This Week in Europe: Migration Deals and Reforms

, by Radu Dumitrescu

This Week in Europe: Migration Deals and Reforms

Members of the TNF team recount big events from Europe from the past week, and point attention to news that may have passed notice. What did we miss? Comment on our Facebook page at http://facebook.com/thenewfederalist.eu !

Erdogan wins new term

This week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a new 5-year term. It was the first time that both parliamentary and presidential elections were held simultaneously. With 52.55% of the votes, the man that has been dubbed “the sultan” by his critics is set to stay in power until 2023. In the parliament, his party, the AKP, lost majority by itself. However, the score received by its coalition partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) means that no change will occur in the legislative either. The opposition, most of all the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), contests the results, especially as the the news agency Anadolu broadcasted the vote count while it was ongoing and showed a high percentage for Erdogan from the start.

Harley-Davidson hit by EU tariffs

On Monday, motorbike producer Harley Davidson released a statement saying that it will be moving some of its production capacities outside the United States in order to preserve access to the European Market. The move comes after the EU imposed a retaliatory tariff of 25% on motorbikes shipped from the United States. As Europe is the largest export market for the company, with nearly 40,000 bikes sold in 2017, the tariff would represent a major hit. In the recent period, U.S. President Donald Trump inaugurated a trade war with previous partners such as Canada, China and the EU, attracting retaliatory tariffs from all of them.

Romanian government survives no-confidence vote

In Romania, the ruling Social Democrat-ALDE government, which has seen massive protests for over a year, has survived a no confidence vote in the parliament. The motion was backed by only 166 MPs, with 233 needed to pass. While the opposition blamed it for catering to the wishes of the prosecuted and convicted party leader Liviu Dragnea and for sheer incompetence, the government of Viorica Dăncilă nevertheless survived. In the parliament, the same coalition has also come under fire for controversial changes to the judiciary which have attracted criticism from the European Commission and the Council of Europe. Also this week, 12 states, among which the United States, Germany and France, published a public message through their embassies in Romania warning that the recent changes could “impede international law enforcement cooperation”.

Babiš sworn in as Czech PM

This Wednesday, Czech President Milos Zeman appointed Andrej Babiš as Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, ending 8 months of political deadlock that followed the no-confidence vote that took down the first Babiš government. This time, the billionaire businessman swore to defend the country against migration, corruption, waste and bureaucracy. Both Zeman and the new PM are supporters of reinforcing the external borders and of keeping migrants in countries of the Middle East and Africa. The president actually took part in bringing together a viable coalition in the parliament, bridging between Babiš’s ANO and his former party, the center-left Social Democrats. With only 93 out of 200 deputies, however, the two parties are counting on support from the 15 deputies of the Communist Party at the next confidence vote - that of July 11th.

Strengthened EU protections for travellers take effect

On July 1st, EU consumer rules will come into force, just in time for the summer travel season. The new rules are an update to existing ones - the EU Package Travel Directive - and include combinations of flights and hotels booked online. The expanded protections make it so an airline selling hotel accommodations will have to be subjected to the same rules as a tour operator. The new updated rules come to protect travellers in the event of bankruptcy of a travel vendor. Moreover, travelers will be able to cancel or demand refunds if tour operators will seek to impose additional costs and price increases because of changes in market conditions.

EU leaders agree on migration policies

This week, after an all-night session, EU leaders came up with a migration deal based on the cooperation of several states. The deal will create new centers for housing and processing migrants but falls short of completely rehauling the Union’s asylum rules. However, signs of an European consensus on migration policy can be already seen, and the biggest winner is Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was seeing increased pressure on the issue. A careful balance between coastline countries and anti-migration interior ministers - especially in Italy, Austria and Germany -, the deal brought relief to a strained EU.

Eurozone reformed to deal with financial shocks

Dubbed “the mother of all summits” due to the immense number of issues it covered, June’s European Council, although focused on migration, also dealt with the reform of the eurozone. On the initiative of French president Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European leaders backed the fund that oversees failed backs with the European Stability Mechanism, the eurozone bailout body. The reform is considered minimal, but it represents another stage in the eurozone-centered talks between the two leaders and between them and the Union.

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