News from the Capitals #1
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.
On 31 January 2020, Britain officially left the EU. While the UK has agreed to the terms of its EU departure, the transition period (until 31 December 2020) will allow for a new trade agreement to be negotiated. Brexit has also given a narrow lead for the vote for Scottish Independence, according to a poll from the University of Strathclyde. This marks a gradual increase in support for Scotland’s independence as the UK leaves the EU. Regarding the terrorist attack of 2 February, questions are being raised over the government’s reactionary response which may see emergency legislation apply retrospectively over the automatic release of convicted terrorists. It is believed the measure could violate the spirit of the European Convention on Human Rights. This was the second case in just over two months of a freed prisoner committing further terror offences. The possible move will be part of the post-Brexit review of Europe’s legal institutions on human rights.
Thuringian’s state parliament had surprising results when Thomas Kemmerich from the Free Democratic Party (FDP) was elected new state premier. The previous incumbent, Bodo Ramelow from the Leftist party (Die Linke) failed the first two ballots. Thomas Kemmerich (FDP) had only run for the third round of voting, in which a simple majority is needed. Kemmerich’s win is particularly surprising given the fact that the Liberals (FDP) came into Thuringian’s parliament with only 73 votes. The Liberals and the Christian Democrats (CDU) were highly criticised for overthrowing Ramelow with votes of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Consequently, Secretary General of the Christian Democrats Paul Ziemiak called for new elections in Thuringia. While FDP leader Christian Lindner distanced himself from his party’s state association, Social Democrat leader Saskia Esken took to Twitter to say the CDU had questions to answer over the Thuringian’s elections in the context of a committee meeting of the federal coalition. Leader of the Greens, Annalena Baerbock, tweeted that she expects Thomas Kemmerich to resign, which did happen on 6 February. Chancellor Angela Merkel described it as an "unforgivable event" that broke with her and the party’s basic convictions. On 7 February, Lindner, asked the FDP’s leadership for a vote of confidence.
The Romanian Government led by the National Liberal Party (PNL) has fallen after a no-confidence motion was submitted by the Social Democratic Party (PSD) on 5 February. The motion was driven by the Orban’s intention to conduct electoral law reforms. A new Prime Minister will be announced on 6 February by President Klaus Iohannis (PNL) who declared a preference for early elections or the designation of a new Liberal Candidate. Recent data shows that snap elections could favour PNL, who could obtain parliamentary majority if the parliament is dissolved before early elections take place. The president can dissolve the parliament if members of the parliament reject two cabinet proposals within 60 days.
The French Health Minister, Agnès Buzyn, will present a strategy concerning the law project on advanced age and autonomy in the national assembly’s committees at the beginning of the summer, in order to be voted on before the end of 2021. This law project aims to oversee the increasing number of seniors in France and to support them appropriately. Additionally, the pension reform is under review by the special committee of the national assembly this week, in order to be voted in the national assembly by the middle of February. Strikes concerning this reform continue across France.
The Health Committee in the Congress will be formed on 7 February, by when the spokespeople will also be officially announced. The Health Committee in the Senate was formed on 5 February along with other Committees. As soon as the committees are formed, their members will be able to start their activities as working groups, namely tabling draft law proposals. Regarding the National Cancer Strategy, Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa recently announced that the next version will be published in the upcoming months. He revealed that the new strategy is being shaped with contributions from regions, scientific associations and patient groups. Mr Illa is committed during his mandate to ensure equal access to cancer patients to innovative therapies. As an example, he praised the Spanish healthcare system for being one of the first in Europe to include, in a planned and organised manner, CAR T-cell therapy for the treatment of cancer.
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.