As the new normal settles, a state of unrest arises
As the new normal settles, a state of unrest arises
Europe is a colourful continent in terms of policies and outcomes. It is essential to stay updated on how these policies may impact your work to build better regulatory frameworks, enhance your message and enhance communication with stakeholders. Here you can find a summary of the major European political updates of this week.
Following a COVID-19 outbreak in slaughterhouses and meat-producing facilities in Gütersloh/Warendorf, in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Prime Minister of NRW and prospective head of the Christian Democrats Armin Laschet introduced a regional lockdown. 1500 employees of the Tönnies company tested positive for COVID-19. On 23 June, another COVID-19 outbreak in the facilities of the meat-producing company Wiesenhof became public. Consequently, there is political debate on working conditions in the meat sector, as employees are mainly Romanian, working for subcontractors. The Romanian ambassador in Berlin, Emil Hurezeanu, demanded the improvement of working conditions in the sector. Federal Minister of Employment of the Socialdemocratic Party, Hubertus Heil, is seeking to amend the current regulations on working conditions in the meat-producing sector to prohibit subcontracts. In other news, in the night from 21 – 22 June, there were violent riots in the centre of Stuttgart. Several drunk people attacked police officers and robbed shops. As a result, the state parliament in Baden-Württemberg discussed a ban on alcohol in public places. The riots moreover sparked a political discussion on perceptions of and violence against police and security forces.
On 24 June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a relaxation of lockdown measures in England, which will come in force on 4 July. Pubs and other hospitality venues in the service industry will be allowed to reopen in conjunction with a raft of new hygiene measures, including plastic screens and table order, though the two-metre distancing rule has been reduced to ‘one-metre plus’, where distancing is still advised. The Government is pressing ahead with the Project Birch scheme to bail out major industries such as Tata Steel in loans worth hundreds of millions of pounds. Some debt will be converted into equity, meaning the UK steel industry will be part-nationalised for the first time in over 30 years. Brexit has risen to the top of the political agenda again as the UK initiates its free trade agreement negotiations with countries in the Pacific, with a view to joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership to make up for a decline in trade with the EU. ‘Intensified’ UK-EU negotiations begin next week to reach a deal through the summer as the threat of no deal persists.
The state of emergency will end on 11 July, and President Emmanuel Macron has announced a cabinet shuffle in the beginning of the summer as he seeks a new direction for the last two years of his presidency. The main question in the newspapers concerns the fate of Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who is currently considered by polls as more popular than the President himself. Moreover, the second ballot of the municipal elections will take place on 28 June, two months after the initial scheduled date. Strict sanitary measures were put in place to organize this ballot, but abstention rate may be high, considering the last surveys on the issue. The Ségur de la Santé, which is a 7-week dialogue between the Health Ministry and the different health workers unions, is still ongoing. Conclusions of this and the new public hospital reform will be presented by the beginning of the summer. Health workers expect many measures from the government, especially a wage revaluation.
Spain is as of 21 June starting its "new normal" period after the state of emergency, in place since 14 March, came to its end. The health crisis is nonetheless ongoing, and the government has asked citizens to continue observing security measures as established in the royal decree from 10 June. The decree is being discussed in the Congress and sets a road map for until a treatment is available. President Sánchez announced on 20 June that the State will hold a strategic reserve of essential products in case of a second outbreak or other health emergencies, complementary to those kept by the autonomous communities. Health Ministry Salvador Illa confirmed that the government is currently working on a National Response Plan for COVID-19, which will include a strategic reserve, national production of essential products, contingency plans to activate healthcare resources across the territory, and guidelines with epidemiological criteria to manage potential outbreaks and/or a second Covid wave.
The Greek Prime Minister announced the three major challenges for Greece this summer. The government must tackle Turkey’s aggressive behaviour as Ankara continues to provoke Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean. The second challenge Greece is currently facing is the tourist season, which opened with certain restrictions on 15 June. Only visitors from “safe” countries can enter Greece at the moment, which excludes the UK, the US, Sweden and Turkey. On 1 July, this will extend to visitors from other countries. Lastly, the Greek government will face the economic recession. Unemployment rates have reached economic crisis figures, and Greece’s main economic objective is to receive support from the European Union Recovery Fund. It needs to be noticed that the unemployment rates have reached the economic-crisis figures. According to the initial European Commission proposal for each country, Greece would receive 32 billion euros.
You can find more information on European news in our EU national elections heatmap, where we provide an overarching perspective with key political insight for individual countries. Make sure to check it here.