News from the Capitals #38
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.
President Macron has announced the launch of a “flash mission” on hospitals’ emergency departments to review the state of affairs and the needs they face. This announcement was made a few days before a strike of hospital workers and was met with criticism from some professional unions who deemed it welcome but insufficient to face structural issues.
Also, the government has announced some measures in favor of the healthcare sector for this summer, such as wage increases for additional working hours.
Macron also announced the launch of a “National council for refoundation”, aimed at reinforcing dialogue with civil society on a rangw of issues (purchasing power, institutional reforms, the schooling system...); the opposition denounced it as a mere “gadget”. On top of it, the government is due to propose a bill on purchasing power very soon; it should also try to pass a bill allowing it to take measures to contain the spread of Covid in case of a new surge of the disease this summer.
As regards to legislative elections, the presidential majority seems on its way to get a majority in the National assembly, albeit not an absolute one, the left-wing coalition Nupes is likely to become the second force in parliament. Besides, President Macron and left-wing leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon have been sparring on the issue of police violence after a woman was shot during a police control.
Months of ‘Partygate’ inquiries and Government scandals culminated in a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson at the start of this week after more than a quarter of Conservative MPs submitted their letters to instigate the vote. Johnson narrowly survived the vote which saw more than two-fifths (41%) of his MPs turn against him, leaving him vulnerable and without the power of the large majority he had before.
While Johnson survived the vote and is looking to set out several new policy announcements to mark the start of his recovery, he will hope that the two upcoming by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton go favourably, and the current predictions of Conservative losses are overturned. Johnson is expected to lay out his new policy with regards to the Northern Ireland Protocol in order to regain the support of Brexiters and to re-establish trust with the DUP and is rumoured to be lining up a re-shuffle in the coming weeks.
As part of his policy reset, Johnson announced this week to be ‘health week’. So far, the Government has noted its progression against diagnostic targets and introduced the new Innovative Medicines Fund that will hope to support the adoption of new drugs and place the UK at the centre of innovative medicine.
From the beginning of the month of June, it is no longer necessary to present the Covid Passport to enter Spain for travelers coming from European Union countries.
Regarding the energetic policy agenda, on June 8th, the European Commission approved the so-called "Iberian exception" that will allow Spain and Portugal to limit the price of gas in the wholesale electricity market for a period of twelve months. The President of the Spanish Government assured that it will mean a reduction of between 15% and 20% in the cost of electricity for households and companies.
This measure considers the particular situation of the two countries, specially exposed to the evolution of the wholesale market due to the high dependence on renewable sources and the very few interconnections with the European market.
On the other hand, in the field of the international relations, Argelia announced yesterday the immediate suspension of the Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighborliness and Cooperation with Spain. This reaction is due to the support that the Spanish Government has shown towards the ‘Autonomy Plan for Western Sahara’ that Morocco presented in 2007 to the United Nations. This plan entails a high degree of Moroccan control over the Western Sahara, with minor concessions for the Sahraouis, to which Algeria is strongly opposed.
As a result of this crisis, economic repercussions are expected in various sectors, such as the energy sector since Algerian gas accounts for 40% of the gas consumed in Spain. In addition, the diplomatic situation between Spain and Algeria may have an impact on the migration crisis, since an increased arrival of immigrants via the so-called Algerian route are expected.