Thursday

15th Nov 2018

Agenda

New governments in Spain and Italy This Week

Political turmoil in southern Europe might be calming down as the 5 Star Movement and the far-right Lega formed a populist, anti-establishment coalition in Italy, avoiding snap elections, while in Spain the socialist leader will take over the helm of government from Mariano Rajoy.

That means two new leaders at the June summit of European leaders: Italy's Giuseppe Conte and Spain's Pedro Sanchez.

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  • Lega's Matteo Salvini will join fellow interior ministers to dissect the latest proposal on reform the EU's asylum system (Photo: European Parliament)

It also means that Italy will have a government in place, just as Brussels was getting nervous that the political uncertainty there would have negative economic spin-offs.

There have been concerns over whether the rise in Italian populism and the collapse of traditional parties posed a threat to the integrity of the eurozone.

Rajoy, responsible for the austerity measures carried out in part to reinforce the country's failing bank system after 2011, has led a minority government.

Sanchez's pro-European credentials will help allay fears that a second political crisis is about to blow up in the southern part of the bloc.

Asylum discussions

Italy's anti-EU and anti-immigrant Lega will make its entry in Brussels with party leader Matteo Salvini joining fellow interior ministers on Tuesday (5 June) to discuss the Bulgarian presidency's latest compromise proposal on the common asylum system.

The ministers will not make a decision just yet, as they will want to receive political guidance from EU leaders meeting at the end of June.

EU officials say the proposal is aiming to balance responsibility and solidarity among EU countries. However, stubborn opponents of any distribution of asylum seekers, even in case of emergency, such as Hungary and Poland, might block the whole process.

Italy had argued for the need of all EU members to take in asylum seekers. Salvini, a fan of Hungary's bellicose premier Viktor Orban, campaigned on the promise of mass deportations and pledged to build detention centres around Italy.

Whistleblower's time

On Monday (5 June), the European Parliament's civil liberties committee will hear from the whistleblower, Christopher Whylie, who exposed Facebook's misuse of users' private data in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will meet with Austrian premier Sebastian Kurz on Wednesday (6 June), as the college of commissioners will hold a joint session with the Austrian government in preparation for the Austrian EU presidency starting next month.

On Friday (8 June), Juncker and European Council president Donald Tusk will hold a joint press conference ahead of the G7 summit in Canada.

The meeting of the world's most developed nations comes as tension between the EU and US are on the rise after US president Donald Trump announced new tariffs on steel and aluminium, and the European bloc pledged to retaliate.

Opinion

Europe's solution to migration is to outsource it to Africa

Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker says the EU has almost solved the migration issue - but a large part of this 'solution' has been a deliberate strategy to push the problems out of sight, outsourcing stopping migration to African states.

Merkel and Brexit in spotlight This WEEK

The now-outgoing German chancellor will outline her vision for Europe in the EU parliament, as political parties gear up for the election next May. Brexit will also dominate, even though talks have yet to yield a breakthrough.

EU elections and Italy's finances are in focus This WEEK

A debate among would-be EPP 'Spizenkandidat' candidates next week in Helsinki will be the first of many clashes of ideas ahead of European elections next May. The liberals are also holding their own congress.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  2. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  3. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown
  4. Second UK cabinet minister resigns over Brexit deal
  5. UK Brexit secretary quits morning after deal agreed
  6. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  7. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
  8. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published

Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Authorities in Budapest confirmed the former prime minister of Macedonia, fleeing a jail sentence in his own country, has filed for asylum. Despite Hungary's strict asylum laws, the pro-Kremlin politician was not turned away.

Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army

Angela Merkel's much-anticipated speech to the European Parliament was brief and to the point. Her message: Europe is alone in the world, the EU should be more united on defence, but not on the economy.

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