With its 28 Member States and its 510 million inhabitants the European Union is the leading economic power in the world. And yet when people speak of it, they only mention the problems experienced in its construction and it remains largely misunderstood. This edition of the Atlas of the European Union is a work of reference that presents the Union, its institutions, each of its Member States and their overseas territories via their history, their culture and their reality. With over 50 maps, original information sheets and synthetic statistics, it offers a unique view of Europe and is accessible to all.
On 15th March 12.9 million Dutch will be called to renew the 150 members of the lower house of Parliament (Tweede Kamer). These elections will precede the presidential and general elections in France and the German general election by a few weeks. A snap parliamentary election might also be organised in Italy in the course of this year. These four Member States are facing the threat of the rise of the populist right and a weakening on the left. In the Netherlands the leading left party is only ranking fifth in the polls right now.
Just as the European Commission has launched a consultation on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the EU's future budgetary planning (post 2020), it seems appropriate to look into the reasons for the mistrust surrounding this policy, which is increasingly a mystery to many farmers and the population. We should also consider the constraints weighing on the CAP before exploring ways that might, as meaning is given to it, lead to a return of confidence on the part of the Europeans in this policy.
Since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, world trade has lastingly and structurally slowed. This was not obvious from the outset. Trade is in large part composed of manufactured goods, demand for which is more cyclical than that for services and agricultural products. Investments, which comprise a high proportion of imports, are also more volatile than the rest of demand. The fact that exports incorporate more and more intermediary imported inputs has accentuated the cyclicity of trade. Finally, during an acute financial crisis, the restriction of commercial credit and the deterioration of guarantees (more essential still to exports than to national transactions) restrict international trade.
As expected, Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) was elected President of the Federal Republic of Germany on 12th February, after the first round of voting. Supported by the SPD, Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU), he collected 931 votes of the 1,260 members of the Federal Assembly.
He will take over from Joachim Gauck, who had decided not to stand again, on 18th March.
At the mid-term of the 8th legislature, the European Parliament, in office since the elections of May 2014, is implementing a traditional "distribution" of posts of responsibility. Article 19 of the internal regulation stipulates that the chairs of the parliamentary committees, the Deputy-Chairs as well as the questeurs hold their mandates for a renewable 2 and a-half year period. Moreover internal elections within the political groups have supported their Chairs whilst we note that there has been some slight rebalancing in terms of the coordinators' posts. Although Italian citizens draw specific attention with the two main candidates in the battle for the top post, we should note other appointments if we are to understand the careful balance between nationalities, political groups and individual experience of the European members of Parliament.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to organise a referendum in 2017 on the issue of the UK's place in the EU: "Do you think that the UK should remain in the European Union or leave the European Union?" The question of the UK's status within the European Union is one of the issues at stake in the latter's development. The Robert Schuman Foundation offers its readers an information file on the main questions set by the referendum as well as the options open to the UK if it leaves the EU.
The repeated drownings in the Mediterranean have led to an emergency situation regarding the European migratory question. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), more than 1,750 migrants perished in the Mediterranean between January and April 2015, ie more than 30 times the figure in the same period in 2014. Given these repeated catastrophes an extraordinary European Council was organised on 23rd April and ten new measures were put forward on 20th April by the European Commission including stepping up surveillance operations and rescue at sea. The Robert Schuman Foundation is offering its readers an information file on the theme of immigration, that brings together its publications on this issue in order to review the development of these events in Europe.