Tuesday

19th Feb 2019

German EU presidency to fight red tape, says Merkel

Cutting EU red tape will be a top priority when Germany takes on the EU presidency in 2007, German chancellor Angela Merkel has announced.

Speaking on the first day of the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos she said obsolete EU legislation should be abolished and that future EU directives should carry an expiry date.

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Bureaucracy often stifles innovation, she indicated "We must get away from the idea that a directive is in place for all time and can never be reconsidered."

"Some 6 percent of the turnover of small and mid-size companies in Germany is spent on bureaucratic costs," she added. "We must learn to measure the cost of bureaucracy."

In her half hour speech to a packed audience of chief executives and policy makers she also made a strong pledge to agree on a global framework of rules to govern competition between old industrial and quickly-developing economies.

"There is a need for a new social market economy," Ms Merkel explained.

"I think bilateral agreements between individual groups in the world ... will not get us very far," she said and pointed instead to international organisations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation.

Ms Merkel also renewed her calls to revive the frozen European constitution "The constitutional treaty is of great importance for the EU because it looks beyond regulations and helps us to reach agreement," she said.

She called on the EU to consider alternative energy technologies and said this was necessary because the industrialized world consumes 70 percent of the world's energy, while accounting for only 20 percent of its population.

Without mentioning nuclear power by name, she said good technologies could be a "creative imperative" and that Europe must look to new alternatives.

Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table

EU probes into Hungary and Poland on rule of law and democracy are back on the agenda of EU affairs ministers - but with little guidance from the Romanian presidency, without a clear idea where the procedures are headed.

Calls for Tajani's resignation over Slovenia, Croatia row

The European Parliament's Italian president referred to Croatia and Slovenia as former Italian regions at the weekend, sparking outrage. Although Antonio Tajani apologised, somer former leaders and MEPs are now calling for his resignation.

MEPs call on EU countries to deal with Hungary

MEPs who launched a procedure examining the democratic situation in Hungary last year now want member states to step up efforts. The government in Budapest meanwhile accuses MEPs of attacking Hungary over migration.

Analysis

France and Germany hope to revive EU with Aachen treaty

In the face of attacks on the liberal world order and the EU, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron renew German-Franco cooperation - but their lack of political capital prevents bold visions or ambitious goals.

Opinion

Italy will keep blinking in 2019

Italy's 'marriage of convenience' coalition government likes picking battles with Brussels. But with the economy now in recession, and deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini needing to keep the business lobby on board, expect Rome to blink first.

Opinion

The test for Sweden's new government

While the formation of a new government ends Sweden's fourth-month paralysis, it doesn't resolve the challenge from radical-right populists in Sweden. A key question remains: will treating populists like pariahs undercut the appeal of their, often anti-rights, politics?

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