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Political Risk Is on the Rise in Europe. Here’s Why.

Recent election results suggest that the political landscape in several European countries is fragmenting. These developments will increase uncertainty about the policy direction of countries, leading to higher political risk across the Continent. Increasing political volatility at home will make it harder for governments to participate in decisions at the continental level, potentially slowing the decision-making process in the European Union. A few European countries have other systems. In the coming years, this trend will affect politics in multiple ways: General elections will become harder to predict. In many European countries, gone are the days when a handful of parties dominated national politics, and economic, political and social actors could make relatively accurate predictions about what would happen after a general election. More fragmented parliaments and a more balanced distribution of seats among multiple competing parties will prolong negotiations to form coalition governments. It took Germany's main political parties 86 days to form a coalition government after the country's general election in 2013. In Spain, it took two general elections within six months (in 2015 and 2016) before a government could be appointed. Italy, for example, is currently governed by two parties with little in common other than their rejection of the country's traditional parties.

Right-wing politics, social media fuel anti-woman violence: EU commissioner

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Attempts to end violence against women and girls in the European Union are being stymied by a mix of right-wing politics and social media that inflames sexism and stereotypes, a top women’s rights official said on Wednesday. Scant progress has been made in reducing gender-based violence despite legislation, education campaigns, law enforcement and justice systems, said Vera Jourova, the EU Justice and Gender Equality Commissioner, in an interview. One in three women in the European Union has experienced physical or sexual violence in the previous five years, according to the most recent data by the EU’s European Institute for Gender Equality. “There has not been progress yet,” said Jourova, who was in New York to meet with United Nations officials. “In some states, we even see backtracking with reference to old conservative values, the position that the woman is in the kitchen and the bedroom, to put it simply,” she said. “It’s everywhere there are active far-right political parties,” she said. The images of old-fashioned, better times feature persistently negative stereotypes about and toward women “that some kind of violence is inevitable or even normal,” she said. “Then the rights of women and the rights of LGBT are endangered.” Ending her EU term in October, Jourova has overseen efforts to increase economic activity for women, raise salaries, boost political participation and decrease gender-based violence. “This is unfinished business,” she said. Visit

Farage: Brexit party will use EU poll to oust ‘remain parliament’

Railing against a “political class” who he said had betrayed the people of Britain, Farage claimed to more than a thousand supporters on Clacton pier that what was at stake was not just Brexit, but whether or not Britain was a democratic country. There would be uproar and they would be calling for the UN to be sent in … and yet it’s happening in our own country,” said Farage, who was introduced as “the godfather, the ‘guvnor’ of Brexit”. “So what would Brexit do for Clacton? It would make us proud of who we are again and you can’t put a price on that,” he said. Back in 2014, Farage had tucked into a McDonald’s McFlurry as he and a beaming Douglas Carswell strolled through the streets of the town after the latter had become the first Tory MP to defect to Ukip, then a rising force in British politics. “Here you are, one of the biggest leave towns in the country and yet you are represented by a remainer. Whether its considerable leave vote breaks in any number during the European elections either for Farage’s Brexit party or for Ukip – now led by Gerard Batten who has forged explicit links to far-right activists such as Tommy Robinson – remains to be seen, however. Michael and Janet Smith, former Ukip and Conservative voters, had driven down from Ipswich after learning of the rally on Facebook. They believed Farage’s party would win out over Ukip in the battle for Brexit supporters’ votes. “Ukip have been taken up with … how can I say this?

Europe urged to reject US Middle East plan if it is unfair to Palestinians

High-ranking former European politicians have condemned the Trump administration’s one-sided Israel-Palestine policy and called in a letter for Europe to reject any US Middle East peace plan unless it is fair to Palestinians. The letter, sent to the Guardian, the EU and European governments, was signed by 25 former foreign ministers, six former prime ministers, and two former Nato secretary generals. Europe must stand by the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine | Letter Read more Europe, it said, should reject any plan that does not create a Palestinian state alongside Israel with Jerusalem as the capital for both countries. Since taking office, and amid praise from Israel’s government, Trump has taken measures seen as both punishing to Palestinians and which also stifle the viability of a Palestinian state. Friedman told the pro-Israel lobby group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington last month that Trump was “Israel’s greatest ally ever to reside in the White House” and now was the time to push through a plan as his administration understood Israel should have permanent military control over the Palestinian territories. On Tuesday, Netanyahu won the Israeli election and is expected to secure a fifth term in office by forging a coalition government from rightwing and pro-settler parties. A few days before the polls, the prime minister said that, if he won, he planned to annex settlements in the occupied West Bank, a move Palestinians see as the end of their hopes for a state as there would be no unbroken land on which to build it. There aren’t going to be any settlers or settlements that are going to be torn. Queried about Netanyahu’s annexation plans, Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said they would not damage the undisclosed peace plan, hinting the US proposal did not envision Palestinian statehood. “I think that the vision that we’ll lay out is going to represent a significant change from the model that’s been used,” said Pompeo, who has previously stated he believes, as a Christian, it was possible God made Trump president to save the Jewish people.

Bus to tell Brexiteers that we’ve now left the EU, nation hopes they fall...

A message on the side of a bus will inform Brexiteers that Britain has now left the EU while the rest of the country hopes they fall for it again. The original Brexit bus claimed that Britain sent £350 million a week to the EU, money we would be able to spend on the NHS instead. While that message was a load of old bobbins, plenty of people fell for it. That is why a new bus message will tell Brexiteers that Britain has now left the EU while sane and rational people cross their fingers and hope they fall for the same trick again. It appears the scheme is already working as a picture of the bus has been shared over 10,000 times on social media, with Brexiteers leaving celebratory messages. ‘Missed the big news but if it says it on the side of a bus it must be true!’ posted @AreKuntry on Twitter. The Brexit bus will tour Britain until every Brexiteer believes we’ve left the EU, the country will then return to business as usual.

Shame, sadness in UK as Brexit reveals Parliament’s flaws

Bill Cash, a pro-Brexit Conservative, said this week that Britain had been "humiliated" by failing to leave the EU on time. The last few months in Parliament, as lawmakers repeatedly tried and failed to agree on a roadmap for Britain's departure, have produced close votes, late nights and high drama. Pro-Brexit lawmakers won't vote for it because they favor a more definitive break with the bloc. And twice lawmakers have rejected them all. Despite the bloc's increasing exasperation at Britain, it has twice agreed, delaying Brexit Day first from March 29 to April 12 and then again until Oct. 31. Amid widespread mistrust in politicians, a feeling that had been growing for years, voters opted to leave the EU against the advice of the government, most economists and major business groups. Britain's political system has proven itself ill-equipped to implement the demand. Pro-Brexit Conservatives have demanded that May resign for failing to take Britain out of the EU. Pro-EU politicians are still hoping to secure a new referendum on Brexit that could deliver a mandate for Britain to stay in the bloc. Richard Ashworth, a British member of the European parliament, told EU colleagues that Brexit had had produced "a sad nation, divided like never before, and a House of Commons in crisis."

What to make of the latest extension to article 50?

The EU council determining the length of an extension to article 50 should put to rest the decades-long Europhobe lie that the EU is run by “unelected bureaucrats” (Britain told leave by 31 October, 11 April). Brexit has also exposed Michael Gove’s campaign claim that “the day after we vote to leave we hold all the cards and can choose the path we want”. Dr Simon Sweeney University of York • Over the last three years I have followed the whole Brexit imbroglio pretty closely, both home and abroad. In all that time I have heard representatives from the other 27 EU countries make coherent and telling arguments in a foreign language, English, often far more cogently and concisely than English politicians have done in their own tongue. No wonder the zeitgeist of the nation is one of unalloyed angst and the rest of the world has a justified feeling of schadenfreude. Peter Lewis Burley-in-Wharfedale, West Yorkshire • Tony Greaves is absolutely correct that the d’Hondt method means that divided remain parties may end up with nothing. The situation is even more difficult in Scotland, where the strongly pro-remain SNP is added to the mix. Sadly Tony Greaves’s party, the Lib Dems, abhor the SNP even more than Brexit, which would make such a pact extremely unlikely. Andrew Syme Perth, Scotland • In the forthcoming election, could we arrange to have three candidates in each EU constituency. If a constituency can only muster two potential candidates I would be prepared to stand on any of the three platforms.

What does a Brexit delay mean for politics, business, citizens and the EU?

What now for Labour? Two key problems threaten the prospect of success: the prime minister’s almost non-existent authority, and whether it is ultimately ever going to be in Labour’s interests to do a deal with the Tories. This is also believed to have been a factor in the 31 October extension date offered by the EU. That was the calculation May made when she cancelled the first Brexit vote before the Christmas recess, but MPs returned still determined to vote her deal down. What now for the second referendum campaign? Once the question is agreed the Electoral Commission would then designate lead campaigners for both sides, adding more time to the process, before a 10-week campaign period. The People’s Vote campaigners have said that the EU would be minded to extend article 50 further if a referendum was already in play and more time was needed. The Brexit delay prolongs the sense of limbo for EU citizens in the UK and British nationals in the rest of Europe. The government wants the remaining 3.4 million to apply by the end of December 2020 if there is a no-deal Brexit, or by June 2021 if there is a deal. But the EU leaders hope that the threat of European elections on 23 May might push some Brexiters to finally back the withdrawal agreement.

Brexit delay will squeeze transition period negotiations

But she at least knew she could avoid mass resignations from her cabinet. She could be confident enough about the consequences at home of tabling such a request again. UK risks losing European commissioner role over Brexit delay Read more But with the EU now appearing likely to reject her plea and deliver an extension of up to a year, ending either on 31 December or at the end of March 2020, the consequences are far from obvious this time – both domestically, given the potential shock in her party, and with regard to the EU-UK relationship and future trade negotiations. Article 126 of the withdrawal agreement lays out a clear end date for the transition, a period of time in which the UK effectively remains a member of the EU but without representation in any of the bloc’s decision-making institutions. Brexit secretary confirms plan to let MPs thrash out deal in Commons Read more The 21-month duration of the transition period was not a UK government choice. It was decided on by the commission to tally with the end of the EU’s seven-year multi-annual financial framework (MFF). It made for a neat fit. A Brexit delay until the end of March would leave the UK with a transition period of only nine months – hardly enough to negotiate much if the last two-and-a-bit years of onerous talks is anything to go by. If the UK wanted to extend the transition “by up to one or two years” as foreseen in the withdrawal agreement, a decision would need to be taken in July 2020 – four months into the transition period – by the joint committee overseeing the implementation and application of the withdrawal agreement. From 1 January 2021, the EU and the UK would share a single customs territory, and Northern Ireland would stay in much of the EU’s single market acquis.

May signals she would accept EU offer of longer Brexit delay

Theresa May has signalled that she would accept the EU’s likely offer of a lengthy Brexit delay at a summit of leaders as the UK would still be able to leave when the withdrawal agreement is approved. May is expected to have her request for a limited extension to 30 June rejected by the EU27 in favour of a longer potential delay to Brexit of up to a year. But May told reporters in Brussels that the UK would still be able to leave the bloc under the EU’s likely offer – once parliament had approved the 585-page withdrawal agreement and 26-page political declaration on the future. “What matters, I think, is I have asked for an extension to June 30 but what is important is that any extension enables us to leave at the point at which we ratify a withdrawal agreement. “I am willing to offer it personally, but the big question is if there is any added value to a long extension. Speaking in the Bundestag in Berlin, Merkel said the outcome of the special summit “may well be a longer extension than the one the British prime minister asked for”. “But we will shape this extension in such a way that whenever Britain has approved the withdrawal agreement, Britain can then complete its orderly withdrawal very shortly after,” she said. We know that such talks across parliamentary groups require compromise and time, so I and the government are of the opinion that we should offer both parties a reasonable amount of time, because an orderly exit is only possible in cooperation with the UK.” “We understand from the British prime minister’s letter that the UK is willing to prepare for participating in the European election,” she said. “There is a doubt about whether the UK is going to participate in the European elections or not,” the diplomat said, adding that any failure to elect MEPs would mean an exit date in June. The European elections are a European vote, where the elections in the UK concern us all.”