Monday

4th Mar 2024

Agenda

Clock change and Merkel's fortunes top This WEEK

  • Merkel faces another difficult election in Hesse, before her party chairmanship is on the line in December (Photo: bundeskanzlerin.de)

Halloween-time is traditionally one of the quietest weeks in the EU bubble, with kids out of school, the European Parliament in recess, and most eurocrats leaving Brussels for the week.

Nevertheless, early in the week, EU-watchers can speculate what elections in yet another German region, Hesse, will mean for chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition in Berlin.

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Germany's ruling parties are bracing for a second electoral disaster only two weeks after the flop in Bavaria, as polls for Sunday's (28 October) regional election in Hesse suggest voters will punish parties in the coalition government.

Both Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and coalition partner Social Democrats (SPD) are expected to suffer losses, reflecting a nationwide trend.

Hesse has, for the past 20 years, been ruled by CDU-led coalitions, but polls show Merkel's party could lose 12 points compared to elections in 2013.

This could spell trouble for Merkel, who stands for re-election as party leader at the CDU conference in December.

Polls have also confirmed another trend: the Social Democrats are tied with one of the big winners of the Bavaria election, the Greens, with both in second place with 21 percent.

On Sunday (28 October), clocks will have to be turned backwards one hour to end summertime officially.

The issue is now on the EU's agenda as well.

Environment and transport ministers will meet in Graz, Austria for an informal gathering on Monday and Tuesday (30 October).

On Monday (29 October) EU transport ministers will take up the question of abolishing daylight-saving time, a recent proposal by the EU commission, which said that, in its survey, 80 percent of respondents wanted to end the bi-annual clock change.

The commission will close its doors for a mini vacation next Thursday and Friday (1 and 2 November), as EU officials await the official response from Rome, whose budget plan the EU executive rejected last week. Italy has three weeks to submit a revised budgetary proposal.

With Brexit talks in Brussels still at a standstill, UK prime minister Theresa May will be speaking at the Nordic Council's session in Oslo on Tuesday (30 October) in front of parliamentarians and prime ministers from the five Nordic countries.

Bavarian election puts Merkel on defensive

Voters in Germany's largest state hived off to the left and right of the ruling conservatives in Sunday's elections - posing questions for Merkel's authority.

EU commission rejects Italy's budget plans

The EU executive has asked Italy to resubmit its budget in an unprecedented rebuke, while warning Rome that public debt was the "enemy of the people".

EU to propose scrapping summer time change

Based on the preliminary results of an online survey in which mostly Germans took part, the EU executive is proposing that the whole EU stops changing times in March and October.

More farmers, Ukraine aid, Yulia Navalnaya in focus This WEEK

EU agriculture ministers meet in Brussels amid new farmers' protests. MEPs will hear from Alexei Navalny's widow and give the final green light to the €50bn Ukraine facility, while the CBAM proposal faces a formal challenge at a WTO meeting.

New Red Sea mission and more Russia sanctions This WEEK

EU foreign affairs ministers launch the bloc's new Red Sea naval mission, plus hold talks on new sanctions against Russia — amid Hungarian objections — on Monday. Plus a home for the EU's new anti-money laundering authority will be picked.

Opinion

The six-hour U-turn that saw the EU vote for austerity

The EU's own analysis has made it clear this is economic self-sabotage, and it's politically foolish three months from European elections where the far-right are predicted to increase support, writes the general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation.

Feature

Hungary's Ukrainian refugees in two minds as relations sour

Ukrainians struggle to match the kindness of individual Hungarians with the nationalist government's pro-Russia rhetoric. "Ukraine's primary enemies are Russians and Putin, obviously. But the number two is Viktor Orbán," Viktoria Petrovszka, a Ukrainian woman living in Hungary, says.

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