Tag Archives: EU

President of the European Council Charles Michel and EU Secretary General of the EU Council  Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen during a video conference with EU leaders yesterday

This morning.

Via BBC:

For ordinary people, frightened for their health, the safety of their loved ones, worrying about their rent and feeding their family after businesses shut down, the idea that Europe’s leaders spent six hours on Thursday night, squabbling over the wording of their summit conclusions in order to defer a key decision over coronavirus funds, will be incomprehensible.

Spain and Italy – ravaged by the effects of the virus on their populations and their limited public finances – were deeply disappointed. Italy was already one of the EU’s most Eurosceptic member states before Covid-19 hit.

Italian Twitter was littered with expletives on Thursday – and those were just the posts from politicians.

Coronavirus: Can EU get a grip on crisis? (BBC)

Meanwhile

Now, its economy is at an enforced standstill in an effort to break the back of the epidemic. But its troubles won’t end when the virus has run its course. Given the prominence of tourism in the Italian economy (13 percent of Italy’s GDP versus 8.6 percent of Germany’s), the country faces a much harder long-term headwind to return to prosperity than many other EU states.

These would be daunting problems for a country with sovereign control of its currency. But Italy, as a Eurozone member, does not have any such control.

The Italian state cannot print money to sustain its citizenry while the economy is in lockdown. It has to beg Brussels for permission to spend — and Europe’s finance ministers are bickering about the terms under which such spending would be permitted in much the same manner that America’s senators have been.

Will the EU survive coronavirus? (The Week)

Pic via EU

The Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) in Brussels, Belgium

This morning.

In an internal mail seen by EURACTIV, the European Defence Agency (EDA) confirmed that one of its staff members has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and it therefore cancelled all meetings to be held at its premises until 13 March as a precautionary measure.

First confirmed case of COVID-19 in the EU institutions (Euractiv)

Ireland’s European Commissioner Phil Hogan, who will be the EU’s lead negotiator in the free trade negotiations with the UK

This afternoon.

“I’m very concerned at what I see in Ireland the moment. There’s a lot of complacency in the system. Commentators and the media and the public generally don’t seem to realise we’re starting the most difficult part of the negotiations.

It was easy enough to get some compromises in phase one, relative to the interests of every member state, and the interests now of the UK with an 80 seat majority.

If things had gone wrong in the first part of the negotiations, you can consider in the context of a general election what this would have meant for manifestos in terms of income, in terms of wages, in terms of jobs, the possible economic rupture in terms of a crash out Brexit.

This this is still on the agenda,

The real cut off point is the 31 December 2020, not 31 January. So, people should come out of their slumber is some way and wake up to the reality that we’re in the intensive phase of the negotiations and in the more risky part.”

He’s taking it very well.

Hogan warns ‘crash-out’ Brexit still a possibility (RTÉ)

Earlier: Britain on The Brink

Rollingnews

 

This morning.

A conciliatory European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is in London for talks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson where…

….The Prime Minister is expected to press home his desire to reach a free trade agreement with the EU by the end of December 2020, when the transition period is set to end…..

Brexit latest news: Boris Johnson to meet Ursula von der Leyen for key talks after first PMQs of 2020 (Telegraph)

Gafa sna Líonta

A new TG4 documentary by Midas Productions that asks: why, despite having the richest fishing waters in Europe, are Ireland’s fishing industry and fishing communities swimming against the tide?

Via TG4:

Gafa sna Líonta tells the stories of those struggling to make a living and to make ends meet on our coastline.

Filmed in the fishing towns of Castletownbere, Dunmore East and Heilbhic, this immersive documentary chronicles the challenges each season brings on sea and on land for our coastal communities.

Frank and honest interviews with the fishermen who find themselves trapped by quotas and who are heavily policed by Irish and EU regulations give this documentary a here and now approach to an ongoing problem concerning one of our richest natural resources.

The documentary features just some of the many types of fishing taking place our shores by our native fishermen.

From Pelagic to Potting, Seining to gillnetting, the documentary offers just a taste of the life of a fisherman and the challenges they face on a daily basis.

Gafa sna Líonta on Wednesday 8th January 2020 on TG4 at 9.30pm.

This afternoon.

O’Connell Street, Dublin 1.

High winds or deliberately snapped in two by a patriot?

We may never know.

Meanwhile

Fight!

EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager (above a`nd Minister for Communications Richard Bruton (top)

This morning.

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, €2.6 billion of public support for the controversial National Broadband Plan.

Communications Minister Richard Bruton said:

“I welcome today’s decision by the European Commission to grant state aid approval to the National Broadband Plan.

The National Broadband Plan will deliver high speed broadband to 1.1 million people, almost one quarter of our country. Without high speed broadband it will be significantly more difficult to attract new jobs to rural areas and develop new enterprise opportunities and it will be more difficult to retain the jobs that currently exist in these areas. H

igh speed broadband will allow remote working, which can ease congestion and reduce emissions. It will ensure that the digital revolution happening in education, healthcare, farming and tourism does not bypass rural Ireland. We will make sure that rural Ireland is not left behind.”

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of EC competition policy said:

“The National Broadband Plan in Ireland is expected to address the significant digital divide between urban and rural areas in Ireland, enabling Irish consumers and businesses to benefit from the full potential of digital growth. This will help households and businesses in areas of Ireland where private investment is insufficient.”

Hmm.

State aid: Commission approves €2.6 billion public support for the Irish National Broadband Plan (EU Commission)

Previously: National Broadband Plan on Broadsheet

Rollingnews

This afternoon.

The Socialist Party (PSOE) of caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez won the highest number of seats but fell short of an absolute majority at the repeat general election in Spain on Sunday.

With around 99% of the vote counted, the PSOE had taken 120 seats – three fewer than the result it managed at the April 28 general election. The conservative Popular Party (PP) won 87 seats – a major gain from the 66 seats it secured in April, its worst result ever.

But far-right group Vox saw the most significant rise, jumping from 24 to 52 seats, to become the third-largest party in Spain’s lower house, the Congress of Deputies.

Socialists win repeat Spanish election, Vox becomes third-biggest force in Congress (El Pais)

Meanwhile

Across Europe and beyond, as an increasingly fragmented political landscape becomes more polarised and voters increasingly see issues of identity, not the economy, as the key battleground, countries are finding elections no longer have clear outcomes.

Sometimes, this can mean no government can be formed at all: Spain has been ruled by Sánchez’s caretaker administration since April and that looks likely to continue for some time. Another example is Israel, where elections in September failed to resolve the deadlock left by equally inconclusive polls in April.

Other times, coalitions can be built, but only after increasingly difficult negotiations: the Netherlands (208 days) and Sweden (more than four months) set new records in 2017 and 2018. Belgium has now been 170 days without a government, though that is still some way off its 541-day record after the 2010 elections.

Why is this happening?

In part because, from Germany to France, Italy to Austria and Spain to Sweden to Israel, fewer and fewer people are voting for the big, broad-church centre-right and centre-left parties that have dominated their respective national political stages since the end of the second world war.

Spain’s PP and PSOE would once garner 80% of the vote between them; they managed barely 48% on Sunday. In the Netherlands, the three big mainstream parties scraped barely 40% together at the previous general election – roughly the proportion that any one of them might previously have expected.

Spain stalemate shows inconclusive elections are the new normal (The Guardian)

Graphic: The Guardian