Merkel’s refugee policy faces tough opposition from Visegrad countries and Austria
At yesterday’s joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said, “We cannot endorse a system that calls for mandatory quotas to distribute refugees.” Merkel conceded that “there are diverging views on how to distribute migrants across the EU, but on many other issues opinions converge,” adding, “I think we remain in discussions.”
Ahead of Merkel’s visit to Poland today, Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski criticised German foreign policy as being too “selfish”, citing migration policy as one of the examples. He said, “Not everyone in Europe can afford a policy such as the one suggested by Germany. Many countries including Poland have very limited capacities and possibilities.” Meanwhile, the Austrian Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil criticised Merkel’s “we can do it” approach to refugee crisis as “irresponsible”. He added, “This is not a policy, if Europe stays here in agony and sticks its head in the sand.”
After her meeting with the Visegrad countries – Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – Merkel will meet in Germany later today with the Nordic group including Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, and the Netherlands.
Iain Duncan Smith suggests UK should consider WTO option in Brexit negotiations with EU
Former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said in an interview with BBC Radio 4 Today Programme this morning that, “I’ve already made it clear that my personal view is we should not seek to remain a member of the customs union nor necessarily remain a full member of the single market, because that would entail putting yourself yet again under the rule of European law…And that was one of the key areas that the British public voted for in the process of taking back control.” Duncan Smith added that falling back on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules should be considered, saying, “Bearing in mind that we will anyway have access to the marketplace under WTO rules, so the question really is – do we want more preferential arrangements than that?” He also called for Article 50, the process for leaving the EU, to be triggered in the first three months of 2017.
Portuguese Europe Minister says UK will need a bespoke deal with the EU, but that internal market comes with free movement of people
Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs, Margarida Marques, said in a statement to Bloomberg, “It’s very probable that the future of the UK’s relationship with the EU will involve a different formula than the ones that currently exist, such as with Switzerland…It’s important to guarantee that the EU keeps a strategic relationship with the UK.” She added, “For example, Swiss companies don’t have a financial passport and have to resort to subsidiaries.” She also warned, “The ‘red lines’ are well defined and there is a broad consensus at the European level…In the scenario of a relationship in which the freedom of movement of people is restricted, that would mean no access to the internal market.” Marques called on the UK to trigger Article 50 “as quickly as possible”.
May says Brexit creates “real opportunities” for UK tourism industry
Prime Minister Theresa May has unveiled a new £40m package to help boost tourism saying, “The British people’s decision to leave the European Union creates real opportunities for growth and we will work in close partnership with the tourism industry, to ensure it continues to thrive as negotiations on the UK’s exit progress.”
Source: The Daily Telegraph
Poles become largest foreign-born group in the UK
ONS data released yesterday showed that Poles have now become the largest foreign-born group in the UK, hitting 831,000. Commenting on the figures in general, Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill said that reducing EU migration will be a “priority” post-Brexit and that, “[The Government is] also committed to reducing non-EU migration across all visa routes in order to bring net migration down to sustainable levels as soon as possible.”
Retail sales and consumer confidence show strong rebound in August as economy brushes off initial Brexit concerns
A survey by the CBI of UK retailers showed that their sales volumes rose to their highest level since February and showed a big jump from the July slump following the UK’s vote to leave the EU. Orders placed with suppliers and investment intentions also rose sharply from July, though on net the former still remained in negative territory.
Meanwhile, the YouGov/CEBR Consumer Confidence Index rose by 3.2 points in August, meaning it has now recovered half of the post EU referendum decline.
German business confidence falls post-Brexit
The Ifo index, measuring business confidence in Germany fell to 106.2 in August from 108.3 in July. That is the lowest reading since February and the sharpest monthly fall since spring 2012. Economist Carsten Brzeski at ING-DiBa said the decline “suggests that German businesses have suddenly woken up to Brexit reality…It is not the first time that the Ifo reacts with a delay of one or two months to global events.”
Bats Europe exchange considers opening new entity in EU post Brexit
Mark Hemsley Chief Executive of Bats Europe, Europe’s biggest stock exchange, has said following the UK’s vote to leave the EU, “If I look at the current scenarios, the only one that does give certainty to your customers is to actually have an entity within an EU country…Until we see a path that tells us otherwise, that will be the most likely outcome at the moment.” Hemsley cited Dublin as an “attractive” potential location. He added, “I still think London is going to be a substantial trading hub, even if there is more fragmentation of trading across Europe because of Brexit…From a physical point of view we would still have substantial operations in London.”
Opportunities seen outside the EU for the UK science industry
Writing in the Financial Times, John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, argues that while he supported staying in the EU, there are opportunities for the UK’s science industry outside. He writes that while the UK is “inclined towards a relatively liberal risk-based regulatory environment” the EU “has a record of deep regulatory conservatism”. Bell backs an industrial strategy aimed at helping areas such as life sciences and that this should be combined with a “light touch regulation similar to Switzerland”.
Source: The Financial Times: Bell
Turkey threatens to scrap EU migrant deal unless it receives visa liberalisation
Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said that EU accession continues to be Turkey’s “strategic aim”, but threatened to scrap the migrant deal with the EU if it does not get visa liberalisation.
AfD could overtake Merkel’s CDU as second strongest party in upcoming regional election
Ahead of the upcoming regional election in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern on 4 September, a poll for ARD shows that both mainstream parties are facing losses compared to the previous election – SPD on 28% (-7) and CDU on 22% (-1) – while the right-wing populist AfD party with 21% could possibly overtake Merkel’s CDU as the second strongest party. The left party polls at 13% and the Greens at 6%. Nationwide, a new Deutschlandtrend poll shows the CDU/CSU is on 33% (-1), the SPD on 22%, the AfD on 13% (+1), the left party on 9%, and the FDP on 5%.
Spanish Socialist Party seeks to avoid third election on Christmas Day as Rajoy looks set to fail to form a government once again
The Spanish Socialist Party, PSOE, is expected to present a bill to parliament which would adjust the length of any potential election campaign. The proposal suggests that the Socialist party expect acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to fail in his attempt to form a new government, which would trigger a third round of elections in Spain, but with the poll happening on Christmas Day. The Socialist party want to shorten the campaign length so the election happens slightly earlier
Scotland appoints Brexit Minister
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, has appointed former Education Minister Michael Russell to lead negotiations with the UK government in order to find an agreement for EU exit arrangements. “Influencing the UK position will be crucial to our efforts to protect Scotland’s interests and our relationship with Europe, especially the single market,” Sturgeon said.
Corbyn “happy” about Brexit says Smith as he pledges to make ‘Remain’ Labour’s official position
Speaking at yesterday’s Labour hustings, Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith accused Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn of being “happy” about the UK’s decision’s to leave the EU and questioned how he really voted in the referendum. Corbyn responded saying “you know perfectly well what the answer is – that I voted Remain.” Smith also said he would include a pledge to fight to remain in the EU in any Labour manifesto he was in charge of.
EU a bigger threat to Denmark than Russia says Danish MP
Danish People’s Party’s defense spokeswoman Marie Krarup has said the EU is “without a doubt” a bigger threat to Denmark than Russia. “I want the EU [to be] laid in a tomb … If [Russian President Vladimir] Putin or [National Front leader] Marine Le Pen can help, it’s perfectly fine,” she said.
US Vice President warns Europe over Nord Stream 2 pipeline which would increase reliance on Russian gas
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has warned Europe over plans for the new Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline which would run from Russia to Germany, saying, “looks like a fairly bad deal”. Biden added that it would lock Europe “into greater reliance on Russia at this moment…[which] will fundamentally destabilize Ukraine.”
Source: Yahoo news
Greek minister condemns EU letter backing former statistics chief
Greek Deputy Minister for Justice Dimitris Papangelopoulos on Thursday condemned a letter sent by three EU commissioners, defending a former chief of the Greek statistical agency accused of fabricating data. “The three European officials essentially ask the Greek government to intervene in the independent Greek justice in favour of Mr. Georgiou,” he said, adding the letter conflicted with EU law.
Commission prepares proposals which could see search engines charged for displaying news snippets
The European Commission is considering proposals which would allow news outlets to charge search engines such as Google if they display snippets of their stories.
Source: The Financial Times