The Letter n°682

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The Letter n°682
The Letter
Tuesday 8th September 2015
issue 682
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Political Asylum in Europe: responding to the challenges of the Mediterranean
Author : Vincent Cochetel
Vincent Cochetel
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 Centre 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.
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Elections : General Elections in Portugal 4th October
The upcoming elections in Portugal will take place on 4th October. The Assembly of the Republic (monocameral parliament) comprises 230 members elected for 4 years by proportional representation within 22 multi-member constituencies. Six parties are represented at present: the Social Democratic Party (PSD), of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, the Socialist Party (PS), the People's Party (PP), a member of the government coalition, the Communist Party (PCP), the Left Block (BE) and the Ecologist Party-Greens (PEV). 21 parties are standing on 4th October. Just one month before the election the opposition is ahead in the polls - but it only slightly holds the lead over the outgoing coalition... Read more

Migration : Informal Foreign Affairs Council
On 4th and 5th September in Luxembourg the European Foreign Affairs Ministers discussed the migratory issue and notably the mechanisms of rehabilitation and relocation of refugees which should be permanent along with "distribution on a basis of set criteria" such as the size of the country and its economic strength - they should also include "European jurisdiction" to prevent excessive differences in terms of acknowledgement rates. Federica Mogherini, the EU's High Representative, recalled that the issue was about an influx of refugees which does not imply the same moral and legal duties and that all of the EU's countries are affected. Ministers agreed to step up cooperation in terms of asylum seekers, border management, the fight to counter traffickers, work with the countries concerned and conflict management... Read more
Additional budget to receive refugees in Germany
Germany, which is at present experiencing a record influx of migrants, will release 6 billion € in additional funding for the reception of asylum seekers and refugees the leaders of the political parties in the coalition have decided. The Federal State will increase the budget devoted to the reception of asylum seekers and refugees by 3 billion € in 2016. It will also provide the regional States and communities which are notably guaranteeing the accommodation of asylum seekers, 3 billion additional €. The detailed distribution of these sums will be decided on 24th September during a meeting of the representatives of the Federal State and the Länder... Read more
Germany and France suggest "fair distribution" in Europe
French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel "have decided to communicate their proposals to the EU for the organisation of the refugees' and "fair distribution" across Europe. The two leaders, who spoke by telephone of the migrant crisis, "have decided on an initiative regarding the refugees who are trying to reach Europe." This initiative notably aims to "organise their reception and fair distribution" in Europe. It involves harmonising "standards to strengthen the European asylum system, guarantee the return of illegal migrants to their country of origin and provide the necessary support and cooperation with the countries of origin and transit.".. Read more
EU financial aid for France to help with the situation in Calais
On 31st August the European Commission announced via Frans Timmermans, the European Commission's First Vice-President and Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration that it would allocate 5.2 million € in emergency aid under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) to support France in the creation of a camp that can offer humanitarian assistance to 1,500 migrants and support the transport of asylum seekers from Calais to other destinations across France. This announcement came during a visit by the two European leaders to Calais together with Manuel Valls, the French Prime Minister and Bernard Cazeneuve, the French Home Affairs Minister. The 5.2 million € come in addition to the 266 million € previously granted to cover the period 2014-2020 in terms of long term action in the area of asylum, migration and integration as well as 3.8 million € in emergency aid allocated in 2014 to finance the introduction of a reception centre in Calais... Read more
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Frans Timmermans and Dimitris Avramopoulos travel to Greece
Frans Timmermans, the Commission's First Vice-President and Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Commissioner for Migration travelled to Athens and to Kos on 4th September to discuss support measures necessary to face the present influx of refugees. Frans Timmermans announced that the Commission was going to present an improved proposal to help Greece, Italy and Hungary overcome this unprecedented emergency. The proposal which is being prepared will focus on the relocation of 120,000 additional refugees. It is part of a wider set of measures that notably provide for the constitution of a list of safe countries of origin and the introduction of a permanent relocation mechanism. The Commission will adopt the proposal on 9th September... Read more
New law in Hungary
Hungarian Justice Minister László Trócsányi gave a speech on migration management to the Hungarian Parliament on 4th September. He spoke of the importance of the immigration issue which in his opinion must remain the competence of each State. He also presented changes to ten laws that were accepted by the Hungarian government in order to improve the management of migratory pressure. The changes comprise the creation of a "transit zone" on the borders to speed up and facilitate asylum requests and amongst others changes to the Penal Code to tighten up on sanctions against traffickers... Read more
New position of the British government regarding refugees
On 4th September British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the UK will finally take in "thousands" of additional Syrian refugees under three resettlement programmes - Gateway, Mandate and the Syrian Vulnerable Persons scheme in which the country already participates with the UNHCR. This announcement came in the context of the European refugee crisis during which a great deal of criticism was launched at David Cameron's government by his European partners, with some of the latter asking the UK for greater solidarity regarding the reception of refugees... Read more
Declaration by the four Visigrad Group heads of government
An extraordinary summit of the Prime Ministers in the Visigrad Group (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary) took place on 4th September in Prague on migration. On this occasion they declared that they would continue to fulfil their obligations under the community acquis. They also stand ready to strengthen their commitment and to help in the EU's work notably by improving bilateral assistance and aid to destination countries of transit and origin by thinking about increase amounts, providing experts and technical equipment, by stepping up the fight to counter traffickers notably via the Common Defence and Security Policy and by supporting the coalition to counter Daesh... Read more
The Pope advocates the reception of refugees in each parish
Whilst Europe is at present facing a migratory crisis - the most serious on the continent since 1945 - and that over the last few days, notably Germany and Austria, have taken in thousands of migrants, the Holy Father called on 6th September for people to undertake "a concrete gesture" of misericord by receiving refugees. Pope Francis calls for "each parish, each religious community, each monastery and sanctuary across Europe to take in a refugee family, starting with the diocese of Rome.".. Read more
The Council of Europe and the HCR want to protect refugees' rights
The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland and the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres met on 4th September in Geneva to discuss the present refugee/human rights situation in Europe and to strengthen cooperation between the two organisations. In their opinion the response of certain governments has been exemplary and they acknowledge their work in receiving the refugees even if there is some populist resistance. They are inviting all States to support the HCR's regional Response Plan to the refugee crisis in Syria. As a reminder anyone arriving in one of the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe enjoys the same fundamental rights as anyone else, guaranteed by the European Convention of Human Rights... Read more
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The UN calls on Europe to change its migratory policy
On 4th September the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres asked the countries of Europe to receive 200,000 refugees from the zones of conflict, notably Syrians, Iraqis and Afghanis. The High Commissioner also spoke of the change in migratory policy undertaken in Europe at present, since the response to the crisis could not be "fragmented" nor "incremental". Antonio Guterres also stressed the need to implement further measures that aim to increase reception capacities, to stabilise the present crisis, to improve return procedures and to counter traffickers... Read more

Financial Crisis : The ECB's monetary policy decisions
On 3rd September Mario Draghi, the ECB President said that the bank was expecting the economic crisis in the euro zone to continue but at a slower pace however than initially expected. "New dangers, like inflation, weighing on growth prospects have emerged recently." Hence the monetary establishment is now forecasting growth of 1.4% this year in the euro zone (against 1.5%), 1.7% in 2016 (against 1.9%) and 1.8% in 2017 (against 2%). As for inflation it is due to reach 0.1% in 2015, 1.1% in 2016 and 1.7% in 2017 against 0.3%, 1.5% and 1.8% respectively to date. Moreover the ECB decided to maintain interest rates on the main refinancing operations (0.05%), on marginal lending facility (0.30%), and on the deposit facility (-0.02%) at their present rates... Read more
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Meeting of G20 Finance Ministers
The G20 Finance Ministers and governors of the Central Banks met in Ankara (Turkey) on 4th and 5th September. On this occasion they asserted the role of macro-economic and structural policies and forms of protectionism. They said they wanted to implement their fiscal policies flexibly. At the same time they believe that stimulating the economy is a priority. Finally ministers said they wanted to consolidate good practice in public/private partnerships, explore possible alternatives to financial market instruments, finalise vital details in the global financial reform agenda this year and counter networks that are financing terrorism... Read more

Commission : Publication of the Commission's figures on VAT figures
On 4th September the European Commission published figures regarding the receipt of VAT revenues in the EU's 28 Member States. Hence according to this report in 2013 the VAT gap, ie the theoretical total of VAT revenues and the amount that was effectively received was not reduced in comparison with 2012. Moreover the report states that 15 Member States recorded an improvement in VAT revenues. Conversely 11 Member States noted a worsening. Finally the estimation of VAT gaps in the Member States is nevertheless high - from 4% in Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden to 41% in Romania... Read more
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Publication of interim report on the EU's strategy in terms of sustainable development
On September 1st the European Commission published its sixth interim report on the EU's strategy in terms of sustainable development. This report assesses progress made under the EU SDS programme (Sustainable Development Strategy) adopted in 2001 then revised in 2006. The sixth report highlights a significantly positive development in three key areas (productivity of resources, employment rate of older workers, greenhouse gas emissions) as well as an improvement in two key areas (real GDP per capita and life expectancy). Conversely the report points to a negative trend in five key areas (poverty or social exclusion, primary energy consumption, transport energy consumption in comparison with the GDP, common bird populations, government development aid)... Read more
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The EU adopts its position for the World Humanitarian Summit 2016
On 2nd September the European Commission defined its position regarding the World Humanitarian Summit 2016 as it adopted a communication entitled "A global partnership towards effective humanitarian action". The European Commission's position covers seven areas of action focused on two priorities. The first is "humanitarian action based on principles" that rallies the following goals: 1. Reaffirming humanitarian values, 2. Ensuring access to assistance, 3. Putting protection at the heart of response. The second priority entitled "effective humanitarian action" includes the following areas of action: 4. Consensus on the basics of humanitarian effectiveness, 5. Subsidiarity and solidarity, 6. Efficient and sufficient funding, 7. Partnership with the development community... Read more

Council : Informal Meeting of EU Defence Ministers
On 2nd and 3rd September the 28 Defence Ministers met in Luxembourg for an informal meeting. The first part of the meeting was mainly devoted to the follow up of the European Council of June 2015 and the implementation of measures approved during the latter ie action to take against hybrid threats, the strengthening of support capacities, as well as defence capacities to third countries. The second part, presided over by the EU's High Representative Federica Mogherini, was devoted to a return of information on CSDP operation ongoing at present, notably the EUNAVFOR MED operation that started in July to counter human traffickers in the Mediterranean... Read more
Extraordinary Agriculture and Fisheries Council
On 7th September the 28 European Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers were informed by the Commission of the measures planned to settle problems encountered in several agricultural sectors. These measures will enable the immediate provision of 500 million € to help with farmers' cash-flow difficulties, to stabilise the market and regulate the logistics chain. Ministers expressed their great concern about recent developments in the sector and the need for a rapid response. Although they support the package of measures they want them to be made more precise. They will review the issue during the informal council planned for 15th September... Read more

Germany : Angela Merkel's Press Conference
On the leading edge of the migratory crisis in Europe German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed on 31st August that the EU must "move forwards" via negotiation in the settlement of the crisis without which it might "break" its fundamental links with human rights. "Universal civil rights have to date been closely linked with Europe and its history as a founding principle of the European Union," she said during a press conference that lasted an hour and a half in Berlin... Read more
Meeting between Angela Merkel and Mariano Rajoy
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy met Angela Merkel in Berlin on September 1st notably to discuss the migratory issue. The two leaders want to introduce a fair distribution of asylum candidates, the opening of sorting centres on the borders of Europe to distinguish between economic migrants and refugees. Mariano Rajoy believes that the present migration crisis will be the biggest challenge to Europe over the next few years," as Europe faces increasing waves of refugees. "We must find an answer to this challenge" he recalled noting that "Spain had witnessed similar tragedies on its borders to those that are now occurring elsewhere on other borders of Europe.".. Read more
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Meeting between Angela Merkel and Simonetta Sommaruga
On 3rd September German Chancellor Angela Merkel met the President of the Helvetic Confederation, Simonetta Sommaruga in Bern. During this meeting discussions focused on European policy, on bilateral issues regarding energy and transport, on the continent's economic and social situation, as well as the crises affecting the neighbourhood in the east and south of Europe. Emphasis was notably placed on migratory issues and refugees. Regarding the migratory issue Simonetta Sommaruga stressed that Switzerland wanted to continue to manage immigration towards Switzerland in an independent manner whilst maintaining the bilateral relation it had with the EU. Moreover regarding the refugees Germany and Switzerland have maintained their support for a joint European asylum policy... Read more

Spain : General Elections in Spain will take place in December 2015
On 3rd September Mariano Rajoy, the head of the Spanish government announced that the Spanish general elections will take place in December 2015. The exact date remains to be defined even though the head of State has spoken of 20th December. This announcement comes just three weeks before major regional elections in Catalonia which will focus on the issue of the latter's independence... Read more

Hungary : Viktor Orban travels to Brussels
On 3rd September on a trip to Brussels during which he met the Presidents of the European Council, Donald Tusk, the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker and of the Parliament Martin Schulz Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban declared that the problem of receiving refugees was not "European but German" adding "that no one wants to stay in Hungary, Slovakia, Estonia and Poland. They all want to go to Germany. Our job is simply to register them and we are registering them." These new controversial declarations come just as Hungary is the focus of a great deal of criticism after the completion of the fence closing its border with Serbia... Read more
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Ireland : Visit by Enda Kenny to France
The Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny visited France on 4th September. He met French President François Hollande notably to discuss migratory issues in Europe. They then travelled to Lyon to discuss the economy and investment... Read more
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Italy : 41st Ambrosetti Forum
The 41st Ambrosetti Forum took place in Italy from 4th to 6th September. Every year since 1975 several heads of State and government, leaders of the biggest international institutions, Nobel Prize winners and the best experts debate economic and social issues. The forum this year was called "Intelligence on the World, Europe and Italy.".. Read more

UK : David Cameron visits Spain and Portugal
On a visit to Madrid and Lisbon on 4th September British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke of the reform of the EU and migration. Regarding the reform of the EU he recalled the four areas concerned: competitiveness, sovereignty, social security and economic governance. He said that he shared certain views with his counterparts. Regarding migration he declared that this was the greatest challenge now faced by Europe and a distinction had to be made between migrants and refugees. He then announced additional aid of £100 million for the victims of the Syrian conflict and laid out a global approach: stabilising the countries of origin, settlement of the Syrian crisis, formation of a united government in Libya, fighting gangs, financing refugee camps, saving lives... Read more
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Brexit : legislation on the EU referendum will be brought to the House of Lords
After an embarrassing turn in the situation on Monday 7th September in the House of Commons (Lower Chamber) on the way the referendum will be undertaken, on Tuesday 8th September the same House adopted legislation on the organisation of a referendum by the end of 2017 316 votes in support 53 against. The bill will now have to be assessed by the House of Lords (Upper Chamber)... Read more

Ukraine : Meeting between Petro Poroshenko and Christine Lagarde
On 6th September a meeting took place in Kyiv between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the General Director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde. The aim of the meeting was to discuss the country's economic and financial situation as well as the implementation of the second memorandum regarding the bilateral economic and financial programme agreed between Ukraine and the IMF for a four year period. Discussions also focused on the implementation of reforms undertaken by the country in the sectors of banking, loans and taxes as well as in terms of countering corruption... Read more
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The roadmap of Ukrainian/Polish dialogue
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has met Krzysztof Szczersky, Secretary of State at the Chancellery of the Polish President. The two men agreed on a 'roadmap' for dialogue. Both sides exchanged views on the present situation in the Donbass. The Ukrainian President said that the cease-fire had been observed for six days now. Both sides stressed the importance of work by the international community to re-establish peace in Ukraine and for the protection of security in Europe... Read more

UN : Meeting on climate change in Bonn
A UN negotiation session on climate change took place in Bonn from 31st August to 4th September. This session enabled those taking part to come to agreement on a "first complete draft" of a new universal agreement on climate change that is to be finalised during the COP21 in Paris in December. The draft written by Ahmed Djoghlaf from Algeria and Daniel Reifsnyder of the USA which contains the choices and processes of the agreement will be made available during the first week of October. A further meeting will take place in Bonn from 19th to 23rd October... Read more
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NATO : Six New Headquarters opened with Eastern Allies
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attended the inauguration of a NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) in Vilnius, Lithuania on Thursday (3 September 2015), calling the opening "a big step forward towards greater solidarity, greater strength, and greater readiness." The Lithuanian NFIU is one of six small new headquarters activated this month in Lithuania, as well as in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Poland and Romania... Read more

Eurostat : Publication of the 2015 report "The EU in the World"
On 3rd September Eurostat, published its 2015 report "The EU in the World). This report compares the EU, deemed to be a single body with fifteen G20 countries that are not members of the EU via thirteen themes. The 2015 report thereby enables a view of the Union in the world with it totialling for example 7% of the world population (523.5 millions) who live in the EU the latter representing one quarter of the worlds GDP... Read more
Decline in unemployment rates in the euro zone and the EU
In July 2015 and in comparison with June 2015 unemployment rates in the euro zone and in the EU declined slightly, by 0.2 points and by 0.1 points respectively said Eurostat. Hence in the euro zone, unemployment lay at 10.9% in July against 11.1% in June 2015 ie its lowest level since February 2012. In the EU the unemployment rate lay at 9.5% in July against 9.6% in June ie its lowest level since June 2011. The lowest rates were seen in Germany (4.7%), Czech Republic (5.1%), and Malta (5.1%) whilst the highest rates were recorded in Greece (25% in May 2015, and Spain (22.2%)... Read more

Publications : "Continuons l'Europe! Mais avec qui?
Jean Matouk is offering readers his thoughts in "Continuons l'Europe, mais avec qui?" (Let's continue with Europe, but with whom?) with the publishing house Le Publieur. He notes that under the UK's impetus, which has always dreamed of a Europe that is restricted to a single market, Europe has become paralysed. Today continuing to build Europe, deepening integration by strengthening cooperation between States which want to do so is really an historic necessity! It is the only possible path to guarantee peace that is still fragile and influence the future of the world made of Continent-States populated with hundreds of millions of men and women. It is therefore a plea for Europe to become a categorical imperative for each citizen now more than ever before... Read more

Culture : European Heritage Days
In September the European Heritage Days will take place across Europe. Launched in 1985 by the Council of Europe and joined by the EU in 1999, the European Heritage Days aim to raise citizens' awareness of the cultural wealth and diversity of Europe, to encourage tolerance, to inform the public and political authorities of the need to protect European cultural heritage and to invite Europe to rise to the social, political and economic challenges it faces... Read more
International Photojournalism Festival
Every year in Perpignan the photography festival "Visa pour l'image" takes place. Meander through the town and see the photo-reports by picture professionals from across the world. The Festival will be taking place until 13th September... Read more
"From Hockney to Holbein" Exhibition
From 11th September 2015 to 10th January 2016 the Martin-Grau-Bau is running an exhibition entitled "From Hockney to Holbein." The exhibition has brought together more than 400 works of art in 5,000 m2 from the Würth private collection. The latter is one of the biggest private collections in Europe comprising more than 16,800 works of art... Read more
"Le Livre sur la Place"
The 37th national literary fair is taking place in Nancy from 11th to 13th September. The "Livre sur la Place" which over the years has become the biggest book fair in France brings together more than 550 authors and nearly 170,000 visitors at the Place de la Carrière for a three day period. Debates, lectures and fora take place throughout the event during which all those who love books meet, notably those loyal to the Goncourt prize which has been linked to Le Livre sur la Place since it started... Read more

7th September


Agriculture and Fisheries Council

7th to 10th September


Plenary Session of European Parliament

9th September


Speech on the State of the Union by Jean-Claude Juncker to the European Parliament

11th and 12th September


Informal Meeting of Economic and Financial Affairs Ministers

12th September


Eurogroup Meeting

14th September


Justice and Internal Affairs Council


General Affairs Council

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