EU leaders return from the EU council meeting: a fair recovery package?

by RPP
Weekly European political updates

EU leaders return from the EU council meeting: a fair recovery package?

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.    

 

Germany

The EU Council meeting held from 17-21 July 2020 was a political focal point in Germany this week. The strong German position on the European recovery package, pushing for financial support for southern EU states who have been most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, drew national interest as Germany traditionally supports budgetary discipline. The outcome of the Council Meeting was warmly received by most political parties. The ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) welcomed the remarkable size of the EU budget and the recovery plan as a sign of Europe’s capability to take action, while coalition partners, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), praised the outcome as a sign of future European solidarity, though the CDU and the SPD both stressed the need for reforms in some European states. In opposition, the Green Party welcomed the agreement, but criticised the nationalistic position of the more fiscal countries, while the Liberal Free Democrats (FDP) welcomed the changes but argued provisions for education and research are inadequate. 

Greece

Following the marathon European Council budgetary negotiations, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis returned  to Athens with an overall support package exceeding 70 billion euros. In an address, Mitsotakis focused on the country’s new-found credibility on a European level, and noted the budget will be allocated to support labour costs, with an emphasis on climate change action, the green economy and digital skills. These areas will play a key role in the recovery plan that Greece will submit to the European Commission in October. On 21 July, Turkey announced an illegal exploration in Greek waters. A possible acceleration of the Turkish mobilisation would be aimed either at preventing an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) demarcation agreement between Greece and Egypt, or at accelerating developments, before the U.S. elections. 

Portugal 

Prime Minister António Costa stated, following the marathon European Council meeting in Brussels, that Portugal will receive a total of 45 billion euros over the next seven years. This includes funds from the next Multiannual Financial Framework and the Recovery Fund. Costa states this is a vote of confidence in the European and Portuguese economic recovery. At a national level, the Court of Auditors (TdC), according to an audit report released on 21 July, detected "weaknesses" in the communication of public contracts carried out under the exceptional regime launched because of the current pandemic. The Ministry of Health stated that it has already asked for the "non-conformities" detected to be filed, which will lead to a report on all acquisitions in time of COVID-19. Regarding the governing framework, the Government approved on 23 July the extension of the deadline for transferring competences to municipalities in education and health to 31 March 2022, whereas the previous deadline was for the beginning of 2021. Minister of State for Modernisation and Public Administration Alexandra Leitão reassures that this is not a setback, but a recognition that the fields of education and health are more delicate and require more attention. The delay will also allow for decentralisation to take into account next year’s elections.  

United Kingdom 

Sino-British tensions have marked UK politics this week. After omitting the Chinese telecoms company Huawei from the UK’s 5G network last week, ministers are now reviewing Chinese involvement in key infrastructure projects including Heathrow Airport and the manufacturing firm British Steel. Following the Chinese imposition of a new security law on Hong Kong, the Government earlier this week suspended its extradition deal with Hong Kong, and the UK will no longer sell weapons to Hong Kong. In meetings with ministers, the Opposition, and the Government on 21 July, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argued that the WHO has been bought by the Chinese Government and urged further UK dealignment with China. Tensions with China come amid a government security committee report stressing the UK has been too slow to react to Russian interference in UK life and elections, and the Government is expected to introduce a security bill in Parliament today to control interference. 

 

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

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