News from the Capitals #26
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.
In terms of politics, the House has approved a 1.5 trillion-dollar plan (after COVID funding was dropped) to fund the government through September. The US continues to try to identify what the best standpoint is on addressing the war in Ukraine (i.e., how much aid is too much to tip the scales on Russian aggression against other countries as well – such as the potential for refurbishing Polish fighter jets).
Since Monday, Ukrainians can go to the registration centre in Brussels to apply for temporary protection. The Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Sammy Mahdi calls on the government to move to the federal phase of crisis management in preparation of the arrival of Ukrainian refugees. Belgium is making an additional 2 million euros available for humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
On 23 December 2021, the seven parties of the coalition agreed to go nuclear free by 2025. The federal government had set a deadline on 18 March to take their final decision which would depend on the security of energy supply and energy prices. Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, most parties have suggested to extend the deadline to after 2025. The position of Ecolo, the Belgian environmentalist political party, was much awaited as the party has been waiting for this agreement for 20 years. The Ecolo co-president Jean-Marc Nollet announced that he will not ask the immediate application of the nuclear exit plan.
The invasion of Ukraine continues to dominate domestic political discourse. Following criticism about the restrictive criteria for Ukrainian refugees allowed in the UK, the Home Office have expanded this further. However, the Home Office is facing increasing criticisms from all sides of the political spectrum for the bureaucratic and slow processing of asylum seekers at British consulates in France and Poland.
Roman Abramovich has just been sanctioned and his assets in the UK frozen. This includes Chelsea Football Club.
There is also mounting pressure for the government to intervene and alleviate some of the burden of the cost-of-living crisis. Food and fuel prices are expected to rise significantly in April and the Chancellor is expected to set out a plan in the Spring Statement.
The Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, has appeared in Congress and declared that the rise in inflation and electricity prices (which have reached record highs: 400 euros per megawatt) are due to the invasion of Ukraine. However, the statements have generated great controversy as the year-on-year inflation rate was already at 7.4% before the conflict and energy was also at record highs.
The Popular Party has conceded to form a government in the region of Castilla y León together with VOX. The pact has resulted in the agreement that the Popular Party will have seven councillorships and VOX will keep the vice-presidency and three councillorships.