The Letter n°864

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The Letter n°864
The Letter
Tuesday 22nd October 2019
issue 864
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Brexit: a new agreement and further uncertainties
Author : Eric Maurice
Eric Maurice
The agreement found on 17th October between the EU and the UK which provides for a hybrid status for Northern Ireland to allow an open border with the Republic of Ireland renews the possibility of a orderly British withdrawal on 31st October. The continuous political deadlock in the British Parliament might however lead to a further postponement of Brexit.
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Elections : Towards a second mandate for Klaus Iohannis as President of the Republic of Romania
The outgoing President and candidate of teh National Liberal Party (centre-right) Klaus Iohannis is the main favourite in the Romanian presidential election, whose first round will be taking place on 10th November. His main competitor Viorica Dancila, former Prime Minister (PSD), has been weakened since the government she was leading was overthrown by a motion of no confidence on 10th October. If none of the candidates wins more than half of the votes cast, a second round will be organised on 24th November... Read more
Fourth parliamentary elections in four years for the Spanish
Six months after having won the parliamentary elections but having failed to form a majority coalition, outgoing Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (PSOE), has asked his fellow countrymen to grant a clear majority in the upcoming elections on 10th November. The election will be taking place in a tense context, with many violent demonstrations in Catalonia after the conviction of the secessionist leaders. But abstention rates are due to be high since voters are becoming increasingly difficult to motivate as the elections succeed one another and prove unable to provide Spain with a government... Read more

Foundation : A Blueprint for Tomorrow's Europe
The Foundation has published "A Blueprint for Tomorrow's Europe", the first paper in a new series entitled "Open Horizons", which offers young European authors the opportunity to express new ideas in support of European integration. In "A Blueprint for Tomorrow's Europe", Jérôme Gazzano and Andi Mustafaj believe that the present crises are in fact an opportunity, to rethink the EU so that it can face the challenges of this century head on... Read more
The Big Shift - the 21st European Century
Contrary to popular discourse, Jean-Dominique Giuliani shows that the European Union has the means to address the new challenges of the 21st century. Europe has succeeded beyond the expectations of its founding fathers. It can still succeed in guaranteeing its place among the three greatest powers in the world by the end of the century... Read more

European Council : Conclusions of the European Council
Meeting on 17th and 18th October the heads of State and government approved the draft agreement on Brexit concluded with the British government. They reviewed the preparation of the multi-annual financial framework 2021-2027 and the implementation of the Union's Strategic Programme. They discussed the climate strategy that they want to finalise during the European Council in December. They decided to delay the discussion regarding the launch of membership negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia at the next EU-Western Balkans Summit in May 2020. They condemned the Turkish military intervention in Syria as well as the Turkish drilling off the coast of Cyprus... Read more
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Commission : Intermediary report on the migration policy
On 16th October the Commission published an intermediary report on migration. It deems that since the migration crisis in 2015 the Union is better equipped to provide operational and financial support to the Member States under pressure, to manage its borders and to cooperate with third countries, but more effort is required for an effective, resilient long term policy... Read more

Council : Conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council
On 15th October the EU's Foreign Affairs Ministers in an Article 50 format were informed by the negotiator in chief, Michel Barnier of progress made in the discussions with the UK on Brexit. They reasserted their unity and their wish to achieve agreement. The 28 assessed the candidatures of Albania and North Macedonia to launch membership negotiations and decided to review the issue after the European Council on 17th and 18th October. They also discussed the Union's multiannual budget... Read more
New rules for clearing houses
On 15th October the Council approved new clearning house rules (or central counterparties), bodies which serve as intermediaries and provide guarantees for transactions on securities and derivated instruments. The new framework defines the way the Union's clearing houses and third countries should be monitored in the future given the impact of Brexit on the Europan financial system. The reform focuses in particular on three establishments in the UK, which will become central counterparties of third countries after Brexit... Read more
Tripartite Social Summit
The Tripartite Social Summit which took place on 16th October in Brussels addressed issues regarding climate transition, investment in training and industrial policy for the future. Participants stressed that a sustainable economy depends on sustainable social and environmental policies... Read more

Court of Auditors : Audit of 41 European agencies
The European Court of Auditors validated the accounts of the 41 EU agencies for 2018. In its annual report published on 15th October, it deemed them reliable but recommended that measures be taken to improve financial management, particularly in the area of public procurement... Read more
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ECB : Christine Lagard formally appointed president
Christine Lagarde was formally appointed President of the European Central Bank on 18th October by the European Council. It was the last stage in the procedure after her appointment by the European Council in July and the approval of the Council of Governors of the ECB and the European Parliament. She will enter office on 1st November for an 8 year renewable mandate... Read more

European Agencies : Start of European Labour Authority
Start of work by the European Labour Authority

The European Labour Authority, whose creation was formally approved in June, started work on 16th October in Brussels, ahead of its establishment in Bratislava. Its goal is to facilitate citizens' and business' access to information and services regarding their rights and obligations, to facilitate cooperation between Member States, notably in the fight to counter undeclared work, and the quest for solutions in the event of disputes between Member States... Read more

Germany : Meeting with the Norwegian Prime Minister
On 15th October German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted the Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg in Berlin, with the latter travelling to the Frankfurt Book Fair, of which Norway was the guest of honour. During their meeting, the two leaders notably discussed the situation in Syria... Read more

France : Franco-German Council of Ministers
French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and around 20 ministers from the two countries held a joint Council of Ministers on 16th October in Toulouse. France and German signed a legally binding agreement on the rules governing arms exports for jointly developed programmes and approved "a European preference" for the launch of satellites. They supported the establishment of a minimum price on carbon at European level and the project for carbon tax on the borders. The President elected of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, joined them to prepare the European Counciol on 17th and 18th October... Read more
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Romania : Ludovic Orban, asked to form a government
On 15th October Romanian President Klaus Iohannis asked the leader of the Liberals (PNL) Ludovic Orban to form a new government following the collapse of the government led by Viorica Dancila (PSD). Former Minister for Transport, Mr Orban now has 10 days to form a government and to win the confidence of parliament... Read more

UK : Boris Johnson forced to ask for a postponement of Brexit
On 19th October after having been forced by the House of Commons, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked for the postponement of the UK's withdrawal from the EU. The adoption of an amendment delaying the vote on the withdrawal agreement concluded with the Union triggered the request for a delay, provided for by the Benn Act approved in September. In a letter to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, Boris Johnson did however express his opposition to an extension... Read more
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Brexit: Letwin amendment delays the vote on the agreement
On 19th October the House of Commons adopted 322 votes in support 306 against, an amendment made by Conservative Oliver Letwin, which postpones the vote on the withdrawal agreement from the EU concluded on 17th October, until Parliament has been able to assess the necessary legislation for its implementation... Read more
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Macedonia : Snap election on 12th April
The Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev announced on 20th October the organisation of a snap election, after the EU's refusal to open membership negotiations, a project that formed the focus of his policy. "We have reached a consensus for elections on 12th April 2020," declared Mr Zaev... Read more
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Switzerland : General election results
The Democratic Union of the Centre (UDC) won the general elections in Switzerland on 20th October with 25.6% of the vote against 29.4% in 2015. It came out ahead of the Socialist Party (16.6%), and the Liberal-Radical Party (15.3%) both also down in terms of votes. The Greens won 13.2% of the vote (+6 points) and the Liberal Green Party (7.8% - +3.3 points). The Democratic Christian Party (PDC) has remained stable at 11.8%. The result is not due to modify the balance of power within the Federal Council, the Confederation's executive... Read more
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WTO : Washington imposes 7.5 billion $ in customs duties on Europeans
On 18th October the USA imposed 7.5 billion $ in additional customes duties on several types of merchandise from the countries of the EU. These customs tariffs entered into force after the WTO allowed it, due to public subsidies granted to Airbus which were deemed illegal. The European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said that the EU had no other choice but to retaliate when the WTO sanctions the USA for its subsidies granted to Boeing... Read more

IMF : Downwards revision of the world economic outlook
On 15th October the IMF published its most recent economic outlook. It reviewed the decline in world growth levels forecast for 2019 at 3% and 3.4% for 2020. The downturn in growth has been limited thanks to preventive measures taken by the central banks, which have compensated international trade tensions (notably between the US and China). Hence growth in developed countries is due to slow to 1.7% in 2019 and 2020, whilst in the emerging and developing countries it is due to accelerate by 3.9% in 2019 and 4.6% in 2020. The IMF reviewed the growth forecasts downwards in the euro zone in 2019 and 2020, due to the situation in Germany, much affected by trade tensions... Read more

Eurostat : Reduction in public deficit and debt
The public deficit and debt decreased in relative terms in 2018 in comparison with 2017, both in the European Union and the euro zone according to a Eurostat publication on 21st October. In the euro area the government deficit to GDP ratio fell from 0.9% in 2017 to 0.5% in 2018, and in the EU28 from 1.0% to 0.7%. In the euro area the government debt to GDP ratio declined from 87.8% at the end of 2017 to 85.9% at the end of 2018, and in the EU28 from 82.1% to 80.4%... Read more
Inflation down
The EU's annual inflation rate lay at 1.2% in September 2019 against 1.4% in August. A year ago it lay at 2.2%, that of the euro zone lay at 0.8% in September 2019, against 1.0% in August. A year ago it lay at 2.1%. Figures were published on 16th October by Eurostat, the European Union's statistics office... Read more

Studies/Reports : Report on cryptocurrencies
In a report delivered to the ministers of the G7 member countries, the working group on stablecoins deemed that "a sound legal base in all jurisdictions concerned is an absolute prerequisite" for the creation of stablecoins like the Libra, the project initiated by Facebook. It also encouraged governments and central banks to "develop roadmaps to improve the effectiveness and reduce the cost of payments and financial services.".. Read more
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Gender Equality Index 2019
In its gender equality index 2019 published on 15th October the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) notes that progress towards effective equality between men and women is "very slow" particuarly regarding women's access to positions of power. The Union's gender equality index has only increased by one point since the 2017 version, to 67.4. Sweden is still in the lead, with 83.6 points, followed by Denmark with 77.5 points. Greece and Hungary lag behind the most with fewer than 52 points each. Portugal has improved the most by +3.9 points, followed closely by Estonia with 3.1 points... Read more
The French Senate warns of "the disaster of a no-deal Brexit"
In a report published on 15th October the Senate's monitoring group regarding the UK's withdrawal from the EU and the reform of the EU warns of the "disaster of a no-deal Brexit". "The economic bill will be high, for France and the UK alike. Fishing, agriculture, finance, industry and transport find themselves in the front line, likewise the regions, Hauts-de-France, Normandy and Brittany. 4.5 million citizens will be taken hostage," stresses the report... Read more

Culture : 100 years of universal suffrage in Luxembourg
To commemorate the centenary of universal suffrage in Luxembourg, the House of Deputies and the National Museum of History and Art is running an exhibition until 5th September which reveals the process, which since the mid-19th century, led to this development... Read more
Dali-Magritte in Brussels
For the very first time the Dali & Magritte exhibition which is taking place at the Fine Arts Museum of Brussels until 9th February highlights the relations and influences between the two greatest icons of Surrealism... Read more
Rembrandt-Velazquez Exhibition at the Rijksmuseum
Until 19th January the Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam is showing the works of two 17th century grand masters, Rembrandt and Velazquez. A dialogue on reality and eternity, religion and beauty, which also includes works by Murillo, Zurbaran, Hals and Ribera... Read more
Exhibition Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana at the Prado
From 22nd October to 2nd February 2020 the National Museum Prado in Madrid is paying tribute to two women painters who marked 16th century art: Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana... Read more
The Pre-Raphaelite Sisters in London
The National Portrait Gallery in London is running an exhibition of the "Pre-Raphaelite Sisters" until 26th January 2020, which focuses on women's place in this British artistic movement at the end of the 19th century... Read more
Leonardo da Vinci at the Louvre
On the occasion of the centenary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci the Louvre Museum is running an exceptional exhibition of pictures and sculptures by the artist from 24th October to 24th February 2020... Read more
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21st-24th October 2019


Plenary Session of the European Parliament

24th October 2019


Meeting of the Council of Governors of the European Central Bank


Employment, Social Policy, Healthcare and Consumer Council

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