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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

03.04.09: The Czech Presidency - an interim balance - 0 views

  • The Czech political malaise will dent the country’s reputation but just might jumpstart the Lisbon Treaty. PRAGUE | The coalition government of the Czech Republic lost a confidence vote on 24 March and is expected to be out of office within weeks. Leaving aside for the moment the effect on the egocentric Czech political scene, what are the European consequences of the government falling midway through its prestigious European Union presidency?
  • No, the biggest political threat for the union as a whole dealing with the Czech turmoil has to do with the Lisbon Treaty. The way this plot line develops depends on who prevails in Czech politics. Will it be the euroskeptic President Vaclav Klaus or the Klaus-averse coalition of Topolanek’s Civic Democrats and the opposition Social Democrats that may be emerging?
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

25.03.09: Serbia regrets EU's lack of solidarity with Balkans - 0 views

  • Serbia's Deputy Prime Minister Božidar Ðelić said yesterday (24 March) that the EU had gone "a bit too far" by giving five billion euro for the stimulus plan to its member states, and "not a single euro cent to any of the south-east European countries".
  • Many of the Western Balkan countries have already been exposed to the effects of the crisis. Industrial production and foreign direct investment are slowing down, and most countries are resorting to international loans that will put an additional burden on their balances of payments. A few weeks ago, the Serbian Central Bank (NBS) governor still hoped that growth could reach 1.5 -2% in 2009. But the government of Serbia was last week forced to negotiate a new agreement with the International Monetary Found (IMF) for a loan worth around €3bn ($3.88bn).
  • According to the deputy PM, "there is too much difference between being in or out" of the EU. "If you are in, like Latvia or Hungary, you get 10 billion, but if you are a clear future member but still not formally in, it is very difficult to access resources, to go around the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) limitations, to go around the European Central Bank regulations or even the structural funds in the area of infrastructure and social cohesion," he said (EurActiv 10/02/09).
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.03.09: EU leaders to discuss response to economic crisis - 0 views

  • EU leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to discuss the best ways to get out of the economic crisis. But despite some calls to spend more to support the bloc's ailing economies, most of the attention is expected to be focused on the need for better regulation of the financial sector and on "fine-tuning" the existing European economic stimulus package.
  • In the face of the persisting economic turmoil, France and Germany's leaders sent a letter to the Czech EU presidency and to the president of the European Commission on Tuesday reiterating what they see as an urgent need to reform the financial system. "The top priority is building up the new global financial architecture. The European Union must affirm a common position and take the lead in this process," French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

17.03.09: EU must consolidate before further enlargement, Merkel says - 0 views

  • The EU needs to "consolidate" before enlarging any further, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said in what is the latest blow to countries hoping to join the bloc any time soon. Commenting on western Balkan countries' fears that their EU ambitions are slowly being pushed far into the future, Ms Merkel said: "We don't want this, but no one is well served in a Europe that can't keep up with integration and takes on too many new members too quickly."
  • "Therefore, we say that we have Croatia and its accession talks in our sights. But we must also first see that, with the Lisbon treaty, we hopefully get a certain consolidation phase in terms of integration," she added in a speech on Europe to members of her conservative Christian Democrat party (CDU) in Berlin, Reuters reports. Ms Merkel's comments come amid an already gloomy situation for EU aspirants. Uncertainty over the EU's Lisbon treaty has diminished the willingness to see new countries let in not only in Germany, but also in other member states, notably France. Additionally, the financial crisis has stolen the attention of leaders from EU enlargement concerns, and the western Balkans' own situation does not make matters easier.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

13.03.09: France and Germany unite positions ahead of summit - 0 views

  • France and Germany on Thursday (12 March) agreed that the emphasis at the upcoming G20 meeting in London should be on greater financial regulation and rejected calls coming from the US to increase spending as a way to deal with the crisis. During a meeting of their cabinets in Berlin, the two countries "underlined their determination to pursue and strengthen the co-ordination of their economic policy in the face of the financial and economic crisis and to work together so that such a crisis does not reproduce itself," reads a joint declaration of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

10.03.09: Crisis straining EU relations as never before, says UK foreign minister - 1 views

  • The economic crisis is putting relations between EU member states under strain and testing the fundamentals of the European Union to an unprecedented extent, UK foreign secretary David Miliband has said. "The sense of solidarity within Europe, between east and west, rich and poor, new and old is under strain," he said in a speech at the London School of Economics on Monday (9 March).
  • His comments come as there has been increasing talk of divisions between richer western EU nations and some of the poorer nations in the east.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

27.02.09: Germany may bail out troubled eurozone states - 0 views

  • German chancellor Angela Merkel has given the strongest signal to date that her country may come to the rescue of embattled eurozone economies. "We have shown solidarity and that will remain so. We should use Sunday's summit [in Brussels] for member states affected to give an honest report of their situation," she said on Thursday evening (26 February) at a press conference in Berlin.
  • Certain conditions are likely to be attached to any support plan offered by Berlin. While Ms Merkel refused to be drawn on the exact nature of financial support, she made it clear that action to tackle excessive budget deficits would be a stipulation for receiving aid. She indicated such action could be carried out under Article 100 of the Maastricht Treaty that allows financial assistance to be given to countries experiencing "difficulties caused by natural disasters or exceptional occurrences beyond its control." "Of course there is a certain interpretative room to manoeuvre in the stability and growth pact and a country like Ireland that has been hit quite hard by the banking crisis is clearly in a different situation to a country like Slovakia with fewer banks," said Ms Merkel.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

25.02.09: What does the financial crisis mean for EU foreign policy - 0 views

  • But enthusiasm for further enlargement was already on the wane before the crisis. Now, the growing resentment over intra-EU labour migration in countries like Britain, Ireland, and Spain is hardly likely to engender support for millions of potential new migrants from Turkey, or the Balkans or for structural adjustment funds to be spent outside of today's EU. As a new paper by the Center for European Reform notes "With Europeans now fearing for their jobs and incomes, opposition to the union taking in more poor countries will most likely rise further."
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.02.09: Financial crisis slowing enlargement, Prague warns - 0 views

  • Despite "fatigue" setting in amongst EU member states as a result of the ongoing economic crisis, the process of enlargement of the bloc should not be neglected, the Czech deputy prime minister, Alexandr Vondra, said on Wednesday (18 February).
  • But the pace of the process has slowed down in recent months as several other issues, most notably the global financial crisis, attract much of the EU's attention. Additionally, some candidate countries face blockages due to political disputes with individual EU states. The border dispute between Slovenia and Croatia, which provoked Ljubljana to block the opening or closing of 11 chapters from Croatia's EU accession negotiations package in December, is only the most recent such dust-up.
  • Enlargement is good for you Meanwhile, the European Commission will on Friday publish a detailed report on the benefits of the EU's two latest enlargements - in 2004 and 2007 - taking in a total of 12 member states.
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