What Will the Autumn in the EU Be?
Adelina Marini, 30 August 2012
After the too hot and dry summer in some parts of Europe, it is time to prepare for what autumn comes ahead. And if for the tourist business such a summer is a good news, for all the other industries it is a bad news. As a result of the severe drought in the southern parts of Europe, it is expected the upcoming autumn to be expensive, especially against the backdrop of the constantly growing fuels prices. This will put additional pressure to the already thinning pockets of European citizens who this autumn, apart from their own well-being, will have to think on several other issues from the European and not only agenda.
The eurozone crisis
Another series of the crisis in the zone of the euro will be a leading topic for euinside. We will again face institutional building with the expected on September 11th European Commission proposal for the creation of a banking union. In the end of the year, it is expected that we will talk more intensively about a new EU treaty, as recently asked Chancellor Merkel. The countries from the southern periphery of the eurozone will continue to be in the headlines of European and global media, including for euinside:
- Greece is again in the centre of attention with another challenge - will it stay in the eurozone? If it does, will it receive additional time for implementation of reforms? Will it need more money? To all these questions answers are expected in October;
- Spain will not give away the first place to Greece because there are expectations the country to request a traditional bailout, separately from that for the banks;
- Ireland will enter this autumn the spotlight of European decision-makers and society because the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, hinted that the country might not receive the agreed concessions at the June EU summit for allowing the eurozone rescue funds to lend money for the banking sector, which would lead to a relief for the public debt. In an interview with The Irish Times a week ago, Mr Schäuble said that he would not want new uncertainty to be caused at the financial markets or loss of confidence. "Naturally we want to help each other but I am not yet convinced by any means that some of the measures which are mentioned would not have the opposite effect. We will talk about this again", Schäuble says in the interview. This means that Ireland will join this autumn the group of most discussed countries;
- Italy and mainly its Prime Minister Mario Monti will continue to be a leading figure in the negotiations of rescue ideas for the eurozone. However, the country remains to be under strong pressure by the markets and by the overall tough situation in the euro area. Italy is facing internal political pressure as well, because the parties that supported Monti's technocratic government started signalling retreat. The removed after strong political pressure from the outside and the inside predecessor of Monti, Silvio Berlusconi, hinted this summer in Facebook that he was still deliberating over the calls of his fellow party members to run for the prime minister position again. It is expected more clarity on this issue to be available this autumn.
The EU budget
Another very important issue that we will follow in the upcoming months is the agreeing of the multiannual EU budget for the period 2014-2020 (the multiannual financial framework, MFF), the negotiations on which also take place under the shadow of the euro area crisis. The disputes have to end by the end of the year but given the lack of approximation of positions between the main camps, it is hard to forecast whether the deadline will be met. In the end of the summer, the EU resumed its activities with precisely this issue - the first informal meeting of the EU ministers under the presidency of Cyprus is taking place this week, and the first college of commissioners took place on August 29th and this was again the main topic on the agenda.
During a summit in Berlin, between the German chancellor and the Italian premier, Angela Merkel announced that she wanted a quicker conclusion of the negotiations. It is not impossible to suggest that the budget will be used as a main tool for tackling the eurocrisis which will harm significantly the new member states. Therefore, it will be interesting to follow the reactions in Poland. The issue of MFF will continue to be a central one for euinside so this autumn you can expect again significant activities from our part on this web site but offline as well.
The forthcoming political season will not pass without elections. Early parliamentary elections are to take place in the Netherlands on September 12th, which is a key country for the EU and which is more and more falling in the clasps of populist and nationalist parties. We will closely follow how will the voting take place, especially against the backdrop of the growing anti-migrant sentiments in the country and also of the sentiments against Bulgaria and Romania. Speaking of Romania, the political crisis there will not end this autumn, in spite of the fact that President Traian Basescu returned to office in the Cotroceni palace. On November 30 there will be parliamentary elections in the country and in the end of the year the Commission will come up with an extraordinary report under the Control and Verification Mechanism (CVM) because of the conflict between Prime Minister Ponta and President Traian Basescu. This became clear in July when the Commission presented summarising reports of the functioning of the CVM for Bulgaria and Romania for the 5 years of their EU membership.
Elections this autumn will take place in Montenegro too, which this year finally received a long-awaited go ahead to start accession negotiations. The elections are early and will be held with only one aim - to secure full term for the government that will start the talks with the EU in the summer of next year when the screening process of the European Commission will be over. As euinside told then, the main aspiration of Montenegro is for change - political and societal - because of which new parties emerge in the political domain.
Elections will be held in Ukraine too, which is a crucial country in the Eastern Partnership initiative of the EU, observed with great attention by the EU because of doubts about political interference in the judiciary regarding the trials against several Ukrainian opposition members, among which former PM Yulia Tymoshenko. Yesterday (August 29), the court rejected Tymoshenko's defence appeal against her 7-year sentence because of a disadvantageous deal for gas deliveries with Russia concluded in 2009, a little after the gas crisis which severely hit half of Europe, including Bulgaria. The rejection of the appeal means that Tymoshenko will be unable to take part in the elections, scheduled for October 28th and which euinside will follow closely. In Belarus there will also be elections on September 23rd, the result of which is more or less foretold but nonetheless we will follow them to the extent possible, given the scarcity of unbiased information from the country.
Although outside Europe but with a huge impact not only on the Old Continent but the entire world, we will follow closely the presidential elections in USA on November 6th. The battle there will be between the current host of the White House, the democrat Barack Obama, and his Republican rival Mitt Romney. For now, the polls show a very close race but still Obama is leading. The elections in the US are not only about who the next president will be but about keeping the country as a leading global power despite its severe economic situation and the growing role of China in Southeast Asia. Voting will take place in a tense environment both domestically and externally but the main accent of the campaign is domestic.
As you might know, euinside already has a correspondent in Croatia, which is to join the EU in July the next year. What kind of autumn awaits the country you will find out in a separate text. I will only tell you that an expensive and politically overload fall is to come because of the expected crucial decision of the credit rating agencies on Croatia's rating.
With the above we are not in the least depleting all the issues that will make us busy in the upcoming months. We only mentioned the most important ones. Stay with us to see where the EU is heading to, as well as its neighbours and its major global partners.