23rd Jan 2019

Germany, Spain and France to work 'hand-in-hand' for Europe

The months of wrangling between Spain and the Franco-German alliance over the Constitution seemed a distant memory yesterday (29 April) as the French President and Spanish premier stressed complete agreement on Europe's future.

After talks between France and Spain, French leader Jacques Chirac said, "In Berlin, as well as in Paris, there is a very strong desire to walk down the European road hand-in-hand with Spain", according to AFP.

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Spanish premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero replied, in slightly less flowery style, "France and Spain must work together to build an active, dynamic and strong Europe".

All change

What a difference 5 months make.

In December, Madrid - albeit with a different government - was fighting tooth and nail to preserve their voting rights gained in the Treaty of Nice.

France and Germany were equally stubborn on the issue and it seemed the deadlock would never be broken.

But the terrorist attacks in March and the subsequent change of government in Spain has changed the political landscape in Europe and has enabled progress to be made.

And now Mr Zapatero says that "Spain will spare no effort to reach an agreement in this present term". The Constitution is expected to be signed in mid-June.

Arguments over money

But as in any close relationship, not everything runs completely smoothly and often the root of the problem is money. This is the case with this new menage-a-trois.

Berlin and Paris want to see a lower maximum limit placed on the EU budget for the period 2007-2013 but Madrid believes that the ceiling should be much higher.

MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment

The EU parliament's internal chiefs have so far refused to introduce mandatory training on dealing with sexual harassment. MEPs have now asked for it again.

Centre-right MEPs want transparency vote to be secret

A number of centre-right MEPs are pushing for a secret ballot on a plenary vote that would make EU lawmakers more transparent and accountable to the public - in a move described as "absurd" by Transparency International.

Lead MEP on Morocco resigns as her report passes

MEPs ultimately adopted a controversial report on an EU trade deal with Morocco - despite the sudden resignation by French liberal Patricia Lalonde as the file's rapporteur only moments beforehand. Her departure follows an EUobserver investigation into lobbying by Morocco.

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