News from the Capitals #34
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.
The Secretary-General of Germany’s CSU (Christian Social Union) party, Stephan Mayer, resigned this week after he threatened a journalist. The journalist had written an article about Mayer’s private life in which an illegitimate child was mentioned.
This month, two state elections are taking place. One in Schleswig-Holstein, on Sunday, 8 May 2022, and one in North Rhine-Westphalia, on Sunday, 15 May 2022.
One topic that is becoming more and more important in Germany’s healthcare politics is the financing of hospitals. Over the past few months, the Minister for Health Karl Lauterbach (Social Democratic Party of Germany, SPD) has announced several times that he will be introducing a number of reforms to the German hospital system, as well as updating the so called ‘hospital financing law’. It seems however that he cannot agree with Christian Lindner (Free Democratic Party, FDP), Minister for Finances, on the funding that should be allocated.
Additionally, Lauterbach has been criticised over and over for being the ‘Minister for Pandemics’ as it seems that he has solely been focusing on overcoming the pandemic. This is making German ministers skeptical as to whether other healthcare topics will be addressed any time soon.
Local election voting will take place today across parts of the UK, with Labour and the Liberal Democrats expected to make some gains across England at the expense of the Conservative Party. Tory predictions have estimated that they will lose as many as 550 seats, however opposition parties are suggesting this is unrealistic and that losses will not be as severe.
Following months of criticism of Boris Johnson over ‘Party gate’ scandals, attention this week has turned towards Labour leader, Keir Starmer who is facing renewed criticism over pictures taken of him eating and drinking with colleagues while under tier 2 restrictions in 2020, now dubbed ‘Beer gate’. Starmer maintains that no rules were broken, and the Durham police force have not re-opened the case, however this still threatens to have some influence over voting decisions later today.
The Health and Care Bill achieved Royal Assent this week after almost 10 months of debate and amendments. The Act now establishes integrated care systems on a statutory footing, splitting the overall health and care system into 42 regional areas. Last week also saw the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill pass into law, recognising animals as sentient beings and introducing a committee on animal sentience to inform and report on government decision-making impacting animal welfare.
Listeria was found in a major Belgian cheese factory called Milcobel and their production has been stopped. In Belgium, Aldi has decided, in agreement with the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain, to withdraw abbey cheese from the market because of the possible presence of listeria.
The plenary session of the Walloon Parliament adopted a resolution on Wednesday calling for greater awareness and improved research for better management of endometriosis.
Looking at the invasion of Ukraine, the Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo has expressed his support for the new European sanctions against Russia. Belgium now imports around 30% of its oil from Russia.
Regarding the legislative elections, agreements and negotiations between the parties are underway with a surprise on the side of the Socialist Party (PS) which will ally with La France Insoumise (LFI), far-left party. LFI and the Greens (EELV) have reached an agreement on 100 constituencies and on several programmatic points. After the finalization of an agreement with LFI for the legislative elections on Wednesday, the validation of this text by the national council of the Socialist Party, Thursday night, "will be quite a battle," warns the spokesman of the PS.
Unlike 2017, when agreements with François Bayrou's MoDem were tied up almost without a hitch, Emmanuel Macron must deal this time with many parties to ensure a majority in the National Assembly. No less than five allied political movements have been formed in five years: Territoires de progrès, Fédération progressiste and En commun, for the left and ecologist wing of the majority; Horizons and Agir, for its most right-wing fringe. Tensions with former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe continue to grow as Mr. Philippe would like to present candidates from his new party Horizon, but President Macron only wants a center-right bloc.
Finally, in the perspective of a change of Prime Minister and governments, President Macron is first looking for an environmentally conscious lady who will be directly responsible for ecological planning and the urgency of purchasing power. However, none of the names that have been circulating so far seem to really impose themselves.