached. It also states that for UK citizens living in the EU and EU-27 citizens living in the UK, there should be an entitlement to rights “which are in the process of being obtained, including the possibility to acquire them under current conditions after the withdrawal date.”
Meanwhile, writing for Europeanreform.org, Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe writes, “Britons had a lot of reasons to vote to leave the EU. What they most certainly did not like, was that the club which was supposed to be about scrapping trade barriers turned out to be a club mostly centered around a common currency helping to boost an ever-centralising bureaucracy and helping to prop up virtually bankrupt European welfare states. Without the Euro crisis, which gave the EU such a bad reputation, the British may well have voted to stay, despite concerns about freedom of movement. Brexit is just the first big blow the euro has inflicted on the European Union.”
Open Europe blog: Booth
The US investment bank JP Morgan Chase & Co. has agreed to buy an office building in Dublin with the capacity to house up to 1,000 staff, in addition to its current 500 employees in the Irish capital. Senior country officer for JP Morgan in Ireland Carin Bryans said, “Given the momentum of our local businesses, this new building gives us room to grow and some flexibility within the European Union.” This comes after the Financial Times reported that the bank is considering a considerable expansion of its custody and fund services in Dublin as part of its planning for Brexit.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has stated there will be “fair immigration” to the UK after Brexit, confirming that freedom of movement would end under a Labour government. He refused to commit to an exact level of migration, saying, “I’m not going to put any figures on it, [Prime Minister] Theresa May has done that, this is now the third general election she’s promised figures, none of which she’s come anywhere near to achieving. Clearly the free movement ends when we leave the European Union but there will be managed migration and it will be fair.”
Scottish National Party Leader Nicola Sturgeon has said a vote for the SNP will strengthen the case for Scotland to have a seat at the negotiating table, declaring Brexit a more important issue than a second independence referendum. She said, “What I am saying in this election is that we have an opportunity, by how we vote, to give those proposals democratic legitimacy. And, by voting for the SNP, to give me the ability to strengthen Scotland’s hands in those [Brexit] negotiations, get a seat at the negotiating table and argue for Scotland’s place in the single market.” She reiterated that if Scotland were to become independent she would want the country to be a member of the EU, but accepted this may only be possible through a period in the European Free Trade Association and the European Economic Area.