26 August 2015

French Economy Minister: Treaty change “just a matter of timing”

Speaking in Berlin yesterday, French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said, “If one has an agreement on the vision [for further Eurozone integration], there will be treaty change eventually” – adding that, however, this was unlikely to happen before “end-2018” because both France and Germany will be holding elections in 2017. He added, “No vision means the status quo, and the status quo means the dismantling of the Eurozone, de facto.”

Macron also told Politico in an interview, “There is always scepticism in Germany when France puts forward proposals. The Germans reply: ‘Are you ready for greater convergence and a change in the treaties?’ Treaty change should not be taboo. It’s just a matter of timing…We have a very urgent need to move forward, or Europe will continue to mean only austerity for the people. It’s a project that implies further convergence between members of the Eurozone, but also transfers.”

Source: Politico Le Figaro Bloomberg

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Hungary considers sending in army as UN expects 3,000 migrants to arrive in Balkans daily

Hungary said on Wednesday that it is considering using the army to secure its Southern border where a record-number of migrants are crossing into the EU using the ‘Balkan Route.’ Police said 2,533 entered Hungary from Serbia on Tuesday, while the UN yesterday announced that it estimates the number of migrants crossing through Balkan countries to reach 3,000 daily.

Speaking in Salzburg yesterday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said that Germany can financially “manage” the 800,000 asylum seekers that the country expects this year. The Serbian Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, however,  told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that, “Germany should decrease the allowance [for refugees] to €200 – then there would immediately be 80% less asylum seekers from the Balkans.”

Separately, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told Corriere della Sera: “To ask Italy and Greece to do their homework on migration is like asking countries struck by a flood to speed up the production of umbrellas…The logic can’t be to apply rules conceived 25 years ago, such as the [EU’s] Dublin Regulation, while the phenomenon has changed radically in terms of numbers, origins and size.”

Source: European Commission Press Release: European Agenda for Migration Handelsblatt Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Corriere della Sera Reuters

Greek caretaker government set to be appointed on Friday as country moves to fresh elections

A caretaker government is expected to be sworn in in Greece on Friday, with the Greek parliament being dissolved the same day. This would still leave enough time for elections to be held on 20 September. Syriza MP and Speaker of the Greek Parliament Zoe Constantopoulou is expected to form her own party ahead of the elections, though it will work closely with Popular Unity, the recent split off from Syriza. Energy Minister and Syriza MP Panos Skourletis told Mega TV that he believes “an absolute majority in parliament for Syriza is achievable”, adding that he does not see a coalition with New Democracy, To Potami or Pasok as “politically credible.”

Separately, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin told RTL this morning that former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis “brought his country to the edge of the abyss…Luckily, France was there from the beginning to the end to make sure that Greece remained in the Eurozone – which was the only good solution.”

Source: Kathimerini Reuters RTL

Duda: Poland should aim to attract back migrants from the UK and Germany

In an interview with Bild, new Polish President Andrzej Duda claims that many young Poles have few prospects at home and therefore choose to migrate to the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands. He adds that,“it is an important challenge for Polish politics to create the conditions that could draw these people back home.”

Source: Bild: Duda

Merkel sees poll support slip after pushing through third Greek bailout

A new Forsa opinion poll for Stern-RTL puts the CDU/CSU on 41%, SPD on 23%, Die Linke on 11%, the Greens on 10% and Alternative für Deutschland and the FDP both on 4%. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU party is down two points from a week ago, while her personal approval fell two points to 53% – its lowest level this year. Forsa chief Manfred Güllner put the declines down to the approval of the third Greek bailout.

However, according to a separate INSA poll for Bild, the CDU/CSU is on 42%, up 1% compared to the previous week with the SPD on 23.5% (-1%), the Greens on 10.5% and Die Linke on 9.5% (both down 0.5%).

Source: Forsa: Stern-RTL Reuters

UK foreign-born population expected to reach 8 million for first time

According to analysts at The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, official figures released on Thursday are expected to show that the number of foreign-born people in Britain has reached over 8 million for the first time.

Source: The Daily Mail The Times The Daily Telegraph

Deal with Kosovo smooths Serbia’s path to EU accession

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has described as “landmark” an agreement struck between Serbia and Kosovo in EU-mediated talks. “There are no more obstacles for starting accession talks” with the EU, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić said. “Our European path is open.” The agreement will allow Serb-populated municipalities in Kosovo to run some of their affairs, such as education, health care and economic development, with Serbia’s financial backing.

Source: Bloomberg

Ruparel and Behr: 'Out' campaign has to appeal to swing voters - but 'In' campaign risks complacency

In a piece for Politico, Open Europe’s Raoul Ruparel argues that while “it is certainly possible that the Calais crisis and related issues will play into the EU referendum and, since they portray the EU in a poor light, increase the risk of a Brexit. But this risk should not be overdramatized: There are still numerous reasons why the “Out” camp may not want to make migration the central theme of their campaign. Not least because the arguments struggle to add up in terms of sound policy, but more importantly, because the issue stands to alienate some of the core free trading support the campaign relies on. Anti-migration rhetoric would likely fail to attract, and even put off, the large group of swing voters the “Out” campaign needs to convince if they want to stand any chance of winning.”

Separately, Rafael Behr argues in The Guardian that, “Hardly anyone likes the EU with as much force as the haters hate it with. This asymmetry of engagement creates big risks for the “In” campaign. It suggests their support is soft, and even if it is not vulnerable to persuasion by the sceptics it is liable to stay at home without compelling reasons to turn out.”