This Week in Europe: UKIP, Schulz resigns, French economy

, by Radu Dumitrescu

This Week in Europe: UKIP, Schulz resigns, French economy

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 !

Commission envisions larger post-Brexit budget

On Wednesday, EU budget commissioner Guenther Oettinger revealed a plan to increase the EU budget for 2021-2027, despite the UK’s departure from the Union. The increase would mean that the 7-year budget would account for 1.1%-1.2% of the EU’s gross national income, compared to 1.0% now. Oettinger mentioned that on average, out of €100 earned by EU citizens, €50 go to taxes, and out of that only one euro goes to the EU, the increase representing 10 or 20 more euro cents. The proposal will be discussed at an informal summit next week, and should be agreed on before the 2019 European elections.

Germany against pollution

Famous for its automobile industry, Germany and its officials are debating a proposal to make public transportation free in order to reduce road traffic. The move comes two years after the Dieselgate scandal surrounding Volkswagen and after warnings from the EC to reduce air pollution. Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks announced that the program will be tested at the end of the year in 5 German cities, including Bonn, Essen and Mannheim. The proposal includes points like support for car-sharing schemes and restrictions on emissions of taxis and buses.

Dutch Foreign Minister resigns after Putin scandal

In the beginning, Dutch Foreign Minister and close ally of PM Mark Rutte, Halbe Zijlstra claimed he overheard Russian president Vladimir Putin talking about expansionist ambitions at a gathering in 2006. After it was revealed that he did not meet the president in person and that no such remarks could be proven, Zijlstra resigned saying “it’s about the credibility of the minister domestically and abroad.

Die Welt journalist freed in Turkey

Turkey, the country with the most imprisoned journalists in the world, released Deniz Yucel on Friday, after a year in prison. While working for Die Welt, Yucel was arrested in February 2017 and accused of espionage. His release comes after EC president Jean-Claude Juncker made the liberation of imprisoned journalists a condition for the improving of relations between Turkey and the Union.

Far-right European parties seek EU funds

Seeking funds for the 2019 European elections, far-right politicians have reunited into two parties - the nationalist Alliance for Peace and Freedom (APF), which reunites the Greek Golden Dawn and Germany’s NPD, both based on neo-nazi ideology. The other party is the Alliance of European National Movements (AENM), the party founded in Hungary and led by an accused Russian spy, MEP Bela Kovacs. Last year, both parties missed the EU parliament funding deadline and receive no funds.

Meanwhile, in Italy, members of the 5-Star Movement, who have been pretending to return half their salaries - which amount to 5 times the average pay - to small businesses, were exposed as lying by an Italian broadcaster. Simply put, the transfers, amounting to €1.4-million, were being posted online and then cancelled.

Commission: recognition for Kosovo is up to the member-states

On Monday, the European Commission stated that the matter concerning official state recognition for Kosovo has to be decided by each member state of the Union. The statement comes after Austrian vice-chancellor and far-right leader Heinz-Christian Strache said that Kosovo, which unilaterally broke from Serbia in 2008, is still part of Serbia. At the moment, 23 out of 28 member-states of the EU have recognized Kosovo as independent. While it does not recognize the Government of Kosovo, Serbia begun to normalize its relationships with its former region in 2013, after the Brussels Agreement.

UKIP loses 4th leader in less than 2 years

Henry Bolton, elected UKIP leader 5 months ago, has been ousted after members voted 867 to 500 in favor of a no confidence vote. Earlier this year, Bolton left his wife and was seeing Jo Marney, a 25-year old model who made racist comments via Meghan Markle, the to-be wife of Prince Harry, saying that “Meghan’s seed will taint our Royal Family”.

French economy sees new growth

In France, unemployment is at its lowest point since 2009 (8.9%) and the GDP is expanding at its highest rate in years, with IMF chief praising the pro-business reforms of President Emmanuel Macron. In just one case, the tech giant Amazon announced that it plans to create 2,000 new jobs in France this year. The young president has promised to reduce unemployment to 7% by the end of his term in 2022, but his critics label him as the “president of the rich” for his policy that favors companies.

Schulz resigns as SPD head

On Tuesday, former EP President Martin Schulz announced its resignation as leader of the German Social-Democrats. “I want to bring the personnel debate in the SPD to an end so that members can really concentrate on what is in the coalition agreement”, said Schulz, who also declared that he will not participate in the new government. Almost a year ago, Schulz was elected as SPD party head with 100% of the vote. He was replaced - by unanimous decision of the SPD leaders - by former Labor Minister Andrea Nahles.

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