The Croats are being called to ballot on 8th November next to renew the deputies in the Hrvatski Sabor, the only chamber in Parliament. On 28th September last the 123 MPs present voted unanimously for the dissolution of parliament. Just a month before the election the gap separating the right and left-wing forces is tight. According to a survey by Promocija+, published on 4th October, the opposition coalition (right) led by the Democratic Union (HDZ) and Tomislav Karamako is due to win 32.9% of the vote, with 31.9% going to the government coalition (left) led by Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic's Social Democratic Party (SDP). The latter immediately recalled that just a year ago the polls all forecast victory for Ivo Josipovic (SDP) in the presidential election that took place on 28th December and 11th January last, whilst in the end it was won by Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic (HDZ). This victory might have been the first step in the return to office on the part of HDZ.
According to Henri Labayle political asylum in the European Union now has a face. It is that of Aylan, the drowned Syrian child lying alongside his brother on a Mediterranean beach. The macabre reality suffered by the thousands of dead migrants who preceded him heralded a turning point in the existential crisis of the common asylum policy. This has now been brought into the one realm of any worth: that of the Union's values. To form an opinion we have to know what we are talking about. The extent of the crisis explains the difficulty in responding to it.
Forward Portugal, the coalition led by Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho rallying the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the People's Party (PP) easily drew ahead in the general elections that took place on 4th October in Portugal. The two parties won 36.83% of the vote and 99 seats (-9). The Socialist Party (PS) won 32.38% of the vote and 85 seats (+11). The Left Bloc (BE) won 10.22% and 19 seats (+11). It came out ahead of the United Democratic Coalition (CDU) an alliance of the Communist Party (PCP) and the Ecologist-Green Party (PEV) which won 87.27% of the vote and 17 seats (+1). Turnout totalled 55.23%. The outgoing right-wing coalition won the ballot but did not win an absolute majority in Parliament. It now seems that there will be a minority right-wing government.
According to Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, Ambassador of Germany to France no Member State, big or small, France and Germany alike can face present problems and challenges alone. We might quote just a few: the climate, notably with the Paris Conference (COP21), at the end of the year or security issues, notably in the Near East and even the refugees most of whom are from the Near East. These external issues are of major importance to us all. In an increasingly cross-border economy the EU and its Member States can but face global competition together. All of these internal and external developments means that for Germany to way to a solution must be opened up by Europe.
The Poles are called to ballot to renew the two chambers of Parliament: the Diet (Sejm), the lower chamber of 460 MPs and the Senate, upper chamber of 100 members. Elections take place in Poland every four years. For the Diet Poland is divided into 41 constituencies which elects between 7 and 20 MPs each by proportional vote on the d'Hondt system. Senators are elected within 100 constituencies, which each appoint 1 Senator at the majority. Candidates are not allowed to run both for the Diet and the Senate. Just one month before the election all of the polls show that the opposition party Law and Justice (PiS) is ahead of the Civic Platform (PO) in office for the last 8 years and led by Eva Kopacz. One thing is certain however - the next Prime Minister will be a woman.
On 30th September the European Commission will publish an action plan on the Capital Markets Union which will cover all of the measures that it is likely to take by 2019. This initiative is useful to improve the financing of a more innovative economy and to foster the revival of long term investment. It may also help to strengthen the euro zone before steps are taken to complete it. In this sense, CMU is an integrated part of the European economic and financial policy. However, its implementation will have to be clarified in order to link it to the Juncker Plan and to facilitate its appropriation by all of those involved.
In an editorial on his site Jean-Dominique Giuliani explains that the unprecedented wave of immigration quite clearly reveals the major issues that the European Union has to face - regarding of course external border controls, the reception of asylum seeking refugees but which also calls on its diplomacy and defence policy.
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.
The Foundation has published the report of a meeting that took place on 8th July last organised by the Centre of Analysis, Forecasting and Strategy (CAPS) at the French Foreign Office and the Centrre for International Studies and Research (CERI) with Vincent Cochetel, the Europe Bureau Director for the High Commissioner for Refugees. The latter draws an analysis of the various forms of the present crisis in Europe: a crisis linked to a massive influx of refugees into Europe, a crisis of responsibility and solidarity between States, a crisis of trust, of values etc.. In his opinion the crisis in which Europe now finds itself is deeply political: it challenges the values of solidarity and trust between the Member States of the EU.
30 years after its signature on 14th June 1985, the Schengen agreement, which set up an area for the free movement of people, is fundamental to the building of Europe. It is an example of cooperation that combined at the outset a small number of States before being extended within the framework of treaties, whilst allowing participation by States that are not members of the European Union. The Foundation publishes a study by Philippe Deivet that draws up a report on this cooperation and insists on the challenges ahead. Confronted with challenges that are without precedent within a context of profound destabilisation amongst its neighbours, the Schengen area must be strengthened in order to ensure effective control of its external borders whilst responding to the humanitarian emergency.
Just three months before the UN conference on Climate Change in Paris that will take place from 30th November to 11th December 2015 (COP 21), Nicolas Hulot, Special Envoy of the Republic of France for the protection of the planet reviews the issues and prospects of this meeting.
The hypothesis whereby the UK might leave the European Union still seems unlikely in the eyes of most. It has become plausible however. Indeed British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised that if his party remains in office after the general elections on 7th May, a referendum will be organised on the possible Brexit by the end of 2017 at the latest. Jean-Claude Piris gives a detailed legal analysis of the various possible options and their consequences for the UK and the European Union.
Is 2015, the year of recovery for Europe? The fresh election of the Union's political institutions offers an exceptional opportunity for a better understanding of future issues: strengthening of the euro zone, the position of France and the UK in Europe, regional secessionism, growth and employment, investment and financing of the European economy, Energy Union, immigration, terrorism, European Defence and security challenges in the east and south, transatlantic issues etc... These questions form the core of the Schuman Report 2015. This work of reference is for both decision makers and observers of the European Union, a source of analysis and original proposals, supported by a requirement for rigour and quality. It is a vital tool for a full panorama of European policy. Available in good bookshops, as an e-book and on the Foundation's site.